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12 Days of Agile Principles – 2016 Recap!

BigVisible Solutions :: An Agile Company - Tue, 12/20/2016 - 19:00

12 Days Web Title-01 

Last holiday season, we shared our thoughts on each of the 12 Agile Principles and how important they are to organization-wide success. Everyone knows that Agile is something you are, not merely something you do, but a refresher on what the Agile principles and the underlying values are is always useful, especially when you’re wrapping up one year and looking forward into the next.

Now without further ado, the 12 Days of Agile Principles, all in one!



The 12 Agile Principles are:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

It’s also worth pointing out that, while the Agile Manifesto and the Agile Principles were penned with software delivery in mind, the Agile mindset collectively has been extremely beneficial in a wider business context than simply just software.


The post 12 Days of Agile Principles – 2016 Recap! appeared first on SolutionsIQ.

Categories: Companies

What we need is better planning, not better plans

Agile Game Development - Tue, 12/20/2016 - 18:12
"Plans are worthless, but planning is everything" - General Dwight D. Eisenhower

On June 6th 1944, D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history began the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe.  156,000 soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy or were air-dropped behind German lines.  The battle could not have been won without extensive planning, but the it did not go according to plan.  Many paratroopers landed far from their targets as did landing craft.  German defenses were stronger in some areas forecasted and weaker in others.

What made the battle successful was not the plan, but a combination of the knowledge gained in planning, plus the initiative taken by soldiers and units to adjust as reality emerged.  This is captured in Eisenhower's quote above.

What we need is better planning, not better plans
I'm often asked "how much should we plan?".  The answer is always necessarily vague.  We plan differently for things that are certain and for things that are uncertain.  Planning for things that are certain ensures that we are focused on a shared goal.  Planning for uncertainty results in a prioritized list of experiments that will remove uncertainty so we can make better decisions in the future.

Examples of decisions best made earlier:
- Deciding the genre of game.
- Deciding what engine to use.
- Knowing what constraints a franchise has.

Examples of decisions best made later:- Deciding how many bullets each weapon carries in a magazine.- Deciding how many NPCs are in each view.
Deciding earlier or later depends on the cost of making that decision.  The phrase "deciding at the last possible moment" applies.  You shouldn't decide how many NPCs should be in view until your graphics engine is running well enough to tell you how much it can draw at 30 FPS.  Conversely, you don't want to decide which engine to use a month before you release your game.
An illustrationI'm a fan of Donal Reinertsen's work.  One of the tools he applies is called the u-curve.  The u-curve illustrates the tradeoff between two opposing factors, such as the cost of planning too little vs. planning too much as a sum of those costs:
The graph shows the cost of planning based on how much of it we do (the red curve).  This curve is based on two components: How much planning we do on uncertain things and how much planning we do for things we are certain about.

The green curve shows the cost of planning away uncertainty with detailed design up-front. As we do more up-front planning--making more and more decisions about the details of our game--the cost of those early decisions adds up.  For example, when we've designed and built numerous gameplay missions based on speculated numbers and behaviors of NPCs, the cost of reversing those decisions late in development increases.
The blue curve shows the the costs of planning things we are (or become) certain about.  If we don't make decisions about the engine, game genre or even what programming language to use, the cost of making those decisions later will impact us more.  We can make lots of decisions early:  NFL games have 32 teams and stadiums.  FPS games have online multiplayer.  Mobile games should at least run on iOS and/or Android.
The red curve is the sum of those cost curves and the sweet spot is where the cost is lowest.  So, getting back to the "how much should we plan?" question, the answer is "where the cost between planning and iteration is lowest".  This depends on the uncertainty of various parts of the game and the cost curve is different.  Determining that starts with an honest assessment of the risks and uncertainty of your game and a willingness to take steps into the unknown in places you may have only felt comfortable trying to plan-away in the past.

Categories: Blogs

Agile Open Florida 2016 Report

Scrum Expert - Tue, 12/20/2016 - 15:46
Agile Open Florida is a conference organized by leaders and volunteers from the Agile Florida community who are passionate about building community and advancing all things Agile. Adam Sandman, whose company was also sponsoring Agile Open Florida 2016, has written his personal report about some of the sessions. Author: Adam Sandman, Inflectra Corporation, The 2016 Agile Open Florida conference in Orlando, FL was a welcome escape from the chill in DC, especially after a long and taxing 2016 election season. The event, co-sponsored by Inflectra, brought together the Agile community in Florida and showcased products and services offered by Inflectra, as well as its partner – OAT Solutions / Brazil. For those who could not make it to the conference, here is an official write up of the conference. OpenSpace Unlike more traditional conferences that feature keynote speakers and breakout sessions, the OpenSpace format of 2016 Agile Open Florida allowed for vastly more meaningful interaction between the participants. The central premise of this conference – that the real value is in the side conversations instead of the scripted presentations – was on-point and made those side conversations the main attraction. For a Sapient alumnus like myself, OpenSpace is not an entirely new concept, but a variant of Sapient’s “facilitated client workshops” called Fusions and RIPs. I found sessions on using agile in public schools, the role of testers and manual testing, and agile methodologies in hybrid hardware/software communities particularly stimulating. The key take-aways from these sessions were: Testers vs. [...]
Categories: Communities

Can You Hear It?

Leading Agile - Mike Cottmeyer - Tue, 12/20/2016 - 15:00

A few nights ago we were watching The Voice. Every few minutes and seconds both audio and video would pause. The inability to hear feedback from the coaches or understand the context of their comments because we couldn’t hear the full song being performed was very frustrating. We eventually just stopped watching.

This made me think about challenges when delivery teams do not have a clear backlog. I often work with organizations that may have a number of agile delivery teams but they are unable to provide a context for the work to be done and even worse, provide clear detail for backlog items.

Often the product owner function isn’t scaleable in these organizations which creates a constraint. It has been said that the number one reason why agile teams fail are the lack of backlog. I would agree. The other observation is even though they know they can’t provide clarity in the backlog, they continue to ask those teams to delivery working tested software, “we have these teams so we have to keep them busy!”

The number one reason why agile teams fail are the lack of backlog.

It is fascinating how often this is seen. I worked with an organization that had a number of delivery teams but they could not provide sufficient requirements details for those teams. Regardless, they continued to have those teams deliver working tested software. What they found was that 50% of the work being done had to be reworked and numerous quality issues. The teams were frustrated as well. Does that seem like an effective approach?

I would argue they would be better off reducing the number of delivery teams and using that capacity to build out a strong product owner team. The product owner team will then be focused on providing clarity in the backlog. This enables the delivery teams to have context and the details necessary for them to deliver working tested software with dramatically reduced rework, improvements in team engagement, and value delivered with higher quality.

The post Can You Hear It? appeared first on LeadingAgile.

Categories: Blogs

Agile Africa – Leader Transformation

Growing Agile - Tue, 12/20/2016 - 13:00
This talk at Agile Africa was particularly special for us because it was given by two people we have been coaching for the last 2 years. It was great to hear their story and see how much they have grown. The talk was by Subash Sharma and Felicity Brady, and included a wonderful skit of […]
Categories: Companies

New Case Study: Royal Philips Cuts Release Cycle Time by Two-Thirds with SAFe

Agile Product Owner - Mon, 12/19/2016 - 22:51

“Philips is continuously driving to develop high-quality software in a predictable, fast and Agile way. SAFe addresses this primary goal, as well as offering these further benefits: reduced time to market and improved quality, stronger alignment across geographically distributed multi-disciplinary teams, and collaboration across teams to deliver meaningful value to customers with reduced cycle time.”
—Sundaresan Jagadeesan, Program Manager, Philips Electronic India Limited

logoHow do you improve quality and reduce release cycle time by two-thirds? For a $26 billion technology giant, the answer was found with SAFe. Our latest case study comes from Royal Philips which engages in the healthcare, lighting, and consumer well-being markets. They sit at #388 on the Forbes Global 2000 list, and their SAFe adoption represents one of the larger deployments we’ve seen to date: 42 Agile Release Trains and 1300+ certified practitioners.

Just two years ago, their release cycle time averaged 18 months using a traditional, project-based approach. Looking for a way to accelerate that cycle, they turned to SAFe to transition to Agile and bring an Lean-Agile mindset to business units beyond software development.

Today, Philips has 42 ARTs running across various business units, and SAFe is deployed well beyond the software businesses to include complex systems environments (hardware, software, mechanical engineering, customer support and electrical teams), as well as the R&D activities of a number of businesses, particularly in the Business Group, Healthcare Informatics, Solutions & Services (BG HISS).

The company saw improvements across the board:

  • Average release cycle time down from 18 months to 6 months
  • A greater focus on the customer mindset
  • Feature cycle time reduced from >240 to <100 days
  • Sprint and PI deliveries on time, leading to ‘release on demand’
  • Quality improvements—zero regressions in some business units
  • 5 major releases per train per year on demand, each catering to multiple products
  • 3700+ people engaged in a SAFe way of working
  • Around 1300+ trained and formally certified in Agile and SAFe

The Philips adoption showcases what is possible when an organization is fully committed to the transformation, and diligent in getting their leaders and workers trained in the principles and practices that will drive their collective success. It’s no secret that the results achievable through SAFe directly correlate to the depth of engagement by the organization, and Philips has done an excellent job reminding us of this.

Check out the the full case study for insights on their journey and their recommendations for a smooth transformation.

Many thanks to Stef Zaicsek, Sr. Director Software Technology/CTO; Rani Malli, Senior Director – Business Excellence & Quality Management; Sanne Reijniers, Agile Training, Change & Communications Lead at Philips; and Sundaresan Jagadeesan, Program Manager – I2M Excellence SW Development Program, for sharing their SAFe story.

Stay SAFe,

philips_photo_01Click to enlarge
Categories: Blogs

Why Technical Leadership Matters

TV Agile - Mon, 12/19/2016 - 21:11
Leadership is an undervalued skill and often treated with contempt by developers. However, effective technical leadership has a striking impact on the performance of software development teams. This session explores the reasons why technical leadership matters, and how you can be a more effective technical leader. Video producer:
Categories: Blogs

Good Agile/Bad Agile: The Difference and Why It Matters

AvailAgility - Karl Scotland - Mon, 12/19/2016 - 20:54

kernels and bugsThis post is an unapologetic riff on Richard Rumelt’s book Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters. The book is a wonderful analysis of what makes a good strategy and how successful organisations use strategy effectively. I found that it reinforced my notion that Agility is a Strategy and so this is also a way to help me organise my thoughts about that from the book. 

Good and Bad Agile

Rumelt describes Bad Strategy as having four major hallmarks:

  • Fluff – meaningless words or platitudes.
  • Failure to face the challenge – not knowing what the problem or opportunity being faced is.
  • Mistaking goals for strategy – simply stating ambitions or wishful thinking.
  • Bad strategy objectives – big buckets which provide no focus and can be used to justify anything (otherwise known as “strategic horoscopes”).

These hallmarks can also describe Bad Agile. For example, when Agile is just used for the sake of it (Agile is the fluff). Or when Agile is just used to do “the wrong thing righter” (failing to face the challenge). Or when Agile is just used to “improve performance” (mistaking goals for strategy). Or when Agile is just part of a variety of initiatives (bad strategy objectives).

Rumelt goes on to describe a Good Strategy as having a kernel with three elements:

  • Diagnosis – understanding the critical challenge or opportunity being faced.
  • Guiding policy – the approach to addressing the challenge or opportunity.
  • Coherent actions – the work to implement the guiding policy.

Again, I believe this kernel can help identify Good Agile. When Agile works well, it should be easy to answer the following questions:

  • What diagnosis is Agile addressing for you? What is the critical challenge or opportunity you are facing?
  • What guiding policy does Agile relate to? How does it help you decide what you should or shouldn’t do?
  • What coherent actions you are taking that are Agile? How are they coordinated to support the strategy?
Sources of Power

Rumelt suggests that

“a good strategy works by harnessing power and applying it where it will have the greatest effect”.

He goes on to describe nine of these powers (although they are not limited to these nine) and it’s worth considering how Agile can enable them.

  • Leverage – the anticipation of what is most pivotal and concentrating effort. Good Agile will focus on identifying and implementing the smallest change (e.g. MVPs) which will result in largest gains.
  • Proximate objects – something close enough to be achievable. Good Agile will help identify clear, small, incremental and iterative releases which can be easily delivered by the organisation
  • Chain-link systems – systems where performance is limited by the weakest link.  Good Agile will address the constraint in the organisation. Understanding chain-link systems is effectively the same as applying Theory of Constraints. 
  • Design – how all the elements of an organisation and its strategy fit together and are co-ordinated to support each other. Good Agile will be part of a larger design, or value stream, and not simply a local team optimisation. Using design is effectively the same as applying Systems Thinking. 
  • Focus – concentrating effort on achieving a breakthrough for a single goal. Good Agile limits work in process in order to help concentrate effort on that single goal to create the breakthrough.
  • Growth – the outcome of growing demand for special capabilities, superior products and skills. Good Agile helps build both the people and products which will result in growth.
  • Advantage – the unique differences and asymmetries which can be exploited to increase value. Good Agile helps exploit, protect or increase demand to gain a competitive advantage. In fact Good Agile can itself be an advantage.
  • Dynamics – anticipating and riding a wave of change. Good Agile helps explore new and different changes and opportunities, and then exploits them.
  • Inertia and Entropy – the resistance to change, and decline into disorder. Good Agile helps organisations overcome their own inertia and entropy, and take advantage of competitors’ inertia and entropy. In effect, having less inertia and entropy than your competition means having a tighter OODA loop.

In general, we can say that Good Agile “works by harnessing power and applying it where it will have the greatest effect”, and it should be possible to answer the following question:

  • What sources of power is your strategy harnessing, and how does Agile help apply it?
Thinking like an Agilist

Rumelt concludes with some thoughts on creating strategy, and what he suggests is

“the most useful shift in viewpoint: thinking about your own thinking”.

He describes this shift from the following perspectives:

  • The Science of Strategy – strategy as a scientific hypothesis rather than a predictable plan.
  • Using Your Head – expanding the scanning horizon for ideas rather than settling on the first idea.
  • Keeping Your Head – using independent judgement to decide the best approach rather than following the crowd.

This is where I see a connection between Good Strategy and Strategy Deployment, which is an approach to testing hypotheses (science as strategy), deliberately exploring multiple options (using your head), and discovering an appropriate, contextual solution (keeping your head).

In summary, Good Agile is deployed strategically by being part of a kernel, with a diagnosis of the critical problem or opportunity being faced, guiding policy which harnesses a source of power, and coherent actions that are evolved through experimenting as opposed to being instantiated by copying.

Categories: Blogs

Retrospective Anti-Patterns

Scrum Expert - Mon, 12/19/2016 - 20:33
Anti-Patterns are like patterns, only more informative. With anti-patterns you will first see what patterns reoccur in “bad” retrospectives and then you will see how to avoid, or remedy, the situation. Based on her experience with facilitating retrospectives, Aino Vonge Corry proposes an entertaining and informative presentation on the anti-patterns she has seen and how to overcome the problems. We also encourage the audience to chip-in with their experiences or questions along the way. Video producer:
Categories: Communities

What’s New: Make IT Service Management Visible with New Kanban Board Templates

When multiple teams, various tools, and stakeholders from across the business are involved, IT Service Management (ITSM)...

The post What’s New: Make IT Service Management Visible with New Kanban Board Templates appeared first on Blog | LeanKit.

Categories: Companies

In the News: SAFe at Capital One and the FAA

Agile Product Owner - Mon, 12/19/2016 - 18:04

Hi Folks,

Some interesting SAFe applications:

At the US FAA:

ESC Leads a Cultural Transformation

and at Capital One bank:

How Capital One Became a Leading Digital Player

Stay SAFe! (while flying or banking, or both at the same time)

–Dean and the Framework team

Categories: Blogs

Coming Soon: Docker Recipes for Node.js Development ebook

Derick Bailey - new ThoughtStream - Mon, 12/19/2016 - 14:30

As I’ve been releasing my screencasts on learning Docker and working with Node in Docker, along with my (FREE!) cheatsheets for Docker, I’ve been getting a pretty regular stream of questions from people.

From these questions, I’ve been able to improve my own use of Docker while helping others. I’ve also had this notion that I need to write a small ebook to consolidate some of this knowledge.

What I really wanted to do was take the lessons learned, configuration ideas and solutions to problems that people run into, and provide almost a copy-and-paste solution set… maybe a github repository to go with it, and some sample code and configuration. 

And I’ve finally settled on a way to bring it all together: an ebook and collection of code, with recipes for solving problems surrounding development of Node.js applications in Docker.

Title page medium

The Docker Recipes for Node.js Development ebook

My goal with this ebook, having just barely started the outline and writing, is to provide a set of solutions for common problems, as I said above.

The gist of each chapter will be a problem, solution description and “recipe” that you can easily follow for the solution.

But I want to take this a step further, as I said, and also provide these solutions as code and Dockerfile samples.

The end result should be simple copy & paste, “getting started” or “how-to” style examples from which you can build your applications and development processes. 

I’ve started working on the outline and the first example recipe, but I’m not quite ready to make it available, yet.

I need your help to make this book happen

Typically when I write an ebook or cheatsheet, I get a good chunk of it done and then do early release sales through Leanpub.

This has worked for me in the past, but I want to do something a little different in this case.

I need to make sure this book covers the real problems and questions that you’re running into with Docker and Node.js development. 

With tha tin mind, I need your help – your questions, your problems, and your feedback to show me the right direction for this book.

In January, I’m going to do a pre-sale for the ebook and code samples. 

I’ll likely have 1 chapter written when it starts, and you can see above that I already have a book cover created.

From there, the purpose of the pre-sale is to get you involved. 

You’ll have an opportunity to not only pick up the book at a significant discount compared to the final price, but also to help shape the direction of the book as I’m writing it. 

I don’t have all the details ironed out yet, but I’ll have some kind of setup for receiving feedback, asking for input, getting code samples and early chapters to you, etc. 

It’s all coming soon, but I’m not quite ready to roll out the pre-sale just yet. So stay tuned to the blog here, join the mailing list below, and watch for more information about the ebook and how you can be involved in shaping the content!

The post Coming Soon: Docker Recipes for Node.js Development ebook appeared first on

Categories: Blogs

The Simple Leader: Humility

Evolving Excellence - Mon, 12/19/2016 - 11:44

This is an excerpt from The Simple Leader: Personal and Professional Leadership at the Nexus of Lean and Zen

Remain humble. Don’t worry about who receives the credit. Never let power or authority go to your head.
– Dick Winters, Beyond Band of Brothers

About fifteen years into my career, I thought of myself as a strong manager. I had progressed up the ranks and was responsible for an entire telecom equipment manufacturing facility, leveraging Lean with a great group of people.

Arrogance and ego have ruined many a leader. Unfortunately, these characteristics are still accepted today, although they shouldn’t be. If your goal is to optimize the value of your people, thereby improving the value of your organization, then you need to support and nurture them. You have to admit that you cannot know or control everything that happens and be humble enough to trust others to do their jobs.

Humility means accepting that you’re human and that you have faults, vulnerabilities, and worries like everyone else. Humble leaders are actually more confident than ego-driven leaders, as they are secure enough to show and admit their vulnerabilities and even mistakes. They are open to alternative ideas because they know, understand, and respect that they don’t have all the answers. (Examples of successful CEOs that take a more humble approach include Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Tony Hsei of Zappos.) This creates confidence, and thereby motivation, within the organization. Humble leaders let people do their jobs, aren’t afraid to ask stupid questions, turn mistakes into learning and mentoring opportunities, encourage dissent and embrace opinions and methods different than their own, and forego the trappings of power.

Years ago, when I was named president of the medical device company I ended up leading for eight years, my very first action—within the first hour of starting the job—was to remove the “Reserved for President” parking spot. Later, I removed the custom furniture from my office, and when we built a new building, I ditched the private bathroom. These were small actions in the grand scheme of things, but they sent a message to the company that I was no better than others who worked there. The approach paid dividends several years later, when I needed considerable time off and flexibility to deal with a family medical situation. I was open with my team about what was going on and I received incredible support, under- standing, and compassion from them.

Do you display arrogance or ego at home or in the work place? Would your family or coworkers agree? What would happen if you made your vulnerabilities and shortcomings more visible? How would your peers, team, and family react?

Categories: Blogs

You may not need a Tech Lead, but others do - Sun, 12/18/2016 - 13:56

Vinicius sent me a tweet about an article he published called We don’t need a Tech Lead in response to an older article of mine, “Do we need a Tech Lead?”

I wanted to respond earlier, but tweets were too restrictive. Here’s my response.

The argument against Tech Leads

The article rebuts the necessity for a Tech Lead with the following points (emphasis author’s, not mine):

  1. Well functioning teams in which people share responsibilities are not rare.
  2. When a team is not functioning well, assigning a tech lead can potentially make it worse.

There are many great points in the article. Some of the points I support such as how sharing responsibilities (also known as effective delegation). Distributing responsibilities can be one way effective teams work. Other points lack essential context such as the title (it depends), while other points lack concrete answers such as how to turn a dysfunctional team into a highly performing team.

Are well-functioning teams rare?

I’ve worked with at least 30 organisations over my career as a consultant, and countless teams, both as a team member (sometimes Tech Lead) and as an observer. I have seen the whole spectrum – from teams who function like a single person/unit to teams with people who simply tolerate sitting next to each other, and where one can’t miss the passive-aggressive behaviours or snide remarks.

The article claims:

that the “tech lead is a workaround – not a root cause solution


Tech leads could alleviate the consequences only

Unfortunately the article doesn’t explain how or why the tech lead is a workaround, nor how tech leads alleviate just the consequences.

The article gathered some discussion on Hackernews, and I found some comments particularly interesting.

Let’s take a sample:

  • (gohrt) Trusting that a pair of engineers will always come to an agreement to authoritatively decide the best way forward seems naive to me. Where are these magical people?
  • (vidhar) …we live in reality where lots of teams are not well-functioning some or all of the time, and we still need to get things done even when we don’t have the time, resources or influence to fix the team composition then and there.
  • (ep103) If I had an entire team of my great engineers, my job would be easy. I’d simply delegate my duties to everyone else, and we’d all be nearly equal. I’m jealous of people who work in a shop where the teams are so well constructed, that they think you can get rid of the tech lead role.
  • (shandor) My experience with other developers is that there is a surprisingly large dev population who would absolutely abhorred if they had to touch any of those things (EDIT: i.e. tech lead responsibilities)
  • (doctor_fact) I have worked on teams of highly competent developers where there was no tech lead. They failed badly…
  • (mattsmith321) It’s been a while since I have worked with a lot of talented, like-minded people that were all capable of making good technical decisions.
  • (jt2190) I’ve been on more that one team where no leadership emerged, and in fact, leadership type behavior was passively resisted… These teams (if they can be called that) produced software that had little to no overall design.

Do these sound like well-functioning teams to you? They don’t to me.

Office FightImage from David Trawin’s Flickr stream under the Creative Commons licence

Well-functioning teams do exist. However it is clear that not all teams are well-functioning. In my experience, I would even say that really well-functioning teams are less common than dysfunctional, or just functioning teams. For me, the comments are proof enough that well-functioning teams are not everywhere.

It is actually irrelevant if well-performing teams are rare – there are teams that definitely need help! Which leads to the question…

Does assigning a tech lead to a poorly functioning team make it worse?

In my talk, What I wish I knew as a first time Tech Lead, I explain how acts of leadership are amplifiers (can be good or bad). Therefore assigning a bad tech lead to a poorly functioning team will probably make it worse. However I don’t think organisations set out to give teams bad tech leads.

If a team is poorly functioning, what do organisations do? Simply leave the team to stew in its own juices until things are resolved? That’s one option. Doing nothing is a gamble – you depend on someone in the team to take an act of leadership but the question is will they? I’ve seen many teams never resolve the very issues that make them poorly functioning without some form external intervention or assistance.

Most organisations try to solve this by introducing a role who has some authority. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a Tech Lead, but when the core issues are technical in nature, a good Tech Lead can help. A good leader will seek out the core issues that prevent good teamwork, and use their role to find ways to move them towards a well-functioning team. Sometimes this may mean calling meetings, even if the team do not want to have meetings to reach an agreement about how the team handles certain situations, tasks or responsibilities. A good outcome might be an agreed Team Charter or some clarity about who in the team is responsible for what. A team may end up with a model that looks like they do not need a Tech Lead, but it takes an act of leadership to to make that happen.

The wrong analysis?

The article suggests that a full-time Tech Lead introduces risks such as a lack of collective code ownership, decision-making bottlenecks, a single point bus factor, and (reduced) impact on motivation. I have seen teams with and without Tech Leads both suffering from these issues. In my experience, teams without a Tech Lead tend to have more issues with knowledge silos, no cohesive view and less collective code ownership because there is little motivation to optimise for the group and individuals end up optimising for themselves.

The issue is not caused by whether or not teams have a Tech Lead. Rather, these issues are caused by a lack of a technical leadership (behaviour). The Tech Lead role is not a prerequisite for having technical leadership. I have seen teams where strong, passionate individuals will speak up, bring the team together and address these issues – which are acts of leadership. I have also seen dysfunctional teams sit on their hands because individual (job) safety is an issue and these issues go unaddressed.

My conclusion

The article misses the subtle but important point of good technical leadership. A good leader and Tech Lead is not trying to own all of the responsibilities – they are there to make sure they happen. There is nothing worse than expecting everyone is responsible for a task, only to find that no one is responsible for it.

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. (They) are the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” – Ronald Reagan

The extent to how much individuals in a team can own these responsibilities is a function of the individuals’ interests, skills and experience. It depends!

Asking whether or not teams need a Tech Lead is the wrong question. Better questions to ask include what’s the best way to make sure all of the Tech Lead responsibilities are fulfilled, and what style of leadership does this team need right now.

Categories: Blogs

An alternative AngularJS test runner

Xebia Blog - Sun, 12/18/2016 - 13:13
When building an Angular application, we usually stick to the suggested or auto-generated solution of unit testing; the Karma test runner and server, the Jasmine testing framework, and PhantomJS as the environment to run it all in. In this blog post I'll explain how this is rather silly, and will provide an alternative and lightweight
Categories: Companies

Reflecting on 2016: A Mini-Retrospective

BigVisible Solutions :: An Agile Company - Fri, 12/16/2016 - 19:00

2016 has been a whirlwind in so many ways — and there are reasons to be glad it’s soon to be behind us. But as we approach the 31st day of December and prepare for the ball to drop, ushering in a shiny new 2017, it’s worth looking back at this year to recognize and share all of the many amazing things that we as a company have accomplished. This isn’t merely a charade to pat ourselves on the back. In Agile, you take stock of your successes and failures and try to learn from both. It’s from a place of humility and awe that we collectively retrospect on what worked and what didn’t. Only then can we gaze forward into the near and far distances and see the terrain for the possibilities and pitfalls that it truly is.

Before we look back, we want to recognize and thank everyone who has been with us on this journey. That includes our clients, our followers and fans, but most of all our own community and the SolutionsIQ family that is at the heart of everything we do. We’re also recognizing our partners and our competitors who help bring out the best in us and with whom we all enrich the Agile industry and everyone in it.

2016 has been a joy and pleasure for us and we don’t doubt that 2017 has in store even more moments to cherish. Every one of our 37 years of service has seen SolutionsIQ grow and evolve in unforeseeable ways. To understand a little more clearly what growth means in the case of the past 12 months, here are some numbers that anyone can appreciate about 2016!

Add to this the countless hours of dedication from our consultants, coaches and trainers, as well as our leadership and support, and the numbers are pretty awe-inspiring. Yet 2016 is special for other reasons closer to home as well: in the past two years, our family has grown to incorporate people from BigVisible and Davisbase Consulting into the fold. This has only enriched our experience as an Agile company: we learn from each other and help each other grow so that the companies that we help can learn and grow in their Agile transformations as well. We invariably have fun, too, and we expect to have even more when we all go to New Orleans to close out 2016 and jump into 2017!

Finally here’s a little video we’d like to share with you about what it was like to be part of SolutionsIQ this year!



The post Reflecting on 2016: A Mini-Retrospective appeared first on SolutionsIQ.

Categories: Companies

Implement Quality with Doneness Focused Processes

NetObjectives - Fri, 12/16/2016 - 12:37
A software application’s quality can be viewed from at least two perspectives – the outside (customer/user) and the inside (technical).  These two views correspond with the customer/user tests and the technical tests described in a previous blog.  The outside view also relates to the business tests.     Outside Quality  The customer/user quality revolves around whether the system performs the...

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Categories: Companies

Fixing ssh on Mac Sierra 10.12.1 - Thu, 12/15/2016 - 20:54

I recently upgraded my mac to the latest OS only to find out that my ssh command wasn’t working.

>ssh <strong>servername</strong>

resulted in:

> .ssh/config: line 18: Bad configuration option: useroaming
> .ssh/config: terminating, 1 bad configuration options

which looks like because I added in the following entry to my


file in response to a previous SSH vulnerability:

UseRoaming no

This vulnerability looks like it’s been fixed:

Categories: Blogs

Agile Change or Adoption: Define Small Organizational Changes

Notes from a Tool User - Mark Levison - Thu, 12/15/2016 - 20:23


(Continued from Agile Change or Adoption Always Starts with Why : 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 )

Seeing an organizational change map with seven to eight proposed major changes can feel daunting and discouraging. It’s even worse when we realize that list will keep growing as new organizational problems are discovered.

By taking on only one or two changes at a time, and creating and acknowledging the visible improvements that result, we avoid becoming so overwhelmed that we throw in the towel before significant change can be affected.

Our goal in the first few Sprints is primarily to create a habit of change, even more than the changes themselves. We want the idea of regular small changes to become the norm. The Organizational Improvement Team needs small wins. They need to create a sense of momentum and to prove to everyone that meaningful change is happening, so trust and support can grow.

In the previous post’s Case Study, the strategic items – “0 Net New Bugs at the End of Every Sprint” and “Find a More Effective Performance Review Process” are too big to be achieved in one or two Sprints, so they’re broken down into smaller visible steps. When breaking these down into smaller parts, it’s important to incorporate the element of Product Backlog/Organizational Queue Refinement and include some of the doers (e.g. QA, BA, Developers, etc.) who will be affected by the change. We need their input to ensure that the changes deliver value to them and are on point with what we’re trying to improve.

Scrum Development Teams often use User Stories to help them articulate the need and the value of a new piece of functionality, so let’s apply the same principles to this Organizational Improvement that we’re trying to accomplish.

Robin Dymond uses Improvement Stories at the team level so that teams have a tool to inject improvement into every Sprint. We will use the same approach at the organizational level. Like User Stories, Improvement Stories have: Why, What, Who and Acceptance Criteria.

Start with why – why would the organization benefit from a change? Time savings? Quality improvements? Repeatability? Reduction on conflict or stress? Happier team members? By stating the “why” first, we don’t presuppose the solution. Instead, we focus on the problem.

Improvement Story Templates

There are two different templates you can try for creating Improvement Stories.

“Template B – Start with Why” emphasizes the importance of why more than the standard template.

Template A is likely more familiar to most people who are using User Stories.


User Stories invite conversation, focus on the needs of the end user, have a clearly stated value, are small enough to be manageable, and can be implemented individually. They help us to break big challenges down into smaller, more manageable ones, and execute small changes

Will small changes solve all of the organization’s goals quickly?


Will they foster positive momentum, an environment of trust, and habits that welcome improvements?


Case Study

For the next few Sprints, the WorldsSmallestOnlineBookStore Organization Improvement Team selects two areas to improve: “0 Net New Bugs to Escape a Sprint” and “Find a more effective Performance Review Strategy”. They hand the first directly to the development teams and ask them to create a plan to implement, and the second is taken on directly by the Improvement Team itself.

“0 Net New Bugs to Escape a Sprint” – the Development Teams meet and come up with the following list of things to try:

  • Start testing partially-completed Stories
  • All testing involves collaboration between the team members who built the story and the tester
  • Eliminate pressure on the Development Team to push more features out faster
  • Try using the Specification By Example/BDD approach as a tool to foster greater understanding between QA, BA and Development.

For “Eliminate pressure on the Development Team to push more features out faster”, the Development Teams communicate with the Organization Improvement Team to make the need clear.

Meanwhile, the Org Improvement Team starts breaking down the Annual Performance Review:

  • Eliminate Stack Ranking
  • Test informal feedback process through bi-weekly one-on-ones
  • Look into Performance Review alternatives
  • Find options for Executive Coaching on Effective Leadership Mindset

Both groups agree to run these initial experiments for a period of six weeks (or three Sprints). They will recheck the results at the end of those cycles.


Image attribution: Agile Pain Relief Consulting
Template images © Robin Dymond

Categories: Blogs

Re-Work or New Features, which do you prefer?

NetObjectives - Thu, 12/15/2016 - 19:14
Most consulting engagements start with assessments of an organization's current state. Very often, the interview’s that you conduct reveals a lot about the current state of the organization. Once in a while you come across a statement that an interviewee makes during one of these interviews that make you think. During a company testing assessment, an interviewee said: “Quality and Testing is...

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Categories: Companies

Knowledge Sharing

SpiraTeam is a agile application lifecycle management (ALM) system designed specifically for methodologies such as scrum, XP and Kanban.