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Guest Blog: Cognition … what’s it all about?

Ben Linders - Fri, 06/03/2016 - 09:37

Improving Cognitive PerformanceIn this guest blog post on Andrew Mawson from Advanced Workplace Associates talks about their ongoing research on cognition. The aim of that research is to provide guidelines that help knowledge workers do the right things to maximise their cognitive performance.

Cognition is just a scientific term for the functioning of the brain. Until recently measuring the effectiveness of the brain was a difficult challenge requiring laboratory conditions and very expensive equipment. However, over the last few years, researchers have designed software that reliably measure the performance of different parts of the brain.


Retrospectives Exercises Toolbox - Design your own valuable Retrospectives

There are many different functions of the brain which are known as ‘domains’ but there are 5 of these domains that seem to be most important and which can be measured using software.

Five Key Cognitive Domains

The primary domains are:

  • Attention: the ability to focus one’s perception on target visual or auditory stimuli and filter out unwanted distractions.
  • Executive functioning: the ability to strategically plan one’s actions, abstraction, and cognitive flexibility – the ability to change strategy as needed.
  • Psychomotor and Speed accuracy: Reaction time / processing speed: related functions that deal with how quickly a person can react to stimuli and process information.
  • Episodic Memory: the ability to encode, store, and recall information. In most studies memory is further divided into recognition, recall, verbal, visual, episodic, and working memory. Each type of memory has specific tasks associated with that memory function.
  • Working Memory: is the system responsible for the transient holding and processing of new and already-stored information, and is an important process for reasoning, comprehension, learning and memory updating.

You can probably see that cognition and these domains matter hugely if you are involved in knowledge work. If for example your ‘Attention’ domain is not as effective as it could be, your ability to concentrate in meetings and whilst reading could be lower than somebody who has a better performing ‘Attention’ domain. Imagine if you were in a meeting with 4 other people and you missed a vital piece of the discussion. Regardless of how good your memory might be, if the information isn’t getting as far as your memory, then you won’t be able to recall it. So if at some future date when you are dealing with one of those four colleagues, they may well make an assumption that you absorbed the same information in the meeting as they did…but in fact you didn’t. You can probably see how this can lead to potential confusion. ‘Was that guy in the same meeting as you and I’?

Also, the environment in which you work may matter more to you is your ‘attention’ domain is weaker than someone who is stronger in this area. You may, for instance, have a greater need for a distraction free environment than someone who’s concentration allows them to block everything else out.

You can probably see that depending on your role, different domains have a greater significance to your effectiveness in delivering your role. So for instance if you are involved in a role where accuracy and speed are vital, perhaps if you are an airline pilot or an accountant then the ‘Psychomotor speed and accuracy’ domain may be critical to you. If you are a senior leader involved in determining strategy or planning, then ‘Executive’ function will be more critical.

You can see pretty quickly that in a world where the brains of your people are your key tools in generating value that the effectiveness of these domains matter enormously.

What we wanted to do in our research was to examine all the academic studies that had been done on the subject of ‘cognition’ around the world to establish what makes the most difference to the performance of different parts of the brain and identify what advice could be provided to make improvements then to come up with guidelines that help people do the right things to maximise their cognitive performance.

So over the next 6 months we’re going to reveal the results from our study at our Cognitive Fitness webpage, providing some guidelines that you can use to improve your own cognitive performance and those of your people.

Andrew Mawson is the owner and founder of Advanced Workplace Associates. He eats, sleeps and breathes all things workplace; you can connect with Andrew at LinkedIn.

Categories: Blogs

Hmmm… What does that mean?

George Dinwiddie’s blog - Thu, 06/02/2016 - 21:46

On numerous occasions I’ve observed long-time members of the Agile community complain about misinterpretations of what Agile means, and how it performed. Frequently this is precipitated by yet another blog post about how terrible Agile is, and how it damaged the life of the blogger. Sometimes it’s triggered by a new pronouncement of THE way to practice Agile software development, often in ways that are hardly recognizable as Agile. Or THE way to practice software development is declared post-Agile as if Agile is now obsolete and ready to be tossed in the trash bin.

The responses are both predictable and understandable. “If they’d only listen to what we actually said.” “Of course we don’t mean that.” “That’s not the Agile I know.” “Let’s take back Agile from those who misrepresent it!” It’s frustrating when people take terms you use and mangle the ideas that they represent to you into something unrecognizable and undesirable. I empathize with people making that response.

Recently I observed a similar situation where the shoe was on the other foot. I observed a long-time member of the Agile community describe a concept from another community where I’ve spent a lot of time and effort. The description was so far off the mark that I never would have guessed the concept that was being described.

As nearly as I can tell, they had formed a working definition from context, and from that definition had rejected the concept out of hand. They rejected it so forcefully that it seemed to taint their opinion of everyone connected with that concept. Indeed, “taint” may be insufficient, as they expressed their opinion not as “this person believes…” or “this person behaves…,” but as “this person is….”

I found this profoundly sad from several angles.

The concept is one that I’ve studied and used for years, and have developed layers of understanding that grow deeper over time. The person being dismissed is one I consider a friend and a mentor. It’s someone from whom I’ve learned a great deal over time, and that learning has significantly enriched my life.

The person making these comments is also someone I consider a friend. It distresses me greatly to watch one friend disparage another. I will generally defend the friend who is not there, as I did in this case and have done with regard to the other friend in other situations. This, of course, makes me a surrogate target representing the friend who is not there, and that increases the emotional magnitude of my distress.

The behavior of the friend who was present was so strikingly similar to the behavior I’ve observed that same friend rail against. In the situations where they were defending the concepts of Agile software development from what I considered unwarranted attack, I had felt a close affinity with what they were saying.

Now, seeing the same person taking the opposite role in a different context, I was having a hard time reconciling the difference in their behavior in the two situations. “They should know better than to dismiss a concept they don’t understand!”

Flashback to the year 2000. I was taking a coffee-break with a couple of colleagues at work. We were making jokes, being witty as software developers are wont to do. At one point in the conversation I used the phrase “Extreme Programming” as the punchline to a joke.

One colleague asked, “Extreme Programming? What’s that?”

“I don’t really know.” I had been researching Design Patterns on the Portland Pattern Repository and had seen the term being heatedly discussed, but had considered it noise in the way of my study of Design Patterns. The fact that there were obvious arguments about it, and that the term seemed silly on it face, had lead me to dismiss it out of hand. “I guess I should find out.”

This was the start of my study of Agile software development. I don’t know why my reaction, when confronted with my ignorance, was to enquire more deeply rather than defend my ignorance. I doubt that I react in that manner all the time. That particular reaction, though, has been hugely valuable for me. In many ways, it changed the direction of my life.

It’s not the term used, the name of the concept, that counts. It’s learning the nuances of the concept, starting with “Why would someone advocate this concept?” Assuming the answer to that question is that they’re an idiot leads nowhere productive. Investigating with curiosity often does.

What could I do about people who dismiss valuable concepts out of ignorance? I don’t have a good answer for that. Perhaps ignore the situation is the easiest non-negative response I can take. Arguing never seems to help, in my experience.

But when the shoe is on the other foot and someone suggests something that seems ridiculous at first glance, asking “Hmmm… What does that mean?” has served me better than rejection. At worst it goes nowhere and I’m left with “I don’t know.” Sometimes, however, it has opened my eyes to possibilities that I’d not yet imagined.

Categories: Blogs

Behind the Scenes: A Minimal Viable Setup for Creating Video Scribe

Xebia Blog - Thu, 06/02/2016 - 17:28
I'm getting a lot of questions about my previous blog post. Fortunately also about the content, but mostly about how I created the video. So in this episode we will look at the MVP (Minimal Viable Product) version of a video scribe and the lessons learned. This way you can make a better video scribe based on
Categories: Companies

Workshop outputs from “How Architects nurture Technical Excellence” - Thu, 06/02/2016 - 15:45
Workshop background

Earlier this week, I ran a workshop at the first ever Agile Europe conference organised by the Agile Alliance in Gdansk, Poland. As described in the abstract:

Architects and architecture are often considered dirty words in the agile world, yet the Architect role and architectural thinking are essential amplifiers for technical excellence, which enable software agility.

In this workshop, we will explore different ways that teams achieve Technical Excellence and explore different tools and approaches that Architects use to successfully influence Technical Excellence.

During the workshop, the participants explored:

  • What are some examples of Technical Excellence?
  • How does one define Technical Excellence?
  • Explored the role of the Architect in agile environments
  • Understood the broader responsibilities of an Architect working in agile environments
  • Focused on specific behaviours and responsibilities of an Architect that help/hinder Technical Excellence

What follows are the results of the collective experiences of the workshop participants during Agile Europe 2016.

How Architects nurture Technical Excellence from Patrick Kua Examples of Technical Excellence

  • A set of coding conventions & standards that are shared, discussed, abided by by the team
  • Introducing more formal code reviews worked wonders, code quality enabled by code reviews, user testing and coding standards, Peer code review process
  • Software modeling with UML
  • First time we’ve used in memory search index to solve severe performance RDBMS problems
  • If scrum is used, a good technical Definition of Done (DoD) is visible and applied
  • Shared APIs for internal and external consumers
  • Introducing ‘no estimates’ approach and delivering software/features well enough to be allowed to continue with it
  • Microservice architecture with docker
  • Team spirit
  • Listening to others (not! my idea is the best)
  • Keeping a project/software alive and used in prod through excellence customer support (most exclusively)
  • “The art must not suffer” as attitude in the team
  • Thinking wide!
  • Dev engineering into requirements
  • Problems clearly and explicitly reported (e.g. Toyota)
  • Using most recent libraries and ability to upgrade
  • Right tools for the job
  • Frequent availability of “something” working (like a daily build that may be incomplete functionality, but in principle works)
  • Specification by example
  • Setting up technical environment for new software, new team members quickly introduced to the project (clean, straightforward set up)
  • Conscious pursuit of Technical Excellence by the team through this being discussed in retros and elsewhere
  • Driver for a device executed on the device
  • Continuous learning (discover new tech), methodologies
  • Automatic deployment, DevOps tools use CI, CD, UT with TDD methodology, First implementation of CD in 2011 in the project I worked on, Multi-layered CI grid, CI env for all services, Continuous Integration and Delivery (daily use tools to support them), Continuous Integration, great CI
  • Measure quality (static analysis, test coverage), static code analysis integrated into IDE
  • Fail fast approach, feedback loop
  • Shader stats (statistical approach to compiler efficiency)
  • Lock less multithreaded scheduling algorithm
  • Heuristic algorithm for multi threaded attributes deduction
  • It is easy to extend the product without modifying everything, modularity of codebase
  • Learn how to use something complex (in depth)
  • Reuse over reinvention/reengineering
  • Ability to predict how a given solution will work/consequences
  • Good work with small effort (efficiency)
  • Simple design over all in one, it’s simple to understand what that technology really does, architecture of the product fits on whiteboard
Categories: Blogs

The ‘Game’ of Agile Compared to Football: Draft Day

Agile Management Blog - VersionOne - Thu, 06/02/2016 - 14:30

What is Agile Compared to Football
More than 30 years ago Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka wrote an article titled ‘The New New Product Development Game,’ which compares product development to rugby. This year’s NFL draft inspired me to make a similar analogy to American football. This is the first in a series of articles comparing agile and football around the major events:

  • Draft Day
  • Training Camp
  • Kickoff Game
  • Super Bowl

A football organization has a team of coaches with different experiences and strengths who are experts at football. Not only do they know the rules, but they specialize in one area (offense, defense, and special teams). Some are very inspirational, some are great with the owners of the team and some thrive on being in the trenches with the players. To be successful, they have to know what makes their players tick.

  • Agile coaches are experts in agile and gravitate to various areas of focus (enterprise agile, new transformations, team level coaching, engineering best practices, etc.)

Team management and coaches are given a budget to spend. On draft day, they pick their top college and trade picks based on position, experience, potential, and how much they cost. The players receive a salary for the season and therefore the cost of their salaries are fixed.

  • Agile teams are fixed and therefore the cost of labor doesn’t change.

Coaches recruit a cross-functional team for the different positions needed for the game (quarterback, receiver, guard, tackle, kicker, etc.).

  • Agile teams are made up of individuals with all the skill sets needed to deliver value (developer, tester, user experience, customer representation, DevOps, etc.)

The team is made up of multiple individuals that play the same position so the coaches have options when deciding who should participate in each play.

  • Agile teams can also have individuals with the same skill set. However, the team, not the coach or ScrumMaster, decides who should work on what.

Players are designated as first line or second line to indicate the stronger player. Even so, they don’t want a single point of failure, so they make sure all levels are as prepared and as skilled as they can be.

  • The agile team succeeds together and fails together so it’s in their best interest to build up the weakest link by pairing the stronger member with the weaker.

Each play has a main position and a secondary position so players can help out in time of need.

  • A team member may primarily be a developer, but can help out by executing test cases (not for their code of course) or with documentation.

The team captain designation is a team appointed position indicating the player is a leader on and off the field.

  • Some agile teams may also designate a member as a team lead. That individual is performing work along the side of the other teammates and provides guidance to and outside of the team.

Stay tuned for the rest of the articles in this series:

  • Training Camp – July
  • Kickoff Game – September
  • Super Bowl – February

Find out how VersionOne can partner with you to build winning agile teams for successful agile transformations.

The post The ‘Game’ of Agile Compared to Football: Draft Day appeared first on The Agile Management Blog.

Categories: Companies

Bugs and Vulnerabilities are 1st Class Citizens in SonarQube Quality Model along with Code Smells

Sonar - Thu, 06/02/2016 - 12:46

In SonarQube 5.5 we adopted an evolved quality model, the SonarQube Quality Model, that takes the best from SQALE and adds what was missing. In doing so, we’ve highlighted project risks while retaining technical debt.

Why? Well, SQALE is good as far as it goes, but it’s primarily about maintainability, with no concept of risk. For instance, if a new, blocker security issue cropped up in your application tomorrow, under a strict adherence to the SQALE methodology you’d have to ignore it until you fixed all the Testability, Reliability, Changeability, &etc issues. When in reality, new issues (i.e. leak period issues) of any type are more important than time-tested ones, and new bugs and security vulnerabilities are the most important of all.

Further, SQALE is primarily about maintainability, but the SQALE quality model also encompasses bugs and vulnerabilities. So those important issues get lost in the crowd. The result is that a project can have blocker-level bugs, but still get an A SQALE rating. For us, that was kinda like seeing a green light at the intersection while cross-traffic is still flowing. Yes, it’s recoverable if you’re paying attention, but still dangerous.

So for the SonarQube Quality Model, we took a step back to re-evaluate what’s important. For us it was these things:

  1. The quality model should be dead simple to use
  2. Bugs and security vulnerabilities shouldn’t be lost in the crowd of maintainability issues
  3. The presence of serious bugs or vulnerabilities in a project should raise a red flag
  4. Maintainability issues are still important and shouldn’t be ignored
  5. The calculation of remediation cost (the use of the SQALE analysis model) is still important and should still be done

To meet those criteria, we started by pulling Reliability and Security issues (bugs and vulnerabilities) out into their own categories. They’ll never be lost in the crowd again. Then we consolidated what was left into Maintainability issues, a.k.a. code smells. Now there are three simple categories, and prioritization is easy.

We gave bugs and vulnerabilities their own risk-based ratings, so the presence of a serious Security or Reliability issue in a project will raise that red flag we wanted. Then we renamed the SQALE rating to the Maintainability rating. It’s calculated based on the SQALE analysis model (technical debt) the same way it always was, except that it no longer includes the remediation time for bugs and vulnerabilities:

To go help enforce the new quality model, we updated the default Quality Gate:

  • 0 New Bugs
  • 0 New Vulnerabilities
  • New Code Maintainability rating = A
  • Coverage on New Code >= 80%

The end result is an understandable, actionable quality model you can master out of the box; quality model 2.0, if you will. Because managing code quality should be fun and simple.

Categories: Open Source

Agile France, Paris, France, June 16-17 2016

Scrum Expert - Thu, 06/02/2016 - 11:00
Agile France is a two-day conference focused on Agile and Scrum that takes place in Paris. It presents Agile practices, discusses their limitations and explore new approaches. All the presentations are in French. In the agenda of the Agile France conference you can find topics like “Rediscovering the Agile Manifesto”, “How to Get Working Standup”, “If the Solution was the Problem?”, “Mob Mob Mob Programming”, “Scaling Agile – the Release Planning Day @ Meetic”, “Story Map, Story Map, Story Map … How do You Do ?”, “Let’s sketch together !”, “User Stories, what else ?” or “From Legacy Code to Legacy Tests”. Web site: Location for the Agile France conference: Chalet de la Porte Jaune, Avenue de Nogent, 75012 Paris
Categories: Communities

The Scrum Police Game

Growing Agile - Thu, 06/02/2016 - 10:24
As part of our latest talk at SUGSA we decide to invent a game. The cards and rules are available here so you can download everything and play yourself. The game is intended to help Scrum Masters see how they can move from being enforcers of Scrum to servant leaders. The game consists of scenario […]
Categories: Companies

Scrum Day Germany, Filderstadt, Germany, June 7-8 2016

Scrum Expert - Thu, 06/02/2016 - 10:00
Scrum Day Germany is a two-day conference about Scrum and Agile project management that propose an international line-up of Agile experts. It provides a multi-track sessions and full day workshops. The conference sessions are mainly in German. In the agenda of the Scrum Day Germany conference you can find topics like “Product Owner Types: What You Should Know”, “Status Quo Agile – Scrum: Rather Tailor-made than According to the Textbook”, “Measuring Agile to Prove the Success of the Adoption”, “Agile Enterprise – Growing Agile beyond Tech”, “HardScrum – Software Development in the Embbeded Automotive Environment”. Web site: Location for the Scrum Day Germany conference: FILharmonie, Tübinger Strasse 40, 70794 Filderstadt, Germany
Categories: Communities

The Ultimate Tester: Build Quality In

Xebia Blog - Thu, 06/02/2016 - 08:49
One of the most important aspects of agile working is the fast pace. In an ideal world, you can deliver to production constantly. However, if you deliver software fast, but it is full of bugs, your product has a lower chance of succeeding. As an agile tester, one of your focus points has to be
Categories: Companies

CQRS and REST: the perfect match

Jimmy Bogard - Wed, 06/01/2016 - 22:02

In many of my applications, the UI and API gravitate towards task-oriented UIs. Instead of “editing an invoice”, I “approve an invoice”, with specialized models, behaviors and screens just for accomplishing that task. But what happens when we move from a server-side application to one more distributed, to be accessed via an API?

In a previous post, I talked about the difference between entities, resources, and representations. It turns out that by removing the constraint around entities and resources, it opens the door to REST APIs that more closely match how we’d build the UI if it were a completely server-side application.

With a server side application, taking the example of invoices, I’d likely have a page to view invoices:

GET /invoices

This page would return the table of invoices, with links to view invoice details (or perhaps buttons to approve them). If I viewed invoice details, I’d click a link to view a page of invoice details:

GET /invoices/684

Because I prefer task-based UIs, this page would include links to specific activities you could request to perform. You might have an Approve link, a Deny link, comments, modifications etc. All of these are different actions one could take with an invoice. To approve an invoice, I’d click the link to see a page or modal:

GET /invoices/684/approve

The URLs aren’t important here, I could be on some crazy CMS that makes my URLs “GET /fizzbuzzcms/action.aspx?actionName=approve&entityId=684”, the important thing is it’s a distinct URL, therefore a distinct resource and a specific representation.

To actually approve the invoice, I fill in some information (perhaps some comments or something) and click “Approve” to submit the form:

POST /invoices/684/approve

The server will examine my form post, validate it, authorize the action, and if successful, will return a 3xx response:

HTTP/1.1 303 See Other
Location: /invoices/684

The POST, instead of creating a new resource, returned back with a response of “yeah I got it, see this other resource over here”. This is called the “Post-Redirect-Get” pattern. And it’s REST.


Not surprisingly, we can model our REST API exactly as we did our HTML-based web app. Though technically, our web app was already RESTful, it just served HTML as its representation.

Back to our API, let’s design a CQRS-centric set of resources. First, the collection resource:

GET /invoices

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
    "id": 684,
    "invoiceNumber": "38042-L-275-684",
    "customerName": "Jon Smith",
    "orderTotal": 58.85,
    "href": "/invoices/684"
    "id": 688,
    "invoiceNumber": "33453-L-275-688",
    "customerName": "Maggie Smith",
    "orderTotal": 863.88,
    "href": "/invoices/688"

I’m intentionally not using any established media type, just to illustrate the basics. No HAL or Siren or JSON-API etc.

Just like the HTML page, my collection resource could join in 20 tables to build out this representation, since we’ve already established there’s no connection between entities/tables and resources.

In my client, I can then follow the link to see more details about the invoice (or, alternatively, included links directly to actions). Following the details link:

GET /invoices/684

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
  "id": 684,
  "invoiceNumber": "38042-L-275-684",
  "customerName": "Jon Smith",
  "orderTotal": 58.85,
  "shippingAddress": "123 Anywhere"
  "lineItems": [ ]
  "href": "/invoices/684",
  "links": [
    { "rel": "approve", "prompt": "Approve", "href": "invoices/684/approve" },
    { "rel": "reject", "prompt": "Reject", "href": "invoices/684/reject" }

I now include links to additional resources, which in the CQRS world, those additional resources are commands. And just like our HTML version of things, these resources can return hypermedia controls, or, in the case of a modal dialog, I could have embedded the hypermedia controls inside the original response. Let’s go with the non-modal example:

GET /invoices/684/approve

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
  "invoiceNumber": "38042-L-275-684",
  "customerName": "Jon Smith",
  "orderTotal": 58.85,
  "href": "/invoices/684/approve",
  "fields": [
    { "type": "textarea", "optional": true, "name": "comments" }
  "prompt": "Approve"

In my command resource, I include enough information to instruct clients how to build a response (given they have SOME knowledge of our protocol). I even include some display information, as I would have in my HTML version. I have an array of fields, only one in my case, with enough information to instruct something to render it if necessary. I could then POST information up, perhaps with my JSON structure or form encoded if I liked, then get a response:

POST /invoices/684/approve
comments=I love lamp

HTTP/1.1 303 See Other
Location: /invoices/684

Or, I could have my command return an immediate response and have its own data, because maybe approving an invoice kicks off its own workflow:

POST /invoices/684/approve
comments=I love lamp

HTTP/1.1 201 Created
Location: /invoices/684/approve/3506
  "id": 3506,
  "href": "/invoices/684/approve/3506",
  "status": "pending"

In that example I could follow the location or the body to the approve resource. Or maybe this is an asynchronous command, and approval acceptance doesn’t happen immediately and I want to model that explicitly:

POST /invoices/684/approve
comments=I love lamp

HTTP/1.1 202 Accepted
Location: /invoices/684/approve/3506
Retry-After: 120

I’ve received your approval request, and I’ve accepted it, but it’s not created yet so try this URL after 2 minutes. Or maybe approval is its own dedicated resource under an invoice, therefore I can only have one approval at a time, and my operation is idempotent. Then I can use PUT:

PUT /invoices/684/approve
comments=I love lamp

HTTP/1.1 201 Created
Location: /invoices/684/approve

If I do this, my resource is stored in that URL so I can then do a GET on that URL to see the status of the approval, and an invoice only gets one approval. Remember, PUT is idempotent and I’m operating under the resource identified by the URL. So PUT is only reserved for when the client can apply the request to that resource, not to some other one.

In a nutshell, because I can create a CQRS application with plain HTML, it’s trivial to create a CQRS-based REST API. All I need to do is follow the same design guidelines on responses, pay attention to the HTTP protocol semantics, and I’ve created an API that’s both RESTful and CQRSful.

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Categories: Blogs

New SAFe 4.0 Introduction Whitepaper

Agile Product Owner - Wed, 06/01/2016 - 20:56

Greetings everyone!

We told you it’s coming, and many of you have been asking about it, so I’m happy to announce that the first whitepaper on SAFe 4.0 has been published, and is available for you to download at

The official title is SAFe 4.0 Introduction: Overview of the Scaled Agile Framework for Lean Software and Systems Engineering.

The white paper distills the essence of SAFe from hundreds of website pages to just twenty-five, and provides a high level overview of the Framework, including its values, principles, practices, and strategy for implementation.

The white paper should be helpful in several ways:

  • Educate leaders, managers, and executives about how to apply SAFe for enterprise-class Lean-Agile software and systems development
  • Prepare students in the basics of SAFe prior to taking a course (e.g. Implementing SAFe 4.0 with SPC4 certification, Leading SAFe 4.0, etc.)
  • Help people understand SAFe 4.0 in greater detail, especially those who haven’t taken a 4.0 SAFe class

We look forward to your comments about the white paper and how the community might leverage it to support their SAFe transformations.

Stay tuned for updates about our SAFe Distilled, book, which I’m co-authoring with Dean Leffingwell and will be published by Pearson. I’m working with our publisher to see if we can share draft chapters for community feedback.

Always be SAFe,
–Richard Knaster, SAFe Fellow

Categories: Blogs

Keeping Austin Agile with Industry Thought Leaders and Agile Amped!

BigVisible Solutions :: An Agile Company - Wed, 06/01/2016 - 19:00

Keep Austin Agile 2016 welcomed more than 600 Agile enthusiasts — coaches, consultants, clients and more — to the Lone Star State to continue continuously improving. SolutionsIQ was proud to be onsite with our Agile Amped podcasts to talk with thought leaders in attendance about a whole host of relevant and new topics, including organizational agility, DevOps, Continuous Delivery, technical excellence, the “manager Matrix” and more!

Here’s just a taste of the experience:

Our next Agile Amped adventure will be the industry’s biggest annual event: Agile2016 in Atlanta, GA! See you then!


Be Unstoppable – Subscribe!

dinoAgile Amped – all the greatest Agile content is within your reach. Subscribe now to receive instant email alerts when new podcasts are posted. Dino says do it – so do it.

The post Keeping Austin Agile with Industry Thought Leaders and Agile Amped! appeared first on SolutionsIQ.

Categories: Companies

Experts in One Field Are Not Necessarily Experts in Another

NetObjectives - Wed, 06/01/2016 - 18:32
People are always looking for experts.  The question is what qualities should you look for in an expert?  It is easy for non-experts to be confused about the true expertise of the people they are listening to  All too often, I see people who are experts in one approach providing advice (good or bad) in another approach in which they have little experience.  This is the way of world, of course,...

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Categories: Companies

The Agile Chip

Leading Agile - Mike Cottmeyer - Wed, 06/01/2016 - 15:04

I’m a Detroit guy and I like cars, especially fast cars, and nowadays they have computer chips you can install that make your car go faster. Imagine that, just plug in a chip and press on the accelerator and vroooom!

I’m also an agile coach and I see patterns.  With most every agile transformation I see a pattern when we start to talk about velocity and sustainable pace.  Some folks really zero in on just the velocity part.  It feels like they just found a new chip for their car and with visions of caffeine infused programmers they are thinking about hammering their right foot on the accelerator.

Indy Cars

Going fast can be a beautiful thing. With these new action cams we can watch an Indy Car Champion take a car through its paces and it’s like art in motion. It is also a beautiful thing when an agile team starts getting great gains in velocity. There is art to that as well, and the teams that are achieving great gains in velocity travelled a long hard road to get there.

Teams that are test driving and producing both Clean and SOLID code from the outset as well as having fully automated test suites are rare. These teams have well-groomed backlogs and they manage their commitments to the organization based on both previous velocity and sustainable pace. They are craftsmanship focused and continuously improving both their practices and their craft. But it doesn’t happen overnight and it certainly isn’t as easy as installing “An Agile Chip”.

Teams need an opportunity to build up their skills and get a stable velocity before they start looking at going faster. And they need help too. They need well-groomed backlogs, dependency free Epics, a clear understanding of what “done” is, and a clear roadmap for wherever they are going. All three of these; backlogs, working tested software, and the strong teams that produce them, take some time to develop.

The backlog is like the roadmap for the journey, and all of the epics and stories are like gas in the tank. Working tested software, is very much like the car we are driving, and of course the team is the driver. Yes, the team is the driver and the team presses the accelerator.

So where does that leave a manager?  Especially a hands-on manager who is used to driving the team or committing to a specific velocity?

The team still needs you to be vested and committed to their success, but the role changes from being hands on, in the car, to more of an owner in the pits. Teams need someone to clear the way for them to go fast. They need someone to help alleviate organizational impediments that can slow them down. They need the commitment, but to a new cause.

Race tracks are designed for speed. There are very few rules around how you drive; you just need to concentrate on going fast. The roadway is clear of impediments and it’s kept clear. Pit crews help, spotters, telemetry, everything around the team basically, the whole environment, is set up to go fast.

A lot of organizations are set up like a busy City Street. There may be some architecture that can be simplified or modularized.  Process overhead can often be streamlined if not eliminated.  Build and Release Management may be ripe for automation.  Testing automation can be another opportunity, and the list goes on.

A vested owner, helping clear the way for the team, can produce incredible opportunity for the team to go faster because otherwise, the roadways are basically full of impediments and organizational stop lights that slow everything to a crawl. If the environment is not set up for speed you can have the fastest of Indy Race Cars and it’s not going to get anywhere. The team is just going to sit there revving its engine and wasting energy.

Today’s agile teams are brimming with brilliant knowledge workers who don’t need traditional management.  They have pride in what they do and they love seeing what they create getting used out there in the world.  They care about their customers, their teams and their craft, and they can be trusted with the race car.  Give them the keys, clear the roadway ahead and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at where they take you.

The post The Agile Chip appeared first on LeadingAgile.

Categories: Blogs

Beginnen met Agile Retrospectives

Ben Linders - Wed, 06/01/2016 - 11:01

agile retrospective introductieAgile teams doen Agile Retrospectives om te leren en hun manier van werken aan te passen om continu te verbeteren. Het artikel leren en continue verbeteren in agile geeft een introductie in retrospectives en beschrijft hoe je kunt zorgen voor veiligheid zodat mensen open en eerlijk kunnen zijn. Dit artikel beschrijft waarom je retrospectives doet en hoe je met retrospectives kunt beginnen.

Waarom doe je retrospectives?

Insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results.‘ Als je de problemen die je ondervindt op wilt lossen, en meer waarde wilt leveren aan je klanten, dan moet je de manier waarop je je werk doet veranderen. Dat is de reden waarom Agile het gebruik van retrospectives aanbeveelt: om teams te helpen om problemen zelf op te lossen en zich te verbeteren!


Retrospectives Exercises Toolbox - Design your own valuable Retrospectives

Wat maakt retrospectives anders, welke voordelen leveren ze op? Een voordeel is dat retrospectives de macht aan het team geven, ze empoweren het team. Aangezien de teamleden zelf de retrospective doen en samen beslissen welke verbeteracties ze gaan doen, zal er weinig weerstand zijn tegen de veranderingen die nodig zijn.

Een ander voordeel is dat de acties die in een retrospectieve zijn afgesproken worden uitgevoerd door de leden van het team: er is geen hand-over! Het team analyseert wat er gebeurd is, bepaalt de acties, en de teamleden doen ze. Dit is veel effectiever en ook sneller en goedkoper :-).

Deze voordelen maken van Agile retrospectives een betere manier om verbeteringen te doen. Retrospectives zijn een van de succesfactoren voor het effectief gebruiken van Scrum. Je kunt verschillende retrospectieve oefeningen gebruiken om waarde toe te voegen voor de business. En retrospectives zijn ook een geweldig hulpmiddel om stabiele teams te creëren en behouden en hen te helpen om flexibel en effectief te werken en daarmee werkelijk Agile en Lean te worden.

Hoe begin je met retrospectives?

Er bestaan verschillende manieren om retrospectives te introduceren in organisaties. Je kunt Scrum-masters en andere mensen die retrospectives zullen faciliteren trainen (bijvoorbeeld met een Waardevolle Agile Retrospectives-workshop) om ze te leren hoe ze retrospectives goed kunnen doen. In de training leren ze hoe ze retrospectives kunnen doen in de Agile-teams door de diverse oefeningen te gebruiken.

Ik ben zelf begonnen met Agile retrospectives in ‘stealth mode’ te doen in mijn projecten. Ik noemde ze geen retrospectives maar gebruikte de term ‘evaluaties’. In plaats van te wachten tot het einde van het project stelde ik voor aan de teams om ze iedere iteratie te doen (het project werkte volgens RUP met iteraties van vier tot zes weken). De acties die uit de evaluatie kwamen, namen we in de volgende iteratie meteen mee. Dit voelde voor de teams heel natuurlijk.

Welke manier je ook kiest, zorg ervoor dat je retrospectives frequent blijft doen en dat de acties die uit de retrospective komen ook uitgevoerd worden. Zelfs als alles goed lijkt te gaan zijn er altijd manieren te vinden om te verbeteren!

Aan de slag!

Wil je meer weten over retrospectives en aan de slag gaan met retrospectives in je teams? Luis Gonçalves en ik hebben het boek Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives geschreven. Dit boek is vertaald door een team van vrijwilligers naar het Nederlands: Waardevolle Agile Retrospectives. Het boek helpt je om voordelen te halen uit het doen van retrospectives. Er is ook een online Retrospective Oefeningen Toolbox die je kunt gebruiken om je eigen waardevolle agile retrospectives ontwerpen.

UtrechtOp 21 juni geef ik de workshop Valuable Agile Retrospectives in Utrecht. In deze succesvolle workshop leer je de waarom, wat en hoe van retrospectives en oefen je in teams met diverse manieren om retrospectives uit te voeren.

Opmerking: Dit artikel is gebaseerd op een artikel dat eerder gepubliceerd is op Leren en verbeteren in Agile.

Categories: Blogs

Unix parallel: Populating all the USB sticks

Mark Needham - Wed, 06/01/2016 - 07:53

The day before Graph Connect Europe 2016 we needed to create a bunch of USB sticks containing Neo4j and the training materials and eventually iterated our way to a half decent approach which made use of the GNU parallel command which I’ve always wanted to use!

But first I needed to get a USB hub so I could do lots of them at the same time. I bought the EasyAcc USB 3.0 but there are lots of other ones that do the same job.

Next I mouunted all the USB sticks and then renamed the volumes to be NEO4J1 -> NEO4J7:

for i in 1 2 3 4 5 6 7; do diskutil renameVolume "USB DISK" NEO4J${i}; done

I then created a bash function called ‘duplicate’ to do the copying work:

function duplicate() {
  echo ${i}
  time rsync -avP --size-only --delete --exclude '.*' --omit-dir-times /Users/markneedham/Downloads/graph-connect-europe-2016/ /Volumes/NEO4J${i}/

We can now call this function in parallel like so:

seq 1 7 | parallel duplicate

And that’s it. We didn’t get a 7x improvement in the throughput of USB creation from doing 7 in parallel but it took ~ 9 minutes to complete 7 compared to 5 minutes each. Presumably there’s still some part of the copying that is sequential further down – Amdahl’s law #ftw.

I want to go and find other things that I can use pipe into parallel now!

Categories: Blogs

On Learning and Information - Elizabeth Keogh - Tue, 05/31/2016 - 17:32

This has been an interesting year for me. At the end of March I came out of one of the largest Agile transformations ever attempted (still going, surprisingly well), and learned way more than I ever thought possible about how adoption works at scale (or doesn’t… making it safe-to-fail turns out to be important).

The learning keeps going. I’ve just done Sharon L. Bowman’s amazing “Training from the Back of the Room” course, and following the Enterprise Services Planning Executive Summit, I’ve signed up for the five-day course for that, too.

That last one’s exciting for me. I’ve been doing Agile for long enough now that I’m finding it hard to spot new learning opportunities within the Agile space. Sure, there’s still plenty for me to learn about psychology,  we’re still getting that BDD message out and learning more all the time, and there’s occasional gems like Paul Goddard’s “Improving Agile Teams” that go to places I hadn’t thought of.

It’s been a fair few years since I experienced something of a paradigm shift in thinking, though. The ESP Summit gave that to me and more.

Starting from Where You Are Now

Getting 50+ managers of MD level and up in a room together, with relatively few coaches, changes the dynamic of the conversations. It becomes far less about how our particular toolboxes can help, and more about what problems are still outstanding that we haven’t solved yet.

Of course, they’re all human problems. The thing is that it isn’t necessarily the current culture that’s the problem; it’s often self-supporting structures and systems that have been in place for a long time. Removing one can often lead to a lack of support for another, which cascades. Someone once referred to an Agile transformation at a client as “the worst implementation of Agile I’ve ever seen”, and they were right; except it wasn’t an implementation, but an adoption. Of course it’s hard to do Agile when you can’t get a server, you’ve got regulatory requirements to consider, you’ve got five main stakeholders for every project, nobody understands the new roles they’ve been asked to play and you’re still running a yearly budgeting cycle – just some of the common problems that I’ve come across in a number of large clients.

Unless you’ve got a sense of urgency so powerful that you’re willing to risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater, incremental change is the way to go, but where do you start, and what do you change first?

The thing I like most about Kanban, and about ESP, is that “start from where you are now” mentality. Sure, it would be fantastic if we could start creating cross-functional teams immediately. But even if we do that, in a large organization it still takes weeks or months to put together any group that can execute on the proposed ideas and get them live, and it’s hard to see the benefits without doing that.

There’s been a bit of a shift in the Agile space away from the notion that cross-functional teams are necessarily where we start, which means we’re shifting away from some of the core concepts of Agile itself.

Dan North and Chris Matts, my long-time friends and mentors, have been busy creating a thing called Business Mapping, in which they help organizations match their investments and budgets to the capacity they actually have to deliver, while slowly growing “staff liquidity” that allows for more flexible delivery.

Enterprise Services Planning achieves much the same result, with a focus on disciplined, data-driven change that I found challenging but exciting: firstly because I realise I haven’t done enough data collection in the past, and secondly because it directs leaders to trust maths, rather than instincts. This is still Kanban, but on steroids: not just people working together in a team, but teams working together; not just leadership at every level, but people using the information at their disposal to drive change and experiment.

The Advent of Adhocracy

Professor Julian Birkenshaw’s keynote was the biggest paradigm shift I’ve experienced since Dave Snowden introduced me to Cynefin, and those of you who know how much I love that little framework understand that I’m not using the phrase lightly.

Julian talks about three different ages:

The Industrial Age: Capital and labour are scarce resources. Creates a bureaucracy in which position is privileged, co-ordination achieved by rules, decisions made through hierarchy, and people motivated by extrinsic rewards.

The Information Age: Capital and labour are no longer scarce, but knowledge and information are. Creates a meritocracy in which knowledge is privileged, co-ordination achieved by mutual adjustment, decisions made through logical argument and people motivated by personal mastery.

The Post-Information Age: Knowledge and information are no longer scarce, but action and conviction are. Creates an adhocracy in which action is privileged, co-ordination is achieved around opportunity, decisions are made through experimentation and people are motivated by achievement.

As Julian talked about this, I found myself thinking about the difference between the start-ups I’ve worked with and the large, global organizations.

I wondered – could making the right kind of information more freely available, and helping people within those organizations achieve personal mastery, give an organization the ability to move into that “adhocracy”? There are still plenty of places which worry about cost per head, when the value is actually in the relationships between people – the value stream – and not the people as individuals. If we had better measurements of that value, would it help us improve those relationships? Would we, as coaches and consultants, develop more of an adhocracy ourselves, and be able to seize opportunities for change as and when they become available?

I keep hearing people within those large organizations make comments about “start-up mindset” and ability to react to the market, but without having Dan and Chris’s “staff liquidity”, knowledge still becomes the constraint, and without having quick information about what’s working and what isn’t, small adjustments based on long-term plans rather than routine experimentation around opportunity becomes the norm.

So I’m going off to get myself more tools, so that I can help organizations to get that information, make sense of it, and create that flexibility; not just in their products and services, but in their changes and adoptions and transformations too.

And I’ll be thinking about this new pattern all the time. It feels like it fits into a bunch of other stuff, but I don’t know how yet.

Julian Birkenshaw says he has a book out next year. I can’t wait.

Categories: Blogs

Empathy and the Sponsored User

Empathy is an important attribute in Design Thinking. In order to solve our customer's problems, we really need to understand them. We need to walk in their shoes. But there's a limit to how far we can take this. We can spend hours talking to an astronaut, but we will never truly understand what it's like to walk in space.

Agile has this idea of the Product Owner, but you don't see much written in agile about empathy. One approach that can help you get past the empathy hurdle mentioned above is to find a key user (or users) to be part of your team. Some organizations call this a Sponsored User, the organization leading the project sponsors this person't participation in order to get their direct input into the product.

The sponsor user becomes one part of the multi-disciplinary team. Their input is important, but it isn't the only input. While they may understand the customer perspective, you need to balance all the project constraints, especially the time and cost it may take to implement some of the sponsored user's ideas. Don't lose sight of your minimal viable product (MVP) in trying to make the sponsored user happy.

You may also have more than one sponsored user, depending on the breadth of the solution you are trying to provide. If your current release has two or three major themes or epics, you could have a different sponsored user for each epic. Contrast this to the idea of having a single product owner responsible for the overall solution.

So when empathy isn't enough, make the user part of the team in order to keep the direction of your product moving the right way.
Categories: Blogs

Knowledge Sharing

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