carnival of the agilists, 6-sep-07

Welcome to the latest edition of the Carnival of the Agilists, the blogroll that takes an oblique slice through current events in the agile blogsphere. This week’s theme is: visualization

First up is Kenji Hiranabe’s InfoQ article entitled Visualizing Agile Projects using Kanban Boards. Hiranabe describes and explores a number of different ways of visualizing the current state of a project, including the niko-niko calendar that charts the team’s moods: “a Japanese creation, showing team member’s mood for each day. Everyone puts a smiley mark onto their own calendar after the day’s work, before leaving the team room. It looks at the project from the viewpoint of member’s mental health and motivation.” (Jason Yip wants to try this with South Park avatars!) An interesting survey, even though I’m not sure about the utility of translating these boards into a software system.

In Magnetized Teams Simon Baker uses the metaphor of magnetism to explain the value of having everyone in the team focused on the same things: “In a magnetized material the magnetic dipole moments are aligned in parallel and in the same direction. […] Imagine for a moment that every magnetic dipole moment is a person in a team. In a magnetized team everyone shares the same vision and pulls in the same direction, working together to achieve the same goal”. Simon has also turned his Agile Zealot’s Handbook into a helluva ride poster.

In Towards A Unified Model of Dependency Management Jason Gorman is looking for ways to model and visualize the spread of change through a software system. Does change spread among code snippets in the same way that forest fires spread? And how can we simulate the impact of change using simple models and games? “If we visualise our code as a network of nodes and connections, we can begin to get a handle on how this ripple effect might spread through the network, and what properties of the network might help to localise the effect. More importantly, we might be able to relate these network properties to software design principles and begin to build a general theory of dependency management that could be applied at the code level all the way up to the enterprise level.”

In Continuous Integration as Quality Reflection Oren Ellenbogen reminds us all that making the state of the build visible – via a continuous integration server such as CruiseControl – can act as a spur to drive many of the steps of quality improvement in a software process: “The immediate value is priceless. the ability to SEE whether your source-code is stable enough to allow other programmers perform Get Latest and continue their work and the “fail-fast” attitude can save you a lot of time in the long run.”

And to continue with the benefits of continuous integration, Jay Flowers has been doing some systems thinking. In Loop Diagrams he presents a series of models showing the effects of delayed feedback, finishing with a seriously complex model of effects related to build frequency. Jay points out that this is just the beginning: “This diagram is by no means complete. It is meant to spark a dialogue on this subject. I would like it to to be a resource for people who are evaluating possible changes to their environment or even just to understand what is going on in there existing environment.” I’ve found myself using systems models like these more and more frequently in recent months, and I believe our industry has a lot to gain from modelling and visualising the complex feedback systems inherent in our working environments; so I will be watching the development of Jay’s models with great interest…

And finally…

Deb Hartmann notes that “Agilists are more likely to gather in a pub or cafe to exchange ideas, than to write a formal paper. As a result, the number of small local gatherings held within the international Agile community is staggering” – so she’s created a public AgileEvents Calendar at upcoming.org. I’ve already added the next AgileNorth event – why not add yours now!

To suggest items for a future carnival – especially from a blog we haven’t featured before – email us at agilists.carnival@gmail.com. As ever, this and all previous editions of the Carnival are catalogued at the Agile Alliance website. Look out for the next edition of the Carnival around September 20th, hosted by Pete Behrens.

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