carnival of the agilists, 22-jun-07

The latest Carnival is now available, a bumper edition edited this time by Mark Levison. Mark has highlighted a wide variety of material, and I particularly enjoyed the sections on solo working and the use of agile methods outside of software development. Well worth a read.

The next edition will appear here in the first week of July.

carnival of the agilists, 7-jun-07

John Brothers has edited the latest edition of the Carnival, in which you can find a brief digest of recent events in the agile blogosphere. Well worth a read, as always – and make sure you have your sticky buddy to hand…

carnival of the agilists, 17-may-07

Pete Behrens has edited the latest edition of the carnival, which includes links to a nicely balanced pot-pourri of recent agile and post-agile blog posts. I’m particularly pleased that Pete has highlighted Esther Derby’s reminder of the lean principle that we must always focus on optimising the whole system, and not be distracted by creating local maxima just because it may be easy to do so.

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carnival of the agilists, 3-may-07

When it comes to agile software development my preference swings heavily towards the influence of lean. The two central principles of lean are eliminate waste and respect people – although the second of these seems to be too often forgotten in the stories we read of lean (manufacturing) transitions. The agile movement (I hesitate to use that word in the present climate) has a strong tradition of demanding respect for people, arising from the manifesto’s exhortation to value individuals and interactions over processes and tools. And as I sifted through the agile blogosphere again this week I found that tradition very much to the fore. So this week’s carnival is a single-topic issue, bringing together a smattering of your thoughts on “individuals and interactions”…

To get us in the mood, in Respect People Alan Shalloway brings together a few pithy quotes, while in Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Simon Baker attempts to unpick what that particular plank of the agile manifesto means in practice. Dave Nicolette asks Is agile’s greatest strength also its most significant risk factor? and suggests that emphsising people over process is both liberating and risky.

The openness of agility is forcing us to (re-)discover some of the deeper foundations of effective communication. One of these is trust, and in I Told You So Ed Gibbs discovers one of the side-effects of not being trusted. (Trust has also turned out to be the theme of Clarke Ching’s Rolling Rocks Downhill book, which he would like you to help him rename.) And in Attachment Employment Jack Vinson points out that knowledge management initiatives will yield poor results when the workforce doesn’t trust it’s employer.

Speaking of knowledge management, in Osmotic communication – keeping the whole company in touch Tom Scott discusses the idea of using IRC (Internet Relay Chat) to promote information flow throughout a company, and specifically to provide a live commentary on what’s happening to version-controlled resources. A fascinating thought experiment, and I’m very interested to hear from any group who try it.

When it comes to working together, Jeremy Miller finds many ways in which Self Organizing Teams are Superior to Command n’ Control Teams (although some of his readers appear to disagree). And Jon Miller at Gemba Panta Rei discusses how to use Skill Matrices as a key part of the knowledge management in a lean organisation.

And finally, after all that reading, something completely different. Why not try simulating variation in task estimates, as suggested by Clarke Ching? Try it a couple of times, then imagine that Heads equates to getting good luck on a task (so it finishes early) and Tails equates to getting bad luck (so the task finishes late). What does the simulation say about plans and planning?

If you have something that you want to see in a future carnival – especially from a blog we haven’t featured before – email us at agilists.carnival@gmail.com. All previous editions of the Carnival are referenced at the Agile Alliance website. The next carnival is due to appear around May 17, hosted by Pete Behrens.

carnival of the agilists, 6-apr-07

John Brothers has posted the latest carnival, which is somewhat brief because I fiddled with our publishing schedule this week. I found the linked article by SM Kripanidhi particularly thought-provoking; while I like the simplicity of the Scrum concepts, I too am disappointed by the overt commercialisation in and around the Scrum Alliance. I can understand the industry’s appetite for certification – and indeed the whole cookie-cutter approach to new ideas. But it seems to me that that kind of shrink-wrapped and commoditised packaging is the antithesis of agility. I don’t mind anyone getting rich from a good idea, but surely agility will mean something entirely different in each organisation that truly seeks it?

carnival of the agilists, 1-mar-07

February seems to have been a quiet month for agile bloggers everywhere! Nevertheless, this issue of the carnival consists entirely of agile-related Britblogs. Here are the seven posts that gave me the most to think about during the last month:

In When is Scrum not Scrum? Tobias Mayer challenges some of the orthodoxy of Scrum and recommends alternative practices (all of which have worked for me too); full marks from me for reminding us all that agile methods themselves need to be agile in a changing world.

Dan North has sketched a great idea to automate some aspects of exploratory testing: RMonkey will use keywords such as ‘usually’, ‘sometimes’ and ‘rarely’ to introduce an element of randomness into the behaviour of a test script. Contact Dan if you can help out with RMonkey’s development.

Have you read Simon Baker’s Agile Zealot’s Handbook? No? “Then you have compromised your agility!” The ‘handbook’ is a clear and forthright re-working of the (ideas behind the) agile manifesto, and now I’ve seen it I’ll be using it as my preferred rolled-up newspaper. And for the historians, Pragmatic Dave Thomas has unearthed some of the notes he made at Snowbird during the 2001 “summit” meeting.

Are there any obvious signs that the company you work for is never going to be agile in a million years? Rachel Davies has started a list of anti-agile patterns. It would be hilarious if it didn’t give me nightmare flashbacks…

Are you sitting comfortably? Good, because Jason Gorman wants to tell you a story about the villagers of Goaltown and Metricsville, who conspicuously failed to do the simplest thing that could possibly work.

Okay, now that you’ve been sitting down for a while – take the ARSE test. Mark Levison riffs briefly on the “No Asshole Rule”, and at greater length on the agile-sounding Rules of Engagement at SuccessFactors.

And finally, the other Thomas Otter passes on ‘the quote of the year so far’:

“software estimation is a bit like growing ear hair” — JP Rangaswami

At my time of life this is becoming an important consideration. (I wonder if my barber will shave my project estimates too…?)

Thanks to everyone who sent in suggestions for this edition of the carnival – please keep ’em coming. If you have something that you think is worth sharing – especially from a blog we haven’t featured before, send us a link by emailing agilists.carnival@gmail.com, or use the carnival submission form. All previous editions of the Carnival are referenced at the Agile Alliance website.