carnival of the agilists, 21-dec-06

Welcome to the bumper Xmas 2006 edition of the Carnival of Agilists – the blogroll pointing you to some of the latest thoughts in the agile community!

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

  • Pete Behrens has published the results of his survey of tools used in agile projects. The analysis is thorough, and seems to me to show the expected descent from ‘agile’ towards ‘Agile’ (for a level-headed view of that topic see Martin Fowler on semantic diffusion).
  • Michele Sliger gives us Scrum, the play (with a link at the end to Scrum, the Movie!)
  • For those who haven’t yet seen the rhythm(s) of a flowing agile team, Simon Baker has posted a set of averages that together paint a nice clear picture.

Working software over comprehensive documentation

  • I have a preference for using patterns as a means of conveying knowledge and heuristics. So I was delighted to discover another set: Dave W. Smith’s starter list of anti-patterns entitled Signs that you’re slipping into Design Debt; anyone have any others?

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

  • Artem Marchenko has written a brief series of posts introducing the Kano model of customer satisfaction, which was new to this reader. Food for thought, at the very least.
  • It’s little wonder so many projects get into trouble, when their initial proposal is often self-deluding; Pascal van Cauwenberghe asks companies to Say what you do. Do what you say.
  • And here‘s a salutary reminder from Esther Derby that contracts (and the contractual mind-set) can easily negate any agility the development team may have.

Responding to change over following a plan

  • In Beyond Skepticism Dave Nicolette urges us to “think grey,” particularly when considering what “works” and what “doesn’t work,” and what it means to be “agile.”
  • In Throw it on the Backlog Ed Gibbs relates yet another morality tale from his project; this time around the team learns that they should protect their iteration commitment a little more than they have been doing.

Previous Editions
All previous editions of the Carnival are referenced at the Agile Alliance website. Future editions will be published on the first and third Thursday of each month.

Join in the Fun!
A big thank-you to all those 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.

carnival of the agilists, 19-oct-06

Welcome to the October 19th edition of the Carnival of Agilists – the blogroll pointing you to some of the latest thoughts in the agile community.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

  • Dave Nicolette and Ryan Cooper discuss the agile manifesto’s “people over process” value, with Dave suggesting that Lean offers something slightly different for the skeptics.
  • Pete Behrens is currently hosting a survey of the tools used to help with managing various aspects of an agile process. It only takes a minute to complete, and the closing date is October 31st. Do it now.

Working software over comprehensive documentation

  • Steve Eichert reminds us that even agile planning can sometimes blind us to the need to produce working software.
  • Emmanuel Gaillot exhorts us to borrow the first 5 minutes, and thereby begin the process of paying off a project’s technical debt.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

  • Brian Ford discusses what he calls the circularity of behaviour-driven development. Follow the links to related posts describing how he and his colleagues are using BDD to create shared meaning between developers, customers and users.

Responding to change over following a plan

  • Pascal van Cauwenberghe and Rob Westgeest ran their Bottleneck session at AgileNorth 2006, with one neat twist that helped us map the value streams in our real-life scenarios. “Retroscending” is well worth a try!
  • And as if one neologism wasn’t enough, Eric Gunnerson introduces the new agile methodology called Scrumbut – as in “we’re doing Scrum, but…”

In the News

Spotlight
Allow me to introduce you to Pascal van Cauwenberghe, from Belgium. In addition to his day job as an agile consultant, Pascal is one of the organisers of XP Day Benelux, and is a keen student of Systems Thinking, Lean Thinking and the Theory of Constraints. He thinks deeply about software development and works hard at helping others to learn. I recommend you subscribe to his blog today.

Previous Editions
All previous editions of the Carnival are referenced at the Agile Alliance website. Future editions will be published on the first and third Thursday of each month.

Join in the Fun!
A big thank-you to all those 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.

one foot in the past?

[I wrote this piece on May 12th 2007. I found it today in my Drafts folder, and it still feels relevant. What do you think?]

While collating this week’s Carnival of the Agilists I very much wanted to break with tradition. In the usual format we use the four values from the Agile Manifesto as the main headings in the digest. These headings (“people over process” etc) represent the rallying cry of the agile movement, and express a set of desires in adversarial terms: we prefer this compared to that. That kind of thinking was all well and good in 2001, when the great and good in Snowbird felt they had a war to win. But I grow less comfortable with that approach over time, and I feel the need for something different.

Moreover, I wanted to lift the digest’s eyes a little, away from the nitty-gritty of what colour task cards to use and onto the reasons I feel agile software development is important and necessary: delivering business value. I wanted to change the headings to the three metrics suggested by Mary Poppendieck a while ago:

  1. reduce cycle time;
  2. increase business case realisation; and
  3. increase net promoter score.

Guess what: I couldn’t do it. In particular, I couldn’t fill those first two sections. The blogsphere is full of the minutiae of task-based planning, test-driven development, customer collaboration and so on. But there’s very little being said about business drivers or measuring benefits. I have found a small number of bloggers who write about cycle time – usually from a Theory of Constraints perspective – such as Pascal van Cauwenberghe and Clarke Ching. And there are a number of good blogs in the “user experience” category – notably Kathy Sierra, the folks at 47signals and those at Planet Argon.

But compared to the hundreds of blogs about task cards (and I’ve been as guilty as any), those mentioned above are a drop in the ocean. It’s as if most of the software development community is fixated on “being” agile, instead of being fixated on delivering. So come on, prove me wrong. By all means talk about what you do and how you do it, but try also to relate that to why you do it – map everything back to those metrics (or anything similar). Let me report in my next turn at the Carnival that we’ve lifted our eyes towards our goal.

carnival of the agilists, 17-aug-06

Welcome to the August 17th edition of the Carnival of Agilists – providing you with a commented digest on what’s been said in the agile blogsphere during the last two weeks.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

  • How can you know whether an interviewee will be able to work in an agile team? Johanna Rothmann suggests using auditions as a key element of the interview.
  • Do the agile values and practices promote the mental state of “flow”? David Hoehn begins a new blog by suggesting they do.

Working software over comprehensive documentation

  • Obie Fernandez challenges more of us to turn the dial up to ten, by committing to certain quality levels in our contracts.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

  • How can you keep your project’s sponsors involved for the long haul? Johanna Rothman reminds us to show progress frequently to keep everyone on their toes.

Responding to change over following a plan

Agile in the News

Previous Editions
The Carnival is published on the first and third Thursday of every month. All previous editions are referenced at the Agile Alliance website.

Join in the Fun!
A big thank-you to all those 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.