Do Teams Gel or Jell?

In my role as technical editor for agileconnection.com, I have the opportunity to read many terrific articles. I also have the opportunity to review and comment on those articles. One such comment is what do teams do? Do they “gel” or do they “jell”? Gel is what you put in hair. When you “gel” things, you create a thick goo, like concrete. Teams are not a thick goo. Teams are flexible and responsive. Jell is what you want teams to do. You want them firm, but not set in concrete. When teams jell, they might even jiggle a little. They wave. They adapt. They might even do a little dance, zigging here, zapping there. You want to keep the people in the teams as much as possible, so you flow work through the teams. But you want the people in the teams to reconsider what they do on a regular basis. That’s called retrospecting. People who have their feet in concrete don’t retrospect. They are stuck. People who are flexible and responsive do. So, think about whether you have a gelled or a jelled team. Maybe I’m being a nitpicker. I probably am. Our words mean something. If you have an article you’d like to publish, send it to me. You and I will craft it into something great. Whether or not your team jells....

Agileconnection Wants You!

If you follow the Agile Journal, you know that it was hacked beyond repair last fall. I was quiet about wanting more articles. But now, the site is up and ready for business. Go look at agileconnection.com. I wrote a column about how things have changed in From Agile Journal to Agile Connection: A Look Back at 2012. And, I, the agileconnection.com technical editor, want You! Yes, I would like you to write an article for us to post on the site. We prefer articles that run between 1000-1200 words. We can take them shorter. If they are longer, we will run your article in parts or work with you to make your article shorter. Our readers love articles that tell a compelling story. Tell us a story of success or failure. Tell us how you used agile in a surprising way. Sure, change the names to protect the innocent/guilty. If you’re not sure how to do that, I will work with you to help. Tell us how things were terrible at the beginning. Tell us what happened when you used agile or lean approaches. If you have data or metrics, even better. The more specific you are, the more our readers will be enthralled, and the happier we will all be. You send in a story and it comes to me. I work with you to make sure you are saying what you want to say. I help you craft your story into something you can be proud of. Once we’re done, the story goes to copyediting. Our copyeditors make sure your prose follows the site conventions. They...

Leanpub Podcast Up

A few weeks ago, Peter Armstrong interviewed me for Leanpub, to ask me why I enjoyed writing on Leanpub. That podcast is up now on the Leanpub Buzz page. What’s very funny is that the interview is a few weeks old. I had no idea he was going to post it right after I wrote Dear Author. About 11 minutes in, I talk about the boring trap, the passive voice trap in my own writing. I think this is pretty...

Dear Author

In my role as technical editor for the Agile Journal and as a reviewer for my trusted colleagues, I have the opportunity to read drafts of articles and some books. I see some troublesome behavior. I know it because I exhibit it. In all cases, the author receives feedback the author doesn’t like, but doesn’t want to stop writing. Decide on One Idea I am the prime example of this one, so I will use an example from my writing. I was trying to write one of my Pragmatic Manager emails last week. I sent it to Esther. It was only about 200 words. She counted the number of ideas, in the opening story of fewer than 60 words and stopped at 9 ideas. She could not read anymore. “JR, what is the main idea of this piece?” I just about fell out of my chair laughing at myself. I read this in articles and chapters all the time. You need one main idea in an article or a chapter. When you are done with that idea, it’s time for another article or a chapter. If you have lots of ideas, it’s fine to have another article or a chapter. When I write books, I have a file called, “Stuff-to-put-somewhere”. It’s ideas I can’t use now, but might have a chance to use later. Maybe you don’t need a file like that, but you need a place to put stuff you are not going to use now. You do not need to put everything you know into this article or this book. Really. I promise you. BTW, Joyce Statz...

Looking for Agile Journal Authors

We are looking for authors for the Agile Journal. Here is the 2012 editorial calendar as a guideline for you: January: Requirements; Agile Game Development February: Low Tech Test Tools March: Mobile, Redefining Quality April: Acceptance Test Driven Development May: What is Quality? June: Agile Management July: Cloud Development August: Business Value September: Agile Testing October: Kanban November: Salary Survey; Embedded Systems When I say editorial calendar as a guideline, I mean just that. If you have an article that is jumping out of you, and it doesn’t fit the guideline for a given month, please send the article to me.  Do not worry! Here’s how I work with authors: I read your article. I try not to make any copyedits. I do make some edits if I think they affect your meaning. I ask you questions in comments to  make sure I understand your meaning. My job is to make sure you make sense and that you look smart and consistent to your readers. I want everyone to think, “Wow, this author has something really interesting to say.” Sometimes, authors have peanut butter thinking. That is, they get their thoughts all stuck together. (I do this, which is why I recognize it.) I can help you unstick your thoughts. Sometimes, authors have their best sentence at the end. (I do this.) I can suggest it go at the beginning. Sometimes, authors need an example. (I do this.) I suggest you need an example. You don’t have to take my suggestions. I try to have a light touch. My goal, which I think is your goal, is to help...

Looking for Agile Authors

For those of you who follow All Things Agile, SQE has acquired Agile Journal. And, with that acquisition, comes a few changes. Russell Pannone, our agile buddy, has stepped away as editor-in-chief. Russell is irreplaceable. I’m not replacing him as editor-in-chief, but I am acting as technical editor for the site and I am looking for authors. If you would like to write for Agile Journal, and maintain the high level of content that Russell and Patrick Egan started, I am interested in talking to you. The editorial calendar for the rest of this year is: Sept: Agile Release Management (maybe room for one article) Oct:  Agile Methodologies Nov: Implementing Agile Across the Organization Dec: Editor’s Choice (that would be me!) The first draft for a given issue is roughly a month in advance of that issue. If you’re interested in writing for the Agile Journal, send me an email and let me know what you’d like to write about. I’ll send you the template for...