What Does Agile Mean to You?

Over on Techwell, my monthly column is Agile Does Not Equal Scrum: Know the Difference. I wrote the article because I am tired of people saying “Agile/Scrum” as if Scrum was the only way to do agile. I use iterations, kanban, and the XP technical practices when I work with teams. I am not religious about the “right” way to do agile. I like any combination of approaches that help a team deliver value often. I like anything that helps a team to get feedback on their work and their team process. I like anything that helps management ask the right questions and create an environment in which teams can succeed. Dogma doesn’t work very well for me. (I know, you are so surprised.) If you are thinking about your agile approach, ask yourself, “What does agile mean to me? What value will agile deliver?” Before you decide on an approach, answer that question. You might be more Dan in my most recent Pragmatic Manager, Define Your Agile Success. Once you know what agile means to you, you might start to read more about possibilities that fit for you. If you are a leader in your organization trying to use agile more effectively, consider participating in the Influential Agile...

Four Tips for Pair Writing

I am shepherding an experience report for XP 2016. A shepherd is sort-of like a technical editor. I help the writer(s) tell their story in the best possible way. I enjoy it and I learn from working with the authors to tell their stories. The writers for this experience report want to pair-write. They have four co-authors. I offered them suggestions you might find useful: Tip 1: Use question-driven writing When you think about the questions you want to answer, you have several approaches to whatever you write. An experience report has this structure: what the initial state was and the pain there; what you did (the story of your work, the experience); and the end state, where you are now. You can play with that a little, but the whole point of an experience report is to document your experience. It is a story. If you are not writing an experience report, organize your writing into the beginning, middle, end. If it’s a tips piece, each tip has a beginning, middle, end. It depends on how long the piece is. When you use question-driven writing, you ask yourself, “What do people need to know in this section?” If you have a section about the software interacting with the hardware, you can ask the “What do people need to know” and “How can I show the interactions with bogging down in too much detail” questions. You might have other questions. I find those two questions useful. Tip 2: Pair-write I do this in several ways with my coauthors. We often discuss for a few minutes what we want to...

Architects as Servant Leaders

As more teams and organizations transition to agile, they discover something important about leadership. Leadership is part of everything we do in an agile project. It doesn’t matter if it’s development or testing, management or architecture. We need people with high initiative and leadership capabilities. That leads me to these questions: We need project management. Do we need project managers? We need management. Do we need managers? We need architecture. Do we need architects? As with all interesting questions, often the answers are, “It depends.” What do those people do? How do they do it? In December, I gave a talk, “Agile Architect as Servant Leader” for IASA. That talk outlines some of the ways agile architects might work as servant leaders. See the slides: Agile Architect as Servant Leader. There is more about servant leadership in Agile and Lean Program Management, for program managers, program product owners, and architects. Here is the link to the recording: Agile Architect as Servant...

Want to Write Non-Fiction Better?

If you write as part of your job, I have a new online workshop starting in March. It’s Writing Workshop 1: Write Non-Fiction to Enhance Your Business and Reputation. Here’s the problem I see. You’re a consultant or other entrepreneur. You know you need to write to enhance or build your reputation. You see a blank page (paper or screen), and you have no idea what to write. Maybe you can start, but you get 23 words in and get stuck. Maybe you get 5,000 words in, and you know there’s good work in there, but you can’t see it. If you would like to address these challenges (and more), and deliver non-fiction articles, blog posts or newsletters to your readers, this workshop is for you. You’ll learn: How to make writing a habit. How to structure an article that people want to read. Write articles or blog posts or whatever that engage your ideal reader and build your reputation. What writing is. What editing is. How they are different. How to decide when to place your writing where. You will write during this workshop. We will focus on short non-fiction, such as blog posts and articles. I am the only person who will read your writing. I have published over 500 articles and well over 1500 blog posts. I write two columns each month and two quarterly columns each year. (If you have ever been part of a critique group, you know sometimes they savage you with feedback. I won’t do that.) I am a professional technical editor, as well as a writer. I am focusing this workshop for people...

Taking Requests for New Edition of Manage Your Project Portfolio

I am about to update Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects to a second edition. What would you like me to add? To remove? To change? What have your challenges been about project portfolio management? Here are things I’m planning to add: Many more kanban views of the project portfolio and some words about visualization. Discussion (or more than one) about Cost of Delay. How a project’s product backlog is not the same as an organization’s project portfolio. More discussion about what you optimize and why. What else would you like to see? Please either comment or send me email....