Create Your Successful Agile Project

How and When to Use Timeboxes, Iterations, and Sprints to be Most Effective

A colleague unfamiliar with lifecycles or agility asked, “How can we use sprints in this approach?” and pointed to a phase-gate approach with documentation deliverables after each phase. It looked just like the serial lifecycle in the image on the left. (That’s because a finance person drew the lifecycle.) I said, “You can’t use ‘sprints.’ …

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Little’s Law for Any Kind of Product Development: How to Learn How Long Your Work Will Take

Joanie, a new VP Engineering, joined the company a couple of weeks ago. Her boss, the CEO, wants to know how long it will take engineering to finish all the projects. Joanie asked the various leaders these questions for every project in progress: When did you start this project? Are you still working on this …

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See and Resolve Team Dependencies, Part 4: All Component Teams, Complex Product

The larger your product, the more likely you have components teams. I often see component teams because of the architecture of the product. In this first image, the Integrated System Program, the rest of the product uses the Platform of Common Services as components. Also, the teams find it tempting to think of the common …

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See and Resolve Team Dependencies, Part 3: Some Component Teams, Some Feature Teams

Continuing the series on dependencies… Maybe you don’t have the problem where the team creates internal dependencies with their process. And you don’t have to wait for someone outside the team to approve your work—an organizational process. But you do have a combination of platform/component teams and feature teams. I see this most often in …

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See and Resolve Team Dependencies, Part 2: One Person Outside the Team

Does your organization have an enterprise architect or Chief Product Person? We create these positions to check that the teams don’t try to implement something “wrong.” However, a single person in this position creates bottlenecks and dependencies. (A committee might create even tighter bottlenecks.) Those dependencies slow the work. If a person delays the work, …

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See and Resolve Team Dependencies, Part 1: Inside the Team

Even when managers try to create cross-functional teams, the teams still have dependencies. Dependencies slow and make finishing the work more difficult. Too many teams have a built-in dependency creator—code review. When we take time to perform code review after we write the code (or the tests), we create dependencies between the people on the …

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A Common Tool Trap: the Tool Will Help Your Delivery and Planning Problems

Over the past couple of weeks, several potential clients have discussed problems they want to fix: What are the teams doing, at a detailed level? (The managers want to know when the teams will finish certain features in the short term.) How can they plan for six months at a time? (They want to understand …

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How to Understand and Relieve the Symptoms of “Agile” Death Marches

Did you ever work on a project that dragged on and on, slipping a week every week? Back in the day, we called those projects “death marches.” I never saw anyone literally die, but I saw too many divorces, abuse of drugs and alcohol, and very dissatisfied and unhappy employees and customers.​​ Waterfall projects can …

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Manage Interruptions with Defensive Project Portfolio Management

Here’s a scenario I see in all kinds of businesses. Your team has product-focused work. And, the team also has “fast” response-required, ad hoc work: Production support, when something breaks. You need to fix this right away. Provide technical support when people have questions. The team needs to answer these questions on a “timely” basis. …

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With Agile Approaches, No Need to “Meet” or “Enforce” Deadlines

Several of my clients struggle with their deadlines. One of them, Brad, quoted Douglas Adams to me and frowned: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” He thought agile approaches would work to “meet” and “enforce” deadlines. I asked him these questions: Do you think people don’t want …

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