Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Sunday, March 6, 2011
|Lyssa explaining the path to being an Agile Coach (picture courtesy of Manoj Vadakkan)|
Below are some of my notes and takeaways from the session.
Agile Coaches are detached from the outcome
An Agile coach has a certain amount of detachment from the outcome. I believe Lyssa's point is whatever happens is what was meant to happen. As a consultant coming into client as a Agile Coach, there can be a certain amount of healthy detachment that allows for clarity in perspective and approach. One issue I raised is that as an employee to a company and working as an internal Agile coach or ScrumMaster, it becomes harder to detach yourself from the outcome.
Agile Coaches take it to the team
Many times as "experts" and consultants, we feel we have the right answers. However, as an Agile Coach we are there to guide the team towards their own answers. Questions were raised throughout the night on specific client issues and it was interesting to hear Lyssa answer with, "As a consultant, I would tell the client to do the following....".
Overall, I definitely agree with Lyssa here, if a team comes up with their own solutions and own that solution, they are more vested in its outcome and this ultimately helps the the learn and grow (which brings us to the next point).
Agile Coaches work to help the team learn
The goal of the Agile Coach is not to solve a problem for the team (or client), but it is to help the team learn and grow.
Agile Coaches holds up mirror on accountability
Agile Coaches help the clients understand themselves and how they are related to what is going on around them. Self awareness and realization helps the client create the answers that are right for them.
Agile Coaches master their face
This one is interesting. As an Agile Coach, we need to be aware of our body language, such as our facial expressions. When clients come up with something that visibly makes the coach happy (or sad), this can affect the client's decisions. What the coach wants is the client to do what they feel is right, not what they feel will make the coach happy.
Let there be silence
I like this one. When there is awkward silence during meetings and discussions,often the expert/coach is tempted to break the silence with the thought of keeping the meeting moving or to generate ideas. However, it's that awkward silence where the team thinks about the hard questions and often step up with incredible solutions.
This ends the first half of my notes, more tomorrow on Part 2 of my notes where we talk about:
- Being outrageous
- Letting the team fail
- Doing and being
- and more .....
|Local DC Agilists enjoying Lyssa's session (photo courtesy of Manoj Vadakkan)|
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Five years ago if someone had told me there was going to be an Agile conference centered around the Department of Defense, I would have thought not likely. However Agile is striking a chord in the Federal government and there are those in the DoD looking to leverage Agile to bring success to their programs. The DoD, through AFEI, recently sponsored a one day Agile Development Conference. Excella Consulting had the honor of being a Platinum Sponsor and I had fun fielding Agile questions as part of the Expert Panel.
A friend of mine, Dr. David Rico, sent me his summary of the event and he has graciously allowed me to share it via my blog. David is a keen Agilist who also works in the Federal sector. More information on David and his work can be found on his website, http://www.davidfrico.com/.
|Click for event program|
Sunday, November 28, 2010
The TechAmerica-backed report, "Government Technology Opportunity in the 21st Century," put together by a 31-member commission largely composed of federal IT industry execs and drawn from interviews with and collection of feedback from 105 IT industry execs, government officials and members of academia finds federal IT lagging and in need of reform.
The interesting item is the report itself, which talks about the gap between IT in the Federal space versus industry. One key message from the report is a push for Agile/Incremental Development. Section 2.2 - Promote Agile/Incremental Development is an interesting read. It talks about the need for Agile and implementation ideas for OMB, Agencies, and working with industry (click on image below for a sample).
Section 3 of the report lays out an implementation plan that looks to promote Agile in early 2011 (click on image below). The report is a pretty quick read and can be found here .
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Well, maybe not the center of the Agile universe, but there sure is a lot going on this month in and around the DC area (with most of it occurring in the Northern VA area). Take a look:
|September 30th||Agile Alliance Board Reception|
6:30PM to 9:30PM, The Westin Hotel @ Tyson's Corner
|October 6th||PMI Fairview Park Luncheons: Agile Project Management - Truths and Misconceptions Exposed|
Presented by me :)
11:30AM – 1PM, Falls Church, VA
|October 6th||DC/NOVA Scrum User Group - Enterprise War Stories |
6:30PM, Bungalow Billiards in Chantilly, VA
|October 7th||APLN DC Chapter Meeting - The Art of Storytelling|
Presented by Fadi Stephan
6:30PM – 9PM, Vienna, VA
|October 8th||Agile Influencers DC|
5:30PM, Argia's Resturant, Falls Church, VA
|October 9th – 12th||PMI Global Congress|
All day events from 10/9 through 10/12
My session "Agile at the Office of Personnel Management: A True Story" 10/12 @ 2:15-3:15PM
Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, MD
|October 22nd||Agile Tour DC|
9AM – 5PM, near Tenleytown Metro, Washington, DC
Agile Alliance Board Reception
This is a great opportunity to meet the new Agile Alliance Board of Directors, now featuring local Agilist Linda Cook. If you plan on attending, please RSVP to Gale Niles at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, see http://www.agilealliance.org/index.php/events/agile_alliance_board_reception.
PMI Fairview Park Luncheons: Agile Project Management - Truths and Misconceptions Exposed
In this interactive presentation, I will be presenting a series of Agile Truth or Misconception questions to the audience and we will interactively explore this topic. This promises to be an interesting session for those just learning Agile as well as good for those deep in Agile.
There is no fee for this session, but it is a brown bag lunch session. There is a cafeteria in front of the auditorium in the Noblis building where one can purchase lunch and bring to the presentation. More information available at http://www.pmiwdc.org/2010/10/Fairview
DC/NOVA Scrum User Group - Enterprise War Stories
This DC/NOVA Scrum User Group is a relatively new user group formed by the Motley Fool's Max Keeler. The format is a round table discussion kicked off by a general topic. The fun thing is that we meet at a pub, so there are drinks involved. See Max's notes below for more details. More information available at http://groups.google.com/group/dcnova-scrum-user-group and http://groups.google.com/group/dcnova-scrum-user-group/browse_thread/thread/5c5d9a12a02f629b. Unfortunately, I will be out of town for this event, but it promises to be a good session.
- Meet-up starts at 6:30 here: http://www.mapquest.com/mq/3-pZZiy7mckDBB
- The topic will be: "Enterprise Scrum implementation war stories: What has worked, what has failed and everything in between."
- Like last time, we'll chat informally until about 7:30 allowing people to filter in.
- At 7:30ish we'll start discussing the topic, and break into groups if necessary.
- We seem to end at around 9.
Wednesday, October 6th
6:30PM to 9PM
Bungalow Billiard & Brew Co
13891 Metrotech Dr
Chantilly, VA 20151
APLN DC Chapter Meeting - The Art of Storytelling
The Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) DC chapter meeting generally occurs on the second Thursday of every month and is in presentation format. I'm very excited about this month presentation and disappointed that I will miss it because I will be out of town. Fadi Stephan will be presenting "The Art of Storytelling". The summary reads as follows:
"Agilists use user stories as a way to capture user requirements and drive the planning process for iterative and incremental delivery of software. In this presentation we'll see the benefits of using user stories over other types of requirements gathering approaches. After mastering the basic concepts and attributes of user stories, we will progress quickly and discuss different techniques for user role modeling, methods for capturing requirements, criteria for splitting or merging stories, and ways to handle dependencies, constraints, assumptions, and non-functional requirements. We'll wrap up with clear guidelines on writing effective user stories."
I have seen so many teams struggle with writing and using User Stories and I think this session will be great for helping attendees get a deeper understanding of User Stories. Since I work with Fadi and will not be in town for his presentation, I look forward to chatting with Fadi about his presentation. More information available at http://aplndcoctober2010.eventbrite.com/
Agile Influencers DC
After the recent Agile Coach Camp in North Carolina, Paul Boos noted that there were quite a few attendees from the Northern Virginia Area. Thus he started the Agile Influencers of DC group. This group meets on the second Friday of every month. The meeting generally start with lightening round presentation/discussion around specific topics followed by group discussions. The fun thing is that the meeting occurs a Argia's Restaurant, which is a great Italian place in Falls Church. For more information, see http://www.coactivate.org/projects/agile-influencers-of-dc/summary
PMI Global Congress
Now this is interesting, at this year's PMI Global Congress, there are at least 14 separate talks on the subject of Agile. I'm not sure what the numbers were in the past, but I have to believe this is a record. As I was filling out my registration program (unlike the Agile conference, PMI makes you pre-select all your sessions) I realized that there was at least one Agile presentation during every time slot of this 4 day conference. That is amazing!
I, along with David Neumann, will be presenting on the topic of Agile at the Office of Personnel Management (http://congresses.pmi.org/NorthAmerica2010/TheCongress/AOF/Event.cfm?EventID=196). For more information, see http://congresses.pmi.org/NorthAmerica2010/TheCongress/
October 9th through 12th
Agile Tour DC
This one is also very exciting. The Agile Tour DC is a one day event in DC that will feature 3 tracks:
- Agile Essentials – Get the skills you need to get started.
- Enterprise and Government Agility – See how it works in the large and hear from a Panel of practitioners working in government.
- Open Talks Track – Create the conference you want in this Open Space (like) track. Don't see a talk on one of the other two tracks propose one or attend one of the 4 concurrent Open Talks.
For more information, see http://agiledc.org/. Use the code "AgileDC" for $10 off registration.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
One question I hear from managers just starting an Agile process is how does the process ensure developers are hard at work and that there is not a lot of lull time.
This is the wrong way to think about the project. What I would have the managers look at, in prioritized order:
- The product backlog – ensuring there is a high level backlog. This usually starts at the project initiation phases and continues throughout the lifecycle.
- The sprint backlog – ensuring there is a detailed backlog for the immediate and perhaps upcoming sprints
- High completion percentage – having the team be able to give their commitments and establish a pattern of high completion rate. The completion rate is (the amount of work of work completed) / (the amount of work to which the team committed) for the sprint.
- Stable velocity – once you have a high completion rate, then look towards stabilizing the velocity.
- Evolve/Optimize – once the team understands its capabilities and capacity, it is ready to expand its abilities.
Steps 3 and 4 go hand in hand. When a team understands its ability (Step 3) and capacity (Step 4), the project has great advantages to success. Project estimates can now be made with responsible levels of confidence and historical backing, which leads to enhanced capabilities on making strategic decisions. This is where the bulk of the work is going to take place in maturing the process and team.
Step 5 is where we get back to the original question. Without Steps 3 and 4 in place, this is pointless. Once we understand ability and capacity, then we can look to improve. I would change the statement "hard at work without lull time", which measures no value. What we can do is measure the value the team is delivering (usually in the way of business value points combined with story points) and identify how we can further improve those metrics. Focus not on individuals being fully utilized, but rather on team delivery of value and increasing it.
|Mouse hard at work|
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
This session promises to be interesting and will be in a format similar to last year's "Agile and the Federal Government - A Panel Discussion" at APLN DC.
|Agile Fed Govt Panel Discussion - APLN DC April 2009|
- panelist - Dr. Suzette Johnson, head of Agile Management and Leadership at Northrop Grumman
- panelist - Dr. David Rico, Boeing, author and speaker, http://davidfrico.com/
- panelist - Jesse Fewell PMP, CST, Ripple Rock, founder PMI Agile Community of Practice,
- Moderator - Shannon Ewan, Excella Consulting, former APLN DC leadership board member
The great news is that we found great new panel members to take their place. Suzette recommended Andy Pickler. Andy works with Suzette in leading the Agile Community of Practice at Northrop Grumman.
On seperate recommendations from Ken Mills of VersionOne (thanks Ken) and from David Rico, we welcome Dottie Acton to our panel. Dottie is Senior Fellow at Lockheed Martin and has deep experience in Agile and in the Federal sector.
I am excited about the new panel and look forward to the panel session tomorrow! Below I have the full details to our panel session:
Agile and the Federal Government - A Panel Discussion
The Agile Manifesto states interactions over processes, collaboration over contracts, working software over documentation, and responding to change over following a plan. These base principals seem to be diametrically opposed to the Federal government. Is Agile appropriate for the Federal government and is the government ready for Agile? This panel discussion will look to address this question while taking a deep dive into the value, issues, details, and vision for Agile in the Federal government.
The session will be a facilitated 90 minute panel discussion featuring panelists who are not only Agilists, but also deep in expertise and experience in the Federal government space.
The breakdown of topics will be:
- Introductions (~10 minutes)
- Why: What value does Agile bring to the Federal government (~15 minutes)
- Opportunities: Agencies and/or types of projects that are most receptive to agile methods (~15 minutes)
- Obstacles: Biggest challenges or pitfalls (~20 minutes)
- Strategies: What strategies have worked best for selling, introducing, and executing agile? (~20 minutes)
- Closing thoughts (~10 minutes)
Each question will start with a panelist or two presenting their thoughts followed by an opportunity for other panelists and attendees to provide their input and ask questions. We will encourage active participation by the audience with a goal of having a lively and interactive conversation.
Dottie Acton is currently a Lockheed Martin Senior Fellow, and has served as the chief software engineer and as a process/methodology consultant for several major programs. Over her 30 year career, she has worked the entire program life cycle, from proposal through operations at the customer site. Dottie has a BA in Mathematics from Lycoming College, and an MS in Computer Science from Syracuse University.
She is an avid reader, and is always studying new technologies. Dottie's major area of interest is software development methodologies and techniques. She enjoys teaching, mentoring, and figuring out better ways to develop software and is currently helping programs apply Agile development methodologies. In addition to her knowledge of a wide range of software methodologies, Dottie has expertise with C++, Java and COTS integration. She has also led teams in developing effective metrics programs and preparing for CMMI assessments.
Rodney provides leadership in helping enterprise level clients adopt the use of both lean and agile methods, techniques, and best practices. Rodney has led numerous agile product development teams as a Certified ScrumMaster and Product Owner and has successfully coached numerous Fortune 100 clients in their transition to Agile. Rodney has trained and coached executive management on approaches and solutions to lean-agile institutionalization and organizational change management adoption challenges. He has over 15 years of project, program, and release management experience leading large, complex, mission-critical IT projects in the financial services, government/defense, insurance, and healthcare industries.
Rodney is an Agile Program Manager at Agilex Technologies. He is the chair of the Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) DC Chapter and is currently working to bring Agile to the Department of Veteran Affairs.
Richard K Cheng
Richard Cheng is a managing consultant at Excella Consulting, providing consulting services to commercial and Federal clients in the Washington, DC area. Richard has successfully implemented Agile principles in managing web projects, implementing data transactions services, creating an international general ledger application, and implementing enterprise level financial packages. As a management consultant, Richard has coached and mentored clients on the adoption and implementation of Agile and Scrum. Richard also leads Excella’s Agile Center of Excellence. Currently, Richard is working to bring Agile to Federal government and is managing an Agile iterative solution on an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) program.
A graduate of Virginia Tech, Richard has authored several publications on project management, presented at Agile and PMI sponsored industry events, and is a member of Mensa. Richard is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), a Certified Scrum Master (CSM), and a Certified Scrum Practitioner (CSP). Richard is an active member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN), and Scrum Alliance.
Andy Pickler, CSM, is an Agile Expert within Northrop Grumman, currently leading a longstanding program through an agile transition. Andy has served as a Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Release Manager for several agile teams and programs, both within the government and commercial space.
Shannon Ewan is a Managing Consultant at Excella Consultant and a member of Excella’s Agile Center of Excellence. Shannon is a former member of the APLN DC leadership committee and is currently working to bring Agile to the Department of Defense. Shannon is a Project Management Professional (PMP) and a Certified Scrum Master (CSM).
Monday, May 24, 2010
Several weeks ago I had crafted a presentation for a government agency on Agile training. During this presentation, a Federal Computer Week article came into the discussion. The article is titled Does 'early and often' work for software?
As agile development gains steam, some experts question whether it's right for government (http://fcw.com/articles/2009/10/19/feat-agile-development-government.aspx?sc_lang=en). Fortunately, I was familiar with this article from October of 2009 and I was able to speak on the points addressed in the article.
Overall, the article makes some good points. It promotes the following benefits of Agile:
- "allows for quick reactions to technology innovations and shifting requirements"
- "It reduces a lot of risk, and you get capabilities into the users' hands much faster"
- "DISA used agile techniques to deliver initial capabilities for Forge.mil in just three months, a third of the time it would have taken using traditional methods … Early testing also helped DISA spot security gaps months before they would have surfaced otherwise."
However, it is the arguments against Agile that are a bit misplaced. Certainly there are challenges to Agile in the Federal government, as I noted in my last blog entry (http://www.onemoreagileblog.com/2010/03/challenges-to-agile-in-federal.html), however the points that Agile detractor Michael Daconta call out can easily be argued against. Below are the key points against Agile in the FCW article and my thoughts on these points:
1. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) don't have the bandwidth to meet with team
On my last program at OPM, the previous efforts were nearly killed due to a stop work order placed on the program. One of the root causes was that the vendor at that time creating a solution that the vendor perceived to be correct. However, SME input into this solution was a bit limited due to a perception on how to use the time with the SMEs. In the end the effort did not go far past the requirement stages because the solutions proposed were not acceptable to the SMEs.
Using a collaborative Agile effort, the program was able to re-gain the interest of the SMEs. The program met with them twice a week for the length of the effort to discuss program needs and display working product. This produced engaged SMEs and quality product that resulted in published retirement data feed standards and working software.
2. Program Managers don't have time to help design an application on the fly
For the vast majority of projects, Program Managers should NOT be in the critical path of application design. On a cross functional team, that role is done by the team. The Program Manager can ensure the team has what it needs to perform the design and that there is sufficient bi-directional transparency between program needs and program design.
3. Pace can result in interdepartmental strain
I believe that this says that Agile allows you to go to fast. I don't see how this is a problem. In many ways the government pace should be challenged and Agile provides a great infrastructure for a responsible implementation of accelerated delivery. If the argument is that the pace is not sustainable, it should be noted that one of the key principles behind Agile is "Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely." (http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html).
4. Pair anything will produce higher quality, but are you willing to pay double the cost
I believe this is referring to the practice of pair programming. It should be noted that though there are many in the Agile community that believe in the value of pair programming, it actually is an engineering technique and arguable not one of the key implementation points Agile on a program. I have seen many successful operations where pair programming is not mandated. I suggest that the program allow the teams to try pair programming as a team technique and let the team decide on its usefulness. With that said, a simple Google search will provide a vast library of information on the value and advantages of pair programming.
5. Agile development schedules bump into government budget and acquisition processes – DOD requires acquisition programs to meet a host of checklist items
This last point is very interesting. This statement actually calls out a problem that the DOD faces today. From a recent presentation by Don Johnson (OASD(NII)/DoD CIO) stated:
"As defined in the March 2009 Report of the Defense Science Board (DSB) Task Force on Department of Defense (DoD) Policies and Procedures for the Acquisition of Information Technology, the fundamental problem DoD faces is the deliberate processes through which weapon systems and IT are acquired does not match the speed at which new IT capabilities are being introduced in today's information age. The DSB report highlighted that not only is an agile model more appropriate for IT programs, but it serves as a basis for changes to the larger acquisition model cross-cutting major weapon systems. "
The DSB report highlighted that not only is an agile model more appropriate for IT programs, but it serves as a basis for changes to the larger acquisition model cross-cutting major weapon systems. "
Mr. Johnson and the DOD CIO department are making a strong push for an adaptable Agile model for IT acquisition. To that end, on 10/28/09, the President signed the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (2010 NDAA) that included a mandate to implement the agile acquisition model for all DoD IT acquisitions. Congratulations and good luck to Mr. Johnson on the presidential sign-off and implementation of this new model!
Monday, March 8, 2010