Episode 65 - Strategically Planning Sprints

In this episode, Bob and Josh discuss various ways to plan, and execute, your sprints in a strategic manner.  Many teams suffer for a microscopic view of their current sprint and struggle to properly plan for and execute on the next sprint.  We share a few tips and tricks on how to prevent that from happening.  What tricks do you use?

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Episode 64 - Revisiting SAFe

In this episode, Bob and Josh revisit the Scaled Agile Framework (AKA SAFe).  Josh recently attended a "Leading SAFe" class and that generates some juicy discussion around what SAFe may, or may not, offer to organizaitons like yours.  If you are evaluating the adoption of SAFe, this episode provides a sneak peek into whether or not it is a fit for you.

What is your experience with SAFe?  Has it added value or more headaches?

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I've blogged several times about SAFe in my journey towards becoming a SPC - SAFe Program Consultant. You can read the progression of ideas here:
  1. http://rgalen.com/agile-training-news/2013/3/10/scaled-agile-framework-is-it-safe.html?rq=SAFe
  2. http://rgalen.com/agile-training-news/2014/1/14/well-i-went-and-did-it?rq=SAFe
  3. http://rgalen.com/agile-training-news/2014/6/24/reactions-and-thoughts-from-my-safe-spc-certification-class?rq=SAFe
As you might be able to tell, I'm slightly "torn" around the value of SAFe. That being said, I do feel that is has value...in specific contexts.

Stay agile my friends,
Bob.

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Episode 63 - Managing Team Capacity

In this episode, Bob and Josh discuss various ways to plan, understand, and manage your team's capacity.  We cover a few real-world examples of how to get a brand new team off and running without any known capacity.  How does your team manage capacity?

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Capacity is one of those things that many agile organizations don't value or fail to understand. In this blog post, I discuss the importance of having a balanced view towards your capacity and NOT biting off more than you can chew...

http://rgalen.com/agile-training-news/2015/1/2/agile-is-focused-on-capacity-equalization

Stay agile my friends,
Bob.

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Episode 62 - Hardening Sprints, Good or Bad?

In this episode, Bob and Josh discuss the concept of hardening sprints and what, if any, value they add.  This has been a long standing debate for us, so it is good to finally get it out to our listeners.

What side of the debate do you land on?  Do you use hardening sprints?

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Perhaps a year or more ago I wrote quite a long piece surrounding the use of Hardening Sprints. While Josh will accuse me of being 100% for them, I do see them as something needing care and experience to use "properly".

I tried to make article balanced, while also doing some "research" to support the concept. The article appeared in Agile Record, a virtual e-zine from Germany. Here's a link to the PDF -

http://rgalen.com/s/AgileRecord_17_Galen.pdf 

I hope it helps provide you with some depth and breadth to Hardening Sprints other then "they're good" or "they suck" ;-)

Stay agile my friends,
Bob.


Episode 61 - Assembling An Agile Team

In this episode, Bob and Josh discuss ways to assemble an optimal agile team.  We also get into an interesting debate over what candidates (including Bob and Josh) should wear to an interview.  We look forward to your feedback and comments, especially pertaining to that debate!


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Episode 60 - The Great Space Debate

In this episode, Bob and Josh discuss various seating options for your agile teams.  The endless debate around open office layouts earns a large amount of our discussion.  Regardless of your stance on that topic, we share a few tips that will help make any space better.  Feel free to weigh in with comments on our website about your views on what works best for your teams.

There's the notion of "caves and commons" from the early days of XP. Here's a wonderful post from 2007 that covers some nice ground. Now if only Josh and I had read it prior to our debate ;-)

http://www.infoq.com/articles/agile-team-room-wishlist 

And here's a reaction to this discussion that I wrote up on my own blog:

http://rgalen.com/agile-training-news/2014/9/14/agile-spaces-i-think-ive-been-wrong

Enjoy the discussion in the Meta-cast and the blogs. Stay agile my friends,
Bob.

Episode 59 - Meta-Guest Tricia Broderick

In this episode Bob and Josh chat with Tricia Broderick about conflict resolution in agile teams.  We dig into the topics she covers in her session at Agile Development Practices/Better Software Conference and learn how to be better leaders and teammates.  A big thanks to Tricia for taking the time to speak with us during her busy schedule at the conference!  Check her out on twitter at @t_broderick.


Episode 58 - Meta-Guest David Hussman


In this episode, Bob and Josh sit down with David Hussman (@davidhussman), of DevJam Studios, at the Agile Development Practices and Better Software Conference in Las Vegas.  David brings great insight to the podcast and helps us cover quite a few topics, including whether or not Agile has "jumped the shark" and shares a few "pithy comments" (as requested from Bob) about how individuals and teams can get better.

Las Vegas AD/BS Conference Live Show Schedule

Bob and I just locked down our live show schedule for the Agile Development & Better Software Conference in Las Vegas. We are working on an official announcement with the conference but wanted to get the word out to anyone interested in stopping by to say hello or sitting down for a chat. We look forward to seeing everyone there and meeting our amazing listeners!

We’ll be recording sessions during the following times:

  • Wednesday, from 10:00am – 11:15am 
  • Thursday, from 7:30am – 8:15am 
  • Thursday, from 10:00am – 11:15am

Episode 57 - Coaching Outside Your Agile Teams

In this episode Bob and Josh discuss who, how, when and why you should be coaching your organization beyond the teams you lead/manage/are a part of.  We view this as a very important step in agile maturity, but we also know this can be a difficult transition for some folks.  We hope this helps you take your organization from good to great!

Episode 56 - Developer Metrics & Agile Purists

In this episode Bob and Josh address two listener questions.  The first question covers developer metrics and understanding individual and team effectiveness.  Our second question centers on agile purists and how to handle an agile transition.

We want to know what you think about our answers and suggestions.  Tell us what you think!

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I wrote an interesting "article" about agile metrics ideas. I wanted to stay away from suggesting specific metrics and instead, throw out some "crazy ideas" to make folks think. I don't know if it did that, but you can read the article on the PM Times website here -

http://www.projecttimes.com/robert-galen/2-dozen-weird-agile-metrics-ideas.html

I'd love to see your comments and feedback! Stay agile my friends,
Bob.

Episode 55 - The Struggling Team Member Support Plan

In this episode, Bob and Josh respond to a listener question about what to do when a team member is not performing as well as the team needs them to.  What should the team do?  What should their manager do?  We tackle both angles and give you a plan to help.

Do you agree or disagree with our views?  If so, please let us know on Twitter, our blog, or wherever else you find us!

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Around the time when we recorded this Meta-Cast, I was writing about a situation with a team member who was struggling in their performance. In this case, it was a "coach" sort of complaining about one of their team's Product Owners.

It made me think about some of the dynamics of team performance, accountability, communication, and "handling" situations.

The two posts/articles can be found here:
  1. http://rgalen.com/agile-training-news/2014/10/19/agile-teams-the-weakest-link-part-1
  2. http://rgalen.com/agile-training-news/2014/10/19/agile-teams-the-weakest-link-can-you-hear-me-now-part-2
Hope you enjoy the discussion. Stay agile my friends,
Bob.

Episode 54 - Agile Team Composition

In this episode, Bob and Josh respond to a listener question around assembling an agile team.  The primary question centers around inclusion of team members that prefer to be told what to do.  We dig into whether or not we believe this can/should be done.  After hearing our views, please let us know what you think in the comments below.


Episode 53 - To tool, or not to tool

In this episode Bob and Josh revisit their first debate (now over half a decade old now).  We cover the pros and cons of each side of the the debate and give a few tips on how to make the tools work for you.  Along the way, we also highlight a few common pitfalls.

Meta-Cast in Vegas!

Bob and Josh are speaking at this year's Agile West and Better Software Conference in Las Vegas, NV the week of June 1-6.  We plan on recording a slew of podcasts while we are out there and would love to do a live Q&A version of the podcast.  If you have any interest in joining us, please let us know.  Below are the sessions that we will be presenting.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 8:30am
A Test Leader’s Guide to Agile
Much of the work of moving traditional test teams toward agile methods is focused on the individual tester. Often, the roles of test director, test manager, test team leader, and test-centric project manager are marginalized―but not in this session where we’ll focus on agile testing from the test leader’s perspective.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 1:00pm
Essential Patterns of Mature Agile Leaders
Currently much of agile adoption—coaching, advice, techniques, and training―revolves around the agile teams. Leaders are typically ignored, marginalized, or, in the worst cases, vilified. Bob Galen contends that there is a central and important role for managers and effective leadership within agile environments. In this workshop, we’ll explore the patterns of mature agile managers and leaders—those who understand servant leadership and how to effectively support, grow, coach, and empower their agile teams in ways that increase the teams’ performance, accountability, and engagement.

Wednesday, June 24, 2014 - 12:45pm
Automate Your Mobile Development Ecosystem
Mobile is hard. Mobile at scale is even harder. And automation is your only option for success as you scale. However, many organizations haven’t yet started automating their mobile development efforts. Understanding how to automate your mobile ecosystem puts you ahead of your competition. How do you actually automate the building, testing, and deploying of hundreds of mobile apps across multiple operating systems and multiple app stores? Josh Anderson explains that when compared to the tools supporting the development and deployment of web applications, mobile is in its infancy. This means that you must get comfortable with alpha versions of open source projects, constantly changing APIs, and some good old-fashioned engineering duct tape. Josh takes you through the challenges his company encountered along the path to effective automation and shares the challenges that remain. Take back home with you the lessons Josh and his team learned and effectively pave your path to mobile automation.

Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 2:15pm
Session-Based Exploratory Testing in Agile Projects
One of the challenges associated with testing agile projects is selecting test techniques that “fit” the dynamic nature of agile practices. How much functional and non-functional testing should you do? What is the appropriate mix of unit, integration, regression, and system testing? How do you balance these decisions in an environment that fosters continuous change and shifting priorities? Bob Galen has discovered that session-based exploratory testing (SBET) thrives in agile projects and supports risk-based testing throughout development.


Episode 52 - Sprint Predictability Through Effective Packing

In this episode, Bob and Josh discuss patterns and practices that can be used to increase predictability in your sprints.  Nothing wears a team down faster than sporadic sprint planning and execution.  If your team's velocity chart looks like an EKG graph, give our suggestions a try and make your team happier!  If you have any other tricks, please let us know!

Episode 51 - Recruiting for an agile team

In this episode Bob and Josh divulge some tips and tricks we use when hiring for an agile team.  We walk through a few of our hiring practices and even talk through a few sample questions.  The strength of your team directly depends on your hiring practices, so we hope that this podcast will help you strengthen your team over the coming months.

What tips and tricks do you have when hiring someone for an agile team?  Please share in the comments.