Episode 50 - The Essence of Agile

50 episodes!?!?

After 3 years and 50 episodes spanning all kinds of crazy topics, we get back to basics in this show.  In our last meta-cast we discussed how Agile has "jumped the shark" (I guess we should have known the answer to that since we capitalize it now...), Bob and I start all over again.  In an effort to remove all of the fluff and buzzword bonanza that dominates many Agile discussions today, we talk through what is really at the core of Agile.  How important are standups?  What one ceremony is non-negotiable?

Enjoy the episode and please leave feedback in whatever channel you prefer!

Episode 49 - Has Agile Jumped The Shark?

In this episode, Bob and Josh discuss whether or not Agile has jumped the shark.  After educating Bob on what that term means, we dig into the reality of the situation and what we can do about getting Agile back to its roots.  We have some ideas that we plan to tackle in future podcasts, but would love to hear what our listeners think we (the community) can do to fix this situation...

Check out this episode!

Episode 48 - Discussing Open Allocation

In this episode Bob and Josh discuss the concept of Open Allocation and how it could be applied to a company.  As a primer, here are some links that augment the podcast as we repeatedly refer to Valve's and GitHub's implementation of Open Allocation.
Let us know your thoughts on wheather or not Open Allocation could/should be applied to your business/team.

Check out this episode!

More on Four Quadrants of Product Ownership

Josh brought it to my attention that I was remiss in publishing anything on the 4 quadrants of Product Ownership discussions we had in the past.

If you're interested, you can find a write-up here:
I also wrote an article for Better Software magazine on the topic. It will be published in their Nov/Dec issue which is coming out soon. Look for it here:  http://www.stickyminds.com/BetterSoftware/magazine.asp

Finally, I don't know if Josh and I did a sufficient deep-dive on the topic. So let us know if you want a more thorough discussion on this topic?

Stay agile my friends,

Episode 47 - Saying No

In this episode, Bob and Josh discuss the numerous times that saying no is required.  We discuss the issues preventing many folks from saying no when their gut is telling them that they have to speak up and say no.  Aside from identifying the key moments, we help you out by giving tips and tricks on how to say no.

Check out this episode!

Speed-Cast on Technical Debt

As you likley read on Twitter, we had a little issue with our new microphone that generated some feedback during our last recording.  Because of that static, we chose not to post the episode.  However, we are returning to the topic of technical debt in order to meet the requests of our listeners.  This is a shortened version of our discussion on technical debt.  While it is shorter, we cover all of the primary topics and hope that it meets your needs.  As always, please let us know what you think!

Check out this episode!

Episode 46 - What's wrong with agile adoption? (AKA The Dope Slap Episode)

In this episode Bob and Josh discuss the issues we see in the lagging agile adoption dilemma that seems rather prevalent these days.  Is it poor teaching?  Is it teams that just don't listen?  What is the problem and what can do you about it?  We have the answers you need!!!

Part of our solution we offer at the end is the prescriptive agile adoption framework we built in our Agile Starter Kit series.  Here they are if you need to do a little catchup or need to jump start your team.
The Agile Starter Kit Series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Episode 45 - How important is estimation?

In this episode Bob and Josh discuss the importance of estimation in the world of software development.  Can a project survive without estimation?  Is estimation a skill that can be honed and improved over time?  We cover all of these questions and a bit more.  Where do you stand on these topics?  Let us know in the comments.

Episode 44 - What's Wrong With Retrospectives?

In this episode Bob and Josh discuss common misconceptions and missteps in retrospecitves.  You'll quickly learn how passionate we are on this subject as the discussion heats up.  We provide ideas and direction on how to heal your struggling retrospectives.

Check out this episode!

Episode 43 - Defining Culture

In this episode Bob and Josh tackle the ever-elusive concept of team culture.  We attempt to apply some form of definition for the concept and provide some tips on how to improve it within your team.  We'd love some feedback on this one, so please add comments or hit us up on twitter.

Check out this episode!

Episode 42 - Defending Agile Against Waterfall Bob

In this episode, Bob transforms into a waterfall advocate. Josh fights to convince him that Agile is more than just a buzzword and that can help his projects.  While this debate was a fun execise for us, we hope it helps everyone out there who is struggling to convince their co-workers/boss/whoever that Agile may be the right thing for your project.  If there are any challenges or questions you are struggling with out there, let us know as we would love to help you out!  

We also debut one of the podcast improvements we talked about in our retrospective discussion in episode 40.  We have bumper music!  A big thanks goes out to @matthewdavis for hooking us up!  We hope you like the new intro!

Check out this episode!

Episode 41 - Deep Dive Into The Product Owner Quadrants

In this episode, Bob and Josh begin defining the concept of the product owner quadrants.  It comes as a shock to no one that we only worked through the first quadrant in 36 minutes!  The first quadrant discussed is "project managment".  That term sends Josh into a downward spiral and forces the two of us to really define what "project management" means and we eventually land on renaming it to "project planning".  Take a listen and see if you agree or diasagree with the new name and the responsibilities defined in this first quadarant. 

Check out this episode!

Agile Starter Kit Survey

As discussed in episode 40, here is the survey about the need for a physical Agile Starter Kit.
Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Episode 40 - A retrospective...

40th episode already!?!?

Bob and Josh pause for the 40th episode to do a classic scrum retrospective of the Meta-Cast itself.  All three questions (what did we do well, what could we do better at, and what should we try in the future) are asked, and answered, as we look forward to where we want to take our podcast.

In the second half of the podcast, we ask for input on the value of creating a physical version of the Agile Starter Kit.  Please, please, please weigh in with your thoughts and comments on if doing so would add any value.  We plan to post a survey a bit later, but any and all comments are welcome!

Check out this episode!

Episode 39 - The Certification Rant

Bob and Josh unleash some fury on the proliferation of agile-centric certificaitons over the past 12-18 months.  Are there any certifications really worth the skyrocketing expense to earn and maintain them?  We also tackle the evolving importance of the first certification most professionals get, the degree.  What side of the certification fence are you on?!

Check out this episode!

Quick Diversion - An Outtake

Some of the best stuff happens before we even turn the microphone on, so I am trying to just hit the record button and see what happens.  Here is a quick look into what Bob and I do before you hear the words "Welcome to The Meta-Cast!".  I hope to have more of these in the coming weeks...

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A Different "Look" at Bob Galen

I'm speaking at the Agile Development Practices conference in June in Vegas for the SQE folks. I've done these for at least the last 5 years and I enjoy going to this conference. They always do a nice job of putting on a top-notch event.

A week or so ago, I was interviewed for my workshop at the conference. Here I am discussing it in a Skype recording from Chez Bob. Do you like the hat?


Stay agile my friends...

Episode 38 - Agile Starter Kit, Part 4

In this episode, Bob and Josh wrap-up their initial pass at what fits into the Agile Starter Kit.  They end with talking through some of the technical aspects of implementing Agile in your workplace, digging into topics like continuous integration, pair programming, designs/specifications, and finally wrap up with metrics.

While Bob and Josh try to remain tool/technology agnostic, there are a few key points that they hit that could use a few wikipedia links to help out.  So if you heard these terms in the podcast, but were not exactly sure what they meant, here are your podcast footnotes for episode 38.  If you need more info, please ask in the comments and we'll get you an answer.
Once again, thanks for listening.  Please review/rate the show on iTunes, share this post with your social networks, and post comments and questions on our website.

Check out this episode!

Episode 37 - Halftime Rants

In this episode, Bob and Josh take a break from the Agile Starter Kit series to talk through some current events.  Bob unloads on Dean Leffingwell and his SAFe Certification Program.  After listening, I think eveyone will understand why Bob is so passionate about this misguided approach.  Josh then talks through a couple of moments of inspiration over the past couple of months.

Check out this episode!

Episode 36 - Agile Starter Kit, Part 3

We are back! Bob and Josh dig into defining the actual team members required for your starter team.  What are the roles and responsiblities needed to make a Shu team grow into a Ha team?  Who do you hire to join in the fun?  Can your team members be part time team members or do they have to be fully dedicated?  These questions and more are answered in this exciting installment of the Meta-Cast.  Sorry, I was channelling my inner Stan Lee there for a second...

Check out this episode!

A More Prescriptive: Startup Toolbox

If you've been following us on the Meta-Cast recently, we've been defining a set of tools for a "just starting out" agile team. Here are the driving goals or requirements we're using when bringing things into the discussion (or toolbox):

  • Shu based teams; beginning teams
  • Driving performance quickly; mature agile behaviors AND results
  • A bit prescriptive
  • It’s OUR toolbox; so we want feedback, but not “consensus”
  • To literally provide paper examples, templates, words, etc. as part of the tool-box

I want to amplify the prescriptive part just a bit more. What Josh and I have found, is that many new teams are given a "free reign" on that practices they take on, don't take on, and how they approach them. The driver for this is honest and good--the organization is trying to create agile, self-directed teams.

And that would be wonderful if the teams knew what they were doing. I.e., had some experience and agile maturity. But clearly they don't. So that's where we come in. 

We might be about half the way through our discussions on this topic. Once we get through the practice debates, we'll be wrapping up the toolbox in some usable form.

I wanted to share an important item that is inspiring at least my thinking in this. Scott Downey is/was an agile coach at MySpace around 2008-2009. He published a paper and presented it at the agile conference talking about taking a very "prescriptive approach" with new agile teams. I'm paraphrasing here, but he would give them a very set number of practices and insist that they startup using them as-is. With no modification--trusting his experience as a coach. What he noticed or realized was that their ramp-up to high performance was typically much faster than other teams. Once they gained experienced, he would loosen the restrictions.

I think that focus or intent is exactly what we're trying to do with the toolbox. More background on Scott's work here.

Stay agile my friends,

While we are away...

Here are a collection of links for articles and podcasts that struck me as more helpful than the hundreds I've read and listened to over the past couple of weeks.  These should keep you company while our cast  takes a short break...
See you soon!

Episode 35 - Agile Starter Kit, Part 2

In this episode, Bob and Josh continue the definition of their agile starter kit by defining what a sprint looks like.  How long is it and what are the ceremonies that drive the tempo? These items and more are added into the starter kit!

Check out this episode!

Episode 34 - Agile Starter Kit, Part 1

In this episode, Bob and Josh start digging into the starter kit.  We attack the basic setup needed for a team by covering things like team size, team members, working space, and whiteboard usage.  Our goal is to help you lay the foundation for a succesful implementation of Agile inside of your company.

Check out this episode!

Potsdam, Germany...Here he comes!

I'm excited to be going to Potsdam. Germany in March to speak at the Agile Dev Practices conference there. It's the first year for the conference and I've got the wonderful opportunity to present a 1-day Product Ownership workshop and do a Keynote.

If you happen to be planning to be in Berlin March 4-7th, I'd love to see you at this event. I have a "speakers discount" available of 15%. If you're interested, just send me an email at bob@rgalen.com.

More information on the conference here: http://www.agiledevpractices.com/program/

Episode 33 - Agile Starter Kit, Part 0

In this episode, Bob and Josh begin tackling the concept of an Agile Starter Kit.  This kit is intended to help new teams get started on their agile adoption.  We talk through the basics of what belongs in the kit and then tee up future episodes in which we will dig into each tool and provide clear, concise directions for it's use.  Keep an eye on our blog as we begin providing supplementary details to this podcast series.

Bob's New Book: Agile Reflections

I've been writing about agile topics for years. I wrote a Product Ownership focused book in 2009 and am working on a 2'nd Edition of it for publication in 2013.

I've also been actively blogging at two portals. One if PM Times, which is focused more towards Project Managers. The other is BA Times, focused towards Business Analysts.

I recently pulled what I think are some of the most valuable content from these two blogs and compiled a new book called Agile Reflections.

You can find it at Createspace here or on Amazon here. We're working on making it available for the Kindle and that should be in late January 2013.

Here's a snippet from the cover:

Agile Reflections began as a collection of blog posts from several series I've written from 2009 to 2012. As I looked back on the content, I saw some very compelling stories that, if updated and integrated into a cohesive volume, might add even more value to agile teams trying to increase their maturity and effectiveness.

There are five sections to the book:
1. Beginnings- the art of the start; how to effectively begin your agile teams and projects
2. Execution- where the rubber meets the road I suppose...guidance around effectively iterating
3. Customer- the why and what behind agile teams; who drives the value and who you deliver to
4. Mindset- you can easily 'say' you're agile, but are you really?
5. Leadership- yes, we need 'stinkin' leadership. I think more so in agile teams than many believe

I hope you find some value in the pages (physical or virtual) of this book. I want to think it will help you to become Seriously Agile.

I think you might find some value in the shared lessons from the book. If you do, please consider writing a review. Thanks for listening and Stay Agile my Friends...


Bob chats with Tom Cagley

Happy New Year!

Tom Cagley is a fellow consultant, speaker, and writer on software development methods. He has a strong traditional background, but also is engaged in the agile community.

He has a regular podcast of his own called SPAMcast for Software Process and Measurement. He invited Bob to talk and the discussion surrounded Agile Chartering and getting "agile projects" off to a "proper start".

You can access that podcast here.

Stay agile my friends...