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...