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Showing posts from September, 2008

November Scrum Breakfast: SwissICT and the Journey to Agile

The SwissICT, largest IT and Communications association in Switzerland, has agreed to support an initiative from Ueli Kleeb, Reto Maduz (to name just of few the the interested people at Zühlke) and myself to form Specialist Group ("Fachgruppe") Lean-Agile-Scrum.

The November Scrum Breakfast will serve double duty as the founding meeting for the Lean-Agile-Scrum Group. All people interesting in promoting and developing Agile and related practices are invited to join us.

For a special event, a special keynote: Manfred Reindl, Vice President Engineering for Borland’s Lifecycle Quality Management division in Linz will discuss with us:

The Journey Towards Agile

While agile practices are starting to make their way into large enterprises, in most instances this has been a “bottom up” movement driven through grassroots efforts. But, as success stories draw attention to the benefits of agile practices, an increasing number of executives are considering making a company-wide agile tra…

What is Agile?

I almost didn't go to the Agile Business Conference in London, but I am glad I did.

My introduction to Agile was Scrum, through which I discovered XP and Lean. Artem reported from Toronto that Agile seemed to be focusing around Scrum and XP, and that the two factions were putting their internal rivalries behind them and calling the results 'Agile'.

Scrum and XP were not very visible at this conference. Present yes, for instance in the Keynote from Borland, but both ceded the limelight in deference to DSDM, the host of the event.

I discovered agile is a much wider than 'just' Scrum and XP, so wide that it risks turning into a bandwagen and losing all meaning. Many methodologies and frameworks were present, including DSDM, RUP (an excellent presentation from BJSS discussed developing a real time trading system using what was clearly RUP, even though they didn't call it by name), and OpenUP.

OpenUP is an attempt to turn RUP, a humungous methodology which usually n…

8 Questions for Your CEO

Have you been wondering how to get your CEO's attention long enough to have a conversation about agile? Here are 8 questions, inspired by Rob Thomsett, long time Agile Evangelist and keynote speaker at this year's Agile Business Conference in London:
Are project management and development free of bureaucracy?Are projects delivered fast enough?Are the project business cases well developed and managed?Is the level of transparency around projects sufficient?Are Steering Committees effective?Are the progress reports you receive accurate?Have you ever been, or do you expect to be ambushed about a project you are sponsoring? Chances are good your top management will answer 'no' to most if not all of these questions, except for the last one. These are all symptoms of disease. This disease has no name, but it is closed, dishonest and distrustful. It poisons the atmosphere and prevents effective communication.

Agile is about openness, honesty, trust, courage, and an ethical atti…

Scrum Courses for Teams & Early Adopters

This fall I will be offering two public courses on Scrum, both in Zurich, Switzerland (Schweiz) and in German, a revised Agile Project Management with Scrum ("APMS"), once as an afternoon course and once as an intensive course.

APMS is an introduction to Scrum for developers, project leaders, business analysts and program managers who want get started with Scrum. After completing this course, your head will understand Scrum, your stomach will have digested why Scrum works, and your hands will be able to do Scrum.

The afternoon course is configured esspecially for early adopters who can't really get away from their day jobs. The course is spread over 4 afternoons on two consecutive weeks. So you can take the course and still pay attention to you day job. Monday and Thursday afternoons from October 27 through November 6. Check out the course description.

For teams: A full time course for people and teams who prefer intensive training. Two days of hands on training to get tha…

Scrum Course Retrospective: Team Training Rocks!

Last Week I held two open courses on Scrum: Agile Project Management with Scrum and Scrum Sprint Zero. Both took place here in beautiful downtown Zurich, Switzerland. The participants learned about Scrum but they also learned about the potential that a team can unleash under the right conditions.

Ball Point Game
The ball point came was a fascinating example of how teams can self organize to improve themselves. The team must produce something with tennis balls (let's just call them points for the moment). After getting an explanation how to produce points, the group estimates how many they can achieve.

The first individual estimate was 8. The first group estimate as 24. They took bets on whether 24 could be exceeded. Their first run was 18. After 4 runs, they accomplished 67 and their best run was 75 - nearly 10 times the original estimate and 4 times the first run. How did they achieve this? Inspect and adapt, i.e. using the basics of Scrum.
Sprint ZeroThose who stayed for the seco…

October Scrum Breakfast in Zürich: Projects Unsuitable for Agile?

The October Scrum Breakfast will once again address the theme of Scrum in the real world, this time examining the conflict between traditional "plan driven" and agile process models. A list of the topics:
Are there projects for which traditional plan driven process models are more appropriate, or where agile methods cannot effectively be applied?
What are the differences and commonalities between agile and plan driven processes?Is it possible to combine the two into a 'best of both worlds' approach? Daniel Tobler is a Software Architect at Zühlke Engineering AG. Through his daily work, he comes in contact with software projects for many different companies, which use different various process models. His work focuses mostly on interdiciplinary projects, which include hardware, software and mechanical engineering. He has been using Scrum (or elements of Scrum since 2002).

Daniel Tobler developed the latest Zühlke-Poster (SW Processes Today), which is the basis for the t…

ETH Radar Station: A dieu

I received a sad email this week. The ETH weather radar will be taken off line this fall to make room for some sort of guest house. It's hard for me to judge the importance of this radar station to the ETH, its students and faculty. I'm sure it was substantial.

As an example of a valuable public service, it ranks up with there with the time table information of the SBB or ZVV. Metradar.ch provides free, up-to-date weather radar for most of Switzerland, in a form that is quick and easy to access either from a browser or an internet capable handy. The delay is negligible and the service is free.


As I pilot, I have used it to make pre-flight decisions about whether it is safe to take off. As a hiker in the Swiss alps I have used it to make decisions about whether to seek shelter, continue the picnic or attempt to descend the slopes. Living in a 120 year old building with leaky windows, I use it to decide whether to batton down the hatches when a storm is approaching.

Yes, the Fed…

Offshoring

Fredi Schmidli led an interesting discussion on the challenges of offshoring.

We covered a full range of topics from the opportunities to the different business models to cultural issues and how to do hiring.

Personally, the cultural aspect was one of the most interesting (non-)issue was the cultural aspects. A C++ programmer in Brazil probably has more in common with a C++ programmer in Switzerland than say a university professor with a construction worker in either country.

The hardest part about talking about your own company is not getting into "proud parent mode" and Fredi showed excellent restraint, by presenting the business, what works for them, and what doesn't work. With another player in the same market and project leader from a large insurance company in the room, it made for a rich exchange of information.

We talked about a few links today:
Fredi Schmidli's Presentation Jeff Sutherlands "Secret Sauce" for distributed scrum (paper & presentat…