Long term focus

My good friend, Steven M Smith, tweeted

AGILE methods emphasize realizing short-term OBJECTIVES rather than creating long-term objectives and trying to satisfy them.

I completely disagree with this statement.  I don’t agree that short terms objectives are the emphasis in Agile methods and I don’t agree that short term objectives are preferred over long-term objectives.  I think that Steve’s misunderstanding is rooted in the fact that he has only read about Agile methods, and not practiced them.  I think that it is impossible to get a deep understanding of Agile methods by reading without experiencing.  Therefore, I’d like to encourage Steve and others talking about Agile methods to try to get some experience before making such statements.  I’d also like to offer an explanation that attempts to clear up this particular misunderstanding. (Continued)

Looking back at Agile 2009

Another conference has come and gone.  I’m home.  I’m exhausted.  I’m glad to have good internet connectivity again, and time to sit alone with my thoughts.

I had a fabulous time.  Through conferences such as this one, I now have dozens of friends from around the world that I rarely get to see.  I really enjoy getting together face to face.  Missa vitussa se poro on. (I hope I’ve spelled that correctly.)  And I spent time with friends that I previously only knew from Twitter and email.  And I met new friends that I’d not known before.  All of that was thrilling.  (I also didn’t get a chance to talk with some friends whom I know attended. Life is like that.)

I attended some great sessions.  (Continued)

Defect Prevention

Jim Shore posted a nice Introduction to Agile for QA People on his blog.   I thought it was great as far as it went, but it didn’t explicitly mention some of the things that I have found to be extremely important, at least, in the corporate IT environment.  I tried to leave a comment there, but I was too long-winded for his comment system.  (If you’ve not read his post, please do so now.  I’ll wait.)  Here’s the full text of my comment:

Jim, I think you’ve left out, or under-emphasized, an aspect here.  It’s perhaps not explicitly called out in the XP literature, and isn’t mentioned by Scrum (neither of which mention the QA department as an entity), but it’s an important aspect in successful Agile adoptions in corporate IT environments, in my experience.  That aspect is Defect Prevention. (Continued)

DIY Project/Process Evaluation Kit

From time to time, a discussion rattles around the internet about “how can you tell how Agile you are?”  Over and over, I see people tout some variant of the Nokia Test as a way to tell if you’re Agile enough.  For the most part, I think this is hogwash.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all in favor of an Agile Team using something like the Nokia Test (or, better, Nationwide’s “Agile Tea Leaves”) as part of a self-examination and retrospection.  But any sort of discussion of conformance to practices is way too low-level for the executive team, or even middle management, of an organization.  Agile is the tool, not the goal.  The goal is to accomplish the things the organization wants to do.  Agile is a tool to allow the organization to accomplish its goals more reliably and in a more timely fashion.DIY Project/Process Evaluation Kit

With this in mind, I thought about what a high-level manager wants from the organization’s projects and the process used to develop them.  How can this manager tell if the development staff is doing a good job, or could be doing better?  I came up with this Do-It-Yourself Project and Process Evaluation Kit that such a manager can use, no matter what process the organization uses for development.  I think it will also be useful for Project Managers who need to report upwards.  Report in these terms, not in the details of the development process.

And here it is: (Continued)

A corporate benefit to self-managed teams

Thanks to Esther Derby’s amplification on Lining Up Priorities, I came across Tony Tjan’s blog posting, Four Simple Ways to Make Your Employees Happier.  Tony says,

There is a very simple secret to long-term employee loyalty and retention and it is not money, perks, or stock options. It’s giving them meaningful roles.

This is not an idealistic motherhood-and-apple pie dream, but rather a basic condition of human behavior and psychology that many businesses and leaders often forget: people are driven as much or more by intrinsic meaning as they are by extrinsic rewards.

This is, I think, a little-discussed benefit of the self-management that’s found on successful Agile teams–the employees are motivated by creating value rather than just by pay and perks.  People want to do well for you.  Give them an opportunity and an environment where they can do so.