Separate Retrospectives

I was talking recently with a friend about separate retrospectives for sub-groups. They were worried about thing devolving into separate silos, with a retrospective for programmers, a retrospective for testers, a retrospective for analysts, …. I would be worried if that happened, too, but I can see value in separate retrospectives. How can we know when they’re appropriate and when they’re not? (Continued)

Contemplating Given-When-Then

This week, Chris Matts tweeted, “Contemplating whether GIVEN-WHEN-THEN is back to front. The system should do <outcome> WHEN <event> PROVIDED <stimulus context>… Hmmm.” Let’s try an example. “Given I have $500 in my account, when I withdraw $50 then I have $450 in my account” becomes “The system should show $450 in my account when I withdraw $50 provided I had $500 in my account before.” It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it? Putting the result first makes the sentence both more complex and more passive. Yet I can understand the impulse that triggered this tweet. (Continued)

Agile Planning Tools

One of the most exhilarating moments in my coaching career was when I entered the client team room one Monday morning to find they were pulling the cards and tape off of their backlog corkboard, and arranging it in a different fashion. I knew then that they had taken charge of their own process. That team became one of the best I’ve coached.

One of the low points was when several people, including a business analyst, product owner proxy, and the program manager, individually said that they couldn’t alter the “user stories” to cut across multiple components of the system because they were already in the computerized planning tool (and Word documents) and it would be too much work. That team did not appear to be getting much value from their “Agile approach” and had significant integration risk that was being studiously ignored.

One of the most frequently asked questions on public mailing lists and forums devoted to Agile development is “What Agile Planning Tool should we use?” There is always a chorus of answers touting this or that computerized tool, usually without asking any questions about the context. Is there one best tool? (Continued)

What is Design?

I see many discussions get heated or go in circles when the topic is “design.” In the field of software development, what is design? (Continued)

I feel better, now

Oops! The whole problem started when I wanted to install a new program on the “entertainment computer” that’s connected to the TV. The existing version of Ubuntu was no longer supported, so I started what I thought would be a simple upgrade. Oops, it deleted the entire /var directory, including the contents of the second drive mounted there. That drive contained all of our photos and music. Not a problem, I thought. It’s all backed up nightly onto a USB drive. It’s just a bit of bother to copy all of that over the USB interface.

Oops! There are no photos beyond last March. I felt sick to my stomach. That’s a lot of family memories to evaporated. Whew! The program we’ve been using to download the cameras also makes a backup copy local to the machine used to download. I’ve got all the pictures back on the photo server, and now just have to sort them into directories again.

But first, I need to fix the backup script. Why didn’t it warn me when it started to fail? (Continued)