Thursday, April 17, 2008

Are you Agile?

"Can you define Agile?" is one of the top questions I get, I do not have a good answer for that.

But I do think I have some good pointers for "What is not Agile":

- If you haven't read the Agile Manifesto, you are probably loosing out on the real basis of Agile.

- If you plan all your iterations at once and lay them out in the beginning of the project, you are not Agile.

- If you plan by using hours as your only way to messure the speed of the team, you are not in a Agile Project.

- If you do not have automated tests, it is really hard to be Agile.

- If you focus more on letting people work from home, than to focus on co-locations and productivity; You are not Agile.

- If you have a non-coding architect, a customer that only the project manager are allowed to talk to, a DBA that only shows up for status meetings and testers in another location; You are not Agile.

- If you are spending more than 10% of your month documenting what you have done in a document that "no-one" will read; You are not Agile.

Whenever I get into a discussion with "Non-Agile"-Agile people, I find it hard not to make the discussion look like a religous debate, based on small insignificant details.

I guess this has to do with the fact that even if Agile is simple, it takes a long time to understand. It took me over 6 years to really understand why storypoints is a better for estimation than hours.

I am a firm beliver that the use of realistic estimation (not hours), direct contact with the customer, a focus on refactoring often and just providing the documents that provide actual value isn't small insignificant details. I actually belive that those among the other well known techniques are crucial for getting the most out of an Agile Proccess. If you just pick and choose, you might end up with a proccess more suitable for hackers than for professional software developers. No, I am not saying that you need to follow the book from A-Z on order to be Agile. All I am saying is that for every part you toss out the window, you should think about what you are loosing and subsitute with something else that gives the same value.

Bonuspoint : If your proccess has the letters R-U-P in it, you are NOT doing Agile :-)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Staying out of the spot light

This years MVP summit is somewhat different than the ones before, one of the key differences is that the first day is set up for Open Spaces. All MVPs are asked to submit sessions, and a few are picked out to do Open Spaces. Since I am doing so many sessions on other conferences this year, I decided not to submit anything.

My plan was to just enjoy the summit, without getting in the spot light. In the opening keynote we where informed that one of the MVP's, Toni Savage, couldn't come to the summit. This lead to an Open Space called "Project Management From Beginning To End" to not have a host. "Would anyone like to host this session" was the question from the stage. Again, I thought to my self, "I will not seek the spot light, I will only enjoy this as a participant".

Two hours later I was hosting the session.

Luckily the participants where really great and we got some very good discussions. After the session I continued the discussion with some of the participants and I actually manged to explain and get real understanding of the value of storypoints in less than five minutes.

Anyone that can top that?

I am now going to enjoy the rest of the summit, without getting into the spot light. I promise.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Next Week: MVP Summit (Seattle)

I am going to the MVP Summit for the forth time next week, and this time I am more excited than ever. After almost a year of few important releases (not betas or CTPS, real stuff that we can use in 100 Million Dollars projects) to us developers, Microsoft now has many cool things in the pipeline or just released. Hopefully we will do a real deepdive into technologies like Silverlight and get clear answers of what we can expect the next years. Another development I have been following is the Team System, which might be good news for us that are running really large scale Agile projects. Specifically I hope they have even better stories when it comes to ECI.

I am also looking towards meeting my fellow MVP's, most of us only meet at the Summit,PDC's or Teched's.
(Sorry about the spelling in this post, my spellcheck has died for some reason...)