April 22, 2016

Lean and Agile

A New Model for Lean Culture

When companies attempt to implement lean principles, some of their biggest stumbling blocks seem to be the cultural elements. While some of the Toyota methods are very clear and specific, the cultural issues often seem more difficult to pin down. Many organizations seem to translate the most obvious elements into terms that they are comfortable with, but something often seems to get lost in the translation, and their lean implementations struggle because they have not really modified some of the basic ways in which they think about their work.

It occurred to me recently that the basic differences in lean culture might be represented in a very simple model. At first the simplicity of the model seemed to be too good to be true, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to help clearly explain some of the issues that typically cause the most confusion.

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February 1, 2016

Agile

Agile Architecture

Many Agilistas view any discussion of architecture as the first step down a slippery slope that, once taken, will inevitably lead a project into the fiery pit of waterfall.

Let’s see if we can unpack this subject a bit, and possibly even reach agreement on a sensible way to do architecture on agile software development projects, especially large and complex ones.

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December 5, 2015

Leadership, Technology

Effective Compliance

In a corporate environment, the term “compliance” is often used to mean a number of different things.

  1. The practice of following one or more sets of binding laws, regulations, policies and/or procedures.

  2. An organization or function that is put in place to validate that compliance (in the sense above) is maintained.

  3. The demonstration, or the ability to demonstrate upon demand, that compliance (in the first sense) is being maintained.

Compliance in the second and third senses above — what we might call the big “C” Compliance — often becomes most important in areas where failure to comply may produce long-term negative consequences, without any corresponding short-term issues or visibility. Information Security and Disaster Recovery Planning are good examples. Because there are no other quick feedback loops in cases like these, special oversight is often put in place to ensure that everyone is doing the right thing now to prevent or mitigate some possible catastrophe in the future.

In my experience, it’s important to keep in mind a number of key ideas in order to maximize the effectiveness of your compliance activities.

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September 17, 2015

Leadership, Software Development, Teams

The Importance of the Team

At the core of most of the important work done in this world you will find a small, multi-skilled team with effective leadership focused on delivering a product of value to a customer.

Note that teams such as these are found in contexts as different as Jazz bands, Rock groups, filmmaking, Agile Software Development and Lean Manufacturing, to name just a few obvious examples.

It’s now commonplace in business to take the work of teams for granted, but in my experience that passive acceptance doesn’t always translate into active support.

Let me break my opening assertion down, and explain the significance of each of its components.

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July 29, 2015

Apple

My Own Damn Apple Watch Review

The Apple Watch is much like the Velvet Underground: just as it was famously said by Brian Eno that not many people listened to the original VU albums, but all of them started their own bands, so it is true that “not many” people are buying the first generation of the Apple Watch, but all of them are writing their own reviews of it. And so here’s mine.

My Perspective

I’m a fairly tech-savvy guy who already has at least one of just about everything Apple makes. I’m six feel tall. I walk and run, but not competitively. I’ve worn a watch all my life.

The Goods

I ordered the 42MM Steel Case with the Milanese Loop. Anything smaller would have looked silly on my big wrist. The steel case seemed much more like a real watch than the aluminum sport model. And I like the infinite adjustability of the Milanese loop, as opposed to some of the others. I also purchased a black Sport Band to use for running. And I also got a mophie watch dock to use for overnight charging.

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July 26, 2015

Documentation, Web

Lessons We (Should) Have Learned from the Web

There are a number of basic principles that those of us in the Information Technology field should have learned from the tremendous success of the Internet and the World Wide Web.

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June 11, 2015

Agile, Project Management

Agile Project Planning

Many software development teams seem to treat “Agile” and “Project Planning” as if they were mutually exclusive concepts. The tendency, it seems, is to simply jump straight into Agile iterations — at best starting with an Iteration Zero — and then trust that things will sort themselves out strictly through a team-based Scrum-like approach.

In practice, though, teams seem to regularly run into trouble with this sort of naïve approach to starting up an Agile project — especially any sort of large, ambitious project operating within the context of a major enterprise.

Rather than proceeding blindly ahead with nothing more than faith in Agile iterations as a panacea, here are some of the planning considerations that I think projects should explicitly address at their outset, before their first sprint.

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March 21, 2015

Agile

Benefits of the Scaled Agile Framework

For those who have not yet heard of it, the Scaled Agile Framework, or SAFe® for short, is a “publicly available framework for applying lean/agile practices at Enterprise scale.”

I believe that the SAFe model offers a number of benefits to those who may be considering its use. Let me enumerate them.

1. It is publicly available and free to use.

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December 14, 2014

Software Development

Maximizing Returns on Software Development Investments

I sometimes wonder if many of us in Information Technology are yet taking an informed perspective when contemplating investments in new software development efforts. Here are several things I think we should be keeping in mind.

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December 4, 2014

Quality, Software Development

Software Defects

Some of the most troublesome topics in software development are those surrounding defects:

  • Why do defects happen?
  • How can we prevent them?
  • Can they be eliminated?
  • What metrics can we use to measure our success (or lack thereof)?

Let me introduce my thoughts on this topic with a little story.

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