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agile mandate

XYZ were a digital agency and over the years had done many software projects for their customers with varying degrees of success. After learning that many companies were having great success with Agile processes and noticing that even the UK government had decided to adopt those ways of working, the directors had realised the use of these new techniques would improve the performance of their own company. To that end, they had issued a mandate to the project team that by the end of the financial year, they had to have performed at least one Agile project. By this time next year, all projects needed to be Agile. So it was that Colin, our intrepid consultant, found himself in the office of Richard ‘RJ’ Jones, head of XYZ’s Project Office. RJ had contacted Colin so he could get the training and coaching he needed for his team before they started their pilot Agile project. “Tell me,” said Colin opening the conversation, “how big is your team?” RJ though a bit before responding, “We have a t

doggie calculus

Richard Jones was CTO for a large retail company that relied heavily on e-commerce for most of its turnover. Aged 45, he’d been a software developer once and had risen through the ranks before reaching his current position. The responsibility of his position lay heavy on him but he took pride in the ability of his team and worried deeply when they weren’t performing. This was one of those days. Development speed had slowed to a crawl and the defect rate was through the roof. Every time they fixed one defect, they created at least two more. He’d talked to the team and he knew they were doing everything they could but it just wasn’t working. Richard knew they weren’t going to make their delivery date but he also knew he couldn’t talk to the board without a plan of action. A year or so ago, he’d engaged a coach to help the team improve their processes, which had a tremendous effect on the team’s performance and predictability. Was it time to and get the coach back? Fast-forward a couple o

the field of dreams

It was 2005, some years after the dotcom boom and a financial software house asked Colin to help with a project they just couldn’t seem to deliver. Colin sat down at the table with the development team and Henry, the Marketing Director. “Ok,” he said, “You’ve been working on this project for three years but haven’t released any software. Can anyone tell me what the problem is?” Henry spoke up first, “We’ve told them many times what we need but they keep building something totally different.” Mike, the development team lead, shook his head and said, “Yes, but you keep asking for things that can’t be built!” After some similar exchanges, the conversation looked like descending into total chaos so Colin held up his hand to get everybody’s attention. “Can you give me an example?” he asked. “You have to understand we are working in regulated environments,” said Henry, staring angrily at Mike, “this means it’s a massive advantage to us if we can supply a footprint-free application. Anything

the point

Willy, the CEO, was at his desk feeling very satisfied and confident as he read the monthly IT report. Everything was looking good, the report told him the development teams were really performing well and velocity was up yet again. Unfortunately, an email from Jackie, the CFO, disturbed his calm. “I can see the IT teams are busy,” read the email, “but busy doing what? Can we get our changes delivered? They will save us hours of work every month. Why haven’t they been delivered? – Jackie.” To see if he could resolve Jackie’s issues, Willy hosted a meeting between her and RJ, the CTO. “Right, what’s the issue, Jackie?” asked RJ, keen to get the meeting started. “RJ, every month I get reports telling me how many more points your teams have delivered.” Said Jackie, visibly frustrated. “In the latest one, you’re bragging about some of the teams delivering sixty points a sprint for the last three sprints. They may have delivered 180 points but I’ve seen none of my changes. Where’s my stuff?

not what i meant (part two)

Currently, I'm staying in Bangalore and, as many of you may know, I like to keep myself presentable, so everyday I clean my shoes using the little tin of polish provided free by the hotel. Yesterday however, the housekeeping staff apparently didn't notice I'd used it and so didn't replace it, as they usually do when they make up the room. Now I could have gone, or called, down to the front desk to have them send me some up but it isn't really a big deal and it won't hurt my shoes to have them miss a day's polishing, so I just left a note on the bed this morning saying, "Shoe polish please." Imagine my surpise when I returned from work today to find there was still no sign of any shoe polish in the room but there was a very highly polished pair of trainers sitting where my grungy old gymn shoes had been this morning! Written requirements, eh? How can they not work? :)

not what i meant

Had a really good session with the developers while delivering the two-day TDD course at a customer site recently.  During the course I had quite a long discussion about Bob Martin, et al's concept of 'Clean Code' and recommended that the attendees each buy a copy of the book as I consider it one of the most important books on modern software development.  Later I spoke to their manager and he agreed to purchase a copy of the book for everyone.  Two weeks later I saw him reading a copy and asked him what he thought. "Well, I'm not really a coder but I see what he's getting at and it seems quite reasonable" was his response.  "Did you get copies for the developers?" I asked.  "No!" he replied, "I got  a copy for everyone , like you said. They can take it in turn to read it when I've finished"   Oh dear!

pygmalion water babies

Some years back Colin, our intrepid consultant, needed to recruit a coach to help with the transformation at a customer site. On this particular day, he was interviewing what he thought would be an excellent prospect and had booked an interview room for the day so he could have some privacy. The candidate entered and Colin spent a little time chatting with him to put him at his ease. Once he felt the candidate had settled down he said, “Why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself and what you’re looking for in this engagement.” “Well,” said the candidate, “If you’ve read my CV, you’ll know I’ve been a coach for many years and have worked for many blue-chip companies. I’ve thought of myself as successful but, to be honest, I’ve always been a bit disappointed, too” Colin was curious and wanted to hear more about this. “So, tell me what you’ve been disappointed about.” he said. “The one thing that’s really disappointed me as a coach,” replied the candidate, “Is that so far, all of my custo