Agile Tour 2012 – FREE Agile afternoon Event Dublin Nov 1st

The annual AgileTour returns to Dublins’ Grand Canal Hotel this November 1st from 1pm. The schedule is still being finalised but expect a selection of seasoned agile and lean presenters and several experience reports from companies that have recently adopted these methods. A great chance to network with others interested in agile and lean software development.

Event sponsored by AgileInnovation and InspireQS.

FREE Seminar: Innovative and Profitable Software Development with Lean/Kanban

This coming October 4th AgileInnovation present a free seminar on Software Development using Agile and Lean Methods. This is targeted at companies looking to adopt lean and agile methods, and to those who have already adopted and are looking to deepen their implementation and increase their effectiveness. The content will be particularly relevant senior executives, functional and project managers, and senior technical product and software development professionals.

Presenters: Colm O’hEocha & Fran O’Hara

Oct 4th 4pm (sharp) – 6pm, IBEC, Confederation House (Registration starts 3:30)
84-86 Lower Baggot Street
Dublin 2
For further details and registration please email Karen at karen.mcdonnell@inspireqs.ie

Seminar Outline:
The science and practice of managing product development and other creative knowledge work is being revolutionized. Following the introduction of Lean Manufacturing in Japan, ‘Agile’ software development introduced many of the same principles to more complex development work.
However, unlike manufacturing, creative development requires variability to add value and therefore must thrive in the presence of uncertainty and risk, otherwise it cannot produce innovative solutions.
Traditional project management approaches typically aim for efficiencies through standardization and conformance, and in so doing eliminate innovation. They aim to maximize utilization of resources, thereby prolonging time to market. They divide and demarcate roles and responsibilities without understanding how that destroys collaboration and information flow. And they invest in extensive up-front planning, and then resist emerging reality when it doesn’t conform to the plan.
Managing creative development teams and projects requires that we focus on maximizing the economic outcome throughout the project or product lifecycle. But most development teams have little understanding of project economics – how much does a months delay cost? – what is the value of fast, rich feedback? – what is the cost of hand-overs?
In this introductory session, we explain the concept of Flow – the foundation for radical improvements in quality, predictability, agility, visibility and efficiency. Flow depends on
· managing queues and work in progress
· implementing fast feedback loops
· breaking our work into small, independent units
We briefly introduce some of the science behind these ideas and provide an overview of how they are applied in lean and agile methods such as Kanban and Scrum . We discuss practical next steps you can take to move towards Leaner, more profitable software development.

Attack Risk before it Attacks You!

Risk undermines predictability in software development – every development effort includes some unknowns. Some development is relatively risk free – for example, writting another driver that is 90% the same as one done previously, but just using a different interface signature. But most involve considerable risk – technology you haven’t used before, or a new domain, or a backend system you’ve never had to integrate with previously. Often these unknown aspects are left to late in the project – we naturally tend to do the easiest things first – it gives us a feeling of progress, and puts off the ‘hard’ work till another day. But this approach just stores up risk in the project. We often see this at the end of a project or release cycle, where the problems getting our system working only appear when we try to integrate all the individual bits at the end of the project, or tackle that tricky feature we’ve been avoiding. Thats when the risk in the project attacks our schedule – so many projects seem to be progressing fine until the last 10-20% when the slippages begin to show.
Agile and lean attacks the risk before it can attack you – by including risk as well as value in your prioritisation strategy, risky bits are addressed early in the project. And by insisting potentially releasable, working software is delivered from every iteration/sprint, you ensure that risk is dealt with as early as possible.
While plan-driven, waterfall methods attempt to improve predictability by ‘planning’ away risk, incremental approaches like agile and Kanban improve it by attacking it early in the cycle. They swop what can be an illusion of predictability with a more pragmatic approach to managing risk.

Moving from Authority to Responsibility

Lean Thinking, which underlies Agile methods like Scrum and XP, has as one of its central pillars “respect for people”. Agile reflects this in terms of ‘whole team’ accountability, collaboration and self-organisation. All these factors lead to agile seeing team members from a more ‘humanistic’ point of view – they are more than just resources that can be swapped in and out of projects – the sort of ‘bean-counting’  mindset giving rise to the ‘mythical man-month’.  Agile takes teams and individuals much more seriously, calling for long-life, cross-functional teams that are allowed the time, latitude and autonomy to gel into a high-performing whole. This change is well summed up by the phrase ‘Move from Authority to Responsibility’. Where organisational structure is based on individual authority rather than joint responsibility, it leads to fragmentation, isolation of roles, hand-offs, friction and ultimately poor organisational performance.

Its great to have really simple and memorable phrases to guide our day to day decisions and I think this is one of those: Build Responsibility, not Authority.