How to fix Agile? Agile 2.0, Kanban and the rise of Ultra Light Methods.

As a developer and project manager I always wondered why Scrum has so many rules, detailed processes but still calls itself Agile. Sure many of the ideas from Extreme Programming, another Agile method, are sound and programmer friendly, but they also represent a long list of practices to follow. This is evident by looking at the drawing above. Scrum has over 17 componets, XP between 13 to 36, can this be called Agile? Shouldn’t Agile be a truly simple way to start doing things better, and after starting being able to continoulsy improve?

I do believe there is a better way. Why not take the best ideas from Lean and Kanban and use them to build a better, lighter, simpler and more powerful Agile 2.0 method? Take a look at this article, and tell me what you think.

“Twenty years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Wise words that reminds us of the immense value that courage has for entrepreneurship, initiative, and to create anything of value. Courage is the stuff dreams are made with.

Any product or service has a natural audience, a group of people they serve. This part of this infographic shows clearly who Twitter serves. The larger diagram shows the same for the rest of Social Media.

The reason I show this graphic is to remind you of the key question for any business, or even career choice. Who do you serve? Forget about markets and niches and demographics. Picture that person or that group of people, imagine who they are.

Now, do you like that person? Do you truly want to serve him?  Do you want to make their lives more fun, better, easier, or are you just interested in their money? Money should never be the motivator. Making a difference in that person’s life should be! Money will always come after you do things right. Don’t worry, it will come, just do things the right way, and rewards will come your way. Be a servant leader. 

Remember the good advice of a scientist and a philosopher:

The true destiny of any individual is to serve rather than to rule. ~ Albert Einstein

Good leaders must first become good servants.“ ~ Robert Greenleaf

Top Project Management Salaries Across the globe, as reported by PMI’s 2011 survey:

  1. Switzerland: US$ 160,409
  2. Australia: US$ 139,497
  3. Germany: US$ 110,347
  4. The Netherlands: $109,775
  5. Belgium: $108,750
  6. USA: $105,000
  7. Canada: $98,517
  8. Ireland: $101,635
  9. United Kingdom: $96,384
  10. New Zealand: $91,109
The one constant we see is that all these countries have high levels of development. With several being part of the G8 group of nations.

Surprisingly France, Italy, Japan and Russia are not in the top 10. Undoubtedly they can’t be far behind.

It would be very valuable for the Agile Community to know if there are any other similar surveys from Agile organizations, within Scrum, Lean Kanban, etc. We need to know the state of Agile Project Management Salaries too. Can anyone offer any clues about such surveys?

Reflecting on talent and projects – Inspired by Andy Hertzfeld

I would like to share three brilliant quotes by Andy, he is one of the best developers in the world, and was part of the original Mac team:

1. “First and foremost, you are your own customer: You build stuff that you love yourself. What Woz did with the Apple II was he just filled it up with so much love — love because it was his lifelong dream… That’s the basic approach I learned, to work from your heart, and to really, really care.”

2. “We try to operate at the intersection of design and engineering. One of the reasons why things aren’t as good as they could be sometimes is that the engineers and the designers don’t work closely together enough” This quote repeats a fundamental idea of Steve Jobs, that he wanted Apple to operate at the intersection of Liberal Arts and Technology.

3. “The real breakthrough of the Macintosh was that we cared about UI… I learned in a formative experience that caring about UI matters, and if you do care about UI, you can make the world a better place.” Another core value of Apple, create an Experience no one else can match.

Andy is working now to make Google+ a success. His care for design and code shows all over Google now, and is evidence of how important is to have the right people in a team.

The connection between individual talent, and team goals are the reason behind every great success. People are extremely important, and caring about them makes better projects, better products, better services and ultimately a better world for us all.

Source: San Jose Mercury News
Image Credit: Traczine Blog.

The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.

Tom Cargill. Bell Labs.

It sounds a bit funny, yet so many times it’s true. The question is why?

The reason is what I call: “The Waterfall Trap.” Any project, at the moment it starts, uses logic, knowledge, experience and good practices to guess the future. That’s right the plan is at best a very good educated guess.

Waterfall methodologies for software development, or project management turn this guesses into stone. Stones usually called Milestones, Targets or Deadlines.

The funny thing is as time goes by, everyone can see the future more clearly, everyone can guess we won’t make it. But the Waterfall Trap includes a clause of Inflexibility, no target is ever revised, any revision is seen as a failure from the plan. So instead of improving the prediction, the team often goes to a land of overtime, where quality decreases, morale falters and even health suffers. Only when disaster strikes in these circumstances are plans revised, but usually under an unfair banner of targets missed.

The truth is, we can only guess-timate the future. Can you even predict you will be alive tomorrow for sure? Now you can’t! A car could hit you, you may slip down the stairs, etc. So if we can’t predict our own tomorrow, it’s no surprise projects where multiple resources and challenges are involved, are hard to predict. It’s actually rather remarkable that Waterfall projects, or any project with dates set on stone makes it within the 90-90 rule!

The Agile Way however, is quite different, it embraces chaos and unpredictability, through open, sincere communication, it prepares and adjusts for change, and for unexpected problems. It is not against planning, but rather as we move forward in a project it adjusts to reality on the ground.  As a consequence it allows the team, our “troops” to work hard, but with strong morale, and good pace, to deliver a quality product.

General Patton once said:

Make your plans to fit the circumstances.

It doesn’t get more Agile than that. Agile planning means intelligent decision making, every step of the way, including revising estimates, and moving the team to victory. An Agile Team should never live the 90-90 rule, they should be close to 100% every time, simply because they acknowledge reality, and plan for it.