Jens Coldewey


Jens Coldewey, based in Munich, Germany, is a Senior Consultant with Cutter's Agile Product & Project Management Practice. He specializes in deploying agile development and object-oriented techniques in large organizations. Read more ...

Jan 122016
The Agile Challenge in System Design

While Agile is pretty mainstream by now in Web and app development, it is still a major challenge in system design, where software plays only a part of the game, although that piece is steadily increasing. Whether we’re talking about manufacturers of cars, chips, or medical devices, they all need to respond to the increasing pace in the market. Only one or two decades ago, these industries were content with product cycles of three to five years. Today, some chip manufacturers are capable of delivering a new version of their product every second month, causing excitement for their customers and despair for their competitors. Obviously, Agile in these industries means something different than in pure Read more

Jan 262015
Abandon Distribution in Pursuit of Collaborative Invention

Imagine you are responsible for a production plant. Let’s assume it’s a plant that produces a few hundred cars per day. Now you hire a new consultant who promises to reduce your cost by a factor of four. He issues some policies and makes some changes to your production process and, alas, after five months your cost really drops down to half. This was not really what he had promised, but it’s still quite impressive, isn’t it? However, you also observe some other changes. The staff becomes quite upset, and you sense a steep increase in people quitting due to burnout. The customer complaints rise steeply for a significant lack of quality. And the plant’s Read more

The Agile Island

 Posted by on Sep 20, 2011  No Responses »
Sep 202011

One of the saddest patterns I’ve seen several times in my career is that of an agile island. The story usually goes along this route: a highly motivated middle manager finds herself in some difficult situation and decides that agile is the right way out of her turmoil. She starts to read books, she engages skilled consultants, she gets the team on board, introduces self-organization, finds skillful product owners, and, after one year or so, she has a highly successful agile team. Well, not everything is really perfect, but after all, the situation is way better than it was before the transition and the clients notice a significant difference — though there is still some Read more

Mar 082011

“You did not finish the stories you committed to!” a product owner at a client of mine recently raged against the team. “What the hell are you doing all day long? This commitment was pointless!” And he was right. The team commitment Scrum includes as part of the planning ritual is a dangerous practice that needs care — and committing on a certain number of stories or story points really is pointless. “Commitment” is one of these management buzzwords you have to use carefully. You should be very clear about what you commit on, what the appropriate tools to keep that commitment are, which tools are illegal, and what happens if you don’t keep the Read more

Dec 072010

The next two years will show a major change in the Agile world: The predominant position of Scrum will suffer from both the inside and the outside. On the inside, the struggles within the community will weaken the thrust effect of the certification program. Right now, we already have two competing certification programs, and, at least in Europe, single trainers are trying to establish their private programs, too. This will lead to several dialects and maybe even more competing certification programs. Though competition generally helps progress a profession, I consider this a sign of increasing weakness for the Scrum Alliance. The ongoing merger between Scrum and XP – now marketed as “Scrum development practices” – Read more

Jan 192009

How much architecture does an agile team need up front? Most agile methods are surprisingly silent when it comes to this question. Scrum regards architecture as an issue the team has to deal with on its own discretion — and thus does not include any advice. In Crystal Clear: A Human-Powered Methodology for Small Teams, Cutter Senior Consultant Alistair Cockburn suggests having a lead designer who is responsible for creating the system architecture description — “usually fairly early in the first iteration” — but also emphasizes that “the architecture will probably evolve” and gives two strategies to help evolving: Walking Skeleton and Incremental Rearchitecture. XP finally suggests using a metaphor to keep up the technical Read more

Oct 212008

Last week, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of software engineering. Between 7 and 11 October 1968, the NATO Science Committee hosted 62 leading academics and professionals of the young computer industry in Garmisch, a beautiful place in Bavaria, Germany, at the foot of the north face of the highest German mountain. During this conference, the term “software engineering” became popular and started its journey through our domain. Not too long ago, I understood agile development as an oppositional concept to software engineering. I had identified software engineering with the heavy document-driven processes widely in use in the 1980s and 1990s. This is a popular conception; especially one the proponents of traditional methodologies like to support. Read more

Jul 102008

Software Engineering Radio, the world’s leading podcast on software development, published an episode on “10 Years of Agile Experience” yesterday. In this podcast Marcus Völter interviews me about introducing agile technology to different organizations, the experiences I made doing this job in the last 10 years, and stratgies I derive from this experience. The podcast was recorded in January at OOP 2008 in Munich.

Sep 112007

This is the second post on the German book “Evolutionary Management” by Klaus-Stephan Otto and others. If you missed my first post on this, you may want to start there. Traditionally evolution is connected with fight and competition. Darwin phrased the mechanisms “Survival of the Fittest”, which is often interpreted as “Survival of the Strongest”. Otto and his colleagues point out that modern biologists have a slightly different view on this: It’s not the fittest who survive but the unfittest who die out. In other words you don’t have to be best, it is enough not to be the worst – an observation you can also make in today’s economy. In addition Otto points out, Read more

Evolutionary Management

 Posted by on Aug 24, 2007  2 Responses »
Aug 242007

I recently ran into a book by a German psychologist and executive consultant on “Evolutionary Management” (If you speak German, you may be interested in the full reference below). Since this book is not published in English (yet?), I’d like to share some of their thoughts on this blog. “Evolutionary Management” sees itself as counter concept to a traditional command-control management and as a further development of Systems Thinking as it has been discussed by Peter Senge for general management and Jerry Weinberg in the context of IT. Evolutionary Management analyzes the mechanisms and solutions evolution uses in the nature and maps them to organisational problems. The results sound strikingly familiar to Agilists, although the book Read more