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Tom Grant

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Tom Grant is the former Practice Director of Cutter Consortium's Agile Product Management & Software Engineering Excellence practice. His expertise lies in software development and delivery, with a particular focus on Agile, Lean, application lifecycle management (ALM), product management, serious games, collaboration, innovation, and requirements. Read more ...

Apr 142016
 
Don't Let Agile Become Bad Science

The latest enthusiasm for hypothesis-testing in the Agile community is a good thing…Until it turns bad. If we’re not careful how we do hypothesis testing, that’s exactly what could happen. Hypothesis testing means applying the scientific method, which involves doing something really, really hard: putting our cherished beliefs to the test, not to prove them, but to disprove them. Any fool can come up with “evidence” to support a hypothesis. Why do I think that matching socks keep disappearing after I do the laundry? Demons steal them. How do I know? If I’m really committed to this explanation, I’ll find some way to support this novel viewpoint. Without this core commitment to testing to disprove, we Read more

Mar 082016
 
Agile Frameworks: Diversity And Its Enemies

[Previous posts in this series: 1, 2, 3] Don’s recent post in this series on Agile frameworks struck a chord strongly with me. This passage in particular was, I believe, especially important: Organizations come in many shapes and sizes, with many different organizational structures, product sets, skillsets, and cultures. While it is possible that one of the existing frameworks may work for you pretty much out of the box, I suggest proceeding with caution. Yes, organizations are different. Very different. In fact, if you were to take a busman’s holiday to visit IT several IT departments in the same industry (say, financial services), in the same region (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut), you’d find Read more

Mar 022016
 
"Agile Management" Vs. Bad Management

Lately, Agilists have been giving the role of middle managers (or possible lack thereof) in Agile transformation a fair amount of attention. While this is a knotty problem, I worry that our polite efforts to re-define the management function might be enabling organizational neuroses and psychoses, instead of helping people address them. Ultimately, we have to use plain language: there are many bad managers out there. Agile exposes their incapacity, and makes delaying the inevitable that much harder. While compiling a complete list of middle management functions might provide some catharsis, this is supposed to be a short blog post. Therefore, I’ll highlight a few that Agile commonly exposes, with the clarity of those photos Read more

Feb 102016
 

In a recent blog post, Scott Ambler asked whether architects should write code. Actually, the way Scott poses the question, the issue is whether the architect should be a full-time member of the team. While I agree with a lot of what Scott says, there are also a couple of risks worth considering, too. When I started in the software biz, I worked in software companies, not IT departments. In the world I knew, architects were senior developers who played a special role on the team. Their job responsibilities ranged from making strategic technology decisions to mentoring some of the junior developers. There was never a question whether they wrote code: it was part of Read more

Feb 092016
 
Agile in 2016: Party out of Bounds

For Agilists, 2016 will be a celebratory year. Not only has Agile enjoyed mainstream status for several years now, its success has allowed Agile to become a laboratory for other innovations, from new techniques for ­customer insights to delivery of software as fast as you can produce it. When you join a party where everyone is having the best time imaginable, the last thing on your mind is how annoyed the people next door are, and how happy the people paying for it are. Those are two major considerations for Agile in 2016, which will appear as the not-too-subtle subtext for several ongoing developments. THE AGILE PARTY HAS A BIG PLAYLIST Soon after you walk Read more

Jan 262016
 
Chasing Black Swans Through The Snow

We had a little snow here in Washington, DC on Friday, and we’re still digging out. The great snowstorm of 2016, a.k.a. Snowzilla, was the kind of outlier event that even the most dysfunctional of local governments must be ready to handle. Even if you think that 2-3 feet of snow in a single day is a “black swan” event, you had better have the snow plows and dump trucks ready for that unlikely scenario. Software innovators have a much different attitude about black swans. Rather than prepare their response for them, they usually act as though they will never occur. Sure, you might do everything you can to prevent, say, an unexpected architectural glitch Read more

Jan 082016
 
Agile Frameworks: Does Anyone Know What A Framework Is?

[Later posts in this series: 2, 3, 4] [Welcome to the first in a series of posts about Agile frameworks. In this series, Cutter consultants in the Agile Product Management & Software Engineering Excellence practice give their thoughts on this topic, with the goal of helping people make smart decisions about choosing or implementing Agile frameworks. The author of this first post is Tom Grant, the practice director for Agile Product Management & Software Engineering Excellence.] To My Cutter Colleagues, First, thank you for agreeing to start this dialogue. Given the amount of time we’ve spent talking about Agile frameworks, both with our clients and each other, I thought it would be a good idea to open Read more