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Agile Project Management

Cutting-edge Agile methodologies, software development techniques and project management practices.

May 162017
 
Some Advice for Middle Managers

From time to time Cutter Senior Consultant Jens Coldewey talks with middle managers who started their Agile journey some years ago and are unhappy with the results. Here’s his advice:   If you start changing an organization toward an Agile mindset, there’s no real end. Agile is about creating an organization of continuous learning and the transformation is done when there is nothing new to learn, which will probably be never. This puts an enormous challenge on middle management. In most organizations, lower management is responsible for actual delivery, upper management is responsible for keeping the organization prepared for the future, and middle management is responsible for stabilizing the organization. Now continuous learning means that Read more

Agility and Stability

 Posted by on Jun 28, 2016  2 Responses »
Jun 282016
 
Agility and Stability

The world is in a time of rapid change resulting from the usual culprits: The integrated economies and labor market have created a “flat world. The Internet has reduced friction in the marketplace The accessibility of data has revolutionized target marketing The low cost of processing, storage, and software environments (e.g., Java, Python, R) has made application development efficient, enabling innovation and disruptive technology. In the past, building business was associated with stability — creating an organization of lasting value that persisted even through a change of management or some market structure change. Running a business in the face of today’s changes, however, alters the nature of business management. “Agility” is the facility of quick response Read more

May 312016
 
Attention Agile Organizations: Alignment = Better Decision Making

A frequent complaint we hear from Agile teams is that their self-organization is not respected and their manager routinely overrules their decisions. If you talk to the manager, he or she complains that the team doesn’t respect company policies anymore and makes decisions it’s not entitled to make. What seems to be a battle about power in many cases and like a confusion of self-organization with autonomy turns out to be an unfinished Agile integration into the organization. Last December, we discussed this topic at a workshop of the “Supporting Agile Adoption” program of the Agile Alliance from the perspective of decision making. Decision making has been a topic of management literature since at least the middle of Read more

Apr 192016
 
Six Ways to Reduce Tech Debt

What strategies do you apply to modernizing a product code base? What results do you get with those strategies? This Advisor takes a retrospective look at a past project, both to describe the strategies my colleagues and I used to rearchitect the product and to validate the effectiveness of those strategies with two technical debt assessments via Cutter’s Technical Debt Assessment and Valuation practice. The six strategies we used are presented here. The two assessments are used to evaluate the measured impact on the system from the team’s efforts and compare it to the actual time spent modernizing the code. This is the story of the DeLorean system, a client’s longtime production setup. (While not 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 222016
 
2016: The Year That Agile Explodes

“Agile” — it’s an intriguing notion. Iterative, progressively elaborated projects with core deliverables to maintain motivation and progress along the way. It makes an extraordinary amount of sense both from a project management and leadership perspective. And up until now, true Agile practice has been refined and confined to a relatively narrow province, guided by trained scrum masters and captured as a distinct (yet, niche) practice within the project management community. 2016 is the year we can all look forward to a host of “new” Agile practices, each with its own nuance, and each with its own subset of practitioners. We’ve been seeing the cracks in the wall for several years, as organizations come up 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