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Agile Project Management

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

 
Dedicated Teams And The Agile Portfolio Management Game

Dedicated teams are critical to the success of Agile projects, both in the short-term (this particular project) and the long term (the queue of future projects. A serious game on which I’ve been working shows this principle in action better than any words I’ve used to communicate this point. I started working on the game because a lot of people struggle with the notion of dedicated teams. Even in cases when Agile has achieved a foothold in the organization, and everyone’s happy with the results, many people outside these teams may not understand or appreciate how big a difference team cohesion makes. There’s a difficult cultural shift from seeing teams as collections of individual “resources” …

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Leadership for Successful Agile Transitions

If you only adopt one practice of Agile, adopt retrospectives. The rest will emerge from that. This is old wisdom among Agilists, and back in the early 2000s, Cutter Senior Consultant Alistair Cockburn boiled down his Crystal Clear method to “Iterate and Reflect.” I thought everything of interest had already been written on this topic — until I was involved recently in a mostly failed transition during which this was a major topic. Looking at leadership models, you find the concept of post-heroic leadership where the heroic leader solves problems by either being the expert him or herself, or an “achiever” who pushes others to solve the problem. The post-heroic leader works by providing the …

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Back in 2004, when he was a vice presidential candidate, then-Senator John Edwards hit a nerve with his “Two Americas” speech at the Democratic National Convention. Here is the core sentence in that speech: And we have much work to do, because the truth is, we still live in a country where there are two different Americas, one for all of those people who have lived the American dream and don’t have to worry, and another for most Americans, everybody else who struggle to make ends meet every single day. It doesn’t have to be that way. The Agile movement faces its own version of the Two Americas problem. It’s appropriate and necessary to celebrate …

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From Guest Editor Dave Rooney: As a consultant and Agile coach, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many different clients and speak to many people about Agile methods. From my earliest Agile experiences in 2000 to the present day, I’ve encountered a common statement made by those who haven’t been part of teams working in an agile manner, and even from some who have. The phrasing always contains the words, “in the real world.” For example, “Agile is great in theory, but I can’t see it working in the real world.” Or how about, “Test-driven development sounds great, but in the real world it’s impractical.” Then there’s, “Having each team member dedicated 100% to …

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Jul 012014
 
Who Is the Product Owner?

For a rapidly evolving role, the basic requirements of product ownership are somewhat ill-defined. The role was developed initially in Scrum, which has become the most widely used and recognized component of Agile development. But the concept is close to the chief engineer in Lean engineering as well as similar roles in other Agile philosophies. Product owner is a critical role, but one that has sprung from software development rather than the business side. We must bring today’s product owner into the organizational structure. The product owner role is crucial because it represents the actual interface between stakeholders — users, managers, marketers, and the business community — and the development team. Without the product owner, …

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May 242014
 
Welcome aboard, Diana!

One of the great pleasures of being practice director is welcoming aboard new consultants. With each consultant we add to the Agile Practice I feel both the practice and I are enriched. The practice gains new expertise as well as another perspective on various methodical issues we wrestle with. Likewise, I gain access to a set of experiences, insights and values that I might not have been privy to before. Adding a consultant to the practice is actually a most gratifying form of network effect. I feel particularly delighted to welcome Diana Larsen to Cutter through this post. Diana, of course, needs no introduction. So, instead of an introduction I will share an episode and …

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May 242014
 
Read it Twice!

We were not literally poor when I was a kid, but my parents had precious little disposable income. The free public library in which they registered me had a strict two-day book exchange policy. If I borrowed a book on Monday, I could not get a new one till Wednesday. It was cruel torture for a book worm like me: I would typically finish the book I borrowed the very same day and would impatiently count the nanoseconds remaining till I was eligible to borrow another book. Fast forward to 2014 and I am feeling like a stranger in paradise, spoiled rotten by any number of great books, articles, presentations and blog posts on any …

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Describing the end state of a successful Scrum rollout can be very exciting for beginning teams. It can also seem a little daunting, particularly after that first sprint, in which the team could feel some of its potential but wasn’t yet able to reach it. I find this can be especially true for teams adopting Scrum in a larger environment that’s not yet an ideal environment for Scrum. Perhaps the whole team cannot dedicate itself full time to the Scrum project yet, or the product owner is still transitioning out of previous product management responsibilities to other parts of the organization. As much as we would like our beginning Scrum teams to have every advantage, …

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Two of Cutter’s Agile experts are teaching public workshops in the Denver area March 31 – April 3. Don’t miss your chance to work with Hubert Smits and Lynn Winterboer, both of whom are highly knowledgeable, engaging, and successful trainers. So successful, in fact, that 98% of Hubert’s courses enjoy a 98% pass rate on the CSM test! If you’re in the Denver area, this is the perfect time for you to earn the key certifications to qualify you to act as Scrum Master and/or Scrum Product Owner on Scrum teams. And if you’re not in the area, what better excuse to head to the beautiful state of Colorado? Get the details and register here. …

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While the problem of scaling Agile is getting the bulk of attention these days, I’ve been running into another problem quite frequently: the value dimension. There’s nothing in Scrum, XP, or other Agile approaches that mandates some calculation of value. From one perspective, I’m glad that they didn’t. Changing the principles and practices within teams didn’t require a gratuitous injection of value into the discussion, adding complexity and giving ammunition to naysayers. From another perspective, enough time has passed, and Agile has proved itself enough, to start thinking about value. For some people with whom I worked on a recent project, it was fundamental. They already had the odds stacked against them (lots of technical …

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