Sep 232014

In a recent post, I talked about the value of playing a game about Agile portfolio management. The game showed how, over time, stable Agile teams are more productive than ad hoc teams of even the highest performers. As a result, Agile turns on its head the way many people look at portfolio management: rather than feeding teams to projects, portfolio management should feed projects to teams. This example shows one of the many virtues of serious games, their ability to help us make sense of important principles about the operation of systems. Our brains struggle with systems thinking, so anything that can help us move beyond our cognitive limitations is a good thing. Some Read more

Sep 232014

As the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes a reality, the volume of data that will be generated by the multitude of connected devices, machines, and processes — in the consumer, business, and industrial worlds — is expected to be massive. In short, the more devices and machines that get connected, the more data that is going to be generated. Achieving some kind of business value from this massive data reservoir will require the use of big data storage and analysis technologies that can scale to meet the constantly increasing demands placed on organizations. These include: NoSQL file systems NoSQL databases High-performance relational analytic and in-memory database appliances Hybrid relational databases with embedded MapReduce Streaming analytics Read more

Sep 232014

As mobile computing has made sophisticated, digitally-mediated interactions possible in both personal/consumer and business-like capacities (BYOD) – the market and the challenges associated with it have exploded. Taking a step back to when the technologies that underpin mobile computing and networking were developed, it was assumed that each user had some level of expertise, that the use cases were quite limited in scope, and that the overall numbers of users were constrained. Fast-forward to present day, the massive scale of mobile computing adoption, the broad scope of supported use cases, and the “naive” user base has created a number of serious issues that the IT industry must grapple with now. Chief among these problems is Read more

Sep 162014
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” Read more

Sep 092014

In the Kansas City Star recently, an educator posted an editorial that suggested all students graduating from college these should days should be “job ready.” The educator argued that the current college curriculum was defined for the “gentlemen” of the 19th and 20th centuries, but this is the 21st century, and the cost of higher education has skyrocketed and what with the pace of technological change, the shrinking of our job markets, and the new educational options (online courses, etc.), our colleges, universities, and institutes have to radically reduce their costs and produce “job-ready” graduates. Now, I have to admit that institutions of higher education in the US have many problems. They are beset with much more competition for Read more

Sep 032014
Data Hacking: No Day at the Breach

This week's top news stories include stolen credit card data at Home Depot, hacking of Apple’s iCloud that revealed, well, revealing photos of the account holders. And it’s only Wednesday. The latest issue of Cutter IT Journal, “Data Hacking: No Day at the Breach” addresses data security, which, according to Guest Editor Ken Orr, is a problem "No matter how large or small our organizations are, we cannot just wash our hands of [it] — there is too much at stake.” Orr continues, “There are very few more pressing issues in management today than cyber security. Notice that I didn't say IT management; I said management. When the hacking of a major US retailer (Target) Read more

Aug 282014
Call for Papers: The IoT -- Technologies, Opportunities and Solutions

The Internet of Things in its basic form is the interconnected network of uniquely identifiable sensors, devices, and computers. The ability to connect all these “things” together creates the opportunity to develop a limitless set of solutions applicable to every domain. Manufacturing plants can track the status of products being created as they cross the manufacturing floor. Building management companies can track the health of lighting or heating/cooling systems remotely. Governments can track water flow through water systems, crossers of their borders, traffic in their cities, and medicines to address pandemics. Consumers can manage their homes or vehicles from a distance. All these possible solutions are not technologically alike. Some require real-time capabilities, others require Read more

Aug 262014
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 Read more

Aug 182014

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 Read more

Aug 122014

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 Read more