Agile Pattern: Chunk Before Choosing

Agile Pattern: Chunk Before Choosing

Creative people with limited resources, such as product managers, developers, CEOs, investors and artists, must choose which items to assess, staff or fund. They compare value, cost, flexibility and risk to make a decision.

Faced with too many options, we choose badly …

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Senex Rex at Work: April 2014

Senex Rex is an agile and lean product consulting, coaching and training company. We tend to focus on metrics. We teach teams and managers how to measure, experiment, learn, improve and win. We help clients become highly profitable long term. When our clients make more money, they have greater freedom to innovate and their employees and shareholders have more freedom to enjoy life. We think agility helps in many cases, so we often teach and coach agile theory and practice. Few contractors teach clients how to sustainably retain and improve agility; we specialize in that. We have many other tools in our tool box. Here’s a snapshot of the work Senex Rex did in April of 2014.

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Two-Hour Scrum, Lean Startup Overview

We often offer a free 2-hour overview of Agile/Scrum, Lean Startup and Catalytic Leadership to company leaders in active client locations (currently San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Santa Barbara and Salt Lake City). In exchange, we ask an executive to write a LinkedIn review (positive or negative). This April, we spoke with a well-known logging and operational intelligence company. The attending vice-president wrote furiously during the session and followed up strongly with his teams. We evidently made an impression. Our highly empirical approach to Scrum and Lean Startup inspires executives, especially when they see how these practices radically reduce market, quality and delivery risk. Would your company benefit from our overview? Contact us. Continue reading

Agile Metrics: Modern Management Methods 2014

We love supporting the community; especially in our home town. Come see us talk about agile metrics, risk reduction and cost of delay at the Modern Management Methods Conference in San Francisco May 5th to 8th. Troy Magennis and Dan Greening are both speaking on the Risk Management and Metrics track, click here for more details. Register for the main conference (Wednesday and Thursday) to attend our talks. Sign up for the 4-day option to attend our interactive tutorials.

Get 15% off conference registration by using the discount code LKSPEAK when registering through the website.

Risk-Reduction Metrics for Agile Organizations
Dr. Dan Greening
Wednesday, May 7 • 2:20pm – 3:00pm

Agile and lean processes make it easier for organizations to measure company and team performance, assess risk and opportunity, and adapt. My colleagues and I have used delivery rate, concept-to-cash lead-time, architectural foresight, specialist dependency, forecast horizon and experiment invalidation rate to identify risk, and focus risk-reduction and learning efforts. With greater knowledge, we can eliminate low-opportunity options early and more deeply explore higher-opportunity options to maximize value. We’ve used these metrics to diagnose agility problems in teams and organizations, to motivate groups to improve, to assess coaching contributions, and to decide where to spend coaching resources. We face many problems in using measurement and feedback to drive change. Manager misuse or misunderstanding of metrics can lead organizations to get worse. Teams or people that mistrust or misunderstand managers often game metrics. And yet, what we can’t measure, we can’t manage. So part of a successful metrics program must involve creating and sustaining a collaborative, trusting and trustworthy culture.

Understanding Risk, Impediments and Dependency Impact:
Applying Cost of Delay and Real Options in Uncertain Environments
Troy Magennis
Wednesday, May 7 • 4:20pm – 5:00pm

Many teams spend considerable time designing and estimating the effort involved in developing features but relatively little understanding what can delay or invalidate their plans. This session outlines a way to model and visualize the impact of delays and risks in a way that leads to good mitigation decisions. Understanding what risks and events are causing the most impact is the first step for identifying what mitigation efforts give the biggest bang for the buck. Its not until we put a dollar value on a risk or dependency delay that action is taken with vigor.

Most people have heard of Cost of Delay and Real Option theory but struggle to apply them in risky and uncertain portfolios of software projects. This session offers some easy approaches to incorporate uncertainty, technical risk and market risks into software portfolio planning in order to maximize value delivered under different risk tolerance profiles.

Topics explored include

  • how to get teams to identify and estimate impact of risks and delays
  • how to identify risk and delays in historical data to determine impact and priority to resolve
  • how risks and delays compound and impact delivery forecasts, and what this means to forecasting staff and delivery dates
  • how to calculate and extend Cost of Delay prioritization of portfolio items considering risk and possible delays
  • how Real Options can be applied to portfolio planning of risky software projects and how this can change the bottom line profitability

Capturing and Analyzing “Clean” Cycle Time, Lead Time and Throughput Metrics
Troy Magennis
Thursday, May 8 • 11:00am – 12:30pm

On the surface, capturing cycle time and throughput metrics seems easy in a Kanban system or tool. For accurate forecasting and decision-making using this data, we better be sure it is captured accurately and free of contaminated samples. For example, the cycle time or throughput rate for a project team working nights and weekends may not be the best data for forecasting the next project. Another choice we have to make is how we handle large and small outlier samples (extreme high or low). These extreme values may influence a forecast in a positive or negative direction, but which way?

This interactive session will look for the factors attendees have seen that impair data sample integrity and look for ways to identify, minimize and compensate for these errors. The outcome for this session is to understand the major contaminants and to build better intuition and techniques so we have high confidence in our historical data.

We’re really looking forward to this conference and hope to see you there!
— Troy and Dan

Senex Rex at Work: February 2014

You may be interested in what Senex Rex does. Our mission is to help clients become highly profitable long term. When our clients make more money, they have greater freedom to innovate and their employees and shareholders have more freedom to enjoy life. We happen to think agility helps in many cases, so we often teach and coach agile theory and practice. Few contractors teach clients how to sustainably retain and improve agility; we specialize in that. We have many other tools in our tool box. Here’s a snapshot of the work Senex Rex did in February 2014. Continue reading

Agile Portfolio Management Helps Retain Agility?

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Abstract

Agile methods create conflict. So to retain agility, we must actively promote it even after agile has taken hold. How can we equip a company with the cultural and process tools to sustain agility? Your choices may depend on your perspective. Social psychologists teach organizations to reinvent themselves, but this approach may be too slow for a large company. Change agents study, develop and evangelize specific processes, a more promising approach. “Adaptive portfolio management” is a specific process under development that may help sustain agile-thinking. It maximizes value by rapidly adapting to market and company changes. In using adaptive portfolio management, company leaders exercise agile fundamentals. They can become agile advocates for the whole organization, making agility more stable for developers on the ground. Continue reading

Is Hiring More the Right Answer?

Hiring Line

In my last company, I used to hear people say “We need more people to handle this workload.”

Every group in the company considered in isolation could use more people, no matter what group they are in; at least that’s what most people think. But smart folks sometimes say, “We have too many people.” Continue reading

Agile 2010 Impressions

Agile 2010 was held in Orlando near the Disney Epcot resort August 9 to 13. I focus on agile enterprises and attended many enterprise-focused talks. If you are interested in the developer focused view, Martin Fowler provides his thoughts here. My impressions follow.

Portfolio management is being implemented in conjunction with quarterly “sprints” in other places beside Citrix Online, including Motley Fool (Max Keeler), Tektronix Communications (Brian Miller) and Progressive Medical (Ben Blanquera). The four of us are starting to share ideas and experiences. Continue reading

Agile 2010: Enterprise Scrum

I presented our work on Enterprise Scrum at Agile 2010 this year. The session was well-attended for a specialized talk like this one (really only suitable for software engineering teams larger than 30 people), with about 40 people in the audience.

Enterprise Scrum: Creating an Agile Company

Enterprise Scrum, a fractal extension of Scrum and XP, has organized all development at Citrix Online since Jan 2009. We estimate team months, run quarterly Sprints, reassign teams, meet in weekly stand-ups. We start or postpone whole projects that use Scrum or Scrum-of-Scrums. No other known companies yet use Enterprise Scrum. It provides extreme visibility and control for CXOs. It promotes agile thinking enterprise-wide, driving adoption outside engineering. It demands NPV justification and forces executives to prioritize decisions transparently. It makes us more profitable. Continue reading

The Demise of NUMMI

NUMMI End of the Line

A colleague of mine, Kris Niles, sent me this long (59 minute), but compelling audio from “This American Life”, on the demise of the Fremont NUMMI auto plant. The GM Fremont plant was shutdown in 1982, restarted as GM/Toyota NUMMI in 1984, adopted the agile “Toyota Production System” through a massive education program (they flew all NUMMI plant personnel to Japan, where Toyota trained them), and almost immediately started producing high quality cars. Continue reading

Enterprise Scrum: Scrum Gathering

Net Present Value

On 9 March 2010, I gave a talk on Enterprise Scrum at the 2010 US Scrum Gathering in Orlando, Florida. I am grateful that about 50 people showed up for my talk, from about 300 total Scrum Gathering attendees. People were intrigued by fractal thinking, by the blunt assertion that engineering teams rapidly burn money, and by the prioritization of work using forecasted Net Present Value. Enterprise Scrum can create very healthy product lines and companies. In a sense, Enterprise Scrum turns enterprises into internal venture capital funders. Continue reading