How to Read and Write Pattern Languages

Simon Silaidis, Urban Calligraphy "Skyfall"

Pattern languages can help us understand complex systems. Read how pattern languages work, and how you can write your own. We are defining agility and its practices using a pattern language called the Agile Canon. Using the first five patterns in the Agile Canon, you can diagnose whether your team is agile, whether it can keep its agility, and whether it expands agility beyond the team’s boundaries.

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Agile Capitalization Video, with Dan Greening and John Rudd

Dan Greening recently got together with John Rudd, Managing Director of SolutionsIQ, to discuss Agile capitalization methods. Visit our Resources page to watch this 15-minute breakdown of Dan’s experience doing Enterprise roll-outs of Agile and in dealing with portfolio management of Agile.

Should we work over 40 hours per week?

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A colleague recently ask for evidence that 40 hours per week is an optimal work schedule. Here is a document that talks about past studies on “crunch time”, working more than 40 hours a week.  It shows that after 4 weeks of crunch time work, productivity declines below the productivity teams had in prior weeks working 40 hours a week.

This result was most recently repeated by High Moon game developers, in 2008, see Snap, Crackle, Crunch Time.  However, this just confirms that game development replicates what others have shown for different industries, including Henry Ford about 100 years ago.
See Rules of Productivity for some nice summary slides.

Review: Liz Keogh, Learning and Perverse Incentives

Liz Heogh

Liz Keogh, Learning and Perverse Incentives: The Evil Hat, QCon London 2011

This 50 minute talk discusses perverse incentives: situations where incentivizing individual behavior causes an organization to become dysfunctional.  When we attempt to optimize an organization, but fail to use systems thinking (i.e., when we are optimizing from an internal perspective) we can create inappropriate results. Continue reading

Facilities Planning for Agile Software Development

I’ve helped shape the configuration of software engineering facilities lately, and reviewed literature around this area seeking to maximize productivity. You may be interested in my findings.

One of the most influential papers in agile development discusses an experiment using six 8-person software teams in an automobile company [Teasley 2002]. They compared cubicle-based teams (each engineer had a cubicle) with warroom-based teams (a single room with 6-8 engineers and no separating walls). The outcome was dramatic. Continue reading

Poverty Thinking and Corporate Transformation

MacArthur award winner Esther Duflo at MIT

Summary: Success arises when we transform significantly, not just do marginally better. We must give ourselves and our teams mandates, time and incentives to ponder and execute such transformations.

Last month, MIT professor and economist Esther Duflo won the prestigious John Bates Clark award, for the person under 40 who contributed most to economics.  There is an inspiring profile of her in The New Yorker (May 17, 2010).  Dr Duflo performs economic experiments in developing countries, exploring important problems statistically (for example, that quotas requiring proportional representation for women in elections do, in fact, reduce societal bias). Such experiments give us clearer direction for future action. Continue reading