Agile posits this trade off: that creative projects, such as software development, have such huge market, technical and budget uncertainty, that we should pay the high expense of repeated regression testing, packaging, deployment, and rework, to enable us to test our market and technical theories early and often, adapting our approach as we learn more.
Here is my elevator description of Scrum: it is rhythmic experimentation to improve production.
You don’t need agile/Scrum methods if you are certain of market, process and technical perfection or near-perfection. We have nothing to learn with such certainty, so experimentation is useless.
However, the billions of dollars wasted in failed software projects (see IEEE Spectrum 2005, “Why Software Projects Fail”) at abject failure rates exceeding 50% indicate that confident waterfall engineers are dangerously arrogant. We have much to learn about making more successful software projects. It is true that there are charlatans and religious zealots in the agile crowd, and I apologize for them, but there is growing evidence that agile practices are highly correlated with successful, low-cost projects, and enormously successful startups.
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.
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→
Our team kept solving the easy stuff, the big deliverables seemed to take forever, and would inevitably come out with major bugs. Do the right things right… Why not just do that? For any one product, a number of people and processes come together. We automatically operated by priority, and this turned out to be the central problem. The chart below shows a 66% reduction in our severe bug rate since then.
Severe Bugs: Quality (priority 1-2)
It seemed to be the right thing: when a customer reports a bug of high priority, jump on it. When a server crashes, jump on it. When the senior person finds a critical bug, jump on it.
In our meetings, the teams decided that instead of “Priority” being our call to action, we should “order” our work, always consuming our backlog from first to last. Yet, we kept jumping on it. Continue reading→
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→
The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt is a business novel that recounts how a factory manager shakes off complacency and isolation to save his factory and its employees. Many MBAs, system scientists and agilists have read it.
I read The Goal 7 years ago. I was so excited I sent our CEO an email. “Have you read it? It has so many messages for us!” I said, breathlessly. “Yep. I’ve read it. Great book,” he said.
My coach friends and I have lately been trying to inspire executives and managers to sustain agile practices, to become competent agile coaches themselves. To help managers understand organizational agility, we have distributed copies of The Goal, foisting it on managers and begging them to read it. I felt I had to refresh my memory of it. On this, my second reading, I am inspired again, but for different reasons. Continue reading→
In Tradable Quality Hypothesis, Martin Fowler says “as soon as you frame internal quality as tradable, you’ve lost.” At the risk of being rode out on a rail, I argue that making quality non-negotiable lets engineers off the hook for understanding internal quality. Quality is always negotiable, and you should understand the benefits and costs of internal quality so you can negotiate and prioritize well. Continue reading→