Mind Your ‘Agile’ Language

ConfusedI recently got back from honeymooning in the Dominican Republic.

It was a wonderful experience.

Except for the language barrier off course. Because in the Dom Rep they speak Spanish – and I don’t.

So naturally, a few things got lost in translation (like the time I asked for a ‘shandy’ and got met with confused faces)

That said, because words only make up 7% of communication, during those rare times when there wasn’t an English speaking person on hand to save me from further embarrassment, I did manage to get by using gestures and facial expressions.

And that got me thinking about how often we use language ineffectively — especially when communicating with people who speak the same language as us.

Take agile transition for example…

Transitioning to Agile in Heavily Bureaucratic Environments

Although it’s often argued that ‘agile’ is not suited to heavily bureaucratic environments, in this video Matthew Bissett explains how a branch of ‘Her Majesties Government’ successfully reduced its delivery cycle from 9 months to 1 week by transitioning to agile.

(This interview was originally recorded at the Agile Development Conference and Better Software Conference East 2012 in Orlando. For more information on the conferences, please visit: http://sqe.com/conferences)

The Agile Response to a P1 Incident

emergencyHow should  a team respond to change?

The simple answer is “they should respond by being agile”.

If there’s one concept about agility that sceptical managers have caught onto it’s this one. When change happens, they expect that a truly agile team will be able to turn on a dime. You can hardly blame them, it sounds like a great idea. It suggests that perhaps managers don’t need to stabilise the working environment. They just need to pass change on. The teams will be able to deal with the impact…if they’re any good.

After all, aren’t they meant to be agile?

Of course, team members will have a rather different interpretation of this. They’ll tell you that agility isn’t about being reactive – it’s about responding to change in a controlled manner. With seemingly limitless demands on the team, and clearly finite resources, prioritisation becomes essential. Agile teams will work from an ordered backlog, and they’ll plan to deliver value by drawing work requests out of that queue. In other words they plan to follow an agile process…and that means things like “Sprint Planning” can still happen.

So let’s ask the question again – how should a team respond to change?

Agile Is Not The Goal

agile is not the goalAgile has become the new fashion in the Software Development World. Organizations ranging from startups to large scale development, varying across technologies and domains, from Product Companies to Service Organizations have either started, or planning to start or already have years of experience invested in the Agile Software Development.

The challenge starts when the teams or organizations just want to do Agile, without understanding the need for it. They just want to brand themselves as Agile, as this is the new thing and everyone is doing it. They don’t want to be left behind in this race.

They just focus too much on the practices, and forget to think about why they are doing those practices. They blindly follow the popular Agile methodologies or frameworks without understanding the context of their problems, environment, real need of the hour, believing Agile is the ultimate solution to any problem.

Agile Politics – The Games People Play

Office Politics - The Games People Play

‘Office politics’ – a fact of ‘working life’ we all have to deal with at some point or other.

Plato once said “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

Assuming there’s some truth in this statement, then regardless of whether you practice, hate, avoid, or love it, it’s important to understand and know how to safely navigate the political minefield – especially if you want to advance in your career.

In this short video, Professor of Software Engineering at University of British Columbia,Vancouver and Director of Process Development (RUP) at Rational Software, Philippe Kruchten shares some useful information including: