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Bringing Agile to the Next Level

The Best is Yet to Come written on desert roadI finished my last post with the statement Agile will be applied on a much wider scale in the near future. Within governmental organizations, industry, startups, on a personal level, you name it.  But how?  In my next posts I will deep dive in this exciting story lying in front of us in five steps:

Blogpost/Step I: Creating Awareness & Distributing Agile Knowledge
Change is a chance, not a threat.  Understanding and applying the Agile Mindset and toolsets will help everyone riding the wave of change with more pleasure and success.  This is the main reason why I’ve joined initiatives like Nederland Kantelt, EduScrum, Wikispeed and Delft University’s D.R.E.A.M. Hall.

Blogpost/Step II: Fit Agile for Purpose
The Agile Manifesto was originally written for software.  Lots of variants of the manifesto emerged the last couple of years serving different sectors and products. This is a good thing if the core values of the agile manifesto are respected.

However, agile is not applicable for everything.  For example, Boeing will never apply Scrum directly for producing critical systems.  They’re applying Scrum for less critical parts and R&D processes. For determining the right approach they use the Cynefin framework.  In this post I will explain this framework making it a lot easier where you could apply Agile and where you should be careful.

Blogpost/Step III: Creating a Credible Purpose or “Why”
You can implement a new framework or organization, hire the brightest minds and have loads of capital, in the end it all boils down to real passion and believe. Every purpose should be spot on in hitting the center of the Golden Circle.  But how to create this fontainebleau in spring?

Blogpost/Step IV: Breaking the Status Quo and Igniting Entrepreneurship
Many corporate organizations are busy or have implemented existing frameworks like SAFe or successful Agile models from companies like Netflix and Spotify.  But the culture change which goes with it, is the most important step. How to spark a startup mentality in your organization?  How to create real autonomy?

Compass with needle pointing the word organic. Green and grey tones over beige background, Conceptual illustration for healthy eating and organic farming.Blogpost/Step V: Creating Organic Organizations
Many Agile implementations do not transform organizations in being intrinsically Agile.  To enable this, organizations should evolve organically, like Holacracy.   They will become stronger and stronger by setbacks and uncertain circumstances.  Organic organizations will be more resilient and anti-fragile.  In fact, it’s exactly how nature works.  But how can you work towards this ideal situation?

Quality pattern 1: Treat your acceptance criteria as tests

This is the first blog in the series after my last week’s introduction to the five quality patterns in Agile development, to deliver the right software with great quality. This blog is about a pattern that I think is absolutely necessary for a team to accelerate, deliver with quality and keep on doing this over time as an application expands. Your acceptance criteria should be your tests. That sounds simple enough, but it’s often not the case. By changing the way you refine stories your acceptance criteria can become your tests as well. Let me guide you through it.

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Impressions from Agile2010

Last week I enjoyed to opportunity to speak at the Agile2010 conference in Orlando, Florida. Of course, I also attended many of the other sessions as well. The conference has in my view an excellent atmosphere. Where I expected to find lots of consultants in their typical formal style of dressing I found 1400 people mostly dressed in T-shirt, jeans and sneakers instead. This must be the result of the Agile movement itself where people are first class citizens right?

The portfolio of Agile2010 contains ‘hardcore technical’ sessions like tutorials in Clojure coding, real ‘softcore’ sessions like “Behavior Driven Development for Life” which advocated using Neural Linguistic Programming techniques straight from psychology and also sessions around themes like Leadership and Coaching. Don’t worry, the conference organizing committee splits these nicely up in ‘Themes’ and ‘Stages’ so even if you only look at the program by a glance, you’ll hardly ever end up in an unwanted session.

This is what I picked up from the conference in summary (you’ll find all the details below):

  • Conference focus (or lack thereof)
  • “Religious wars” between Scrum, Kanban, Xp, Lean, …
  • Agile adoption in organizations worldwide
  • “Value points” (compare to “Complexity points”)
  • “Switch”
  • Company improvement backlog

Next I’ll elaborate a bit about my own experience as a speaker. The combination of what I picked up and my speaker experience will give you a good basis to decide if you want to put next year’s edition (Salt Lake City August 7-13, 2011) in your agenda or not be it as an attendee or as a speaker. Enjoy!

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Achieve The Unthinkable using Hyper-Sprints

2015-06-25 12:38:41 AMSTERDAM - Wereldkampioen sprint Dafne Schippers poseert naast de Nuna 7S van het Nuon Solar Team. De atlete neemt het in Olympisch Stadion op tegen het Nuon Solar Team, de wereldkampioen zonneracen. Het Nuon Solar Team doet dit ter voorbereiding op het verdedigen van de wereldtitel zonneracen half oktober in AustraliÎ. ANP REMKO DE WAAL auto dafne het neemt op schippers tegen zonne ORG XMIT: 33177940

2015-06-25 AMSTERDAM – Wereldkampioen sprint Dafne Schippers poseert naast de Nuna 7S van het Nuon Solar Team. De atlete neemt het in Olympisch Stadion op tegen het Nuon Solar Team, de wereldkampioen zonneracen. Projecten zoals Nuna en Forze worden door Hardware Scrum coaches van Xebia begeleid.

In my opinion, the best indicator how “agile” teams actually are, is their sprint length.  The theory says 2-4 weeks. To be honest, as an agile coach, this doesn’t feel agile all the time.

Like I wrote in one of my previous posts, in my opinion the ultimate form of agility is nature. Nature’s sprint length seems to vary from billions of years how the universe is created to a fraction of a second how matter is formed.

Of course, it’s nonsense stating we could end up in sprints of just a few nano-seconds.  But on the other hand, we see our society is speeding up dramatically. Where a service or product could take years before it went to market a couple of years ago, now it can be a matter of days, even hours.  Think about the development of disruptive apps and technology like Uber and 3D-printing.

In these disruptive examples a sprint length of 2 weeks can be a light year.  Even in Scrum we can be trapped in our patterns here. Why don’t we experiment with shorter sprint lengths?  All agile rituals are relative in time; during build parties and hackathons I often use sprints of only 30 or 60 minutes; 5 mins for planning, 45 mins for the sprint, 5 mins for the review/demo, 5 mins for the retrospective.  Combined with a fun party atmosphere and competition, this creates a hyper-productive environment.

Try some hyper sprinting next to your regular sprints. You’ll be surprised how ultra-productive and fun they are. For example, it enables your team to build a car in just an afternoon. Enjoy!

Robot Framework - The unsung hero of test automation

The open source Robot Framework (RF) is a generic, keyword- and data-driven test automation framework for acceptance test driven development (ATDD). As such it stands alongside similar, but more well-known frameworks, like FitNesse, Cucumber, et alia. The (relative) unfamiliarity of the testing community with the RF is undeserved, since the RF facilitates powerful and yet simple test automation against a variety of interfaces and features some distinct advantages when compared to those other frameworks.

In a series of blogposts, we would like to make a case for the Robot Framework, by showing its greatness through a number of hands-on examples from my upcoming workshop. Next to demonstrating its advantages and strengths we will also expose some of its drawbacks and limitations, as well as touch upon certain risks that flow from harnessing some of its unique features.

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