Friday, April 27, 2012

Agile posters

I am in the process of revisiting exactly what defines agility and what makes it tick, but collecting my thoughts on the subject reminded me of a couple of classic poster summaries from those jolly fine fellows at Energized Work back in 2007. Well worth a look.

Don't Compromise Your Agility poster

bakers-dozen-poster-a4

Monday, April 23, 2012

Certified Scrum Developer courses


I am pleased to announce that Thirsty Bear Software is now working in association with RADTAC to provide courses that lead to Certified Scrum Developer.

These are three day technical courses that cover the technical aspects of agile software development - basically the same training that I have been providing to companies outside of the Certification bunfight for years, except now formally assessed and accepted by the Scrum Alliance as satisfying the technical requirements of their new Developer Certification framework.

The next public courses are planned for the following dates, and are subject to change:
14-16 May
21-23 August
8-10 October
19-21 November 
The courses are all held at the RADTAC offices in Central London, close to St Paul's Cathedral.

For more details, and to book your place, please contact RADTAC directly.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On bumping down stairs


Unsurprisingly, here at Thirsty Bear Software we have a certain affinity with our bruin brethren, not only in the wild, but also in literature. I have found that one particularly famous bear can teach us a lot about how we behave, how we can improve ourselves, and even about the way we develop software. I am, of course, talking about Pooh Bear, of Winnie-the-Pooh fame. But what can the Bear of Little Brain tell us about true agility? Are you sitting comfortably? Then let's take a stroll to Hundred Acre Wood....

“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it. And then he feels that perhaps there isn't. 
Winnie-the-PoohA. A. Milne

This is the starting point for many teams, including some self-declared agile teams. They are working hard to produce quality software, but they seem to be bumping their head on each stair on the way.
Capture the requirements. <Bump!>
Write the code. <Bump!>
Test the code. <Bump!>
Build the system.<Bump!>
Commission the environments. <Bump!>
Deploy the system. <Bump!>

Everyone is left thinking that there must be a better way. If...Only...We...Could...Just...Stop...For...Long...Enough...

Yet this is often the unwitting first step to behaving with agility. Awareness. It is that thought telling you that there is a better way of doing what you do if only you could just stop long enough to take a closer look. Without awareness, you remain blissfully unaware that there is even a problem. To improve how you work you need to recognise and actively seize this fleeting realisation, allowing yourself the chance to take a cold, hard look at what is causing the problem. Once assessed, you can plan actions to improve the situation, even if it is initially simply padding each stair on the way down the stairs so that you can think more easily next time....

Awareness. Assessment. Action. Think it over, think it under...

Thanks, Pooh.

Would you like to buy an agile?


"You want to buy an agile? We sell you an agile. Very cheap. Very easy."

Doesn't make sense, does it? And yet many companies accept equally nonsensical marketing speak because they want to "do agile".

"Agile" is not a physical thing that can simply be bought or sold; it's not a commodity. It is a concept. A philosophy. A mindset. A way of thinking. You cannot just be handed one to use. It requires you to make a fundamental change in yourself. If you are not prepared to invest in that change, then you are wasting your time and money trying to achieve the goal. You have simply bought an agile, and put it on a pedestal in the corner. "Look, that's our agile. Do you like it?" (actually no. It's a dodgy colour and clashes with the curtains....)

Equally, any company claiming to be able to implement agile simply by putting in place a simple process is making the same mistake. Unless an organisation changes the way it thinks at every level, it will never see the true benefits of agile.

So beware any company prepared to sell you an agile (especially at inflated consultancy rates). Caveat Emptor.

(Thanks to David Putman for the original phrase)