Technical Debt Isn’t Really a Metaphor

Welcome to my new blog on the Agile for All site! Along with new posts, I’ll be interleaving updated, edited, and timely posts from my earlier independent blog. My posts will lean towards technical practices and skills, but always with an eye towards the business value and the humanistic dimensions of those technical topics.  Here’s an example…

Many years ago, Ward Cunningham posted an excellent video on YouTube regarding refactoring and “debt”. If you haven’t seen it, I have it for you, below. But is “Technical Debt” simply a metaphor, or is he describing a real fiscal debt associated with software development activities? Read More

Principle Based Agile/Scrum Adoption

I’m a pragmatist.  I need things to make sense. So, when something like principles are introduced to me, I start to ponder questions like… What is a principle? Where did these principles come from? Are all these really principles? How do these principles relate to each other? Why should I care? Etc. Yep, I can get myself tied up into a knot thinking about all that. However, in that thinking I can find a nugget of learning.  (While other times, I capitulate and get a beer.)

I’ve done a huge amount of thinking about principles.  Relative to many of the questions above, I’m still drinking…thinking. However, I have thought AND experienced a lot about applying principles and values in my Agile coaching and training.

Principles on Blue Puzzle on White Background.

The word principle comes from the Latin for ‘source’ and ‘foundation’. The definition of principle is “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning…a fundamental source of basis of something”.

Principles are discovered.  They are the underlying understanding of why things happen; how things work. 

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This Cognitive Bias kills our ability to thrive in complexity

Does this sound familiar?

I was a Program Manager for over a decade, during which time I must have facilitated dozens of “project post-mortems”, a term that always bothered me, since in none of those projects had anyone died. One of the key “Lessons Learned” from nearly every post-mortem I facilitated was some variation on this: “We Should Have Planned Better”.

Of course, we always did the best planning we could, given what we knew at the time. Software development, like many types of work, is inherently unpredictable. We always learned quite a bit more as we went along building things, testing them, and reviewing them with customers and stakeholders. In all of those post-mortems, we learned the wrong lesson. We fell prey to a cognitive bias known as Hindsight Bias.

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Proposing Open Space Technology Sessions

When I am at conferences or events being run using Open Space Technology (learn more about attendee driven conferences), people often ask me “should I propose a open space session?” As we get into the discussion I tend to ask the same core questions:

  • Are you passionate about the topic?
  • Are you clear enough on what the topic is?
  • What would your 30-second pitch and summary of the topic to propose at the marketplace?
  • Are you comfortable hosting the session or, if not, is there 1 or 2 more that might help you?

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Open Space Conferences – Attendee Created Conferences!

Open Space is one of my favorite types of conferences. I was under the impression that most people in the agile, coaching, and leadership communities knew what Open Space was. I was wrong. Many have never experienced it.I_heart_openspace That is sad, to an extent, but that also means there are many people who will experience it for the first time this year (I hope!).

I am co-facilitating, with Allison Pollard, Open Space on Day 2 of the Scrum Gathering San Diego this year.  This will be a very large event, we are guessing 1000-1200 people will participate! Super excited to be co-facilitating with Allison, since she is an amazing coach and facilitator, funny, and intuitive – someone who can observe a group interacting and engage with them in just the right way!   Read More

Getting to Know A4A: Tricia Broderick

Today, we’re getting to know Tricia Broderick, trainer, coach, and Agile For All’s resident conference junkie. You can find Tricia participating in and organizing Agile conferences throughout the year, including Agile2017, where she’s the conference chair. Read More

Ask A4A: Long-running Stories

Hi Richard,

My Scrum team has been working on a particular service for over a year. It’s been 20+ Sprints. I’m concerned about the deliverables and the rate at which we deliver. I have just put together some material for my stakeholders. I am pasting those slides here for your review. Do you mind reviewing them and letting me know what you think? That would be very helpful. Read More

Getting to Know A4A: Bob Hartman

Continuing our Getting to Know A4A series, we’re talking with “Agile Bob” Hartman, trainer, coach, and the venerable founder of Agile For All. Read More