About Author: Derek Huether

Website
http://www.derekhuether.com
Description
I'm an Enterprise Agile Coach at LeadingAgile. I have a goal to take the hand waving out of Agile, Kanban, & Scrum. I’m a strange combination of a little OCD, a little ADHD, a lot of grit, and a lot of drive. I come from a traditional PM background but I don't give points for stuff done behind the scenes. The only thing that counts is what you get done and delivered. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon)

Posts by Derek Huether

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Is Agile Now a Social Movement?

Mike Cottmeyer, LeadingAgile’s founder, asked the question on the company blog.

When Did Agile Become a Social Movement?

It seems to me back in the day, agile was about getting product into market faster… it was about working with customers to make sure we were building the stuff they really wanted… it was about craftsmanship and quality and excellence. There is a part of me that feels like some of us have taken things like self-organization, empowerment, and collaboration to an illogical extreme. Potentially to the detriment of some of our other goals.

Though I do not agree with their position, I do get the feeling from some that they see Agile as a disruptive cause.

What are your thoughts?  Take my straw poll!
Yes, Agile is becoming a social cause.
No, Agile is about getting product to market faster

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You Need More Process and Tools

processEven in an environment where you have a single, ideal, co-located cross-functional team, I believe you’re going to need processes and tools. The more complex and distributed your organization, the more processes and tools you’re going to need. Doesn’t sound very agile does it? Well, get over it. You’re going to need processes and tools to enable individuals and interactions. If you can’t sit in your chair and make direct eye contact with everyone on your team, you need more processes and tools. Hell, even if you can see everyone, you’ll still need processes and tools. What is Scrum? A process framework. What is a team board? A communications tool.

Context

I’m not dismissing the Agile Manifesto. I do prefer individual and interactions over processes and tools. I’m just trying to establish some context. Most of us don’t work in that ideal agile world. Rather, we have to operate within a series of non-ideal organizational constraints. Most people are sold on the idea of Agile. The values and principles resonate with us. But my job (and LeadingAgile) is to understand the goals of an organization and help them reach them.  We start by laying the foundation for an agile enterprise by forming teams and installing a Lean/Kanban based governance model, but maintaining focus on longer term planning, risk management, and dependency management.

Current State

Before laying the foundation, I look at their current organizational structure, I look at their current governance (processes) and I look at their current metrics to see how good that structure and governance is working out for them.

Future State with Process and Tools

Whatever the future state looks like, I expect two things to help get us there.

1. We need to provide clarity by making process policies explicit.
2. We need to demonstrate incremental improvements by using tools.

Do you agree with me? Maybe you disagree with me. I’d love to read your feedback.


Image Credit: Pictofigo

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Eliminating waste with reusable story cards

When coaching clients who use physical team boards, I’m seeing more of them gravitate away from pins and painters tape and toward the use of magnetic whiteboards, sticky-notes and index cards. I see them making a substantial upfront investment in the whiteboards and then again with magnets. If the magnets are too costly, I see them make the lessor but incremental investment in painters tape, post-it notes and paper index cards.  So, how do you eliminate the waste of the disposable index card or post-it note?  Just combine the magnet and card!

storycards

To be clear, I’ve got no skin in the game with this company. I’m not being paid to write this and I’ll make no money if you purchase their product. I just think this is a product that you’ll like and I think it’s worth writing about.

Though I usually don’t do product reviews, I found the product from Story Cards particularly compelling.  I asked them to send me a few samples so I could see for myself if this is something I would recommend to others.  Well, it is!

If you purchase a group of these reusable story cards, say goodbye to sticky-notes, painters tape, magnets or pins.  They come in four colors: blue, red, green, white.  These reusable story cards are made of a flexible magnetic material on one side and whiteboard material on the other.  They peel off easily but have enough grip that they won’t blow off the board like post-it notes do.  Great idea! Thank you storycards.co and day5labs.

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Agile Zombies – Fight the Dead. Fear the Living

zombie-standup

Agile Zombies – Fight the Dead. Fear the Living

Inspired by artwork by Pictofigo

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Could a Patent Troll Kill Agile?

patent trollPatent Trolls

I don’t personally own any patents but perhaps I should reconsider.  If you own a patent, you can sue people for infringing on it.  You don’t have to actually create anything valuable. You just sue people and make money.  You’d think it sounds crazy but it’s happening!  People known as “patent trolls” are buying patents for the sole purpose of suing others.  One guy in Texas owns a patent and sent out 9,000 letter demanding $1000.  The violation?  He claimed to have patents that cover any networked “scan-to-email” function.

Patent That Could Kill Agile is for Sale

On December 8, Penn State is looking to sell a few patents it owns.  One of the patents for sale is US Patent No. 8,442,839, entitled “Agent-based collaborative recognition-primed decision-making.” The lead inventors are PSU professors John Yen and Michael McNeese. The patent essentially describes different ways that people work together to solve a problem.

Patent Abstract

Collaborative agents for simulating teamwork (CAST) are provided with a recognition-primed decision (RPD) model, thereby enhancing analysis through linking and sharing information using knowledge and experience distributed among team members. The RPD model is integrated within a CAST architecture to the extent that agents can proactively seek and fuse information to enhance the quality and timeliness of the decision-making process. The approach, which is applicable to both human assistants and virtual teammates, can approximately track human’s decision-making process and effectively interact with human users…

Thoughts

So, at the low cost of $5,000, you could theoretically buy the patent and then sue anyone using a collaborative agent (could be software or even physical boards) that helps people make better decisions and share information with team members.  Essentially, you could require all Agile teams to pay a licensing fee.

Questions

  1. Should Agile Alliance, Scrum Alliance, PMI, or some other body buy this stupid patent?
  2. Should VersionOne, Rally, and Microsoft join forces to share this patent?
  3. What would you do?

 

Image: Pictofigo

 

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