Agile 2009 Conference Notes

Distributed Agile Development — Experiments at Microsoft Patterns and Experience (Ade Miller — Senior Development Manager — Microsoft)

The P&P team at Microsoft was located ½ in a team room in Redmond with the rest in 2–3 countries worldwide. They would ship to customers every 2 weeks with projects lasting 3–8 months using Scrum plus XP.

  • Have a team room representative to represent the distributed people/locations who works to prevent/solve issues of technical failures (e.g., the build doesn’t work which could lose a whole day) or rotation of work since it could take 1–2 days for a turnaround on something. And this Idea can be applied to single person as well (e.g., a “team buddy” in the room whose job it is to remember the person who is remote).

Keynote “I Come Not To Praise Agile But To Bury It” (Alistair Cockburn)

Alistair started by delivering his take on Shakepeare’s Marc Antony soliloquy “I came to bury Caesar, not to praise him” [Which you can see at].

Risk and Risk Management Theory and Practice (Chris Matts)

Never commit early unless you know why. The default behavior for most management is to make decisions now. This should not be the default mode.

Agile Project Metrics (Dave Nicholette)

“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count and everything that counts can not necessarily be measured.” — Einstein

  1. Denial — ‘Problem? What problem? There’s no problem.’
  2. Blame — ‘I don’t have a problem working with you. You seem to have a problem with me. That makes it your problem. ‘
  3. Justify — ‘I guess it’s possible that I’ve become insensitive to other people’s feelings and needs. I can’t help it though. After all, I’ve been doing this job for a long time. It’s who I am.’
  4. Shame — ‘What have I done? I’m going to look such an idiot in front of the people at work. How am I going to live it down? Why should they help me after the way I’ve behaved?’
  5. Obligation — ‘Tell me what you think I should do. I have no choice but to do it (even though I don’t want to). I’ll do whatever you say. It’s only a job after all (no one can expect to do a job they love).’
  6. Responsibility — ‘I can wait for them to change but that could take forever. No, it’s up to me. I want to fix the problem. So how am I going to be a better colleague? I know! I’ll listen more. And be more considerate towards others. It’s a start.’
  • Creates an open environment so others can make decisions during the discussions.
  • Recognizes disruptive behavior within a group and does something about it (using The Facilitation Four-Step — see below for more details).
  • Has no authority.
  1. Interrupt — Stop the speaker in mid-flow in as polite and as respectful a way as possible.
  2. Ask — Ask the speaker to sum up or clarify their point.
  3. Redirect — Ask others to share their points-of-view.
  4. Commit — Return to the original speaker and double-check with them that they are happy to move in the direction of the rest of the group.
  • The Benevolent Dictator: ‘I know what’s best for all of you.’
  • The Guide: ‘I’m here to hold the lamp and show the way.’
  • The Gladiator: ‘It’s all about the combat!’
  • Curious George: ‘I’m here to ask not tell.’
  • Professor Moriarty: ‘The end, if it’s what I want, justifies the means.’
  • The Conclusion Jumper: ‘I don’t need to hear everything you have to say — I’ve got it!’
  • The Orator: ‘I’m worth listening to.’
  • The Superhero: ‘I’m here to rescue you.’
  • Sherlock Holmes: ‘With enough information, we can reach a conclusion.’
  • The Repetitor: ‘It’s worth repeating. It’s worth repeating. It’s worth repeating.’
  • Switzerland: ‘It’s not up to me.’
  • Be Yourself: [Insert your own motto here]
  • The Facilitator: Persona who facilitates a practice meeting.
  • The owner, architect, and builder worked as a team
  • The building team was highly experienced.
  • There was significant focus on the key constraint of Material Flow. Some 500 trucks arrived each day, but with limited onsite storage for materials everything to go into constructing the building immediately.
  • Systems (e.g., windows, floors interiors) were designed to be independent (decoupling the work).
  • The design was put in place to meet the constraints of the schedule, not the reverse (i.e., the design did not drive the schedule).
  • Understand what we really need [i.e., the high-priority items].
  • Involve experienced people early in the process [especially QA].
  • Build trust (self-focused contract thinking increases costs 30–50%).
  • Reduce complexity through design decoupling
  • Understand and manage the largest constraint(s) [i.e., Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints with Pareto analysis].
  • Big features but small stories [taking1–3 days at most to complete].



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