Agile Schmagile -- Jon Kern


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It would seem that Agile isn’t the foolproof silver bullet that we said it would be! Oh, wait. We never said that. Let me re-phrase this a bit. Ahem. Ok, so not all groups doing agile succeed in delivering software. And not all folks trained in two days of Scrum are magically anointed with wisdom and a Midas touch. The anger against “agile” is palpable in many discussion groups and blogs.
What should we do? Go back to Waterfall? Train people for four days? Well, I think it is time we do a re-set, and (re)educate folks on what agile is all about. If you are dogmatically following along with a handful of agile practices, but don’t really “get” the intentions behind the agile mindset, you may (will?) be disappointed in your results.
I’ve always said “agile is hard to do well” and I’m sticking to it! Let’s re-commit to the core principles and practices. Let’s do Agile like we mean it.

(Originally presented at JavaSymposium in March 2011)

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  • Hah, let’s reverse the typical talk format that does Q&A as a last slide <evil grin>I want to start out by setting the stage to have the audience reflect on their current agile experience from their current frame of reference.Then I want to deliver a quasi-interactive talk to have them reflect on the “true” meaning of Agile.I will then help folks RE-CONNECT to the agile principles.Conclude with a call to action at the individual level.And I’ll return to asking them again about their “Agile Practice” and just how good it really is.
  • Can you go at full speed and stop on a dime?
  • A rare treat in a career
  • How would your stakeholder and/or clients grade your team?
  • How would your stakeholder and/or clients grade your team?
  • Show a mass of soldiers marching in lock-step (like North Korea or China or Russia)
  • Of course, this implies having been connected in the first place. Hmmm. Might have to rethink <g>.
  • What is the #1 ingredient to be successful at an Agile project?
  • What is the #1 ingredient to be successful at an Agile project?
  • What is the #1 ingredient to be successful at an Agile project? #2 & #3 are also important!
  • Show a stack of books, historical documents…
  • Like the Laws of Physics…The tenets distill the immutable motive forces behind delivering software
  • Think of some sort of closed-loop image. A system of systems. An energy cycle. Weather cycle, or the photosynthesis cycle.The beauty and challenge of Agile methods is the holistic nature that must be grasped.Much like the human body, or in engineering a system (for example an aircraft), many of the pieces affect other parts of the puzzle.So it goes with Agile and Software Development projects.
  • The techniques and ideas behind agile are not rocket science
  • Yet, it is hard to continuously be perfect at agile.
  • Cover each manifesto point as if we lived on the Planet Bizarro.
  • Ask… How will you Get Started?Do any of you feel like you are in Camp Bizarro?
  • Nothing beats self-gratification.Oh, but wait, this isn’t that!
  • Photo from
  • From our ballerina daughter, magnets on the refrigerator
  • Agile practices are all about reducing the gap in time between an action and it’s result.
  • Show something off-balance and out of whack.Too much emphasis on any one thing leads to imbalance and disharmony.Images like the proverbial aircraft designed by separate disciplines… Propulsion group wants giant engines, Aero group wants needle-like fuselage with no drag, etc.
  • Image: big question mark? Scratching head? Head surrounded by 5 question marks?Try it… ask about something and keep going for 4 or 5 levels deep. Good luck getting that far. And if you do, it’s a great thing!
  • Show digging a ditch and filling it back in.
  • Add yoga-esque imagesGurus/yogis sitting cross-legged, or crazy pose…
  • Inverted pyramid leading to YOU
  • Inverted pyramid leading to YOU
  • Agile Schmagile -- Jon Kern

    1. 1. Agile Schmagile<br />Does Agile Stink, or is it Just Me?<br />Jon Kern<br />
    2. 2. Questions!<br />
    3. 3. Are You Agile?<br />
    4. 4. Peak Performance<br />Do you work on a high-performing team?<br />How can you be sure?<br />
    5. 5. Abysmal Performance<br />Have you been disappointedby Agile?<br />What practice has failed you/your team?<br />
    6. 6. Grade From Your Stakeholders/Clients?<br />✔<br />
    7. 7. Grade From Yourself?<br />✔<br />✔<br />✔<br />✔<br />
    8. 8. Agile Stinks! Or Does it?<br />No escaping that Agile can be a BAD word<br />100,000+ CSMs could be a good thing, or not<br />How can we tell what we should be doing?<br />
    9. 9. (Re-)Connect With Agile!<br />
    10. 10. Recipe For Agile Success<br />Killer App Software Product<br />Ingredients:1.2.3.<br />
    11. 11. Recipe For Agile Success<br />Killer App Software Product<br />PEOPLE!<br />Ingredients:1. 2.3.<br />Ingredients:1. PEOPLE!2.3.<br />
    12. 12. Recipe For Agile Success<br />Killer App Software Product<br />Ingredients:1. PEOPLE!2. Process3. Tools<br />
    13. 13. Being Able to Reason is Key<br />Educate yourself about the agile practices<br />Learn about successful project teams<br />Engage in observation – Cause and Effect<br />Reason about what you do as a team<br />Reflect & Adapt<br />
    14. 14. The Manifesto Reveals Truths<br />Individuals and interactions over processes and tools<br />Working software over comprehensive documentation<br />Customer collaboration over contract negotiation<br />Responding to change over following a plan<br />
    15. 15. Agile Practices Demand Holism<br />Consider the project to be a system<br />Synergies of Practices<br />Holistic Approaches<br />
    16. 16. Agile is Simple<br />
    17. 17. And Yet… AGILE IS HARD!<br />
    18. 18. Let’s Turn the World Upside Down<br />
    19. 19. The Anti-Agile Manifesto<br />We are uncovering better ways to provide the illusion of developing software by listening to others talk about watching people try. Through this (dare I call it?) work, we have come to value:<br />Dogmatic process and CASE-tool-like automation over inspiring quality individuals to interact with the team and the clients<br />Sufficient up-front comprehensive design specifications over seeing frequent, tangible, working results.<br />Writing detailed Statements of Work and negotiating changes over collaborating to do our collective best with the time and money at hand<br />Driving toward the original project plan over accommodating the client changing their mind, or a path turning into a dead end<br />
    20. 20. So “What’s It GonnaBe?”<br />Agile Manifesto?<br />Bizarro Manifesto?<br />
    21. 21. How Do We Start?<br />
    22. 22. It Starts With You!<br />
    23. 23. Change is Hard<br />Especially because it starts with you!<br />I needtraining<br />We only work on COMPLEX projects<br />We’re stuck with legacy code<br />The QA Dept does all of our testing<br />Agile isa Fad<br />Tight Deadlines<br />TDD takes too much time<br />Management doesn’t care about quality<br />We’ve never done it that way before<br />We need full requirements up front<br />
    24. 24. Be… a Craftsman<br />
    25. 25. Be… a Professional<br />
    26. 26. Be… Impatient<br />
    27. 27. Be… Balanced<br />Treat software holistically, as a closed-loop system<br />
    28. 28. Be… Lazy<br />
    29. 29. Be… Inquisitive<br />
    30. 30. Be… Bold<br />Question with BOLDNESS<br />Ask Why?<br />Why?<br />Why?<br />Why?<br />Why?<br />
    31. 31. Don’t: Just Do It!<br />Understand why you are doing it<br />Observe, reflect, adapt<br />
    32. 32. You Don’t Do Agile, You Are Agile<br />Agile is first and foremost a personal PRACTICE!<br />As is ballet, yoga, rock climbing…<br />Never a master, always a student<br />
    33. 33. Agile Has Failed Us?<br />Not so much!<br />Return to the founding principles<br />Be Agile, don’t blindly just DO Agile!<br />Apply common sense<br />Agile problems? First look inward…<br />The Agile Mindset has no agenda, no certificate<br />
    34. 34. Agile Can’t Change the World<br />But…<br />You can be more agile<br />Your team can be more agile<br />Your group can be more agile<br />Your company can be more…<br />
    35. 35. Agile Can’t Change the World<br />But…<br />You can be more agile<br />Your team can be more agile<br />Your group can be more agile<br />Your company can be more…<br /><ul><li> Maybe agile CAN impact the world after all!</li></li></ul><li>Agile Schmagile<br />Does Agile Stink, or is it Just Me?<br />Jon Kern<br /><br /><br />Thank you!<br />