Harvey Wheaton's Agile Gardening

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Harvey Wheaton spoke at ProductTank October 2011 and shared his experiences of building and running Agile teams at his games studio Supermassive Games.

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Harvey Wheaton's Agile Gardening

  1. 1. Agile Gardening Harvey Wheaton Studio Director
  2. 2. Pre-History Harvey... B.C. A.D.
  3. 3. Harvey!
  4. 4. About Our CompanyIndependent games development studioEstablished Sept 2008Currently 90 employeesTwo PlayStation3 titles + 1 PC title publishedPlus lots of downloadable content(LittleBigPlanet)Today, working on 5 projects
  5. 5. Our TeamsTypically 15-25 people, getting biggerMulti-discipline• Code• Art• Design• Audio• And more...Often highly specialised
  6. 6. The Gardening Bit...
  7. 7. Agile: A set of values and Principles, not a Methodology a.k.a. Preparing fertile soil for seedlings to thrive in The Agile ManifestoWe are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Working software over comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over contract negotiation Responding to change over following a plan
  8. 8. Agile: A set of values and Principles, not a Methodology a.k.a. Preparing fertile soil for seedlings to thrive in The Agile ManifestoWe are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value: People talking to each other and working as a team Software that works and we have discussions around Involving our customers as fully as we can, as we go Embracing change and being great at dealing with it
  9. 9. Agile: A set of values and Principles, not a Methodology a.k.a. Preparing fertile soil for seedlings to thrive in The Agile ManifestoWe are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value: People talking to each other and working as a team Software that works and we have discussions around Involving our customers as fully as we can, as we go Embracing change and being great at dealing with it
  10. 10. 1. Individuals and Interactions a.k.a. “talking to each other and working as a team”• Culture and values• A physical Environment that encourages interaction• Public, physical and visual
  11. 11. Team Clear communication Open and honest critique Culture & Values Decisive Creating a Deliberate Culture*Make mistakes early and cheaplyRespect and support each other as a team Individuals Ownership First draft of our studio Leadership values from October „08 Flexibility Contribution Process Goal driven Continual review Software focused Enables not hinders *Rather than letting one form accidentally
  12. 12. Culture & Values• Hiring the right people• Using the language of the values• Story telling• Culture and Agile/Scrum induction for all new starters• Emphasis on delivery as a team and as studio• Careful and inclusive language, continually reinforced • “We” not “he”, “she”, “it” or “they”• “Public and Physical” e.g. Planning and design• Daily software reviews• Regular and honest communication, in person• Demonstrated „safe environment‟ for people to speak their mind
  13. 13. Culture & ValuesBuilding Conversation Opportunities into the Process
  14. 14. Physical Environment• Seating• Making use of every inch of space• Pin boards, whiteboards• Post its, cards, pictures
  15. 15. 15
  16. 16. Public, Physical, Visual
  17. 17. Public, Physical, Visual 17
  18. 18. 2. Working Software a.k.a. “Software that works and we have discussions around”• Software as the measure of progress• Playing the software as early an often as possible• Making mistakes quickly and at cheaply• Number of iterations, not the amount of time• Working from low fidelity to high fidelity
  19. 19. Working Software Software as the Measure of Progress• Continuous integration• On-demand builds for anyone• „Drop-in‟ build review every day• Has driven an emphasis on our build tools• “Fix major issues immediately” culture• Much lower bug count in final stages• Sprint reviews are software led• Conversations about design and priorities happen around software• Has to be in the build (on disk) to count as ‘done’• Outlawing a ‘works on my machine’ culture
  20. 20. Working Software Rapid Iteration“Even a Great Masterpiece Starts with a Sketch”
  21. 21. Working Software Rapid Iteration“Even a Great Masterpiece Starts with a Sketch”
  22. 22. Working SoftwareWorking Low to High Fidelity
  23. 23. Working SoftwareWorking Low to High Fidelity
  24. 24. Working SoftwareWorking Low to High Fidelity
  25. 25. Working Software Knowing What „Done‟ Means1. “Sketch”2. Commit (a.k.a. “Good Draft”)3. Testable (by kids and big kids!)4. “Alpha”
  26. 26. Working SoftwareKnowing What „Done‟ Means 26
  27. 27. Thoughts and Consequences• “People will make important what you pay attention to” (Mike Laddin, Leaderpoint)• With the right environment, „magic‟ happens on teams• Principles are more enduring than the exact method• Once a culture takes hold, it is amazingly self-perpetuating• It does take a lot of energy and enthusiasm to keep momentum “• The values need constant reinforcement – words and actions (!)• Can take time for some people to adapt • Previous culture, experience of Agile or Scrum • Responsibility for individuals feels big – can feel scary• People enjoy their work 
  28. 28. Thanks for Listening!

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