Archive for the ‘Ken Schwaber’ Category

2011 Agile Signatory reunion

August 8, 2011

Getting here early at 5:20 – too early? My session next door and walls came down – why not avoid crowd and risk being in wrong spot?  [Got front row seats 😉 ]

Session start:  History of Snowbird with Alistair Cockburn and “Uncle” Bob Martin. The meeting was originally called Lightweight Methods conference.

What’s interesting is the Manifesto came out of this *team*; and just as this occurred to me Martin Fowler is talking about this quality.

Talking about would they change Manifesto, and [the role of the] individual [in Agile]. Ward Cunningham, founder of XP, mentioning importance of what almost sounds akin to a military unit. Growing a community of people that appreciates excellence.

Fascinated to see who grabs mic. What topic.

Jeff Sutherland: “It would not have happened with [any] one of us.”

Martin Fowler: hates the no “I” in team saying. Always an “I”- I will commit. I will be great [for the team].

Brian Marick:  [story of a ] software dev saying ” my job does not suck as much as it used to.”

[Question from audience.] What did they argue over most? Timeframe. (Jon Kerns)

Alistair mentioning [word] “iteration” was in contention.

Steven Mellor mentions [the word] “software” was used instead of code.

Ron Jeffreys – people want to do Agile but don’t want to do it. Likes to see us [the audience] taking to next level.

By the way – sitting by Lean master Mary Poppendieck, who totally changed how I think of performance reviews.

Alistair – like to see [the word] “agile” melt and just be the way people do things.

Steve thinks documentation needs real work.  [Why did someone code something in a particular way should be captured.]

Ken responds to Alistair that [regarding the word] “Agile” [we] should not let it disappear. May mean opacity is back.[ and that] the evil empire has won.

Ron Jeffreys example of a book and an illustrator who would only work alone and now will draw on the page. [This is interesting to me because it talks about the creative who wants to go off and be in “flow” all by themselves rather than collaborate.]

Want to hear from Arrie DSDM guy.  [He did not speak once during the entire gathering. Pity!]

Alistair mentions 2001 first time Arrie met Kent Beck.

Slowly slowly they are abandoning the park bench – standing, staying where they are. [Moderator got them back in shape later, though, reminding them of the rules.]

The manifesto came from the space between all of us (that Uncle Bob?)

Jeff Sutherland: Lean as a community of learning from the Japanese founders perspective. What actually happens is inspect and adapting. How the lean company’s became great. “Lean needs to be about people and rise to Agile.”  [What this was about was that the western notion of lean loses that sense of community.]

Ken Schwaber:  team

Alistair:  [Talking about when he first encountered Kanban that he thought it amazing that you could] pull out a foundation stone (time box) and nothing crumbled.

Ended with a skit with a bishop and [a salesman – one espousing the religion of Agile; the other espousing the religion of conferences, books and certifications.  I think Tobias Mayer would have loved that part! LOL 🙂 ]

8/9: Edited in the morning and put fixes in brackets for some reason.

Evolving Out of Feudalism, Becoming Self-directed

March 10, 2011
HH the Dalai Lama in the New York Times

HH the Dalai Lama in the New York Times

Back to how evolutionary Agile is, today His Holiness the Dalai Lama announced he is retiring from any political duties within the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.  Interestingly, some Tibetans have reacted by saying they want His Holiness to continue to make major decisions, and not to abandon his political role.  Quoted in the New York Times, Tim Johnson, author of the recent book, “Tragedy in Crimson: How the Dalai Lama Conquered the World but Lost the Battle with China,” says:

“Tibetan exiles have only reluctantly embraced democracy despite the Dalai Lama’s many urgings. Many would prefer that the Dalai Lama continue to make all major decisions. And he has had to push hard for them to accept someone other than himself as a political leader.”

When the Bhutanese King, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, moved that country to Democracy, I noticed on many Bhutanese forums that Nidup reads that Bhutanese did not want this.  In ExpressIndia, a Bhutanese minister is quoted as saying:

“But His Majesty said you can’t leave such a small, vulnerable country in the hands of only one man, who was chosen by birth and not by merit.”

I had a chance to have a brief conversation with Tobias Mayer yesterday, and we discussed the fact that some folks who join an Agile team similarly have difficulty adapting to an Inspect and Adapt approach and in being self-directed.  It can seem to be, in fact, easier just to be told what to do, to have someone else make our to-do list, and just to do it.  No debate needed.  It makes me think that it could be possible that at a certain point, Agile, like Democracy, could get messy.  There could be the very real possibility of inertia.

In fact, I observed this with one team.  The team was accustomed to a Great Creative Mind directing it.  That Great Creative Mind realized the risk of having a Great Creative Mind as the sole Creator on the team by becoming suddenly unavailable to direct the team, to be their… King.  We’d tried to roll out Scrum on this team and on doing so the team suddenly went into a spin-and-flounder mode.  I was not personally part of the team and am not sure exactly why this was.  Perhaps because the role of Product Owner was missing as the truth is, the team was not trained in Agile and really was just practicing the Scrum meeting.  Even though, I’d expect through talking together that synchronicity would naturally evolve. That the team would find their own King from within, or find they don’t need a King – or product owner.

I’ve been watching TV shows on Netflix about feudal times and magic, specifically The Tudors and Merlin.  In The Tudors it seems to me so far that the writers have made Cardinal Wolsey King Henry VIII’s project manager, in a sense.  Once the cardinal is deposed, according to this loosely-based-on-history version, the king has to reform parliament and his own council so he can “get things done” and manage the country well.  In Merlin, a young feudal King Arthur is protected by the hidden magical abilities of Merlin.  This story shows Arthur as more part of a team.

What’s interesting about both is how authority and leadership are presented for entertainment.  In the case of The Tudors, it gets ugly and at a certain point, there’s no one to like in the entire show.  In the case of Merlin, there’s a charm to King Arthur and his team.  But in both shows, the leaders are needed, a requirement for things to function.

When I took training with Ken Schwaber, in exercises I noticed my own tendency to want to take over and tell the other team members what to do.  Later in Jeff Sutherland’s class, I suppressed this tendency and found I perceived (note that this may just be perception) my team not to move forward.  Later, Dr. Sutherland re-formed the class teams, and I was part of a team that had an experienced ScrumMaster. She quickly became our team leader because she had that mastery.

And this is where I think there is a thread. The reason we don’t want to give up our Kings may not only be about wanting to be told what to do and avoiding conflict. It might also be that we want someone with mastery to lead so we can learn. In the case of the feudal model, that leader has been trained to lead.  Unfortunately, the person who receives this opportunity by their birth may not ever really find themselves able to to be true masters. As usual, more to explore on this point.

SEMAT, Mastery, and Human Factors

February 5, 2011

In my links-to-links-to-links exploration, which I think of as fractal (but had a debate with PhD-types who felt that this is not true – but more about that in another thread), I came across this discussion of the “Software Engineering Method and Theory initiative” (SEMAT).

It seems what they are up to (again) is creating a meta-process for designing/developing software.  Digging into it, I found their manifesto (you have to scroll a little on their page to see it in context):

Call for Action

Software engineering is gravely hampered today by immature practices. Specific problems include:

  • The prevalence of fads more typical of fashion industry than of an engineering discipline.
  • The lack of a sound, widely accepted theoretical basis.
  • The huge number of methods and method variants, with differences little understood and artificially magnified.
  • The lack of credible experimental evaluation and validation.
  • The split between industry practice and academic research.

We support a process to refound software engineering based on a solid theory, proven principles and best practices that:

  • Include a kernel of widely-agreed elements, extensible for specific uses
  • Addresses both technology and people issues
  • Are supported by industry, academia, researchers and users
  • Support extension in the face of changing requirements and technology

People involved in creating this are great thinkers – out of laziness I am paraphrasing below from Wikipedia:

  • Ivar Jacobson: a Swedish computer scientist, known as major contributor to UML, Objectory, RUP and aspect-oriented software development.  (He claims to be the “Father of UML” on Twitter…)
  • Bertrand Meyer: an early proponent of Object-Oriented Programing and a proponent of (gasp) of the ideal of simple, elegant and user-friendly computer languages (I thought Basic was pretty simple and elegant, but I’m not a Master).
  • Richard Soley: lead the development of a standard called the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) which enables software components written in multiple computer languages and running on multiple computers to work together (i.e., it supports multiple platforms).

Some people I admire a lot have also signed:

  • Ken Schwaber: co-codifier of Scrum with Jeff Sutherland (don’t see Jeff on the signatory list)
  • Ed Yourdon: writer of Death March project management book.

What I found interesting is even in the language that they use in their communications is super-formal.  And it made me think if the language itself is not human-friendly, then a sense of rigidity sets in. A sense of “Well, we’re the experts, so don’t question us,” sets in.  What we seem to be up to here, we beings, is creating strong walls for reality to exist within. We’re denying the fractal nature of experience.

I found these critiques from Alistair Cockburn, Martin Fowler, and Kelly French.

Dr. Cockburn observes the effort is…

intended to generate support through appeal-to-authority, hype, and ambition

Later in his article he observes that ideas are not considered if not “widely accepted.”  This I think is at the heart of being closed-minded in some ways.  But it is a contradiction!  If thinking and writing are not peer-reviewed, how can they ever become “widely-accepted?”  And – is “widely accepted” such a good thing anyway? Seems like all those “widely-accepted” ideas get us into whole deep pots of hot water.  (Like – wasn’t Mubarak of Egypt “widely accepted?”)

Kelly French talks about how we want people to “fly right.” It’s such a great short post, I am tempted to copy the whole thing here – but will satisfy myself with:

While Extreme Programming hasn’t become the standard development model, that doesn’t mean it failed.  When the history of Software Development is written, XP will be given credit for re-introducing the most important factor; not tools nor process, but people.

For later – for me to handle in another post – she talks about the “dark side” of people. (What I’ll think about later is the dark side, “human nature?”, grasping, ignorance, and is there any “bad,” really?)

In his very short post, published just to explain why he didn’t get involved in SEMAT, Martin Fowler says:

I got the distinct impression that the central thrust of the initiative is to create a software meta-method-kernel – essentially a set of common process elements for software developments that you can rigorously compose into a method for your own project.

And this leads me back to the concept (and desire) to be peer-reviewed.  “Peer” reviewed.  Who gets to be a “peer?”  Who is an expert?  I say in another thread that it is a Master and someone who has “done” something. People who have shown the discipline and wherewithal to have spent time doing the homework and who, therefore, should be respected for their knowledge and opinions.  Otherwise, like artists who worked in the 80s rediscovering this little thing called “perspective” we just end up repeating thought patterns that these experts have already been down.

Or is this true?  Again, the student’s questions should be viewed with fresh eyes by the Master.  Was the Master really right? (correct?) The data seems to support the idea.  Could the data react differently in different circumstances? With the causes and conditions changed?  When we include the human factor?