Archive for April, 2012

Crucial confrontations

View more PowerPoint from Yves Hanoulle
At Xpday Benelux in November 2011 , our session was selected among the 12 best sessions.
So Christophe Thibaut and me, we were asked to redo our session at Mini XPDays benelux 2012.
It was as fun as in November. As we warned our participants we had one exercise too much (we were still hoping we could do this, but we should have known better…) Anyway here are our slides.
As we said, we give Free Life time support.
The technique that was most appreciated was the click protocol
 
 
 

In 2009 Alexey invited Yves to the first edition of AgileEE. Yves loves the first time a conference takes place. There is a dynamic that usually can only be found the first time. And surely that was the case at AgileEE. Yves still remembers the hallway conversation with JB. They agreed that Alexey and his team made a lot of mistakes that they could have warned him about. And you know what, it did not matter. The conference was great. And Yves would add, the things they called mistakes made the conference what it was. Their advice would have been wrong. Alexey knew perfectly what would work there. On top of that, Yves is jealous of the balance that Alexey has found between building a business and watching out for his personal life. Alexey was invited by Diana Larsen (Not published yet)

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

I am a free-ride skier. I am bass guitarist. I like living in a wild forest. I am not a social guy by any means. I’d had no idea I would engage myself in training and consulting activities. It still surprises me.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

I had been preparing myself to enter a biological university before the programming virus struck me. I had been very serious about biology back in college. And then I programmed the “hello world”… And the new world replied to me.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

Well. I have a sort of a speaking impediment. When I was in the school there was no way one would make me speak in public. This caused me lot of trouble back then. Now I still do have that issue, but apparently I stopped caring about it. What I have to say became much more important than how I do that. Seems people like my speaking. I have gotten a bunch of compliments on my recent talks.

What drives you?

I am a free-rider by nature. I love new stuff. I love collaboration. I love being in a team doing something together.

What is your biggest achievement?

I was able to delegate a lot of things to my teammates that I used to do before. Like organizing conferences.

What is the last book you have read?

Four steps to epiphany by Steve Blank. Great ideas. I think the text needs serious refactoring though.

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

What are my plans for the next few years? I have no idea. I guess I’ll be between software and people. Hopefully, I’ll start a technology-oriented start-up. And most likely I will move to USA or Europe. Hate what is happening in Ukraine these days.

Who do you think I should ask next?

Niels was proposed by Grant. I have to admit I had never heard of Niels before Grant proposed him, but when I see the list of people Grant put him in (that I did know) I was intrigued. Unfortunately Grant died before I could ask him about Niels. With some googling I found that Niels taught at SkillsMatter. He even created Evolutionary Project Management (or Planning as he calls it now). Instead of me using google to find out more about Niels, why don’t we listen to the man himself?

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

I have no idea. Or, perhaps, that I am very risk-averse. Failure is not an option. And I made it my drive to research and teach people how never to fail in projects any more. As Cobb said in 1989 (“Cobb’s Paradox”): “We know why projects fail – we know how to prevent their failure – so why do they still fail?” I agree: Projects don’t deserve to fail. They don’t have to. Marketing this knowledge (as Cobb already indicated) is, however, not easy, as people usually think that project failure is to be expected. After all, they hardly ever get fired if a project fails.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

I am not ’in IT’. I am helping individuals, projects and organizations to become more successful in a shorter time. I do help a lot of IT projects and I have a lot of experience in that corner, but I also help a lot of other projects. Actually, I’m an electronics engineer who is still capable of designing complex electronic systems. When coaching embedded systems development teams, this comes as a benefit.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

My biggest challenge is to get people to understand the essence of my ideas, before they are trying them out. Once people start trying them out, they see the great benefit (both for themselves and for their organization) and love it. Before they start trying them out they often resist trying. After all, they have been running projects for ages. They know how to run projects. They are using the latest project management hypes. What useful ideas could I possible add to that? What could possibly have a significant impact on their performance that they don’t know of? They seem not to have any idea what I’m talking about until they start doing it and I’m still struggling how I can explain better beforehand. It reminds me about the saying: The proof of the pudding is in the eating. How can one experience the taste of a pudding before actually eating it?

Project success depends on a lot of small but important details. If I explain all these details in a conversation or a tutorial, people don’t understand the essence of the details, because their own context is missing. To me, what I am telling about is hard practice. To them, it’s still theory, which has to be translated to their own situation. They feel uncertainty which creates resistance. That’s why, instead of doing public workshops, some 10 years ago I started Project Coaching, or what I call “Just in Time Training”: standing in the mud with the people in a project or organization, showing what to do in the current situation using these ideas. In this case I suggest we do this. In that case that. A lot of people I coached thought that what I was telling was clear and that they could easily apply it. Until I started coaching them. Then they suddenly realized that they had had no clue about what I really meant. And that what I really meant made them so much more efficient, doing a lot more in much shorter time. Example: It feels good to be getting in control of my work. It’s incredible to me that in all the time I’ve been doing this kind of work, for several different companies, no one has ever provided me with this kind of help. Recently my manager commented again that he was surprised about all the work I’ve been getting done lately, so I told him it’s due to using Evo (the label I put on everything that works better). Whether this challenge is good for me? I have no idea. Additional note: recently I started coaching a large project. The project manager said: “I’ve been a project manager for 23 years. I’ve all the diplomas. I wonder what magic you can still add to that.” A seasoned consultant hired to speed up the project said something similar: “I’ve been working as a consultant for years, helping projects with specific knowledge. With so many years experience, what can you still tell me?” Both were convinced within about an hour. The consultant said: “You didn’t waste one minute of my time!”

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

“Why don’t you use the words Agile and Lean?” I don’t use hype-words, as I don’t like the hypes which come and go. These hypes are often misused by consultants making a business out of teaching the new hype, rather than teaching how to get better results. They sell tricks rather than results and when people start trying out the tricks they think they mightily improved. Bottom line: did your project succeed in shorter time? That’s not the success the developers think they achieved. It’s what the customers think and experience. The most important metric I use is the size of the smile of the customer. A lot of Agile and Lean I see around me is neither agile nor lean. That’s why at a recent seminar, my presentations were about the ‘essence of Lean and Agile’, rather than the hype. After all, project-results pay salaries. Processes don’t. For more examples, see: What is the essence of being Lean and Agile?

What drives you?

There is so much waste in projects and organizations, to the detriment of the people’s and organization’s dignity. Furthermore, project failures are paid by all of us. That’s obvious if public organizations are involved, because they spend our taxes. It’s however also the case when private organizations waste time and money, because it makes the products we buy more expensive. I know we can do a lot about this and I try to help people to do something about this. If they want to improve (that’s the catch. As Deming already said: Survival isn’t compulsory.

What is your biggest achievement?

I don’t recall achieving big things. I think I achieve a lot of little things and most of them become so obvious to me that I don’t see them as achievements. I helped a lot of people to become more productive and they feel the excitement and are proud of it (see some testimonials, link above). After all, if people achieve more, are more successful, I have achieved my goal. One thing that comes to mind is developing Evolutionary Planning (see e.g. booklets#2 and #7, which (now I have heard about Lean) is very Lean and it is the starting point for people to become more successful.

What is the last book you have read?

Walter Shewhart: Economic control of quality of manufactured product (1932). It’s a shame that this book wasn’t used at university when I was studying electronics (1967-74). It shows, among a lot of other things, the background of the Shewhart Cycle (Design-Manufacture-Sell-Observe-Redesign), as Deming called it. Deming later called it the Plan-Do-Study-Act Cycle. This is the first book about statistics that I could keep reading from start to end, as if it was an exciting novel.

Update: If you like the questions, you can read more like these in the book: who is agile

 

Today I presented the agile and lean mindset at #Scandev

The version I did was version 17  of this talk. (Update at this moment you still see an older version, as it takes slideshare a while to update the slides. Most of the slides are the same, so that is ok)

This version was designed for this conference, but I have given earlier versions at
ALE 2011 (Version5) :I was asked if I wanted to do a talk about a week before the conference
Lean & Kanban Benelux 2011 (Version 7): I proposed this talk to replace a speaker who had a delayed flight, 5 to 10 minutes before this talk was scheduled.
Agile.Net 2011 (Version 9) : after the good experience at LKB11, I was asked to do this as the closing keynote at ADN11.
Keynote of SDC 2011

(All other versions were internal dry run’s. With my kids or at the companies I was working at the time.)

Like with any talk or anything I do, I offer FLS (Free Lifetime Support) on this talk.

(I decided to only have one version of the slides anymore on Slideshare. That way, this page will always show the last version of the slides.)

A video of version 7  is online

Rashina was proposed by Esther. Again a person I never met before.

Yes, Who is agile, is really getting me in contact with a bunch of new people. This time Rashina made it easy for me, she wrote her own bio:

I am a Lecturer of Software Engineering at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in The University of Auckland. My prime area of research is Agile software development and my doctoral thesis was on the topic of “self-organizing Agile teams“.
I am also a mother of two lovely kids and a poet and writer in my free time.

How can I add anything to that?

 

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

On a very personal front, that’d have to be a lady – Mrs. Qamrun Nisa Begam – an academic par excellence, a social worker, winner of the President’s National Award for her life-long contribution to the cause of girl’s education in India, and most importantly, my grandmother and first teacher. Dadi amma as I lovingly called her, continues to influence and inspire me in my personal and professional life. Her never ending love for learning and selfless acts of kindness to people – known and strange – is something I aspire to emulate.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

I’d probably have been in another creative field such as interior decoration, fashion designing, or writing. Right before heading to university I stood at cross-roads – one which led to a prospective career in Computer Science and another into fashion designing. I chose my first love – Computer Science – leaving designing, painting, and writing as hobbies which I still pursue as time permits.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

In Agile terms, I’d say managing cross-functionality. As researchers (or practitioners), colleagues, parents, children, spouses, friends, and so on, we play multiple roles in our lives. Balancing these roles efficiently is not always easy and is one of the biggest challenges I face on an everyday basis. However, it is the variety of these roles what keeps life interesting. I continue to work on prioritizing the various roles I play at different points in life.

What drives you?

In one word: Passion. Passion to excel in whatever I do, passion for life. This is why I like to be careful about agreeing to sign-up for something because if I know I won’t be able to give it a 100% I should probably not take it on at all. I know several others who live by this principle. I like to share this passion with the people around me, be it in the form of sharing my research work via publications with the wider community, collaborating on organizing Agile events, or in the form of interactions with the students I teach and supervise. Sometimes this takes a toll on my personal front affecting my health which is something I need to be more careful about. Again, balancing is important!

What is your biggest achievement?

On the professional front, I’d have to say organizing the recently concluded Agile India 2012 conference as Research and Academic chair. It was *a lot* of work and it was also *a lot* of fun!
I got the opportunity to contribute to the making and running of a conference right from its inception to its execution. As Research Chair, particularly, I got to experience the entire research publishing life-cycle first hand. I have published in conferences before but here I was organizing and running the whole affair right from inviting the Program Committee members, to posting Call for Papers, managing the submission system (thank God for EasyChair!, assigning reviews, taking a final call on accepts/rejects, all sorts of notifications and communication via emails, liaising with IEEE on the publishing process, to running the Research Stage on the day at the conference. All this, of course, was possible with the support of a great team of stage producers, reviewers, authors, and editors. Seeing the conference come to life at Bengaluru and people attending Research sessions with enthusiasm was truly satisfying. What a rich experience!

What is the last book you have read?

Tea with Awra from Arwa El Masri – an Australian Muslim immigrant’s story of finding a sense of home. I connected with this story on many levels. In today’s day and age where our personal lives are easily affected by world events, finding a sense of home is something everyone desires. As global citizens, travelling far and wide, engaging with people from various continents, cultures, and societies, we still like to come back to somewhere we can call home. I thought the author made an honest effort to share this feeling – often, struggle – through her life’s experiences in this book. By the way, it also has some amazing middle-eastern recipes to try out!
Which reminds me I need to get back to the books I’m writing: one on the use of Grounded Theory in Software Engineering research and another with a co-author on an Agile topic.

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

Why do you wear that scarf, Rashina?

Why, I thought you’d never ask! 🙂 Wearing the scarf (commonly called the Hijab) is something I chose to do some 14 years ( back as I was about to start my Bachelors studies in the USA. (Yes, I said I chose to 🙂 ) At the most fundamental level, it is in direct response to God’s command in the Holy Quran recommending men and women to display modesty which I imbibed as I read more about Islam. On a practical level, it gives me a great sense of freedom as a working woman – freedom to highlight
my intellectual self which I greatly value.
The Hijab is not just a scarf, but includes dressing norms such as clothes that should cover the body properly, not be transparent or too body-hugging, etc. However, almost like Agile is more than just a bunch of practices, the Hijab is more than just a set of dressing norms – it is a state of mind. What do I mean? I mean the Hijab embodies modesty both in appearance and behaviour. And hello, it’s not just for the ladies! Muslim men are recommended to display modesty in their dressing and behaviour too.
The Hijab is an important part of my personality. It is a physical symbol of my faith as well as a great liberator of my intellectual being and as I like to put it, it covers my body and frees my mind 🙂

Who do you think I should ask next?

  • Naresh Jain: Naresh has been an important driving force behind the rise of the Agile community in India. His honest approach and tireless efforts have earned him tremendous respect in the community.
  • James Noble – James has been a great inspiration as my PhD supervisor. His love for learning, research, and achievement is something I admire and share.
  • Helen Sharp– Helen has done some amazing work in the area of Agile methods and is one of the pioneers of research on the human aspects of software engineering.

 

If you like these answers, I think you will love the book: who is agile.
Rashina has also answered
Elisabeths Question: How is the book coming along? in that book. We have decided to raise the minimum price of the “Who is agile” book every week with 0.5 dollar. (When you buy it now, you will get weekly free updates.)

 

When I started the “who is” serie, I wrote all the introductions. While working on the book version, I started asking people who proposed other people if they wanted to write the introductions.

At that moment our team started to wonder if we make clear what introductions I had written and which were written by other people. And we started experimenting with some of the introductions.

Will you have a look at these two introductions and tell us which one you like most. And if you want to give more feedback, please use the perfection game.

Version 1 written in third person.

Chris was invited by Liz Keogh Like Liz said, Chris is one of these guys we wonder what he will come up with next. He is also one of the people that you could (will?) run into at a bar at an agile conference and talk with until the morning. Yves has talked with Chris for hours about all kind of subjects, and not one minute was boring. Even ordering drinks is funny and you might learn something about agile or the financial world he lives in. During these talks, Chris will most definitely tell you jokes about other agilists. Don’t confuse that for not respecting the people he talks about.

 

Version 2: written in first person.

Like Liz said, Chris is one of these guys I wonder what will he come up with next. He is also one of the people that I can (will?) ran into a bar at an agile conference and will talk with untill the morning. We will have talked for hours about all kind of subjects, and not one minute will be boring. Even ordering drinks is funny and you might learn something about agile or the financial world he lives in.
During these talks, Chris will most definitely tell you jokes about other agilists. Don’t confuse that for not respecting the people he talks about.

 

Please leave a comment about which version you like most? (and why?)

How do I introduce Steve? I am trying to remember when I first met Steve. That’s hard, Steve is the kind of guy who seems to be shy and in the background. Yet, when he says something, people listen. Today I noticed that I followed a session of him and Joseph Pelrine At xpdays 2005. Only I don’t remember him from the session. I like that, because that shows that Steve lets his message be more important then his person. And in the end, people will remember that. (At least that is how it works for me.) Steve was a founder and one of the driving forces behind XTC).
He wrote Growing Object-oriented Software guided by tests. A wonderful book that explains why and how to do TDD (And should be mandatory reading for developers.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

When I stumbled into software, back in the Paleozoic era (Pascal with punch cards on an ICL Atlas), one of the things that attracted me into the game was that the previous generation I met was full of interesting misfits. They’d fallen into the industry because it was interesting and at the time there was no formal career path to weed them out.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

Maybe a statistician, it’s where I had my best grades. Either that or a failed musician.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

My impatience. I would have been able to get more done by letting things take their course.

What drives you?

Wanting to build stuff that’s actually useful to someone. It turns out to be surprisingly difficult to arrange.

What is your biggest achievement?

my family

What is the last book you have read?

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer Appalling, if true.

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

What would you most like to change in the software industry?

Too few people have ever had a really good development experience. Most literally don’t know what they’re missing, so they can’t make realistic trade-offs. I’d love to find a way to make that more widely available.

Who do you think I should ask next?