Agile Infection Growing

This is a bloody good idea.
It builds upon my own Virgoen tendancies to write lists and tick things off, but what the list model lacks is the “in progress” state. Plus occasionally my lists get confused. See today’s notebook page:


    Fix bugs in Test Director
    Merge fixes up
    Do build
    Merge down
    Read terms of contract
    E-mail solicitor
    Go to Robert Dyas
    Order DAB Radio
    Finish business analysis docs
    Carry on with QCon note consolidation

How do I know which ones I’ve started? I could do with a couple of boards at least as well to separate the personal from the business.

Also note that I took something away from my Time Management course, attended when I was a mere graduate at a large manufacturing organisation: make a new list for each day, discarding your completed items and moving forward the incomplete ones (it also mentions to discard “low priority” items that haven’t been done over a week or two under the theory that you’ll never do it if you haven’t by then).  This is great for keeping a nice clean list of achievable goals for the day, but a bit rubbish at giving any positive feedback - no matter how much you get done, every day there’s yet more to do, and lack of visibility on what you have actually achieved. The example story wall in the link above is great for a sense of acheivement - yes there’s still things to be done but look how much has been achieved in comparison!

However, I am going to make the common criticism of cards: one of their major advantages, their “physicality"1, is also the disadvantage - whilst I can take my little notebook round with me, I can’t lug a story wall between work and home. And although some of those things are personal tasks, they need to be done at work (e.g. e-mailing because I haven’t got my broadband at home yet) or between work and home.

Mind you, I actually have 3 pieces of paper containing lists of things to do / buy / check / clean with regards to my new flat, because of my inability to actually carry the notebook with me.  Or the same one at least.

I think this means two more items to be added to the “To Buy” list: a magnetic whiteboard and some story cards. I like whiteboards because you can even scribble stuff behind / around the cards.

EDIT: Bah, someone else already beat me to it.

1 This is an extract from James Shore’s section on Stories:

Write stories on index cards.

This isn’t the result of some strange Ludditian urge on the part of XP’s creators—it’s a deliberate choice based on the strengths of the medium. You see, physical cards have one feature that no conglomeration of pixels has: you can pick them up and move them around. They’re tactile. This gives them power.

QCon: TODO list inspired by the conference

Continuing the Agile froth…

…there are a number of points in this interview with Paul Oldfield which are interesting to consider when thinking about “doing Agile right”.  It seems to be compatible with my “people over process” view - I’m not stating that having good people negates the need for any form of process or discipline, I have seen that this is simply not the case.  I do however think that agile techniques in particular rely heavily upon the “right” people / team, for some nebulous definition of  “right”.

QCon: Initial thoughts

Things I took out of QCon:

  • I want to play with Ajax.  Maybe I've "grown out" of front end development but that doesn't prevent it from being (potentially) extremely cool
  • Selenium looks like a good place to start for automated website testing
  • It can take up to 7 years to move away from a legacy architecture.  Depressing, but at least it shows it can be done and it's worth the effort
  • I'm going to become a certified Scrum Master Mistress.  I believe Agile in some form or other is the most efficient way to run software development, but there are a LOT of lessons to learn in order to get it right.  And number one lesson is you need the right team.

QCon London

Last week saw the first QCon London conference, an event “designed with the technical depth and enterprise focus of interest to technical team leads, architects, and project managers”.

The conference consisted of two days of tutorials followed by three days of talks covering technologies, vendor products, and processes. In addition there were numerous “networking” opportunities with plenty of break times to both absorb information and meet other people, plus evening events.

The conference was both comprehensive and absorbing, and I’m hoping to take the next few days to filter through the notes I have taken and present a more succinct version here. Whether it will be of use to anyone other than myself remains to be seen…