Showing posts with label kanban. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kanban. Show all posts

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Other Sessions I liked at XP2010

Apart from the sessions I've written exclusively about, here a quick synopsis of the other sessions I really liked. I'm going to be quick about it, so let me just jot down the high level notes from each session.

Mary Poppendieck - The Five Habits of Successful Lean Development

Mary distilled down five characteristics of typically lean organisations with the mnemonic of 5Ps - Purpose, Passion, Professionalism, Pride and Profit. Here are some of the subcharacteristics of the 5Ps.


  • The reason why we work.
  • Solving real problems.
  • Connecting developers to customers to solve their state of pain.


  • An undying fanaticism for results.
  • Clean code comes from someone who cares about results.
  • Altruistic motivation for great quality products.


  • The drive to build the right thing 
    • "There's nothing as useless as to do something efficiently, that which should not have been done at all."
  • Building the thing right.
    • Test automation.
    • A state of correctness at any given time.
  • Simplicity of design - decoupled architecture, set-based design.
  • Feedback
  • Diversity of perspectives and heuristics.
  • The right vision coupled with the right leadership and focus.
  • Eliminating waste of all kinds:
    • unevenness;
    • non value adding tasks;
    • overburdened teams


  • Doing things gains respect.
  • Being fast and 'sloppy'
    • It's ok to fail - "If you haven't failed ever, it means you haven't tried hard enough."
  • Little documentation aids communication - find the balance.
  • Communication fanaticsm - it's at the heart of all we do.
  • Principles trump processes and practices.
  • Value people as professionals not resources.
  • Hire exceptional people.
  • Planning is everything, but plan to deliver not deliver to plan. So "planning is everything, but plans are nothing".


  • Employees that are dedicated to success.
  • Profitability is the underlying measure for success - without this, there's no business measure for what you do.
  • Value people - valued people make decisions and are engaged to achieve real outcomes.
Though a bit fluffy, I guess the 5Ps are an excellent mnemonic to remind yourself of the behaviours you want to encourage as a leader if you wish to institutionalise Lean Thinking in your company.

Padraig Brennan - What Agile teams can learn from Sports Coaching

Padraig Brennan was talking about his experiences with Agile coaching at Ericsson and his view is that teamwork and collaboration are crucial to achieving success. He made an interesting analogy of how sports coaches work to build effective teams. His talk was about the characteristics sports coaches deem fundamental to success with a lot of inspiration from John Wooden (TED talk above). These are rough notes from Padraig's session.

Does Agile foster teamwork or require team work? Similar teams have varying results? How is that so? Why is that so? The secret is team work. Teamwork leads to good results. There are several characteristics to Agile:
  • collaboration;
  • feedback;
  • shared workspaces or colocation;
  • pairing/ helping each other;
  • and heaps more
The fact is that just making all of this happen doesn't work always.
Click here for a larger picture.

Padraig then went onto to introduce Wooden's pyramid of success (above) and urged teams to start from scratch, by establishing the foundations first before moving to other steps. He proceeded to talk about his interpretation of the science of coaching:
  • people self-organise, but within parameters;
  • teams bond with leadership;
  • there's an external stimulus to aid correction;
  • servant leadership comes into place only after the blocks are all in place;
  • the coach details the system of play;
  • the coach helps people learn through exercises of show and tell;
  • the coach directs and leads until the team gets to be a well oiled unit
Brennan's made some modifications to Wooden's pyramid for Agile teams and I guess there are likely to be other modifications depending on the context, but I guess the focus of the talk was that before we can get to the aspirational goals of Agile Leadership, Agile coaches need to adopt a sports coach role to first emphasise the importance of teams and teamwork and focus on the fundamentals. Like Mary's 5Ps for Lean organisation, Brennan had 5Cs for coaching:
  • Character based: "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."
  • Committed
  • Competent
  • Communicative
  • Consistent
As a short talk, I think this was fairly meaningful and aroused the right kind of interest for me. For more stuff on this chain of thought, take a look at John Wooden's website.

Marcus Ahnve - Done considered harmful

This was a lightning talk and Marcus basically challenged the notion of the fluffy 'Done' state on Agile card walls because:
  • the definition varies;
  • the context is unclear;
  • it means different things to different people;
  • it doesn't necessarily capture a true done state (done may not mean 'business value delivered' or 'feature in deployment' for eg.)
  • encourages local optimization because people mark as 'done' only what they control
So the simple solution Marcus encouraged after having effectively made 'done' the bad word in the conference was as follows:
  • Instead of done, capture the real state of the card (eg: in production).
  • Treat the fluffy 'done' as inventory unless it reflects the real state.
  • Capture the handoffs to visualise where work is piling up in the value stream.
  • Discourage any local optimisations that create a false sense of effectiveness.

Kjetil Moløkken-Østvold - Who killed the digital nomad?

Not much to say about this, because Kjetil pretty much echoed my thoughts from one of my old posts - No Collaboration without Colocation? Maybe you're not 'Agile enough'! Kjetil's a hard nut and seemed very practical and was basically asking the question of our modern workforce, equipped with powerful laptops, hi speed wireless, etc  -- why do we still have to travel, show up each day in designated workplaces, in designated time slots? This is an unnecessary waste, because we travel like stuffed sardines, often in hot humid weather (tell me about that).

Kjetil dismissed the notion of colocation by challenging engineers who build communication platforms but are reluctant to use them. The culprits are:
  • old managers;
  • immature and oversold collaboration technology;
  • and agile fanatics who won't budge from the stand of "colocation is the only way to collaborate".
There are obvious benefits to high quality communication and collaboration technology to the individual, business and environment so Kjetil's point was that we need to be mindful of that and try harder to revive the digital nomad! Kjetil works for Conceptos and is proud to be a digital nomad.

Other stuff to be aware of

While that ends the list of talks I want to write home about, the conference itself was a great experience with the amount of networking that we were privileged to, the open spaces, the cultural experience (see here and here for the Jazz performance). I facilitated an open space on "How Agile teams learn" and I've had some interesting insights about the topic which I'll share sometime in the future.

Something I particularly want to draw your attention to, is the Diversity in Agile initiative, particularly aiming to introduce more women to the Agile world. There's a nomination system that's open for everyone to nominate an awesome woman. Check out the nomination criteria and nominate an awesome woman here.

I've thoroughly enjoyed this conference and been privileged to meet some great people - I hope to see you all again, next year!
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