Category Archives: Agile

7 Ways To Go Beyond Your Agile Process

Now that Agile has become mainstream, teams are looking to go beyond their Agile process to find ways to improve. There has even been recent use of the term “Antifr-Agile”, where process is secondary to product validation and customer learning (AgileDayChicago, 2016). Here are 7 ways that your team can go beyond your Agile process.

Cecil Williams
Cecil Williams

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Navigating our Pair to Success

I’ve been pairing for over a decade. I’ve witnessed and tried all kinds of things shoulder-to-shoulder with all kinds of pairing partners. Through the years I’ve witnessed a single consistent misfire while pairing. We don’t understand our roles. As professional problem solvers we gravitate towards actively solving the problem at hand. 

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Key Components of DevOps

Akrem Saed
Akrem Saed

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In a previous post, I mentioned that in order to have a successful DevOps experience, there were some key components and principles that need to be implemented. In this post, I’ll cover those components in more detail.

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Lessons from DevOps Experience

Akrem Saed
Akrem Saed

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What I want to cover in this post is the experience that I had transitioning from a traditional development role to DevOps and what I learned to be useful in that transition. One of the nice things that I experienced with DevOps was that it pushes developers to take more ownership of their application because they are living through the pains and difficulties of running the application which in its turn pushes them to make running the app easier.

What’s DevOps?

Wikipedia defines DevOps as:

DevOps (a clipped compound of “development” and “operations”) is a software development method that stresses communication, collaboration, integration, automation, and measurement of cooperation between software developers and other information-technology (IT) professionals.

I like to simplify this definition by saying that DevOps is when you’re not only responsible for developing the application but you’re also responsible for running and supporting the application in your testing and production environments. As opposed to the traditional way of developing where you have the luxury of developing the application then throw it over the wall to the Ops team.

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Recap: SAU TDD Workshop

About a month ago, I facilitated the first event as part of the Source Allies external mentoring program known as Source Allies University (SAU).

Postcard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cecil Williams
Cecil Williams

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It was an interactive forum and networking event designed to:

  • Cover basics and explore new tricks of Test Driven Development (TDD) in Java
  • Create new code & refactor existing legacy code via TDD
  • Code through a sample project for hands-on experience

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Feedback

One of the tenets of the agile methodology is feedback. To provide value to your customer, you need to know that what you are delivering is correct. But as an agile coach, I often struggle with teams understanding the importance of getting feedback from the customer as soon as possible. One way to get teams to understand is to use an analogy – cooking. 

Cecil Williams
Cecil Williams

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Test Driven Groovy: StubFor

After years of being immersed in Java development, I must admit that I got spoiled by its strong and mature ecosystem. Hence, whenever I want to pick up a new technology or programming language the following must be there:

  • Support by my favorite IDE (Eclipse or IntelliJ IDEA)
  • Mature building framework. It does not have to be Maven or Gradle but it needs to be at least better than Ant.
  • Easy TDD. This could be the trickiest one to achieve because not only do I need a testing framework, but it must also be supported by my IDE and build tool. Moreover, it must have an adequate mocking framework.

Groovy easily satisfies those criteria right out of the box. It has awesome support by IntelliJ IDEA, Gradle is written in Groovy and you can write JUnit 3-style unit tests.  

Akrem Saed
Akrem Saed

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Updated TDD Mantra

If you have ever practiced test driven development (TDD), then you are probably familiar with the TDD mantra – red, green, refactor. I’m a big proponent of TDD, but I think the TDD mantra is missing a fourth step. 

Cecil Williams
Cecil Williams

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A Better Analogy For Agile Software Development?

For years, like many of you, I have been comparing software development to construction. But ever since adopting the agile methodology a decade ago, I have been looking for a better analogy to help me explain agile software development. I recently came up with what I think is that analogy – urban planning. Read on to see if you agree.

Cecil Williams
Cecil Williams

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Pain Driven Learning

I find that in software development, and also in life, people learn best within the context of painful experiences.  I’m not suggesting that software development mentors go out of their way to create painful experiences for their teams.  On the contrary, just start listening.  It doesn’t take very long to identify pain points within a team.  Equipping teams to solve their own problems is drastically more effective than teaching people the right way to think.   When I teach large groups I often describe my points as hooks or link where they can go back and expand their understanding.  This large-scale map is essential so teams have a shared road map.  But this is rarely enough.

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Understanding is built incrementally.  Each hook requires layers of experience and reflection hung upon it to develop a robust context of understanding.  While there are a vast number of reasons that people are motivated to learn, as a mentor I find pain to be a constant source of effective mentoring.  Pain is easy to identify within a group if you take the time to listen.  As a mentor I search for the root causes that set this frustration in motion.  Once I’ve collected and researched a variety of pain points I look for common themes and related root causes.
I remember one team that had a significant trust issue between the business team and the development team.  The most obvious place that this pain point appeared was in the daily stand-up meeting.  The business members were quiet and withdrawn while the development team dominated the conversation.  As I started asking questions I quickly realized that there was a language barrier within the team.  While most everyone on the team grew up in the same country, the developers consistently used technical terms that confused and alienated the non-technical team members.  On top of this divide the technical team regularly used their exclusive knowledge to push decisions through.  After discussing this with the whole team we adopted a “no tech talk” policy at stand-up.  In fact we gave non-technical members cards that they could throw down in the center of the group if the speaker started using terminology that only part of the team understood.
This small but powerful modification significantly changed this team.  The business team stopped reading their emails and texts during stand-up and started engaging in meaningful conversations.  The technical team started translating their technical thoughts into business terms.  Changing how the team communicated not only aligned their conversation with the business, it began to leak into their code.  Constantly thinking about their work in the context of the business helped them create code that reflected the business.  Clearer code reduce unnecessary overhead related to translating business terminology into application terminology.  This increase clarity also cut down wasteful communication overhead and reduced the new team member learning curve.  Aligning this team was not just a feel good moment; it resulted in a critical alignment of their software with the business.
While this example focuses on “soft skills”, pain driven learning is applicable to every part of software development, technical or not.  I focus on pain points because they’re easy to find if you just listen.  The emotion surrounding these problems provides an implicit invitation for a solution.  The act of helping a team solve a problem that they face increases trust and moral.  Once a team believes that they can solve the problems they face, they become emboldened to look at their challenges and take steps to correct them.  These shared experiences draw the team together and provide a powerful environment for developing valuable software.  Mentors earn respect from their teams by helping them identify and overcome issues.  Respect opens avenues for powerful teaching opportunities that extend beyond pain points.
Effective mentoring is not delivered by force.  On the contrary, effective teachers must become students willing to listen and learn.  In the same way that effective software provides value to the customer, effective teaching equips students to keep moving forward.  The correct posture of an effective mentor is humility.
I find that in software development, and also in life, people learn best within the context of painful experiences.  I’m not suggesting that software development mentors go out of their way to create painful experiences for their teams.  On the contrary, just start listening.  It doesn’t take very long to identify pain points within a team.  Equipping teams to solve their own problems is drastically more effective than teaching people the right way to think.   When I teach large groups I often describe my points as hooks or link where they can go back and expand their understanding.  This large-scale map is essential so teams have a shared road map.  But this is rarely enough.