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A Dacade of the Agile Manifesto


Today marks 10 years of the Agile Manifesto.

I am so glad I met you.  You have transformed the way we work and go about product development.  You have made I.T. fun and put team back into teamwork.  Reflecting back, we have made a lot of progress in the past 10 years.  We started with Agile teams, but now we have progressed towards how we can create Agile organisations.

We still have a lot of challenges ahead and many people still misunderstand your values, but through collaboration we will continue to uncover better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.

Happy Birthday.  I look forward to the next 10 years as we continuously improve the way we work.

[Edit: 17 Feb 2011]
Read Mike Cohn’s Blog Post – Reflections on the 10 Years Since the Agile Manifesto.
Visit 10 Years of the Agile Manifesto Website.

Lean and Agile Coach at Object Consulting

I am excited about joining Object Consulting as a Lean and Agile Coach.  I am really looking forward to working with Object and working side-by-side with our clients in the coming months.

Here’s an article that was published in today’s Australian IT with the announcement of my appointment at Object Consulting.   Except of announcement:

OBJECT Consulting has appointed Chris Chan to the role of lead Agile coach, responsible for teaching clients how to effectively use the technology/methodology to accelerate development.

It is the latest in a string of new hires for Object, which now employs about 300 developers and related professionals, working on government, banking and wider enterprise solutions.

Chan has 13 years’ experience as an Agile practitioner/coach and software designer. Previous employers include Hewlett-Packard and EDS.

“My role is to mentor and grow productive teams who are continuously beating their own standards for excellence,” Chan says.

Southern region general manager Tim Hastings says that while Australia does not yet have the level of demand evident in Europe and North America, where up to half of all projects use Agile methodologies, there are good reasons to support its growth. “Chief among these is that it helps our teams deliver quickly and adapt readily — which makes it a natural fit for the results-oriented developments our enterprise customers require.”

Object Consulting specialises in enterprise business solutions.

I am passionate about Lean and Agile values and principles. I have a pragmatic approach and can adapt to your specific environment. Please feel free to ping me if you have any questions about how I can help you.

A Kanban Christmas Story

Here is a nice Christmas Story with a Kanban twist.

DevOps and Continuous Delivery

Last week I attended the Agile Australia Conference. I will post a conference report soon, but thought I would share the 2 main takeaways I had from the conference. One is the DevOps movement and the second is Continuous Delivery.

DevOps is a new movement seeking to achieve the business need for rapid delivery of software products while maintaining the stability of live environments. It uses two approaches: first, promoting closer collaboration between development and operations; second, applying practices shared with agile (collaboration, automation, simplicity, etc) to operations processes such as provisioning, change management, and production monitoring. It encompasses culture, processes, and tools – all supporting better communication, faster feedback and delivery, and more predictable outcomes.

With continuous development of working software, we need to get the changes into Production as quick as possible through Continuous Delivery so we can shorten the feedback cycle and so the business can maximize the ROI.

Waterfall Alliance

[Humor] Details of the Waterfall Alliance was released on 1 April 2010, which is driven by the values and principles of the Waterfall Manifesto for Realistic Software Development.

Some great resources can be found on the Waterfall Alliance website.  Further news of the Waterfall 2010 conference has been delayed (yet again).

Santa Adopts Agile

Thanks to a colleague for passing on the below article – a nice bent on Santa adopting Agile….and a nice marketing plug by Bright Green Projects.

Santa Claus CSM – Adopts Agile for the new decade

Santa Claus and his team of  hard working elves are the latest high profile team to adopt an Agile Approach.  They are believed to be the first large scale team to do so, within the Arctic Circle.

In a recent interview, Mr. Claus said “I’ve been working with this structured, heavily documented, big-bang approach for hundreds of years now – I didn’t know any better.  As of 2010 – the North Pole will be Agile.  Our first iteration will be delivered 25th JANUARY.”

Santa wants to not only give to children, but also to the Agile Community.  He has shared the following for us all to learn from;

  1. The workshop builds toys based on a long list of children “who have been naughty or nice”.  This list is in the order that Santa receives requests – his first task will be to prioritize this list.  The most important children, such as those of celebrities, politicians or wealthy bankers will be at the top of the list.
  2. Santa will get out of the workshop, stop telling the elves what to do and encourage them to self manage.
  3. Rather than spending the entire year working alone in the North Pole, with a single delivery on 25TH DECEMBER, Santa will adopt an iterative approach with a deliverable on the 25th OF EACH MONTH.
  4. The most important children will be presented with their gifts on 25th JANUARY.  If they are unhappy with what they receive, Santa will bring the gifts back to the workshop for rework.  The rework will be prioritized against the backlog of other gifts.
  5. Not everyone is going to win. Given the high amount of rework expected from the “important” children, it is likely that those children towards the bottom of Santa’s List will not receive gifts every year.  Santa sees this sacrifice as worthwhile, given the most important children will always be happy.
  6. Even though Santa will prioritize and ultimately own the “list”, the Elves will identify how much they can build each month and allocate tasks to each other independently of Santa.
  7. Gifts will only be considered “done” when they are built, tested, wrapped and the delivery method clearly defined.
  8. Children need to move away from heavily documenting their wish lists and make the time for a face-to-face conversation with Santa.  Santa will now accept visitors to the North Pole all year and will also make himself available using video conferencing facilities.
  9. Bright Green Projects will be used by Santa, Mrs Claus, The Elves and Reindeer as their Agile Project Management Tool – this simple, web based tool will allow Santa and the team to collaborate and work together.  As it is web based, it will allow him to more easily achieve his ultimate goal of moving to a warmer climate with Mrs. Claus and outsourcing the development process to an offshore team.
  10. Rudolph will be the Scrum Master, so long the other Reindeer promise to no longer “laugh and call him names”.

Agile Australia 2009 Conference Report

I had the pleasure to attend Australia’s inaugural Agile Conference in Sydney supported by the Agile Alliance.  It was a 2 day event on 15-16 October.  Being the first Agile Conference in Australia, the key theme centered around Agile Adoption and how companies have adopted Agile; Why companies have adopted agile; and Issues and Challenges faced by companies in their adoption of Agile.

It was a very good conference with the ability to network and share ideas with other people during the breaks who are also working on their Agile adoption in their own companies.  I have taken some key messages from the conference to help with the Agile adoption initiatives I am working on within HP Enterprise Services.  I am already looking forward to next year’s event.

One of the more inspiring session I attended was the keynote on the 2nd day, Increasing Business value through simplicity (Lean and Agile) by Jeff Smith, CIO of Suncorp.  Jeff provided the Executive sponsorship and the vision for “Living Agile” as a way to infuse organisational simplicty into the DNA of Suncorp through the introduction of Agile and Lean principles and methodologies.  Any organisation would benefit having an Executive like Jeff to help drive their Agile adoption.  I highly recommend you watching this inspiring video!!

The other sessions I attended with some key summaries:


  • Panel – The journey towards the Agile enterprise; discussion on the Agile adoption journey by the respective panalist’s organisation.
    • The journey needs active executive support which permeates through the enterprise.
    • “Agile is about teams doing extraordinary things with ordinary people”.
  • 12 Agile Adoption failure modes (Keynote Day 1) by Jean Tabaka, Rally Software; based on her experience it outlines that Agile does not fail.  It is the Agile adoption mode that fails.  Organisations need to stop the denial that waterfall is really deliverying value. Most of the 12 points are quite common when adopting Agile (yes, I have experienced some of it):
  1. Checkbook commitment doesn’t support organisational change management.  Executives provide checkbook commitment to Agile without actually supporting the Agile adoption (unengaged).  Same metrics are used and it continues the illiusion that software development is very deterministic.
  2. Culture doesn’t support change.  Governance is Conformance; Standard of work is static; detailed documentation; PMO are enforcers.
  3. Do not have retrospectives.  Or they are done, but actions that are identified are ignored or there is no action.
  4. Infrastructure to support the team is ignored or inadequate and architecture becomes unstable.
  5. Lack of full planning participation.  If the right people are not part of the planning you will not get the right commitment.
  6. No or too many product owners.
  7. Bad Scrum Masters.  Scrum Masters that are Command and Control.
  8. Not having an onsite evangelist/coach at remote teams.
  9. Team lacking authority.  Empowered teams amplify learning.
  10. Testing not pulled forward.
  11. Traditional performance appraisals that reward individual heroics.
  12. Revert to old ways of doing things.  Change is hard.
  • What’s it take to make an Agile transition? by Shane Hastie, Software Education; focuses on the premise that Agile is a culture, not a methodology.  The talk examines the organisational, cultural and individual changes needed for a business to successfully embrace Agile.
  • Panel – Waterfall is from Mars, Agile is from Venus; panel discussion centered around bridging understanding and communication between Waterfall organisations and Agile teams.  I didn’t get too much out of this session.
  • Taking the Leap of Faith by Mike Allen; this was a good presentation that described the Agile journey that was used to deliver a large application transformation program.  It starts with hiring the right people, providing the right office environment (the organisation spent money to reorganise the office to be more collaborative), provide the proper training and use the right tools.   The Program started off as waterfall, but being a large program there was a lot inertia to get the program moving so Agile was introduced – Agile gets you moving.  You may move in the wrong direction, but that is ok.  Agile gets you back on course quickly.
  • Better Software Faster! by Michael Milewski; another presentation on how realestate.com.au started the Agile adoption journey. It all started with a pilot project.
  • Bringing IT back from the brink by Nigel Dalton; discussion on how Lonely Planet’s IT department was not delivering and how it used Agile to transform their organisation and brought the IT department back from the brink.  Nigel introduced “Watergile” – when you dangerously mix waterfall with Agile – “it’ll drive you mad”.  It was interesting to hear how Agile is used in a non-IT context in their new guidebook product development.
  • Panel – Distributed Agile;  Distributed agile has challenges.  Expect more travel and travel costs, but this is is offset by the long term benefits it brings.  Despite the challenges, distributed Agile is better than waterfall for projects with changing requirements & uncertainty.  Distributed Agile means you need to pay more attention to the challenges, but the Agile practices itself will help improve the challenges.  e.g. through retrospectives.  Going distributed, 3 of the 4 Agile Manifesto values are compromised.

Day 2

  • Lean and Agile in the large – principles and experiences for large scale software development by Dave Thomas; this was a good presentation by Dave Thomas who was one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto and founding member of the Agile AllianceThis presentation is worth watching. One metaphor I liked:

    Successful software development is about a winning culture

    • Software is a team sport, & like team sports, practice, constructive peer feedback & coaching are essential.
    • Winning teams need to implicitly know the moves of each player, as well as the movements of the team as a whole.
    • The ultimate expression of process is a culture where building software is more like playing Jazz!!  People just do it!!!
  • Understanding just-in-time requirements to support Lean software development by Martin Kearns; content of this presentation is self-explanatory from the tile.  I didn’t get too much out of this that I didn’t already know.
  • Lean thinking for Lean times by Alan Beacham and Jason Yip;  discussed how Kanban is used to manage workflow in Agile projects.
  • The inter-sprint break by Simon Bristow; this presentation discussed the introduction of the inter-sprint break – a period between the end of the Scrum sprint and the beginning of the next.  This concept was very similar to a previous project I have worked on and I would recommend introducing such a concept.
  • Being Agile at the Google scale by Dhanji Prasanna; this was a very technical presentation with much of it not about Agile.  It was interesting to note that Google do not follow a specific agile method (eg. Scrum, XP, DSDM, etc).  Instead Google base the way they approach work on the Agile Manifesto value “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”.  Google also has a fundamental prinicple: “Maximising the amount of work…..NOT done.  a.k.a. Simplicity.”
  • Agile mistakes and how to avoid them by Rown Bunning; was very similar to Jean Tabaka’s keynote on Day 1 where Rowan outlined some of the common mistakes in adopting Agile.  He presented the Agile Metaphor:  “Agile development is like teenage sex.  Only 10% who say they are doing it, are actually doing it.  And those who are actually doing it, are doing it wrong.”
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