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Agile Panel

On January 6th, AgileAustin had a session where it opened the floor to questions to a panel of agile experts (Paul Brownell, Michael Maham, Jeffery Palermo, Vishal Sheth, Bill Skrapits, Mike Wethington, Jack Yang and David Anderson). There were lots of good questions and some great answers. Here are some of the tidbits I found most interesting:

  • You don't do lean or agile. Lean is agile. There are strong parallels. Note: see previous blog entries on lean.
  • In waterfall, the development manager was the "wringable neck". In agile, the product manager / product owner becomes the wringable neck. They now have both value and cost information.
  • Thin slicing is breaking things into increments, figuring out how much you can do and then telling the customer that this is what they meant. :)
  • If a train comes every few minutes, you don't look at the schedule. You just go and trust that it will be there shortly. If the train comes every 18 months, much more planning is necessary.
  • In the 90's, developers often designed the UI. User documentation was a work around for the lack of usability. Now that usability has become more important, documentation has moved to a much leaner format.
  • Agile helps to maintain intensity. There is never plenty of time.
  • Quotas limit top performance, not bottom performance.
  • An issue at some large companies is that some of the VP's did very well to this point, but the world has changed around them (i.e., what made them successful in the past is no longer the way to go).
  • Some companies have actually tracked divorce rates on their teams. One team had a 40% divorce rate.
  • The desire for more specific estimates drives premature requirements.
  • Hiding behind requirements is a red flag.
  • Don't solve a problem until it's a problem. For example, don't make something reusable until you need to use it three times.
  • Automation is key for testing and deployment. Note: I couldn't agree with this more.
  • The majority of the panelists said their favorite agile book was: Alistair Cockburn's Agile Software Development: The Cooperative Game (2nd Edition). Also mentioned were:

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