(#11) Accept failures – learn from them

In my last post I quoted Jeff Sutherland’s statement in the article The Winter Getaway That Turned the Software World Upside Down. He complained that many Silicon Valley’s companies do not produce results in short iterations. Hence they were not agile – however, they think they were.

My interpretation for the reason and my conclusion of that is the following:

The reason why “they can’t get anything working in any reasonable time” [quote from Sutherland in the above mentioned article] is fear. Fear to deliver something that is not 100 % perfect. Fear of the other’s opinion. Fear to be deemed an imperfect person or team. And ultimately fear to fail. 

Yet, working agile means that you accept failures. You see failures as something positive. Why? You can learn from failures occurring. Learning from failures is better than not learning at all! And that’s exactly what happens when nothing is delivered for a long time: you do not have the chance to learn anything.

Agile is all about getting a fast feedback from users.

(#10) This is what agile NOT is

After having praised so much the advantages of agile in my last posts, I want to highlight what means not being agile:

Thinking to work in an agile process but not producing results in short cycles!

Here is a quote pointing that out. It is an excerpt from the article linked in my last post (The Winter Getaway That Turned the Software World Upside Down):

Jeff Sutherland [a cocreator of Scrum and the CEO of Scrum, Inc.] is frustrated by misreadings of the Agile Manifesto. He says he sees teams in Silicon Valley that claim to be Agile, but are “not delivering working product at the end of a short iteration.”

“This kind of thing that most people are doing that they can’t get anything working in any reasonable time—that they claim is Agile because anybody can do whatever they want—is not consistent with the Agile Manifesto,” he points out.

In other words:

You can claim to be agile ONLY if you produce results in SHORT iterations!


(#7) Iteration Zero

“With Iteration Zero a common language for the product is formed. Thanks to Iteration Zero, everyone – especially the team – always knows what is the value of the product, what is the benefit for the company. This is motivating. Everyone involved in the product development is focused.”

“In a 3-month cycle the idea can become an inspiring product:

  1. Elevator Pitch: In a workshop with the top management AND developers discuss the question:
    How can we inspire people?
  2. Personas: Do a workshop with internal and external customers, developers and management to fully understand all aspects of the idea and the future product. Understand particularly the customer needs.  Understanding is crucial for both: marketing and the development. Discuss the question:
    For whom do we do the product?
  3. Product Vision: Discuss the question:
    What are the features that the inspirational product comprises?
  4. Story Map: Discuss the question:
    What is the path to the inspirational product?
  5. Minimum viable product (MVP):  Discuss the question:
    What is the very smallest product increment that is inspirational for the customer?
  6. Epics and Stories: Break the Story Map down into smaller pieces with high degree of sharpness for the closest steps and blur for those being far away. Discuss the question:
    What are the first steps?

“Less than 5% of the ideas that enter the Iteration Zero are realized. So Iteration Zero saves us a lot of money” (quote from a company with > 30’000 employees). 

(#6) The Stacey matrix

“As soon as your project is at the transition between being complicated and complex, the predictive waterfall project management approach will fail.

Or in other words: if there is disagreement about what to do (requirements unclear) and uncertainty about how to do it (technology unclear), then tell me how much sense does it make to elaborate a detailed plan of consecutive work packages from the first till the last milestone.”


Agile PEP Minds 2017

With some of my DECTRIS colleagues I attended the Agile PEP Minds 2017 conference in Berlin from Nov 22-24.

The topic of the conference was AGILE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT.

It was a great conference with many inspiring people from industry, consulting and educational institutions.

Let me share some of my favourite quotations that are still having a deep impact on how I am continuously trying to improve my daily work.