Monthly Archives: August 2013

Agile Textbook

As you may know, I am very proud to be co-authoring a textbook on the Agile Methodologies. This unique book is targeted at undergraduate computer science, software engineering and business students who do not necessarily have work experience to help them understand the nuances, challenges and benefits of an Agile implementation.  Our goal is to present the information in an easy to digest fashion to provide students with the terminology and concepts that they will need when they enter the workforce.

Studygroup relaxing in beanbags while doing school work.

Image Source: http://www.stevenharveyceca.com/individuals-future-college-students

Our question is:  What should we include in the book?  Is there something that you wish someone had taught you with regards to Agile?  Is there something that you wish new hires and interns understood about Agile?

 

Our book will cover the following topics:

  1. The history and value of agile development
  2. Understanding the different types of agile development
  3. Describing the different roles
  4. Cultural considerations with agile
  5. The new way to collect and document requirements
  6. Grooming and planning
  7. Tracking and reporting
  8. Testing, quality & integration
  9. Market management

We will reference many of the Agile experts as well as present stories and examples to make the information more relatable.

Please let us know your thoughts on what needs to be included.  We would love to get your input!

 

The Voice of the Customer

Part of Product Management and Agile Product Ownership is to incorporate the Voice of the Customer into whatever you are building.   Whether the customer is a farmer, a small business owner or a busy executive, it is the Product Manager’s job to get in their head and figure out how to solve their problems.  How do you know that you are getting the best information? 

voice_of_user2

Image Source: http://blog.mozilla.org/metrics/2009/07/13/does-mozilla-champion-the-voice-of-firefox-users/

Here are several methods of collecting data and each serves a particular purpose.

1. Interview

Meeting one-on-one with customers or prospects can enable you to collect great feedback.  The trick to the interviewing process is to ask open ended questions.  What is your number 1 business problem? What is the most time-consuming task in your day? What do you enjoying doing the most?  The data that you can gather from these conversations can be golden.  Make sure, though, that you remember that a single data point is just that.  Look for common threads from several conversations and solve the greater need.

The Agile Family

As you can tell, I am a bit of a nut about Agile.  There are so many things about it that I appreciate and now I have something new to add to the list.  We were told about a TED talk by Brue Feiler regarding an Agile Family and I had to watch it.  Following Bruce’s direction, we started our own Agile movement on Sunday night and since then three amazing things have happened.

First, let me share our dynamics.  We have two daughters, 11 and 12.  They are only one grade apart in school and they do everything together – including fight.  We are a loving, caring, sarcastic and funny family who definitely has moments of chaos and meltdowns.  During the school year, my least favorite time of day is just before bedtime.  Since my husband is a stay-at-home Dad, I feel like it is my responsibility to get my little angels tucked in every night.  Let me tell you – shear torture.  They would stall and play and not do what I asked and whine and stall.  You get the picture.  It got so bad we even nicknamed the little one “Delay Fish” from Dory’s character in Finding Nemo.

So as I watched Bruce’s TED talk, I thought – the nighttime ritual is what I want to change.  We started our first family meeting on Sunday with each girl making a list of what they need Agile_Checklistto accomplish before going to bed.  It includes showers, teeth brushing, finding and charging your cell phone and more.  I added some of the items that annoy me – like hang up your towel.  We then turned their notes into a checklist and taped it to the mirror in their bathroom.

We then said ‘what is something that doesn’t work in our family right now?’  The girls said (in their own words) that we weren’t good at respecting each other’s personal space.  Then we defined what that meant and created a Working Agreement. (1) Leave someone’s room when asked. (2) Have their permission to use something of theirs and (3) enter someone’s room only when you have permission.  Pretty reasonable.  We then asked what the punishment would be for someone who violated this agreement.  The girls agreed on the loss of TV on Saturday.

“Stay-at-Home Dad” – Making it work

We have some friends who are contemplating the husband/father quitting work to be a stay-at-home dad and care for the kids.  My husband and I have had this arrangement since 2008 and it has been wonderful for our family.  Our children are happier, our marriage is stronger and we enjoy each other much more than we could when we were a two income family with loads of stress and no free time.

IronmanBut this arrangement isn’t for everyone and if the benefits don’t outweigh the costs (loss of a second income is a big deal!) then it can cause far greater problems.  Why does our situation work so well for us?  We think it boils down to four key points.

1. His job is to support me – those are his words, not mine.  If that means cancelling a poker game because I have to go out of town – no problem.  If I have to miss family dinner because an out of town exec wants an evening meeting – no problem.  If he has two sick, grumpy kids crying for their mom, he handles it.  The complete ownership on his part creates a guilt-free environment for me so I can focus on maximizing my opportunities and, hopefully, our income.