Browsing all articles from December, 2010

Agile Demos Smells

imageThere are many things that I look at when I see a demo, one of thing that fascinates me are demo smells. These are automatic actions that developers do when the demo doesn’t quite go well that underlay conceptual problems.

For example when seeing a demo at the end of an iteration, does the developer have some script that he keeps running from time to time, does the developer delete files when something wrong happens, is the process monitor running. Looking at these actions gives great insight into the potential architectural bugs.

If there is a batch file, there might be some kind of environment problem, if files are being deleted there might be some integrity problem, if the process monitor is up there might be a process synchronization problem.

It is normally cheaper in the long run to solve the root problems and save time when running the application then to keep performing these automatic actions.

Ask about these actions, you will get surprising answers! Then see what can be done to remove these actions.


I want loud disputes in our meetings

imageWe had a really high tone dispute in a few meetings about our coming breakthrough product. It was on the verge of getting hostile, both sides where trying to make a point but no one was really listening and the same questions where being asked over again with the same answers just with higher and higher tones. It was getting frustrating, and this had been going on for 3 meetings.

I believe that conflicts in discussions are vital to keep our minds open and are very productive and we normally get to great ideas, but in this case the conflict was not going anywhere. Trying to get others to talk about their views and trying to talk about it from different viewpoints didn’t help. We adjourned the meeting with bad feelings.

During the days that followed, each team member approached me alone and talked about how non effective the meetings were that they didn’t feel good about the situation. I asked them: So what are you going to do about it? and got a range of answers in the spirit of “I will make sure not to do it any more”.

After some time I talked to them one on one and told them that I had enough information to make the decision and explained the solution and how it fits our major concerns.

In the next meeting, I explained the solution once again to everyone. Everyone nodded. I hope I showed them:

  • How to take responsibility and make a choice.
  • How to make a choice with clarity even though there is no certainty.
  • That it is possible to fix the frustrating behavior by talking to the other party in private, and not just promise to “not to shout in the future”
  • How to solve differences outside the meetings so that decisions are easier to make.

I then thanked the team for taking a side, for showing that they cared. I want the team to continue to be passionate about what we do and to continue to fight if needed, this will help us reach a much better solutions. 

Thanks team! Great fight!