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The Gangplank Presentation – Wow!

Earlier this week I spoke at Gangplank.  It was an excellent experience, with some hard questions at the end!

Slides

This presentation is the first I have posted to SlideShare, an interesting experiment of itself.  Please have a look:

Questions

At the end of the presentation and after the presentation time, two smart people had some interesting questions.

Question 1 – When the client is expecting to know when it will be done and how much it will cost, how does a provider using Agile respond?

Dallin Harris of Skyhook Internet Marketing brought up this difficult topic.  Agile practitioners everywhere work at the difficult balancing act of providing the information the customer wants and educating them to understand the benefits of Agile iterations or sprints.

We discussed the finer points of productivity, such as always working on the currently most important feature, delivering finished parts as they are done at each sprint end and the ability to stop before every possible feature is created if the current version is enough.  We also found a direction point to the Product Backlog and how it feeds a release plan for the client to interact through.  I pointed him toward Mike Cohn’s excellent material around estimating and planning.

Question 2 – How do we get team cohesion if the Program Managers are assigning tasks?

David asked this question about a common problem in an organization transitioning from a more traditional structure.

The short answer: In such an environment, cohesion on the team is not possible.  Or, at least, it’s very hard!  When people in authority direct individuals on the team, the team cannot self-organize.  And, it’s not Agile.

We discussed how David needs to help the Program Managers direct desired work per team instead of per individual.  This has many benefits to the team, the Program Managers and the company.

  • The team has a chance to become self-organizing.
  • The team members are not wondering what they will be doing next, as they have a full sprint to work the plan.
  • The Program Managers will see completed work sooner.
  • The Program Managers will drive the company to ensure it is working on the most valuable features and projects first, providing focus.

These are the things David and I discussed.  I wish him well in his quest to increase agility where he works.

Twitterings

After the event I finally had a chance to look at my phone.  The mentions on Twitter had exploded!  That was very gratifying and I thank you all for the attention.  In particular, Bold Avenue was in the audience and live tweeting many of my significant points.  (Thank you, Stephanie!)

A great experience.  I learned a great deal and hope the community enjoyed my small contribution.

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