Monthly Archives: April 2009

Is Agile Something Teams Do? Or Something We Do To Teams?

“Well nobody asked you your opinion,” the coach glared at me, “so you can sit down and shut up. And if you can’t sit down and shut up, you can leave the room.”

I could feel everyone’s eyes on me for just a second. Then they all found something else interesting to stare at. I glanced at my project manager. She was playing with her pen, her eyes were bug-eyed and her eyebrows raised. She looked as if she expected elephants to fly out from her ears at any moment.

Welcome to my Tuesday morning.

Talk about being completely blindsided — I had no idea this was coming.

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Great Presidents That Suck

I was discussing a point the other day on HackerNews about infrastructure. My conversation companion made a point about how history clearly shows “X, Y, and Z”

Ah. If only it were that simple.

History doesn’t show jack squat. History is just a recollection of various people’s memories — most of which disagree. The history you learn in school or through reading a book (My companion used Stephen Ambrose, who is an excellent historical writer) is just opinion. “School” history is a cartoon — it’s the simplest version of events that people who have political power can agree on. “Popular Book” history is a more fun — mainly because you only have one writer and popular books have to be interesting.

None of it is true, though. Or rather none of it is complete. Never use just a couple of sources to form an opinion about history. It’s much more nuanced than that. That’s why formal education in history as a teenager can screw up your mind so bad — at the end of the day it’s the professor who is picking the material, guiding you, and grading you, so it’s single-source. Worse still, it’s single-source with an “expert” telling you how you’re supposed to think! (Same goes for other “soft” sciences, by the way, but I digress)

I’ll demonstrate the problem with a rundown of presidents that I thought were great when I was in school but on later inspection I think suck.

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CrossFire Charts: Measuring Agile in Matrixed Environments

A CrossFire Chart which shows team performance against budget

The CrossFire chart allows teams to measure budgeted performance
against traditional agile metrics

Here’s a little graph I picked up last week. I don’t think anybody else has published this, so I’m calling it a “CrossFire”. It was created by a team who had a lot of matrixed team members and wanted to track budgeted performance (the amount of time people reported in the official time-tracking system) with agile performance (iteration burn-down).

Turns out you can find out some very interesting things from these CrossFire graphs.

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