Hello, Boston SPIN Members and Guests!
This In-the-SPIN brings you tips from our presenters and faciltiators to help
us apply the great things they've taught us at our recent SPIN meetings:
• Rick Brenner teaches us how to ask brilliant questions
• Rick Wahlberg gives us adventures in collaboration
• Peter Toudjarski helps us overcome common mistakes implementing agile
• Bill Weimar helps us manage our requirements, because we still need them!
We also have some exciting news, including a new
Needs & Leads Roundtable
to provide you a forum to network and discuss
issues of your own chosing with others in the industry. And, our elections are coming up
for the SPIN Steering Committee and we'd love to have you join us! Read on to learn more.
Remember, the Boston SPIN is all about you, our members, so please don't hesitate to
email us what you'd like from your SPIN.
The Politics of Meetings|
for People Who Hate Politics
January 20, 2009
One of the discussion points raised in January's SPIN was the value of having people in our meetings asking the really brilliant questions.
And so, Rick has graciously followed up with these tips on how you can ask those brilliant questions yourself...
Copyright © 2009 Richard Brenner
Your team is fortunate if you have even one teammate who regularly
asks the questions that immediately halt discussions and save months
of wasted effort. But even if you don't have someone like that,
everyone can learn how to generate brilliant questions more often.
Question the facts
Make a list of the assumptions the group is making, but which are outside their awareness. What if one of them weren't true?
What Are You Saying?
Are you blogging about our meetings or roundtables?
Let us know and we'll link to you in the next In-the-Spin!
@ Email Us Your Blogs!
What if the facts aren't really facts? What's the evidence that something actually is fact? |
List the facts, and for each one ask, "How do we know this is true?"
Distinguish facts from explanations
Sometimes supposed facts are actually explanations of facts.
instance, some might believe that because the system fails only when
the new module is installed, the problem is in the new module. But
that's only an explanation, not a fact.
Play the "As If" game
Try formulating a question that presupposes the group's goal.
For instance, ask, "If we did have a process for turning lead into gold, what would we have to know?"
Ask yourself what you aren't asking questions about. What are the characteristics of the things that the group isn't looking into? Can you explain why the group bounded its inquiries in this way?
Watch for "silver bullet" thinking
Sometimes groups focus on single-concept solutions. They assume that a single innovation will produce all of the desired results. Can we achieve the desired result using different approaches for different situations?
Decouple causes and effects
Some of the cause-effect associations we "know" might be wrong. Imagine that what we think of as an effect isn't an effect of the cause(s) we think it belongs to. If so, what then?
If you could ask brilliant questions more often, what would you ask?
» View Rick's Presentation
» Read more of Rick's articles on his site or in his newsletter at Chaco Canyon Consulting
New "Needs & Leads" Roundtable!
We're excited to bring you a new roundtable called "Needs
& Leads" to help you make professional contacts and discuss your
questions and challenges with industry peers. As you may know, each of
our meetings begins with a facilitated roundtable to
give members a chance to discuss a selected topic in software process
Starting in April, we're adding a second roundtable to
each meeting that uses an ad hoc, open discussion format to allow
you to network, learn about each other's companies, and get help
with your questions. Topics might cover process questions such as how to perform
good GUI test coverage, how to keep daily stand up meetings to 15
minutes, or recommendations on requirements tracking tools. Or, use the format to
request contacts at a particular company, or networking sources for a
particular field. The new format is not meant to be a sales forum or to find jobs,
but rather to help each other out. We'd love your
feedback and suggestions
on the new format.
» Find out more about Boston SPIN Roundtables
Want to become a part of the Boston SPIN?
The SPIN Steering Committee members' elections are coming up in June!
You can run for any steering committee position and we really need you
to volunteer to serve this organization. SPIN continues to offer many
services that are vital and/or interesting to our membership and all
of them are the ideas and hard work of your Committee. We need "new
blood" to serve on the Committee so that we can continue to have a
healthy organization that grows terrific leaders and provides what our
membership desires. Contact Tom Woundy
and put your name on the ballot!
» View Steering Committee Positions (see Section 5.1)
Adventures in Collaboration for Applications Development
Rick Wahlberg, PMP
March 17, 2009
Applications development is by nature a collaborative process. For
many years collaboration consisted of writing something down and
throwing it over the wall to the next in line! We've come a long way.
Sophisticated tools we now take for granted like teleconferencing,
email, and document management systems all
facilitate working more closely together. And the tools keep getting more sophisticated -- Second Life, Sharepoint, Wiki's and
integrated project management tools. Instant messenging and social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.
Still, the basics of collaboration remain the same. Here are some words of wisdom gleaned from our discussion:
Agile techniques in particular draw their strength from
collaboration. They support the necessary mindset by providing
structure on who, when, where and how to work together. But even if
you're not using agile, you can still benefit by structuring
deliverables into cohesive clusters of work to be done by small,
closely knit teams.
• Collaboration is a human process that is enabled by trust, respect and empathy for team members
• Don't focus on technology. Focus on the people, process and deliverables
• Have a mindset prepared to collaborate
• Be willing to share
• Check your ego at the door
Common Mistakes When Implementing Agile and Scrum
February 17, 2009
We have all heard horror stories of failed agile implementations. And
we have, perhaps, wondered if there might be characteristics of an
organization that make it more or less likely to succeed in agile...
It might be handed down as a management initiative, or
pushed up from highly motivated developers. However, in order to succeed,
there must be ample support and motivation from both above and below.
Are the individuals driven - willing to accept the increased level of
responsibility required by agile? Do the managers expect
to dictate all decisions, or do they have skills in facilitation and
servant leadership? Does the team structure change for each new
project, or are the teams kept together?
How agile are current technical practices? Is the team
familair with, if not using, agile technical practices such as
automated testing, emergent design, refactoring and continuous integration?
Does the organization have a track record of successfuly
delivering software? On time? How long are the typical release
cycles? Will short release cycles be welcomed or shunned by the organization?
Does project management actively work to remove obstacles? Does the
organization have a Project Management Office? Do they collect
metrics that can be used to demonstrate agile improvements?
The gap between a traditional and agile organization can be
substantial. But, with awareness of those differences and a
willingness to take the steps necessary to bridge them, any
organization can successfully transition to agile.
Managing Software Requirements
January 20, 2009
Too many companies ignore requirements management. Yet, it's a critical part
of project management and processes and the cause of many a product release
failure. Particularly for organizations that do frequent production releases,
requirements management is critical to ensure proper testing so that only
validated requirements are actually deployed into production.
There are some newer products from application lifecycle management vendors, like Accept Software,
that take requirements from the beginnings of business case, design, voice of the customer and market
drivers with full traceability through to end of life. This ensures
quality development, release, and maintenance are adhered
to. Most importantly, we feel there is room for better understanding the cost and
priority of requirements because this is the key to creating releases that
actually map to the strategy and business needs being fulfilled.