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Showing posts from March, 2010

bad agile estimation

Depending on how you define the term, I have been on at least five and as many as seven agile software teams. Two were brilliant; two were poisonous; the rest were just flaky. A big part of the poison stems from not understanding how to do agile estimation.

This is part of a message that showed up on a mail list I lurk on:

I'm working with a team that does great work. They are skilled and
work well together.

They also average about 50% or less in meeting their sprint
commitments. And don't seem to mind.

"There's a lot to do we just didn't get to it all."
"We'll do that in the next sprint."
"Yeah, that's not working yet."

These are the kinds of statements during the sprint or in the retrospectives.

How do I help this team look at the problem to solve it, instead of
just living with it?

Since the list name has the word "Scrum" in it, I will assume this person is a Scrum Master.

The first misunderstanding here is to know that all esti…

Artful Making

I never read business books, I mean I NEVER read business books. But after Marlena Compton read my chapter in Beautiful Testing, she recommended that I read Artful Making by Rob Austin and Lee Devin, subtitled "What Managers Need to Know About How Artists Work".

I've been writing about creating artistic software for some time now, but with a copyright of 2003, this book pre-dates my endeavors and I was surprised not to have heard of it.

Austin and Devin are professors at Harvard, Austin of business and software, Devin of theater. Early in the book they recount how they began the conversation that led to writing the book:

We were surprised to discover common patterns and structures in our separate domains... Some recent ideas and methods in software development, especially in the so-called "agile" community, seemed almost identical to theater methods. As this became more obvious, an idea dawned on business professor Rob: These artists are much better at this tha…