Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Power of Body over Mind!


An excellent trick that Jon Salinsky showed us at the Agile Coaches Gathering is how to use your body to control the state of your mind.  If you are feeling nervous or apprehensive before a presentation you can use your body to overcome that feeling.  Try this.  Hold your head a little higher.  Hold your head still.  Hopefully this will lift your shoulders a little.  This will have the effect of changing your overall stance.  You will be holding your body in a more confident position.  Your mental state will be naturally more confident and the people around will be receptive to “status”.  Your body has had a positive impact on your mental state.


Try it.  This technique really works.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Improvisation for Agile Coaches Event Autumn 2009


On Saturday 21st November 2009 I attended the Agile Coaches Improv session in London.  This event was truly excellent.  Those who know me, you would expect that an event involving Improv would be a challenge.  Acting or being impromptu in front of a group of peers on topics that I am not comfortable or confident with is outside my comfort zone.  It was a challenge in such a positive and rewarding way.  The child in me was released and I felt free to explore Improv.

So a big thanks to Mike Sutton and David Harvey for organising the event.  Most importantly a huge thanks to Tom Salinsky ( of the Spontaneity Shop)  for facilitating and teaching in a truly engaging and accessible way.  I cannot stress enough how liberating and open Tom’s approach is.  He is an excellent teacher, coach and facilitator.  Finally thanks to all the attendees for making the event a success.

On the train home Plamen Balkanski and I tried to summarise all that Tom had covered during the day.  There was so much.  He really made us work.  Below is a summary of the “games” we did throughout the day.  This list is not comprehensive and I may well blog a summary of the game details at a later date.  I am sure we have forgotten some of the games!  The game names are mine not Tom’s.

Word Games – Speak out when pointing to an object.

Pair Responses Games – Positive offer and partner response.

Explore Status Games – Explore the extremes of status.

Group Status Games – Further exploring extremes of status as a group.

Picture Pair – Drawing pictures in pairs.

Letter Pair – Writing letters (Dear John ....) in pairs.

Hat Games – Pluck the Hat from your opponent.  (Thanks to Plamen for almost knocking me out whilst playing this one!)

Discussion Tag Games – Just like Wrestling tag team, but with conversation!

Mime Games – Mime talking whilst someone talks for me!

Avoid the “s” – Talk using words without an “s” in.

The 3 Word Game – Talk in sentences of 3 words.

New Choice Game – My conversation isn’t good enough try again.

The Bop Games – Someone in the circle trying to get out.  For those who attended - Pair Programming J

Taken at face value the content presented was engaging, funny and well thought through.  But what is the value to an Agile Coach?  Well for me Tom showed us some excellent techniques for breaking down the barriers in a team.  To engender a relaxed and happy team who are more at ease with each other.  Tom also highlighted the concept of status and how our approach to status can have positive and negative influences.  This knowledge can be used in our day to day understanding of our teams and the individual interactions in the team to assist in the coaching of the team to higher levels of continuous improvement.

I found the day truly enlightening and I cannot recommend enough that you attend once of Tom’s workshops.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Twitter Tools

Over the last few month or so I have been enjoy using twitter.   You can follow me

Well as with many users I quickly found the Twitter web UI difficult to use.  So in my investigating the tools that surround Twitter I found a number of useful tools that I thought I would share.

TweekDeck is my current tool of choice for reading and tweeting.  I love the facility to group the people you are following.  It has some quirks, but in my view the tool is much better than many of the competition.

Wefollow is another great tool for understanding the use of hash tags.  It can offer a interesting insight into the hash tags in use and the ranking of individuals with those tags.

tweeteffect has the potential to be a great tool, if you are looking to analyse you tweets and the impact they have on your following.

Friday, 24 July 2009

WSUG – Wessex Scrum User Group August Meeting – Geoff Watts

We are planning for Geoff Watts to attend the August Wessex SUG meeting (24/08/2009). The topic is the "fear associated with an agile transformation"

Given that this is in the middle of the holiday season, we need to know if it will be worthwhile asking Geoff to come to the meeting. If you are interested in coming along, please respond to teh discussion on LinkedIn.  We can then gauge numbers and arrange the event if enough people are interested.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Brighton ScrumFest July 2009 – Quick Review

Well I had a great time at the first ever UK ScrumFest in Brighton.  Thanks to the organisers (Plamen, Ollie and Mike) for making the event happen.

The first part of the event was to create a product backlog of ideas for the Open Space sessions.  Some really interesting sessions where suggested including:

  • Scaling Scrum for an Enterprise
  • Using Scrum for competitive advantage
  • Scrum 101
  • Group Cohesion
  • Managing your family with Scrum.
  • Child birth as a Scrum Project

The group then moved onto a Live Scrum project to create a number of fashion items from old stock of clothes.  In the first sprint my team tried to create a sarong.  With our combined experience (read none) we attempted sewing etc.    We failed to complete the objective of the sprint. :-(  We even had a Scrum trainer on our team, so we shouldn’t have had any excuses!

On the second day we split the day into Open Space and Goldfish bowl sessions. 

  • OpenSpace sessions #1
  • Goldfish Bowl: Life as a Product Owner
  • OpenSpace sessions #2
  • GoldFish Bowl: The Scrum Development Team
  • OpenSpace sessions #3
  • Goldfish Bowl: The Effective Scrum Master
  • OpenSpace sessions #4
  • Retrospective

Nigel Baker did a particularly interesting OpenSpace session on introducing Scrum.   I enjoyed the way in which Nigel explained the principle without the need to explicitly note software project examples.  At the same time keeping the concept closely aligned to development project process.

I also enjoyed the OpenSpace session that Cesar Idrovo did on Group Cohesion where he presented research that has been conducted into the elements that create a highly productive team.  I believe that Cesar will be officially presenting the findings at one of the coming Scrum events.  Keep your eyes open for that one!

The goldfish bowl that created the most interest was the Product Owner session.  This is not surprising as this role is at the very heart of any project.  There was a very health debate about whether a Product Owner should be present at the Retrospective.   The attendees debated for some time between two positions:  1) Absolutely not and 2) it depends, but mostly yes.  I personally feel that the product owner should be part of the meeting.  Without the PO in attendance you are creating a barrier, a them and us situation.  The PO is part of the team and there is not need to hide information from him/her.  If you feel you can not invite the PO then you have a dysfunctional team and this needs to be resolved.

The goldfish bowl sessions have been recorded so keep visiting the ScrumFest website, as they will be published in the near future.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

ScrumFest July 2009 in Brighton

Well I am really looking forward to going to ScrumFest later on today.  I know there are some very interesting and well respected attendees.  So I am hopeful that I will gain further in depth understand of Scrum from the experts.  It will definitely be a learning experience for me.  Every day is a school day!

My intention is that my next blog post will be a reflection on some interesting observations from Scrumfest on Scrum and leading software development teams.

Whilst I am at Scrumfest I will be updating twitter with the occasional tweet of interesting titbits.  You can follow me here:

Thursday, 25 June 2009

South UK Scrum User Group (Wessex) – 22nd June 2009

Well it was great to see a number of familiar faces at the South Scrum User Group meeting on the 22nd June 2009.  As always we had a very interesting discussion.


We covered a number of items before starting the main discussion.  Firstly the name of the group.  Plamen has been in discussion with the Scrum Alliance (SA) to have the groups details included in the SA website.  SA had suggested that the title of South UK was too broad ranging and we should adopt a more local title.  The discussion ensued on what name would be appropriate for a group that covers Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole, Salisbury and beyond.  We decided that the group we be renamed Wessex Scrum User Group.  After the meeting Plamen has arranged for the group to be visible on the SA website here.


Plamen has also arranged for Geoff Watts to come to the group in the near future.  Watch the group’s linkedin group for more information.


The main topic of the meeting was “Continuous Integration – How Far Do You Go?”.   Again we used a Mind Map approach to documenting the discussion and thoughts from the group.  Below is the resulting Mind Map.  Interestingly the topic is not necessarily a Scrum topic, but we were very careful to tie back Agile principles to the concept that were discussed.



Wednesday, 17 June 2009

South UK Scrum User Group 22nd June 2009

Just a quick reminder that the next South UK Scrum User Group will be held on Monday 22nd June 2009 at the Inn on the Furlong, Ringwood, Hampshire, UK. The event is free! So please come along.

For more information please go to the Linkedin Group here.

Videos – Toyota Production System, Just In Time (JIT) and Kanban

I am current doing a lot of research and reading around the whole application of Lean Principles and Kanban to software development.  At the moment this is a hot topic in the software development arena.

As a result I came across some very interesting videos on the Toyota website explaining the Just In Time and Kanban card process.  These have certainly added some context to my understanding, so I thought I would post a link here in the hope it will be of use to my blog readers.

Monday, 1 June 2009

South UK Scrum User Group – 27 May 2009

On Wednesday 27 May 2009 evening eight like minded individuals gathered at the Inn on the Furlong for the South UK Scrum User Group.  The topic of discussion for this month’s meeting was “Planning”.  To facilitate the discussion we used a mind map.  The resulting mind map is below.


SUKSUG - 20090527 - Planning Mind Map

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

South UK Scrum User Group – How to achieve a workable Definition of Done.

Last Monday (27th April 2009) the Inn on the Furlong, Ringwood was the host for the first meeting of the South UK Scrum User Group. 8 scrum enthusiasts gathered to talk about “How to achieve a workable Definition of Done.” We had a very interesting discussion led by Mike Williams who had kindly prepared the topic.

Mike outlined his 4 sections for the definition of done – Task, User Story, Sprint and Release. Within each sections Mike had details a number of generic areas that covered the Definition of Done specific commitments for the team. These include commitments like the obvious CI build must pass all the Unit Tests to the less obvious of having all the marketing collateral in place.

A very healthy debate ensued around each of the sections of the Definition of Done. From which we all gain knowledge, understand and different perspectives. As always we had individually implemented some interesting and innovative solutions to unique challenges for our teams.

The diagram below is a record of both Mike’s initial thoughts as well as the combined learning from the discussion at the meeting.

Thanks to Mike for letting me have a copy of his diagram.

The next meeting of the group is being held on 27th May 2009. You are welcome to come along. For more information on the group please go to the Linkedin group.