Southern Fried Agile Conference… It’s Gravy for your Brain!

Written by Mike Cottmeyer Sunday, 4 July 2010 02:27

I wanted to let everyone know about a new regional conference coming up on July 23rd. The conference is called Southern Fried Agile. Pillar is sponsoring and helping organize the event in partnership with the Agile Carolinas group. The conference is featuring many of the premier Agile Coaches in the Southeast. We’ll have three tracks… one for those learning agile… one for more advanced practitioners… and an open space so you guys can get in on the action.

Speakers and Talks:

Mike Cottmeyer – Getting Started with Agile
Bill Gainennie – All That You Need to Know is that It’s Possible
Joe Little – What’s Lean Got to do with it?
Dennis Stevens – Using Agile and Lean to Lean Business Transformation

Paul & Ian Culling – Collaborative Chartering and Story Mapping
Bill Krebs – 10 Years of Scrum Meetings
Jared Richardson – Agile Testing Strategies
Mike Cottmeyer – How to Own a Really Big Complex Product

Head over to the Southern Fried Agile site for more information about the conference, the sessions, and our speakers. We’ve also got a link for you guys to register… and at only $49 for a full day of agile goodness, you’d be crazy not to make this happen! If you are within three or four hours of Charlotte, NC… this is a must attend event.

Remember… It’s Gravy for Your Brain
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Interesting Post… 6/25/2010 through 7/4/2010

Written by Mike Cottmeyer Sunday, 4 July 2010 01:51

Hey everyone. It is a great week for my Interesting Post… updates. I finally gave up on Twitterfeed and went to This new service is faster and more accurate that Twitterfeed ever thought about being. I finally have confidence that all the stuff I share in my Google Reader feed is making it out to the Twittersphere. I’m guessing that you’ll notice the list here is longer than usual… now you know why.

Anyway… for all you guys in the US, happy 4th of July! My family has started a series of traditions around this holiday that I think are really fun. The kids and I got up early yesterday and drove to South Carolina to buy some fireworks. The really good fireworks are illegal to sell in Georgia, so the good people of South Carlolina provide stores just on the other side of the border so we don’t have to drive too far.

The past few years, our tradition had been to cook many, many pounds of baby back ribs. We changed it up this year and made a shredded BBQ concoction of beef, pork, chicken, sausage, and bacon… plus my secret blend of sauce and seasonings. Very tasty.. we made it yesterday, but I’m really looking forward to leftovers later this afternoon. We did the whole fireworks thing last night and have plans to spend the evening with some good friends and launch the fireworks we got yesterday in South Carolina!

Have a great day and enjoy this weeks installment of Interesting Post…

Interesting Post… A Day of Independence

Interesting Post… Organizational Complexity

Interesting Post… Microblogging in Project Management 2.0

Interesting Post… My Three Biggest Career Mistakes

Interesting Post… Agile Metrics

Interesting Post… The Southern Fried Agile Conference is Coming!

Interesting Post… How to be a Bad Manager

Interesting Post… How to improve a team’s velocity

Interesting Post… The difference between running and managing a project

Interesting Post… Which Compliment Do You Want?

Interesting Post… Big Bang vs Evolution – A software look

Interesting Post… How can you know you’re headed to the Ditch?

Interesting Post… Guest Post: Not Putting Out Fires

Happy Day!!!

Interesting Post… It’s The Values That Matter. Or Maybe It’s The Culture.

Interesting Post… Shorten and Reduce Variability in Lead Times using Kanban

Interesting Post… The Notion of a “Master”

Interesting Post… Web services in Java

Interesting Post… Ten Rules of Common Sense Program Management

Interesting Post… The Art of War – Chapter 2 – Entry 1 – Knowing the Cost*”To

Interesting Post… Always have a plan B when negotiating

Interesting Post… “Heavy Use of Math Puts People Off”

Interesting Post… Book Review: Your Career Game

Interesting Post… Video: Kanban for Video Game Development

Interesting Post… The Declaration of Interdependence

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Agile Atlanta in July… Dennis Stevens and Kanban!

Written by Mike Cottmeyer Thursday, 1 July 2010 07:03

Next Tuesday, July 6th, Dennis Stevens will be teaching us how to get started with Kanban.

Speaker: Dennis Stevens
Date: July 6th, 6:45 PM
Location: Matrix Resources, 115 Perimeter Center Place, Suite 250 (South Terraces Building – facing Dillard’s at Perimeter Mall)

Learn what Kanban is and how to implement it on your teams. Kanban Software Development focuses on the flow of work to lower delays to delivery and increase quality. It provides significant visibility into how a team works, enabling evolutionary improvement and an improved relationship with management. Kanban can be used in a wider range of environments than many Agile methods because of its ability to be tailored. It also compliments existing Agile methods as it scales beyond the development team and across more complex efforts. There will be plenty of time for Q&A to learn how Kanban may specifically fit into your environment.

Upcoming meetings:
August 3rd: Mike Cottmeyer, How to Manage a Really Big Complex Product

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Ro-Sham-Bo… Shoot!

Written by Mike Cottmeyer Monday, 28 June 2010 06:32

I had a fun experience last week that I want to share with you guys. It was my first week with an awesome new client. The plan was to start with two days of general agile training, followed by a day of release planning workshops, and then iteration planning. Once the team starts sprinting, I’ll come back for a day a week to do a little coaching, and to help keep everything on track. All in all, a pretty standard engagement.

This team has a solid product vision, and a pretty good understanding of their features and needs. The features and needs were pretty easily translated into high-level, value driven epics. We spent some time breaking down the first set of features into finer grained user stories. Because the team was new to agile, and really had no idea of their capacity, we took the extra time to break their user stories down into tasks.

Okay, so you guys know the drill. User stories get estimated in points, tasks get estimated in hours. We decided to use the Fibonacci series for the user stories, but the team wanted to use a binary sequence for estimating task hours. I’m okay with either… and since it’s really not my call… we went with binary. The only problem was that we didn’t have enough binary planning poker cards so that the entire team could get involved. We had to get creative.

The ideas came quick, but what we ended up with was a version of the old rock-paper-scissors game. Someone realized that each of the allowable estimate values, could be represented as a single digit, using a power of two…

1 = 0
2 = 1
4 = 2
8 = 3
16 = 4
32 = 5

…and, we could each vote with one hand by throwing the exponent, rather than the entire estimate value. Only, in a room full of software developers would someone come up with that. It was elegant… it was geeky… we could do it without supplies… so we went for it.

Since there was no way to hide your estimate using fingers (say, by putting the card face down on the table) the developer leading our session introduced the rock-paper-scissors idea. But… rather than saying rock-paper-scissors-shoot… he went with Ro-Sham-Bo-shoot. I had never heard that version, but once again… it was funny… it was geeky… and the team loved it… so it stuck. Each time, after they talked about a task, someone would look around and ask… ‘rochambeau’ ?

Once everyone agreed… they played their hand… literally.

It was an awesome… fun… emergent experience, and we came up with a new approach that I am sure I’ll want to use with other teams. The estimating went really fast, faster I think than messing around with physical cards. Either way, it was a great team building experience. It was a creative and effective way of playing planning poker. I’m curious if anyone has every played planning poker this way? Is it documented somewhere?

If you happen to be interested… here is a link to the Wikipedia entry for Rochambeau.

The Urban Dictionary had a much more colorful explanation… this one made me laugh out loud.

Give this approach a try and have some fun with it!

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Interesting Post… 6/14/2010 through 6/20/2010

Written by Mike Cottmeyer Sunday, 20 June 2010 09:57

Okay… so get this. When I go to my Google Reader feed and look at all the stuff I’ve shared over the past week, I get one list. When I go to my Twitter page and pull all the ‘Interesting Post..’ articles I’ve shared over the same time period… I get a different list. There is some overlap but neither is a subset of the other. My guess is that what I’ve actually shared over the past week is a superset of both lists. Oh well, again… maybe one day I’ll spend some time trying to figure out what’s up. Either way, this is a pretty good list of all the stuff that I noodled through over the past week.
Hope you like this week’s installment of ‘Interesting Post…’.

Corporate stuff

PMBOK, Agile, and Some Tips
Connecting the Dots to PMBOK
Are things getting to complicated?
8 Habits of Highly Excellent Bloggers
Stop Whining and Get Started!
What Does It Mean to Be Agile?
Fridays Digest #18 Scrum vs. Kanban
The Pepsi Challenge of Waterfall Agile or Kanban
Agile in Everyday Life
Your Software is not a House
Scrum and the PMBOK
New to agile? Learn how to fail well
T-Shaped People
Change Without Motivation
Come Play Innovation Games for the Agile Developer Skills Project!
ScrumMasters Now Earn More Money Than Project Managers
Kanban: What are Classes of Service and Why Should You Care?
The Oath of Non-Allegiance
Your Product Is Done
And as an added bonus for making it all the way to the bottom of the post… here is my last update from summer camp. I am home now, we came back yesterday, but the last night I did an update was Thursday. I feel a little guilty for not doing one the last night, but I got back to camp late and we had a campfire to go to. Anyway… this is Day #5… Family Night!

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