Interesting Post… 9/6/2009 through 9/12/2009

Written by Mike Cottmeyer Sunday, 13 September 2009 02:14

Time for another (almost) weekly installment of Interesting Post. Every week I feel like the number of agile related articles was pretty light… but then I go to build this post… and realize there was a ton of great content out there. I guess I just want more ;-)
One thing to keep in mind though. I think these are ALL great articles… very insightful… very interesting… but I don’t necessarily agree with every point they make. I chose the tag “Interesting Post…” very carefully. I share these posts because I think they contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way… sometimes I agree… sometimes I don’t. So with that…
Interesting posts from 9/6/2009 to 9/12/2009
Friday Round Up
Plan the Work – Work the Plan
Agile is never ‘no process’
ScrumBut – Part 5 – Retrospective after every sprint
Leading by saying No – The New CIO Series
An Irrational Approach to Change Management
Business Agility – Dynamism or Stasis
ScrumBut – Part 3 – Daily Scrum
Managing Leaky Organizations
Download “Do It Yourself Agile” For Free!
Eliminate Architecture
Time, Budget, Scope – Pick Two – NOT TRUE
For $65/pp, Send Your Whole Team to Agile Training in Boston Oct 5th
Many Contracts Have Wrong Focus
The faster we go, the tighter we cling
Achievable avalanche opportunities
Applying the Decoupling Principle to Scrum
Quote of the Day
Project Failure Sins and How to Stop These Sins
ScrumBut – Part 2 – Team members sit together
Why I Hate Document Templates
ScrumBut – Part 1 – Timeboxed Iterations
ScrumBut – Part 0 – Introduction
Toward a Next Generation Capability Maturity Model
On Paper I Was Once a Millionaire
Run this one through Babelfish…
The Best Leadership Is Good Management
D = V * T : The formula in software DeVelopmenT to get features DONE
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My Open Space De-brief at Agilepalooza Charlotte

Written by Mike Cottmeyer Thursday, 10 September 2009 06:48

You guys might get a kick out of seeing me in action. This video is me debriefing an open space session at Agilepalooza Charlotte a few weeks back. The topic is on scaling scrum in the enterprise. Our group discussed the four scrum of scrum patterns we’ve talked about here over the past few months.

It is totally weird watching yourself on video…

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Managing Expectations about Uncertainty

Written by Mike Cottmeyer Thursday, 10 September 2009 10:59

One of the biggest differences between the PMI crowd and the Agile crowd has to do with our expectations about uncertainty.

The PMI crowd generally believes that a Project Manager is supposed to manage uncertainty out of the project. The Agile crowd tends to believe that uncertainty and change is something that should be embraced. Rather than managing OUT uncertainty, the agilist chooses to manage FOR uncertainty.

This difference fundamentally influences how we go about the business of planning projects… the artifacts we create… and how we interact with and manage our teams. The reality is that both worldviews have a place depending upon your context and problem domain. It’s up to us [as Project Managers] to recognize the nature of the projects we are working on and choose the strategy most likely yield a desireable outcome… for both our project stakeholders and our external customers.

We cannot check our brains at the door and blindly follow ANY methodology. It’s up to us to assess our situation and choose an approach that is suitable for the task at hand.

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Leading Agile… 200 Posts and Counting!

Written by Mike Cottmeyer Wednesday, 9 September 2009 10:57

I wanted to take a minute this morning and mark a pretty cool milestone for Leading Agile. Yesterday I published my 200th post.
As you might imagine, I put a ton of energy into creating content for this blog. It has become a passion… a hobby even. It has been extremely rewarding to see how you guys have responded to all that effort. It’s not just about traffic and stats… although we’ll get to that in a minute… it’s about the quality of the interaction. I love it when people leave comments or repost something I’ve written out to Twitter. The conversation is what makes it all worthwhile.
The first six months I was writing Leading Agile it was called Applied Agile Leadership. I had like 10 subscribers and I am pretty sure they were all people that I worked with at CheckFree. My sister might have subscribed just becuase she felt sorry for me. Those first few months were pretty lean… if you go back and look I did a whopping three posts between June 2007 and December 2007. I was too busy in the thick of managing a pretty large program and I was commuting to Portland every other week.
The turning point for me was when I started working for VersionOne.
Not only was I working for a company that encouraged me to write… I also became a trainer and a consultant. My interactions with our customers have been a huge influence on my writing. They have helped fuel the passion… and when I’ve felt like I had nothing else to say… they have always come through with some new set of problems to solve. I’ve mentioned here before why I like to write… but a big part of it is having real people that I am trying to help. So… 2008 blew 2007 out of the water. That year I did 80 posts… averaging about 6-7 posts a month. I’ve always felt that if I was able to do two a week… that was enough.
Even though my writing went up in 2008, it took a long time to for my pageviews and subscribers to catch up. On October 2nd, 2008 I hit an inflection point. That day I jumped a few hundred subscribers… and as you can see from the chart below… my velocity of new subscribers increased as well. Looking back… I wish I knew what I did to make that happen. I had just published my 63rd post… and around that time I had just spoken at Agile 2008 in Toronto and the Agile Business Conference in London. I had also been doing a bunch of international engagements. Maybe it was just a matter of becoming better known in the community, but that day seemed to be my tipping point.

Feedburner Statistics
Actual pageviews during that time did not change as dramatically, but you can see that there is definitely some correlation between traffic and subscribers. That certainly makes sense just from a common sense perspective, but it is interesting to see the correlation in the actual data.
Google Analytics – Pageviews
Yesterday my good friend Martin Olesen from Denmark asked me to pick my favorite three posts from all 200. Intrigued… I decided to see if I could do it. I ended up picking 10. The funny thing is that unless you have gone back through my archives… most people probably have not ever read many of these. At the time many of these were written… I was writing to maybe 70 people. Rather than try to rank them by preference… I mean how can you choose between your children… I am going to list them from oldest to youngest. That seems fair… don’t you think?
  • Inverting the Iron Triangle – This is where I start trying to rationalize my background in traditional project management with my agile message.
  • Managing Too Much Complexity – People make things way to hard. Part of the key to being agile is reducing complexity… not managing it.
  • Agile or Iterative and Incremental – Let’s call it what it is… there is alot of benefit to being iterative and incremental… let’s just not call it agile if it isn’t. This is also the post I did on October 2nd… the day that my blog starting getting significant attention.
  • Are Scrum Roles Really Sufficient? – This was the kick-off post for my whole Agile PO team rant. This post will go down in history of the predecessor of the book Dennis and I are writing. At least from my point of view.
When I look back over the past 200 posts… I don’t think that my writing style has changed all that much. I may have gotten a little more conversational as I have gotten more comfortable talking to my readers. The biggest change is that I am better able to get ideas out with fewer words. I haven’t done the math but I think my average post length has probably gone down. I also think I have gotten faster getting ideas on paper. The average time I spend writing a post has gone from around 4 hours to probably less than 2. Maybe that is becuase I am writing shorter posts than I used to ;-)
Anyway… thanks for humoring me here. I sincerely appreciate that you guys are along for the ride and I am really looking forward to doing this again at post 400!
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Rethinking Scrum and XP

Written by Mike Cottmeyer Tuesday, 8 September 2009 11:35

Lately we’ve been exploring the idea of moving past the specific practices of Scrum and XP and focusing more on what we are doing rather than how we are doing it. Rather than focusing on having ScrumMasters and Product Owners, we need to start thinking about the value these roles are delivering and how we can deliver that value at scale. Meta-Scrums and Chief Product Owners might be part of the solution… but our organization might require more.

To that end… if we are going to create situationally specific strategies at scale… we can start by talking about the core capabilities these roles have to deliver at the team level:

Product Owner

  • Set Product Vision
  • Define Product Roadmap
  • Define Requirements
  • Sequence Work
  • Communicate Requirements to Development
  • User Acceptance Testing
  • Manage Stakeholders
  • Set release date


  • Ensure Process Adherence
  • Remove Impediments
  • Ensure Internal Communication
  • Ensure External Communication
  • Maintain a Productive work environment
  • Team Building

Development Team

  • Assign work to team
  • Make commitments
  • Throttle work
  • Design the solution
  • Write software
  • Maintain code quality
  • Take corrective action
  • Deliver features
  • Deploy the Solution


  • Continuous Improvement
  • Define working agreements
  • Resolve Conflict
  • Manage Risk
  • Set delivery heartbeat

Over the next few weeks we’ll explore how these core team capabilities get expressed at each of our five levels of agile adoption. For now I’d like know if you guys think we’ve got this list right. Is there anything we need to add? Anything that needs to be removed? Your feedback is really appreciated.

If you have a minute… head over to Dennis’ blog to see his take on this. Similar content… different presentation.

ADDENDUM: Almost forgot to mark the occasion… this was my 200th post on Leading Agile!
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