I Can’t Get No Satisfaction. Ramblings on the First Agile Principle

Mick_Jagger_in_redOur highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

In software development…

  • In order to satisfy the customer you have to truly understand what the customer needs.
    • Sometimes what a customer wants is very different than what a customer needs.
    • Keep asking “Why? Why? Why?”
    • This requires the customer to be very much engaged in what is happening.  They need to be able to express whether or not they are satisfied in real-time.
  • Early and continuous delivery of valuable software is pretty difficult to do.
    • What is “early”?  Perhaps “incremental” is more appropriate.  I’m assuming this wasn’t intended to be “early” in the traditional, calendar-time based meaning.
    • Continuous delivery == constantly changing, hopefully for the better.
    • There is no such thing as “scope creep” in Agile!
    • It is of value if it satisfies the customer, therefore the customer must determine what “valuable” means.
    • But… If delivery is continuous, when are we “done”?  Perhaps never.  Satisfaction is a tricky beast.

In life…

  • In order to be satisfied, I must actually understand what I really need to be happy.
    • What I want is not necessarily what I need.
    • Perhaps in order to get at the core of what I really need, I have to ask myself “Why do I want X?”
    • I can’t “check-out”.  In order for this to work I need to be present and engaged in my life and incrementally improving it.
  • I also need to start NOW and continuously deliver on those needs in the form of changes for the better.
    • Working software == a means by which the need is satisfied.  This could be anything from eating well, getting enough rest, to treating myself with the same kindness and respect I give my friends.
    • The key is to first really understand what the needs are — what will it take to be satisfied?
    • And finally, admitting that I am a work-in-progress.  There is no done.

What would the Jedi say?

There is no done, there is progress.
There is no scope creep, there is incremental improvement.
There is no want, there is satisfaction.

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Paleo Foodporn

I like to take pictures of food.  I also like to eat food!  We’re warming up for a Whole30 over here and while we’re far from perfect, we are moving in the right direction.  Incrementally better.  My husband is a far better cook than I will ever be (I am, however, a better baker!)  Take a look at some of our latest paleo delights…

Pan-Seared Scallops with Roasted Butternut Squash in a Butter-Lemon Sauce

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Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

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The for the pulled pork we used leftover pork from Christmas dinner.  My husband’s hands went numb shredding it with forks, but it was worth it.  These instructions on how to make sweet potatoes in the microwave is a life-and-time saver.

Scallops are always a splurge, but well worth it.  The butternut squash we bought pre-cut (again, a life-and-time saver) and simply roasted on a baking sheet in the oven with some olive oil and any garlic-herb seasoning of your choice.

All this debauchery is catching up to me.

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I have been planning on doing another Whole30 in January, but I’m considering starting on Monday because I have been totally overdoing it on luxurious and unhealthy food choices for months now and I feel like crap.

This means I’ve got a lot of prep to take care of tomorrow including cleaning out the pantry and fridge and shopping for the week.  Here’s what I think I’m going to make this week…

You know you want to do a Whole30 too, right?

Spirituality Influencers: The Jedi Code

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When you walk a spiritual path, just about anything can inspire and influence you.  Here are the principles of the Jedi:

There is no emotion, there is peace. 
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity. 
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.

I bet the Jedi would appreciate Agile methodologies…

photo credit: Darkain Multimedia via photopin cc

When in doubt, break out the old school risk matrix!

We have an intern with us for the winter break and her project is to organize some kind of event or meetup at our office.  She is responsible for the schedule, budget, and the scope — including the event/meetup topic.

This is her second internship with us, so she is familiar with project management concepts, roles and responsibilities.  I’ve armed her with some traditional templates to use throughout her project.  Today, I received an email from our intern.  She’s starting to doubt the topic for her event and also second guessing whether the people who need to be involved will commit to their part of the work.    I’m certain she’s also getting a lot of feedback from other members of our PMO — all trying to be helpful, but also inadvertently causing her some anxiety and panic. She was pretty much ready to scrap the existing project and start over with an outside speaker — which could be tough given the deadline for the event.

What would you do?  Here’s what I suggested:

  • Get more supporters.  I pinged some of our leads to make sure she had additional help so she didn’t feel like she had to pull this off all on her own.
  • Take the emotion out of it.  Breathe.  Don’t panic.  (This is probably the most important piece of advice…)
  • Go back to your Project Management toolkit.  In this case, our intern was dealing with a lot of fear due to all of the various risks involved such as:
    • How to I get people to want to attend this event?
    • What if no one is interested in the topic?
    • I have to rely on 3-4 people to contribute to the event, by preparing materials and also participating.  What if they can’t commit?  What happens if someone backs out?

I suggested she take another look at Risk Management including the Risk Matrix.  The act of documenting all of the possible risks to the project, assessing the probability of the risk occurring and the impact if the risk does occur.  Then once she has a handle on what her risks really are — start thinking about how she is going to handle them.  Perhaps contacting an outside speaker to come in is a great mitigation plan — but that comes with its own set of risks as well that need to be assessed and mitigated (i.e. what if the speaker is not available on your event date?  what if they require a fee?…)

While I don’t often break out “ye olde traditional project management” templates often, they are useful tools for diffusing emotional situations and dealing with project problems in a rational way.  They are also excellent learning tools for teaching people basic techniques of the various aspects of project management.

The next time you hit a snag in one of your projects perhaps one of our more old school templates can put you back on the right path.

2015 Incremental Improvement Backlog

I wonder if it’s possible to apply the principles behind the Agile Manifesto to everyday life.  Could a human being be considered both the “customer” and the “working software”?  Could I apply principles such as: simplicity, technical excellence, good design, harnessing change, and tune and adjust my behavior accordingly to become a better person?

Let’s find out.

I guess I’ll start by just getting some thoughts down on paper, then later I’ll refine these into a well-groomed backlog.

  • I want to kick-off a Whole30 in January
  • I want to stick to an 80/20 Paleo diet
  • I want to travel somewhere new that requires a passport
  • I want to get back into running 5Ks
  • I want to ride my Vespa
  • I want to speak about Agile at more conferences, meetups and events
  • I want to take more photographs and get better at photography
  • I want to cook more
  • I want to be a grateful person
  • I want to gracefully let go of things that are not meant for me
  • I want to gracefully let go of things that are no longer useful
  • I want to dress well and change up my style
  • I want to learn a new skill
  • I want to share my knowledge on Project Management methodologies more with my colleagues and my community
  • I want to strengthen my spirituality
  • I want to feel like I am constantly improving