June 26 WALTHAM MEETING: Agile Hiring: It’s a Team Sport

Slides from this talk are available: Agile Hiring: It’s a Team Sport

When you think of hiring for your team, do you think of paperwork, and endless interviews, wondering if this candidate is really right, and the difficulty in making a decision? You know the cost of hiring people is high, and the cost of not getting the right person is even higher. You can apply agile approaches to your hiring, iterating on everything in the hiring process, getting feedback as you go, and involving the entire team. Just as agile is a cross-functional and team approach to developing great products, you can make hiring a cross-functional and team approach to hiring the best people who fit your team.

Join Johanna Rothman, author of “Hiring Geeks Who Fit”, in this talk where she will explain how to have the team review resumes, interview, create auditions, and make the hiring decisions to ensure you have people who fit with the team. She’ll also explain where and when it makes sense for the hiring manager to take the lead, such as for phone screens, organizing the interview, and the offer. If you have agile HR people, bring them, because we want them involved, and they have a place, too.

Register:

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/394992

About The Presenter:

Johanna Rothman, known as the “Pragmatic Manager,” helps organizational leaders see problems and risks in their product development. She helps them recognize potential risks, seize opportunities, and remove impediments.

Johanna was the Agile 2009 conference chair. She is the current agileconnection.com technical editor. Johanna is the author of these books:

  • Manage Your Job Search
  • Hiring Geeks That Fit
  • Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects
  • The 2008 Jolt Productivity award-winning Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management
  • Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management
  • Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People

She is writing a book about agile and lean program management. She writes columns for Stickyminds.com, Dice.com, and projectmanagment.com, and writes two blogs on her web site, jrothman.com, as well as a blog on createadaptablelife.com.

Meeting Agenda:

6:30 pm Introduction

7:00 pm Food, beverages, and socializing

7:20 pm Main event

8:20 pm Done

8:30 pm Done Done

Meeting Location:

CORPORATE OFFICE PARK
200 West Street
Waltham, MA 02451

The event room is located on the 1st floor. Enter the building. Take the hallway to the left. Walk past the elevators. The door to the event room will be on your right before the restrooms.

Register:

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/394992

June 27 DOWNTOWN MEETING: Agile Hiring: It’s a Team Sport

Slides from this talk are available: Agile Hiring: It’s a Team Sport

When you think of hiring for your team, do you think of paperwork, and endless interviews, wondering if this candidate is really right, and the difficulty in making a decision? You know the cost of hiring people is high, and the cost of not getting the right person is even higher. You can apply agile approaches to your hiring, iterating on everything in the hiring process, getting feedback as you go, and involving the entire team. Just as agile is a cross-functional and team approach to developing great products, you can make hiring a cross-functional and team approach to hiring the best people who fit your team.

Join Johanna Rothman, author of “Hiring Geeks Who Fit”, in this talk where she will explain how to have the team review resumes, interview, create auditions, and make the hiring decisions to ensure you have people who fit with the team. She’ll also explain where and when it makes sense for the hiring manager to take the lead, such as for phone screens, organizing the interview, and the offer. If you have agile HR people, bring them, because we want them involved, and they have a place, too.

NOTE: The downtown event is being held at PayPal in Boston. To accommodate security, registration will be closed at 9:00 PM EST on Tue 6/25. Walk-ins will not be allowed to attend. Please be sure to register in advance for this event and bring a photo ID.

Register:

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/395003

About The Presenter:

Johanna Rothman, known as the “Pragmatic Manager,” helps organizational leaders see problems and risks in their product development. She helps them recognize potential risks, seize opportunities, and remove impediments.

Johanna was the Agile 2009 conference chair. She is the current agileconnection.com technical editor. Johanna is the author of these books:

  • Manage Your Job Search
  • Hiring Geeks That Fit
  • Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects
  • The 2008 Jolt Productivity award-winning Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management
  • Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management
  • Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People

She is writing a book about agile and lean program management. She writes columns for Stickyminds.com, Dice.com, and projectmanagment.com, and writes two blogs on her web site, jrothman.com, as well as a blog on createadaptablelife.com.

Meeting Agenda:

6:00 pm Introduction

6:30 pm Beverages and socializing

6:50 pm Main event

7:50 pm Done

8:00 pm Done Done

Meeting Location:

PayPal
1 International Place (6th floor)
Boston, MA 02110

Register:

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/395003

 

See Alistair Cockburn in Boston on 05-29

ALISTAIR COCKBURN ON: THE AGILE MANIFESTO

The Agile Manifesto was drafted and ratified in 2001. The document specifies 4 values and 12 principles. In theory at least, these values and principles form the underlying philosophy of design behind every Agile practice.

It’s 12 years later. What’s changed?

 

Brought to you by the Agile Boston & Agile New England User Groups

 

 

 

In the present day, the value of the Manifesto is routinely called into question. Some folks want to add new content, or change existing content, and even DELETE some of it.

Some very vocal people in the Agile community are even on record as stating that “it does not say very much at all.”

Other “vocal locals”, from Boston, who we might call “Manifesto fundamentalists”, are saying that the 4 values and 12 principles are super-important, and as timely as ever.

Which is it?

What is the Agile Manifesto?

Why do you care?

Is the document a dead letter, or actually more important than ever before?

ALISTAIR COCKBURN was there when the Manifesto happened. He helped make it happen and is a signatory. He is one of a kind and has stories and lore about the origin of the Manifesto that you cannot make up.

During this event Alistair connects the past, present and future of the Manifesto, and explains how to translate the Manifesto principles into effective Agile practices you can use today.

And more. We have absolutely no idea what he might say next.

 

Can you DO a principle? A value?

What is a methodology?

What does certification on a practice have to do with the Agile Manifesto?

 

This is sure to be a highly informative and entertaining meeting. (Let the record show that previous conference sessions by this speaker have included dancing girls (on one occasion) and men in kilts playing bagpipes (on another.) Prepare to be surprised!

If you miss this one-of-a-kind event in Boston on 5/29 featuring Alistair Cockburn, you have no one to blame but yourself.

 

In this session, you’ll learn:

  • The “story behind the story” of the Agile Manifesto
  • How the form & content of the Manifesto got hammered out in 2001
  • Why or why not the 4 values and 12 principles matter in 2013
  • Whether Agile practices popular today actually honor the Manifesto, & what this might mean for your organization’s Agile adoption
  • Why bagpipes and dancing girls are important

NOTE: REGISTER EARLY. The downtown event is being held at PayPal in Boston. To accommodate security, registration will be closed at 9:00 PM EST on Mon 5/27. Walk-ins will not be allowed to attend. Please be sure to register in advance for this event and bring a photo ID.

REGISTER: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/390948

NOTE: Do not register casually. Registering is an explicit commitment to attend. Registering casually is a disservice to everyone attending: as it throws off foo/beverage and seat counts & causes many woes for volunteers who are working to serve the Agile community in Boston. If you register we expect you to attend!

 

About The Presenter:
Dr. Cockburn (pronounced Co-burn, the Scottish way) is an internationally renowned project witchdoctor and IT strategist, best known for describing Software development as a Cooperative Game (discussion: Re: Cooperative game manifesto for software development), for helping craft the Agile Development Manifesto, for finally defining Use Cases (discussion: Re: Use cases) for developing the initial response technique relaxation/massage form, and for creating the oath of non-allegiance (discussion: Re: Oath of Non-Allegiance), which has been translated into dozens of languages.

 

NOTE: The meeting venue has formal security. Bring a picture ID. Plan to arrive at 6PM so you can be processed into the building, ride the elevator up to the 6th floor, and get situated.

 

JAMIE GAULL PLAYS LIVE: We are pleased to announce that Jamie Gaull of LeapFrog Systems will perform classic rock and acoustic rock-and-roll tunes during the break. He’s an Agile guy by day that plays in bars and clubs by night. You can use these links to listen to sample tunes, check out pictures, and visit the Plan B web site. We welcome Jamie Gaull!

 

Meeting Agenda:

6:00 pm Show up, grab a beverage, socialize (arrive on time!)

6:30 pm Main Event with Alistair Cockburn, PART ONE

7:15 pm BREAK. Music by Jamie Gaull (related link)

7:30 pm Main Event with Alistair Cockburn, PART TWO

8:10 pm Done

8:15 pm DONE DONE

Meeting Location:

PayPal
1 International Place (6th floor)
Boston, MA 02110

NOTE: REGISTER EARLY. The downtown event is being held at PayPal in Boston. To accommodate security, registration will be closed at 9:00 PM EST on Mon 5/27. Walk-ins will not be allowed to attend. Please be sure to register in advance for this event and bring a photo ID.

REGISTER: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/390948

NOTE: Do not register casually. Registering is an explicit commitment to attend. Registering casually is a disservice to everyone attending: as it throws off foo/beverage and seat counts & causes many woes for volunteers who are working to serve the Agile community in Boston. If you register we expect you to attend!

 

The Problem with PLAY

The word play is a big, big problem. The ambiguity of current definitions are holding back serious discourse that can advance the social sciences.

The essential problem is that the word play is both a noun and a verb. This terminology is not precise and leads to all sorts of problems, debates and misunderstandings in figuring out what play is, what is going on during play, and what the relationship between games and play actually is.

This situation is causing epic levels of confusion, debate and wasted energy in the social sciences. All the energy going into debates on what play is and is not could be used to seriously advance the state of the art in the social sciences. Instead we are mired in petty debates because the terminology we are using is completely imprecise.

And that is a big problem.

Play: the Noun

The word play is a noun. A play is a move in a game. And there are SIX other definitions of the noun play. (See related links following this post.). Suffice to say that the word play is a noun. Most of do agree to the common noun definitions for play. Even so, because play is both a noun and a verb, we have problems using both the verb forms and the noun forms of the word when attempting to precisely describe social phenomena.

Play: The Verb

The word play is also a verb. Play is an activity, a verb, as in “playing a game.” This and FOUR additional verb definitions exist for the word play. (See related links.) Now we can begin to see the problem. The word play is at best a highly ambiguous one.

Here is an example: John Taylor Gatto is a highly accomplished and innovative educator, and book author. He is also a recognized authority on how people learn, and how to facilitate learning.

John Taylor Gatto is a very clear thinker.

Check out this quote from him in his essay on play (see related links):

“[Play is] something we do in between being serious, isn’t it? When machines “play” we get worried and say they’re broken, yet men and women and animals play all the time. What’s going on?

Even the term is ambiguous; what we mean by it isn’t automatically clear.” (emphasis added)

You might be wondering if I am planning to offer you a more precise definition for play. And, you also may also be wondering if I am planning to describe a complete vocabulary for discussing play, and games, in a much more precise and generative way.

The answer to both questions is most definitely YES.

Related Links:

Link: The 7 Noun and 5 Verb Definitions for Play in Merriam Webster’s Dictionary

Essay: The Curriculum of Play by John Taylor Gatto A very good example of how excellent writers struggle to write about play.

Wikipedia entry for John Taylor Gatto

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gamification Is Broken

“Gamification” is the supposed application of game mechanics and game thinking to supposedly non-game domains. Please don’t take my word for it. Investigate this for yourself using the related links at the end of this post.

This definition encourages unclear thinking about the reality of social interactions.

You cannot make a game out of something that already is one.

The reality is that every social interaction of a kind is a game. There are no non-game domains in social terms.

Any inherently social activity is inherently a game.

For defining the word ‘game’ I am using the McGonigal definition as described on page 22 of her book, REALITY IS BROKEN. That definition from Jane says an activity is a game if it has just 4 essential properties:

  • A clear goal
  • Clear rules
  • A way to get feedback
  • Opt-in participation

This a a profoundly useful definition of the word game. Even if you disagree, let’s use it for now, and pretend that it works….

To say that “gamification” adds game mechanics to existing games such as  social interactions, meetings, and classes is just plain incorrect because the game mechanics are already there.

Gamification is broken. To be more precise, the definition of the term gamification is broken. It encourages unclear thinking about the world by implying that social interactions are games only after ‘gamification’. This is just plain incorrect. Not valid. Wrong.

In all social situations, for example: interactions, meetings, working on a team, working inside a company, participating in a CULTURE….in all of these situations, the game mechanics are present, they are simply weak, not well-designed, or both.

‘Gamification’ as currently defined can’t help, because all of these situations are already games. Usually, they are poorly formed and have incomplete or weak design of the game mechanics.

Are you a Teacher? If you are, realize that all meetings are games, and all classes are meetings, therefore: all classes are games. This means game mechanics are already present in your classroom. If the mechanics are weak and loose and not well-designed, your students disengage and check out. And if the game mechanics in your classroom are well-designed and tight, those same students start to get engaged and they “check in” and they have fun and get into it.

“Gamification” as defined does not ‘make a game’ out of your supposedly non-game classroom by adding game mechanics. That’s because the class IS A game, and the game mechanics are already present and simply need to be tuned up.

You cannot make a game out of something that already is one.

All classes are games. Now, not all games are fun to play. Not all classes are fun to attend. If the game mechanics are weak, you can forget about having any fun at all.

The definition of gamification is broken. In social terms, there are no ‘non-game domains’ because every social interaction is a game.

Related Links:

Gamification Defined

How Games Deliver Happiness and Learning

Culture: It’s a Game

Deviation From the Norm

It’s obvious that the Agile movement is not producing the kind of transformative results that are entirely possible. If current approaches actually worked well, then by now, thousands of organizations would have reached a state of self-sustaining, “freestanding” agility.

Clearly, that is not the case.

Stories abound about typical failure patterns.  Organizations that seem to start well eventually slide back to waterfall practices. Organizations employing coaches spend millions to obtain a mere 25 to 30% improvement in whatever they are measuring!

And they seem happy with that!

Meanwhile, the Agile-obtainable multiples of 2X, 3X, even 4X improvement in those same measures is not even discussed. It’s just left on the table.

Coaches in some cases are setting up camp for years in large client organizations. Organizations never actually realize the benefits of rapid learning and adaptation that the Agile approach purports to deliver. Clearly current coaching methods are not delivering lasting agility. If they were, we’d be celebrating hundreds– even thousands— of successful and sustained Agile transformations.

Clearly this is not happening.

Yet it’s possible. And almost within reach.

Software development at scale is a very difficult undertaking. The Agile mindset and related principles, patterns and practices can help tremendously. At issue is how to achieve this. What’s clear is that no one knows how to repeatedly generate long-lasting & sustained improvement at scale. How is this actually done? Who actually knows how? As a consulting and coaching community, we have failed to deliver the promise of Agile to our clients and the wider world. We are stuck.

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. Frank Zappa (click here for 20 second video)

Without deviation from the Agile coaching norm, Agile progress is simply not possible. Coaching is the leverage point. Something has to give.

We need to throw out current “best practices” in Agile coaching and question everything we are doing. Because what we are currently doing is not creating any lasting progress. If it was, we would all know where to find hundreds, even thousands of case studies that document how organizations are sustaining genuine agility… long after the coaches leave.

The time has come to begin a new story…a new dialogue…a conversation that assumes nothing…and questions everything. A conversation that stops asking “why”…and starts asking “how“. A conversation that focuses on how to minimize coaching days…not increase them. With all due respect to “agile enablement firms” and well-established tools vendors, we need a better way. We need deviation from the norm. We need a new deal for organizations. A deal where they can take a legitimate shot…at rapidly reaching a state of self-sustaining agility…an agility that does not require an army of coaches to be lasting and sustainable over time.

One approach is to focus organizations on principles over practices.  And this is a difficult undertaking. It doesn’t sell well. Practices sell. Organizations and coaches are very happy to begin using practices without grounding them in the principles of the Agile Manifesto. With the practices-first approach, everyone is happy. And it does not last.

Likewise, coaches and client organizations are all too happy to convey way too much authority to external coaches while conveniently sidestepping the difficult business of making sure that the organization itself takes 100% responsibility for its own learning.

We need a principles-first approach that places responsibility for the organization’s learning within the organization itself, not on some external authority named “coach”.

Related Post:

Perfect Agile Coaching

Open Agile Adoption: The empirical path to a rapid & lasting Agile adoption

Bio:

www.DanielMezick.com

May 22 WALTHAM MEETING: Sprint 75 and Still Learning: Scrum Lessons From a Product Development Company

Prior to adopting Scrum three years ago, Chris Sullivan and his teams at Markem-Imaje had been using Agile and Iterative practices for 10 years with mixed results. After 75 sprints of practicing Scrum, it’s clear that the learning and need for improvement never ends.

At this session, you will learn:

  •  How a global organization of distributed software development teams improved the quality of their deliverables and reduced their time to market for new features.
  • How teams wrapped mechanisms and practices around the Scrum framework to ensure good synchronization of wider program activities.
  • How teams created effective tracking and reporting processes for stakeholders.
  • How they implemented Scrum in a product development company led by distribution, marketing, manufacturing, and support organizations with long histories of waterfall and Stage-Gate practices.

Register:

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/384524

About The Presenter:

Chris Sullivan is a senior manager of software development at Markem-Imaje with more than 20 years of experience as a software engineer and system architect of industrial product identification equipment and solutions.  Chris has been leading and supporting the adoption of Agile and Scrum practices across a global software development organization for almost ten years.  He is now helping the wider product development organization leverage the lessons learned from the software development teams across the non-software functions.

Meeting Agenda:

6:30 pm Introduction

7:00 pm Food, beverages, and socializing

7:20 pm Main event

8:20 pm Done

8:30 pm Done Done

Meeting Location:

CORPORATE OFFICE PARK
200 West Street
Waltham, MA 02451

The event room is located on the 1st floor. Enter the building. Take the hallway to the left. Walk past the elevators. The door to the event room will be on your right before the restrooms.

Register:

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/384524

May 23 DOWNTOWN MEETING: Getting Our Hands Dirty: A Startup’s Transformation

Slides from this talk are available: Getting Our Hands Dirty.

Apperian is a Boston startup that helps leading brands deploy and manage the full life-cycle of mobile apps for iOS, Android, HTML5, and Blackberry. Join us this evening as Alan Murray and John Caldas from Apperian will discuss the key elements and turning points in their journey with Scrum. You’ll hear the story from the perspective of both the Scrum Master (John) and the Product Owner (Alan). They’ll talk openly about what worked well, what didn’t, and how their alignment varied widely over time.

In this session, you’ll learn:

  • How they migrated from cowboys to Scrum teams
  • The “one backlog” method used for working with multiple scrum teams
  • The complexities of growth and working with off shored teams
  • How they added a research team to the mix

NOTE: The downtown event is being held at PayPal in Boston. To accommodate security, registration will be closed at 9:00 PM EST on Tue 5/21. Walk-ins will not be allowed to attend. Please be sure to register in advance for this event and bring a photo ID.

Register:

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/387949

About The Presenter:

Alan Murray is responsible for building Apperian’s brand and establishing the company as the clear leader in the mobile app management space. Alan is an expert at leveraging new marketing methods to accelerate the growth of Apperian and draws from his 20 years designing and bringing innovative software solutions to a global market.

John Caldas is a software developer turned Scrum Master at Apperian. After completing his computer science degree at Boston University he found the startup world and settled in. With experience in web, mobile, web services, devops, and systems administration, John enjoys working on all aspects of product development.

Meeting Agenda:

6:00 pm Introduction

6:30 pm Beverages and socializing

6:50 pm Main event

7:50 pm Done

8:00 pm Done Done

Meeting Location:

PayPal
1 International Place (6th floor)
Boston, MA 02110

Register:

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/387949