marcusoft.net - sharing is learning


function share(knowledge){ return share(++knowledge) }

Electronic process management tools - proceed with care


I’m a fan of physical boards. But I have to say: many of the tools I’ve used are amazing (like JIRA, LeanKit etc.) in that they support working with the tool in a great way: shortcuts, intelligent search and great design.

But I can’t get around the fact that I don’t think that they support me and my teams. Already now I can hear defenders of these tool racking up arguments and showing me better ways to do the things that I’ve experienced as problems.

This post is not about that. This problem is about the general notion of any tool has it’s limits and that I run into more of them in electronic tools than I do using physical board.

Also this is my experience - your mileage may vary.

Read on ...

AWS Lambda/Claudia part II - Storing stuff


In my last post on Claudia JS we only created a very simple function that echoed some data back to us. Still amazingly cool since that echoing scales to whatever load we will put on it, but a bit meek maybe.

In this post I wanted to up the ante a little bit and store some data, more specifically in the AWS Document database called DynamoDb

Read on ...

S, M, L estimate should not start with a date span


Many teams I visit nowadays have ditched story points and start to use Small, Medium and Large (aka T-shirt sizes) estimation instead. I like that.

But very often a smell is creeping into the estimation, removing the “relative” out of “relative estimation”.

Here’s how this problem will reveal itself. When someone suggests that you’ll use S, M and L for your estimates you will soon here:

Ok - so a S is 1-2 days, M 3-5 and L 5-10 then or what's the scale?

Don’t do that - it’s the wrong way around. In this post I’ll explain why and what is a better, more trustworthy, candid and transparent approach.

Read on ...

The hidden agenda of agile....


Recently I’ve been in many discussions about using agile in bigger enterprises that shows that one message of agile has been lost. It goes right to the basis of using agile (or lean for that matter, more on that later) in the first place.

I think I speak too little about this, or at least I feel the need to be much more open and transparent about it. This post is a first attempt to bring some clarity.

NOTE I know that this will come out like a rant. Sorry. It’s not. It’s just the state where I’ve seen it. If anything I think that I have not been candid, clear and transparent in how I communicated.

Read on ...

First AWS Lambda steps - using ClaudiaJs


First time I heard about AWS Lambda my mind was blown to pieces. Quite simply AWS Lambda gives you the opportunity to run a piece of code without concerning yourself about the infrastructure - AWS will handle deployment, configuration, scaling and all of that stuff. You just push your code.

That “just” in the last sentence proves to be quite a lot of grunt-work, sadly. That is, until you meet ClaudiaJs; your Node flight attendant for AWS Lambda - ensuring a smooth flight to the clouds.

In this post I wanted to describe how I got started with Claudia and Lambdas. It will be loads of fun - let’s get on it!

Read on ...

An exercise from 5 dysfunctions of a team


I have a couple of times been recommended the book The five dysfunctions of a team and the last couple of weeks I finally got around to read it.

The book is really great and worth reading. In this post I wanted to talk about a very simple exercise that we used in our team the other day.

Read on ...

What is important, really?


The team I’m in right now is under a lot of pressure and stress. And have been for some time before I joined it. I’ve been in meetings where no-one of the five people in the room could sit down, due to stress. Two weeks after I started I had to comfort a crying colleague after the “customer” yelled at her, despite her best efforts. Me, myself, I’m nervous to report any news (good or bad) to the customers, since they seem to be angry all the time. Things like that.

I cannot help but wonder:

What is important? Really.
Read on ...

My day off


As you might now the last couple of years have taken quite a toll on my personal life. It was work and my work situation that wore me (and my wife) down.

Before we moved back to Sweden Elin and I decided to try to do something about it, so that we didn’t fall back into a work-life-situation that wore us down again. Therefor we decided to not work full time when we get back.

Wednesdays are my day off. I wanted to share some initial reactions and … eeeeh … symptoms.

Just to be clear - I’m ok. I don’t feel bad, stressed or depressed now. But I don’t want to go there again. This is my ways of protection.

Read on ...

... what does that say about me


I more and more realize that what I’m doing is about change management. It’s involved in more or less every gig I get and I feel that I know just a fraction about what I need to handle it.

However I have three thoughts that have helped me immensely in how to approach change. They calm me down around the nervosity I’ve felt about “changing people”, since both have to do with changing perspective, putting me on the other side.

In this post I wanted to share these ideas, that are not mine mind you, and maybe you will feel a bit calmer too.

Read on ...

Indonesia, Agile, Kanban, Lean - its a new book


Never in my life would I dream of writing a book. But that have happened and we (me and Joakim) are super proud of the result and very humbled by the good reception the book has got.

Never in my life would I dream about me writing another book… But it’s happening. Again. I can’t believe it, this time around again.

This will be a story about my experiences in the hospital that I helped during my two years in Indonesia. I’ve blogged extensively about it here and many of those posts will resurface in the book.

There will soon be a site for the book and I’ll make sure to update this post with the link to that.

Read on ...

What if only small works?


In my church, Vasakåren of the Salvation Army, there’s some amazing work being done for people outside the church. All along the lines of William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army);

Soup, soap, Salvation

One of the more impressive ones are led by my good friend Johan. It’s a program that helps people to get job. It’s called “faith, hope and work”1.

They have had amazing results. About 75% of the people that comes to “Faith, hope and work” gets a job!

My mind was blown away. I learned that the governmental job-finder facility has a hit rate of about 10-25%.

And I did the same erroneous assumption as many of the organizations where agile is started to be used, does. I tried to scale it.

  1. With a hint towards this famous passage

Read on ...

Prioritization - some thoughts and tools


Basically we have a lot things to do, many different wills and opinions as to what is more important and 3 hours to get it done. Can you facilitate that for us?

The end of the first email from my “new”1 could not have been more direct and to the point. And yet part of me found it a bit scary too.

This is one of the hardest things you encounter in a project or any organization, and now I was going to do it as the first impression.

Therefor I thought that I could list a couple of thoughts and tools that have helped me through the years. Just to revise them for myself at least. You can peak if you want.

There’s high and low stuff here. Some of it might not be suitable for the kind of prioritization that you’re doing. Your mileage may vary.

  1. He’s actually an old friend, but the assignment is new

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Book review: 50 quick ideas to improve your retrospectives


I have a confession to make:

I think retrospectives are boring

There. It’s out there. I’ve attended many and facilitated even more. I don’t like it. But before you all start to throw wasted fruit and vegetables my way, let me follow that statement up with a contradiction:

I think that retrospecting is the fundament of agile, and what's needed to improve

If agile brought anything new to the IT table it was the idea that we repeatedly, often or even continuously look back on our work, our tools, our output or our environment and try to improve it. Admittedly that was not invented by agile, but that’s how most of us got in contact with it. And it’s the one basic idea that can be found in all agile framework. Because it’s essential to improve.

Anyway - those two statements causes a problem for me, as you probably can see. Hence, it was with some resistance that I picked up “50 quick ideas to improve your retrospectives”.

On page 2 the authors Ben Williams and Tom Roden had me. I read it in one go.

Read on ...

Riot.js: anatomy of a tag


Remember back in the days when you (or me at least) proudly could say: “I’m a back end developer”? Well, sorry those days are gone since a few years.

Now, front end can mean many different things and quite often, luckily for me, it’s been just feeding data into a already structured framework, but what if you need to set the architecture?

Naturally we turn to the frameworks of choice and … about at this point I run into problems. Because I really have a problem with “big” frameworks like Angular Js, Ember, Aurelia or React. They look nice and I have really tried to learn, at least part of, them. Sometimes I’ve been close, but they just don’t stick. Too much for my poor head.

Maybe Koa and Nancy has destroyed me. I’m now a micro-framework guy. I just want my tools, as much as possible, to stay out of my way. A micro framework also opens more options for how to do things, what architecture to use etc.

That’s why Riot Js made me so happy, when I found it. Here’s the tag line:

A React-like user interface micro-library CUSTOM TAGS • ENJOYABLE SYNTAX • VIRTUAL DOM • TINY SIZE

And I’m like: Yes! Yes! Yes! Love it already!

I wanted to share my very early learnings with you. Because sharing is learning

Read on ...

Some kanban questions from a keen learner, and my answers


I sometimes have the good fortune to get questions sent to me via email. Often they are very thought provoking and makes me put some (or in this case considerable) effort behind to be able to get a intelligent answer. Also, I try to share my answers on line to increase the learning possibilities.

I try to answer those questions when I get the can, especially when I see that the person really wants to learn. A really good example of that came to me the other day, when Jocelyn wrote me. He’s about to attend a course on kanban and was required, before the course, to conduct an interview with someone who knew the topic.

Read on ...

Barrier troops


I’ve been rereading the awesome ReInventing Organizations by Fredric Laloux. The first chapter in particular is awesome. It’s a history the evolution of organizations through history. What I like about it is that it highlights both the strength and weakness of each new stage of organizations.

As I was reading about Amber-Conformist organizations (think strict hierarchical, big organizations) I had train of thought that I wanted to share, as I’ve during the last two years experienced much of those types of organizations myself.

My point here is that I’ve also seen residues of this kind of behavior in modern organizations. I think it can be useful to notice it and do something about it before it gets… nasty as we soon will see.

Read on ...

Speed up Jekyll site regeneration


I’m a happy Jekyll user since about 1 year ago. Really nice experience so far and the auto-hosting on GitHub is just an added bonus that lifts the joy a little more.

The only thing is that I have 1017 posts on this blog. When I write the posts, locally, Jekyll rerenders all of them. That takes up to 50 seconds.

I feel the need. The need for more speed.

Read on ...

Using the scientific method on our board


For quite some time I have been working with the management team of Rumah Sakit Bungsu in Bandung. It’s been quite a journey and I’ve learned a lot from doing so.

The last couple of months we have been trying a new approach to get better control in what we do and faster feedback on our actions. A couple of days ago it took flight and the director of the hospital just got it. It was so rewarding to see and hear in action.

In this post I wanted to present the way we are working. Right now I might add. Hopefully we do something else in the future.

Way in the bottom of this post you’ll find an summary should you find it long to read.

Read on ...

Me and my kidneys


Instead of posting this longish description in the social medias I thought I’d write it up here. That way it’s easier to refer people here instead.

Ordinary and casual readers of my blog, sorry. I’ll be right back with normal content in a few weeks. Thinking about doing a new series about writing a NuGet package in DNX-land, using my Mac…

TL;DR;

I’m in hospital. Again. From the same kidney infection since the last 3 weeks. I’m better this time but it’s a little bit serious and I need antibiotics twice a day for seven days.

How did this happen?

Most likely I have passed a small kidney stone or crystal. Doing so damaged my urine bladder and … piping (Yeah, I know these terms well. NOT!). At that same point I have got some bacteria that traveled to my kidneys.

How do you feel now?

I’m not too bad. Since I’ve been eating (broad spectra) antibiotics and pain killers all this time many of the symptoms are very weak. I’m tired and weak and some pain in the kidneys.

Are you ok with everything practical?

Yes. The only tricky part was the last 24 hours. That sorted. I’m in a good hospital and well treated.

We will be fine.

Read on ...

Making dynamic chart in Excel


It was quite some time since I wrote a How-to-post. Here’s an Excel-thing that I managed to solve today that’s been bothering me for a long time.

Here’s the scenario:

  • We have plenty of data point, one per day, counting something (really the number of patients per day but it can be anything). This is displayed in a diagram like the one above.
  • After 2 months this starts to get out of hand looking at and really we’re only interested in the last 30 days
  • Sometimes though it could be fun to see more data in one view

Basically we want the diagram to dynamically show the last 30 days (or any other number of days we fancy). Like a 30-day window backwards.

This post describes how to do that.

DISCLAIMER I have, for some stupid reason, a Swedish Excel installed. I have translated the formulas but some other names (like menus etc) might be off. Please bear with me.

Read on ...