Requirements are not problem/opportunity descriptions

A few weeks back a team mate, developer and agile dude extraordinare, said something profound:

I’m used to people coming to me with problems they need solved. Not solutions.

It was in a backlog grooming meeting and we were discussing if the item was ready for the development team to start to work on or not. It was. Well and ready. But the people writing the requirements felt that it was not worked through enough.

At the time I just giggled a little about this but it got me thinking and herein lies the heart in how the work with a backlog changes when you start to “do agile” or work in shorter releases.

I’m reading Jeff Pattons awesome book User Story Mapping and it’s full of learnings on close to every page. In one episode mr Patton retells the events when he...

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Developer failure

I got a request by a nice man call Brandon Garlock to share some failure of mine. My contribution will be part of a:

collection of stories about experienced and established developers (such as yourself) and the failures, setbacks and hurdles they overcame over the course of their careers. It will serve as an educational guide, motivation and reference for burgeoning programmers as they learn their craft.

You can read more about the project at

That sounds both fun, worthy and useful. And I’m very honored to be part of the story. Any experienced developer will tell you that the greatest learning came from overcoming, maybe not always doing, great hurdles.

I asked Brandon if I could share my story on this blog, as that how I mostly write stuff, and he kindly agreed.

At the time of this story was a young developer...

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Flow or value - what is it, Marcus?!

This post could be summaried as you summaries an argument among kids; and then he said, so I replied, and then she went, and I’m like SAY WAAAHHAT?! but also hmmmmm… and then I went back home and asked a few friends and then I went Aaaaaah!

And then I learned something deeper of what I until that point only was a belief.

The last week I was in a lively and good discussion, again, about user stories and value. I think user stories often is misused as just another tool to write requirements in.

Also we discussed that flow is something that we really should strive for, but to what extent? Over value?!

As often, for me at least, it took a few days to think this through. That and some excellent help from some friends and tweeps.

I’ve been proposing, and we have celebrated great...

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Our fear of forgetting important things

The last couple of weeks an old “friend” has made it’s appearance; fear. This time it is a special kind of fear that I’ve seen many times in organisations that started their agile journey: the fear of forgetting important things.

In this post I wanted to rant talk a little bit about that just as a concept and then give a few pointers and indicators on what you can do to get rid of that fear.

What’s with this fear really?

Often this particular fear manifest itself by very long lists of work not done, or backlogs that just goes on and on. I’ve seen list of more than 500 items, some of them more than 3 years old.

And yes - they are all important. Prioritized but important.

We don’t want to loose it

Often when I ask about why we should keep it on...

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Some simple changes for flow that made a world of a difference

When I started my current gig about 3 months ago the tension around releasing was tremendously high. Also we had failed the last couple of releases resulting in even worse relationships with our customer and messy rollback handling and procedures.

We have now done three very simple changes in our process and technology that made a big difference for us and for the relationship with our customer; ditch iterations, shorten release cycles and feature toggling.

In this post I wanted to tell you a little bit around how we did those and the benefits it had for us.

Ditching iterations

When I started the project the teams where working in sprints of two weeks, and releasing to production after 3 sprints; making a release every 6 weeks. Naturally each release contained quite a lot of new functionality and the “stakes” of failing the release was also quite...

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Claudia 1.2 - some updates that made me want to write a post

I downloaded a new markdown editor called Typora that looks amazing. Now I just wanted to try it out, and needed something to write about.

Also I’ve noticed that Claudia has come out with some new releases and that AWS Lamdba now supports Node 4.3.2 - which is awesome.

This post gave an opportunity to fix both itches above in one go. So this is an updated “Get started with Claudia JS for AWS Lambda”-post.

Setting up AWS Lambda

This is very much like before, see my previous post on the subject

Get your nodes corrected

You might need to up/down-grade the version of Node that you are using. I like the nvm tool for this. Once install you can get the version of Node that AWS Lambda supports with:

nvm install v4.3.2 

Just wait a...

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Flow manager - is that me?

At my current client I don’t have a role name. Or rather I do but that’s not what I do, nor what I am there to do. It struck me that I have had this problem before. Many times.

Here’s some way it manifests itself:

I’m not “development manager” that some people call me. I have no formal authority, no staff and no budget. And I have responsibilities that stretches over the development team.

I’m not scrum master that is the fall-back term for anything that is around agile and doesn’t fit the normal organizational scheme. However none of our teams work with scrum and i’ve not worked with scrum for at least 6 years. I’m also pro-flow-based processes rather than iteration-based.

I’m not a agile coach since that’s a term that I barely myself understand what it means. I don’t want to be a coach to make people more...

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Frequent releases and no urge to finish

Yesterday we had a couple of very interesting discussions in the team, that got me thinking on being clearer around the purpose of kanban.

In this team we have made a lot of changes lately to try to improve our lead times and throughput. One simple thing that we changed and that made a significant improvement was to simply release more frequently. When I first arrived here the releases were done every 6 weeks. Going to every 4 was just a simple change, and increasing frequency to ever 2 weeks was a very natural next step that no one objected to either.

But then a question came…

There's no urge to finish stuff now. With this frequent releases stuff will never get done

This puzzled me for awhile but then I realized that it was a worry about a reasoning like this: well... well... that feature...

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What are you optimized for then?

I was in a couple of very interesting discussions yesterday, through the mean of a SAFe course. Just sitting in the room with your peers and stakeholders, off-site, discussing how to work more effectively is really powerful - it turns out.

“Who knew?”, he exclaimed with some irony in his voice but still some hope and joy.

Ok, in our discussion I, again, ran into the point where I simply don’t understand the reason for organization your company in a certain way.

I just have to write this down, and see if it becomes clearer for me. You can read it too if you want.

Value streams

We talked a lot about flow and that often our current organizational setup makes flow harder, but the penny dropped around this problem statement when we came to speak about value streams.

I have to say that it’s...

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Thoughts after a SAFe course

I’ve been on a SAFe course. I was very interested, because like many people I’ve heard much about this, had opinions on it but haven’t experienced it first hand.

The context of the training was that it was given for my client. Not as “let’s get started with SAFe” but rather to align and give us all a common understanding on nomenclature and concepts.

I wanted to share a few thoughts in this post. If you were looking (or hoping) for a SAFe-bashing by a Kanbanista… Sorry - I’m not that guy. I’m also in way too good mood to bash anything right now.

The course

Your first time learning something has much to do with the teacher. I was in the expert hands of Carl Vikman that both were very knowledgeable, had a pleasant way and most importantly understood the main reason for...

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