How we agile - principle-led & context-dependent

Agile is soon (?) to be forgotten and ditched like yesterdays clothes if you ask some agilistas that I follow. I think the reason is that we have watered down the meaning of the concept by applying the name to more and more un-agile things. Soon we will be able to become agile without letting its ideas and principles changing a thing about what we do or how we act. Because agile is just some simple, yet powerful, ideas - originally described in the Agile Manifesto.

I yesterday posted the following at twitter:

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Autonomous does not mean isolated

I wanted to write a short little post on a misunderstanding and confusion that pops up once you start to create cross-functional teams;

Autonomous doesn’t mean isolated

If you draw pictures like this, from another post, is very easy to see where this confusion stems from

A few cross functional teams

There are boxes with solid lines that sends the message that the different teams in this picture have very little to do with each other. And it doesn’t get better by people like me asking each team to set up goals for themselves and talking about breaking their work out into separate, discrete parts in the spirit of Conway’s law.

We can very easily get the feeling that these teams should have as little as possible to do with each other.

But let’s examine that word again; autonomous (team):

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Reflection on a daily retrospectives

I have created a course, a boot camp to teach people to become programmers in 12 weeks. It’s quite amazing and you should apply if you want to change career. Check out Salt - School of applied technology

Obviously, that cannot be done. But we do it anyway. And we succeed - we get rave feedback from the places where our awesome students are working.

There are a few ingredients to the successes; people being highly motivated (I can write books about that) and mob programming are two of them.

But in this post, I wanted to write about something that I think stood out for me after observing 3 classes in a row now. And it’s something that you can do and get a lot out of too.

Memory lane

I think (hope) that everyone has a favorite teacher that they remember from their early...

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The consequences of prioritizing

Been talking a lot about the consequences of prioritizing today at my client. And about psycological safety

This excellent story that Staffan introduced me too, came to mind. (I’ll summarize it below - this is just an intro, to get you to read on)

And I came to think about how the consequences of prioritizing one thing over others, often end up becoming blame for the team. When it really should be praise…

The Story

The Warren Buffet story goes something like this: Mr Buffet asks his pilot to list his top 25 career goals. He does and returns to Mr Buffet only to get another request: Now please circle the 5 items on that list. This is, of course, tricky but after some time he comes back. Mr Buffet now ask his pilot: What are you going to do with the...

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KanbanStats - an average improvement

Reading books is awesome - because it changes how you see and think about the world. I’m an avid reader and a non-recovering learn-o-holic.

I read a great book the other week - When Will It Be Done by Dan Vacanti and it changed how I saw the world a bit. I wrote a whole array of blog posts on process metrics and now Mr Vacanti threw some of it on its head.

Not that much when you think about it, but enough for me to want to correct myself with this new knowledge.

It all has to do with averages…

What I got wrong

In his book, Dan Vacanti is actually referring to another book called “The Flaw of Averages” by Sam L. Savage. I have not read that yet, but the gist of it is: average is a pretty misleading fact...

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The Kondo software quality index

Before I start I want to give credit where credit is due:

One of the things that I love most about being a consultant is all the amazing people I get to meet at my different client; brilliant, fun and experienced-oozing people that I don’t see or meet online or at conferences. They are out there. Scott Hanselman calls them Dark Matter Developers.

This blog is sparked from one of them; Yngve! Thanks!

At this client (where Yngve works as an infrastructure architect) we were struggling to measure software quality. The teams felt like they never got the time to take care of technical issues that have been lying around forever, that they were forced to tack on “yet another new feature” and that we had no good way to communicate this.

We needed a quick way to measure and track this - such as our non-technical coworkers...

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Scaling agile - up or out

Friend: So in short - they too need to scale their agile initative.

Marcus: Oh - cool! Up or out?

Scaling agile has to be the term that I’ve seen most discussions, posts, comments and conversations about the last couple of years.

And Google seems to agree - it at is peak or going there right now.

But very seldom I’ve heard an explanation to what kind of scaling that is meant: do you want to scale up or scale out? My guess is that many times people talking about scaling agile mean scaling UP but worse I think that most times we have not decided. That is not really wise because it’s two very different problems to solve.

In this post, I wanted to reason a bit about those tradeoffs.


The distiction between scaling up and scaling out is something...

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Principles and practices, guilds and cross-functional teams

I have been involved in many organisational changes that turn the organisation sideways. From functional departments to cross-functional teams, from projects and completing activities to continuous delivery and focus on reaching effects.

Just about always this creates some initial confusion around where decisions get made and how the old ways fit into the new. Quite often worry about chaos break out.

For example;

Who is in charge of the overarching architecture, now that each team is deciding everything by themselves?

I realize that I’ve done a bad job describing how this is going to work. The other week I found myself describing this with a pretty simple model that I wanted to share.


I’m pretty sure this is not news at all and I’m making a pale copy of something brilliant. But … it’s my copy and I’m standing by it.



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Tags, markers and behaviour it drives on the board

I just had a conversation with a client that I keep coming back to. It has to do with how we are using electronic systems that manager our work, for example JIRA and TFS.

I needed something to refer back to and I hope that you can get something out of me writing this down.

In this particular case the question was very straight-forward:

I think we are overusing the tag ‘Need investigation’

My question back was simple:

How is that tag going to change your behaviour?

Because it should, right? We are putting this tag on the item for some reason. Needs investigation - we should investigate then, I hope. The tagging feature, that we use in many electronic tools, would be some kind of marker on a physical board. A magnet or turning the card sideways, or what have you....

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The things I (we) worry about in vain

Although I often preach about embracing uncertainty and sometimes get comments about always being calm… despite that; I worry. As do we all.

But sometimes, in rare moments of clarity, I have the opportunity to stop and reflect over the what I am worried about. It just about always brings me to the realization that I worry in vain.

Let me share three things in particular, that I have worried about lately. That gave me nothing but more worry.

HOW problems are solved

One of the things that I come back to very often nowadays is that we need to let the people closest to the information decided HOW to solve a problem, or handle an opportunity. They know better, best even, HOW to act and also can change their ways faster if they are given new information.

This is why we focus on the OUTCOMEs a...

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