Friday, May 13, 2016

Why Kanban Doesn't Have Sprints. Agile Austin Lunch May 13, 2016

Thirty Agile Austiners attended a free lunch at Kasasa to discuss with value of time boxing a sprint.

What are benefits of timebox?
Predictability / Focus Priorities / Cadence / Estimation  / well documented, it comes in a box

 Problems with Timebox:
1.  If testing takes four days at the end of a sprint, what are the developers doing those last four days?
Timebox encourages crossfunctional team members; developers that test the last few days.  Is this the best use of their time?
2.  No room to do important bug fixes or building infrastructure.  Too much noise to estimate accurately.
3.  Have to do lots of padding for noise.
4.  Poor quality, and no refactoring, results from cramming something in at the last minute.
5. Timebox has a negative effect on morale, as a sprint is considered a failure if only 9 of 10 items were done.  When this goes on sprint after sprint morale suffers.  Then developers start to pad estimates which then starts to look excessive.

Kanban - one piece flow - watch a single work item carefully to see blockers
Kanban is flow based, Scrum is iteration based.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Photos from Agile Austin May 10, 2016 "Implementing Kanban at Drilling Info"

Jay Paulson from Drilling Info presented the history of Kanban at Drilling Info to 36 people.

My random notes:
Jay took all the Jira issues, put them on sticky notes, and posted them on a wall.  50 items were in QA.  The physical visibility surprised people.

Service Delivery Manager shepherds items through the system.

Four Principles of Kanban
Flow like water around the rocks of resistance
1. Start with what you do now
2 Agree to pursue evolutionary change
3 Initially respect current processes roles, responsibilities, and job titles
4. Encourage acts of leadership at every level in your organization from individual contributor to senior management.  Encourage feedback.

Jay used the getKanban board game
used physical and electronic tool (Rally)
Columns on Board:
Ideas / Robert / Acceptance / Grooming / Implementation / Demo / Release / Verify

Jay is writing

Little's Law Metric
Delivery Rate = WIP/LeadTime
Teams own their own process

David Anderson's book.

Daily Standup - team creates agenda, place for feedback, customer focus
Replenishment / Commitment Meeting  - part of Planning Session
Delivery Planning Meeting / Weekly
Risk Review - look at blocker to understand risks, review hidden risks, review WIP
Strategy Review / Quarterly - review metrics (lead time, quality, capacity)
Service Delivery Review - weekly
Operations Review / most important monthly meeting of all the managers

Recommended Books:
The Goal /
The Phoenix Project /
Kanban from the Inside by Mike Burrows
Actionable Agile Metric for Predictability by Vacanti

Highly measured process, Key Performance Indicators

Many agile projects fail from lack of discipline in developers.  Agile is not a silver bullet.  Developers need to be disciplined.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Sleep Number Bed Smells Bad When New

We love Sleep Number beds - the kind with an air bladder and remotes to get the right level of firmness.  Recently we bought two new ones for the kids.  But the smell of all the off-gassing of the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) was overwhelming for our highly allergic and sensitive family.

We left the mattresses in a spare room with the window open to air out for a few days without success.  They still reaked of plastic.  The smell was in the air bladders and was trapped inside the mattress covers.

I removed the inner bladders and hung them in the garage on some rope to air out.
Over the course of a few weeks the smell of plastic slowly died down.
I put the bladders back in the mattresses and they smelled fine.
We love our new Sleep Number beds now.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Agile Sig - How Yahoo! Embraced Automated Testing

Neil Manvar from Saucelabs who used to work at Yahoo! gave a very interesting presentation on how Yahoo! did QA to fifty people at PlanView.

My Notes::

150 people work at Yahoo! on mail.

Challenges at Yahoo Mail
Multiple browsers on multiple OSes
New browsers coming out
Right to Left languages
Terabytes of data

Used beta version of email internally even for personal mail so everyone a Yahoo tests new versions of email.

Manual testing just doesn't work its not reliable and not scalable

"developers are not bad people."
It's all about getting info back to the developers.

Marissa Mayers gave them 3 months to get framework in place for automated testing, no new features.

Continuous improvement
Pull requested need unit tests and selenium tests.

Ruby and Open Source ruby gems / Cucumber / Watir-webdriver (Selenium)

A build would fail if code coverage was not sufficient.  It had to run in 10 minutes.
256 unit tests run in parallel

He recommended the book "Leading the Transformation: Applying Agile and DevOps Principals at Scale" by Gary Gruver, Tommy Mouser

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

SQL Server Error: CREATE DATABASE failed. Some file names listed could not be created.

I recently installed Windows 10 under VMWare and added SQL Server Express to do some work with MVC5 using the default Entity Framework backend.

I kept getting this error:

Directory lookup for the file "c:\users\fincherm\documents\visual studio 2015\Projects\
failed with the operating system error 5(Access is denied.).
CREATE DATABASE failed. Some file names listed could not be created. Check related errors.

It turns out the problem was the identity of the SQLExpress service, "NT Service\MSSQL$SQLExpress"  did not have write permissions in the file system to create a database.  Adding "write" permission to that identity fixed the problem and now my MVC app works with SQL Server.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Photo from Agile Austin April 12 Managers talk about Agile

125 people attended the April meeting of Agile Austin at Kasasa.  A panel of experts answered preselected and on demand questions about Agile.

  • How to evaluate employees and managers?
Motivation?  Make sure employee knows what it takes to go to the next level.  Make sure employees "own" their problems.
Use a phone app to get feedback on employees and even meetings. 
 Give feedback all year round.

  • How to do interviewing and hiring?
It's important to have the whole team involved.  Don't hire anyone the team has doubts about.
Candidate must be technically adept.  Look for competence and humility.  And an ability to learn. 
If any interviewee answers "I don't know." is a good sign.
Look for someone who enjoys the work.
Look for good culture fit.  Establish values for your company and test your candidate for those qualities.
Look for motivation, desire to fix problems and to grow technically.
Ask candidate about their past process.  Look for enthusiasm or just rote description.
Ask candidate about best team they have worked with.  What makes a good team?
Try to find the culture they want to be in.
90% of time is human interaction, 10% is hands on keyboard.
Be honest with candidate about job environment.  Don't let salesperson in manager take over and gloss over the problems.
Do not get reactions about candidate in email or separately.  Get feedback in a group so they can bounce thoughts off each other.

  • How do Agile managers handle employee issues?
How to handle employees with significant life problems like death in family, illness.
Be a servant leader.
You don't have to have the right answers.

How to handle team conflicts?  You want them to take ownership if possible.  If not, bring awareness through one-on-one.  Healthy teams do have meaningful debates in an atmosphere of trust.

In the old school it was the manager's task to fix problems, now the team needs to take ownership, define the problem, and fix it.

  • How to retain great teams?  How to foster team satisfaction?
Show appreciate to team members.  A little appreciation goes a long way.   It's a matter of continually checking in with each individual and seeing how they are doing.

What do employees want the most?  They like to feel like they are contributing to the organization.
Show your programmers customers using their software. 
People don't like to deal with the same problems.  If an employee tells you about an issue they cannot fix, you need to solve it.

  • How to balance business needs with the needs of forming an agile team?   
Be honest, if company is struggling tell the team.

What big fails have you had as a manager that you learned from?
Focusing too much on process without the principles.  If execs don't understand Agile principles, it's a recipe for disaster.
Not releasing a product for review even if it's not a minimal usable product.
Not firing someone early.

  • How have you changed from managing an Agile team?
Learn to let other people fix their problems.
Letting go and let the team make decisions.
I don't have to know what everyone is doing all the time.
Having patience that it will all work out.
Learn to take my hands off the steering wheel.

Monday, March 28, 2016

How to install aspell for emacs on a macbook

Recently I bought a shiny new macbook and needed to install "aspell" for emacs.  Here's the way I did this:

1.  First install Homebrew, the missing package manager for the mac.  The hardest part is the arcane license acceptance bit.  In a console window enter:

sudo xcodebuild -license
/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

2. Then install "aspell" into the "/usr/local/bin" by entering this command:

brew install aspell --with-lang-en

3.  In your .emacs file add the code to link this all together:

(setq-default ispell-program-name "aspell")
(add-to-list 'exec-path "/usr/local/bin")

4. Enjoy.