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Posts Tagged ‘Christopher’

Great Service: Eat more chik’n!

Published by Christopher Daily on April 10th, 2013 - in Blog, Business Musings, IMO

chikinYou’ve seen the billboards when driving down the interstate: the two cows trying to get you to go to Chick-fil-A. However, don’t go to Chick-fil-A because of the billboard or the food. Go for the service.

Lets face it. A chicken sandwich is a chicken sandwich. How much can somebody do to make their sandwich better than the other guys?

Chick-fil-A takes a different approach. Their attitude seems to be “lets make it easy to do business with us.” The experience starts when they take your order. This was myfirst visit to a Chick-fil-A, so I was surprised when the lady who took my order told me she would bring the order out to me.  Not only did she deliver my order, but she also offered to get the sauces I wanted.  As I ate, managers stopped by, asking if I needed more ketchup or drink refills. Even the gentleman taking my tray of trash off of my table offered to get me a refill.

Even the drive up was an experience.  We all know how to get food through a drive-up.  You pull up, scan the menu, and hope you remember everything.  Usually, you find out when you get home that you forgot something.  I can’t tell you the number of times I have had to go back to TacoBell because they screwed up our order.  To improve the drive-up experience, the folks at Chick-fil-A have employees with menus and notepads so you can check out the the menu while you wait.  They will write down your order on a piece of paper so you don’t have to read it from memory.

 

20130321-122639.jpg

So, why am I writing about Chick-fil-A?  Because I don’t see service like this very often.  It certainly made an impression on me.  What kind of service do you provide?

Thanks for coming in today.

Chris

 

How do I start being “Agile”: Getting Started

Published by Christopher Daily on June 30th, 2011 - in Agile, Scrum, Software Development

I have been somewhat negligent in writing any Agile posts over the last few weeks.  I have been working with a development organization on an out of town coaching engagement.  The initiation phase is probably my least favorite time.  My doubts about myself and my abilities always seem to surface in my mind.  Will I be able to help this company?  Will they be willing to help themselves?  Do they really want to be Agile?  What kind of management support will we get?

As the engagement starts, most of these questions get answered fairly quickly.  Over the last week, I have developed the first version of the answer to most of the questions.  Various team members have been dropping by, introducing themselves, and then started telling me why they needed help.  Some of the conversations are 5 minutes, and a couple have gone 2 hours.

So back to the main point:  I have been asked ‘How do I start being “Agile”‘?

Many of you know that Agile is an umbrella term that represents a collection of development methodologies and frameworks that embrace the principles of the Agile Manifesto.  It includes such disciplines as Scrum(my favorite), Kanban, Crystal, Test Driven Development, and Extreme Programming.  However, in my opinion (IMO), Agile is really a state of mind.  To get started with Agile, you need to change how you think.

How I think? That continues to be the biggest challenge for me. I grew up professionally in a Command and Control structure. It started early when you followed the demand of your football coach yelling at you. It continued when I graduated to flipping burgers, and later developing soft are. We were told what to do and how to do it.  Most managers today got into management because they got tired of being told what to do.  I know I wanted to be the “Man”, giving orders to those below me.

Somewhere around the early 90′s I noticed a change. Successful mangers have been quietly moving away from C&C.

Transitioning to Agile brings this move front and center.  Moving to an Agile state of mind means that managers:

Let go of the perception that they are in charge.  In reality, you were never in charge, but you told everyone you were.

Support their Scrum teams by helping remove impediments and assisting in the prioritization of the backlog.

Be a cheerleader for your scrum teams. Be a chicken as they self-organize, but point out in one on one conversations when you see something good happen.

Listen to new ideas.  This is a tough one.  A lot of C&C managers believe people should just follow. They also believe they are smarter than everyone else. While that may be true, shut up and listen. Your team will surprise you.

Embrace the Agile Manifesto. If you read it, you will have to agree with it. It just makes sense.

Thanks for coming in today.
Chris

What? No Agile Backlog?

Published by Christopher Daily on June 25th, 2011 - in IMO, Scrum, Software Development

What do you do when you are winding down Sprint 1 and you find out your product backlog does not exist?  How does such a thing happen?

Well, it did happen to me.  I recently started a coaching assignment as the first sprint was winding down.  The team had formed and start the sprint with what it had estimated was enough scope to start the sprint. The Product Owner had just been identified and was in Scrum training. It never dawned on my to actually ask to see the backlog.  I just assumed one existed.  As panic started to set in, the Scrum Master listed the options in front of us.  He came up with:

  • Delay the start of the next sprint.
  • Start the sprint and fill in the backlog later.
  • Have the team work on some other items.

All three options had their own challenges, but had one common issue.  Granted, it was a big one:  Start the next sprint without a credible backlog or delaying the next sprint might put the whole transition to Scrum in jeopardy.

Luckily, the next production release date had not been communicated yet, which gave us some breathing room.

So, how did we overcome the impediment?  Sprint planning will start on time taking in a prioritized list of outstanding product defects.  The sprint timebox will be shortened from 4 weeks to 2 weeks, and a Kanban board will be used to pull the defects into the sprint.  The Scrum Master will ensure to have all of the rituals of Scrum, including the sprint planning, daily scrums, and the retrospective.  The team will be self-organizing, figuring out how and what they are going to accomplish.

While the team is conducting it’s sprint, the Product Owner and the Scrum Master will work together to establish and trim the product backlog in anticipation of the next sprint.

The sprint retrospective tomorrow will be interesting.  Let’s see if one of the items on the list to fix in the next sprint is to get the backlog groomed.

Thanks for coming in today.

Chris

Today was a big day for Chris Daily’s blog.

Published by Christopher Daily on May 20th, 2011 - in Blog, Business Musings, IMO

Up until today, my blog was hosted at wordpress.com.  Today, I moved it to my own hosted environment.  You will notice a different format, with different capabilities.  Over time, I will be adding additional features to improve the usability.  Thanks for your past and future support.  I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for coming in today.

Chris

What Scrum blogs do I read?

Published by Christopher Daily on May 6th, 2011 - in Scrum, Software Development

Over the last 2 years, I have become a voracious reader thanks, in no small part, to my treadmill and kindle/iPad. I retired my kindle about 10 months ago when the iPad came out. One device to play music and read. You can’t beat it. Enough of the Apple commercial. This morning, as I was doing my usual routine of imitating a gerbil on a habiwheel, I noticed that my list of blogs has grown quite lengthy. There is quite a variety of blogs that I try to go through every morning. The topics range from local news to my pastor to Seth Godin (not necessarily in that order). I thought I would share some of them with you over the course of the next few weeks to get your feedback on what blogs you might recommend.

As most of you know, I have been doing some reading, research, and working with Scrum. I wish I had more chances to use it, but trying to sell clients in the Midwest that thisRugbything is going to work is tough. I consistently read five notable blogs authored by Agile evangilists:

These is not a compete list, but it is a start. As I look at this, there are two blogs that I should add to the list: Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org (this is an RSS feed. I couldn’t find a blog).

Any suggestions on other blogs?

Thanks for coming in today.

Chris

Quote: Some people fear failure. I think you fear success.

Published by Christopher Daily on April 28th, 2011 - in Business Musings, IMO

Don’t you hate it when somebody makes a statement that just cuts right to the core? The quote “Some people fear failure. I think you fear success.” was actually a text message in a thread from my buddy, Jeff Dunn, and myself on April 20, 2011. As soon as I saw Jeff’s text, I immediately asked if I could use it.  It must be it hit so close to home with me.  As with most quotes, this one is applies to me part of the time. I respectfully disagree with Jeff in the context of the conversation thread, but there have been situations which I think I probably resemble that remark. 

As I think about Jeff’s text, I think we all fear failure. Before we go too far, we should probably get a definition for failure.  Wikipedia defines failure as “Failure refers to the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success.”

A couple of things jump out at me when I look at the Wikipedia definition.

  1. You have to intend to do something to be a failure or 
  2. You have to have an outcome that is not desirable.

With all the negative connations of failure, I would suggest failure is not a bad thing. Here’s why:  

  1. To fail you have to take action intending for a specific result.
  2. If you don’t take action, you can’t technically fail.

So, if you never try, you have not failed.   IMO, not trying is worse than failing.  Jeff, in this case, not doing anything is worse than failure.

Thanks for coming in today.
Chris

Being Agile(Scrum) in a PMI world!

Published by Christopher Daily on April 26th, 2011 - in Scrum, Software Development

Last week, my post about certifications (click here) created several spirited comments about the qualifications of Scrum.org.  My rationale for writing this post was I am a little concerned about which certifications, if any, to invest in.  This morning, my news reader picked up the following blog post (click here) from Ken Schwaber, who is credited as one of the founders of Scrum, Scrum.org, and Scrum Alliance.  If you are interested learning more about how the founder Scrum.org views the PMI Agile certification, you should take the time to check this post out.  BTW, I wish I would have thought of Ken’s title for his blog: Telling It Like It Is.  

I agree with Ken’s main points:

  • The manufacturing approach, which strives toward predictability, doesn’t work very well.
  • The proof of how a process or certification work will depend on the actual results.
  • The role of project manager has changed in the purists’ implementation of Scrum into the role of Scrum master.

It will be interesting to see what the PMI certification ultimately helps improve project success.  There will be a lot of debate on this topic. 

Thanks for coming in today.

Chris

Can’t we all just get along? Scrum.org vs. Scrum Alliance vs. PMI.

Published by Christopher Daily on April 20th, 2011 - in Scrum, Software Development

Am I the only one confused by the Scrum certification debate? I am trying to figure out whether my newly received Certified Scrum Master certification is worth the virtual piece of paper it is printed on. Let me summarize what is happening as I understand it. There are two main organizations that promote Scrum:

The Scrum Alliance’s mission is to increase awareness and understanding of Scrum, provide resources to individuals and organizations using Scrum, and promote the iterative improvement necessary to succeed with Scrum.

Scrum.org’s purpose is to improve the profession of software development so that developers love their work and our customers love working with developers.

These two organizations with Scrum and “.org” as their domain extension are arguing about who has the better means of certification. Scrum Alliance currently uses the “You pay to attend a class, take an evaluation that we evaluate but don’t consider your score, and you receive an email with a certification certificate. Scrum.org has two levels for the same Scrum master, with one being for those of us getting started, and one for the practitioner. The same is true for the Product Owner role as well.

The irony in these two organizations is that both organizations were formed with Ken Schwaber as one of the founding members. This is pertinent in that Ken is considered to be one of the founders of Scrum. Did Ken decide to take his ball and go home, or was he driven out of Scrum Alliance? Why did he leave? Was it really about the self-serving motives of those in Scrum Alliance driving Ken out? Who knows? How do we figure out which is best? Should we pursue both organizations?

I don’t know how much time and energy I want to invest in this process. I follow both Mike Cohn and Ken Schwaber’s blog. I have spent good money buying Mike’s books for my Kindle. I paid for my Ripple Rock CSM training personally, only to find out afterwards that there is another certification. Don’t get me wrong, I got a lot out of the training, which was delivered by Bob Sarni (who seems to be able to teach not only the principals but mixes in real world experiences as well.)

And if I wasn’t confused enough, I heard that the Project Management Institute (PMI) is going to have an Agile certification. By the time you get done spending all the money required for all the certs, you might have something north of $6k. My friend, Joey Cruz (at least he was last time I checked), reminds me every 5 years or so that certs don’t demonstrate that you are accomplished for that skill, but that you can take a test.

Which test you take is the question. Probably the more important question is why can’t we have one organization? The cost of becoming certified is expensive, especially if you are paying yourself.  Can’t we all get along, or does everybody have to create their own certification because every other cert is inferior? I am curious what the other certifiable people are going to do?  Please enter a comment on this blog letting me know which path you are going to pursue.

Thanks for coming in today.
Chris

Software Development Lifecycle, Fahgettaboutdit! Really????

Published by Christopher Daily on April 18th, 2011 - in Software Development

I made the following comments in response to an article about SDLC’s.  Here is the link: 

http://drdobbs.com/blogs/architecture-and-design/229401132

 Here is a summary of my comments:

I agree, sort of…………

Comment by Cndaily Apr 18, 2011, 13:58 PM EDT

 

I like your use of Amazon as a reference source. I did the same with my post, http://wp.me/p17Gqw-1X, which adds credibility to a position.

I agreed with your post for the most part until I got to the bottom. I think most of us would agree that documentation, rules, and process are not things on our Christmas list. What I don’t agree with is your ascertion that you can just hire passionate bright specialists and your problems will be solved. IMO, a reasonable level of documentation around an SDLC is needed for a development organization of about 10 or more. That need is usually generated by clients, new employees, and managers.

Your thoughts?

Thank god for unanswered prayers.

Published by Christopher Daily on April 18th, 2011 - in Business Musings, IMO

A picture out of my high school yearbook.Ok, so I stole the title of this post from a Garth Brooks song. While writing my obituary post last week, I spent some time reflecting on my life. Anyone reflecting on their life will come up with list of things they had wanted in their life. They may have even prayed for some of those to come true. I have a few of them that have stuck with me. The one that has stuck in my mind over the years was getting cut from my high school basketball team my senior year. At the time, I was devastated. I grew up in Indiana listening to the cleaning lady sing the IU fight song twice a week. I played for a high school coach who thought he was Bobby Knight.

I had done everything they had asked, and then some. Before the start of my senior year, I even took time off from a paying summer job to work free gratis at the coaches summer camp. I attended every “voluntary” workout. I would practice shooting late in the evening under the spotlights at home.

Yet, when it came time to have the final cut, I wasn’t on the list. I didn’t have the talent nor the right experiences. at first, I was devastated. I had always believed that, with hard work you could overcome anything. To that point, my philosophy had worked. Looking back, next to my three children and my wife, not making the team was the best thing that could have happened to me. Why:

  1. I got a chance to spend some time with my buddies Dale and Brian that I wouldn’t have gotten if I was on the team.
  2. I came to realize that I was not going to play collegiately. I was just a hard worker, not a talented athlete.
  3. I realized getting an education became more important than ever.
  4. I came to realize that even though I had worked hard, it wasn’t good enough.
  5. No matter how good I thought I was, a higher authority might think otherwise. Leave nothing to chance.
  6. My basketball game improved when I wasn’t fitting into a pre-defined role on a team by playing pickup games at the park or in University Gym at Ball State.
  7. I realized there are a bunch of jobs that I did not want to do the rest of my life. Some of them included shoveling pig manure, washing pots and pans, and saying “Welcome to Arby’s”.
  8. When life seems to not be going the way you want, you have to remember to keep breathing.

The song reference is campy. I admit it. You get my point though. I survived what I thought was a humiliating experience. I did so with the help of a couple of good friends and my parents. Unfulfilled wishes are not always as bad as they seem, but instead are opportunities for something better to happen.

I will carry this forward in my next post about Dave Dravechy.
Thanks for coming in today.
Chris

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