Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lean Coffee.

I first experienced Lean Coffee at Oredev 2011 in Malmo. I was introduced to Lean coffee by Jim Benson (Author of the famous book – Personal KANBAN). One morning we had Lean Coffee with some awesome bunch of people including Jim, Marcus Hammarberg and Joakim Sunden. My bad I forget many other names. ☺

Thinking back, I wonder what really motivated me to participate this lean coffee session at 7.30 in the morning? I had no obligation to do this.
I can think of 3 reasons;
1. I was curious about it and wanted to learn what lean coffee means.
2. No one pushed me to do so (therefore I couldn’t make the excuse “oh that’s way too early ☺” )
3. People around me inspired me; I knew I could have had a good discussion with some knowledgeable people I met there.

But I didn’t have an agenda sent to me. What are they going to do in this lean coffee meeting? The interesting thing is, because I didn’t have an agenda I couldn’t find the items which I think are boring to me, or I couldn’t find faults with the agenda. :). I couldn’t set my expectations out of this meeting in advance either.. Hmm… Interesting.. definitely I wanted to see what this was all about.

The Technique was very simple. We make a usual KABNAN chart and keep it on the coffee table. As usual this has 3 columns, Stack, WIP, Done. We had loads of sticky notes and coffee too. This was a very causal gathering and the whole set up made everyone feel free and comfortable.

Jim became the facilitator; he asked all of us to write something what we wanted to talk about in a sticky note. We all did so within 2-3 mins. Then we pasted our sticky notes to the stack column on the KANBAN sheet. ( Remember 1 note for 1 topic)

It was the time to vote. He asked each of us to vote 2 notes in the stack. (What we tried to achieve here is the democracy, we got to talk about whats useful to the majority not to a single person. At the same time, by considering the votes we could find the topics, which most the people can talk about freely. We voted for a particular topic because not only we can learn about them, but because we loved to talk about them too.)

Once voted, the facilitator moved the most voted 3 stickies to the WIP column (WIP is limited and the work flow is visible). It was time to start talking about them.

First note: The person who wrote the note described what he meant about it. Then someone else in the group started talking about that and added his idea to the topic, once he finished another person in the group added his 2 cents. Likewise we all talked about the topic we picked,. I saw lots of insights and great ideas adding to the discussion. We didn’t talk cos we had to defend our poker card or because it was mandatory to talk. We talked about the topic and added our thinking because we found the discussion was helpful and inspiring.

One person in the group noted that we have been discussing about the first topic almost for 3o mins. So the facilitator asked whether we want to continue or to stop it or whether we don’t care if its continued or stopped. Most the people signed that they want to stop the topic now and move to next one. So likewise we managed to discuss 2 topics we voted before finishing the lean coffee in order to attend to the conference sessions.

This was very simple, but the level of energy flowing through the meeting amazed me. I was surprised about the amount of information we managed to dig during such a short time about those 2 topics we discussed. I didn’t have agendas or expectations set in advanced, but I felt its time well spent with some knowledgeable passionate people.

I got to know that there are good lean coffee sessions happening among Lean enthusiastic people in Seattle, Sydney and many other cities…

Here you can find about Seattle Lean Coffee sessions:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

After Oredev 2011


Now in Stockholm, 2 AM in the morning, still jetlagged, thanks to hotel wifi and my MacBook I don’t feel lonely to death :)

Last week was so technicolor and surrounded by hundreds of geeks and freaks. Pieces of memories are still buzzing in my head, Oredev is one of the best conferences Ive ever been to. You will understand what Im talking about if you just check twitter for #Oredev

I reached Malmo on Monday, as usual another 20 hours long trip from Sri Lanka.

1st day was so boring to me, I didn’t know anyone around.. in fact no one was around to see :). I was not in mood to go to Sauna event or to the dinner at night. So as usual I did my favorite task in Scandinavia.. that’s “sleeping for 13 hours”

When I went to have my breakfast on Tuesday morning, I saw some of the speakers there, So I fell in to conversation with @testertested, @arungupta from Oracle and few others. We had a brief discussion about our markets in general.

A short introduction to Malmo was good for any 1st time visitor. I met few other speakers and the week stared to happen from there.

The speaker dinner was glamorous, wish if I had a camera with me, but I found this video done by @yfrog. see that here. http://yfrog.com/0nlhobz. This beautiful place is a 500 years old building as explained by the Mayor of Malmo. In this video Im next to @ourfounder and covered to some people J

On Wednesday, the conference started officially. I enjoyed the keynote by Alexis Ohanian ( “only your mom visit your website”) the co-founder of reddit. It was an awsome speech by such a young professional with loads of humor, the passion he has in him is unbelievable.

I attended three sessions on Wednesday: the presentations by Jean Tabaka at Rally Software, Patrick Kua at thoughtworks and Potia Tung. I enjoyed pairing exercise by Doc (@athought) a lot.

I was to go to dinner with a group of speakers that day night, but I was bit pressured with my talk to be done on the next day, as well as Peter (from Exilesoft Sweden) had a lot to catch-up with me. So I decided not to go out at night.

During the morning hours on Thursday, I spent time for preparing my talk. After lunch I attended to Jean Tabaka’s another session “Golden circle” where she presented many slides about agile adoption @ Cochlear Australia. She used pictures of @rrottier and his colleague’s speech at agile conference in Australia.

The session before mine was done by Jeff Patton and he discussed many interesting points about todays fake agile practices.

Here comes my turn….. Im in the stage, in front of a room full of audience.. I remembered to breath as I thought that will take my breath away, then I started to have all the fun as I never thought before…

My session was focused on team collaboration in distributed environment; I made it a point to be focused on my experience with Scandinavian context with distributed teams in Sri Lanka. (This is my day to day life at Exilesoft), so I think the audience managed to relate it with their experience better and I managed to be so relaxed in the stage as never before. I structured my presentation based following 5 aspects;

1. Talent distribution is the number one reason to use distributed teams.

2. Arguments about complexities based on geographical zones are subjective to their own experiences.

3. Agile adoption and feature teams in highly integrated environments help to avoid most the traditional issue in the context, but introduce some new challenges.

4. There are good people everywhere, if we have the right way and attitude to work with them, they will work if not they cannot.

5. Faking agile is the worst thing one can do when dealing with distributed teams; it adds loads of confusion to all the parties.

I used a case study to model distributed teams in various ways such as component teams, knowledge teams and feature teams. ( 2 min is given to the audience to think through their solutions too). Then I spoke about few other aspects such as project initiation when using distributed teams, culture aspect, high expectations of commonsense, employee retention issues when the work is not interested and the relationships become sour, Layers of trust and the danger of building trust based on the facts which doesn’t exists (OP: check the code by yourself) and importance of collocation and AAR.

I shouldn’t have stopped talking, but the coordinator signaled me and said that there is only 5 min left. So I had to stop there. J

I like the feedback I got and the questions thrown to me. Im so happy to see one of the tweet about my talk on the twitter canvas by @imagethink.

Thanks to Oredev for donating money to children in Africa behalf of me talking at Oredev. As per most the speakers, this is the best thing you guys did.

Friday Morning lean coffee was really interesting. I think this is something I need to try out with my colleagues at Exilesoft.

I liked the Healthy projects by Jim ( @outfounder : the author of personal KANBAN and many other books) and Dan’s(@tastapod) session about patterns was really interesting, I couldn’t stop laughing throughout his session. I didn’t like the fact I missed his keynote.

I enjoyed the closing keynote by Amber Case about the future of interfaces.

Friday night we had a good dinner and so much fun with some of the speakers.

My overall takeaway points from the sessions I participated:

1. Its time to think towards user experiences and interactions in new ways, or we will be obsolete with our products.

2. BDD and agile testing: lot more to learn.

3. Rally software organization wide agile adoption, Need to think through how we can relate with it.

4. Future of scrum seems to be blur. Software professionals have started to hate scrum due to organizations adopting to rules of scrum but not the real agile values.. values without scrum has become a pain to most the people. Everyone sounded very enthusiastic about KANBAN as it promotes agile/lean values within itself.

5. Most the Scandinavian IT professionals are very passionate about what they do and they read a lot. This is what we need to encourage within our offshore teams to make them good teammates with each other.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My thoughts on PMI agile ( PMI-ACP )


When I first heard of PMI agile, I was really skeptical about it. I never thought I would explore it. My initial thought was, how much agile PMI can be?.. I’m sure I’m not alone; there are many others who thought the same, or may be still thinking the same.

When Dave discussed with me about the upcoming ACP+ CSM class we were to teach together in NY, was the first time I got any interest to walk through the PMI agile course content. When I read the content, I was impressed. They have thought of so many aspects to agile engineering and agile in general.

About the Exam:

As usual, Tools and Techniques cover 50% of the exam. These tools and Techniques are divided in to10 different knowledge areas. Rest of the 50% is allocated for the candidate’s knowledge and skills in agile project context, covering 3 levels based on importance.

When I read the content in detail, I can see that it covers lots of stuff, which we should know when we do agile engineering. It talks about many practical aspects including agile modeling, story mapping, estimation techniques and even EVM and ROI calculations in agile context. It’s pretty detail. these materials are available at PMI site.

However, these are my concerns;

1 . In a CSM class, No one can fail the assessment, so the class is not conducted to aim for grades but to learn the concepts. I know almost all CSTs are very keen on transferring basic agile concepts to their students. But looking at the nature of PMI exams, if PMI agile learning hours focuses on teaching tools and techniques to the candidates to score pass marks, then the whole concept of agile will be lost. In that case, how many ACPs will be truly passionate about agile will be a question. In the worst-case scenario, they will be learning to pass the exam but not to practice agile. This has a greater risk in South Asia where there is a highly certification-focused culture.

2. Who is going to conduct these classes? There are only very few CSTs available, so I’m sure PMI will allow PMP trainers to do PMI agile courses ( may be Im wrong, Im not very clear about the eligibility criteria yet), but some of the PMP trainers may haven't really experienced agile or seen the value of agile to teach agile. If they are going to read a book and teach agile without any practical experience that’s going to be a disaster.

3. How rigid the exam questions can be in an agile exam? That’s another aspect to think through when preparing ACP examination questions. Examiners may need to bring up more concepts in to test rather than the theory, which can be learned by reading the course content.

Of course there are prerequisites to take up the ACP exam. This requires sufficient work experience in doing agile projects. I only wish the candidates will follow the protocols instead using workarounds to complete the eligibility criteria.

During last 2 weeks, I met many people who talked about PMI agile. They all had their own opinions about PMI going agile. Following are some of the points I gathered from these small talks:)

Positive points;

1. Many agreed that It’s a good move. PMI is known by every part of the world, but agile alliance is not so big as yet outside USA. Therefore this is a good move to bring agile in to a vast community.

2. Some said that they would never consider doing anything with PMI if not ACP

3. Many agreed that collaborating with PMI, Agile alliance would achieve its vision by changing the way that people work.

4. Some of the PMI folks also mentioned that it’s a good move at the right time. Many large enterprises are moving towards agile, if PMI doesn’t collaborate, it could have been much more difficult for them.

5. I heard some comments from real enterprise project managers that their techies get in to agile and talk more about agile nowadays, so ACP will help them to bridge the gap.

Negative thoughts were;

Some saw ACP as mainly a money making effort by Just introducing another certification while some agile folks thought that ACP may kill the whole concept of agile and there will be a hardcore new agile group to come up soon.

My personal view is, that PMI getting in to agile is a good move., specially when it comes to enterprise level, it will add loads of value, but that all depends how PMI may execute this courses/Exams and its yet to be found-out. I see a good trend towards ACP already; there will be lots of registered candidates for the exams starting from next month onward. I may do the same.

However, I really enjoyed doing our CSM/PMI Agile class in NY with Dave and some really cool 19 participants (most are PMPs) from various industries. Co-Training with an experienced CST was an amazing opportunity to improve my training skills. It was an exhausting exercise to cover-up most the stuff in 3 days. But we had lots of learning and fun. (Thanks to them for criticizing my white board skills so badly, every time I go in-front of the white board I remember you guys :) I really enjoy this group's enthusiasm on agile after taking this class, this group even started a new LinkedIn group to discuss matters among peers. I think they got the concept right; agile is all about sharing, learning and adapting.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Graffiti by Geeks


This is taken from Exilesoft Lunch room. How creative our geeks can be? .. they can scribble when ever they want to..Paint buckets are placed there for them.. I love this office... But I wish none of you will spot my spot on this wall.. :) Do you think this is a good stress relief activity ?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Agile 2011 – Salt Lake City


Back from agile 2o11, long flight back home and still I cannot sleep. I think I’m seriously jet lagged or tired. So I thought to write a small note on what I’ve experienced.
I like the venue, the hotel Grand America and Little America. It’s an extremely nice place. Salt Lake City was a very nice place to cruise around after the sessions with lots of local bars, restaurants and unforgettable local coffee places.

The conference organizers mentioned that there were 1600 attendees from 48 countries around the world this year. Of course it’s huge. Organizing a conference in this scale could have been really hard work.

Talking about the main part, the sessions:
I honestly think the number of parallel sessions could have been lesser than what we had this year. In most the sessions I noticed that there were very minimal attendees, the rooms were empty. By reducing the sessions, they could maintain the quality of the sessions too. Still I know some may not agree with me, as there are more options and topics, attendees will have a better choice to make.
I enjoyed all most all the sessions I attended, there were quite lots of useful things to learn. Most sessions were very interactive. Looking at some of the sessions, I still feel its better if they try to go deeper in to the subject matters instead discussing the problems what everybody knows about, because the agile users have matured over the years. I felt this in some of the sessions such as performance appraisals and agile coaching. This is something that review committees should discuss next year.
Incremental budgeting was one of the sessions I really expected to turn out well.
As a general comment from attendees, what I heard was that the technical sessions delivered met the expectations of the attendees compared to the sessions of the management track. Still, agile contracts and agile decisions were some of the good ones that I attended in the management track.

My session this year was about KANBAN and use of it in the organizational facilitating functions such as HR department. Its an experience stage presentation, so most the work had to be done before the conference. The paper is published in IEEE and it’s included in the conference CD with loads of other conference papers. Actually there are pretty good papers I spotted in this CD, I need more time to read them.

One of the highlights this year was 10-year anniversary of the signing of the Agile Manifesto "Park Bench" event where most of the original signatories presented in one stage, answering the questions from the attendees. I think that was an inspiring moment to agile enthusiastic.

I enjoyed the round table discussion by agile thought leaders. Once again I got the opportunity to enjoy listening to Dave West, a speaker I admire the most. His true passion, natural style and humor makes him an awesome speaker (that’s my personal view anyway :) ) However thanks to the lady who asked the question about their new research areas, I heard a lot of new stuff which I need to Google and learn more. What excited me the most was to know that use of agile in operational management was one of the new research areas they do (they mentioned some acronym which I cannot remember) My experience report this time was related to that, may be I need to work more on the same paper and practice it for one more year to advance it to the next conference. I don’t know.. Its just a thought..
Out of all 3 key note speeches, I managed to listen to only one which is about psychology: positive thinking.

Conference party was quite a nice experience. I think most the attendees had lots of fun.

I heard there were some really cool sessions in open Jam, one of it has been to present a technique to learn foreign languages without using translations, I wish if I could be in the session, but thankful to my friend who taught me about the technique later. I wish if I could catch up Norwegian language a bit using the same technique.

Using the conference for marketing activities has tremendously increased from last year to this year. Sometimes some of the agile coaches overselling themselves were quite disturbing.

Anyway it was a great conference. This is where I really absorb energy by meeting lots of passionate and enthusiastic people. I really enjoy it. I heard that next year conference chair is Mitch Lacey, Im sure he will do a great job and I look forward to agile 2012 in Texas.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Agile Project Management (CSM / PMI Agile)


This 3-day intensive workshop provides instructions on the key areas necessary to take on the role of leading or participating in teams utilizing Scrum and Agile. The session will cover the Scrum framework as defined by Scrum Alliance and include a review the material defined by the Project Management Institute’s PMI Agile Certification Examination Content Outline. The material will be presented through lecture, group discussion of case studies, and group exercises. Successful completion of this workshop will satisfy the requirements necessary to apply for Scrum Master Certification as well as the provide attendees with the Agile training hours required for the PMI Agile Certification Exam.

The course will be faciliated by Dave Prior, CST, PMP and Thushara Wijewardena, CSM, PMP

Participants who successfully complete this course will:

  • Understand the dynamics of the Scrum framework and how to make use of the practices necessary to realize the benefits of an Agile approach
  • Understand how to begin developing a plan to implement Scrum in their current work environment
  • Understand the differences between Agile and a traditional “waterfall” approach to leading projects
  • Understand the basic differences that are necessary in leadership style when managing projects using Scrum as opposed to a traditional approach
  • Understand the structure PMI has defined for their Agile Certification Exam
  • Understand key Tools and Techniques defined by PMI for their Agile Certification Exam
  • Understand the Knowledge and Skills defined by PMI for their Agile Certification Exam
  • Understand the Domains and Tasks defined by PMI for their Agile Certification Exam
  • Meet the requirements for Certified Scrum Master
  • Meet the training requirements for PMI Agile Certification

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Lecture in Stockholm


Sunday, March 06, 2011

Just a short update ...

I realized that its been a while and Ive not posted anything to the blog. Sorry for that, simply I was too tired to think or to write anything new due to many things happened lately.

After Exilesoft acquired Teamwork Technologies in Jan, the biggest challenge we’ve got is to merge 2 project offices with 2 different work cultures, project models and even new markets. Working towards building one agile project model across the new project office is interesting, still very much challenging. There are many aspects to it, such as

1. Change of thinking process

2. Time to build trust between each other in such merger( new colleagues and existing colleagues / with sales offices and new customers)

3. Effort involved in getting our new sales offices to buy in to agile models which were quite different to their existing sales model ( and doing it for the right reason, otherwise it will be really messy)

4. Level of agile maturity needed to be achieved by the staff and across the new organization.

5. Establishing agile Engineering practices across technical teams

......And many other.. More than anything..... the biggest challenge is to prove some clear benefit to techies, to the customers, to the management and to the sales offices of such transition. This will take lots of effort and time. Still I’m sure I will have stuff for a book when that’s achieved :)

I’m happy that we got a really good team working towards such exhausting, but interesting exercise for everyone.

Other than this extremely busy day today office life, there were few things I’ve been doing.. The paper I submitted to agile 2011 is now selected to present. Which is the biggest achievement of the year so far.. Ive got a very experienced “Shepherd” to help me with it (He works for MacAfee and expect to learn a lot from him) . Thanks to the stage producers for that.

I was planning to do PgMP this year .. still I couldn’t spend any quality time on that. So Im not too sure where I stand with it.

Further @mrsungo is working on some exciting stuff which I hope to participate in New York, on my way to Salt Lake city in August. That’s going to be an excellent experience to me.
So .. its all going good..Will post some interesting stuff soon ! :)

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