Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Links to Web-Resources on Agile

I gathered a list of web resources on Agile, especially Scrum and Evo, for a friend of mine. Far from complete!
You can access it here:



Friday, July 09, 2010

The Power of the Prototype-Refine-Cycle

Ted has another brilliant short (6:30 min) video from Tom Wujec. It shows two remarkable insights into design:

  • The power of building things evolutionarily
  • The power of having someone on the team who understands process

See for yourself:

Nice, ain't it? Let's go for more Ta-Da! moments.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Praise! Use numbers to show quality impact.

I just stumbled upon a very nice blog entry by Fergal McGovern of Visible Thread. It is about my article on "Extreme Inspections". Fergal appreciates that I showed ROI figures:
What was doubly exciting for me in this article is that you see the actual ROI of inspection in clear terms. Utilising the approach of ‘extreme inspection’ in one case Rolf cites, we see a reduction in the number of defects per page by 50%. Clear empirical evidence of actual defect reduction as a consequence of inspections in real projects is hard to come by and so Rolf’s case studies are useful to consider.
Thank you Fergal!

I took a looong look on Fergal's company and website. Their solutions look very promising in terms of document quality assessment and improvement. Visible Thread does detailed quality checks on Office documents and shows the results, for grounding decisions on data is always better than on gut feeling.
Head over and see for yourself.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What are the most valueable specifications?

During my last vacation I came across evidence of good technical value specifications. At VW's Autostadt there is a display of this wonderful old Phaeton Sedan (sorry the photo is blurred).
There also is a reproduction of a poster that was used to market the car at its times. It clearly states the most important values the car delivers. Reading through it, and thinking of the extreme focus on functions nowadays, I ask you: Did we forget to focus on the really important things, like value?

The poster reads:
It is our belief that the most important "specification" of the Cord front-frive are: Do you like its design? Does the comfort appeal to you? Does it do what you want a car to do better and easier? When a car, built by a reputable and experienced company meets these three requirements, you can safely depend on that company to adequately provide for all mechanical details. -- E.L.CORD

Monday, June 07, 2010

Hyper-Productive Teams

The Agile Engineer Ryan Shriver has stunning news from the productivity front. After he 'produced' a whopping 1.750 attendees for his webinar on the topic, he was kind enough to share the presentation slides and a companion article. I quote from the article:

Hyper-productivity describes a state of being where teams are working at much higher levels of performance such as two, three and four times more productive than their peers. 
The interesting question for agilists and other method-interested people alike is: How can I do it? Well research shows than hyper-productivity seems to come with a couple of practices, all to be found in Ryans slide set and article. Be aware, don't get trapped into the logic than you only need to follow these practices to be hyper-productive.
I'd like to highlight one theme here, and Ryan probably says it best (mark-up is mine):
[...] the difference with the hyper-productive teams is their ability to stick to the practices over the project while continually removing impediments limiting performance.  
This resonates quite a bit with something Eric Ries posted about a startup lessons learned conference, in which Kent Beck happened to develop another manifesto, apparently (mark-up is mine):
Team vision and discipline over individuals and interactions (or processes and tools)
Validated learning over working software (or comprehensive documentation)
Customer discovery over customer collaboration (or contract negotiation)
Initiating change over responding to change (or following a plan)
I wouldn't go as far as calling this the new agile manifesto. This is more a set of paradigms for startups, so one could call it a startup manifesto ;-).

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Adding to Acceptance Testing

James Shore has sparked a lively discussion about sense and nonsense of acceptance testing. To be honest, my very first reaction to this piece of text was forbidding:

"Acceptance testing tools cost more than they're worth. I no longer use it or recommend it."

But James expanded on his statement in another post. And there he impressed me.

"When it comes to testing, my goal is to eliminate defects. At least the ones that matter. [...] And I'd much rather prevent defects than find and fix them days or weeks later."

Yes! Prevention generally has a better ROI than cure. Not producing any defects in the first place is a much more powerful principle than going to great lengths to find them. That's why I like the idea of inspections so much, especially if inspections are applied to early artifacts.

James also very beautifully laid out the idea that in order to come close to zero defects in the finished product, you need several defect elimination steps. It is not sufficient to rely on a few, or even one. Capers Jones has the numbers.

I'd love to see this discussion grow. Let's turn away from single techniques and methods and see the bigger picture. Let's advance the engineering state of the art (sota, which is a SET of heuristics). Thank you, James!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Layout for ClearConceptualThinking.net

I finally found the time to change the layout of my blog. Hope it's much clearer now, improved readability. There are some issues with the way Google displays ads, but I hope to fix this within the next couple of days.
Let me know what you think, please!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Problem to Solution - The Continuum Between Requirements and Design

Christopher Brandt, relatively new blogger from Vancouver, Canada, has an awesome piece about the difference between problem and solution. If he blogs more about problem solving, and in this outstanding quality, he definitely is someone to follow.

While I do not completely agree with the concepts, I believe everybody doing requirements or design should at least have this level of understanding.

Requirements written that imply a problem end up biasing the form of the solution, which in turn kills creativity and innovation by forcing the solution in a particular direction. Once this happens, other possibilities (which may have been better) cannot be investigated. [...] This mistake can be avoided by identifying the root problem (or problems) before considering the nature or requirements of the solution. Each root problem or core need can often be expressed in a single statement. [...] The reason for having a simple unbiased statement of the problem is to allow the design team to find path to the best solution. [...] Creative and innovative solutions can be created through any software development process as long as the underlying mechanics of how to go from problem to solution are understood.

Which brings me to promote again and again the single-most powerful question for finding requirements from a given design: WHY?

Don't forget to have fun ;-)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Using Extreme Inspections to Significantly Improve Requirements Practice

Today I'm pround to announce that one of my latest articles has been published on modernanalyst.com:

Using Extreme Inspections to Significantly Improve Requirements Practice

It will be showcased next week in the Feb issue of the eJournal of ModernAnalyst.

From the introduction:
Extreme Inspections are a low-cost, high-improvement way to assure specification quality, effectively teach good specification practice, and make informed decisions about the requirements specification process and its output, in any project. The method is not restricted to be used on requirements analysis related material; this article however is limited to requirements specification. It gives firsthand experience and hard data to support the above claim. Using an industry case study I conducted with one of my clients I will give information about the Extreme Inspection method - sufficient to understand what it is and why its use is almost mandatory, but not how to do it. I will also give evidence of its strengths and limitations, as well as recommendations for its use and other applications.

Thank you, Adrian, for your support!