Agile Infrastructure

By now, you’ve probably figured out that agile is this new-agey style of software development. But agile is far more than just group hugs and stand-ups. By that I mean, agile is more than a project management system. Agile is a way of managing change and being able to respond quickly to it, whilst delivering as much value to the customer as possible.

How do we achieve that? It certainly isn’t possible just because we’ve planned our sprints. Agile goes all the way down to the code base (or starts at the code base, depending on how you look at it).

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A Team of Champions

Fair warning:  I just read “Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking” by Susan Cain and this blog post is heavily influenced by that.  She did some spectacular research and presented it in a manner that went down very well with me.  She even used some specific software studies as examples.

One of the rallying cries of a (somewhat) local sports team is “A champion team will always beat a team of champions”.  This clever play on words makes us feel warm inside thinking that if we’re connected to the mass, that all of us is somehow better than each of us.  We are indeed social animals.  The main point of the opening chapters is that actually, studies suggest that while we feel like we do better in a group situation, we actually do better alone.  And more worryingly, that if we’re in a group situation, we don’t just go along with the more vocal person for the social acceptance, believing deep down that we’d chose a different answer if it were up to us, but that the social pressure actually changes our perception entirely.  So I’d like to pick at my previous post a little, with this new information.

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Scrum is boring.

Well, more specifically, planning meetings are boring.  A colleague pointed this out to me and it was indeed a big shock to me.  I think I must have been too busy sleeping through the planning meetings to notice it for myself.  It’s a technique I perfected working my previous menial-labour-for-hire job; being able to appear like a functioning person whilst actually being sound asleep. The empty coffee cup in front of me is just for show.

But why is planning so boring?  The same colleague postulated that surely it should be exciting, taking a fresh look at all the wonderful new work we, as a team, are about to embark upon.  Surely this is where our Scrum happiness sourced – this is a meeting all about anticipation. Google is very happy to produce results which suggest that happiness is derived from the anticipation, not the event proper. And yet the fact remains – every single person I talk to about having their planning meeting has the same, resigned tone in their voice. Oh no, it’s planning day again.

So now I suppose I should be asking the really probing questions – what, specifically, makes the planning meeting a less pleasant alternative to a tooth extraction? What makes it worse than other meetings? (which, granted, aren’t exciting, just merely irritating) The following presumptions are based on my own experiences, and your mileage may vary.

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