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Inspiration, Software Faster

I typically listen to podcasts while I mow my yard. I find mowing relaxing and enjoy doing it myself. However, some of the recent episodes of the podcasts that I like did not catch my interest, so I went digging through some archives. I stumbled upon DotNetRocks episode 1118 with Dan North. All I can say is wow, what an episode. I started out my career with the view point that I just needed to deliver software that made peoples life better. I didn’t care about the craftsmanship, as long as it worked and people found it useful, I was happy. Somewhere along the way I lost that, over my short eight year career I became to focused on writing “great” software, that I lost my primary focus, which was writing software that delivered business value. So here is the email that I sent my team today, you will notice lots of qoutes and paraphrasing from that episode. I just wanted to share and hope others get back to what really matters, putting solutions in the hands of people to improve their lives.

The Email

The goal of software delivery is to minimize the lead time to business impact. Everything else is detail.

— Dan North

This is super important concept to understand. We are here to add value to the business so delivering impactful improvements and solutions is what is the most important. The Agile Manifesto is not about doing SCRUM, Extreme Programming, etc. These are all commoditized versions of the ideas behind the manifesto that have occurred over the 14 years following it. I think our team is a great example of all of these values. We do lots of these already and I think we have good values as a team. We are integrated into the business and now that all of us are sitting with the business, the opportunities to add more value should be more evident.

Velocity = Speed in a direction

— Dan North

Story points are not points going toward a particular goal. We have lost sight of solving business problems, agile is now about producing software faster. We have strayed from the whole point.

— Dan North

Nothing we deliver is worth anything unless it delivers the businesses objective.

— Dan North

Agile metrics are total BS, they are worthless as far as the business is concerned, because it doesn’t answer the questions that the business cares about. We should use business metrics to determine how effective we are. A fine example of that is the call center metrics that were displayed at the community meeting. Those are the types of metrics we should be measure using. Points, sprints, etc. doesn’t show the business value that we are actually delivering.

Until customers are actually using it, then we are making stuff up.

— Richard Campbell

Two conflicting values, simultaneously. I will write the best software I can. I will have not emotional attachment to the software that I write. Transfer emotional attachment of the code to the product, the impact on users. Cared less about the beauty of the code and more on the impact on success and happiness of the users. Software is the means to the end. As little software as needed to get there.

— Dan North

Successful software teams blur the lines between the business and development.

— Dan North

So I think we should keep doing the bi-weekly planning/retrospective meeting that sets goals, but I think we should do away with points and I don’t think we really need a scrum master, but an organizer. We are all “scrum masters” and we should keep each other moving forward and impacting the business. We need to keep having our “SCRUMS” since that is super valuable interaction, maybe we should call them huddles or something else as not to confuse our approach with a well-known process.

I also think we should determine all the business metrics that are reflective of the work we are doing and we should monitor these to determine the type of impact we are having. Some of these may take a complete year before coming to fruition, but we should be playing the long game to begin with, the short game will be evident in the attitudes that our customers have about us.

GANTT Chart = Product Backlog

— Dan North

(Borrowed from Dan North) So think about it like surgery. We don’t want more stitches more procedures, we want the surgeon to use the least invasive procedure to treat the medical issue. That is how we should look at what we do. What is the simplest solution we can provide that is technically sound and eases the businesses issue.

So I know this is very long, but I think that we actually have our process. I have spent a lot of time focusing on process improvement, when I should have been focusing on distilling the process that was emerging out of how we are actually delivering value to the business. Lets keep shipping features that add value to the business and individual users. I want to create a product that people love to use and makes their day better. We have been working hard to get there and it is evident in the call center metrics, so lets keep doing this until we stop being successful or until we determine that it is no longer adding value, then we will evolve.

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