Sunday, July 06, 2008

Captain Kirk Teaches SCRUM and Agile Development

Episode One: Change the Playing Field

"The odds are against us and the situation is grim." - Star Trek: Generations

STARDATE 11234.2

Students, Starfleet has asked to me say a few words about SCRUM while I'm visiting your base. Fortunately, my meeting with the Ambassadors isn't until 0930 so I have just enough time to talk and then answer a few questions.

Some years ago, I was in a situation that by most accounts (especially Bones') would be considered bleak. Our software team was handed a Klingon application to calculate the expansion rate of exploding warheads. Our Quality Assurance staff was located in the beta quadrant. While my Klingon interpreter and product owner (Kveld of house K'mpok) was in the brig for attempting to kill Scottie. I needed to act, and fast! But what were my options?

Yes, I could have outsourced the work to the Romulons. But they are the enemy! Let's get serious. Other suggestions?

Ok, that's another approach. We could bring everyone together onto a single starbase to form a co-located team. That suggestion is a classic. And workable except for the inter-species issues. My product owner, the klingon in the brig, is also responsible for other projects. He can't be co-located for all of them, can he? Additionally, co-location means additional costs in the form of housing, food, time away from family. In this situation, co-location is not possible.

Hmm. Good idea. Use the holodeck as a virtual meeting room. I like that and that is the approach that we took. Along with some others as well.

Since the team is so dispersed the issue of time was quite important. The team agreed to a daily standup (a scrum, some like to say) but at what time? The meeting time changed every three months. Thus, no one location was impacted more than another - all were inconvenienced equally.

Scottie agreed to import a case of Ra'taj for Kveld and to refrain from further mentioning his mother's similarity to a Gagh.

The approach that I take to every situation is:

What is the operant set of relationships and rules? And how can they be changed to resolve the issue?
Once you know how the forces arrayed against you are deployed, you can find the levers needed to tip the scale in your direction.

Any questions?

Thank you.

Dup dor a'az Mubster (live long and prosper)
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