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Showing posts from 2014

PowerPoint for Those Who Must Use It

There's a lot out there about how to use MS-PowerPoint, starting with Edward Tufte's advice to NEVER NEVER use it

But I cannot resist this chance to throw my hat into the ring.  What if you are not a graphic designer, and someone asks you to build a PowerPoint deck, and the thing they need to know about is not Napoleon's invasion of Russia?

I am a person who prefers to put as little effort into this as possible, so you will not get any cool design tips from me.  But to me, a very pragmatic and plodding user of the PowerPoint technology, the handiest thing is just to have a good example to follow, and guess at the rest.  So you can skip the rest of the blog and just look at this handy sample if you like!  That's what I would do.

If for some reason you are still reading, then in my opinion, the following are the most important points to keep in mind. (And most of the following apply to the Apple equivalent too, Keynote, despite its lovely, clean layout designs).


Return of the Matrix: The Organization Around the Self Organization

Do you have a group of, say, 100 people, whom you want to organize optimally for a software delivery program?  Martin Fowler is famously on record saying that "scaling agile is the last thing you should do."
A better approach is to try to scale down your project. unscientific straw poll revealed that most projects could lose about half the people of the project without making things go slower. Time and time again I hear of success occurring when a team is cut significantly in size. Large teams carry a big overhead in communication and management. Using smaller teams staffed with more able people is usually faster and cheaper, even if the everyone is more individually expensive. This brings to mind one of Tom Waite's "non-lethal weapons," the Shrink Ray, in the movie Mystery Men,.  Aficionados of the movie (or comic) will remember that the ray is "based on simple dry-cleaning technology."
You are left with the (perhaps not completely false) imp…

Patterns for Agile Transformation Success: Agile Enterprise Adoption Without a Gut Rehab

Mike Cottmeyer has re-emerged in the blogosphere, after a bit of a lull, with an electrifying series of posts about enterprise agile, one of which is entitled How to Structure Your Agile Enterprise.  I love the whole series, and especially this post, anchored as it is in Cottmeyer's real life experience:
First of all… let me share that I have NEVER worked on a small agile team. I’ve coached many of them, but my introduction to agile was in the context of large enterprise class financial systems… things like online banking and bill payment. The kinds of systems where the company makes a penny or two on every transaction and does millions every year. Cottmeyer provides some really crucial insights about agile at scale that may run counter to what you believe is "fundamental" to agile:
"Feature teams" are not practical, if any given feature involves a workflow where data passes through many different application silos, end to end.In contrast, "Governance …

Battle Plans for the Self Disorganized

As agilists, we all hear a lot about self-organizing teams.  I'm pretty sure I have already aired several, probably conflicting, opinions about self-organizing teams, like "someone else should assign people to the teams and decide what they should do, and THEN they should self-organize," but today I would like to talk about something even more fundamental:  the self-organizing self.  Are you fully able to function on your own behalf, or even on the team's behalf, at times when you don't have a scrum master acting as a sort of personal time assistant?  Do you procrastinate?  Are you distracted?  Do you run out of money?  Do you lose things?  Let's assume you've tackled work--how well-armed are you for life?

I would like to think that most of you are more personally organized than I am, and you probably are, but for those of you who need a little help, as I do, there are some free or cheap techniques and online tools that can help arm you for the struggles…