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AGILE 2008 CONFERENCE MUSINGS

August 8, 2008

Keynote speaker James Surowiecki talked about his new book The Wisdom of Crowds and how it applies to agile software development. It was an excellent keynote packed with many examples of how the consensus of crowds beats singular expertise every time. From a development perspective, I think we should use the wisdom of crowds in the following areas:

  • Schedule estimates
  • User Interface designs
  • User story requirements
  • User story points estimates
  • Release planning
  • Design discussions

Best session: User Interface Design Studio, by Jeff White and Jim Ungar
This session described an agile technique for collaboratively developing user interfaces. It starts with the PM describing a vision and then everyone develops their own user interface. Each user interface is presented for feedback from the audience. The best ideas and ideas to avoid are tracked. Then, the team does a final design pulling from all of the best ideas. Wisdom of the crowds at its finest!

Lots of sessions on User Stories and Estimating User Stories.
“It’s better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.” – John Maynard Keynes
Estimate size, then derive duration. The velocity of the project team will become apparent after 2 or 3 iterations.

10 Ways to Screw UP Despite Scrum and XP, by Henrik Kniberg

  1. Believing the hype
  2. Not having a good definition of “done”
  3. Not knowing your team’s velocity
  4. De-emphasizing the retrospectives
  5. Poor management of team commitment
  6. Allowing technical debt
  7. Ego-centric designs
  8. Not keeping the product backlog updated
  9. Merge-o-phobia
  10. Not keeping the iteration backlog visible

Ole’s 8 Steps for Agile Mentors, by Ole Jepsen

  1. Agile training
  2. Use Case / User Story boot camp
  3. Release planning game
  4. Iteration planning game
  5. Show up and ask “how is it going?”
  6. Check on the demo
  7. Demo and reflection
  8. Evaluate demo and build new plan

User Stories and Use Cases? Sure, It Even Makes Sense, by Jamie Allsop
This was a quick overview of the differences between user stories and use cases and when to use either or both. I thought several things were missing in the presentation, so I’ll try to write a white paper to share my thoughts and experiences.

Many, many other sessions. Overall an excellent conference, but with so much to choose from you could not help from thinking what you were missing – especially when you attended a weak session.


Comments? Feel Free! Contact me and let me know what you think.


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