Impediments Cup For The Win

The Impediments Cup is an agile retrospective technique for identifying impediments and deciding which one to focus on. (Impediments cup is halfway down the linked page on the left side under “Decide What To Do”)

The really neat thing about this technique is that you can use it effectively:

  • With distributed teams
  • To draw quiet team members into the discussion
  • As a team building exercise
  • To improve on the emotional intelligence of your team

Read on for how to do it…

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What do you do when a developer says “Agile has too many meetings”

Have you ever heard a developer say, “Agile has too many meetings!”

In my years as an agile developer, development manager and agile coach, this is the top complaint I hear from developers when their team “goes agile.” This complaint demonstrates a lack of engagement or lack of support for the team’s agile transformation. What techniques do we normally use to address this and why don’t they work?

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TriAgile 2016

I had the opportunity to attend and present at TriAgile 2016. It was my third time attending and my second time presenting.

Details of my presentation are here.

As always it was great to be among so many thought-provoking speakers and engaged attendees. I think there were around 650 attendees, which was a new record for the conference.

One of the things I love about this conference (and Southern Fried Agile) is the affordability. Advance tickets are around $100 which makes it easy to self-fund your way to the conference. Or if your company is paying, they can send a lot of people for very little money. These conferences provide an exceptional cost-to-value ratio.

Here are my highlights…

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The Most Important Part of a User Story

How a better user story can prevent you from being buried alive (in the way you want)

As told in the excellent book A Whack On The Side Of The Head by Roger von Oech, a few centuries back there was a plague in a small village that caused people to go into a death-like coma. Most of them eventually died, but occasionally someone would be mistaken for dead and accidentally buried alive.

When the villagers discovered this, they started working on a solution…

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Agile Home Improvement – Epilogue


I thought the story was over. The shelves were built and I walked off slowly into the sunset.

However, sometimes you can’t predict the future. There was an unfortunate incident that caused both garage doors to need to be replaced.

One of the garage doors came in contact with a minivan. We may never know who moved first, but suffice it to say, mistakes were made and the garage door paid the ultimate price.

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Antifragile Lightning Talk

Antifragile – Getting Stronger with Stress

I recently had the opportunity to give a lightning talk at a local agile meetup. If you’ve not been to a lightning talk (which I keep wanting to type as ‘lightening’…probably because it resembles ‘enlightening’) these are presentations you give that last 5 minutes or less.

You can use slides or not, but you will have to fit what you have to say in 300 seconds. It is a great opportunity to try out an idea on a friendly crowd. And I find that the time constraint forces you to examine, distill and re-examine your ideas in a healthy way.

For visuals, I had a single slide with 3 images on it. The rough transcript of the talk is below.

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Agile Home Improvement – Conclusion


Now that I’m at the end of this set of articles, a retrospective is in order.

I’m very pleased with the final shelves. They’ve been doing everything I need a shelf to do for months now, with no maintenance required. You have to love a feature that doesn’t require any support after go-live.

When I started writing these articles, I was curious what would come of it. I made a few key mistakes that prompted me to explore the project from an agile context, but I wasn’t sure what I would uncover.

Along the way I realized that “agile” is at risk of becoming a meaningless term. People are throwing “agile” in front of everything (including articles on home improvement projects).

The nice thing about agile is that it is a set of principles; a philosophy. And like any philosophy it has its strict adherents and its loose followers. It has those espousing the “right” way to practice agile and those that are bit more loose in their interpretation.

This can lead to ambiguity or confusion, but it also provides an opportunity for each of us to identify what we mean when we use the word “agile”.

This set of articles forced me to articulate what agile means to me.

If I reduce it to its basest essence, being agile to me is about assuming that you are wrong.

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