Ative at Work

Agile software development

Ative at Work

april 2007 - Posts

  • Impressions From Our Lean/Agile Dinner with Mary and Tom Poppendieck

    This Tuesday we hosted a dinner for the Danish Agile User Group with Mary and Tom Poppendieck in the great Restaurant Grønnegade. The charming old house from 1689 with its modern European slow-food set the stage for an evening of great conversation about the state and future of lean and agile software development.

    Mary Poppendieck and Martin Jul


    Around 20 Danish agilists attended and following a question/answer session with Mary and Tom we had an excellent five-course dinner. The room was buzzing with lively conversation - people trading war stories and experiences with implementing agile and lean software development in their organisations. It was a great night with plenty of inspiration for the daily work.

    Tom Poppendieck with Danish agile practitioners.

    This post is a collaborative montage of impressions from the participants - from the Q/A with Mary and Tom and the conversation in the group. Please add your impressions below.

    Just to get the ball rolling one of the things I discussed with Henrik Thomsen, Lone Møller Klitgaard and Mary Poppendieck was Scrum and its shortcomings.

    Henrik got the ball rolling by noting that Scrum is too limited for his taste since it only addresses a small part of the total picture, excluding, for example, many people issues. Henrik talked about how he has used the Soft System methodology to visualise the stakeholders and predicting conflicts in the development process - clearly something that is not addresses by Scrum.

    The Ative experience with introducing Scrum is that it is a very simple yet powerful set of rules. This makes it a great starting point for agile practices. However, we are not dogmatic about Scrum: we keep looking at the overall picture and fixing the impediments through a classic lean inspect-and-adapt cycle. For example, we usually spend quite a lot on time with the technical team to ensure a minimum level of professional craftmanship (configuration management, automated build and deployment, automated unit and acceptance testing etc. - we have blogged about this earlier). We have also experienced the need for a lot of training for the Product Owner - in fact, this is usually much harder than getting the development team to adopt the Scrum practises.

    The big thing was that the discussion framed the things we work with every day: from the perspective of lean - which is essentialy a framework for thinking about processes - agile is a lean implementation. This also means that it is context specific and constantly evolving. Therefore it makes no sense to talk about The Only Way to agility but rather to treat all the agile practises as a toolbox and mix-and-match the things we need in a particular context.

    Just as the doctor does not order you to take all the pills in the pharmacy or prescribe only aspirin for any ailment, agilist should use skillfull means, too. We need to know and have experience with a broad range of agile practises, but we only advice the specific medication that the patient needs and in just the right amount. And to tie it back to the discussion about Scrum, Scrum is not the cure for every problem.


    Please add your impressions from the evening in the comments below

    • what was your highlights? (things you talked about, people you met, ...)
    • what did you learn?
    • what inspired you the most?
    • how are you going to use it in your work?
    • about the evening - "keep this"/"try this"/"don't do that again" feedback for arranging something like this in the future.

     Thank you for making it a great night and for posting your impressions!


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