Considering a New Methodology? First, Understand the Question

In Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, an advanced civilization builds a supercomputer to calculate “the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything.” After millions of years of calculation, the computer finally gives its answer: forty-two. Despite being an advanced civilization, it succumbed to the pitfall of getting an answer without first […]

Shared Understanding: Building Languages and Communities Around Software

Sometimes it’s hard to say the thing we want to see. As a dad, I’m fascinated by human language development; and as a software maker, I’m constantly engaged in sharing mental models. Atoms spend a lot of time communicating with customers to bring a shared vision to reality. Reflecting on that practice, I recently discovered […]

Tear Down the Walls! (part deux): Reorganizing Teams Around Epics

In a previous post, Tear Down the Walls! — Shattering Team Boundaries, I discussed the boundaries (or silos) that traditional teams often end up segregating into, especially when deadlines are looming. The project I am on has many teams scattered across multiple physical locations (even continents), and teams are frequently under separate silos of management. Epic-level […]

Parallel Thinking with Six Thinking Hats

Bruce, Brittany, Al, John, and I attended the Agile and Beyond conference in Dearborn, MI last weekend. Two of my favorite presentations of the conference were Brittany’s awesome presentation on low fidelity UX and Michael “Doc” Norton‘s presentation “Teamwork Ain’t Always Easy,” a series of hands-on exercises demonstrating techniques for resolving common problems in teams […]

Moving Beyond Story Points, Iterations, and Burn Charts

If your team is not focused on delivering intermediate project milestones, they are missing what’s really of value. It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees if you’re only focusing on task-level points estimates and velocity tracking. I’ve become frustrated with how burn charts focus on showing progress through an entire backlog and don’t […]

Eliminate Your Team’s Task Backlog

Your team won’t have a traditional task backlog if you stage it out through scheduled iterations. Staging your team’s task backlog into scheduled iterations is an important part of managing your project to intermediate milestones. Atomic’s teams commonly decompose a project into a backlog of tasks that can accomplished in a day or less. Backlogs […]

I Hate Gantt Charts; I Love Gantt Charts

I’ve long treated “Gantt chart” as a dirty term, in the context of software development. It conjures feelings of Waterfally dread, and memories of MS Project files that were lies and folly from the moment actual work began — a source of arguments, miscommunication, and pain! But I just used a Gantt chart (Gasp!) to […]

Understanding and Explaining “Iterative Development”

In a place that makes software all day, the term “iteration” isn’t uncommon. When that place has been an Agile shop since the term appeared and an XP shop before that, the term “iteration” can be easily taken for granted. To us makers, iteration is a very tangible, every-day term that defines our work for […]