Feed Your Head

Do you have the opportunity to learn while you work, to take a look at your project experiences for lessons learned?   Is the idea of learning from experience just another thing that’s fallen into the “knowing-doing gap”?  The mature organization encourages and capitalizes on learnings as the starting place for refinements and new initiatives.  How many of us work in mature organizations?  In my experience, adoption of a more Agile approach can help to enact and spread practices that support growth, even in a non-Agile environmentAgile methodologies evolved in the mid-90s as a reaction to the perceived inability of traditional, plan-driven methodologies to effectively keep up with change and deliver projects successfully (“plan-driven” was coined by Barry Boehm to characterize the opposite end of the planning spectrum from agile).  The rapid shifting of technology and business environments during projects was resulting in out-of-date requirements and project plans.  Customers were increasingly unable to define their needs up front and were delivered unusable software.

Each agile method (Scrum, XP, Crystal, etc.) maintains unique practices while sharing agile characteristics.  The Agile Alliance defines agility as “methods and practices that embrace change”.  One of these characteristics is an “inspect and adapt” approach, and when implemented by the regular use of retrospectives/reflection during the project, allows project activities to respond to the needs of the customer and/or organization based upon what is genuinely working or failing. Frequent retrospection also maximizes benefit by invoking the learning process (inspect and adapt) when knowledge becomes available.  The retrospective process is different from the PMBOK® Lessons Learned, though their intentions are similar, and is a topic that requires its own discussion.

Another great way to Feed Your Head: check out the upcoming Agile Open CaliforniaAgile Open California 2007: Sustainable Agility: Thriving in the Mainstream, October 22-23 at the Ft. Mason Conference Center in San Francisco.  The Early Bird registration is $200.00 until Sept. 21, after that it’s $250.
The conference planners are looking for three interns (ideally interested in/familiar with Agile practices) to help out with venue set up/clean up and other “maintenance” work for about 3 hours on each of the 2 conference days.  In return, interns will be able to experience an Open Space conference and attend any of the sessions when not helping out.  Interested folks should contact David Vydra at – david@vydra.net
Agile Open California is unusual in that it will use Open Space as a conference format; the website provides a short overview of the process.  For more details, see http://www.agileopencalifornia.com/

Posted on behalf of Ainsley Nies


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