Johanna Rothman

Measure Cycle Time, Not Velocity

Johanna Rothman

I'm not a fan of measuring velocity. Velocity is a point-in-time measure of capacity. That means that when things change for the team or in the code, the velocity often changes. See Velocity is Not Acceleration.). Instead, I like to measure cycle time.

Project Portfolio Problems Masquerade as Project Problems

Johanna Rothman

A potential client called me. “What's a good tool to see the state of my projects? I need a tool.” ” I asked, “What problems do you see?” ” “Everything is late. No one's synchronized. I can't tell where the projects are.” ” “How many projects do you have in progress?” ” “At least 100.” ” (I was pretty sure I now understood the problem.) “How many people do you have working on the projects?”

Component Teams Create Coupling in Products and Organizations

Johanna Rothman

Many of my clients feel stuck with their component teams. They feel they must implement across the architecture, not through it. That's because the people are organized in component teams. As the organization grows, so does the number of component teams.

Agile Approaches Can’t Save Impossible Projects: Fixed Cost, Scope, Date

Johanna Rothman

You've got an impossible project. You have no flexibility. The project is a fixed-price, fixed-scope, fixed-date project. And, you have a specific team to do the work. There are other impossible projects. Such as when you have a collection of people who multitask among several projects.).

Agile 74

The Product Growth Engine

Speaker: Dave Martin, Founder, Right to Left

How do you create sustainable growth? Do your product and feature releases achieve the desired results? In this talk, Dave Martin, founder at Right To Left, will explore how human bias repeatedly hinders product success and causes teams to miss out on their potential.

What Decision Will You Make Based on This Data?

Johanna Rothman

Does your team have to keep two sets of “books”? You have an agile roadmap to see where you're headed. You have a smallish backlog of the near/upcoming work. You're delivering on a frequent basis.

Demo 82

Product Roles, Part 1: Product Managers, Product Owners, Business Analysts

Johanna Rothman

We have many words for people who shepherd the business value of a product. The many words aren't a problem, as long as we can all agree on what these various people are and they take responsibility for.

Consider Product Options with Minimum Outcomes

Johanna Rothman

Do you have trouble fitting “all” of the necessary work into an iteration? Your managers might want to push you to do more. Or, the product owner thinks you can do more. Or, the team wants to do more (see Beating a Team's Goal.). Agile approaches are not about doing more.

When is “Agile Scaling” the Answer?

Johanna Rothman

At the Influential Agile Leader workshop earlier this year, I led a session about scaling and how you might think about it. I introduced the topic and explained that “scaling” might not be the answer.

Agile 86

Create a Conference Proposal the Conference Wants and Accepts, Part 6: Hook Your Reader with a Great Title

Johanna Rothman

You might wonder why I don't start writing a proposal with a title. In my experience, a great title is something I need to ponder and experiment with. I do often start with a placeholder title. When I developed this multitasking talk, I used this title: Stop the madness. End the multitasking.

Architect Your Organization for Effectiveness, Productivity, and Joy

Speaker: Ron Lichty, Consultant: Interim VP Engineering, Ron Lichty Consulting, Inc.

As a senior software leader, you likely spend more time working on the architecture of your systems than the architecture of your organization. Yet, structuring our teams and organizations is a critical factor for success. In fact, the impact of software architecture parallels the impact of organizational structure. We are excited to welcome Ron Lichty, co-author of a seminal book on managing software teams and a well-known speaker, he’ll speak to organizing for effectiveness, productivity and joy.

“Agile Coaching” Is Not the Goal

Johanna Rothman

I've met a number of agile coaches recently. They tell me they're hired as Scrum coaches or as Scrum Masters. They see their job as “better Scrum.” ” It would be lovely if that was their one and only job.

Agile 98

Product Planning, Information Persistence, & Product Lifetime

Johanna Rothman

I've been thinking a lot about planning recently. Many of my clients want to create long-term plans, based on data with short validity, even for products in a high state of change.

Product Roles, Part 6: Shorten Feedback Loops

Johanna Rothman

I started this series discussing the issue of the various product-based roles in an agile organization. I suggested a product value team because one person becomes a bottleneck. One person is unlikely to shepherd the strategy and the tactics for a product.

Projects, Products, and the Project Portfolio: Part 2, Assess & Rank the Work

Johanna Rothman

Part 1 was about seeing the value in the various projects. I called the value stream a product so that people would think about who would use it and why. I suggested that we stop work on specific products when you have more products than teams.

The Definitive Guide to Predictive Analytics

By embedding predictive analytics, you can future-proof your application and give users sophisticated insights. The Definitive Guide to Predictive Analytics has everything you need to get started, including real-world examples, steps to build your models, and solutions to common data challenges.

Where I Think “Agile” is Headed, Part 2: Where Does Management Fit?

Johanna Rothman

In Part 1 , I wrote about how “Agile” is not a silver bullet and is not right for every team and every product. This post is about how management fits into agile approaches. Too often, managers think “agile” is for others, specifically teams of people. Teams need to figure out how to manage their WIP, collaborate with the customer, and deliver something small every day. Team-based “agile” is not enough.

Agile 69

One-on-Ones: Regular and Sacrosanct

Johanna Rothman

When Esther and I wrote Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management , we didn't really think one-on-ones were a secret. But, managers weren't conducting the one-on-ones regularly. The managers canceled for other “higher priority” meetings.

How Little Can You Do (& Still be Effective)

Johanna Rothman

Back in Manage It!, I suggested that for requirements, the questions should be, “How little can we do?” ” and still have a great product. My argument was this: the longer the project (regardless of approach), the more risk there is. Can you reduce risk by reducing the requirements? That would allow you to release earlier with less risk. Not to release a bad product. No, to release a smaller product.

Feedback and Feedforward for Continuous Improvement Posted

Johanna Rothman

I’m a monthly contributor to the Gurock blog. This month’s article is Feedback & Feedforward for Continuous Improvement : Using Double-Loop Learning Challenges Our Assumptions. Single-loop learning is when you “Plan the work and work the plan.”

An Adult Conversation About Estimates

Speaker: Beekey Cheung, Software Consultant, Professor Beekums, LLC

Estimates are a contentious topic in software development. Most of our development teams hate providing estimates and many managers are starting to view them as unnecessary. As senior software leaders, how can we determine whether estimates are helpful or harmful to our teams? We are excited to be joined by Beekey Cheung, a software consultant and blogger known as Professor Beekums, who has helped many leaders and teams go from fearing estimates to using them appropriately. He'll walk us through the value of estimates, how to overcome the hesitancy many have in giving them, and how to provide better estimates.

Help Managers Visualize Their Problems

Johanna Rothman

I've been working with several managers at organizations large and small, who want to capitalize their software “earlier.” ” These managers have some strongly-held beliefs about the people: People are resources. Resources can multitask on several projects at a time.

Thinking About “Beating” a Team’s Goal

Johanna Rothman

Shaun's comment on Measure Cycle Time, Not Velocity suggested a team might be better off measuring both cycle time and velocity. For two reasons: “Beating” the last sprint goal. Assisting the PO in a forecast of when things might be done. Let's examine these ideas. Clarify Story Points.

Product Roles, Part 5: Component Teams to Create Slices

Johanna Rothman

As I've written these product role posts, a number of you have asked about how to use component teams. You might have a security team. Maybe a performance team. Regardless of my desire, you have component teams. You want a more agile approach to manage the interdependencies among the teams.

Clean Your Backlogs

Johanna Rothman

I've been working at the intersection of the project portfolio and the product roadmaps. You can tell because of the various posts about information persistence.) Here's what I find when I work with my clients: They have years worth of projects in the project portfolio. They have years worth of ideas in various states of description in what they're calling product roadmaps. They have years worth of defects in the defect tracking system.

The 5 Levels of Analytics Maturity

Basic dashboards used to be enough to thrill end users. But over time, modern capabilities have emerged—and bare-minimum features are no longer cutting it. How have analytics changed? And where do your BI offerings fall short? Find out sophisticated ways to future-proof your application. Brought to you by Logi Analytics.

Projects, Products, and the Project Portfolio: Part 1, Organize the Work

Johanna Rothman

I've been working with some clients who are trying to find the magic way to slice and dice their project portfolios. Their organizations treat the software people (IT or Engineering) as a shared service. That means the software people “service” the rest of the organization.

Announcement: Make the Most of Your One-on-Ones Workshop

Johanna Rothman

If you wondered why I've been so quiet here on the blog, it's because I've been managing my own product development. This announcement is that Esther Derby and I have teamed up to offer online workshops based on Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management.

Successful Geographically Distributed Agile Teams Book Milestone

Johanna Rothman

I’ve been pair-writing a book with Mark Kilby , From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams: Collaborate to Deliver. We hit a big milestone today: We published the first complete draft today. We’ve been working on this book for a year.

Books 91

Why Managers Believe Multitasking Works: Long Decision Wait Times

Johanna Rothman

When I teach any sort of product/project/portfolio management, I ask, “Who believes multitasking works?” ” Always, at least several managers raise their hands. They believe multitasking works because they multitask all the time.

The Six Principles of Persuasion

Speaker: Michael Carducci, CTO, Mago:Tech

As senior tech leaders, we often fall prey to thinking that a “good idea” and logical case is sufficient to get the desired response and result. We might be trying to get our CEO on-board with investment in a new technology or a rearchitecture effort, or we might want culture or process changes by our team. Our “good idea” is simply the beginning. An idea must be communicated; a case must be made; and ultimately other people must be persuaded to get onboard. Michael Carducci brings a fascinating background to this webinar. He’s a technologist and regularly works to help senior leaders improve their results. He’s also a professional mentalist and has been a student of psychology, human behavior and the principles of influence for nearly two decades.

Create a Conference Proposal the Conference Wants and Accepts, Part 4: Complete the Proposal

Johanna Rothman

You know who your audience is because you framed the proposal. You started with outcomes , and you refined those outcomes when you wrote the abstract. Now it's time to complete the rest of the proposal, excluding your bio and the title. Bios and titles are different from the rest of the proposal. Those will be separate posts.). Every conference proposal seems to be a little different. The one part every conference requests is the type of session. Define Your Session Type.

Designing an Organization for a Product Approach, Part 1

Johanna Rothman

If you’re thinking about an agile transformation, you already know about feature teams. You might even call them/use them as product teams. You might wonder about organizing all the work as product work. See Your Current Organization. Many organizations use functions to organize people.

Three Ways to Manage “Extra” Work in an Iteration

Johanna Rothman

Many of my clients use an iteration-based agile approach. And, they have these problems: They “push” too much into an iteration. They use velocity, not cycle time to estimate. They rarely finish everything before the iteration ends. They have to manage extra work—work they had not estimated—in the form of an emergency or production support. The business people (I'll use the PO as the representative) want to take advantage of some change in the market.

Agile 54

Does Your Team Need Minimum WIP Limits?

Johanna Rothman

I spoke with an agile coach whose team works in flow, similar to this board. They don't use iterations—they plan on demand. The column on the left, “Stories to Workshop” is their backlog refinement column.

Monetizing Analytics Features: Why Data Visualizations Will Never Be Enough

Think your customers will pay more for data visualizations in your application? Five years ago they may have. But today, dashboards and visualizations have become table stakes. Discover which features will differentiate your application and maximize the ROI of your embedded analytics. Brought to you by Logi Analytics.

Tactical Ideas for Agile Budgeting, Part 1

Johanna Rothman

Too often, organizations want to budget for an entire year. The managers run around for two or three months in advance of that fiscal year, attempting to predict a ton of things: Estimates for not-well-defined projects or features, Capital equipment or tool needs, “Headcount” aka, people needed. Then, the organization doesn't finalize the budget until after the year starts.

Agile 71

Create a Conference Proposal the Conference Wants and Accepts, Part 1: Frame the Proposal

Johanna Rothman

You want to present a talk, workshop, experience report at a conference. (Or, Or, a lightning talk, Pecha Kucha, or more.) You have something important to share. How can you create a proposal that the program committee will accept? I'm writing this series to explain how to do just that. The series parts are: Understand who and what purpose the proposal serves. Understand the four parts of the proposal: title, abstract, description, and learning objectives.

Where I Think “Agile” is Headed, Part 3: What Is The Recipe, The Right Answer?

Johanna Rothman

I started this series asking where “Agile” was headed. Part 1 was about the 4 big problems I see. Part 2 was why we need managers. This part is about how people want a recipe, The Answer, for how to get better at “Agile.” ” Before we can address what an answer might be, your need to know your why for an agile approach. Why do you or your organization want to use an agile approach?

Agile 61

Minimum Requirements Documentation: A Matter of Context

Johanna Rothman

A colleague asked me about the kinds of documentation the team might need for their stories. He wanted to know what a large geographically distributed team might do. What was reasonable for the stories, the epics, and the roadmap? How little could they do for requirements documentation? I start with the pattern of Card, Conversation, Confirmation when I think about requirements and how much documentation.

Schema Evolution Patterns

Speaker: Alex Rasmussen, CEO, Bits on Disk

If you want to make your development team squirm, ask them about database schema changes or API versioning. Most development teams struggle with changing database schemas and updating API versions without breaking existing code. Alex Rasmussen is an expert in helping teams through these struggles. His talk will examine database schema changes and API versioning as two instances of schema evolution: how your systems respond when the structure of your structured data changes.