[JavaPolis2007] - Day 1 - The Zen of Agile Management

This was an overall nice talk given by David Anderson with a couple of group exercises in between. Although it is difficult in a pretty anonymous audience to collaborate a few groups tried it and even on your own the exercises kept you awake and made one think about the subject.
First exercise was on "How to create or destroy trust?"
Create trust by: being open/honest/transparent, explain decisions, enable communication, ...
Destroy trust by: hidden agendas, negotiation, withholding information, hierarchies, focus on procedures, ...

David proposed to get naked! Show all the information you have which will build trust and increase the performance of the workforce.
Second exercise was about tracking value delivery. The easiest way to increase productivity is to focus on quality! Too much work in progress slows down the productivity, so you sometimes even have to force people to stop starting new things.
Focus on Quality was one of the key points

  • design and code reviews
  • code analysis
  • test first development
  • automated unit tests
  • Continuous Integration
  • Formal system testing by professional testers

    Identify your value chain:
    e.g. idea - analysis - design - code - unit test - system test - acceptance test
    Based on that identify your bottleneck (which was exercise 3):
    Where do you think is the bottleneck?
    How to confirm this?
    Actions to maximise the utilisation of your bottleneck resources
    What policies are required to subordinate everything else to your exploitation decision

    Another key point was that knowledge is perishable (so requirements rot just like bananas)

    Then he went on to planning an risk and took Wimbledon as an example for planning with varieties and difficulties. The men's final is always on the second Sunday even if it rained during the week (which happens quite often). So if you have likely causes to interrupt your schedule plan them in, but if the risks are quite unlikely and everybody understands that the schedule will be late (like an earthquake) do not plan for them. Risks are also ok to take if the expectations are accordingly (so that the customer knows, that you might not hit the first target date, but rather the second one.

    Finally David summed up his recommendation:

  • increase trust
  • reduce bureaucracy
  • look at your bottleneck
  • use metrics as they enable management and use lead time as one of the metrics
  • Ask yourself: "How can you serve your team better?"

    Posted by Karsten at 22:25 | Comments (0) | TrackBack
  • 06.03.07

    The Ten Commandments for Managers

    1. Be humble: No one is as good as they think they are! (Or as bad either for that matter)

    2. Listen: No one knows everything! Your job is to lead, not to be an expert on every issue!

    3. Never get yourself into an economic situation where you can’t afford to tell the company to go to hell!

    4. You have to risk your job in order to do your job! Losing your job is not the worst thing that can happen! (It can often be the best!)

    5. Don’t worry about politics! In the long-term it is the results that count.

    6. If you’re not passionate about what you are doing then go do something you are passionate about!

    7. Make your decisions on facts! Intuition is better than no information at all, but facts are always best.

    8. Always say your mind! You are paid for what’s in your head. If you think it but don’t say it, you are defrauding your employer.

    9. Your employees work for you of their own free will!

    10. Remember: The Company chose you as a manager, but your employees choose their own leaders!

    Found at Kelly's Think Tank

    Posted by Karsten at 22:50 | Comments (0) | TrackBack


    Why Accenture etc. isn't doing consulting

    Hey all you Accenture, Roland Berger, Bearing Point, ... girls and guys out there, 90% of you isn't doing consulting.! Why? Read What is Consulting?, which is a great article from Bruce Eckel.

    Lots of people that call themselves consultants do things that I would not personally consider consulting. I think consulting is when you have some kind of special expertise -- come by through hard struggle and learning -- that you transfer to a group of people, in a relatively short period of time, and in a way that is unique for that group. I also think that consulting involves addressing particular issues faced by that group.
    Posted by Karsten at 16:18 | Comments (1) | TrackBack


    W-Jax: Planen, schätzen, korrigieren

    Endlich komme ich dazu etwas über die Vorträge der W-JAX​ zu schreiben ( wie angekündigt).
    Der Vortrag (Planen, schätzen, korrigieren in agilen Prozessen) von Jutta Eckstein war sehr gut und ich möchte daher hier ein paar der Stichwort wiedergeben:

    was kann man messen?
    Ein lauffähiges Programm, daher sollte man immer ein lauffähiges Programm haben!

    „The larger the team, the shorter the cycles.“

    Kunden sind wie Frauen.
    Sie haben beide eine vage Vorstellung dessen, was sie wollen. Sie wollen sich erst das Produkt anschauen, probieren und dann ggf doch ganz anders haben.
    Wenn eine Frau einen roten Pulli mit V-Ausschnitt haben will, und sie bekommt einen ist sie unzufrieden. Wenn die Frau einkaufen geht, dann kommt sie wieder mit einer roten Bluse und einem schwarzen Pulli sowie zwei CDs.
    Wenn ein Kunde ein spezifiziertes SW-System haben will und bekommt es genau so, ist er unzufrieden. Er möchte hier was ändern, dort was umstellen, etc.
    Daher ist es für beide Seiten – Kunde und Dienstleister – schlecht einen Festpreis auszumachen. Iteratives, agiles Vorgehen ist gerade für den Kunden besser.

    „Plans are worthless. Planning is essential.“ D. Eisenhower

    Gold Card: Auszeit für eine Iteration, um sich etwas zu vertiefen und zu lernen.
    Aber: Man muss das gelernte am Ende presentieren und alle lernen dadurch.

    Posted by Karsten at 18:12 | Comments (0) | TrackBack


    ask the interviewer good questions

    Thanks to Erik's Linkblog I came across Johanna Rothman's HiringTechnical People blog and the great entry Questions to ask the interviewer.
    This is a good list which I will use in my coming job interviews. Let's see how they are prepared. ;)

    Posted by Karsten at 11:35 | Comments (0) | TrackBack


    My IT projects

    Jato Consulting

    Shortly after my arrival from Australia I started to work for Jato Consulting were I got involved in different projects they do for BMW and Siemens.
    They give me the chance to look at different projects and work with different technologies (XML and Digester, Java Timer or J2EE web apps in general).


    In Melbourne, Australia, SKEX IT Services gave me the opportunity to gain experience as a development manager. At MojoKnows I was responsible for a development team of four persons, planning releases/tasks in a XP (eXtreme Programming) sort of development process. Beside my team leader role I was 50% of my time coding. My specialties where JMS (OpenJMS) and Struts, but we used a lot of other tools like Hibernate (with XDoclet), Ant, Bugzilla, Tomcat, MySQL, ...

    NTU Singapore

    At the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, I wrote my master thesis "A Web-based Medical Image Database System (WebMIDS)". For the implementation, J2EE is used together with the Expresso Framework. MySQL was chosen as database system for the implementation due to limited funds.
    A dedicated server was set up with Linux as the operating system and with Tomcat as servlet container.


    At Apeiron, a small but very skilled SoftwareService Company, I was participating in the redesign of Almeda and building my first J2EE skills. Almeda is technologically solved with the Vignette Storyserver (a TCL based Template and Content-Management System).
    My first J2EE experiences were encountered by experimenting with Struts and an in-house DB framework to build a Intranet Timesheet on a Tomcat server.
    I can strongly recommend Apeiron for your projekt in the Java World. Thanks to Christoph Kipp and Andreas Prohaska for the great time there (2001-2002).


    My very first IT job was at Siemens, where I was building Intranet applications based on Cold Fusion. The team there was responsible for the business communication of ICN VD. The VD-Trainingsportal and a Intranet FAQ was one of the things i developed there with the help of ColdFusion and NetFusion Objects.
    It was a great time and I was touched by the gratification for my extraordinary work.

    Private Projects

    In my private life I started the Mitfeierzentrale, build the Fasanenhus site and currently a new project is in the pipe.

    Posted by Karsten at 08:38 | Comments (0) | TrackBack


    funny lessons for the working life

    Lesson One

    An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing.
    A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him
    "Can I also sit like you and do nothing?"
    The eagle answered:
    "Sure, why not."
    So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested.
    All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit And ate it.

    Management Lesson:

    To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.


    Lesson Two

    A turkey was chatting with a bull.
    "I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree," sighed the turkey, "but I haven't got the energy".
    "Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?" replied the bull. "They're packed with nutrients."
    The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch
    of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night,
    he was proudly perched at the top of the tree.
    Soon he was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot the turkey out of the tree.

    Management Lesson:

    Bull Shit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.


    Lesson Three

    A little bird was flying south for the winter.
    It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground in a large field. While it was lying there, a cow
    came by and dropped some dung on it. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, it began to
    realize how warm it was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy,
    and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following
    the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

    Management Lesson:

    (1) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy.
    (2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.
    (3) And when you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut!

    This ends your two minute management course.

    I found this one here!

    Posted by Karsten at 23:15 | Comments (0) | TrackBack


    how to found your own company

    Since I started my university studies in 1999 I consider founding a company somewhen.
    After learning some lessons with the Mitfeierzentrale and at the start up MojoKnows I still think about this option.
    Therefore the reading of Getting Started with Your Own Software Company from Eric Sink was very interesting to me and he points out some issues very clear and with a nice portion of humor, like:

  • In your first 40 hours per week, build custom software or websites for other companies. Charge them enough money to pay your expenses.
  • In your other 40 hours per week, work on building your product.

    After the product is released and its revenues start to grow, you can gradually stop taking contracting gigs.
    If this sounds like a lot of hard work, you are absolutely right. If that sounds unappealing, keep your job.

    So, who wants to start one ... ?

    Posted by Karsten at 13:45 | Comments (0) | TrackBack
  • 12.01.04

    Management blogs

    My favorite weblog concerning management issues is the one from Christoph C. Cemper which gets updated fairly often and this guy produces good content. It made me find a nice repository on management notes from a professor.
    and it guided me once to Gantthead, This is a nice site for project management and they also have some nice spreadsheets and checklists and some of the articles are quite good.
    I should start reading this "48 Laws of Power" book.
    Just need to finish my cleanup after my long holiday.

    Posted by Karsten at 12:44 | Comments (0)



    Just read the "Professional Awareness in Software Engineering" from Tom DeMarco. (see here) which is a nice essay about professionalism and what most managers miss for being a professional and the reasons for that.
    I can recommend this short article.
    Besides I can recommend to read Tom DeMarco in general. Or at least "Spielraeume" and "Der Termin" which I read in German.
    And now I am confused and thinking about me and if I can consider myself as a Software professional or not and how I could transform to a management professional???? mmmhhhhh.
    So I better go to bed and think about it

    Posted by Karsten at 15:04 | Comments (0)


    Planning Extreme Programming

    just read this book from Kent Beck and Martin Fowler.
    Very short and good book. Lots of real world examples and I like the style it is written in. Strongly can recommend it for team leaders or members working or planning to work in a XP style.
    I myself have to admit that we at MojoKnows do it all a bit different and there are some suggestions in this book which I would like to see in my project, too.
    Lets see what the future will bring us.

    Posted by Karsten at 02:45 | Comments (0)