Tag Archives: Software Development

Agile Mind Games – the Psychology of Scrum

Team Effort Estimations Are Critical to Accurate Velocity, Maximum Productivity, and Team Building.

The team tech lead may provide an effort estimation with little or no input from the developers and/or testers doing the work.

If the tech lead vocalizes his/her effort estimation…

  • BEFORE the developer who will be doing the work, the developer may feel pressured to agree with the tech lead’s estimate.
  • lower than the developer’s guestimate, who will be doing the work, this might create social friction and inaccurate velocity.
  • WITHOUT a collaborative approach, a comprehensive estimation may be ruled out, such as consideration for not only dev. and test., but infra (configuration management, i.e. build & deploy) and other effort costs.

Using tools like Planning Poker, where all estimations are revealed at once helps the team appear to not contradict one another. The negotiation process occurs after all teammates flip their cards at once. Derives better estimates with more perspectives not factored in based on a single Tech lead providing the estimation.

Transparency and Scrutiny

Many “hands-on” project/product stakeholders want maximum transparency into the current state of the product regardless of the duration of the sprint (e.g. 2-week sprints),   Typically, a pulse on the product at two-week increments satisfy most.

Some of the agile, change management tools such as Microsoft Azure DevOps offer dynamic graphing and reporting.  Product stakeholders may be provided dynamic dashboards, that include Burn Down, and Burn Up charts based on the sum of effort from user stories (i.e. product backlog items).  At any given time charts can predict velocity, and based upon the outstanding, total effort estimation, can chart a course to the next release.

Meaningful burn up and burn down charts rely not just on accurate effort estimations, but the people who are assigned these user stories constantly update the status of these stories, e.g. New; In-Progress; In-Review; Done. Countless times I’ve seen team members update the user story status the day before the sprint close/demo, from New -> Done.  This habit gives any product stakeholders a false view of the product within a sprint.

Another challenge and opportunity with Transparency and Scrutiny within a given sprint, is making sure each user story has one or more (child) tasks.  Defining tasks provides a wealth of opportunity, such as naming all of the tasks to complete for the story, e.g. database tasks, UI tasks, etc.  If the tasks are itemized, they may also be assigned to multiple team resources, and show a delineation of labor.

Sticking with the Azure DevOps tool, Tasks have a default field, “Remaining Work”.  This field may express task work in hours or days, the unit of measure. In the beginning, tasks are populated with the total task guesstimate of hours. Each day the person assigned the story task may draw down on the task to incrementally show progress within the task and correlating story.

Task, Work Remaining field must be relentlessly updated across the Backlog in play or else it will create more harm than good. At this level of scrutiny on tasks are amorphous and will be challenging to garnish any projected value.

The Abominable Blocker

What, you can’t figure it out on your own?

The dreaded blocker has the ability to stop a Scrum team in its tracks. The term Impediment used synonymously with the word Blocker, has an innocuous sounding sentiment. Your Scrum team may use either, perhaps a less severe issue merits an Impediment?

The Kanban / Scrum board may have a column in the workflow called Blocker, which should fixate your team on helping to remediate that Blocker. Our Daily Scrum of 15 min may focus on Blockers as they have been isolated in our workflows.

Conquer the blocker before it conquers you!

Applause, Applause

Closing and Demo for Sprints should follow healthy applause from the team, including Stakeholders and Product Owner. Positive reinforcement of a job well done. We’ve completed what we committed to complete, should be followed by applause. We should take a moment to soak in the feedback.

Pass the Mic

For those of us on the Scrum team who are introverts and actively look for ways of dodging opportunities to speak, this one is for you. During Daily Scrum, pass the facilitation mic around where everyone gets an opportunity to facilitate per stand up.

Allow all people within the team an opportunity to demo the “Done” user stories on sprint close. It’s not to break folks out of their shell, it’s to impart a sense of pride in the work accomplished, and truly resonate the one team mentality.

Disclosure: the opinions provided are my own and do not reflect that of my clients, or anyone I represent.

Seven Interview Screening Questions for an Agile, Project Manager

It seems like only yesterday I was on the other side of the table, asking interview screening questions to perspective project manager candidates.  Here are seven interview screening questions I was asked earlier this week for an Agile, PM role, and my answers.

Background:

I’d consider myself an Agile Project Manager rather than a Scrum Master.  Differentiation?  I see the Scrum Master role as a coach / facilitator to help the team function using the Agile / Scrum methodologies.    The agile PM role, in my mind, does the coaching/facilitation as well as filling the traditional role as the PM.

Questions:

1.  What is the duration of the Sprint Cycle?

On scrum teams I’ve lead and been apart of in other capacities, its ranged from 1 to 2 weeks, but mostly two week sprints. In one instance, we had two week sprints, and then just after our major release to our client, we set the sprint to one week duration so we could incorporate client feedback ASAP.

2.  What are the various Agile ceremonies you conduct from day one to the last day of the sprint?

Project Kickoff – not necessarily limited to Agile, but is a project ceremony to get the team acquainted with roles and responsibilities, understanding scope at a high level, and the overall project duration expectations.

Initial Combing the Backlog with the Product Owner, and Tech lead(s) to identify priority backlog stories, and technical dependencies for the initial sprint(s), potentially looking ahead to 1+ sprints

Sprint Open #1 (all matrixed team members partake) In this meeting there are a number of activities that may occur:

  • Reviewing the Backlogwith the team in business priority sequence.  Fleshing out the user stories’ definitions, where required, enough to score each story
  • For each User Story in the Backlog prioritized for the current sprint, the team mayperform an efforting exercise to derive the ‘story points’. Playing Planning Poker is one way to derive story point estimates
  • Each of the story point estimates adds up to determine the potential velocity for the sprint, or team output potential
  • User stories assigned to the current Sprint are ‘Accepted’by the team for implementation in the first sprint, and are assigned to team members. e.g. for coding, doc, infra, or additional vetting, such as Architectural Spike stories.
  • Product Owner, Project + Technical Lead(s) decide beforehand how long sprints will take, and roughly thepotential velocity of the team based on all story points in the Sprint.
  • Sprint Open will commence, and any tool used, e.g. JIRA Agile, will enable the Agile PM / Scrum Master toinitiate the Sprint in the SCRUM / Kanban board.  All user stories are set to an initial state, e.g. “To Do”.

Agile Ceremonies Continued…

DSUs, Daily Standups, or Scrum sessions.  Traditionally, 15 minute sessions primarily to uncover BLOCKERS, and help each of the team members to remove their blockers.  Also, discussed, work from prior DSU, and current work until next DSU

(Optional) At the ending of each sprint, a day before Sprint Close, a Retrospective meeting is held, i.e. what did the team do well. what can they do better

Combing of the backlog for the next Sprint with the Product Owner, and Team Lead(s) e.g. re-evaluate priorities; e.g. 2 uncovered additional Stories / Tasks required for Sprint #2

Sprint Close #1 / Sprint Open #2 – Many times Sprint Close, and Sprint Open are combined, or may be separated depending upon the scope of the sprints.  I’ve sat through 4-5-hour Sprint Close sessions.  The Sprint Close may have each of the stories marked as status ‘Done’ reviewed by the team including the Business Product Owner.  A demonstration of the User Story, if applicable, may be performed, e.g. a new button function.  The team demo may occur by anyone on the project team.  The product owner may be required to move the status of the user story to ‘Accepted’ as a final status.  Additionally, burn down charts, and other visual aids may be provided to the team to uncover the team’s projected velocity on par with actual results, and lead to projected effort adjustments.

Sprint Open #2, similar activities to Sprint Open #1.  Team will see what stories they planned to complete, but did not.  Should the team push these stories to the next sprint, or to the backlog for future implementation.

Each sprint in the strictest sense, the content delivered should be ‘deployable’, a commitment to release work into target environments (e.g. Staging, Prod)

3.  When a project starts, how do you figure out the project scope?

Some projects with ‘external’ clients have a clear definition of project scope in the statement of work (SOW).  Other times a Product Owner may have a list of items solicited from product stakeholders.   These are two possible inputs to the ‘Product Backlog’ maintained in any Agile/Scrum facilitation tool, such as JIRA Agile, or Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server (TFS).

Combing the Backlog with the product owner, and tech leads may enable the team to add more details / definition to each of the User Stories in the Backlog.  In some cases, team leads may assign user stories to an Architect or Developer for the purpose of refining scope, and adding ‘sub-tasks’ to the user story.    In addition, some project scope needs to be defined and refined through ‘Architectural Spike Sessions’.

4.  If a Scrum Master is [managing] multiple projects, do they follow the same process for each project?

It helps if a consistent process is followed across scrum projects to eliminate confusion, and potential work across projects.  However, following a consistent process is not required, and there may be business or technical reasons to alter process.

5.  What kind of reports do you create in your Agile projects? Explain the reports.

Burn down chart – line chart representing work left to do vs. time.  Helps to understand if the team will achieve its projected work goals; shows the actual and estimated amount of work to be done

Velocity chart – bar chart (per sprint) showing two grouped bars, one for commitment, and the second for completed.

6. If you have a team resistant to Agile, and are saying there are too many meetings and the process is micro managing the effort, how will you resolve this and convince them to use Agile?

Be on “their” side: “I agree, our daily standups should be all about blockers” How can we remove your blockers inhibiting your work.  “Sprint Open” is a vehicle to clarity on work to be done, and a quick turnaround time during “Sprint Close” are we delivering what the product owner is looking to achieve?  Keeps us focused on what is committed to by the team.

7.  How do you figure out the capacity of a project?

“Capacity of a project” is a ambiguous statement.  If you want to understand what can the team achieve within a given period of time, you establish (sometimes through trial and error) and verify the velocity of the team, how many points they can roughly achieve for a sprint.  Create buckets, or sprints from the backlog work, effort the user stories sprints, and an estimate is derived.  With each sprint, those estimates will be refined with a better understanding of scope and velocity.

Content from this post provided by Ian Roseman, PMP, CSM

Ride the Near Field Communications Wave

At the 2013 Computer Electronics Show, there were only a few vendors touting Near Field Communications (NFC) technology integrated into their products, that I could see, and I did try to get to as many booths as possible.  Last week I mentioned people in Korea use NFC business cards to exchange and play music on their devices.  After that post, I did see a company’s tweet saying they were going to get into the distribution of NFC cards to store music, movies, and more, as the advertisement stated.  The benefits of this technology over Bluetooth simply low / near null power signature, inexpensive relative to the Bluetooth technology, and the potential shortcoming is it has a very short range.  Smartphones equipped with NFC can be paired with NFC tags or stickers which can be programmed by NFC apps to automate tasks.   NFC always involves an initiator and a target; the initiator actively generates an RF field that can power a passive target. This enables NFC targets to take very simple form factors such as tags, stickers, key fobs, or cards that do not require batteries. NFC peer-to-peer communication is possible, provided both devices are powered. NFC tags contain data and are typically read-only, but may be rewriteable.  I also had a conversation with someone that implied the storage on the NFC tags may be limited, so an easy workaround would be to store unique keys, such as a reverse domain name, and other pointers to data in a structured storage data web cloud, which is hosted by any number of verticals.

In this post I wanted to highlight a few potential uses.  Unfortunately, this is the second time I am writing the blog post because the first one didn’t get saved.  Annoying!

Automobile Servicing

Instead of the sticker a car dealer, or your mechanic, may put in the top left hand corner of your window to remind you to change your oil at N miles or Z months, an NFC sticker can be encrypted with your car’s VIN number, the complete required and suggested maintenance for the vehicle, as well as when and by who these services were completed.  The NFC Sticker may be placed in the console where you might place your smartphone.

Food Storage, Food Savings

On your refrigerator, you may place an NFC Sticker, that is overlaid on a magnet.  Every time food is removed or placed in a refrigerator or pantry, you can swipe the food NFC tagged with the cooperation of the food manufacturer.  An average usage model can be derived and encoded on the tag, as well as a proximity timer.  If the food item, such as milk, is not returned to refregerator within a given period of time, a notification on your smartphone, and/or a depreciation counter can be reprogrammed on the NFC tag to indicate approximate usage.  Once the item needs to be restocked, or placed back, a notification may appear on your smartphone, and/or added to your shopping list.

Books, Music, and Movie Samplings from a Store

If you’re in a store, and pass by a book, music CD or movie DVD, an NFC tag may contain a URL to download a PDF sample of the book, a music track from the CD, only available in stores through use of the NFC tag, or bonus material from a movie that only can be accessed through the NFC tag in stores to drive traffic into a store.  I specified a URL to link to the content because the current specification seems to limit the amount of storage on the NFC tag, however, specs can change, and I might be a bit conservative on the amount of storage necessary, but with a ‘secure cloud’, the storage shouldn’t be a factor. Any information on the NFC tag can simply be pointers to unique keys to data in tables within the cloud, such as a VIN number, or other generated unique keys.

Accessory Matching

Imagine your in a store by yourself, and trying on an article of clothing, if the dress, pants or skirt contains an NFC tag, you can touch it with your smartphone, which links you to either advisors or AI,  perhaps sponsored by a fashion magazine, that may provide you with with ideas to match that article of clothing, such as complementary accessories.  This could be accomplished through a video camera, front facing camera, perhaps ads float across the bottom of the screen, and/or it could be a subscription service.

 Meeting People / Dating

If you find yourself in a crowed bar, or party, and want to exchange information with someone you just met,  you have an NFC tag or sticker placed on the back of your hand, or on your purse, when bumped, will automatically exchange a brief bio, picture, likes, interests, and an email address.  If your smartphone is GPS compatible, the data is loaded onto your smartphone with the captured NFC tag data in addition to the location, so you never ask, so where did I meet this guy again?

Supply Chain Management and Shortages

Every person in the supply chain from manufacturer to retailers may have an NFC tag embedded within their employee identification tag, and as each individual handles the product or package, they swipe their card to the other NFC tag, and their employee unique identifier, along with date time and location (optional) may be rewrite the tag to append the new information.  This may prevent product shortages, as well as help further optimize the supply chain.

 

Consumer Electronics Show Highlight: Ford SYNC AppLink Developer Program Launch

Today I spoke with a Development System Engineer from the Ford SYNC AppLink Team at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and he was extremely enthusiastic about their launch of their API which enables developers of Android and iOS mobile applications to use the SYNC AppLink SDK APIs so a developer may take advantage of SYNC through your mobile device.  The SYNC AppLink software development kit (SDK) the software engineer admitted that the library was relatively limited to roughly 50 API calls (estimate off the cuff), however, they are constantly looking to expand the SDK.  They are recommending utilizing the Voice Recognition API as an example.

As I explored the conversation with this System Engineer / Developer, I tossed a few ideas, and wanted to see the direction of the team.  I suggested expanding the SYNC technology to link the system to measuring tire air pressure, fuel, oil, and other liquids, as well as ‘by the book’ scheduled maintenance, air filtration quality, and so on.  Then the SYNC AppLink team would expose these functions through the SDK, so that mobile application developers can create applications from dashboards, which sync with the phone through Bluetooth automatically every time the user gets in the car, and has an up to date check of their whole car health and maintenance in or out of the vehicle.   There are endless opportunities, such as mobile notifications on low fuel, maintenance, and even may enter a reminder in a task list named after your car, e.g. need 60 thousand mile maintenance, and oil quality poor, must change oil.

There were some potential limitations such as the display of the SYNC system, the SYNC AppLink Development team try to steer clear from distracting the user by exposing the APIs which may allow the mobile development users to modify the graphical user interface, e.g. flashing menus, which may distract the user, and may cause an accident, which would potentially have liability concerns.  At most, they are looking to allow mobile application developers using the SYNC AppLink SDK to push smartphone pictures to an image frame, so you can see your phone pictures.  However, in my humble opinion, there may be significant opportunities, such as a sexier, and more accurate equalizer controls.  At last, we have the ability for SYNC AppLink SDK developers in the future to access information from your phone, such as calendar, stocks, tasks, and use the car sound system and SYNC microphone to add, hear, delete, and subtract any information from your mobile device.

I walked down the isle to another company, chargepoint, which manufactures charging stations, which are reasonably priced for stations at 5 to 10 thousand USD.  This is a system which is rugged and can endure outdoor conditions.  If we take the SYNC technology and integrate it into a Ford Hybrid & Electric Vehicle to analyze electric usage and be able to maximize your electrical charge.  Chargepoint happens to also have an the ability to have an affinity card.  That is for another post.  There are quite a few stories, and it is still early in the week.  Looking for the diamonds in the rough.

One note, although Ford went after Google Android and iOS first because of market share,  you can be sure, Windows Mobile 8 is not far behind.

Actor Voice Overs for Apple’s Siri and Google’s AI Voice

There should be add on, for purchase, modification packs, for the smartphone’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Voice Command module, e.g. SIRI, or Google’s AI Voice Recognition, this way any retired, or semi retired actor gets easy money going into a studio recording their well known voice, and royalties go to the companies that are selling the AI voice over modification package, so instead of the standard woman’s voice, you can get anyone who would sell their voice.  It should be extremely easy to implement, the voice is probably a vocabulary indexed with certain words.  The actors or actresses need to record their voices saying a specific set of words as defined by the library of words, and I hope the Android and Apple operating system companies thought ahead to make these libraries like plug and play adaptable.  If Apple or Google made the AI Voice API open so anyone can record their voice and interchange with the default voice, actors, actresses, musicians, or anyone can sell their voice in the Mobile Vendor’s marketplace as an add on module.

The Art of Playing the Hand You’re Dealt

Being a Scrum Master, in some ways, is harder than being a Project Manager, because the people on the project do not report to you directly or through a matrix management organization. A Scrum Master is charged; however, with keeping the team on task, setting up and facilitating team meetings according to Scrum methodologies, producing reports, and overall to help facilitate the removal of blockers to help the team to close sprint product backlog items, and deliver releases.  It was challenging enough not having direct management responsibilities.  Now add a new process, and few tangible, people management incentives, and you would think deploying systems would get more challenging.  However, the Scrum methodology, an iterative process, an agile software development framework for managing software projects, once thoroughly adopted by team members, should make the deployment process more dependable, enables your consumers to see incremental progress of products, thus allowing for a course correction, while enabling your team to provide more refined estimates on releases.

A scrum team is formed from all sorts, software developers, release, or configuration management staff performing deployments, infrastructure staff managing hardware, representation from business constituency, and Quality Assurance traditional test or use case validation staff, which seem to be junior developers these days, and they all come together to deliver for each sprint.

As the Scrum Master, depending on the level of process required or desired from your organization, your role may be diminished to a glorified facilitator, if that’s what you believe is glorious. It may be a bit of fun, if you choose to make it, and if you have a great Scrum Master, and elements of a talented team.

NOTE:

A release is a set of sprints, and the duration of each sprint time is constant,e.g. there may be 6 sprints in a release, each sprint lasting two weeks.  The duration of the of sprints should be static, and the Scrum master may even setup the calendar date and time in advance for the whole release.

I’ve dissected agile, scrum methodology into six major components, as it has been used in practice on several teams of the teams I’ve been a part of, using this methodology:

1. Meetings

For small or large corporations the agile team works, even if you have a very small team trying to deliver new functionality, and constantly in bug/fix mode, or a large team with a vast amount of resources.  If you feel you are always having fire-drill meetings, put down the fire extinguisher, and listen up.  There are fewer meetings with this agile process, in fact, if there are too many meetings, we might want to call the meetings themselves out as ‘Blockers’, which we will get to in a moment.

I recommend three types of meetings with agile teams that will help you both deploy and support your product: a daily stand-up meeting, a retrospective meeting, and a sprint open/close meeting, and the final sprint meeting may serve as your release end review.

The daily stand-up meeting, or DSU, should be at most a 15 minute session, which each member of the team says, what they worked on yesterday, what they plan on working on today, and any Blockers they might have.  The scrum master facilitates these meetings, and if he or she hears a blocker announced, they try to crawl the group to get some assistance from the rest of the team members to remove the blockers.  What can we do to remove the blocker, should be the resounding question, and anything that prevents your progress on the tasks assigned to you for your product backlog items (PBI) is a blocker.  To back up one moment, a clarification PBIs are similar to change requests, or modification requests that you’ve worked with before, however, they may be written in an abstracted way, and then there are tangible tasks, which are ‘children’ objects are associated with the Product Backlog Item (PBI).

Next is the retrospective meeting, what can we do better next time, what did we do well this sprint, and so on.  There is typically one of these retrospective meetings per sprint, just before sprint close.  Finally, there is a Sprint Close and Sprint Open session combined that serves as a PBI demo for the completed items, and an assignment portion for the next set of PBIs to be worked on for the next sprint.  This meeting is the bulk of where the processes takes place.

2. Product Backlog Items

In the initial Sprint Open meeting, you review all of the product backlog items, which may or may not have an associated business priority at the time.  Some teams use 1 to 1000, where 1 is the highest priority, up to the 100th priority may get ‘Committed to’ for the current sprint, and anything over 100, may get deferred to the next sprint, e.g. 200+.  Sometimes, if the team knows they won’t put a product backlog item in the current release, they set the business priority of the PBI to 1000, where it sits in the backlog to be reviewed for a future release.

During the sprint open, the business representative, with input from all of their sources, e.g. marketing, sales, assigns the highest priority to the PBIs they would like to go into the first sprint, second sprint,… and the entire release.  This process may actually happen before the Sprint Open meeting with the development leads, who may understand the dependencies of the PBIs to help guide the business people.  In attendance is also the scrum master, which is in most meetings to keep discussions limited on any particular item, for example.  If the Scrum Master during any of the meetings finds the conversation drifting into a long, and drawn architecture discussion, the team may decide to make a separate PBI for the discussion worth typically 1 point.

3. Points

The Scrum master will sort the order of the Product Backlog of Items by business Priority, 1 being the highest, and that’s the order in which the team goes through PBIs.  After each product backlog item (PBI) is assigned a business priority, the development team leads, in the Sprint Open, ‘commits’ to achieving them within the agreed sprint time. During the Sprint Open, the people on the Sprint Open (all team members) may add a bit of color to the description of the PBI, then it’s “Poker Time”.

4. Planning Poker

There are many free web sites, or utilities out there that help you facilitate planning poker. e.g., http://planningpoker.com/ or some teams just cut construction paper, and put a number on each page.  We will use the web site in our example.  EVERY team member logs onto the site, and sees a set of cards with numerical values 1/2, 1, to 100.  Different teams do poker in alternate ways, but what you are supposed to do is correlate the entire effort you think it will take to deliver a particular PBI, regardless of your role or intimate knowledge of the PBI.  You may ask questions to get an understanding of the request, but the idea is to vote on it, especially / even if you are not doing the work on the item.  This process is more physiological in nature, and should alleviate any deflation, inflation, or wild guestimates over time (e.g. multiple sprints, or releases).  There are natural habitual things people do when they provide estimates.  The person may want to impress their boss, and provide a deflated, or aggressive estimate.  The boss may in fact try to skew the inflation to the business representative(s) to put the product out ‘sooner than humanly possible’, or a person on the project may inflate their estimate to get more time than required on the project for whatever hedonistic reason.  All players put in their score of effort, e.g. 1 = 1 person day, for example, and each card is facing down until all team members enter their cards, then the scrum master presses the button to flip the cards, and the negotiation process begins.  The scrum master bargains with the highest and lowest scorers, “Can you come down from a 5 to a 3?” and “Would you be willing to go from a 1 to a 3?” to drive a consensus.  The team members talk about why they scored a particular item a certain way, and eventually some consensus is reached without using the heaving hand, or the boss persuading the vote.  This process helps over time give more predictable estimates from the team, and you may discover the average output of the team, with a few variable factors, such as blockers.  In the Sprint Close, the Scrum master may actually show a graph, here are all the PBIs we committed to in this sprint, here is their point value, and here is what we earned, and here is what we tried to earn.

5. Demonstration and Deployment

If you say all sprints are two weeks, rain or shine, you have the sprint close meeting, demonstrate the PBIs that were achieved, and theoretically, each sprint can and may be deploy-able to every environment, including production, if required.  Typically, you would wait till the final sprint close before deploying to production, but it doesn’t always happen that way, especially if we have a support bug/fix along the way.  That’s why each PBI is discrete and deploy-able on each Sprint Close, so when you assign the item after the points are agreed to, and close the PBI, it must be thoroughly tested (by whomever), and ready for production, that’s why you may associate several tasks to a PBI, such as unit, module, and system integration test case creation and execution.  If PBIs that are assigned to staff do not get updated with a status from Assigned to Closed, then those items during Sprint Close get reviewed during the second half of the meeting, in the Sprint Open, and the team decides if they want to move them forward to the next sprint, release, or to the backlog for a future release.

6. Incentives and Detractors

One incentive mechanism for the team is awarding team bucks.  This can be a great way to award team members.  Each person on the team gets imaginary team dollars, and they are to award monthly their allotment of team dollars to co-team members, and the team member should state some reason, however abstract, why they are awarding their allotment of money to this individual.  So for example, the Scrum Master at the end of each sprint, month, or some frequency which makes sense for the release(s) will say to the team staff, it’s the closing of the sprint/month, and you should allocate your, let’s say five dollars, to your co-team members.  Team members may divide their abstract money across a few of the team members.  At the end of the release, the senior staff, it would be a business sponsor, who is funding the project, would do some conversion, and allocate a monetary value correlation.  If it’s a large organization, there may be an internal store that sells company logo labeled supplies, so you might get a company mug, or tee shirt.  I have used this technique in at least one place, and it is mildly effective.  Depending upon team morale, they can be enthusiastic about it, or feign enthusiasm.  Either way, win, win.

One infamous detractor to coming late to meetings or swearing during meetings is “The Penalty Jar”.  I’ve used this technique, and heard about it in quite a few places.  It’s a basic premise, your late to a meeting, put a dollar in the jar, change, or whatever.  A collective donation, which is then used to perhaps buy pizza on the night of releases.  Jokingly some managers might off hand swear lightly and put a fiver in the jar, just to uplift morale.  It is a physiological counterweight effect, that depending upon the team attitude and company policy, some may say enforce swearing, but it’s light handed, and the fiver is meant to imply the manager is ‘paying forward’ to encourage the team toward the end goal, the release.

Conclusion:

I hope this was an easy read.  Many teams are using these methodologies today, but surprisingly, some have yet to adopt this process.  At times, this process may be challenging when interacting with on and offshore teams that have great differences in time zones because teams prefer to have the DSU in the morning or midday the latest, while the blockers are fresh in their minds, and able to help others get un-blocked after the call.  I’ve seen it work well with a 9 AM <->12 PM timezone delta although it could be done with a middle person playing the role as the off shore liaison.  However,  even if there are no language differences, the lack of full team interaction may inhibit team members to unblock someone for some cases, which require direct peer to peer team staff interaction.  Alternately, staff sometimes work off-shift to solve some blockers.

Hold on, a Paradigm Shift is here: From Browser to Operating System

In short, with Windows 8, the Internet Portal, Jump Page, or Home Page paradigm shifts toward the operating system being the gateway.  What will this do to the Search and Browser based companies?  It pulls the rug right from under their feet, and thus the push for Google Chrome Operating System to compete.  Read on for an exciting twist of fate.

I was read an article this morning that said Google’s going to start charging usage of its applications. Is Google really trying to challenge Microsoft? Does Google think it is really ready? Using Google’s applications is free is one thing, paying is another. For example, Google+, don’t get me wrong, has a lot to offer, although, how long has it been around? 17 months, that’s a long time, let’s be frank…

Facebook, even in the early days, kicks Google Plus [BLANK] current platform, from the functionality and sexual appeal standpoint. Google has tons of money to catch up and kick Facebook’s but, right? 1 year, and 5 months, and this is the piece of garbage they produced. Wow, I guess Google isn’t made of money, hiring people like we seem to think, by the bucket load.

Then, why do we think they are trying to compete with Microsoft, an established player in the marketplace, and wisdom to evolve with human needs? I would most certainly use Google’s products for free, and I use their search, but to charge for more? I think Google is good to approach.

Although, how many evolution’s of Microsoft have we had of Windows and applications from Windows over Google with all their offerings? Microsoft Windows initial release11/20/85, 15 years. Microsoft Word has the wisdom and product, joined with human evolution, released in 83, two decades ago, generations of human and symbiotic evolution. Two decades of man and the machine, the technology evolving together into an interoperable, interchangeable, systems. Every generation the User Interface and system has had a change, to fine tune to the dynamics with human change. Now Google, just founded on 9/4/98, less than a decade ago, when did they start to show productivity? Also, how long were they focus on their core, Search? Until when? How mature are these tools you will blindly acquire, because guess what, you’ve ‘grown up’ with Google, evolved with it, and the organic tools created, such as document writing, versioning, photos, and so on.

Now Google wants people to PAY for an analogous Windows Word Version 2.0, in exchange for Word 11.0?! Seriously? That’s fourteen versions of evolution, and yes I counted. Now don’t get me wrong, if Google was rolling in it, had enthusiasm and drive like Apple did under Steve Jobs, the resources to do it. 17 months,this? http://bit.ly/QMQYnE People think I went around the bend, Is it the ability to lead a multinational, such as Google wouldn’t you think Google Plus would be stellar after 17 months. Is Google too ‘diversified’? Personally, I look at Google + as the red headed stepchild, which I feel bad about adopting, so I throw it some trinkets. But pay for it, really pay? That statement almost made me smirk. Are you nuts? It is competitive shopping time, oh yes, there are robust freeware and shareware products, cheap, and better. I wonder why we have so much robust free software. Maybe people with jobs, have lots of time on their hands to create products rivaling commercial ones, yeah, that must be it. So why in the bloody hell, G-d forgives me, are we going to pay up to Google? Only game in town to find the products? Google search is our page to go places, right? Now how about the new design of Windows Surface, or RT? Is it a complete game changer from a User Interface Standpoint. Has Microsoft really pushed the envelope of it’s creativity to actually produce a kick a$$ product, and make jump point, portal, or gateway the browser. Oops. Sorry Google. Actually, Microsoft may eventually go back to a monopoly for this is if wasn’t for Android tables, iStuff, and even little Google Chromebook. Microsoft Windows 8 no longer makes a flood gate to the world, in fact, the world is you, as natural and direct as to the applications you want. No more jump page, no more stop gap, or flow control. Our jump pages, or home pages have been the portal to everywhere. Google has been primarily our home page because it is simple. Our portals, jump pages, home pages, same stuff, control where we go, what we buy, and what we see.

Anyone remember a few years back, there was so much competition for the portal to the Internet, the jump or home page? Simply a text box and a picture, got you started, and it was like you evolved with a User Interface. Google began slightly to add on features, such as email, photos, but they were so minute, so undetectable. Google built an evolutionary platform literally from the ground up, a picture and a text box for a home page. Based on this assumption of human and machine evolution correlate to one another through user interface, ease of use, and paying it in kind. So then, primates, homosapiens, whatever, how long will you think it will take to evolve Google? George Carlin style answer: as long as it takes for humans to evolve, a 1:1 correlation. Are you going to really wait for Google to catch up, and since Windows 8 has entirely redesigned the paradigm of the machine, the portal may be superfluous, hence the push for Cromebooks. Hey, Android has a huge market share now after they by passed iOS, and Android help them do that. There are lots of Androids out there, as I told Ms. Whitman, and her predecessor, but you have to practically give away your Windows 8 OS, and mobile phones, and it’s an instant game changer. You don’t roll the dice; you sit out from the game. How would you react if you were at the helm of Microsoft, or Google?

Look, I am not trying to take sides, just state the obvious.  Also, I don’t care who threw which spear first, Google Chrome, but what I do care about…What I do care about…?The Doctor Who episodes.  Yep, maybe the kids, sometimes the wife.