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Being Agile: Eleven Breakthrough Techniques to Keep You from “Waterfalling Backward”

Book Description

Break the Old, Waterfall Habits that Hinder Agile Success:

Drive Rapid Value and Continuous Improvement

When agile teams don’t get immediate results, it’s tempting for them to fall back into old habits that make success even less likely. In Being Agile, Leslie Ekas and Scott Will present eleven powerful techniques for rapidly gaining substantial value from agile, making agile methods stick, and launching a “virtuous circle” of continuous improvement.

Drawing on their experience helping more than 100 teams transition to agile, the authors review its key principles, identify corresponding practices, and offer breakthrough approaches for implementing them. Using their techniques, you can break typical waterfall patterns and go beyond merely “doing agile” to actually thinking and being agile.

Ekas and Will help you clear away silos, improve stakeholder interaction, eliminate waste and waterfall-style inefficiencies, and lead the agile transition far more successfully. Each of their eleven principles can stand on its own: when you combine them, they become even more valuable.

Coverage includes

  • Building “whole teams” that cut across silos and work together throughout a product’s lifecycle

  • Engaging product stakeholders earlier and far more effectively

  • Overcoming inefficient “waterations” and “big batch” waterfall thinking

  • Getting past the curse of multi-tasking

  • Eliminating dangerous technical and project debt

  • Repeatedly deploying “release-ready” software in real user environments

  • Delivering what customers really need, not what you think they needn Fixing the root causes of problems so they don’t recur

  • Learning from experience: mastering continuous improvement

  • Assessing whether you’re just “doing agile” or actually “being agile”

Being Agile will be indispensable for all software professionals now adopting agile; for coaches, managers, engineers, and team members who want to get more value from it and for students discovering it for the first time.

Table of Contents

  1. About This eBook
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Contents
  5. Preface
    1. Join the Conversation
  6. Acknowledgments
  7. About the Authors
  8. Introduction
    1. Who This Book Is For
    2. What Is Our Approach?
    3. What Does This Book Cover?
    4. An Overview Of The Content
    5. What Do You Have To Do?
    6. What Benefits Can You Get from Reading This Book?
    7. Who Are We?
    8. Join the Conversation
  9. Chapter 1. Whole Teams
    1. Principles
      1. What Is a Whole Team?
      2. Why Are Whole Teams Hard to Create?
      3. Cross-Component Teams
      4. Cross-Discipline Teams
      5. Cross-Geographical, Cross-Cultural, Large Teams
      6. Stable, Dedicated, and Protected
    2. Practices
      1. Start with Whole Teams
      2. Maintain and Protect Dedicated Teams
      3. The Conversation
      4. Share the Same Truth
      5. No Partial Credit
      6. Offer Help
    3. Metrics
    4. Breakthrough
    5. Summary
  10. Chapter 2. Active Stakeholder Interaction
    1. Principles
      1. What Is Active Stakeholder Interaction?
      2. Why Can It Be Hard to Get Active Stakeholder Interaction?
      3. Stakeholder Interaction Is Not a New Idea
      4. Stakeholder Interaction Is Not Optional
      5. Do What’s Needed—And No More
    2. Practices
      1. Identifying Stakeholders
      2. Review Epics with Stakeholders
      3. Set Expectations
      4. Stakeholders Should Have Skin in the Game
      5. Make Stakeholder Interaction Compelling for Your Customers
      6. Doing Regular Demonstrations
      7. Reacting to Feedback Received
      8. When Is the Development Organization a Stakeholder?
      9. Customer Support Teams as Stakeholders
      10. Working with Customers in Countries Other Than Your Own
    3. Metrics
    4. Breakthrough
    5. Summary
  11. Chapter 3. Queuing Theory
    1. Principles
      1. Why Does Waterfall Thinking Still Linger?
      2. Small Batches of Coordinated Work
      3. Frequent Feedback
      4. Ensure Sufficient Capacity
    2. Practices
      1. Small Task Sizes: 4 Hours, 8 Hours, 16 Hours
      2. One User Story at a Time
      3. Short Iterations9
      4. Metrics Should Support the Focus on Working Software
    3. Metrics
    4. Breakthrough
    5. Summary
  12. Chapter 4. No Multitasking
    1. Principles
      1. One Thing at a Time Is More Efficient
      2. Flow
      3. Stop Starting; Start Finishing
    2. Practices
      1. Team Members Are Dedicated to a Project 100% of the Time
      2. One Project at a Time
      3. Be a “Firewall” and Stop Being a “Fast-Forward” Button
      4. Pair Programming; Pair Testing
      5. Calendar Ruthlessness
    3. Metrics
    4. Breakthrough
    5. Summary
  13. Chapter 5. Eliminate Waste
    1. Principles
      1. What Is Eliminating Waste?
      2. Why the Focus on Eliminating Waste?
      3. Technical Debt
      4. Project Debt
      5. Why Is It Hard to Eliminate Waste?
    2. Practices
      1. Get Rid of Waste... One Way or Another
      2. Small Tasks
      3. Build Quality In
      4. Focus on Customer Value
      5. Expand “Done!” Criteria
      6. Handling Latent Defects
      7. Stop Writing Defect Records
    3. Metrics
    4. Breakthrough
    5. Summary
  14. Chapter 6. Working Software
    1. Principles
      1. What Is Working Software?
      2. Why Is It Hard to Regularly Have Working Software?
      3. Working Software Extends Test Suites
    2. Practices
      1. Short Iterations
      2. Continuous Integration and Automation
      3. Vertically Sliced Stories
      4. Evolutionary Architecture and Emergent Design
      5. In-House Deploys
    3. Metrics
    4. Breakthrough
    5. Summary
  15. Chapter 7. Deliver Value
    1. Principles
      1. Why User Stories?
    2. Practices
      1. The “So That” Clause
      2. Vertically Sliced Stories
      3. Acceptance Criteria
      4. Using Velocity Effectively
    3. Metrics
    4. Breakthrough
      1. What Exactly Is a Zero-Gravity Thinker?
      2. A Real Example
      3. Zero Gravity Thinking in Sum...
    5. Summary
  16. Chapter 8. Release Often
    1. Principles
      1. Why Release Often?
      2. Do Just Enough
      3. Defer Commitment
      4. Why Can It Be Hard to Release Often?
    2. Practices
      1. Start with Shorter Release Cycles
      2. Epic Stories
      3. Evolutionary Product Design
      4. High Value First
      5. High Risk First
      6. Value-Driven Development: the Outworking of Frequent Code Drops
    3. Metrics
    4. Breakthrough
    5. Summary
  17. Chapter 9. Stop the Line
    1. Principles
      1. What Is Stop the Line?
      2. Why Is Stop the Line Hard?
    2. Practices
      1. Fix Blockers
      2. Reflections as a Guide
      3. What if the Problem Is Too Big to Stop the Line?
    3. Metrics
    4. Breakthrough
    5. Summary
  18. Chapter 10. Agile Leadership
    1. Principles
      1. Agile Leadership
      2. Why Is Agile Leadership Hard?
    2. Practices
      1. Learn Agile, Experience Agile, Develop Agile Instincts
      2. Enable and Protect
      3. Help Your Team Learn, Let Your Team Fail
      4. Set Priorities, Provide Boundaries, and Let the Team Figure Out How
      5. A Single, Visible View of the Truth
    3. Metrics
    4. Breakthrough
    5. Summary
  19. Chapter 11. Continuous Improvement
    1. Principles
      1. Why Is Continuous Improvement Important?
      2. Why Is Continuous Improvement Hard?
      3. There Is No Such Thing as “100 Percent Agile”
      4. Realize That You Will Learn New Things as a Project Progresses
      5. You Need to Set Time Aside to Sharpen Your Axe
      6. Focus on Small, On-Going Improvements
      7. Learn from Your Mistakes; Don’t Make Them Again
      8. Fail Fast
      9. Management Needs to Actively Promote Innovation
    2. Practices
      1. Reflections
      2. Value Stream Mapping
      3. Addressing Reluctance
      4. The “Art” of Continuous Improvement
      5. Share
    3. Metrics
    4. Breakthrough
    5. Summary
  20. Appendix
    1. Exploring Your Agility: A Brief, Annotated Questionnaire
      1. How did adopting agile change your team dynamics? Did it improve your productivity?
      2. How has adopting agile enabled you to deliver value to your customers?
      3. What agile practice do you use to ensure that your team achieves a manageable and consistent workload?
    2. What Would You Be Willing to Give Up?
    3. Questions on Various Agile Practices
      1. How Long Are Your Iterations?
      2. How Often Do You Build?
      3. What Disciplines Are on Your Teams?
      4. Do You Carry a Defect Backlog?
      5. What Do You Automate?
      6. Do You Conduct Status Meetings?
      7. Are You Delivering Value to Your Customers?
      8. Do You Get to “Done!” Each Iteration?
      9. Are You Getting Better?
    4. Concluding Thoughts
  21. Index