Strongly Recommended Agile Learning Resources

One of the things that I think holds Scrum teams back from being successful is that they often learn about the Scrum process but don’t learn about Agile culture or infrastructure. Because Scrum is a system that relies on all of it’s parts, failure to master Agile culture and infrastructure means that companies will also fail to master Scrum. This failure is unbelievably costly for companies and teams: “average” teams deliver only a 35% improvement over Waterfall, while properly coached teams deliver 300-400% improvements. I’ve seen this myself in my time working with Scrum teams at Atomic Online: once a team got properly coached and running, we were at least 3-4x as fast as when we started. This is rare, too: I have not yet worked with a team that has outperformed the teams I worked with at Atomic Online.

I think we owe it to ourselves as members of Scrum team to learn about and embrace Agile principles. This is hard to do without a “sensei” (a well-experienced Agile leader) who can can conduct gemba walks with incumbent leadership to bring about organizational transformation. In lieu of that, though, here are some resources that I hope can help to at least illustrate the difference between a true Agile/Scrum/Kanban environment and a waterfall environment that has adopted a few Scrum processes.


2016-02-01T15:26:43-08:00March 5th, 2014|0 Comments

How to use Google Hangouts to Easily Host Your Daily Standup

If you have a distributed team or can’t get a regular meeting space in your workplace, online video conferencing may be your next best alternative for a Scrum team’s daily standup. While I always advocate for co-located teams with a dedicated meeting place for standups, I realize that this isn’t always feasible.

You’re probably well aware that it often takes a few valuable minutes to corral everyone together using Skype, Google Hangouts, or other online video conference tools. This can really eat into the efficiencies of a 15-minute daily meeting. I really like Sqwiggle, but it is limited to four active video callers at any given time. Google Hangouts supports up to 10 users and works relatively well, but sometimes it’s a hassle to get everyone in the same chat at the same time. (Have more than 10 people in your Scrum team? Please consider splitting that team apart for optimal performance.) Never fear: simple instructions follow. This works as of Feburary 28th, 2014.


2014-05-01T10:22:51-08:00February 28th, 2014|0 Comments

Mary Poppendieck’s “The Tyranny of ‘The Plan'”

A couple of years ago, my former manager David Denton forwarded me a recorded presentation by Mary Poppendieck, a leading Agile software development expert and co-author of the popular book “Leading Lean Software Development: Results Are not the Point.

Watching the video on the InfoQ website is a bit kludgey and Mary has lots of wonderful details that are worth hearing. So, with Mary’s permission, I’ve had the video transcribed and included her slides in context. I hope that this will make this very useful knowledge easier to find and learn from. Mary, thanks again.

I’ve eschewed block-quote formatting as it made this transcript a little harder to read. I’ve also edited slightly for readability. Otherwise, everything beyond this point is Mary’s work.


2014-03-11T21:07:03-08:00September 20th, 2012|1 Comment

“Silent Lens” Wins Google Ideas challenge at the Google “Develop for Good” Global Hackathon

I attended the Google I/O Extended “Develop for Good” hackathon in San Francisco in late June. We were asked to create a solution for one of three challenges:

  • Google Politics & Elections: Citizen Engagement for Politics & Elections
  • Google Ideas: Conflict Reporting for Blackout Situations in Repressive Regimes
  • Google Green: Help us all be a little greener!

Our team won the Google Ideas challenge! My sincere congratulations to my team mates Perry Chow, Ansgar Halbfas, Ryan Quellet, and Andrew Song.


2015-10-12T11:12:02-08:00September 12th, 2012|4 Comments

The Customer is the Marshmallow

Spaghetti and Twine

Many of you will be familiar with Peter Skillman’s Marshmallow Challenge, an exercise frequently given to teams and business school students. Teams of four are given 20 pieces of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, one yard of twine, and a marshmallow. They are then given 18 minutes to build a free-standing structure that places the marshmallow as high off of the table as possible. The team with the highest marshmallow wins.

If you haven’t seen it already, Tom Wujec’s TED talk is a good place to learn about the challenge. And if you haven’t introduced your team(s) to it, take 45 minutes out of one of your days to administer the challenge and see what revelations you get.


2015-01-20T12:43:18-08:00June 1st, 2012|4 Comments

My coworker Ashley and I have been working hard on, a new mom website. It’s taken a fair amount of work to piece it together, but it’s slowly on its way to being an uplifting and inspirational website for mothers. I hope you enjoy it!

2012-07-26T11:00:45-08:00May 3rd, 2010|0 Comments