Skip to main content

Maybe courage is the key...

I went to an all day planning session yesterday for the next set of sprints for a client, they're doing 3 sprints for the next release with each sprint being 2 weeks long. I was there to provide architecture advice on the implementing the functionality using their newly adopted MVC(P) pattern and layered architecture.

I sat in on several sessions for one team and they where going great guns at producing a development backlog. By the end of the session they had a good break down of the technical tasks required for the sprints, this included estimations of the time required for the tasks and the total estimated time fitted well with the total time available per sprint.
At the end of the day the team then presented there proposed sprints to the whole development team. When one of the other teams was presenting it became apparent they had fallen back into the safe & familiar waterfall approach. The glaring evidence for this was an ad-hoc Gantt chart stuck to the wall!

It became obvious they'd taken their backlog and not only assigned tasks to specific developers ahead of time but had also assigned an order for implementation with hard dates & times for all tasks. This instantly made the sprint structure fixed and brittle - it would be unable to deal with changing requirements and feedback from the customer, they didn't have there Agile thinking hats on! They were seeing dependencies in the order of the tasks where they didn't need to - you know like 'you can't build that before this because...'. These type of dependencies are broken by building software in a more Agile manner because principles like dependency injection, mocking and BDD (I'm starting to think BDD really ROCKS!) allow you to develop systems without have all your dependencies implemented before you start.

Now there are plenty of blog entries out there about why Gantt charts don't feature frequently if at all on Agile projects. I was more interested in why it appeared and I started to think about this, it then became apparent the person who produced the Gantt chart didn't have the COURAGE not too! They didn't have the courage to say 'I don't know how this fits into the time scale for project' you can probably tell this came from a senior person on team - one of the guys managing the team. This intern made me realise they didn't have the courage to trust their team to deliver and this is a symptom that they didn't trust the agile process. Plus I get the feeling they're still thinking in a chronological approach to delivery when they should be thinking in a feature based approach.

So for me at the moment the most important Agile principle is courage - not only the courage for a team to communicate back to a product owner problems or the ability of team members to be honest about their technical knowledge, but the ability of the management layer to communicate their worries and concerns without resorting to waterfall methods of reassurance.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

WPF tips & tricks: Dispatcher thread performance

Not blogged for an age, and I received an email last week which provoked me back to life. It was a job spec for a WPF contract where they want help sorting out the performance of their app especially around grids and tabular data. I thought I'd shared some tips & tricks I've picked up along the way, these aren't probably going to solve any issues you might be having directly, but they might point you in the right direction when trying to find and resolve performance issues with a WPF app. First off, performance is something you shouldn't try and improve without evidence, and this means having evidence proving you've improved the performance - before & after metrics for example. Without this you're basically pissing into the wind, which can be fun from a developer point of view but bad for a project :) So, what do I mean by ' Dispatcher thread performance '? The 'dispatcher thread' or the 'UI thread' is probably the most

Showing a message box from a ViewModel in MVVM

I was doing a code review with a client last week for a WPF app using MVVM and they asked ' How can I show a message from the ViewModel? '. What follows is how I would (and have) solved the problem in the past. When I hear the words ' show a message... ' I instantly think you mean show a transient modal message box that requires the user input before continuing ' with something else ' - once the user has interacted with the message box it will disappear. The following solution only applies to this scenario. The first solution is the easiest but is very wrong from a separation perspective. It violates the ideas behind the Model-View-Controller pattern because it places View concerns inside the ViewModel - the ViewModel now knows about the type of the View and specifically it knows how to show a message box window: The second approach addresses this concern by introducing the idea of messaging\events between the ViewModel and the View. In the example below

Implementing a busy indicator using a visual overlay in MVVM

This is a technique we use at work to lock the UI whilst some long running process is happening - preventing the user clicking on stuff whilst it's retrieving or rendering data. Now we could have done this by launching a child dialog window but that feels rather out of date and clumsy, we wanted a more modern pattern similar to the way <div> overlays are done on the web. Imagine we have the following simple WPF app and when 'Click' is pressed a busy waiting overlay is shown for the duration entered into the text box. What I'm interested in here is not the actual UI element of the busy indicator but how I go about getting this to show & hide from when using MVVM. The actual UI elements are the standard Busy Indicator coming from the WPF Toolkit : The XAML behind this window is very simple, the important part is the ViewHost. As you can see the ViewHost uses a ContentPresenter element which is bound to the view model, IMainViewModel, it contains 3 child v