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Event Report: Mobile UX

Before anyone wants you to make an app for them, make sure they watch this video:

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Wisdoms from the Practical Agile Release Planning and Prediction talk

It was great hearing a product manager’s perspective on release planning and prediction. You don’t hear enough talks from product managers and the way they want and do things. Thank you Cliff Hazell for the talk and thanks to Unboxed Consulting for sponsoring the event.


#2 always gets promoted
I guess it depends how you look at this one. Who remembers Charles “Pete” Conrad and Alan Bean, the second guys to land on the moon? Sure I understand that you need to be second to become first. However what should you do when you become the president of earth?

That Steve Jobs quote about passion

Be passionate about your work, daily. If you lose the passion, you will lose yourself. I’ve started living this in the last year or two and it’s amazing. Frikkin love what you do, at work and at home. What’s the use you settle for anything less?


We learned that wordpress > twitter > facebook > linkedin. See some slides section below.

That Einstein quote about solving problems and thinking

This made me think about a quote one of my friends always says: today’s problems are caused by yesterday’s solutions. We need to think and react about things at a deeper level. We have to change our way of thinking to a systems thinking way. The fifth discipline is a good read about this.

The Japanese inspect and moer the hell out of things

Mura Muri Muda – Unevenness, Overburden (over working), Waste (non value added). Running at 100% isn’t great as it leaves no space for anything else. I didn’t get the just of this section as the late comers distracted me :/

Say no by default and force people to sell the value to you


Meeting = Massive waste of time

Implement No-Meeting-Mondays, slim down meetings and make them optional. Timebox it. Schedule meetings to end just before lunch time. I suppose this also depends on the type of meeting. Don’t make the daily scrum optional.

The sooner you get working software out, the better. Release often. Cliff mentioned that his company went from 4 releases per year, down to 4 releases per quarter.

Know where in the process you are at all times. This can be achieved by using processes and tools (because there is value in the items on the right)

Cliff uses Trello to track his product backlog and if I understood this correctly, Trello replaced the scrum or kanban board in his company

You are only able to predict what you know. He is able to predict with certainty what will be released within the next 3 months. He has a broader plan for the next 6 months, and that’s where it stops. Deadlines stays intact for 6 months He uses Liquid Planner to help with the predictions. There was a strong feeling from the audience that it’s a gantt chart. However Cliff has made it work for them. Inspect and adapt I suppose?

Strip down the product backlog as much as possible. If something is on it longer than 3 months and it hasn’t been started, bin it. If it is important enough, it will come up again. You will spend all your time grooming and too little time developing if you have a massive product backlog

You always need to get buy in from management. If you don’t have it, you are wasting your time. Cliff gets the execs involved in the prioritization part of the process. After this the teams can get going with minimal interruptions

Cliff mentioned that it’s better to do changes when it is cheap and early in the process rather than later in the process where an entire feature needs to be undone to cater for something else. In a way this sounds to me like bad architecture. My opinion is to think things through and build systems as generically as possible. Any change should then be easy.


Some one-liners here:

People is more important than process.

Share metrics with the teams. They need to see what the execs see as well. Show it live if possible

Know your customers and people working for you. Do happiness surveys on staff and customers. I’m reminded of a niko niko calendar here

Happy teams do great work.

If it’s rotten at the bottom, someone screwed up on top

Focus on the long-term rewards. What you do needs to be rewarding.

Book list

Gerald M Weinberg, check out his retro website. Not sure which book Cliff referred to, however on a quick search it looks like these are his more popular works:

  • Understanding the Professional Programmer
  • The Psychology of Computer Programming

People ware — Productive Projects and Teams (ISBN 0-932633-43-9) by Michael Lopp. Cool intro on Michael’s site

Drive – Dan Pink

There was another book he referred to, called meeting creatures I think, I didn’t get the author though. Cliff also mentioned something about churn- the silent killer. Could you please give some clarity on this?

Rework – 37signals

The Fifth Discipline – Peter Senge

Tools list


for kanban / scrum board

Liquid planner

Very gantt charty, however they’ve adapted it to help predict release dates and it’s been working well over the last 6 weeks.

Value graph

Some slides graphics

The pendulum process

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

These are my opinions and observations only and not necessarily correct.

Peace and love and happiness

JHB Event February 2012: Tools for Scrum

It has been quite a start to the year alright and we missed our ordinary last Tues of the month event for the JHB Scrum usergroup.

We have pinned down our next topic though which is sure to be a catalyst for some heavy debates.


The use of Pivotal Tracker and Jira in Scrum development teams.

Speaker 1: How we use Pivotal Tracker for scrum at IS

In this talk, I’ll walk you through some of PT’s fundamental features, and how we use them at IS to keep the scrum process ticking over. I’ll also talk about some of the untapped potential that PT offers, and give a sneak peek of an an important upcoming feature that’s currently in beta.

Bio of Gabriel Fortuna

I started working at Internet Solutions 10 years ago as a support technician, and since then have done software development, network management, and various other things to keep me out of mischief. Currently, I am a team manager running a small, but diverse team of software developers at Internet Solutions. We rely on scrum to understand to Get Things Done, and to maintain our sanity.

Speaker 2: There are pro’s and cons to JIRA so it’s important to know what you are getting into. I would like to present JIRA its strengths and weaknesses.

Bio of Kevin Shine

I have been in the software development industry for over 10 years, I have worked in various languages but spent most of my career working with Java. I worked as a system analyst for a few years and decided to move into a development manager position to try and facilitate change around the way developmentwas approached. I have been using scrum for software development for over 5 years. In terms of agile certification and I have a CSM and Scrum master I certificate.

I find a popular question with scrum is should we use a tool or not?

Most of my experience with scrum involves doing things manually, but this has presented some problems of its own and therefore the search for a tool to solve these problems. I believe selecting the wrong tool is worse than having no tool. That said I have tried a number of tools and approaches and would like to present JIRA as a tool I recommend for scrum.

Discovery Sandton
155 West Street
South Africa

When? 28 February 2012

To register go to: here

Cape Town: Pecha Kucha

Pecha Kucha is a trademarked format ideal for high-powered, energetic presentations. Started in Tokyo, Japan, in February 2003, the format allows each speaker 20 slides and 20 seconds of talk time per slide. The slides are automatically forwarded after 20 seconds with no chance of return. Read more about this simple, but challenging format on the web site of the local Cape Town chapter.

When: 1 December 2011, 6:00PM

Topic: Pecha Kucha

Sign up: Please sign up here in order to help us with catering.

Allan Gray Portswood office in the Presentation Room on the third floor. You can download a map here. Everyone parking in the Portswood parking area will have to pay for their own parking tickets. There is also parking available in Beach Road.

Ending the year in high mood our December event promises to be a night of good, (mostly) clean fun!

A number of brave SUGSA members will present around the topic of the Agile Software Development Methodology.

Sheetal Gordhan is currently a servant leader to the R & D team at Mobilitrix where she spends her time asking questions, demanding results and giggles often.

“I will use the 6 mins and 40 seconds to illustrate why I think Scrum is not for the faint hearted. I will make reference to Ken Schwaber, Scrum values and the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and some of my own experience to illustrate this statement.”

Meloné van Heerden is currently a ScrumMaster serving two teams at Allan Gray. Since qualifying as a Certified ScrumMaster 2.5 years ago, she feel that her philosophy around scrum is best described by a quote from Keith Sawyer:
“We are drawn to the image of the lone genius whose mystical moment of insight changes the world. But the lone genius is a myth; instead it’s group genius that generates breakthrough innovation.
Collaboration drives creativity because innovation always emerges from a series of sparks – never a single flash of insight.”

“Self-organisation is a fundamental concept in agile software development. This does not mean that there is no place for leaders, nothing could be further from the truth. Leaders can influence how teams self-organise, but being an effective leader is not easy.
Allan Gray offers a brilliant leadership program to all it’s leaders and I had the privilege of participating in the leadership program this year. I would like to use this time to share some of my key learnings with you.”

Karen Greaves is currently the Software Development Manager at Fundamo, where she works with four awesome Scrum teams to deliver great software regularly. She also regularly co-trains Scrum classes with Peter Hundermark, hoping to become a CST soon. She was previously the Scrum Coach at Intec where she was responsible for their Scrum roll out to approximately 100 people in Cape Town R&D. She has worked in software for over 12 years in a number of different roles and environments. She is passionate about building good software, and creating a work environment which enables technology professionals to be creative, motivated and productive. You can read her blog here.

“Agile Management: How to create a culture to help your team succeed.”

David Campey, Douglas from dotlogic and Andrew from graphicmail have also volunteered and we will give you more info about their talks as we receive it.

How to make your Dev team exceptional

High quality software that meets the business needs can only come from an exceptional development team. Lets talk about the secret sauce needed to make your team exceptional.

Stand-ups every day? Check.
Impediment-removing Scrum Master? Check.
Product Owner who understands prioritising? Check.
Teams that deliver working code every sprint? Check.
Review every sprint? Check.
Retrospective every sprint? Check.

Does this make your business truly Agile? For me there are a couple of checklist items missing:

Development practices that deliver high quality code?

A team of developers who understand one another and operate as a cohesive unit?

Team productivity doesn’t drop when a particular team member is away?

How would you answer? How would your developers answer?

It’s bring-a-dev-day at SUGSA! In fact bring your whole development team.

About Austin Fagan

I work for Unboxed Consulting.

I started writing software in 1999. I think I’m as bad now as I was then. So I don’t code now, my team keeps me as far from the codebase as they can, they shudder at the thought of me coding. I still can’t help being passionate about development. Weird.

I’ve been lucky enough to be exposed to Agile techniques and great development practice since 2006 and I’ve been boring people silly about both since.


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Event Report: World Cafe conversations

The coffee shop or cafe scene was set with mood-lighting and flowers on the tables; the only missing element was coffee, but the crowd made do with other assorted drinks.
We had a practical session using the World Cafe technique to discuss a light-hearted question – “How can SUGSA be more?”. It turned out that the question was important enough to the extent that we spent two 20-minute sessions on it. A number of extremely useful suggestions and pertinent points of view emerged regarding the Scrum User Group of SA! The findings can certainly be carried forward as action points for the SUGSA committee. All of the ideas and thoughts were recorded on tablecloths by the groups of four at a coffee table.
The graphic recorder was Warren Maroon from the Ruth Prowse School of Art – many thanks Warren!
Click on the web album below to view pictures of the evening; the tablecloths, discussion groups and the graphic recording, cartoon-style.
Post a comment if you remember that one important thing you still wanted to say… or if you just want to give us your impressions of the event.

SUGSA – World Cafe

Agile India 2012

Agile Alliance is happy to present Asia’s largest Agile conference. Agile India 2012 is the first Agile Alliance conference to be held outside North America.

Come and join us for three spectacular days in India’s technology hub—Bengaluru. Learn and share your experience in software development and agile adoption with various speakers and attendees from different parts of Asia and around the world. Participate and exchange ideas with researchers and academics from around the world as they showcase the best of international research on Agile software development.

Agile India 2012 will have many sessions on all aspects of agile including agile product management. Learn more at Agile India 2012.

I am actively looking for speakers for the agile product management stage, for any further information, please contact me at:

Hoping to see some of the passionate South African agilists there!

SGZA Presentations and videos

Below you will find the contacts for speakers, their presentations and where they exist, the videos. We will continue to add to this as the presentations become available





Andrew Coote et al Agile – The Jazz Manifesto
Annu Augustine A product owners guide to saying ‘No’ Video Link
Aslam Khan The Product Owner
Aslam Khan Live your principles or stay in bed
Boris Gloger An effective ScrumMaster is the key
Boris Gloger Scrum for Leaders Video Link
Brent Blake Agile adoption success Video Link
Cara Turner Motivation++ – Building motivated teams with great facilitation
Cara Turner Setting achievable goals Video Link
Carlo Kruger Inspecting & Adapting your product
Carlo Kruger Your Sprint Review Sux! Video Link
David Campey Agile Contracting Video Link
Fadi Stephan Daily Stand-up Anti-patterns and Heuristics
Fadi Stephan Software Craftsmanship – Imperative or Hype
Kevin Trethewey See code differently
Manoj Vadakkan It’s the culture, Stupid! – Why Scrum is more than just a few ceremonies, roles, and artifacts?
Maritza van den Heuvel & Sam Laing Can PO teams solve the PO Problem?
Mitch Lacey Keynote address Video Link
Patrick Vine Fixed Price Scrum – an experience Video Link
Rian van der Merwe An Introduction to User Experience Design
Richard Bailey Help me, the hippies have taken my team to play games
Sam Laing & Karen Greaves Agile Games Video Link
Sharna Sammy Scrum within Publishing Video Link
Siegfried Kaltenecker The elephant is dead. Leadership in the agile world
Siegfried Kaltenecker The Big 5. Leadership as a team sport in the agile world
Simon Bennett Lean vs. Agile
Simon Bennett Beyond Kano: Using the Cynefin Framework for Backlog Management
Thorsten O Kalnin Agile Serious Play



Well, it’s all over (until next year). A record breaking event for us, spanning two cities, three days, 260 people, four continents and eighteen speakers.

Below you will find all the pics from the Cape Town event

Cape Town: World Cafe conversations

Join SUGSA Cape Town on 6 October when we have World Cafe conversations.

When: 6 October 2011, 6:00PM

Topic: World Cafe conversations

Sign up: Please sign up here in order to help us with catering.

Allan Gray Portswood office in the Presentation Room on the third floor. You can download a map here. Everyone parking in the Portswood parking area will have to pay for their own parking tickets. There is also parking available in Beach Road.

One of the most effective ways to think beyond the boundaries of one’s own frame of reference is the input of others. World Cafe as a facilitation technique and catalyst for drawing from other people’s experience and opinions is true to our most fundamental form of communication: conversations.

The session will be highly interactive and probably leave you feeling a bit exhausted… But hey, no-one ever said that exhilarating discussion and loads of fun must be easy!

The main outcome of the evening will be that you, as a participant in the World Cafe process, will be able to facilitate a World Cafe at your workplace, in your community or at any gathering of people with a specific issue to resolve.
A secondary outcome will be that we, as the Scrum User Group, will deepen our purpose and direction.

Alwyn van Wyk and a graphic recorder/cartoonist

(ps: The image accompanying this post can be found on Avril Orloff’s web site along with other great examples of graphic recordings of World Cafe conversations.)