Tag Archives: SUGSA Event

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

December SUGSA event – Pecha Kucha

First of all, the fact that I am only blogging about last months event, a mere two hours from the start of this months event, is definite grounds for an apology! Better late than never they say?

The first Thursday in December. Four confident looking presenters got themselves geared up. No walk in the park this. Each presenter had only 6 minutes to get their message across. Each slide had to be no longer than 20 seconds. What I didn’t know, until that evening, was that each slide had to automatically be set to transition after 20 seconds. No pressure!

First up was Sheetal Gordhan. Scrum is not for the faint hearted was her topic!

I’m looking at my notes now, and I see the Ken Schwaber quote: “Scrum is hard”. And right next to that I have Sheetal paraphase: “This kak is hard”. I like Sheetal’s version 🙂 I remember us all having a good chuckle, leaned back in our seats and took in a nice big gulp on our drinks. Our evening was set, we were here to have some fun!

Sheetal’s presentation reminded us that only a small percentage of teams are actually successful in Scrum. It’s really not easy and we need to prepare ourselves when we embark on this journey. Even though there are 1,000’s of articles online, it’s still not enough to prepare us for what lies ahead.

I can honestly say that I, in 6 minutes, had learned more about what a newbie organisation to Scrum should expect than I have in any course attended or article read.

My favourite slide of Sheetal’s. Hmmm, this is a tough one, there are so many. I liked the Google statistics of how many results one can expect when searching for Scrum information. But one that really stood out for me was the All Blacks doing the haka. Titled ‘Scrum Rituals’.( Remember, this event was in early December, only a few weeks after the All Blacks were crowned World Champs!). What are your development teams rituals? The usual stand-up and retrospective, or do you have something unique?

Next up was Meloné van Heerden, with her presentation entitled, What makes a great leader. Meloné had recently attended a course on this subject, and used the opportunity to apply her learning’s into the software development, in particular, Scrum, environment. One could see that the learning’s had a big impact of her, as her talk was passionate and energetic.

The subject of an ‘authentic leader’. What is an authentic leader? Or rather, what makes a leader authentic? Mel took us through the 6 step of process of discovering the authentic ‘you’. A necessary self-awareness process. A look at intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

My favourite slide of Meloné’s. I personally liked the way in which she modelled the need to effectively set a leadership example, with well-known figures. Nelson Mandela and Barrack Obama featured, with Obama’s family an example of how important it is to build a support network. But my favourite would have to be a slide which represented who we sometimes don’t change. Any guess who features? Have a look at the photo below.

Next up, the good man David Campey. David had an interesting approach. Each of his slides represented a photo he had taken of his agile working environment. We got to meet his team. His manager. His Product Owner.

It told a story of a project. Starting from a photo of his Product Owner, looking very visionary in a room with blue-sky type walls, through to photo’s of his team hard at planning, and ending with his team out on a boat trip 🙂

I’ve always found it fascinating to see how other organisations work. How they approach their Scrum repertoire. Especially local companies.

David’s presentation was recorded, so please have a look for yourself. I’ve already sent this out to my development teams. Motivational stuff!

And finally, Karen Greaves, who needed little introduction off course! Her talk was titled: “Agile Management: How to create a culture to help your team succeed.” It was awesome! Need I say more. Who thought a talk about management could be fun 🙂

Thank you to everyone that attended. And a big thank you to our four brave presenters. You were all superstars!