Thursday, September 17, 2015

Away With You Sprints!

Let's face it, building software is more like a marathon or a journey than it is a race. There are checkpoints, people need breaks to refuel (their brains and bodies), and working as fast as possible - all the time - will cause more defects and puts us all in a position to compromise (aka cut corners).


We're sending the wrong message with "Sprint". Let's stop calling an iteration a Sprint, and start calling it something more sensible. If we want to truly convey how we need to build software, I strongly suggest choosing appropriate metaphors in our processes. Sometimes we are on a journey or a tour or a mission.


We have a destination chosen before we leave. What way markers do we need to pass? Will we set certain checkpoints? We make a map. We have a mapmaker and a planning committee. They plan the journey and make the map. One of the committee is familiar with the terrain and can act as a guide. We have a guide. The guide may go forth on the journey or prepare the travelers before they go and guide as needed during the journey.


We have a few roles so far, and there will be more - we don't have as many people as roles, so some people will serve in many roles. They will be prepared to fulfill the duties of each role, lest the journey be a tragic one.


We move forward together as a group in a troop. We have a troop leader. The leader makes decisions that affect the group, but must leave others to learn as they go so that they too can be leaders. The leader must know how to make balanced decisions. The leader must let others lead in their own rights.


Occasionally, we need to send a scout ahead or down some path to the side to see if there is anything of value. We can huddle up and plan our next steps, then continue forward towards our destination or alter our course based on what is learned by the scout. As part of altering the course, we must consider the destination and how we will still arrive in the end.


We update the map as we learn. The navigator updates the map. It is helpful if the navigator is the scout and the mapmaker but not necessary.


We have a journal and a handbook. The journal is used to track daily activities and for lessons learned. The journal is updated daily. The leader updates the journal others may contribute. Each member of the group is encouraged to keep their own journal.


The handbook is a set of guides, principles, and best practices that we consult when confronted by a situation or an obstruction. It is created by or is a compendium of works by those who have experience in navigating many types of terrain. We use it every day, we learn from it, we train with it, every member must have a handbook and know its contents. It describes how to organize, how to plan, what to watch for, how to best deal with most situations. It is the most valuable commodity the troop can own.


The handbook is updated after each journey, or as needed. The handbook has information about how to update it. The handbook may be a subset of a full guide, in this case it would be a field guide. The full guide may be consulted during planning activities and the field guide/handbook during journeys.


The guide books may serve to help define and answer some of the most important questions. What criteria do we use to know if we need to abort the mission early? What hazards might we face? What if we come across an obstruction, can we pull together to clear it or do we need to call in a ranger? If we lose our way, we will need a ranger to help us back on track. Who is the ranger, who are the scouts, who has the map? Who does what? How do we...


There are rangers. There are different types of rangers. There are forest rangers, they are others within the organization who keep the forest healthy and the paths clear so that we may navigate. Occasionally, we may need to call in a special ranger. Special rangers are from outside the organization, they are called in to solve a specific problem that cannot be resolved by a forest ranger.


Training is second to only the guide book. We have training sessions, training missions, should we have badges? Each member must have the appropriate training before taking on a role. Each role must have its training requirements defined. Some journeys may be too hazardous for some members of the pack. The journey should be appropriate for the member.


 We have principles that must be learned, those principles are sensible and important to success, we proudly learn and teach those because they are integral to our way - it is an honor.


We stick together, we help each other, we help others, we uphold our principles,...

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