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Bob Hartman has spent 30+ years in software development. His logic-based approach to development and quality was honed early in his career when he obtained Bachelors and Masters degrees in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Over the past 10 years he has grown from being an early adopter of agile to his current status as a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) and Certified Scrum Coach (CSC). He also remembers the pain of long waterfall development cycles and understands the human and business interactions necessary to achieve success regardless of development methodology. Bob is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 22 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

New to agile? Remember, sometimes things get crazy!

07.28.2010
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Do you ever get so frustrated you feel like pulling your hair out?  I do (although that is NOT a picture of me to the left!).  If you look at my pictures you will see that it would be difficult for me to pull my hair out because a) there isn’t a lot of it, and b) what little there is I have cut very short.  But, enough about me, back to the issue/craziness at hand.

I last updated my blog on June 14 and here it is July 27.  That is way too long between updates, so let me start by apologizing to all of you who look forward to reading entries when I post them.  Fortunately, during the time when I haven’t been updating the blog I recognized a problem which I often see on agile teams – CRAZINESS!  Yes, sometimes things get a little crazy, or in my case recently, a LOT crazy!

My last month has been extremely busy.  Since June 14th I’ve been in San Diego (twice), Minneapolis (twice), and Philadelphia.  I’ve also sent out 8 training or coaching proposals, been on 18 conference calls, attended 3 major springboard diving meets with my son, one of my daughters had her gall bladder removed and my brother visited to do 10 days of handyman repairs around my house!  In my calendar I see that I did all those things, but it still amazes me that they all got done.  What didn’t get done?  Well, this blog for one thing!

Why is it important to point out my “lack of dedication” to the blog?  Because the answer is much more interesting than “lack of dedication.”  In fact, I love writing blog entries.  It isn’t lack of dedication at all, but rather lack of time.  I made a conscious decision to do other things rather than update the blog.  Why?  Because I work in an agile way, and when I prioritized my backlog of work it caused writing blog entries to fall near the bottom of the list.

I often see agile teams saying things like “we can’t get it all done” and then they try to do the impossible.  The result is usually ugly as they cut corners to try to make everything fit after saying it wouldn’t fit.  Instead what these teams need to remember is to continue to honor their prioritized product backlog.  Work on the important items and don’t spend any energy working on items that aren’t important.  For me, not writing this blog was a tough decision.  Writing here is a bit like therapy for me.  However, for the past 5 weeks I’ve had to put it on hold because other things were much more important.  Will I have dry spells like that again?  Probably, but when it occurs it will occur because I’ve made a decision to prioritize other things higher on my backlog.

Good agile teams need to remember that things WILL get crazy.  It is during the periods of craziness that the discipline of their approach works in their favor.  Don’t fall back into old habits when the pressure or craziness starts to get out of control.  Go back to basics and continue to work in priority order.  Working faster usually leads to more errors.  Working diligently in priority order will always outperform working “faster” on everything at once.

Until next time I’ll be Making Agile a Reality® for my clients by continuing to prioritize my work and personal life in a way which will lead to a balance where I can deliver maximum value to everyone.

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Published at DZone with permission of Bob Hartman, author and DZone MVB. (source)

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