Political ‘Scrum’

In my travel’s around clients I frequently see organisations trying to introduce agile or lean approaches. Sometimes this is driven by a real understanding of the issues and limitations of their current approach, sometimes it’s ‘new shiny toy syndrome’ (new? – this stuff has it’s roots in late 80’s or earlier). Sometimes it’s ‘keeping up with the Jones (or Howe-Jones!)’

Frequently these agile transformations struggle or fail for a variety of reasons. the most common is ‘politics’. Organisations, regardless of size, are full of people, and some people are inherently out for there own interests.

I frequently see Scrum teams behaving cooperatively and transparently but their message to other stakeholders gets filter and distorted by political animals who are living in their own culture of ‘fear and incompetence’.

How do these teams cope with these political influence? Make sure your metrics are in place, burn down charts, definition of done, test coverage, team velocity, etc. then PUBLISH THEM TO EVERYONE!

If the reality of the teams progress and actions is exposed to every stakeholder for them to see for themselves it’s not possible for the organisational politicians to distort the message.

Be open and transparent.

Seeking Clojure

Over the last three months I’ve been trying to learn Clojure on evenings and weekend. I started this roller coaster ride of joy and frustration  on the recommendation of my close friend and Clojurian @otfrom.

The start of this emotional experience is rooted in a conversation with @otfrom over a glass of wine at the Open Data Institute. The glass of wine may have been a major contributor to my decision to take the plunge into Lisp for the JVM. The conversation went something like this:

  • Me: I’m keen to learn functional programming as I think it has advantages over Object Orientation, especially in the brave new world of ‘big data’ and the increasing emphasis on massively concurrent processing. I’ve started reading a book on Scala because as a Java developer I thought it would be a good place to start.
  • @otfrom: Sounds like a good idea. Scala is a good language if you want to dip your toe in the world of functional programming.
  • Me: Yeah, I thought as it’s like Java I could encourage our other Java developers to start learning and using it.
  • @otfrom: OK. Only thing is, do you think that if they’re struggling to learn they might just abandon the functional style and just start writing Java without semi colons?
  • Me: ..Oh sh*t, you’re right. The whole point of this is to learn functional programming not write OO in a different language.

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