concocting  extraordinary  teams

May 31, 2006

(Just enough) Order out of Chaos

I recently ran a retrospective with one of my teams, for a 14-week Agile pilot project. We had a few extra minutes before lunch, so I tried an optional exercise I had on my agenda: Please draw a picture of how you feel about the Pilot. It could be realistic or completely abstract.

Now, this team had had the usual Scrum rollout trials, but also a few good surprises: some things had gone far better than they'd anticipated. Some of their main concerns had been job satisfaction and earning respect within the organization. At the point that we did the retrospective, the team acknowledged that they were in a bit of a slide back into old bad habits, which didn't worry me (I know they'll pull out of it), but it did concern them.

So I was pleased and surprised with Val's drawing: if I can help many people feel this way about their work, I will have had a valuable and rewarding career. We didn't talk much about what the drawings meant, so I leave you to draw your conclusions, as I did mine :-)

By the way: the team nominated Val to be their next ScrumMaster. Her optimism seems to be contagious!

May 20, 2006

InfoQ site "unLaunched" and available for early bird review!

Well, Floyd Marinescu's labour of love is finally ready - is in pre-launch beta testing and we'd love for you to have a look and send us your comments! And feel free to blog about it - the more the merrier! Official launch is set for the end of the month. Cross-posted - apologies to those of you subscribed to all 3 lists :-)

We hope this will become both a resource for local agile communities, as well as a platform for discussion and for publishing quality written works, perhaps by you!

I'm really pleased to be part of this team... well, two teams really: editors and developers, since our team has created its own publishing platform with features not seen elsewhere. It's still under development, I can't wait to see it when the full featureset has rolled out!


May 15, 2006

Agile Spirits Discovered at Web 2.0 un-Conference

The sold-out Mesh Conference began today in Toronto: the hordes have descended for what's predicted to be Canada's seminal Web 2.0 event.

Web 2.0 is a buzzword coined by those who believe there is a paradigm shift going on in the way people will interface with the world wide web. It has continually incorporated (and spawned) the latest web innovations (podcasts, hacks, tagging), innovations commonly called "Social Computing" applications. All agree that the meaning of Web 2.0 is still in flux, but the general gist of it seems to be this: the web as a computing platform, by the people, for the people - perhaps having started with the original wikiwiki, and now extending to a plethora of commercial and open-source applications, including well known apps such as Google Maps, Flickr,, digg and Technorati.

Not surprisingly, for a crowd whose watchword seems to be "disintermediation", the creed produced by some of their members looks much like an artsy version of the Agile Manifesto. And why not? The more the merrier! Here is an excerpt of a much longer Mesh Manifesto:

In this 2.0 world, transparency is the new black.
And it’s an enduring trend.
With transparency, authentic branding isn’t an oxymoron.
With transparency, organizational courage is expected.
With transparency, social media reigns.
With this, we’re living in a new space of openness.
A paradigm shift toward honesty.
An existence of integrity.
A time to be frank.
And I am Frank. It’s not my name. It’s who I am.

A number of Mesh speakers and attendees headed over straight from Toronto's second successful BarCamp event, which ended just last night, called BarCampTdot. Mesh is, in fact, partially an outgrowth of the BarCamp un-conference movement that's been gaining strength internationally since last autumn. Or perhaps BarCamp and Mesh are both outgrowths of some common precedent. It's hard to tell: organization is purposely decentralized, memes spread and morph freely... who know where any idea really comes from? (BarCampers will tell you: it doesn't really matter).

These people are worth watching - their energy is enormous, and infectious. Their OpenSpace-inspired un-conferences are unleashing fresh ideas and unexpected partnerships,and are garnering attention from government and mainstream media. The potential for synergy (or competition) with the world of Agile Software Development is tough to ignore: we'll be reporting more about Web 2.0 in the coming weeks, and encouraging Agile developers to be aware of this important movement among our design- and useability-oriented colleagues.

TorCamp 2.0

A great weekend - that once again proves that great teams are where you make them :-)

Here is my Flikr slide show of some of my favourite photos of the event, courtesy of our BarCampTdot photographers, including Matthew and this luminous photo by Bryce.

More later!

May 09, 2006

What's Deb up to?

I've been busy in Toronto, doing a little coaching and looking for the enterprises that want help tuning up their development processes... it's slow work, but they are out there! I really want to work at home, if I can - though attractive jobs are more plentiful in the US right now.

I'm also working these days with Floyd Marinescu (formerly of on his latest venture, the InfoQ Enterprise Software Development Community, online. It will serve 5 different communities: Java, SOA, Ruby, .NET and Agile, and it will have interesting customization feature, so people see exactly the kind of news that interests them. InfoQ launches later this month, and I'm pretty excited about it!

I'll be the editing the Agile community area of the InfoQ site!! The launch is coming later this month - right now it's taking up a fair bit of my time, but eventually it will be a fun part-time job.

We are targeting leaders in enterprise development: team leads, architects, managers, educators. It will disseminate news, articles, interviews and presentations on subjects of interest to our community. Floyd has the benefit of lots of "lessons learned" from his TSS experience, and he has some interesting ideas for making this site relevant and easy to use. I'm also impressed with his committment to values that I also hold dear: focus on community, emergence, simplicity, and on delivering real value to customers - our readers.

We want to foster dialogue, promote quality within the community, and seed the development of new ideas by getting the good stuff out there for cross-pollination. Essentially, get people talking to one another in different ways than they do now - focused on individual articles and issues. (This is not a replacement for existing forums, but could direct people to forums when interesting threads come up in the news). We have an impressive lineup of articles and presentations already, for the launch, from senior people in their respective communities - you can check out our editorial lineup, if you like.

I'm open to content from Agilists... if you've been wanting to write but don't know where to publish original material (an article, a minibook, or a video of a talk) please get in touch with me and I'll tell you more. I make no guarantees, but my mandate is pretty broad :-)

We'll be at - I'll be sure to get word out when we launch!