High Performing Teams: What’s the Secret Sauce?

Agile definition and value illustrated. View full size poster

I’m really looking forward to Plone Conf 2008 for many reasons, one of which is presenting on a topic I am passionate about, namely Agile development, in particular Scrum, an Agile software development framework.

What is Agile?

For people unfamiliar with Agile, Scott Ambler defines it concisely this way:

Agile is an iterative and incremental (evolutionary) approach to software development

which is performed in a highly collaborative manner

by self-organizing teams

with “just enough” ceremony

that produces high quality software

in a cost effective and timely manner

which meets the changing needs of its stakeholders.

Scrum, not just for rugby teams

Scrum is a framework that helps teams work in an Agile fashion. Development is time-boxed into iterations lasting 2 – 4 weeks. Each iteration delivers fully working (and tested) software that is “potentially shippable”. Work to be done is defined in a list, or product backlog, prioritized by the client so the most valuable features are done first.

At Agile 2008, I was fortunate to attend Jeff Sutherland’s (co-founder of Scrum) presentation on Agile contracts. His research has shown that teams firing on all Scrum cylinders can generate 400% more revenue than a team using Waterfall methods. (1) That’s some serious competitive advantage. Early retirement, anyone?

(1) See slide 19 of Jeff’s presentation

What do you want to learn about Agile and Scrum?

45 min goes by quickly so I’m soliciting input on my talk in advance. If you were thinking of catching this one, here is your chance to maximize your time investment. Let me know

  1. if you are currently using Agile and to what degree (see the Nokia Scrum test for a self evaluation)
  2. what you’d like to know in particular about Agile and Scrum

What I am thinking of covering:

  • Introduction to Agile and Scrum, if most of audience is unfamiliar
  • How Scrum leads to high performing teams
  • Quick demonstration of Agile tools built with Plone or built by Plone solution providers using other technologies. Pending list: Plum, XM, Agilito, RoadRunner. Anything else that should be in the list? I may use the tools in the other parts of the presentation to illustrate Agile / Scrum practices