Gary Allison's Leadership Blog

March 2009

Agile Software and Leadership and Teams29 Mar 2009 09:13 pm

Last week, the Austin Agile development user group, AgileAustin, published a online poll of tools that teams in the local area favor for agile planning.  In response to the email announcing the poll, a couple of members emailed the list saying their favorite tool is no tool at all.  Some said index cards.  I shook my head a bit and emailed a good friend of mine who also leads development teams for his thoughts.  We came to the conclusion that it must be nice to work in a project so small you need no tools to help the team plan a sprint.

Actually, I don’t think it would be that nice.  I’d submit that if your plans are so simple that you need nothing to track them, or index cards suffice, you’re probably not doing much interesting.  For my team, Rally Software’s Rally Enterprise has been very successful in helping us plan very complex agile projects.  I recommend it without hesitation.

In many cases, our product management team enters user stories (sometimes we use epics for very large user stories) while the development, QA, and docs team breaks these down into stories and tasks.  We plan sprints as a fully integrated feature team across all these disciplines.  It’s not perfect, but it works and works well.

You can keep your index cards, thank you.

Leadership and Tech News28 Mar 2009 05:50 pm

As you can tell by the frequency of my posts, things have been very busy at work – no complaints though, I know of friends and associates that would like to have such a problem. I wanted to follow up on one of the thoughts in the prior post regarding the global ramifications of effect of freely / very affordable cloud computing services.

With services like google app engine and amazon’s elastic compute cloud offering free and low cost resources that would have previously required investment of at least six zeros, the bar is substantially lowered to take a good idea to market.  To build out an idea, you now really just need a handful of expertise and time – not to mention a lot less time that you once did.

This opens competition up on a global scale never seen before – certainly there are many excellent and bright developers in India, China, Eastern Europe, Russia, Brazil, you get the picture.  The value increases for innovative ideas, domain knowledge, and the ability to market the solution.

I firmly believe America remains the cradle of innovation; it is in the very core of our society and our DNA.  I’ve had the privilege over my career to work with some of the best and brightest, and feel very blessed that I still do every day.  It is heartening to see the innovation coming out of Apple and my own company.  Still it is going to be a very different world when my daughters enter the workforce.   Change is coming and it is coming even faster than we can imagine.