Ep. 19 – Bringing Order to Chaos

Agile is often viewed as a reaction to Waterfall. Chaotic projects may be more common than Waterfall. In this episode of Improving Podcasts, Allen and Mike are joined by Ed, Gary McCants, and Ken Howard to discuss how agile values and techniques can bring order from chaos.

Topics Covered:

What is chaos and what are some signs of it?
* Mixed signals
* The team doesn’t know where it is.
* “We’re agile, we don’t need requirements, right?”
* Conversations are repeated again and again.
* Superheroes
* Lack of visibility
* Complexity can be a cause
What is attractive about it?
* Protection from visibility.
* Code is getting written, so we’re making progress, right?
* Can’t stop to think, we won’t make the deadline.
How do we draw people into actual agile from chaos?
* Break problems into smaller chunks to manage complexity.
* Manage iteration/sprint commitments to reduce need for superheroes.
* Expose system weaknesses to expose people who are trying to be superheroes.
* Ensure iteration/sprint plans and progress to releases are visible. Requires discipline.
* Keep folks on task and focused on the goal.
* Ensure creation of and use of Acceptance Criteria. This can replace much documentation. It can also limit scope and complexity.
* It takes time, and you might have to take things down before building it back up.
* Try to build trust and both personal and shared accountability.
* Make sure everyone knows what “done” means.
Agile can degrade into chaos if discipline is not maintained.
The first few iterations/sprints will be difficult.

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