Getting my SAFe on

One could argue that I work in a large organization. Granted, it is not large like Apple or Google is large, but by Danish standards it is pretty big. Much like our competitors in the financial sector we are moving towards an agile development setup. And to no one’s surprise, there are some challenges that seem to be somewhat pervasive in my neck of the woods.

Obviously I can’t really say anything about my current situation, but I should be able to give the broad strokes without violating anything or anybody.

Flow is key

When it comes to agile setups I have always been focused on the flow. Requirements and tasks must flow in a steady stream through our teams. The chain is only as strong as the weakest link, which means that not only do we need to fill all the positions (product owner, scrum master and team members), but we also have to ensure that work flows unhindered through our setup. of course, the problem arises when you have a lot of teams that work on the same system but also have responsibilities for the daily maintenance of existing systems. This is where the Product Owner really earns her money, as it is up to her and the other POs to prioritize and protect he teams from the uncertainty that always arises from situations like this.

Creating the funnel

Not surprisingly, in big organisations there has to be a clear funnel that holds all upcoming tasks and requirements in a prioritized manner. Now, I am not advocating anything fancy or a lot of spec work at this point, but product management (top management?) must have a clear idea of what they want and in which order. Furthermore, management must understand that not all requirements are created equal. As agile teams we are dependent on sensible prioritization in order to get our flow to work. We must know what is the most important thing in the word and what is not. If this is not clear we will decide what should be done, and we will always do what we think is the most fun 🙂

SAFe is a model that scales agile teams, and attempts to create a program level flow much akin to the my own idea of flow. This is where my blog post could become really interesting if I could refer to real life incidents, but of course I can’t. I want to say this though. When working on the program level one should adhere to the principles of agile as much as when one work on the team level. Communication, prioritization and trust is just as important at the program level as these things ensures flow and create a sensible and prioritized funnel.

Lost for words

It is no secret that I have been struggling with this blog for a couple of years. Most of the things I have wanted to write are inappropriate outside of work context, and everything else seems like uncritical regurgitation of already published news stories.

For a while there, I tried to only post how-to articles, or should I say, bug reports. Every time I ran into a problem, I would publish the solution if I found one. My post about fixing the OneDrive sync engine issues have received a lot of hits WordPress tells me.

It is a slightly depressing situation as I have always enjoyed blogging about whatever came to mind. However, perhaps there’s a reason for this blogging fatigue. As many other people have pointed out, the rise of Facebook, Twitter etc. have made it easier for people to create content in a more on-the-fly manner. The content is usually not very interesting as there’s little thought behind it. I would argue that a blog post reqiures more effort to produce, as it is longer and contains more information as opposed to a tweet which tends to be 140 characters worth of dopamine stimulating nothing.

In the immortal words of Denis Leary “have we turned into gerbils ladies and gentlemen?” I don’t know about you, but I certainly have. Everyday, I mindlessly scroll through status updates mixed with an unhealthy dose of advertisements in order to feel that I am up-to-date. Freeconomics have ruined my imagination. Thanks a lot Google.

Think for a moment about people like the late great Arron Swartz, who had serious visions for the Internet and compare that to how the it has now become nothing more than a vehicle for advertisement and privacy violations.

We as IT people should be focusing on making the world a better place. I sincerely believe that we have a lot of the tools required to do so, and here we are looking for new ways to enslave our users, making them dependent on their smartphones so we can come with new a creative ways of exposing the to advertising, making them want shit they don’t need to impress people they don’t like with thngs the cannot afford.

Anyway, enough complaining from an bitter guy. I will be attending Scrum kick off tomorrow with my new team. Hopefully that will spur some inspiration.

 

 

Considering Outlook.com Premium

It’s the weirdest thing. I don’t really send or receive a lot of personal email anymore. Most of my communication goes via Facebook messenger or Google Hangouts; not even Skype is something I use a lot of these days, with the exception of Skype for Business of course. Despite this change in habits, I find myself oddly drawn to Outlook.com Premium.

Since I moved to Android I have been considering moving to Gmail, but even though I find that it is fine product I can’t seem to actually do it. And now that I can can use my domain with Outlook.com for real, perhaps that is the way to go?

Or maybe not. Why on earth would I spend money on something I don’t really use. Seriously, am I that vain? Or am I just stuck on an aging technology for nostalgic reasons? My oldest doesn’t really use email and the two youngest are still too young to have any real use for these tools. When I communicate with my wife we always use Facebook messenger. That being said, the new premium service seems like a pretty cool idea, and if I can just find a domain everybody in the family likes I should be golden.

New Firbit Charge HR

FitbitChargeHR18 months ago I lost my Fitbit Flex in the airport. At least I think I lost in the airport during a business trip, however, I could theoreticall have lost anywhere. This illustrates by biggest problem with the Flex – the locking mechanism. I lost it a couple of times before, but I always managed to find it again. But not that time.

So, when I decided to venture into the wearables category again, I needed something that would not fall off my wrist without me noticing. Enter the Fitbit Charge HR. I am not fully committed to any specific wearable yet, so the very reasonable pricepoint defenitely swayed me here. I know – I am a cheap bastard. Compared to the Flex, this is a meaningful upgrade in terms of features, so right now I am more than happy. The expanded data collection is quite useful to me. Heart rate, floors climbed, moving reminders are all features I actually use. ¨

I don’t use the Charge when I go running, as I still have my Garmin Forerunner. I am reluctant to make the switch, since it is not possible to change the band like it was with teh Flex. The wear and tear from running is pretty significant, and is the weak spot of the Charge. No replaceable band.

For now I am tracking my nutrition via MyFitnessPal as I think that service is better than what Fitbit offers. However, the integration between the two is pretty good, so it’s not really a problem. If Fitbit makes their service a little bit better I would definitely consider switching.

Adventures with Android part 2

s-l300I have been using my Nexus 5X for around two months now, and even though I swore I would not blog about it I feel compelled to do just that.

So far it the experience has been pretty good. I am really enjoying the plethora of apps. Although I never considered myself an “app person” there seems to be some apps like HBONordic that I am using a lot more than I would have imagined.

However, it seems to me that the phone is starting to slow down, which is way too early for that to happen. I think more ram would have helped out a lot, but that’s what I get for not getting the high end version. It could ned up being a problem, but for now I’ll just have to waut and see.

Android itself is ok. It seems to me that it lacks a lot polish and it doesn’t handle 3rd party email terribly well, which is very disappointing. Luckily I can mitigate that by installing Outlook.

All in all I am pretty satisfied with my purchase. However, I really miss Windows mobile for it’s great performance and more polished look. The app selection on Android seems to negate that feeling so I don’t see myself returning. Perhaps my next phone should be an iPhone. 

Getting help with my Nexus

I reached out to Google on Twitter to get some assistance with the charging issues I experienced with my Nexus 5x. They actually got back to me pretty quickly and even though it didn’t help they still deserve a hat tip.