J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

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  • Blog Post: Agile and the Definition of Quality

    “Quality begins on the inside... then works its way out.” -- Bob Moawad Quality is value to someone. Quality is relative. Quality does not exist in a non-human vacuum. Who is the person behind a statement about quality? Who’s requirements count the most? What are people willing to pay or do to have their...
  • Blog Post: Introduction to Agile Presentation

    I gave an Introduction to Agile talk recently: Introduction to Agile Presentation (Slideshow) I kept it focused on three simple things: What is Agile and the Agile Mindset (the Values and Principles) A rapid tour of the big 3 (Extreme Programming, Scrum, and Lean) Build a shared vocabulary...
  • Blog Post: Extreme Programming (XP) at a Glance (Visual)

    “Each of the practices still has the same weaknesses as before, but what if those weaknesses were now made up for by the strengths of other practices? We might be able to get away with doing things simply." – Kent Beck Extreme Programming (XP) has been around a while, but not everybody knows “what...
  • Blog Post: What is Agile?

    “Becoming limitless involves mental agility; the ability to quickly grasp and incorporate new ideas and concepts with confidence.” -- Lorii Myers I was asked to give an Intro to Agile talk to a group in Microsoft, in addition to a talk on Getting Results the Agile Way. It worked out well. The idea was...
  • Blog Post: Why Agile?

    I thought I had written about “Why Agile” before, but I don’t see anything crisp enough. Anyway, here’s my latest rundown on Why Agile? Increase customer involvement which can build empathy and avoid rework Learn faster which means you can adapt to change Improve quality through focus Reduce risk through...
  • Blog Post: Scrum at a Glance (Visual)

    I’ve shared a Scrum Flow at a Glance before, but it was not visual. I think it’s helpful to know how to whiteboard a simple view of an approach so that everybody can quickly get on the same page.  Here is a simple visual of Scrum: There are a lot of interesting tools and concepts in scrum. ...
  • Blog Post: Waterfall to Agile

    As I help more people go Agile, I try to simplify the most important concepts. For me, one of the most important changes in Agile is what it means to the product development cycle.  I think a picture is worth a 1,000 words.  I’ve put together a couple of simple visuals to show what it means...
  • Blog Post: Don’t Push Agile, Pull It

    I wrote my first article for Projects at Work .   It’s called Don’t Push Agile, Pull It , and it’s a simple recipe for introducing Agile into established organizations, in a more effective way.  Here it is: Don’t Push Agile, Pull It If you’re ever rolled-up your sleeves and tried to champion...
  • Blog Post: Steve Ballmer On a Big Vision — To Help People Realize Their Full Potential

    I think “to help people realize their full potential” and “to change the world” is why a lot of Softies come together. It’s the life-blood that flows through our veins. Softies come from all walks of life.  But there seems to be a common bond when it comes to sharing the Microsoft vision, the mission...
  • Blog Post: Agile Avoids Work About Work

    I was reading a nice little eBook on Opportunities and Challenges with Agile Portfolio Management . I especially like this part on “Work About Work” and how Agile helps avoid it: “Agile software development is all about eliminating overhead. Instead of establishing hierarchies and rules, Agile management...
  • Blog Post: Talk Teams Not Resources

    I was reading a nice little eBook on Opportunities and Challenges with Agile Portfolio Management . Here’s the part that caught my attention: “Johanna Rothman, an Arlington, Mass., consultant and author of Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects...
  • Blog Post: 3 Ways to Accelerate Business Value

    I was talking with a colleague recently about the following question: “How do you accelerate business value?” One of the key challenges in today’s world is accelerating business value.   If you’re implementing solutions, the value doesn’t start to get realized until users actually start to...
  • Blog Post: Gartner Says Smart Organizations Will Embrace Fast and Frequent Project Failure in Their Quest for Agility

    Beautiful. In a new digital economy and a world of ultra-competition, it’s great to shape a smart organization . We learned this long ago.   Agile was part of the early Microsoft patterns & practices DNA.   We embraced agile methods and agile management practices . We learned...
  • Blog Post: Agile Downsizing: Why Agile Skills Improve a Project Manager’s Job Security

    In PM Network magazine, Jesse Fewell wrote a great article on Agile Downsizing? Why Agile Skills Improve a Project Manager’s Job Security . Here are a few highlights: “Agile wasn’t designed to improve the bottom line like that, but it’s a misconception that has some project managers worrying whether...
  • Blog Post: Are You Used to Delivering Working Software on a Daily Basis and Changing the Software in Response to Emerging Requirements?

    That’s a pretty good question, and timeless, too.   I remember several years ago, when a vendor asked me that, and I remember laughing and thinking, “yeah, that’s what we try to show other people how to do.” What was great though, was the vendor followed up with a short-list of precise questions...
  • Blog Post: 10 Ways to Make Agile Design More Effective

    The key shift with Agile Design is to deliver quickly while handling changes smoothly.   Instead of doing long requirements phases, and heavy documentation up front, with Agile Design you focus on incremental and iterative delivery, going from low-fidelity to high-fidelity, while getting feedback...
  • Blog Post: The Art of the Agile Retrospective

    I’ve been asked to do a lot of Agile retrospectives around Microsoft over the years.  I don’t know how it started, but it started several years ago when somebody recommended that I lead a retrospective for their team, and then it caught fire from there.   In this post, I’ll share a simple...
  • Blog Post: Roles on Agile Teams

    You can think of a role as a group of related tasks, activities, and responsibilities.  By knowing the responsibilities and core types of activities up front, you can help make sure you have the right people on the team so that you can achieve project success in a healthy and sustainable way. On...
  • Blog Post: Agile Life-Cycle Frame

    As a program manager, it’s tough to shape a process with the team, if the team can’t “see” it.  When you have a mental model you can share with the team, things move a lot faster.   The problem with life cycles and end-to-end processes, is that people don’t usually know what the end-to...
  • Blog Post: To Do Doing Done

    To Do, Doing, Done is my favorite way to segment a Kanban.   It’s where I start.  It’s simple and intuitive.   Another benefit is that it’s easy to glance at three segments.  I’m a fan of “glance and go” vs. “stop and stare.” In the Kanban above, the “To Do” segment has...
  • Blog Post: Agile Methodology in Microsoft patterns & practices

    “I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.” -- Vincent Van Gogh I find myself mentoring on Agile practices and Agile methodology on a regular basis.  More and more teams are needing to stay connected with customers, respond to change, and flow value along the...
  • Blog Post: Agile Architecture Method Revisited

    I posted an update to the Agile Architecture method on Shaping Software .  When I originally posted about the Agile Architecture method, I took some things for granted.  I thought the mapping to agile practices was more obvious than it turned out to be.  After taking more customers through...
  • Blog Post: Writing Books on Time and on Budget

    One of the questions I get asked is how did we execute our patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0 project , on time and on budget ?  It was a six month project, during which we .... Created a language and model for application architecture.  (See Grady Booch on the Microsoft...
  • Blog Post: Microsoft patterns & practices Agile Workspace Tour

    I posted a visual walkthrough of our Microsoft patterns & practices Agile workspace on Shaping Software .   I basically did a lap around the halls and pointed out key things along the way.  Our patterns & practices team workspace is optimized for agile development practices. ...
  • Blog Post: Agile Architecture Method Pocket Guide

    We posted our Agile Architecture Method Pocket Guide to our Application Architecture Guidance KB .  This is in response to customers who expressed interest in more modular guides as a supplement to our Application Architecture Guide 2.0 . Chapters At a Glance Here’s the chapters at a glance...
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