J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

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  • 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...
  • Blog Post: Agile Architecture Method

    I presented our new patterns & practices Agile Architecture Method for the first time at the patterns & practices Summit.   Our Agile Architecture Method is an iterative and incremental approach for designing architectures.  To summarize, it’s a technique that: Scopes and...
  • Blog Post: New Release: Distributed Agile Development at Microsoft patterns & practices

    Distributed Agile Development at Microsoft patterns & practices (PDF) is now available. Abstract Distributed development is a fact of life for many teams. Unfortunately most agile methodologies or approaches assume that the team is located in a single team room. Until recently there has been little...
  • Blog Post: Software Methodologies at a Glance

    I like to draw from a variety of sources for software engineering principles, patterns, and practices.  To be able to do this, I usually need to create information models that let me quickly scan bodies of knowledge.  Once I can frame out a space, it's a lot easier to drill into areas looking...
  • Blog Post: Agile Guidance

    When I ramp new folks on the team, I find it helpful to whiteboard how I build prescriptive guidance.  Here's a rough picture of the process: Examples I've used the same process for Performance Testing Guidance , Team Development with Visual Studio Team Foundation Server , and WCF Security . Here...
  • Blog Post: MSF Agile Frame (Workstreams and Key Activities)

    When I review an approach, I find it helpful to distill it to a simple frame so I can get a bird's-eye view.  For MSF Agile, I found the most useful frame to be the workstreams and key activities.  According to MSF, workstreams are simply groups of activities that flow logically together and...
  • Blog Post: MSF Agile Persona Template

    I was looking for examples of persona templates, and I came across Personas: Moving Beyond Role-Based Requirements Engineering by Randy Miller and Laurie Williams.  I found it to be insightful and practical.  I also like the fact they included a snapshot of a persona template example from MSF...
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