Beginning to think about risk management in Agile projects

I’ve been thinking a lot about risk in Agile projects recently. It is something that I’ve known for a while we need to manage better. Here’s some of what I’ve discovered so far.

A few months ago I attended a three-day training course on portfolio, programme and project offices (P3O). It was fascinating and introduced me to, among other things, the P3M3 — because what we really need at St Andrews is more abbreviations! — which is the portfolio, programme and project management maturity model.

I was immediately interested in the — abbreviation warning! — PjM3, the project management maturity model, and used it to evaluate how we manage projects. Within this model, project management is broken down into seven elements:

  1. Management control
  2. Benefits management
  3. Financial management
  4. Organisational improvement
  5. Risk management
  6. Organisational governance
  7. Resource management
Continue reading Beginning to think about risk management in Agile projects

When retrospective objectives stack up

In my last post on retrospectives I said that at the end of each retrospective the team should settle on an action that they believe will help improve the next sprint: the retrospective objective.

James Shore and Shane Warden’s advice on choosing a retrospective objective in The Art of Agile Development (2008) is two-fold:

  1. During the retrospective, don’t worry about the detail: a general direction is good enough at this stage.
  2. Choose just one objective: it helps the team focus, and improve incrementally without feeling overwhelmed.
Continue reading When retrospective objectives stack up

Using Trello for team retrospectives

Physical kanban board and Trello board
We recently moved our retrospectives from a physical board using Post-it notes to Trello

Retrospectives are an important tool for Agile teams like ours. They allow the team to reflect frequently (usually at the end of an iteration) on work habits and processes, and agree how to improve them. We hold retrospectives every second Friday at the end of our sprints.

Until recently, we’ve been running all our retrospectives in the office using a magnetic white board and a small forest of Post-it® notes. Each retrospective we’ve lamented how much paper we waste, having used the sticky notes for only about an hour before they end up in the recycling bin.

So a couple of months ago, as one of our team members was working from home on the final day of our sprint, we used Trello (and Apple FaceTime) to allow him to fully participate.

We’ve used Trello now for the last four retrospectives, even when the whole team has been together in the same room. I want to use this post to reflect a little on what we’ve learned from the process. A retrospective on retrospectives, if you like.

Continue reading Using Trello for team retrospectives

And so the divorce proceedings begin…

Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon cover, showing a prism

Tomorrow morning marks the formal beginning of divorce proceedings.

At 10:00 in Dundee, Jane and I will meet with two mediators (one also a solicitor) from Relationships Scotland to begin ‘All Issues Mediation’. The end result will be a document, a Mediation Summary, that sets out (I presume in legal-ese) the terms of our proposed agreements resulting from the mediation which we then take to our own solicitors and ask them to process it, to make it legal.

This evening I had to fill in a 10 page document ahead of tomorrow’s meeting that lays out my full financial situation as of the formal date of our separation: Saturday 14 November 2015. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be, although I am still a little confused about pensions and insurance/assurance, and all that other serious grown-up stuff.

The last six months have given me some perspective on the whole thing, especially my last four months living in hall as the warden. While I miss my children desperately, I do otherwise feel happier than I have felt in a long, long time. I feel more like my old self, but a little wiser and more experienced old self. And that is a good place to be to go into these pre-divorce proceedings.

I don’t feel angry with Jane, I don’t even feel sad now. I know that we tried our best—I certainly know that I tried my very best to make things work. We just couldn’t make it work—we simply couldn’t communicate on the same wavelength. We were like two magnets pushing against one another. Or like when coloured lights come together they produce white: together we lost our identities, our uniqueness, our vibrancy. There is no point in me holding on, or resenting, or feeling hurt. That’s not the road to healing or wholeness.

I have said from the start that I want our divorce to be carried out in a kind and caring way, with grace and respect. I want to model to the boys the kind of behaviour that demonstrates that even though our marriage relationship came to an end it can be ended in a way that allows us both to walk away with dignity.

I will try to blog what I can about the process in the hope that it helps others going through a similar situation.