Agile Project Manager as Shepherd

I value project managers and see an on-going need for them within a Lean-Agile context. Admittedly the role of the project manager changes when using an Lean-Agile approach, becoming more of a shepherd and less a military officer. In this, the first post of a new series, I thought I’d revisit my definition of the Agile Project Manager.
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How to spot a Product Owner’s Pet Requirements

Everybody has pet requirements and product owners, being human, are no different. Unfortunately pet requirements are a real risk to software projects. We should all resist these pet requirements and do everything possible to kill them off ASAP and avoid building them. So how do you spot pet requirements
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Is Kanban Turning Developers into Mindless Automata? Not necessarily

David shambles up to the Kanban board. He moves a card from “Dev In Progress” to “Dev Done”. No emotion cracks his blank facade. There is no celebration of a job well done. No acknowledgement from others in the room. David glances briefly to his left and then pulls another card from “Ready for Dev” into “Dev In Progress” before shambling back to this desk. Another burst of coding begins. This little scene has occurred four times already this week, 19 times this month, and 271 times since David joined the project 15 months earlier. Is David just a machine in the Lean-Agile software factory? A mindless development automaton?
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Who is Specification by Example for? Everybody!

I was talking to Pedro Santos on the train the other day. Pedro is my technical lead, an expert in his field and a keen advocate of automated testing and software craftsmanship in general. We were talking about Gherkin and Pedro was saying he doesn’t see Gherkin tests adding value because it doesn’t help him as a developer. Of course I disagree. The way I look at it is the Gherkin tests are not for the developers. The Gherkin tests are for the organisation – they are for everybody.
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It is ALL Number One Priority / It is ALL Must Have. Not true!

If the customer claims everything on the product backlog is top priority, and by implication must have, then you’ve a bit of an education job ahead of you. You have to get the customer to the point where only one thing is top priority and even “must haves” are sorted into a priority order. There is a good chance some of those “must haves” turn into “would like to have” and in time disappear.
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Solution Convergence: Marrying Business, User Experience and Technical Input

My product owner was upset when I told her she couldn’t have the widget that she had agreed with the User Experience (UX) Designer. The problem was the design was not technically feasible. To get a great solution to meet the business requirements three parties – business, user experience and technical – must agree on the approach. That negotiation is what I call “Solution Convergence”.
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Product at the end of its life cycle? Try the Scream Test

One of my teams was responsible for maintaining over 3,000 applications, utilities and audience facing services. We didn’t know who owned or cared about the majority of these. This mysterious majority had been commissioned in the mists of time by people who’d moved on. 3,000 was too many and we needed to cut. Our only recourse was the “Scream Test”.
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