Lunch and Learns

This is a series of lunch and learns on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the month of February 2021 at noon central time. The eight sessions are listed below.

2/2 – What is Agile? — Values, Principles, and Avoiding Cargo Cults

What does a cult that clears runways in the forest and wears coconuts like headphones have to do with Agile? You’ll find out in this talk that is a refresher of the foundation of Agile with a focus on the why behind all the different practices used by teams. No tales about pirates this time, but we’ve got stories about toothpaste tubes assembly lines, a manager who offered to buy a rocket for our Agile project, and a modern real-life version of the emperor who had no clothes fairy tale.

2/4 – Courageous Software Delivery – Rapid Deployment with Low Risk

A look at how teams can deploy more frequently but at lower risk with examples from various software projects, rocket launches and teenage pirates.

2/9 – Effective Daily Face-to-face Meetings (standups)

Your daily face-to-face meeting can be made one of your most important tools for getting work done quickly and efficiently! This is possible but doesn’t happen by accident. Effective daily standups are the result of a lot of intentional decisions to help your team reach its peak potential. In this talk, we’ll look at the goals of the daily standup and then work through how different approaches and common practices support or detract from those goals.

What people said about this talk:

“The session gave a good perspective on the goal of the daily meeting from being a status update to something more meaningful.”
“Clear ideals. Engaging.”
“Good examples and presentation of different ways to approach scrum/standup”
“I most liked the interactive model of presentation with survey and open questions.”
“Mark’s approach to recognizing problem scenarios and his willingness to reframe problems as possibilities is very refreshing.”

2/11 – Creating Good User Stories

User stories drive the process of creating software. Good user stories help develop software efficiently, but poor user stories can lead to lower return on investment. Really bad stories can even create negative ROI! We will look at example user stories from robotic milking machines to online shoe stores to find effective ways to represent complex work with simple user stories. (This is a repeat session from a few months ago.)

What others have had to say about this talk:

“Relatable stories and thought provoking questions.”
“Engaging and brings new perspective on a lot of issues.”
“I liked the examples. Mark is a good story teller and keeps it interesting.”

2/16 – Test Driven Development Demonstration

Most teams are familiar with the term Test Driven Development but there is often a wide degree of actual experience. In this session, we are going to demonstrate actually live coding some functionality one test at a time. While we will be demonstrating actual code, the examples should be understandable for developers and non-developers who want to better understand the overall process. This isn’t a PowerPoint presentation about an idealized process. It is real coding including all the mistakes, syntax errors, and other things that happen in real-world development.

2/18 – Predicting the Future – Estimates vs. Forecasting

This is a look at the differences between estimating and forecasting. We will start out looking at examples of sizing work to make sure there aren’t hidden parts and then look at estimation approaches and finally at ways to produce forecasts that let us better predict the future. If you are looking for ways to create more transparency and drive more efficient software development, this session will give you some good theory as well as simple concrete steps to accomplish your goal.

What others say they liked about this talk:

“Covered ton of information but in an approachable manner. The book analogy was genius”
“Interactive and provided good examples.”
“Very engaging, informative, and well presented.”
“I love the spreadsheet approach.”

2/23 – Greek Myths and Software Development

Myths of ancient Greek gods and heroes were an underlying foundation in Roman statecraft. To deny a Roman the study of Homer was to effectively bar them from participating in public discourse. These rich stories have been used for generations as an aid in thinking, discussing, and reasoning about contemporary problems and issues. While our idea of software wasn’t something the ancient Greeks or Romans could even imagine, the universal truths and warnings from their stories have valuable lessons in how we deliver software today.

When Hercules faced the Hydra, he encountered the same problem that plagues many software developers as they grow a code base. Hercules’ solution works on code just as well as it does on a multi-headed beast. Modern-day software projects can end up acting like Theseus when he sailed from defeating the Minotaur if they don’t intentionally avoid his small but disastrous mistake. Creating software is hard, but many of the challenges we face are merely different forms of age-old difficulties. In this talk, we will explore obstacles that commonly occur in the process of creating and delivering software and compare them with stories from the ancient world as we dig into what they show us about our daily challenges.

This talk is very story intense. This is the talk for people who have enjoyed the stories from other talks and wished the stories were the bulk of the session. If you’ve heard some of the other talks and wished you could fast forward the stories and examples, you might want to skip this one.

What others say they liked about this talk:

“The Greek legends chosen are very illustrative of the concepts!”
“Shifted my paradigm around sustainable software and the benefits that come with that.”
“You should divide this into 4 talks, spending more time on the backstories.”

“I love the Greek mythology theme and connecting those tales to software development patterns was genuinely entertaining.”

What they didn’t like:
“Too heavy on mythology.”

2/25 – Misleading with Metrics

Imagine you are a saboteur trying to infiltrate a company and wreck their ability to deliver software efficiently. Since you don’t want to be detected, your malevolent efforts are focused on encouraging the use of metrics in ways that will mislead the organization. What would this look like and what type of things would be likely to mislead teams while making everyone feel like they are getting great information?

Obviously the goal here is not to learn how to sabotage, so please don’t tell people I’m trying to wreck your teams. J But taking a different perspective and looking at how some metrics could be used to maliciously mislead can help us identify places where accidentally mislead ourselves.

What others say about this talk:

“I liked the reverse psychology. It helped me interpret better.”
“The specific examples of what not to do and relating back to what the right things to do are.”
”I like the approach you took to talk about how to derail delivery from the view point of an evil mastermind. You play the part well. :)”