Agile Roundtable Notes for October, 2010

The Salt Lake Agile Roundtable meets the first Thursday of every month at the Borders bookstore in Murray, UT from 2pm to 5pm. These are my notes from the October, 2010 meeting.

Jeremy asked how do you deal with innovation in a larger company where processes and management seem to stifle innovation? Zhon’s example is the IBM PC where a small satellite group is established away from the parent organization. They essentially started a little company inside the larger company, allowing them to innovate within a larger more rigid organization. Zhon also cited an example of GE as a company that has gotten huge but still manages to innovate.

Bill raised the issue of how to do agile development while being a government contractor. It was suggested that you can comply with the reporting requirements by just showing the data from your existing agile process (story cards, burndown charts, etc). Menlo is an organization that does only XP style development and they have a mechanism for capturing all the data related to their stories and work and are able to show auditors whatever they need when they are inspected. Auditors commented that Menlo was able to show more detail into the work process at any time than they had seen at other contractors. Another comment was made that instead of telling the government agency that you’re doing agile, just do it and tell them about it if they ask.

Eclipse has a performance suite that autologs a bug if performance is affected by recent changes. Jeremy discussed a scenario where he performance tests code as soon as possible, so that non-performant design decisions can be adjusted as soon as possible. Jeff mentioned about how the Halo behind the scenes videos discussed a scheme whereby the play testing of the game records instances where the frame rate drops below a specified threshold. This could be due to a code change or an asset change and this data is gathered and used to perform a post mortem performance analysis that is used to tune the performance of the next build.

Alan has a situation where he is on a distributed team and is not colocated with any of his teammates. LifeSize is a video teleconferencing system that has been used successfully for distributed agile development. Jeff Patton talked about how there were two rules that were used by a distributed team to level the playing field: first, everyone dialed into the standup even those people who were colocated and second, each person in the standup named the next person to speak instead of having a scrum master call on participants. Additionally, each person adopted the convention of asking if there were any questions on what they just talked about before handing off the discussion to the next person on the team.

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