Interview with an agile Tech Lead

Podcast interview with Doug the Tech Lead

In perfect agile world, all team members are clones of each other. While the secret labs are still perfecting the cloning process, the real world must deal with all different types of agile developers. Doug and Jack are believers in an agile team having a Tech Lead. The Tech Lead on an agile team can be delegated by title or by experience and personality but it’s important to have that type of developer on your team. Doug and Jack interview Doug the Tech Lead. This dude has been in the industry for a few decades and knows his stuff. Doug the Tech Lead is a humble guy but if all agile Tech Leads acted like Doug, the agile world would be a better place.

Doug, Doug Tech Lead and Jack
This isn’t a comedy. This is how Packer fans act in almost real life. Poor bastards…..
Weather dude

Notes for Another Time

Podcast on story notes
Getting a oil change

I had to ask myself what could possibly relate to our latest podcast on story notes. I’m sure glad that I decided to get my oil changed on my car today. I pulled up to a Valvoline Instant Oil Change near me. I waited in line for about 5 mins and pulled into the bay. There I was asked if I had been there before and what service I was looking for. The normal items came up in conversation like oil request and anything that was flagged in the carfax for recommended maintenance. They asked me if I wanted them to make a note about anything. I opted to have them remind me about an engine filter change the next time I stopped in and a tranmission fluid change in the next 15,000 miles.

Now you must be sitting there and thinking about how this all relates back. Well with anything, you need to make notes that are helpful to you. For example, next time I go in there will be the notes that we dicussed. I won’t remember what we talked about an if there are no notes then I wouldn’t maybe do the routine maintenance that my car requires. Check out our latest podcast about this exact subject. We don’t believe it is a straight forward as you may think. There is also a flipside of this point that we will touch on. Check it out and let us know your thoughts.

Mother says bigger is not always better.

Podcast about large agile stories

A few months back I stumbled across Arrested Development on Netflix. I heard it was good so I started watching it. Great show. Straight up comedy with no attempts to be serious or heartfelt. I like that. Jason Bateman is outstanding as the son (Michael) who just tries to do the right thing but his family thwarts him at every step. I would like to think I am the Michael of my family but my mom says I’m more like Buster (she would say that).

Thats Buster on the left. He loves his mother.

There are 5 seasons on Netflix. It turns out the first 3 seasons aired on Fox from 2003 to 2006. Netflix picked up the show years later and made seasons 4 and 5. This makes complete sense to me as the first 3 seasons were comedic awesomeness. The characters were great and their lines were delivered the exact way that my sense of humor responds to.

Seasons 4 and 5 did not touch my funny bone. They didn’t even come close. The episodes didn’t really advance the storylines or the characters much imo and at the end of the day, the show just wasn’t that funny anymore. All good things must come to an end.

The problem was, Arrested Development didn’t end soon enough (season 3). Think of an agile story that is too big and bloated. It cannot get to done in a sprint and just keeps dragging on and on and on. Good agile stories are like Arrested Development seasons 1 to 3. They are enjoyable. Large agile stories (seasons 1 to 5) just go on past their time and lose their edge. I think this makes sense because no one wants to see an adult George Michael (Michael Cera) just like no one wants to work on a giant story that carries sprint to sprint.

Recipes don’t always make good stories

Podcast about story formats

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been doing a lot more cooking and baking. To be fair to Doug, this is Jack writing the blog. Doug is a young guy. Since I don’t have the “baking gene” nor the “delicate palette” I rely heavily on recipes. I’ve learned that some recipes work and some produce what taste like dog food. Sorry dogs but your food is terrible.

For instance, a good friend of mine gave me her ginger snap cookie recipe (see image). This recipe is rock solid. Do not change a thing. I have always loved ginger snaps, so trust me when I say follow the recipe.

I grew eating Chicken Chow Mein. Mom and dad would buy it (take out) and bring it back home. For years, my wife and I have been customers of D Fongs Chinese. In my brain, their Chicken Chow Mein defines the meal for me. I searched several Chow Mein recipes online and finally found one that might turn out like D Fongs. Nope. Terrible recipe. Not even going to share it with this small yet discernible audience. But it did give me a foundation of the ingredients. Since then, I’ve made several changes to the recipe and have come kinda close a few times where the meal was decent. The quest for perfecting that recipe continues.

Think of story formats like a meal recipe. If you like how things turn out and so does your audience, then keep following the recipe. If you or your audience is struggling with your story format, then maybe you should try cutting down on the soy sauce and add a little more corn starch to thicken things up a bit.

Bake for 9 to 10 mins.

Ginger snap baking notes.

Cream shortening and sugar together. Beat in egg until well blended. Add molasses. Then add flour and spices. Roll into 1 inch diameter balls and dip into sugar. Put on cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes. You want to remove cookies from oven before the fall so that they remain soft. These freeze very well.

Do testers make good cleaners?

Podcast on agile QA

We recently did a kitchen and dining room remodel. We knocked a small wall down, readjusted the floor plan a bit and now we have a nice open floor plan. One of the finishing touches on this remodel was getting a big dinning room table that seats eight people. Now our house has a great setup to entertain and hold all the major family events like birthday parties, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

One of the benefits from entertaining so many times, is we always do a thorough job cleaning the house the night before. We pride ourselves on keeping a clean house year round, but cleaning before a gathering forces us to take those extra little cleaning steps. Extra dusting, moving shoes and coats out of the entryway, organizing the coupon bin and important mail bin on the counter, extra thorough bathroom cleaning and just a better job of tidying things up.

My wife is a clean freak and first level germaphobe by nature so when she sets her mind to thorough cleaning she can sometimes get a little too thorough. I’m all about the thorough cleaning but I need to steer her away from cleaning the hidden corners of the guest bedrooms. It’s good to clean the shower floor but when cleaning for a gathering, just make sure the shower curtain is closed. Vacuum the hallway that leads to the washer and drier? Not needed at the moment. No guests will go there. Do that another day.

Hallway to nothing that important.

House cleaning is kind of like agile testing. The hardest part about being an agile tester is knowing what to test and when not to test. Testing the AC on a story seems like an easy concept. Evidently it’s not an easy concept per the conversations I have had about over testing stories. Take the time to find and educate your tester on what to test and what not to test. We don’t need to vacuum that abandoned hallway every day.

What flavor of agile coach do you want?

How to find your agile coach

The urge hits me around 730pm most nights. It’s been a bit since dinner and I want to have a snack. Not sure why this is. Was it something I learned from my dad? He always had a bowl of ice cream most nights. When I say he, I guess I mean we. Or maybe it’s natural to want a little sack before bed.

So when the snack urge calls and I answer, the question comes down to this, do I crave salty or sweet? As I’ve grown older, salty has been winning. Currently Chili Fritos is my achilles heel. Hard to stop eating them. BBQ Pringles are also a salty favorite. For sweet, Cheetos are my go to snack. Cheetos and me go way back.

Just wonderful.

If you are looking to hire an agile coach, you need to figure out what you want them to do because agile coaches come in different flavors. Don’t hire a salty coach if you want a sweet one.

Steve is a “promoter”.

Looking for a Scrum Master

What to look for when trying to hire a Scrum Master.

Everybody has a picture in their mind of what their ideas should be like. Just like grocery shopping, we expect that tomatoes should be red and taste like a tomato (unless you like green tomatoes). Highly recommend deep fried green tomatoes for anyone looking to try something different. I digress from my point. When I look for Cheetos to snack on I want them to be crunchy and have a cheese flavor. When you buy generic Cheetos or knock off Cheetos, you are rolling the dice and might end up with a sub par fake Cheeto. If that didn’t resonate with you, then try buying knock of cola and expect it to taste like Coca-Cola. Just isn’t the same.

Here in Minnesota, we love to fish for and eat Walleye. It’s our state fish and something we are proud of. A few years back, it was being reported that local restaurants were advertising Walleye dinners but actually serving Zander. Zander is a fish that is not local to Minnesota, but looks and tastes just like Walleye. You can’t tell people they are eating walleye when in fact they are eating Zander. Thats an outrage and a form of “bait and switch”. Yes that was a fishing pun and I’m damn proud I came up with it.

This is what makes hiring a Scrum Master difficult. Everybody and their dog can get a Scrum Master certification. That doesn’t mean they understand what agile servant leadership means. Matter of fact, it is often very difficult to find someone who had a good understanding of the role. Often Agile is easy to understand and even more difficult to master. Just as people dining at restaurants thought they were getting Walleye, instead they where tricked with Zander. Just like in the business world, companies can be tricked by Scrum Master certifications. In this podcast we give some advice on how to a true (or semi true).

That ain’t no walleye son.

Projects projects projects

Projects projects projects podcast – #35

This was a fun one when I sat down and started to brainstorm ideas on what relates to our latest podcast about projects projects projects. I believe this should be very relatable to everyone reading this. In our daily lives we take on several things during the day or week that we need to juggle at home.

I’m picturing my week right now. I need to set my schedule and get into a routine for the upcoming week. There is the laundry and meal prep on the weekends that needs to be done in order to prepare for the week. During the week I need to plan around busy schedules to have dinner plans set. Now that doesn’t seem to bad, but we also need to determine when to podcast. So the Scrum Under Siege crew needs to get something on the books. Sometimes it feels a little overwhelming, but the best way to get through everything is to take small task and complete them. Eventually I establish a cadence that I can use to determine what I can accomplish.

So many projects so little time

Now how does this relate to our latest podcast? Well sometimes you are going to be at work and assigned several projects. Part of it is understanding why it happening. Most cases this will be out of your control. Part of it is establishing a cadence so you can help determine when your work will be done. We have helpful tips in the podcast to help talk through a lot of this. Check out the episode above.

I ain’t got time to agile

Podcast about part time agile.

“When life gives you lemons, make lemon aide”. Thats a beautiful quote. If more people believed in that quote, more people would be happier. Don’t let life completely dictate your fate. For instance, I love to fish. Do I have time to fish a lot? Nope. Do I have an awesome fishing boat? Nope. Do I understand all the specifics about fishing like lure colors and water temperatures? Nope. That doesn’t stop me from fishing when I get the chance. I also have realistic expectations when fishing. Catching fish is not the goal (but it does help when the fish cooperate). The act of fishing is the goal.

Fishing is about the experience.

Sometimes you might find yourself on a side project where the team has very little capacity. You probably won’t have the time or resources to do all the cool agile stuff. Don’t let that stop you from trying. Listen to the podcast about some things to think about if your team is running agile as a side project.

On a related note, the “I ain’t got time to agile” title is a play on worlds from arguably the great action movie ever made –> Predator. I’m a child of the 80’s and this movie hit all the notes for me. Guns. Alien. Special Forces. Movie quotes. Arnold. And finally Jesse The Body! The Body was a pro wrestler and he gives the best line of the movie imo. Check it out.

Alabama ticks are the worst.

No Scrum Master available ATM

What to do when team does not have a Scrum Master.

What does not having a Scrum Master compare to in real life? I was just wondering that myself. One thing that comes to my mind is cooking. As like many of us aim to have more home cooked meals, we learn its not easy. I myself have aimed for a lifestyle change where I focus on controling what I’m eating. With so many convenient choices at our finger tips, its easy to look at apps like: DoorDash, PostMates or Uber Eats and select something from a local favorite resturant and order it. The only catch is that you will be paying a premium to get it delivered and less control of what goes into your food.

What I learned on my own is that not having a plan for dinner will result in failure. I often have wondered how people who love cooking know what to make. So I turned to the Food Network to see what they were making and to see if I could borrow any recipes. I watched a show called Chopped on the Food Network. I admired how they could take random ingredients from a basket and make something that looked exquisite. Now I really wish I could afford to hire a chef to teach me about different flavor profiles and combination that I could use on my own. I wouldn’t complain if they taught me to mince, dice and filet like they do. However I don’t have the budget allocated to allow for that.

Easy to make egg bites

My next best option was checking out the old interweb to find recipes that I could follow. They were simple enough and easy to follow. I was able to make some really good dinners without much effort. As every new cooking lesson passes, I do learn more about The difficult part of all of this was the need to pick up specific ingridents that aren’t available in your pantry. Their is a upfront cost that needs to be put in to buy herbs and spices that will be the staple of every ingrident that I use. This similar to working without a Scrum Master. Expect to stumble along the way with your Agile team, but doesn’t mean you can’t have success. Check out our latest epsiode where we will give you advice.