An Agilist’s Manifesto of Friendship!

By Brian Lucas

This one is for Jack!

Agile runs on confidence, confidence is built on trust, trust is built on friendship.  Agile enterprises built on any other foundation are houses of cards ready to collapse at the slightest pressure.  Without friendship and loyalty there is no stability in personnel or operations.  I often speak of the need for positives in agile and preach the principles of Dale Carnegie.  They do indeed work when honestly applied.  Just as Agile Software Development has a manifesto, here is mine on honoring friendship. Continue reading

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Agilists Call it ETM instead of Hypertasking

By Brian Lucas

This one is for Ariana with the raven tresses of Persephone and the mind of Athena.

“Make use of time, let not advantage slip.” -William Shakespeare

Time management is a problem considerably older than Shakespeare.  All of us feel the pressure to do more in a day.  This often consumes our precious time allotment of leisure until it is nothing more than a memory.  Regrettably, every time you turn around someone is giving you some impossible advice on how to be more productive.  Here instead, are 6 highly practical tips to help you find more time during the day and regain your relaxation time. Continue reading

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Salmon Cooked Agile Style in 15 Minutes

By Brian Lucas

This one is dedicated to Polly, who served us a meal fit for a king in 15 minutes. I am forever grateful to the people who have become friends with me through my blog.

“…all the charming and beautiful things, from the Song of Songs, to bouillabaisse, and from the nine Beethoven symphonies to the Martini cocktail, have been given to humanity by men who, when the hour came, turned from tap water to something with color in it, and more in it than mere oxygen and hydrogen.” -H.L. Mencken

I get as many requests for my recipes as I do for agile posts, so decided to be agile and recount this recent episode and satisfy two requests in one. A new friend I met through my blog, called and invited me to dinner.  She said she could create and serve me an elegant meal in 15 minutes.  I told her I would accept the invitation only if I could bring the wine and asked her what she intended to serve.  “Pan seared salmon and I favor reds” was the prompt reply.  So I hunted up a bottle of 2006 Bellecourt Chenas Beaujolais and headed towards our rendezvous like a salmon heading upstream[1]. Continue reading

Posted in Agile for Beginners, Agile Thinking, Cooking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why Reputation Management Matters in Today’s Agile World

By Brian Lucas

This one is for Sylvia, may this new year bring you happiness!

“A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity.” -Baltasar Gracián y Morales, SJ (1601 –1658) Spanish Jesuit and baroque prose writer and philosopher

We no longer live in the 1600s era of Baltasar where the speed of news traveling the world was measured in years.  The ever present and expanding internet and social media technologies now interconnect everyone and everything in a vast global network, instantaneously.  We even invent new terms like “viral” to describe how fast information spreads today[1].  This is an age of extreme information agility and reputation fragility.  Father Baltasar was admonishing us not to lie.  However, a single misrepresentation about ourselves or our companies can now spread like wildfire and have devastating effects.  How can anyone doubt the criticality of online reputation management? Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile in the Enterprise, Agile Thinking, Centel Media, Jack Cola, Online Reputation Management, Remove Ripoff Report | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

To Be an Agilist You Need to be Informed

By Brian Lucas

This one is for Mari a truly wonderful person who I am privileged to have met.

“The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Being agile requires information.  Today both business and government are collecting massive amounts of data on many of our activities.  Predicting human behavior by tracking data, sometimes vast amounts of data has been the subject of much science fiction, but today the science fiction is a reality.  This is such a hot topic there are already a plethora of terms and sub categories each with their own set of multi-billion dollar industries attached.  I am going to spare you the heady exploration of quantum computers and indeterminate state analysis.  Instead let’s look at technology that is already in wide use. Continue reading

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Being a True Friend Can Require Agile Thinking

By Brian Lucas

This one is for my new friend Riko, “Watashi ni tewosashinoberu arigatōgozaimashita!”

“False friendship, like the ivy, decays and ruins the walls it embraces; but true friendship gives new life and animation to the object it supports.” – Richard Burton

One important aspect of agile thinking is being able to change one’s perspective on the fly.  This can be helpful not just in your business life, but in your personal one as well.  There are times when being a friend requires that you think agile on your feet and look for a positive interpretation of what appears to be a negative situation.  Here is a personal example. Continue reading

Posted in Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile Thinking, Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

We Could All Learn a Lesson in Agility from Extremophiles

By Brian Lucas

This one’s for Wendi, who I believe is “Going Agile!”

“The facts of variability, of the struggle for existence, of adaptation to conditions, were notorious enough; but none of us had suspected that the road to the heart of the species problem lay through them, until Darwin and Wallace dispelled the darkness.” ― Thomas Henry Huxley

An extremophile[1] is an organism that thrives in physically extreme conditions that are non-survivable to most life on the planet Earth.  They are the masters of adaptability and survival.  They seem to be in every extreme environment no matter how hot, cold, dry or dark and can withstand crushing pressures and thin atmospheres.  What is the secret to their adaptability? Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile in the Enterprise, Agile Thinking | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

WhatWentWrong@healthcare.gov

By Brian Lucas

This one is dedicated to Sally, “Di politica nunquam nos!”

“Truth never damages a cause that is just.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

By now most of America knows that the healthcare.gov website – one of the main delivery portals of the Affordable Care Act – was a disaster.  Even back on November 13th only 13% in a Slate poll[1] thought it was successful; and a week is a long time in a political hot potato such as this.  There are so many political sharks circling the water smelling blood on this issue that the last thing we need is another political commentary[2].   What can we ALL learn from this unfortunate debacle?  How can it be prevented in the future? Continue reading

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Proving You’re Agile in under 5 Minutes

By Brian Lucas

This one is dedicated to my good friend Wayne.  The future is yours for the taking…

“The world is moving so fast these days that the one who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.” -Harry Emerson Fosdick

Take this agile challenge – go on I dare you!  Prove to someone in less than 5 minutes that you are an agile thinker.  Give up?  Did you even try?  You will be surprised that if you try it often enough you will expand the boundaries of your mind considerably.  It is very similar to thinking outside the box or connecting the nine dots.  It will sharpen your intellect to deal with all sorts of problems on the fly.  Here’s is how I proved I was an agile thinker to a group of colleagues. Continue reading

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Brainstorming your way to being agile

By Brian Lucas

This one is dedicated to Shakia, who would have inspired Byron beyond her physical beauty with the sublime nature of her self-sacrifice.

“The enterprise that does not innovate inevitably ages and declines.  And in a period of rapid change such as the present…the decline will be fast.” — Peter F. Drucker

Being agile is not just about how much you can accelerate the pace of business.  It’s about increasing effectiveness with less work.  Being agile is being innovative!  Peter Drucker[1] rightly points out that constant innovation is necessary to survive in a time of change.  We live in an era of constant, unending, rapid change as Alvin Toffler[2] predicted.  So innovation has to be an integral part of the enterprise if the organization is going to survive.
Continue reading

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Turning Damnable Iteration into Elegant Stepwise Refinement in Agile

By Brian Lucas

This one is dedicated to “little Buddy” who passed on before he got a chance to live and “little Bear” in the hope he will live long and in the infinite happiness of puppy-hood all his life.

“Oh, thou hast a damnable iteration, and art indeed able to corrupt a saint. Thou hast done much harm upon me…” – William Shakespeare

One of the most complained about aspects of agile is the iterative process1.  It is an anathema to traditionalists.  They see it as inefficient and a waste of coding effort and producing hacked and patched code instead of cleanly designed logic.  Too often their complaint is valid!  Yet there is a way to remove the negative aspects of iteration from the equation by following a simple concept.  It will reduce overall effort and make your upfront agile kickoff be more efficient and effective. Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile for Software Development, Agile in the Enterprise | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Epics, Story Mapping and Kanbans Make a Unified Agile View

By Brian Lucas

This one is dedicated to the lovely Jennifer, my dear and loyal friend, who found inspiration, dared to be creative and discovered a new world of possibilities.  Your future has a bright star!

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

Often in new concepts or even old ones, people are overwhelmed by terminology or individual ideas.  They get so hung up on process and bogged down in details; they cannot see the forest through the trees.  Agile is no exception.  The missing part of the agile equation is a view that shows the relationships between some of the most prominent common elements in agile.  Adopt this view, and you will find many of the elements that cause people to stumble in adopting agile, transition smoothly into one another.  Everything after all is interrelated and necessary in an agile system or it does not belong. Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile for Software Development, Agile in the Enterprise, Agile Tool | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Being Agile on a Shoestring

By Brian Lucas

Dedicated to Marcie; director, actress, artist, singer, photographer, model and writer.  The Muses and the Graces have gifted thee in abundance with beauty and talent.

“Managers today have to do more with less, and get better results from limited resources, more than ever before.” – Brian Tracy

One characteristic of being agile is making do with what resources you have.  There are unfortunately, some circumstances where this will not work and it is not advisable to try.  However, great things can be accomplished if you have the desire and the will.  Often when we are deprived of resources, we become even more creative by being forced to focus on the core elements of the endeavor.  This focus can improve the product or service immensely. Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile in the Enterprise | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Rules, Rules Everywhere and Never an Agilist in Sight!

By Brian Lucas

This one is dedicated to my dear friend Pat – always a friend in deed!”

“There are no rules here — we’re trying to accomplish something.” – Thomas Edison

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time and it is particularly poignant in our agile era. Why is it that some people are the opposite of Edison and always seem to take a good concept and rule it into perdition?  Perhaps it is as Thoreau says, “Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.”  So let me begin with a maxim and not a rule, “If you are following the rules, you are not agile!” Continue reading

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Agile Cooking

By Brian Lucas

This one is dedicated to the quintessentially irrepressible Cassandra, the quietly resolute and creative Emilia, the charmingly sociable and persistent Lynette and of course the unusually thoughtful, dryly humorous, chocoholic runner Nicole.  One day soon they will conquer the world and we shall be conquered willingly.

“Cooking requires confident guesswork and improvisation– experimentation and substitution, dealing with failure and uncertainty in a creative way.” ― Paul Theroux

I can just hear someone saying, “Really Brian, Cooking?  Agile?  You cannot be serious!  You are supposed to be writing a business blog!”  The fact is, cooking has many parallels to projects and business initiatives.  Both require a vision, demand resources, consume materials, are subject to schedules and deadlines and produce an end product that hopefully will be consumed.  The similarities do not end there however.

Continue reading

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Lack of Agility by CEOs to Blame for Slow Recovery

By Brian Lucas

This one is for my good friend Anthony to give his active mind a new opportunity for investing.

“When you get the majority of the economy predictable, you’re gonna get faster job growth, and companies investing more. But actually, the best return for companies is when things are really going the wrong way, and you’re willing to go against the tide.”  “I would argue that your chance to break away is now as opposed to twelve months from now when hopefully governments get more predictable with their policies. In many of our industries, if you’re risk averse, you get left behind.” -John Chambers

Many of you have asked me to write more articles on agile thinking and the economy.  Ok, here is the take away. Being agile is being adaptive.  Being adaptive is being innovative.  There is not enough innovation coming from CEOs today and that is hurting the economy! Continue reading

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Excerpts from: BUILDING A CULTURE OF ENGAGEMENT: THE IMPORTANCE OF SENIOR LEADERSHIP

By Brian Lucas

This is the fifth in a series of excerpts from white papers I am posting due to the gracious generosity of Katie Iorio-Martin in response to the enthusiastic requests for more information by many of her interview readers.  For more information go to www.dalecarnegiewayphilly.com.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common
vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward
organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common
people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie

45% of managers and supervisors are engaged, only 23% of other level workers are fully engaged according to recent research from MSW Research.

It is important for every manager to understand that work is being done by workers not managers.  A worker engagement level of only 23% is a shocking indictment of management!  Learn the importance of senior management in building a culture of employee engagement! Continue reading

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Excerpts from: ENHANCING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT: THE ROLE OF THE IMMEDIATE SUPERVISOR

By Brian Lucas

This is the fourth in a series of excerpts from white papers I am posting due to the gracious generosity of Katie Iorio-Martin in response to the enthusiastic requests for more information by many of her interview readers.  For more information go to www.dalecarnegiewayphilly.com.

Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.Stephen Covey

49% of employees satisfied with their direct manager were engaged, 80% of those who were dissatisfied were disengaged according to recent research from MSW Research.

It is said that employees don’t leave companies; they leave people.  Learn about how the immediate supervisor enhances employee engagement! Continue reading

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A Natural Agilist Proves the Value of Theater

By Brian Lucas

Josh Neth is the exceptionally talented artistic director of the Allentown Public Theatre.  Josh is marvelously outspoken and passionate about the Theater.  He is a remarkably eloquent and intelligent person and to converse with him is a true pleasure.  His mind has many dimensions from arts to philosophy to psychology to business.  To round it all off; he is quite an accomplished stage actor.  I recently had the opportunity of watching him play the lead in the Pennsylvania Playhouse’s production of Sondheim’s – Company.  I must plead guilty to being a fairly stringent critic of Community Theater.  However, watching Josh perform, I almost forgot I was sitting in a small auditorium. Instead, I could imagine I had front row seats on Broadway.  Josh is fortunate to be joined in life and theatrical endeavors by his quintessentially pixyish and appealing wife Cheryl.  She is an uncommonly expressive actress and a wonderfully animated singer of her own merit.  I will not say much more about Josh because he would be the first to say that this is not about him; it is about the Theater.  Josh states that the Theater is an essential part of our public conscience as well as entertainment.  After listening to him in the interview, I agree.  So I am asking all my readers to make a donation to the Allentown Public Theatre.  I also encourage those in a position to underwrite a performance or help the Allentown Public Theater find and finance a permanent home; to contact Josh Neth or Troy Brokenshire directly.  Your generosity will go towards something that makes a significant difference in so many lives and elevates us all. Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile in the Enterprise, Interview with a Natural Agilist | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 359 Comments

Excerpts from: EMOTIONAL DRIVERS OF EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

By Brian Lucas

This is the third in a series of excerpts from white papers I am posting due to the gracious generosity of Katie Iorio-Martin in response to the enthusiastic requests for more information by many of her interview readers.  For more information go to www.dalecarnegiewayphilly.com.

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” -Dale Carnegie

95% of workers who feel positive emotions are fully or partially engaged in their enterprise  according to recent research from MSW Research.

The flip side of that statistic is that 90% of workers that don’t feel positive emotions are not fully engaged in their enterprise.  Do you see the importance of keeping the workforce positive?  Learn the emotional drivers of employee engagement! Continue reading

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Excerpts from: THE DYNAMICS OF EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

By Brian Lucas

This is the second in a series of excerpts from white papers I am posting due to the gracious generosity of Katie Iorio-Martin in response to the enthusiastic requests for more information by many of her interview readers.  For more information go to www.dalecarnegiewayphilly.com.

“Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal.” - Walt Disney

More than 66% in a national survey of full and part time employees in large and small businesses add little extra value or demonstrate negativity in the workplace according to recent research from MSW Research.

So your enterprise is really living off the work of less than 33% of your work force.  Does that shock you?  Learn what drives employee engagement! Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile in the Enterprise | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Excerpts from: WHAT DRIVES EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT AND WHY IT MATTERS

By Brian Lucas

This is the first in a series of excerpts from white papers I am posting due to the gracious generosity of Katie Iorio-Martin in response to the enthusiastic requests for more information by many of her interview readers.  For more information go to www.dalecarnegiewayphilly.com.

“You must capture the heart of a supremely able man before his brain can do its best.” Andrew Carnegie

US businesses lose $11 billion annually as a result of employee turnover.

That was from the US Bureau of National Affairs. Did it get your attention?  Then read on! Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile in the Enterprise, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Sowing Agile Seeds in the User Community!

By Brian Lucas

This one is for sweet Penelope.

“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”Sun-tzu

The quote is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that many in IT feel the user community is the enemy.  This post started when I got a call late one night[1] from Lee[2], a friend of mine from my high school days who is a CIO at a firm located in the southwest.  They were rigidly following a scrum methodology.  The users were in revolt.  Despite some good numbers, the CEO was breathing down his neck hotter than the habanero chili that Lee normally downs for lunch. Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile for Software Development, Agile in the Enterprise | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

A Natural Agilist Practices What She Preaches

By Brian Lucas

Katie Iorio-Martin is the Franchise President and CEO; Partner of Dale Carnegie Training for Southeastern Pennsylvania located at 2000 Valley Forge Circle, Suites 119 & 120
King of Prussia, PA 19406.  She has been involved with Dale Carnegie for over 20 years in various roles including sales, operations, and training.  Katie is a top certified, multi-course trainer.   She is responsible for setting corporate strategy and leading her team’s execution.  Katie supports sales consultants, coaches trainers, manages all internal processes and works with clients at the strategic level.  Her dedication to excellence has led her organization to numerous and prestigious awards. Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile in the Enterprise, Interview with a Natural Agilist | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 60 Comments

True Agile Managers make one feel good

By Brian Lucas

This one is for JPD!

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  - Maya Angelou

Those of us in business for over a decade, I am sure have all experienced a variety of management types.  Everything ranging from strong to weak, caring to downright sociopathic and gurus to imbeciles make up the pandemonium of business management.  I would like to focus here on three types of managers that are thought to be highly productive.  The only ones that have strategic value to the enterprise are highly adaptive.  They always provide good memories for executives and the workforce alike over the long term. Continue reading

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A Certification does not an Agilist Make

By Brian Lucas

This one is for Elaine of the golden hair.  Angels above blush at thy beauty.

“Socrates gave no diplomas or degrees, and would have subjected any disciple who demanded one to a disconcerting catechism on the nature of true knowledge.” - G. M. Trevelyan

The other evening, I had the chance to chat with an acquaintance who is a certified scrum master (CSM).  We started a rather deplorable, desultory conversation, until the subject turned to certifications. Continue reading

Posted in Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile for Software Development, Agile in the Enterprise | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Sailing in an Agile Ship with Vision and Knowledge to Guide You

By Brian Lucas

Dedicated to Joseph P. Wisdo (1951-2013) Colleague, Friend and Humanitarian

“Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands. But like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny.” - Carl Schurz 

Since the early 1980s, many organizations suffered wild swings between a starboard of success and a port of failure[1]; others sailed a steady if variable course one leg at a time[2].  Like well-run ships, they steered successfully avoiding the shoals and sandbars of social, economic and turbulent business change, as wealth and production began to migrate to newly industrializing economies abroad.  We must accept the fact that rapid change is a constant companion with us today.  If your enterprise is not agile enough to respond to the change, it won’t survive.  Persistent vision along with consistent leadership are the guides needed in an agile enterprise to keep it safely on course to success and knowledge is the key to being operationally effective.
Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile in the Enterprise | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 67 Comments

An Agile Memorial

By Brian Lucas

Dedicated to Ed – Friend, Familyman and Hero

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Too often today we fail even if we have the talent, because we think conditions are not perfect or we don’t have all the time or resources[1] that we need.  Perhaps what we really lack is deep motivation[2] and self-reliance[3]Continue reading

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A Natural Agilist Returns to His Roots

By Brian Lucas

George Santos is the epitome of the rising tide of executives leaving the large corporate world.  They are striking out on their own to become the foundation of a new emergent business economy.  They represent a new breed of entrepreneur. In many ways, they are returning America to its roots of small business founded in the colonial era directly driven by empowered customers.  Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile for Beginners, Agile in the Enterprise, Interview with a Natural Agilist | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

13 Keeping Agile Predictions for 2013

By Brian Lucas

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra

Don’t look for sources[1] here!  My predictions, after all, are my predictions.  Follow them and either praise or vilify me at the year’s end.  During the last 6 months, I have been encouraged by some editors[2] to become more controversial – so here goes.  In the last five years, there has been an enormous amount of doomsayers filling the airways with a constant barrage of eschatological[3] phenomenon.  Despite these doom and gloom prognostications, including the supposed Mayan calendar end, we all know the world did not end on December  21st.   Continue reading

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The Era of Agile Management Has Finally Arrived

By Brian Lucas

“Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” -John D. Rockefeller[1]
“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” -Anne M. Mulcahy[2]
“Having ONLY[3] the right people in the right place at the right time doing the right thing is fundamental to running an agile enterprise.  Ubiquitous vision, knowledge and empowerment are the keys to making this happen.” –Brian Lucas[4] Continue reading

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Being Agile in the Face of Hurricane Sandy

By Brian Lucas

This one is for Jessica! – Brian

“The value of compassion cannot be over-emphasized.  Anyone can criticize.  It takes a true believer to be compassionate.  No greater burden can be borne by an individual than to know no one cares or understands.” - Arthur H. Stainback

This is not a post I would normally write[1].  Hurricane Sandy however, had such a terrible effect on so many in the northeast.  So, after much persuasion, I was drafted by many of my friends and colleagues to talk about how I dealt with the storm.  While the effects of Sandy on my property were very minor, my thoughts go out to all who lost loved ones, suffered terrible damage or were set back in their lives and careers. Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile in the Enterprise | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 89 Comments

Mission Impossible Really was Agile

By Brian Lucas

This one is for you Fran!

“Good morning Mr. Briggs/Phelps[1], the situation in…Your mission should you decide to accept it is to…”

This is a second perspective on Mission Impossible (MI), one of my all-time favorite TV series.  MI really was a very fine example of an agile organization and operation.  Continue reading

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The Night of the Deadly Micromanager

By Brian Lucas

Artie, I think we managed to get ourselves in a little trouble!” –James West speaking tongue-in-cheek to Artemus Gordon when confronted by arch-villain Miguelito Loveless, a brilliant, but megalomaniacal little person.

In our rushed working environment today, that demands hyper efficiency, there is nothing as deadly to agile as a micromanager.  If every person on the team is not empowered and trusted to perform their function; you cannot be agile.  If you cannot be agile, you cannot compete with those who are.  If you cannot compete, you are dead!  There is no room for micromanaging or micromanagers in today’s agile business environment. Continue reading

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A Natural Agilist Makes Mangia a Marvelous Experience!

By Brian Lucas

John Vernotica is a natural agilist who makes setting up a 900 person event as simple as the word “mangia”.  In a little over a year, he has grown the mangia events that he hosts from a handful of friends to a loyal following that is bordering on a thousand plus.  A well respected former police detective who now works for the district attorney’s office; JohnnyV (as he is affectionately known to his multitude of friends) organizes his many mangia events in his spare time and he makes it all look easy.  You can follow his truly marvelous mangia events on Facebook. Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Interview with a Natural Agilist | Tagged , , , , , , , | 68 Comments

Is Agile Really Mission Impossible?

By Brian Lucas

“Your mission should you decide to accept it…” voice of Robert Cleveland “Bob” Johnson.

Acted to the theme music of Lalo Schifrin, is Agile really mission impossible?  You are in a tense situation.  Profits are down or non-existent.  Your competition is threatening you.  Your employees are unhappy.  Now you are expected to get software development done much quicker with smaller development teams and less budget and it has to be done in six weeks or less.  Let’s run down the impossibility checklist, Mr. Briggs (or is it Mr. Phelps?): Continue reading

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What Every CIO Should Know about Agile Architectures

By Brian Lucas

Agile concepts, techniques and technologies are much in demand today.  Many organizations have astounding success with agile, while others experience failure, sometimes horrifically.  Usually agile fails in these cases from improper application of the concepts or lack of supporting environments.  While agile necessarily implies “rapid”, at least as far as iterations are concerned; it doesn’t mean poor quality.  However, constant code changes to improve quality can bring a development effort to its knees; particularly when you are dealing with large scale efforts involving multiple teams.  Refactoring[1], a concept that is embraced in agile, can include very negative maintenance aspects.  After all you want to spend your resources developing vital new business functions not maintaining existing code without changing function.  How can you build longevity and scalability into your agile efforts while minimizing refactoring and insulating them from technology changes?  The answer is you need to adopt agile architectures! Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile for Software Development, Agile in the Enterprise | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

My Agile Bookshelf

By Brian Lucas

To all my loyal readers and hopefully many more new ones; you have asked many times for agile book recommendations.  Well here they are!  I usually purchase ecopies of books like this since they are easier to search and I can carry 1000 of them around on my Droid Bionic.  Enjoy and let me know what your favorite books are. Continue reading

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Life in the C – Lane will surely make you lose your mind

By Brian Lucas

“Life in the fast lane, surely make you lose your mind.  Life in the fast lane, everything all the time.” – the Eagles

Just like the title of the Eagles classic tune, “Life in the fast lane”, life at the C level today can make you crazy.  Regardless of company size, succeeding at the C level is far more difficult than it ever was.  The degree of this difficulty can most readily be seen in the fact that 64% of C level executives in North American Fortune 1000 companies do not want to be a CEO[1].  That’s double the figure from 2001 with almost three fourths of the current CEOs thinking about quitting their jobs.  Turnover amongst all levels of top management has increased[2].  This is now the new norm[3]. Continue reading

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The Imperative of having an Agile Organization Structure

By Brian Lucas

Change before you have to”. -Jack Welch

The stress that all organizations are under today is unprecedented.  In the last 20 years, two-thirds of non-financial S&P 500 companies didn’t survive.  CEOs are being replaced with a rapidity that rivals anything we have seen in the past.  Bankruptcy and insolvency is rampant, even for the largest corporations.  Some simply shrug their shoulders and mark it all down to capitalism.  What is really going on is fundamental change at a pace that leaves many in business confused and in a state of future shock. 

In 1970, Alvin Toffler, in his seminal work Future Shock, described a trend of significantly accelerated rates of change.  He demonstrated how social and technological norms had shorter lifespans with each generation, and stipulated society’s ability to cope with the resulting turmoil and anxiety was doubtful.  In past generations, periods of change were always punctuated by times of stability.  This permitted the society in general to assimilate the change and resolve its impact before the next change arrived.  But these periods of stability constantly grew shorter and by the late 20th century all but disappeared.  In 1980, in The Third Wave, Toffler characterized this shift to relentless change as the defining feature of the third phase of civilization which was preceded by the agricultural phase and the industrial wave.  He claimed that the dawn of this new phase will cause great anxiety for those that grew up in the previous phases, and cause much conflict and (please take special note) opportunity in the business world. Continue reading

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A Natural Agilist finds a cure for the Pareto Principle at a hospital

By Brian Lucas

Wayne Bruch is a hyper productive, natural agilist who has found a way to improve both process and productivity by 10% a year for the last 5 years by focusing on the key 20% of the Pareto Principle.  He is the IT Manager at Easton Hospital, 250 South 21st Street, Easton, PA 18042. Continue reading

Posted in Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile in the Enterprise, Interview with a Natural Agilist, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

A Natural Agilist Finds a Home with Main Line Health’s “Healthy” Agile Organization

By Brian Lucas

Main Line Health is a shining star of agility in Southeastern Pennsylvania’s health care industry.  In fact, it is one of the most progressive health care organizations in the country.  Main Line Health is not a small enterprise; it is suburban Philadelphia’s most comprehensive healthcare resource, offering a full range of medical, surgical, obstetric, pediatric, psychiatric and emergency services.  At the core of Main Line Health are four of the Southeastern Pennsylvania region’s most respected acute care hospitals—Lankenau, Bryn Mawr, Paoli and Riddle and one of the nation’s premier facilities for rehabilitative medicine, Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital.

They are especially recognized for their cardiac, orthopedic, oncology, rehabilitation and women’s clinical services.  More than 10,000 people are part of the Main Line Health family, making them one of the largest employers in Southeastern Pennsylvania.  Main Line Health is an award winning organization.  The American Nurses Credential Center has awarded three of Main Line Health’s acute care hospitals—Bryn Mawr, Lankenau and Paoli—“Magnet” status in recognition of their nurses’ skills, professionalism and commitment to superior patient care.   A number of their physicians have earned superior national and international reputations as leaders in their specialized fields.  Many have been recognized by local and national publications as well as their peers for being among the finest medical professionals in the Greater Philadelphia region.

These achievements speak volumes about Main Line Health’s enlightened management.  David Francavilla, who is an incredibly natural agilist, is a Sr. Property Manager at Main Line Health – Property Management – 255 Lancaster Avenue, MOB 1, Suite 104A in Paoli, PA 19301. Continue reading

Posted in Agile Arguments, Agile in the Enterprise, Interview with a Natural Agilist, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 59 Comments

Interviews with a Natural Agilist

By Brian Lucas

“Natural ability without education has more often raised a man to glory and virtue than education without natural ability.” – Marcus Aurelius

“When we see a natural style, we are astonished and charmed; for we expected to see an author, and we find a person.” – Blaise Pascal

So many blogs feature articles from noted personalities or conversations with one of the founding members of the Agile Manifesto – and that’s great. However[1], I would like to celebrate something different here.  It is a misconception that agile is a new discovery that happened back in February of 2001, when 17 software developers met in Utah to discuss lightweight development methods.

Agile has in fact been a way-of-life for many people; since Edison was in Menlo Park or Hannibal crossed the Alps.  Indeed long before that, probably reaching back to the dim memories of pre-recorded history and even prehistoric times, agile was a way of thinking for some people.  This does not diminish the great work done by visionaries like Dr. Jeff Sutherland or Ken Schwaber.  It simply means they did not discover; they rediscovered or actually articulated[2] the concept to the populous. Continue reading

Posted in Agile and Strategic Planning, Agile Arguments, Agile in the Enterprise, Interview with a Natural Agilist | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Is Agile a Return to Common Sense?

By Brian Lucas

“Common sense is seeing things as they are; and doing things as they ought to be.” -Harriet Beecher Stowe

A recent post, “HCM, HIM and Agile are Perfect Together“, had the following reply from Dave Francavilla:

Brian,
Very comprehensive! What I love is that the basic common theme is derived from simple common sense. The entire world seems to have taken the focus off basic common sense and basic principles of business.
I see Agile as coming to our senses…
Just look at the general State of the Union. We are a mess because there is absolutely no common sense. Many of today’s businesses suffer from the same lack of basic understanding.
Thanks for your clarity.
David Francavilla

This got me to again think about the history of agile which I explored in my webinar, “Is Agile a Fad or an Evolution”, available on the ITMPI web site.  The question that I asked myself was, “In the past, from ancient to recent, was there more common sense than there is today.”  My method of examining history is to relive it.  To travel back in time[1] and become a part of the history that made the world in which I live… Continue reading

Posted in Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile for Software Development, Agile in the Enterprise, Interview with a Natural Agilist | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 69 Comments

Using Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server to Your Agile Best

By: Dave Smith and Brian Lucas

Since I posted the first set of tips about TFS usage for agile, I received so many requests for additional information that my friend and colleague Dave and I happily collaborated on a list of tips and practices to not only make your use of TFS more effective, but also to make your life a whole lot easier.  Let us know what you think and what your good tips are! -Brian Continue reading

Posted in Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile for Software Development, Agile in the Enterprise, Agile Tool | Tagged , , , , , , | 57 Comments

HCM, HIM and Agile are Perfect Together

By Brian Lucas

In the recent past, I was asked to address the subject of human capital management, the emergence of human interaction management and their effect on agile.  The fact is that the people element in the system is most important and the process is often less than relevant.  That makes human focused philosophies and agile a perfect match.  Unfortunately, the more negative statistics about human involvement and commitment in the enterprise are difficult for some people to grasp or even believe.  The lack of engagement in many enterprises is an amazing area of opportunity for improvement.  I have not seen many good statistics that broadly measure the benefits agile brings when employee engagement is dramatically increased, but I know that impact is startling and a large contributor to agile’s success.  So let’s take a look at agile and the human capital management concept. Continue reading

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Tips for Using Microsoft TFS with Agile

By Brian Lucas

While I don’t, as a policy, generally make product recommendations; I do feel comfortable offering tips and tricks about a particular tools use.  Particularly a very popular one.  Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server (TFS) is very popular and used on many agile projects.  Here are a few tips and tricks to make your agile experience with TFS considerably more productive.  To begin with I recommend you consider the scrum (x) template as a starter.  It is a pared down version of their standard template which has everything including the kitchen sink thrown in.  Novices in particular will get less confused with the scrum (x) template since it is simpler.  The following are seven tips to make your use of TFS more effective. Continue reading

Posted in Agile for Beginners, Agile for Software Development, Agile Tool | Tagged , , , , , | 36 Comments

What do you do with an entrenched skeptic?

By Brian Lucas

“Facts are stubborn things; whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” – JOHN ADAMS

What can you do when someone honestly doesn’t see the real underlying differences between agile and waterfall concepts?  What do you do when you have tried all of your standard explanations and you both still can’t see things from a common perspective?  The answer, of course, is – adapt!  If what you are saying isn’t convincing; then try something else.  Inject something small that’s different into the dialog and see what impact it has.  Facts are notoriously unrelenting and will be acknowledged by any reasonable person.  Never let your emotional frustration provide an answer that should have come from your dispassionate logic.  You need to understand your subject and respect the person with whom you are dialoging.  You will find that articulating proofs of this nature will actually strengthen your knowledge; much like defending a doctoral thesis.  So to prove that I practice what I preach; I am including the following email stream.  It’s a dialog I am having with a very good person and friend of mine named Jim.  He is both very intelligent and a phenomenal worker and just happens to be an agile “semi-skeptic”. Continue reading

Posted in Agile Arguments, Agile for Beginners, Agile for Software Development, Agile in the Enterprise | Tagged , , , , , , | 27 Comments

A Simple Definition of Kanban Leads to Agile Productivity

By Brian Lucas

“If you seek the kernel, then you must break the shell…” – Meister Eckhart

I was discussing Kanban the other day with several people who were very confused by the concepts.  One viewed it as Kanban vs. Agile, another felt it was just a way of flowing work better and the third had not even heard the term.  Hence it has become a topic in Keeping Agile.  Lean[1] gets a lot of play along with agile,  I discount lean as a term for software development and generally do not believe it applies.  As far as Kanban is concerned; I could go into a long dissertation here about the history of Kanban and discuss the Japanese terms of “muda” “mura” and muri”, but that would put you to sleep and since it is something you are not interested in from an agile perspective a waste[2] of time. Continue reading

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Scott Ambler on The Glacial Methodology™ Workshop: A Data-Centric Software Development Process

I love a tongue in cheek satire especially about dogmatically held beliefs.  Here is a great one by Scott Ambler.  It could readily be applied to those who believe in creating copious amounts of documentation and following a waterfall process instead of Keeping Agile.  Enjoy! -Brian

The Glacial Methodology™ is a data-centric approach to software development based on sound software engineering concepts. With a Glacial approach you begin by developing a conceptual data model, followed by a detailed logical data model (LDM), and then finally a detailed physical data model (PDM). After several months of this comprehensive modeling effort development activities are then permitted to begin. Continue reading

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