Rob Aston

‘Personal Agility’ – a mental shift for personal goal setting

I was inspired by a talk by Giff Constable entitled “The Missing Agile Principle” – see references at the end of this post. Giff’s talk is focused on Agile product development but it struck me as being a great way to express an approach to personal goal setting. Furthermore, it’s a way to apply Agile…

Enemies of Agile: Bad Language #2 “Deadline”

He’s Dead Jim! OK it’s not because it has the word “dead” in it, however undesirable, there are plenty of other words in the same boat such as deadpan, dead end, that doesn’t offend. No, it’s not that as such. It’s also not because some people would like you to interpret the word literally. The…

Enemies of Agile: Bad Language #1 “Resource”

Words and phrases are like viruses in that they spread from one person to another who essentially then become ‘infected’. They become an ingrained habit. There’s a word which I have been trying to kick for some time. As a word in its own right, it’s quite beautiful. It sounds great. However, within the context I…

Enemies of Agile: Big Fat User Stories

The Elephant in the Dining Room There is a famous saying, “How do you eat an Elephant? Answer: one bite at a time!” and so it should be when developing software features. The challenge however is that people do not always recognise a metaphorical elephant when they see one. When faced with an epic or…

Jimi photo

A lesson from Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix was a massive fan of technology and exploited it like no other single musician before him. He was probably aware of computers but I’m sure never gave a thought to the intricacies of software development processes and the human dynamics at the heart of it. However, there is much we can take from…

Retrospiketives

I’d like to introduce and encourage a new agile activity or ceremony: Retrospiketive [retro-spike-tive] – A time boxed meeting spawned from a retrospective to focus on a single change implementation plan. Also called a “Spiketro” for short. The name pretty much says it all to anyone already immersed in agile software development. It’s a happy marriage of…

The Power of Comedy in Communication

The ability to communicate compellingly and persuasively are highly valuable skills. This TED talk presents the case for using comedy to succinctly express an idea and in a way that has immediate and lasting impact. Furthermore, comedy also makes people want to spread the idea so that it gathers even more momentum. So the next time you…

The Elements of Style for User Stories and Scenarios (BDD)

The core content of this post was forged in the fire of an intense agile project that was the conception and creation of the international edition of the BBC Homepage for BBC.com. The project team was assembled and some engineers had worked on the original domestic homepage but this was a complete redesign and rewrite,…

Conversations Over Documentation – Striking the Right Balance

When working on requirements, how is your time split between communicating and documenting? It’s very easy to feel the pressure to get requirements documented so that they can move through the development pipeline, so that designers and developers can start to design and build some working software, to build the next feature. On agile projects…

Artifacts for Artifacts Sake

The artifacts* of software development projects are important intermediate deliverables during the SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle). Example artifacts include project plans, requirements documents, user stories, data models, designs, etc. Although such artifacts have value, they are not an end in and of themselves. That is to say, it’s not their existence that is important but…