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Rachel Davies
Agile Coach
Interests: Walking, Gamelan
Recent Activity
I gave a talk at Agile Coaches Exchange meet up yesterday and someone emailed afterwards saying: "Rachel mentioned about few questions that she uses during one on one. Those set of questions could help me a lot because I am terrible to start and flow the conversation with my team." So I thought it might be handy to do a quick write-up of what questions I tend use in individual coaching sessions. Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Agile Coaching
Sometimes people get confused about velocity and edge cases of what gets counted or not. It doesn't matter greatly except it helps to do this consistently over time. I wrote a FAQ for our teams because these edge cases come up infrequently and developers often don't remember what rule to apply. I'm sharing a slightly abbreviated version of our Velcoty FAQ as an illustration of working agreements around this. Your team might choose to do this differently and that's okay. Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2014 at Agile Coaching
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Despite the current #NoEstimates trend, at Unruly we still estimate our user stories. The way we do this is in small informal meetings in our development area . Why do we find this useful? Because estimates of development costs inform decisions on what to develop next. Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2014 at Agile Coaching
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Over the years I’ve done lots of work with Scrum teams and I appreciate that Sprint Demo/Review meetings can be a useful way to give stakeholders visibility of features implemented prior to pushing out a product release. Teams that find this way of working helpful typically work in larger organisations, where they don't have the capacity to make frequent software releases due to restricted access to servers or a heavy reliance on manual regression testing. However, the ceremony of Sprint Review may be propping this system up allowing teams to work in a pseudo-Agile way placating stakeholders while delaying the release of valuable software. Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2014 at Agile Coaching
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Here’s a very simple tracking mechanism that your team can use for physical story cards to learn more about the proportion of time you spend on different types of work. One of our product development teams (Tabasco) has used this approach for tracking time spent on things for at the last year and a half. As a team, we don’t typically do any deep analysis of the data gathered but it does help us understand what’s going on Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2014 at Agile Coaching
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We had a good turnout for our first Extreme Programmers London meetup and gathered plenty of ideas for future meetups. Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2014 at Agile Coaching
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Although I already did a write up of Gold Cards in “Agile Coaching” book, I thought it was worth another blog post now that I have seen teams at Unruly following this practice for such a long time -- it's a great benefit and part of the magic formula that helps us keep moving our architecture and products forward. Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2014 at Agile Coaching
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Join us to explore how extreme programming is evolving and ideas relevant to software craft looking beyond basic old-school XP/Agile practices (TDD, CI/CD, Refactoring, Pairing). We've included some basic questions before we aprove membership to help ensure that members have some relevant development experience. Hope to see you at Extreme Programmers London soon! Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2014 at Agile Coaching
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A story about what I learned from planning walks that may apply to plans for software development. Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2014 at Agile Coaching
Chris Oldwood asked me about the difference (as I see it) between the Scrum concept of Sprint and Iteration in XP. Although the terms “Sprint” and “Iteration” are often bandied around as synonyms in Agile world with the basic meaning of a time boxed planning cycle used by a software development team, these terms started out with quite different meanings. Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2014 at Agile Coaching
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I found the talks at The International Conference Of Software Architecture interesting and thought provoking. Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2014 at Agile Coaching
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At Agile Coach Camp Barcelona, I lead an Open Space discussion around the implications of Conway’s Law. We were outside by the pool and it was a little breezy so we taped a single sheet of paper to the easel, I then attempted to squeeze in all of our notes on it. Looking at the photo of those notes (below) it looks like a jumble of words! Here’s an attempt to unpack some of our discussion Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2014 at Agile Coaching
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At Agile Coach Camp Barcelona, I convened a session on “Hierarchy of Needs” and how this might be used by coaches working with softwaredevelopment teams to understand where to focus their efforts. Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2013 at Agile Coaching
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I enjoyed giving a keynote speech at GOTO Berlin about "The Art of Embracing Change". The title of my talk was inspired by the subtitle of Kent' Beck's "Extreme Programming Explained" and is at the heart of coaching software teams. Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2013 at Agile Coaching
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I took the photo of one of our product development teams yesterday. What I hope you can see from the photo is engagement of everyone in the conversation. It's quite unlike many tedious story estimation meetings that I've been in at other organisations. Often developers are in a room for a long time putting numbers on user stories and gradually losing the will to live. We used to have a similar long session every few weeks to estimate a big batch of stories before selecting those to work on next. Our Product team used to meet with stakeholders and write... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2013 at Agile Coaching
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Sometimes retrospectives can be slow to get going as team members rack their brains trying to remember events over the last couple of weeks. A simple solution to this can be for the team to maintain a "continuous timeline" which can be used to kickstart conversations in retrospectives. Here's how we do this at Unruly. We record any significant events on our team whiteboard at standup time or during the day. When it comes to the retrospective, we take a photo and bring print- outs that we can refer to. We also email a copy of the board photo to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2013 at Agile Coaching
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Tomorrow I'll be walking 26 miles from Stonehenge to Avebury. I signed up for this trek to help raise funds for Alzheimer's Society - a membership organisation, which works to improve the quality of life of people affected by dementia in UK. They provide services such as day care and home care for people with dementia, as well as support and befriending services to help partners and families cope with the demands of caring. Even though it's a long way, I'm looking forward to the walk across Salisbury Plain starting at the world famous Stonehenge as the sun rises above... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2013 at Agile Coaching
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Notes from Tim Mackinnon's session about Pairing anit-patterns at XPDay. The flipchart lists the following: Magpie - likes shiny things Keyboard hog - doesn't share control Backseat driver - calls out typos, keyboard shortcuts Runaway train Heathcliff - silent Won't Go Home A few of my own tips if you are working with a problematic pair: Ask for a break - tea or research strands in parallel Ask for a whiteboard discussion Switch pairs Continue alone and ask for review Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2013 at Agile Coaching
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I have to admit that I don't follow Football news. However, this story caught my eye. When Nigel Atkins was terminated as manager at Southampton, he lefthis players with a positive message on the dressing-room wall before he cleared out his office. These nuggets of advice could be used by agile coaches too! I particularly like "Keep Looking to Improve" as it encourages us to keep our eyes and minds open to doing better than we are now. While at the same time having confidence in our ability to do the right thing. Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2013 at Agile Coaching
Larry Wall wrote in Programming Perl "We will encourage you to develop the three great virtues of a programmer: laziness, impatience, and hubris." Laziness is defined as the quality that makes you go to great effort to reduce overall energy expenditure. It makes you write labor-saving programs that other people will find useful, and document what you wrote so you don't have to answer so many questions about it. You don't have to work with a team for long to hear developers moan about the terrible legacy code they have to live with every day. Programmers clearly don't like to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2013 at Agile Coaching
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In 1967 Melvin Conway submitted a paper called "How Do Committees Invent?" to the Harvard Business Review. HBR rejected it on the grounds that he had not proved his thesis: "Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization's communication structure." He got the paper published a year later in Datamotion magazine and it you’d like to read the original it’s available on his website here -- Fred Brooks subsequently coined the name "Conway's Law" when he wrote about this idea classic book "The Mythical Man-Month". In his article,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2012 at Agile Coaching
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People often ask me for tips on sustaining a career as an independent agile coach. My number one tip is try to think about the service you provide from the outside-in. I mean, as Dan North has used "outside-in" in BDD -- start by identifying valuable business outcomes, focus on doing what's necessary to achieve those outcomes by establishing acceptance criteria and deliver as you go. As Dan says taking this approach "helps us build software that matters" -- our code is built out to serve those outcomes which our customers find valuable. I'd add that taking a similar approach... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2012 at Agile Coaching
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The art of product planning is to uncover what you need to build to the best product you can with the resources available to you - it's a balancing act. What makes this challenging is that essential requirements are often missed along the way. We'd like to avoid making major changes to our products late in the day and risk compromising the quality and integrity of our product. Taking an agile approach enables us to deliver incrementally, realising value at the earliest opportunity. An agile approach also enables us learn from each delivery and use this feedback to make a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2012 at Agile Coaching
As an agile coach, I get the opportunity to observe many daily standup meetings. Often I see a team lead kick-off with a brain dump of everything they did yesterday including a summary of all the meetings, which they attended on behalf of the team. Lately I've been wondering if being the first person to talk sets the right tone. What signal does this give the team? The purpose of daily standup is not to account for time spent yesterday but to make a plan for today. Some things that happened yesterday may be important to consider but many are... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2012 at Agile Coaching
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Recently I've been helping teams outside Development apply some basic Agile practices. Our company was founded using XP at the core of our approach to software development. We've grown along with the success of our products and now have several departments with day-to-day work that does not involve the Development team (such as Finance, Infrastructure, and "People & Places" who combine HR and facilities management) interested in managing their work along similar lines. Rather than blasting these teams with Agile theory and principles, we're building things up slowly. We start with a simple sketch about how to make the work... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2012 at Agile Coaching