Thoughts on technology and innovation
Ted Husted, Release Engineer
Teaching through dramatizations (or parables) is an ancient practice that is making its way into IT. For the Agile. Lean, and Devops inclined, I can strongly recommend the Scrum Training Series videos and The Phoenix Project.
The Scrum Training Series videos
Scrum is a wildly popular framework for software development, put to good use by teams all over the world, including Spotify and Salesforce. The core of Scrum is brevity and efficiency. If you are looking for the briefest, most effective way to learn Scrum: try the Scrum Training Series videos.
Truly, if your organization does any type of project or development work, this video series is the best 90 minutes you can invest in your company's future. Using a working team as a backdrop, the series walks through the core Scrum planning and execution checkpoints. By using dramatizations throughout, the series places Scrum practices into an simple-to-understand context that you can easily relate to your own work.
As Jeff Sutherland points out in "Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time", Scrum is an effective framework for any type of project work, from home improvement to frontline journalism. No matter what kind of work you do, Scrum can work for you, and the Scrum Training Series shows you exactly how it all works. The series provides six videos, roughly 15 minutes each, so it's easy to jump in and out. No excuses, click on through and try the first one now. Really. Try it now. You literally have nothing better to do.
The Phoenix Project
After thirty years in IT, I've heard my share of war stories, and lived a few too. (Like driving past a billboard announcing the launch date for an auction web site I was building that wasn't quite ready to ship -- Nothing locks in a date like a media buy.)
As a full length novel, the Phoenix Project is the ultimate IT war story. It walks through the fall and rise of a manufacturing company's IT operations department, showing in dramatic detail the problems we all face, and how we can use Lean techniques to pull back from the brink of disaster.
In the Phoenix Project, you will find virtually every IT "moment of reckoning" you ever faced (including my own billboard story), and perhaps a few you've only heard about. But they are all there, in a series of perfect storms that will make you cringe, cry, and then cheer as the Jasonic hero turns the ship around.
Along the way, you will learn how Lean principles like <yawn>the theory of constraints</yawn> can make a practical difference in how you deliver software. Not through abstract explanations --- but through realistic context, acted out by familiar characters.
The Phoenix Project is also an excellent study in the use of personas. Every character and organization in the novel is a carefully chosen archetype. While every reader identifies with the hero, you are also liable to find someone like yourself along the way. (In case you are wondering, I'm Wes Davis.)
I wasn't able to find an audio version (boo!), but The Pheonix Project is available to Safari Books Online subscribers and, of course, through Amazon.
While a novel is best read end to end, it is also a tutorial. If you just want the self-help tips, here's the 20% of the book to read first -- chapters 7, 20, 23, 27, 29, 30, and 31 -- along with the very excellent Resource Guide at the end. (The Resource Guide could be an ebook of its own!)
We often use construction metaphors in development, like "building" an application. Of course, people also build cars. The Phoenix Project reminds us that software development, like manufacturing, is a pipeline, and that we are only as quick as our slowest constraint.
What's your favorite IT war story? If you knew then what you know now, could you have avoided the battle?
For more about software delivery pipelines, see NuOps: How the Nimble AMS Sausages are Made.
Ted Husted is a Kaizen Squad developer on the Nimble AMS product crew. "We make the good changes that create a great product."