Monday 19 November 2007

XPDay 2007: Embrace Uncertainty - Jeff Patton

I came in 10 minutes late for this keynote. Train problems…

Results of stories don’t need to completely satisfy the customer — the aim is to get value and reduce risk. Iteration retrospectives should evaluate on these two goals:

  • Did we get some value? Could we get more value? Biz should answer this.
  • Did we reduce risk?

It’s ok to do the simplest possible thing that could possibly work, rather than the simplest thing that could be released.

Three different customer prioritising strategies:

  1. Follow the money — go for a single business benefit at a time
    • cuts out whole swathes of stories and simplifies iterations
  2. Don’t choose your solution too early — look at what the user wants to accomplish and defer choices as late as possible
  3. Build up feature quality iteration by iteration — need everything but can build up quality and complexity
    • e.g. building a bus — can’t
    • e.g. leave out AJAXy stuff until later, improve performance gradually
    • if build to ideal quality in each iteration then may miss out vitally important function
    • customers say “great, it’s done, let’s move on”
      • so have a report card across the features: D to A
      • can say to customers, “you have your X but it’s D quality now. You’d really want better”

As soon as you start to be dogmatic about following the process, you’re dead!


What’s your idea of the role of business analyst in agile?

  • in commercial software company like Yahoo, there’s no such thing — instead they have designers
  • would like to see BAs take more design responsibility for what they’re doing
  • in enterprise software houses, have business people talking to BAs, talking to developers

How do you deal with multiple business voices?

  • use user-centred design & scrum product owner
  • product owner takes responsibility for direction of product
  • understands the different factions and can answer to them why the development is going in that direction

In Yahoo, have designers but also product managers — how do they fit in and can we learn from them?

  • they choose direction of business value from choices given by designers

If stay uncertain, how much is it going to cost?

  • strategies outlined before came out of fixed price projects
  • play space is users to support, kinds of things to do, quality of resulting product, etc

See Jeff Patton's blog version for more details

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