Posts on Learning

Amplify Learning with Mind Maps

Mind Mapping

I’ve long been an advocate for visual learning and discovery tools. Models, maps, prototypes, along with the use of symbols and color, aid in understanding complex ideas. So what I saw in a recent Agile Requirements training class I taught in Tokyo, Japan—hosted by our training partner OGIS-RI—took my love of visuals to a new level. One attendee, Hidehiko Akasaka, was especially engaged. To my delight, he was using mind maps to help him organize and amplify his learning!

I use mind maps for a variety of topics. For example, recently I “wrote” a book review using a mind map. Yet, for me, Akasaka-san takes mind maps to a new level

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Context Counts: Adapt Your Requirements Practices to Fit

ShuHaRi Whether you are agile or more traditional, your challenge is the same: In order to remain relevant in today’s market, you have to discover and deliver the right thing at the right time. To do this successfully, you need to elicit customer needs and quickly choose from among many competing voices and options to determine what is truly essential and what can wait for a future release. That means selecting the requirements development and management activities that are most effective for your particular situation–whether those practices are in your current toolbox or not.

To understand this mindset shift, it might help to think of requirements activities in terms of the ShuHaRi progression, with a learning stage (shu), a breaking away stage (ha), and a transcendent stage (ri). 

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Requirements to the Rescue: How the 7 Product Dimensions Saved our eBooks

d2dkindlepic“Fast, easy, free/cheap…” That’s what we heard about publishing an eBook edition of a paper book. After all, people said, how difficult can it be to take a PDF and make it digital? Quite difficult, actually.

Ellen Gottesdiener and I should have anticipated that publishing eBook editions of our paper book Discover To Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis would be a complex endeavor. In our careers, we have been involved in re-platforming software products (applications)–and we’ve rarely encountered a re-platforming project that is straightforward. Our eBook editions were no exception.

To eBook or Not to eBook

Even before we published the paperback version of Discover To Deliver, folks requested a digital version. We analyzed the profile of our primary readers. Challenges in converting the book’s visual language, illustrations, models and examples for a virtual reading audience worried us. Other concerns included the evolving eBook industry, its splintered standards, and the end-product usability issues driven by the increasing variations in devices (tablets, readers, smartphones) on which people access books. Weighing the value proposition of paper vs. digital, we decided to initially go paper.

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“Agile Movies”: Tweets for Fun

Curated by Ellen Gottesdiener

The twitter-verse was recently ablaze with an informal playful contest: rename well-known movies using common agile terms and expressions (see my short list of those terms, below*).

It’s the month of and for April Fools, so join me for some fun.

I’ve assembled the best of the best of “agile movie” – with credit to its originator (and his or her twitter handle).

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Cure Your Agile Planning and Analysis Blues: The Top 9 Pain Points

frazzledproductchampionIf you’re on a team that’s transitioning to lean/agile, have you experienced troubling truths, baffling barriers, and veritable vexations around planning and analysis? We work with many lean/agile teams, and we’ve noted certain recurring planning and analysis pain points.

Mary Gorman and I shared our top observations in a recent webinar. Our hostess, Maureen McVey, IIBA’s Head of Learning and Development, prompted us to begin by sharing why we wrote the book Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis and then explaining the essential practices you can learn by reading the book.

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Lean/Agile Books to Enjoy and Learn From


I love books, and I read a lot of them.

Books help me learn about new tools and techniques to add to my toolkit. I also read books to reinforce and confirm practices that work, to challenge my thinking, and to discover new colleagues to connect with.

The problem? So many books, so little time. So I’ve curated a short list of five 2012 lean/agile books that I’ve found valuable, challenging, and useful.

[Oh… and did I mention my own new book, written with Mary Gorman: Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis. 😉 ]

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A Quick Dip into our new book – Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning & Analysis

How do you rapidly discover product needs and create a practical plan for delivering high-value products? How do the people on your product development team collaborate as partners to explore and evaluate which work to deliver next? How do you confirm that you’re building the right product in the first place? How do you incorporate Agile/Lean practices into your daily work?

Our newly released book, Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis (two years in the writing) addresses these tough questions.

Here’s a quick tour of the big concepts.

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Experiencing Agile: 6 Agile Planning and Analysis Practices to Try

What practices can you adopt to help your team experience Agile?

This question was raised by a listener to the podcast we recorded on agile analysis practices with BA coach Yamo. (Find the podcast here.) The specific question that Katie Metcalf asked us was this:

“What Agile techniques would you suggest introducing to a software development team that is currently not using the Agile approach but would like to get a flavor for the methodology?”

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Agile Analysis, Agile Testing: Synergies for Successful Software Solutions

My experiences working with agile teams have taught me that agile analysis and testing skills are truly synergestic.

So much so, that I put together a tutorial for the April 2011 Quest Conference (Quality Engineering Software & Testing) entitled, “Requirements Exploration with Tester Collaboration”. Subsequently, I had the honor to work with agile testing guru Janet Gregory to present this at Agile 2011.

Next month, EBG’er Sue Burk will co-present this tutorial with Janet at Software Testing Analysis & Review (STAR) conferences. So, you might be wondering, what are those synergies?

The Testing Mindset

Product needs evolve into requirements that define what will be built, what will be tested, and how the product needs will provide value for the organization. People with testing skills need to be involved in requirements for the same reason the other product stakeholders need to be involved: to boost the team’s ability to deliver a high-quality product.

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