Wednesday, June 24, 2009

[AgileScotland] Agile and Lean: Crash Course - Glasgow, Wednesday 1st of July.

Good news!

1. We'll be holding our next low-cost "Agile and Lean Software Development: Crash Course", next week, on Wednesday the 1st of July in Glasgow. Better still this course is absolutely FREE, but with a limit of 3 people per company, per course.

2. It's free for everyone, this time round, since some very switched-on folk at Glasgow Caledonian University (where they've been teaching Agile to their students for a half dozen years) have very kindly sponsored the venue. This is awesome and I'm very grateful! But it does mean that I don't expect to repeat the course in Edinburgh this summer (unless I find a sponsor).

3. I'll be repeating this course twice in July, both in Glasgow, but if you are able to make the 1st course then please send me an email quickly. I'll confirm the other dates soon, but we'll be in a smaller room for those sessions and you may miss out if you wait. If you can't make the 1st then send me a note and I'll see what I can do.

4. I've gotta warn you though - we've already had an aweful lot of interest ... so get in quick.

5. Let me put that another way: it's short notice, but if you can make the 1st then please send me an email. It'll be easier for me, and you're more likely to get a spot. And, if you're based in Edinburgh ... come to the course in Glasgow


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

[AgileScotland] When it just *has* to work: Agile Development in Safety-Critical Environments

Hi Everyone,

Nancy Van Schooenderwoert, a very experienced Agile coach with a very long name, is in Edinburgh next Friday afternoon, the 26th. She's presenting a one-off session, running from 3-5, about Agile in Safety-Critical Environments to the agile team at
Toshiba Medical Visualizaton Systems (they're one of Scotland's agile success stories). You can see details of Nancy's talk, below.

The folk at Toshiba have very kindly set aside a few spaces for the general public.  If you are interested then get back to me - and I'll let you know if you've got a spot early next week.  I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to turn some of you away.  If you are particularly interested in safety-critical code then let me know and I'll prioritize you.


When it just *has* to work: Agile Development in Safety-Critical Environments

Traditional thinking holds that the more critical the application, the more tightly its development must be planned, staged, and controlled. The truth is that a flexible culture is stronger, safer, and more robust. FDA regulatory standards are designed to support a learning organization – fully compatible with Agile! This session gives you practical tips for moving your customers and auditors to a flexible agile approach to planning, team interactions, and risk management. When the culture shifts, the result is not just that teams achieve their goals sooner, but safety is greatly enhanced.

Learning outcomes

   * Get ammunition for conversations with managers, to show why incremental design is safer than up-front design
   * See examples of how several medical device companies are already reaping increased ROI from using agile team discipline
   * Understand how the traditional method of hazard analysis is more dangerous than the agile approach
   * Be able to explain to your customers (internal and external) the benefit - to them - of working collaboratively with you
   * Grasp how the regulatory requirement for separate reporting chains for development and QA need not prevent Agile collaboration

Who Should Attend
Key attendees are described here as "Personas"

Patricia - a seasoned project manager. She prefers agile development to her old attempts to force teams to conform to an overly prescriptive plan. But, her stakeholders still ask for the same predictability and schedule commitments. And the regulatory documentation needs seem to force a "big design up front" approach so she ends up with a mix of agile and waterfall practices that is only marginally better than waterfall.

Don - the product Quality Assurance representative. Don is responsible for quality concerns of the overall product, only part of which is the embedded software. In particular, Don has to make sure all the requirements of the regulatory agencies (in his world, the FDA) have been fulfilled, and wants to be sure the Agile approach will result in the kind of information he needs to provide.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Glasgow's clinic & Agile lunch ...

Hi everyone,

This week's clinic is full up.  Well be holding another one in Edinburgh shortly and then we'll be back in Glasgow next month.

I'm wondering though, would anyone like to meet up for lunch before the clinic?  I'm thinking noon at Wagamamas.  Send me a note if you're keen.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

West Coast Clinic Bios.

Here're the bio's I promised.

Let's start with Rob. 

Rob Lally has successfully managed and delivered over 20 Agile projects in the last ten years.

Rob blends Agile and Lean with a pragmatic, commercial focus. He's experienced Agile from many different perspectives; having worked as a developer, architect, coach, project, programme and product manager. He's built in-house applications for a Fortune 50 company, public-facing web apps and retail products, using both distributed and co-located teams.

A technologist at heart, Rob always makes time to write code, learn new languages and stay on top of emerging technologies. Rob, formerly, worked as a Vice President at JPMorgan. He now runs his own consultancy company.

And now for Pete:

Peter Aitken has spent the last decade working as an Agile coach and developer.  During this time he has worked mostly in Java environments working on  a diverse range of applications including  DVD and Blu Ray authoring tools for Universal Studios and fund management tools for investment banks.

Peter currently works as an Agile Coach and Developer in a small team creating Ruby on Rails applications.  Peter is an expert in developer-lead acceptance testing. He created Marjoree (, a ruby gem (library) used to test-drive sybase store procedures. His current favourite toy is Cucumber ( ),  a BDD framework which teams use to describe in plain text how software should behave.

Peter is scheduled to present to AgileScotland on Cucumber over the summer.

I vouch for both of these guys.  I've learnt plenty from both of them during the years. 

And finally, me:

My name is Clarke Ching.  I teach - and do - a very simple version of Agile - one that works well for people who haven't read too many books on Agile, who really don't want to be "extreme" about anything, and who, maybe, use COBOL, or Java, or .net, or maybe don't even develop software at all.  I call it everydayAgile because it's designed to bring the benefits of agile - more projects finished, happier customers, happier developers, and so on - to everyday people who work in everyday businesses.  It's the 80/20 version of Agile where you get 80% of the benefits, with only 20% of the effort.

If you are familiar with Goldratt's Theory of Constraints (as used by manufacturers like Intel and Ford) then EverydayAgile is TOC applied to software development.  If you're not familiar with TOC then think of Lean as Toyota do it (rather than how it's described in the books) instead.

I run my own consulting business and chair the not-for-profit AgileScotland special interest group.  Between engagements and in my spare time I write.  Later this year the Pragmatic Programmers will publish my business novel Rolling Rocks Downhill which explains everydayAgile in detail.  It's just like Goldratt's The Goal, but set in corporate software development.  You can buy my first book RocksIntoGold - a business parable, like "Our Iceberg is Melting" or "The One Minute Manager", which explains why businesses should do Agile, without mentioning anything technical or even the word agile (hint: it's all about cashflow) - from amazon or you can read it at for free.


AgileScotland clinic - Glasgow City Centre, 2pm, June 11.

Hi everyone,

I am astounded at the turnout we've had at our AgileClinics and at last weeks Lean, Agile and Kanban "Crash" course.  I regret not kicking these off years ago. 

More Courses: Thirteen people turn up last friday - 6 paying, 7 free - and the feedback was excellent. We're definitely running another course in Glasgow sometime in June once I find a suitable venue - if you can suggest somewhere then please give me a yell; at this stage most of the positions are filled, but email me if you'd like to go on the waiting list.  We're also looking to run 2 more courses in Edinburgh - one exclusively for Spring Recruitment's linked in group, in their offices, and one open to eveyone using the same venue we used last week. 

The Next Clinic - Glasgow City Centre, 2pm, June 11.:  Peter Aitken, Rob Lally and I are available for free consultion at next week's AgileScotland Clinic.  We'll be meeting in one of the Starbucks or Costas near Borders but we'll give you more details nearer the time.  If you'd like a little helping hand then you can learn a lot in an hour.  So far we've helped Agile veterans and newbies; managers and techies.  The conversations are 100% confidential.  Email me now at

I'll send out Pete and Rob's bio's shortly.
Clarke Ching -  
1.  Author of "Rolling Rocks Downhill" ... a business novel about software development; coming soon from the Pragmatic Bookshelf.
2.  Author of "Rocks Into Gold" ... a biztech parable for developers who want to THRIVE during the recession.
Phone: 079 2011 4893