Tag Archives: scrum

Agile Humor – New Certifications

The brilliant Peter Saddington, a/k/a AgileScout, posted a wickedly funny April 1st announcement of a Certified Agile Blogger course. Yep, April Fool! Read it, it’s great fun.

Since I blog about Agile from the point of view of the business stakeholders, it got me thinking about other certifications we could use in the Agile community.


This 2-day course will give you all the skills you need to wean the business off Waterfall into the new Agile reality. You’ll learn to recognize the stages of change resistance:

Denial – “We’ve never done it like this, not going to start now. Unless you’re going to make each sprint eighteen months long.”
Anger – “I wouldn’t scrum with you if you were the last PM on earth!”
Bargaining – “Okay, okay – I’ll meet with you to answer your requirements questions, just give me one more product cycle that carries a three-ring binder full of comprehensive and immovable up-front requirements.”
Depression – “You don’t really want my sign-off. Nobody values my opinion anymore, all anybody cares about is that stupid wiki now.”
Acceptance – “Right, so explain to me again how that task moves from ‘In Progress’ to ‘Done’.”


Marketing is from Vegas, Dev is from Alderan. (Silicon Valley. I meant Silicon Valley). There’s a language barrier. The two teams dress differently, have different customs. Marketing needs an Agile Sherpa, a guide and emissary, to help them navigate this unfamiliar world.

Upon completion of the Certified Agile Sherpa course, you will be bilingual, fluent in both Geek and Hype.

You will be able to explain to the Marketing team why “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development.” carries as much fine print as “Facebook values your privacy”. And why code complete isn’t as flexible as their expense account.

You will be able to explain to the Dev team that “The sole success criterion will be the number of clicks generated.” carries as much fine print as “Drink responsibly”. And why there would be another success metric besides velocity.

Are there other certifications that could be useful? Drop me a line in the comments. this could be the start of a beautiful collaboration. With a little fine print…

AGILE HUMOR – Top Ten Reasons Why the Zombie Apocalypse Isn’t Agile

1. Zombies don’t iterate well.

2. A zombie can declare a project dead and move on.

3. Scrums aren’t productive because the answer to every question is the same. “Brains.”

4. Pair programming…well, trust me, it just doesn’t work out.

5. Viscera and keyboards aren’t a good mix.

6. You don’t have to a bribe a zombie with overtime pay to join a death march.

7. Their requirements never change. Oh wait, that’s why the Zombie Apocalpyse isn’t like Marketing.

8. You can’t go to a 2-day certification course to become a zombie.

9. Zombies only have one velocity – the relentless shamble.

10. You can’t get a zombie to grasp the concept of continuous improvement.

Agile Humor – The Definition Of Done

The CMO: When the new functionality reduces the bounce rate from 40% to 4%.

The CIO: Done? When’s the release, 11:45? 11:46.

The PR Director: 11:45? I told ClickZ and TechCrunch it went live last Tuesday.

The Product Owner: When our new video has been viewed more times than that Evolution of Dance guy.

The Product Manager: It’s not done until the ten missing original requirements make it back into the functionality.

The Developer: It’s done. Remember we dropped ten of the features from this sprint when you told me it couldn’t be coded in Flash? Now they’re enhancements scheduled for Sprint…um…Omega.

The Analytics Manager: Done? It hasn’t started. You won’t have any data until they get the WebTrends tags working in Sprint…um…Omega.

The Scrum Manager: When the last hot fix deploys. What day is it? Never mind, bring me a Red Bull.

The Social Media Manager: Until Zuckerberg changes his mind again.

The Director of Sales: We changed the website? Oh yeah, look at that.

General Counsel: It’s done. I mean really done. The animal rights people are picketing on our lawn over that edgy new “Exploding Koala” logo. Take it down.

A Marketer’s Guide to Agile Development – The Ten Commandments for Marketers

Agile is thy methodology – the way, the truth, the absolute shiznet to thy development team. Thou shalt not use any other methodology – at least not here.

Thou shalt not bitch about the lack of up-front requirements – neither shalt thou commit scope creep.

Keep holy the release day. It’s ain’t movin’. It especially ain’t movin’ for thee.

Honor thy development team. Seriously. Some morning Dunkins, a toy, a damn pizza wouldst not kill thee.

Thou shalt not kill the development schedule with late requirements.

Thou shalt test. And test some more. Thou art not a representative sample of thy user base. Truly I say unto you, thou art not.

Thou shalt provide feedback when needed rather than when convenient for thee, lest thine development team proceed without it.

Thou shalt not hire a contractor to circumvent thy development team. Remember thou art part of the same tribe.

Thou shalt remain in scrum for its duration and not bugger off once thy project was discussed eight minutes in.

Thou shalt not covet your colleague’s project’s prioritization on the sprint by seeking to bogart the development cycle for thyself.

A Marketer’s Guide to Agile Development – A Rose By Any Other Name…

I came across something intriguing in my blog’s analytics dashboard. Somebody came to cathycarleton.com from Google yesterday on the keyword phrase “agile development minus the lingo”. Hmmm. Sorry visitor, you probaby didn’t find what you were looking for.

I wrote a couple of articles about agile lingo last year, meant to help non-technical business types understand the development teams that build their ideas into reality. But those articles assume the organization is using familiar Agile terms like scrum, sprint, backlog, various types of programming, etc.

My visitor’s search phrase brings up a good question – what if they don’t? Is it still Agile?

Rapid deployment, continuous improvement, and collaborative building all embrace the spirit of Agile regardless of what they’re called. Organizations that use these methods walk the walk, even if they don’t talk the talk. But what about philosophy? Can a repertoire of Agile-friendly practices by itself qualify a group as an Agile shop, even if they don’t specifically pledge fealty to the Agile Manifesto? Can they be Agile without formally declaring themselves to be part of the worldwide Agile community?

Sure. Agile is as Agile does.

So go ahead – call the scrum “morning progress bagel nosh”. Hell, call the release Tila Tequila if you want. Alistair Cockburn, who’s smarter than all of us put together (including Tila Tequila), has advocated scrapping the term “requirements” altogether and using the verb phrase “deciding what to build“. That’s actually better, isn’t it? Who wants to slog through requirements? But people will wait in line to help in deciding what to build. They’ll even bring the bagels.

A Marketer’s Guide to Agile Development – Does Agile Have Time for Research?

Rapid development calls for rapid decision-making. Agile practitioners sometimes make the mistake of assuming that an Agile environment doesn’t have any spare time built in for research to inform those decisions. It’s not so. You’re actually more at risk for wasting time when you don’t research.

Research can take many forms, and a lot of insight can be gained very quickly.

Research is for grownups.

A big part of Agile culture is empowerment and self-determination. But developing software costs real money. The hard truth is that not every cool-sounding idea your brain spawns deserves to come to fruition. The ideas that should be developed are ones that research shows will advance your organization’s business goals – you know, the reason they pay you to come to work.

Research should be proactive.

It doesn’t matter what kind of software development environment you’re in. Which is smarter – a survey to find out if the Ultimate Extremely Cool Tool would solve a problem and/or delight users? Or a survey to find out why users won’t use the Ultimate Extremely Cool Tool your company spent four months developing? (If you’re unsure which one of these is smarter, you might want to take a personal day and read a couple of months worth of Dilbert comics to gain some clarity.)

Objectivity is a must.

Research should be done by people who don’t have as much skin in the game as the people writing the software. It needn’t – and indeed shouldn’t – be done by the development team itself, but by research professionals on staff or outsourced. Why? The same reason they don’t let judges preside over cases where their kid is a defendant.

Testing is a crucial form of research.

Don’t skip test-driven research – the lack of it could come back to bite you in the…area where you don’t want to be bitten. I wrote more about this recently. But don’t just take my word for it. Alberto Lumbreras has written some great blog posts about the subject, here. You know the old adage: “Act in haste, repent in Sprints 15 and 16.”

A Marketer’s Guide to Agile Development – Cool New Jobs in 2011

Really enjoyed the great Derek Huether’s post about zombie meetings on his blog The Critical Path. And it got me thinking…perhaps our meeting-crazed corporate culture could actually spur some new job growth?


Vacationing workaholics often chafe at their spouse’s demand to leave their faithful companion at home. So, offer your services as a laptop walker!

Assure your PM you’ll carry his laptop around the office to ensure it gets proper exercise while he’s away. The head of biz dev can rest easy knowing you’ll bring her laptop into meetings so it can be with other laptops. And thanks to your laptop grooming service, your scrum master will be greeted upon his return by a sparkling clean laptop fresh from its anti-bacterial wipedown, cucumber-melon scented compressed air bath and deep registry cleaning. Appreciation to Chuck Twining for the idea.


Thanks to Agile’s lean documentation tenets, meeting minutes in general have fallen out of fashion. They’re useful, alright (see my previous post on the subject). But some feel they’re a wasteful time-suck, that time saved not doing them can yield more time to write code. That means YOU have to waste more time verbally bringing last week’s absentees up to speed, and argue about what you thought you decided.

But you can have meeting minutes without risking being taunted with epithets like “Agile Wannabe” or “Waterfallooza”. Take the minutes in secret! There are lots of ways to do this. Pretend you’re answering emails while other attendees are talking – completely believable as Fred’s actually doing just that across the table anyway. Use the notes feature on your iPhone – your unsuspecting colleagues will think you’re texting your fantasy team picks while you’re really documenting what you agreed to track on the new landing page. Hah – pwnage!


Let’s finally get serious about meetings – time to put the hammer down on equivocators, pontificators and serial opiners. As meeting bouncer, you’ll put attendees on notice that you’re prepared to throw their sorry asses out of the conference room/phone bridge for offenses like:

– Side conversations
– Beginning any remark with the words “In this tough economy”
– Checking into Foursquare – there is no mayor of Conference Rm #203 to oust
– Reading all the words off their PowerPoint slides verbatim
– Not knowing the function-key F8 trick
– Mouth-breathing so loud that call-ins think they called an x-rated chat line

Agile Humor – Words To Live By

Agilewashing – A waterfall shop that throws a scrum or two onto their schedule to seem cool. The Agile equivalent of a veneer, also known as “all hat, no cattle”.

Agillectomy – Removal of a development team’s efficiency gland by the new waterfall-loving CTO.

Hubristic Evaluation – When development teams assess usability by asking themselves what they would want if they were the user.

Documutation – Transformation of development notes from multi-page to post-it size.

Lame Theory – Mathematical constructs to predict how stupid decisions multiply in a group dynamic.

Kanbanista – Someone who is aggressively, revolutionarily passionate about colored tape on whiteboards.

Scrum of the earth – An Agile team that recycles.

A Marketer’s Guide to Agile Development – Scrum Etiquette

Don’t all speak at the same time.
If the team members in your sister office wanted to dial into a daily cocktail party, they’d have transferred to Marketing.

Lose the attitude.
Don’t get all huffy and snarl “of course it’s on the documentation wiki!” at 8:03am when your wiki update is datestamped 8:01am.

Never refuse a breath mint if a colleague offers you one.
Sausage croissants smell great before you eat them. Afterward, not so much. Early morning, crowded meeting – I’m just saying.

Be on time.
Scrums are fifteen minutes long. That’s it. No wonder you’re always five minutes late for it. A grande half-skinny half-caf half-Equal split shot 1-pump mocha with room isn’t a coffee order – it’s an Olympic dive. Grab a Red Bull and make the scrum on time.

Be honest – but not too honest.
“I’m so hung over my eyelids are nictating” may be the most truthful response to the question “Do you have any problems preventing you from accomplishing your goal today?” But it’s TMI – just finish the widget, okay?