Agility with Allen: The Whole Caboodle
Most companies who think they’re “Agile” aren’t. Learn true agility in Allen Holub’s comprehensive video course. Go beyond Scrum!
About this project
First, for those of you who have stumbled on this draft by word of mouth (instead of my mailing list), welcome! I’m planning on the project going live on Wednesday, March 15 at 10AM Pacific [GMT-8]. If you’d like regular updates, sign up for my mailing list.
This video course teaches you everything you need to be truly agile (in the software sense :-)), from Lean principles, to agile practice frameworks, to how to build an agile culture, to nuts-and-bolts, day-to-day practices. It goes way beyond typical Agile/Scrum training, and it’s full of practical advice that can eliminate years of flailing around. The deep understanding you’ll develop dramatically shortens your learning curve.
Just getting started, or already a Pro?
If you’re new to Agile, this class gives you everything you need to hit the ground running, without making novice mistakes that add years to your learning curve. You’ll be able to walk into a job interview confident that you can answer any question that’s thrown at you. (and you can earn a certificate based on a nontrivial essay exam to prove it).
This class is also spectacularly useful for the pros. It’s exactly what you need if you’re doing Scrum and want to up your game. Scrum is one small gear in a big Agile machine with a lot of moving parts, and all of those parts are interconnected. You need to understand the whole machine to be successful, and that’s what you’ll learn in this class: everything you need to succeed. This class will give you the ammunition you need to convince a skeptical boss (or customer) to do things right.
If you’re an executive or manager
- You learn what it really means to be “agile,” including the organizational and cultural changes you’ll have to make to be successful, and why it’s worth it. (You really will be able to develop better software faster.)
- You’ll learn how to build software the delights your customers by providing real value to them as quickly as possible.
- You’ll learn how to smoothly transition your company to true agility.
- You’ll learn how to plan and budget in a world where requirements are constantly changing, so estimates are never accurate enough to be valuable.
- You’ll learn how to build a scaleable company culture that lets agility thrive, and you’ll learn how to support your teams so that they can work at maximum efficiency.
- You’ll understand why the engineers do what they do, and how Lean/Agile techniques let you deliver better software faster.
If you’re an engineer
- You’ll learn lots of practical details that you can apply immediately to your day-to-day work.
- You’ll learn how to work more effectively to build software that actually delights your customers.
- You’ll learn “why” we do the things we do by looking at the key principles of Lean manufacturing that underlie Agile thinking.
- And of course you’ll learn how to actually build software in a flexible way that’s not tied to a single process or framework. In fact, You’ll learn how all three of the big processes (Scrum, XP, and Kanban) work and how they complement one another.
- You’ll learn how to craft custom processes that go way beyond Scrum (or any of the other processes in isolation).
- Finally, you’ll learn how to talk to your boss to get the support you need to really be agile.
If you’re looking for a job
- You’ll be able to walk into your interview confident that you know the big picture, and can handle any question that’s thrown at you.
- You can even get proof in the form of a certificate based on a nontrivial essay-based exam that actually *means* something.
What you’ll learn
- You’ll start by learning first principles: how Lean works, for example, and how the Agile Manifesto actually applies to the real workplace. Then you’ll learn to apply those principles to develop processes that work for you, and work vastly better than by-the-book Scrum and other canned processes.
- You’ll learn how these concepts affect the business itself, from organization to governance practice to how you should hire. We’ll look in depth at Agile company cultures and how to create an environment where agility is possible.
- You’ll learn about the standard practices used in effective organizations, and more importantly, you’ll learn why they work and how they interact with one another.
- You’ll learn how to integrate agility into your organization, how to transition to agile, and how to support agile effectively throughout the organization.
You’ll come away from this class with a solid understanding of how to build a fully agile organization (and team) that actually works, and how to build software in fully agile way that’s not tied into any one methodology.
First, all major modules will have an automated multiple-choice test that you can use to check your own progress. That’s just included with the cost of the course.
Job seekers, however, need to demonstrate that they know something to other people, and to that end, I’ll provide a nontrivial essay-based “final exam” that’s graded by a real human being (in English. If the company is wildly successful, other languages might be possible down the line.) On the commercial site, the exam will be a stand-alone product that you can take even if you haven’t taken the class (I’ll provide a reading list). If you pass, you’ll get a certificate and I’ll put your name on the web site. There’s no guarantee that you’ll pass, of course—the test is indeed nontrivial—but if you don’t pass the first time, you’ll get feedback as to why, and you’ll be able to retake the test once.
The gory details
I’m applying agile principles to the course itself: I’ll constantly improve it and add new material based on your feedback. The purchase price (and your Kickstarter contribution) provides lifetime access, so you’ll be able to keep up with these changes.
The videos will be a mixture of live video, voiceover against animated slides, and animation, and the approach will vary depending on the material. For example, most of the business-case module will take the form of a conversation between me and a skeptical manager. Other segments will be more traditional.
I expect the total running time to be around 7-8 hours (I teach this material live over two days (about 12 instructional hours), but a video will leave out classroom discussion, exercises, etc.). No single unit will be longer than 40 minutes, so you can watch during lunch.
The commercial version will be broken up into an a-la-carte menu that lets you purchase individual modules (e.g. a for-C-levels package) and a whole-cabootle option for the entire course. The hand-graded essay-based assessment will be a standalone product with a separate fee that allows for two attempts to take the exam.
Here is a (probably too detailed) outline. Consider this list to be more of a topic list than a strict outline. I’ll cover everything in the list, but order may change to make the presentation flow appropriately. I’ll be developing the course in an agile way, incorporating your feedback as I release modules, so this list will almost certainly evolve.
- The business case for Agile
- Agility vs. Agile(tm)
- Maximizing and accelerating return on investment
- Small batches, rapid feedback loops.
- Risk mitigation
- Maximizing profit, eliminating waste
- Budgeting and scope
- Cost of delay
- The usual objections, and how to overcome them.
- Agile contracts
- The Agile Manifesto and principles
- The goal
- The four guidelines
- The 12 principles
- How the principles translate to practice
- Culture and the workplace
- Cargo-cult agile
- The physical workplace
- Self-organizing and self-managing teams
- Team structure within the organization
- Salaries and performance appraisal
- Distributed teams and outsourcing
- Hiring for learning, not tech.
- The role of the coach/architect
- The Drive culture: autonomy, mastery, purpose (& relatedness)
- Self-determination theory
- Servant leadership
- The role of “management”
- Agile governance
- The Spotify model
- Tribes, squads, and guilds
- The Spotify engineering culture
- The Lean-Startup approach
- Experiments and metrics
- The pivot
- Minimum viable product (MVP)
- Transitioning to Agile
- Changing the culture
- Transition coaching
- Lean manufacturing: build faster with less waste
- Customer value as a driver.
- The Toyota Production System (TPS) and Taylorism
- Servant leadership
- Give the stopwatch to the worker
- The Theory of Constraints
- Throughput and cycle time
- Variability is additive
- Mura, muri, and muda (variation, overwork, and waste)
- Wait-time and slack
- Quality and the Andon cord
- Waste (TIM WOODS)
- Defects and rework
- (Skills, underutilization)
- Batch size and short cycles
- Work-in-progress (WIP) limits
- The coin game
- Kaizen: continuous improvement
- The retrospective
- 5 whys
- The gemba walk and the on-site customer
- Requirements gathering
- Agile kata and shu-ha-ri: leveraging habitual behavior
- Rother’s Toyota improvement kata
- Lean accounting
- Value-focused Planning
- Estimates and #NoEstimates
- Story-point planning
- What is a story?
- Evolution and refinement
- Narrowing and factoring
- There’s no such thing as a technical story
- Narrow slices
- Story maps and the backlog
- Incremental design and development
- Cumulative flow diagrams and projections
- Tools and information radiators
- Conway’s law
- Inter-team cooperation
- Version-control best practices
- Mocks, stubs, simulators, and emulators
- Incremental development
- Agile (stress-resistant) architecture
- Turning stores into code
- Design by coding (DbC)
- Implementation anti patterns.
- Agile in a bubble.
- Agile as an engineering practice
- Agile as veneer
- Mini waterfalls
- Separate UX and/or testing
- Scrum (the good, the bad, and the ugly)
- Scrum’s roots in Lean
- The Scrum Guide
- Product owner
- Scrum master
- Story points and planning poker revisited
- Daily scrum
- Product backlog
- Sprint backlog
- Velocity, burn down, burn up
- Definition of done
- Where things usually go wrong
- How can I miss the SM if he won’t go away?
- When the PO-model fails
- Where’s the customer?
- Sprint as a mini waterfall
- Commitment vs. projections
- Meeting culture
- The SM is not a PM
- QA not integrated
- XP (extreme programming)
- History: Kent Beck
- 5 values
- 4 activities
- 3 principles
- The on-site customer
- Feedback loops
- Pair programming
- Mob programming
- The planning game
- TDD (and Design by Coding)
- Continuous integration
- Merciless refactoring
- Small releases
- Coding standards
- Collective ownership
- simple design
- System metaphor
- Sustainable pace
- Quality is not an option
- test-first programming
- integrated testing
- History: TPS vs. David Anderson’s Kanban.
- Continuous improvement
- Continuous deployment
- Pull models in software
- Creating and using a kanban board
- ticket design
- WIP limits
- Integrating Lean principles into software
- Cumulative flow diagrams
- Throughput and lead time
- Scaling Agile
- Dunbar’s number and W.L Gore
- The problems with SAFe (and it’s ilk)
- The Agile PMO
Is there a topic that you’d like me to cover that’s not listed? Drop me a note and I’ll add it ([email protected]).
Too much for one class?
This issue comes up a lot, so let’s address it head on! Most of the real problems I see in real programming shops happen because people don’t have the big picture. The whole point of this class is to fix that problem with comprehensive coverage. That said, I do plan for the commercial product to have an à-la-carte menu that lets you buy only those modules you find interesting.
Why this course?
I’ve been pretty upset by the state of Agile, of late. Real agility means that you’re flexible, adaptable, nimble. However, the word “Agile” has come to mean a rigid process that doesn’t deliver up to its potential. Agile is something you are, not something you do. The Agile ship needs a course correction.
I really believe in the efficacy of the agile approach to software development, and I really want to help put things back on track.
None of the existing books or certification programs provide everything you need in one place, and some of them do active damage. For example, Scrum training that teaches that Scrum and Agile are the same thing is, to me, destructive.
For less than the cost of the books you’d have to read, and for way less than the cost of a certification course, you’ll now be able to get all this knowledge in one place.
Who am I?
Hi. I’m Allen Holub (call me Allen :-) ). I’ve been in the software industry since dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and have learned an awful lot along the way. I’m an internationally recognized consultant, trainer, speaker, and author, specializing in Lean/Agile processes and culture, agile-focused architecture (such as microservices), and cloud-based web-application development. I teach for the University of California Extension, do a lot of in-house training, and speak internationally. The people who take my classes say that they’re the best classes they’ve ever had.
I’ve worn every hat from grunt programmer to CTO (at a couple of agile startups), and have written a dozen books and hundreds of magazine articles for various technical publications. My C Chest column and subsequent blogs for Dr. Dobb’s Journal and my Java Toolbox column for JavaWorld were influential in the industry. I’m also a Pluralsight author. I’m a key contributor to the Agile and Lean Software Development group (120,000 members) on LinkedIn.
I’m estimating 3 weeks per major module with a little slop at the end. In practice, some modules will take a little longer and some a little less, and I won’t be surprised if the first couple modules slip a bit. This schedule is actually pretty aggressive, but I’ve already developed a lot of the material, so I think it’s doable. That said, estimates are inherently unreliable (in fact, there’s a module on that topic in the class). With significant funding, I’ll be able to work full time, outsource some of the editing, and deliver early. Should things slip, I’ll ask the backers whether they’d prefer to extend the schedule or reduce the scope. In any event, I’ll be releasing modules as I finish them at most of the reward levels, so you’ll start getting useful information almost immediately.
Risks and challenges
There are no significant risks. I have been writing and teaching about (and doing) agile and lean processes for many years. I regularly consult on those subjects, and present at international conferences.
Much of the material I intend to use in this class (slides, etc.) already exists. I use it for the two-day Agility class that I regularly teach in house and in public sessions.
I’ve also put together three very-well-received video classes for Pluralsight, so am intimately familiar with the course-development and video-editing-and-production process, and I have all the necessary equipment and software for a great class.