Kanban development oversimplified

Kanban development oversimplified: a simple explanation of how Kanban adds to the ever-growing Agile toolkit:

When you place focus on how quickly you can get functionality done, and have the ability to measure just that, then the estimates don’t much matter. In fact, many using a Kanban approach have simply stopped estimating at all. Yes story sizes vary, but being able to give a wait time plus or minus a few days is sufficient for many organizations’ concerns.

Some do still estimate stories. Then use those estimates in conjunction with cycle time. Using a spreadsheet we can calculate the average cycle time for stories with a given estimate. If you do this, consider placing a handy chart next to your Kanban board showing estimate in one column, and wait times in adjacent columns. With this you’re answering the real question stakeholders are asking for when they get estimates: “when am I going to see this functionality in the software?”

If your stakeholders are like mine, they don’t want to know when they’re going to get this functionality, the want to know when they’re going to get all this functionality. I find that if I place stories into a spreadsheet with start and end dates, and calculate cycle time, if I select an arbitrary time period — say a two or three week time period — I can see how many stories where completed during this time period. For instance I might see the team finished 22 stories in 3 weeks — that’s about 7.3 stories per week. Given a backlog of 100 stories I can reasonably infer that it’ll take between 13 and 14 weeks (100/7.3). That’s yesterday’s weather for Kanban — at least the way I calculate it.

If I know that during three week time period there where 15 working days and that 5 developers worked the entire time, that’s 75 developer days. Knowing that lets me calculate the average number of developer days per story: 3.4 (75/22) — Which is darn close to pi — which makes me believe it has to be right. ;-) This number, 3.4, is what XP practitioners referred to as load factor.

Leaning hard away from doing anything at all

teaching cancer to cry:

During the weekend Hill and I had a good chunk of time to talk about my health, and options.  We are both currently leaning hard away from doing anything at all.

I know I’ve just said a mouthful.

We’re not trying to make a decision as much as we’re trying to let one emerge.  As we think through the reality of the possible paths it’s hard to imagine signing up willingly for the misery of treatment in the face of lousy odds.  I have a lot to say about this.  I don’t quite have it well enough gathered in my head to write it down at the moment.

[Not doing is thought of as harder than doing. It would appear to not always be the case.]

Pipe Dreams: A journey across the Plains

Pipe Dreams: A journey across the Plains:

“Such thoughts are like burrs stuck to my pant leg, prickling me once every few strides,” he wrote. “It’s not until I get out onto the open prairie, or into canyon country, or under a ceiling of stars that I’m finally able to shake them off. There is a wild joy that swells in my chest. Every day there is a new trial. There’s something new to learn; something new to see with every step, every turn, every drop into a canyon labyrinth. It’s an infusion of newness. And when immersed in this constant newness — when every step is exploratory, every interaction, novel, and every day completely different from the previous — it’s hard to think of going back again to the dullness of the normal, the expected, the planned.”

[This is why Noah is so happy when we hike. A constant infusion of newness.]

Source: Half Past Done

Simplicity and “power users”

Thread: A smartphone narrative and an idea for a product.:

The idea is this — Google or Microsoft or Apple — create a new app that runs on the desktop that’s designed with the parameters of a smartphone. Leverage the skills I already have. I was able to set up the Windows Phone in a few minutes, on an OS that I had never used. I am a relatively expert Mac user, but failed after a half hour. The lesson is pretty clear. At the very least the desktop has to do what the mobile device does, with the same care of design and simplicity. What I’m left with is a hodgepodge of stuff that wasn’t designed to do this. Time for a fresh look.

[Often people confuse simplicity with lack of powerful features. Even more often people fail to realize that simplicity is possibly the most powerful feature of all. I think this is the direction the industry is recognizing, but so far is far from nailing it.]

Source: Scripting News

teaching cancer to cry » here it is.

Ezra Cladwell:

For quite a while I’ve had something that I’ve wanted to say, or talk about somehow.  I have touched on it in the past but never really taken it head on.

You would all do me an amazing service if you would entertain the notion that the fight metaphor may not be the most helpful one.  Or maybe it’s not as helpful now as it was in earlier stages.  It’s difficult to change the language around something when it is so engrained.  “Fighting cancer..” “died after a long battle with cancer..”  etc.  But this implies that there are winners and losers.  That if we die we have lost.  But we ALL die.  No one makes it out alive.  That shouldn’t make us all losers.  The most pernicious part of the fight metaphor for me is the notion that if someone dies young from cancer they simply didn’t fight hard enough.  That if someone decides to forgo treatment, they have “thrown in the towel.”

I don’t see any grace in the desperate clinging to life that we call fighting in this metaphor.

[A bunch of years ago I was looking for some nice fenders and stumbled across Ezra. And the small bit of his life shared through his blog has been inspiring and enlightening. He continues to inspire and inform. So much energy has been poured into his survival. Ezra: “Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fighter all right. I have been from the start. Walking around barefoot with fists cocked. But this isn’t a fight. I do want to live. I’m not nearly done eating up stuff yet. I’m just starting to get good!”. Earlier this week a local mom received a stage 3 brain cancer diagnosis. 5 kids, from teenage to littlest. A lovely family. I’m gonna go cry for a few minutes, and then get back to it.]

Zipp Wheels Technical Director Josh Poertner

Zipp Wheels Technical Director Josh Poertner talks to BNA | Bicycles Network Australia:

The best case scenario of ceramic bearings in a wheelset is 1 watt at 30 miles and hour. We sell ceramic bearings and they’re $1000, but we’re honest: “guys, it’s 1000 bucks for a watt”. Tony Martin, at the worlds, rides thousand dollar ceramic bearings. For the consumer, you can buy a better tyre and you’ll save twice that. You put latex tubes in there you’ll save 6 times that amount. A new chain on your bike can be as much as 6 watts compared to a worn chain. Just cleaning your drive chain is a couple of watts. 1 watt of ceramic bearings is about 3 seconds per 40 kilometres. I can find you a minute for the 40k for very little money.

[It would be nice if more people in the industry were this honest about where the gains can be found.. great article!]

Honolulu after Pearl Harbor: A report published for the first time, 71 years later

Honolulu after Pearl Harbor: A report published for the first time, 71 years later – The Washington Post:

At the office there were frantic calls from all sorts of women — housewives, stenographers, debutantes — wanting to know what they could do during the day, when husbands and brothers were away and there was nothing left but to listen to the radio and imagine that all hell had broken out on another part of the island.

It was then that I realized how important women can be in a war-torn world.

There is a job for every woman in Hawaii to do.

I discovered that when I visited the Red Cross centers, canteens, evacuee districts, the motor corps headquarters.

There is great organization in Honolulu, mapped out thoughtfully and competently by women who have had experience in World War I, who have looked ahead and foreseen the carnage of the past seven days and planned.


From Finland, an Intriguing School-Reform Model

From Finland, an Intriguing School-Reform Model:

More bear than tiger, Finland scorns almost all standardized testing before age 16 and discourages homework, and it is seen as a violation of children’s right to be children for them to start school any sooner than 7, Dr. Sahlberg said during his day at Dwight. He spoke to seniors taking a “Theory of Knowledge” class, then met with administrators and faculty members.

“The first six years of education are not about academic success,” he said. “We don’t measure children at all. It’s about being ready to learn and finding your passion.”

[snip -ed]

He emphasized that Finland’s success is one of basic education, from age 7 until 16, at which point 95 percent of the country goes on to vocational or academic high schools. “The primary aim of education is to serve as an equalizing instrument for society,” he said.

Dr. Sahlberg said another reason the system had succeeded was that “only dead fish follow the stream” — a Finnish expression.

Finland is going against the tide of the “global education reform movement,” which is based on core subjects, competition, standardization, test-based accountability, control.

[Sounds right to me.]

The Too-Much-Running Myth Rises Again

The Too-Much-Running Myth Rises Again:

We are curious as to whether Wen and colleagues have data about long-term survival in individuals who did vigorous exercise for more than 50 min per day. Do the mortality benefits begin to erode away as the daily time spent doing vigorous physical activity increases beyond 1 h?

Wen and colleagues reply that yes, they do have data — and it doesn’t show what O’Keefe et al. hope:

By 120 min [per day], the hazard ratio for all-cause mortality was around 0·55 [which is better than it was for 60 min per day], with even better hazard ratios for cardiovascular diseases… The adverse effects of strenuous exercise for incremental efforts for more than an hour a day did not seem to outweigh the benefits. We were not able to identify an upper limit of physical activity, either moderate or vigorous, above which more harm than good will occur in terms of long-term life expectancy benefits.

This exchange took place before the recent spate of review articles about the dangers of too much exercise was published. And yet the study is still being cited as evidence that doing more than an hour a day of exercise is bad for you. As a subsequent letter to the journal from Michael Bubb of the University of Florida put it, “The interpretation of the data provided in the review by O’Keefe et al is misleading, particularly given the response of the authors of the original data.”

To reiterate, I’m not flipping to the other extreme and arguing that there’s no point of the diminishing returns for exercise, or even that there’s no possibility of heart damage associated with extreme ultraendurance exercise. These are open and legitimate questions. But this scaremongering about relatively modest amounts of exercise in favor of “hunter-gatherer” exercise is silly. We can speculate all we want about “potential” risks and benefits, but the real-world epidemiology is crystal-clear: if you exercise for an hour a day, you’re likely to live longer than if you exercise less than an hour a day.

[I just wanted to make sure that both sides of this get some play. Overdoing anything is bad for us (spread over a population, not necessarily any individual). But this news that too many people wish to embrace “See, I told you. I’m going back to the couch…)]