Need some feedback on our online agile course

(Andy Wootton) #21

Interesting. I haven’t looked yet but if someone asks for criticism from me, then I try to give it honestly. I’d been thinking that IF I had anything negative to say then it seemed rude to do it in public. I could PM. Now @LimeBlast has done that, I feel really left out :frowning:

If we ‘think out loud’ do we encourage debate or frighten people from asking for feedback? If we don’t, do we duplicate effort and prevent useful conversations? Would @limeblast have held back something if saying it in public? I don’t know.

Correction: I know what I think but I had a conversation with someone recently who said he backs away from any on-line situation where there appears to be conflict. My personal belief is that networks are stronger because of the exponential growth in number of connections between individuals and sparks of ideas can propogate through a network (because I’m a hippy?) but that will break if too many nodes close down.

(Marc Cooper) #22

Procedure is definitely a better word for “strictly defined process”.

I’ve no problem with that. Making it up is a little harsh, but the absence of friction to change is one of the markers of agile.

Regarding bugs: That thread has a whole lot of confused thinking in it, imo. An experienced dev can differentiate a bug (in a done story, say) from feature creep pretty quickly. And, as before, I’d expect a team to fix a bug, whereas additional features usually go into the backlog, etc.

That behaviour can go all out of whack when agile has been subverted, though; when, say, velocity gets used as a performance metric, or there’s a blame culture. No team wants to leave known bugs unpatched, and throwing them into the backlog just creates more ‘busy’ work.

In addition, if a bug is proving hard to fix, then it indicates a possible bigger problem and bears investigation.

In general, but the order has dependencies. So it’s quite possible for a new bug to jump to first place.

(Sam Fitzpatrick) #23

Very good point, I’m of the opinion that if someone asked for feedback on a public forum without asking for it to be discreet then ‘the gloves are off’ (although I welcome any feedback whether PM’d or posted in the thread!)

Some feedback might be exploits/security issues in which case, stick to private. However, other items may get peoples cogs turning and give other people an idea of what to look for when judging a site.

Making the feedback public may invite a solution from someone too!

(Daniel Hollands) #24

I’m pretty loud and obnoxious regarding my opinion at the best of times, mostly because I fully expect people to be so with me in return. On a few occasions people have approached me in private regarding things that I’ve done wrong on the forum - and I truly appreciate all the times people have done so - but I’m also a big enough boy that I can handle criticism in public, especially when it’s related to something as open as a community forum.

But I also know that some people don’t like any form of criticism, as they view it as a personal attack, rather than an opportunity to learn, and I’m trying my best to improve my human interaction skills, which is why I figured it best to send my feedback (which was mostly all negative) via PM.

That said, @SamFitzpatrick has confirmed that she’s more than happy for the feedback to be public, so here goes - this is what I put in the PM.

Hi, I’m slowly working my way thought the demo course, and I have some feedback for you:

  • In the first instance, I found the interface a little confusing. I now understand that I’m meant to use the list on the right to switch between pages, but this wasn’t obvious to me at first. This might be fixed by adding some ‘previous’ and ‘next’ links to the bottom of each page.
  • I was also a little confused by the ‘mark as complete’ button. I saw that the overview page for the first module had one, but the content page for the first module didn’t - but then saw the overview page for the second module didn’t have one, but each of the content pages did.
  • I wonder if, instead, it might be worth combining a ‘next’ and the ‘mark as complete’ functionality into one button, allowing me to move onto the next page, while keeping track of my progress.
  • I think the content of the course is good (what I’ve seen of it so far anyway), but I think the presentation of the content could be improved. For example, The Agile Manifesto page isn’t presented in the best way - that’s not the say I know how to improve the presentation, but I know that something about it is off.
  • I also think the recordings need to be recorded by professionals. They were very quiet and distracting in their presentation - rather than spending my time listening to what was being said, I was hearing all the imperfections of the recording.

I hope this helps? :smiley:

Anyway, further to this, @SamFitzpatrick has very generously upgraded my account to a full one, which in turn has prompted some further feedback:

  • The modules which I had completed on the demo course should be marked as complete on the full course, rather than making me go in and mark them all as complete again.

  • I think there needs to be a ‘my courses’ page which simply lists the courses you’ve got access to, not just a link from the marketing page of courses.

As you can see, most of my feedback is based about presentation and functionality, not about content (something I’m in no way qualified to discuss).

(Jim Gumbley) #25

Lots of talk about ‘process’ and marginalising folk as ‘techies’.

Remember: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

(Sam Fitzpatrick) #26

Thanks for putting the feedback up, hopefully it gives people an idea of what to look for.

It’s worth responding that with a few points of feedback I am limited to address due to the platform we are using. We are using a service called RainMaker:

They have an integrated Learning Management System where the ‘mark as complete’ buttons are added with short codes and header scripts. As of now there is no “next” or “previous” but I’ll certainly be putting in a feature request. Obviously I’m not completely limited, if there is another service out there that offers better functionality we would certainly consider it. It’s very clearly built on Wordpress though so feels familiar. If you can recommend an alternative please do!

Agreed on the presentation of certain content. I think it needs a more design focussed hand to go through. The recordings were a product of Garage Band, I don’t personally know the export settings but if there were a ‘tin can’ setting I bet it was used. This will be addressed soon. Apologies in advance to anyone who paused music, turned up the volume, then forgot and resumed their music.

The progress of modules being transferred when an account gets upgraded/switched is something I have noticed. This is because I’ve had to create two independent courses due to permission limitations. This is also annoying because I have to double the work when changing course content (changing it across two courses).

There is a ‘my courses’ style view, however it is buried in a drop down when you hover ‘logout’, you will see ‘profile’ as an option… terrible UX… tempting you to log out! Should be the other way round… I’ll look into that.

(Daniel Hollands) #27

I can’t say that I’ve spent any time in the learning space to know what’s available - but have you considered having your own platform built? This would allow you complete control over the presentation of the content and functionality of the site, and I bet any number of people here in the community could be hired to build it.

(Andy Wootton) #28

Was that to me @jgumbley?

Yes, Scrum is a process, as is the scientific method or the way you personally write code, even if you change the processes daily. I spent a couple of years process modelling and I don’t think there is much human activity that couldn’t be represented (possibly poorly) in UML.

I don’t agree with everything in the Agile Manifesto. It was ‘designed by camels’ and it amazes me how revered it seems to be. My first rule of ‘agility’ is that a) no-one agrees what it means, so you must agree amongst the Team and b) you can change it, as long as you think, know what you’re trying to achieve and understand what you might break. What does “over” mean? The original signatories have made it very clear that they didn’t mean you should stop using processes or using tools.

As for marginalising ‘techies’, I still consider myself to be one, so I’m there in the margin right with them but I’m trying to get better. I wasn’t mocking a set of people but an attitude and set of behaviours that I can easily slip back into.

(Jim Gumbley) #29

Not completely.

But I personally do take the Agile manifesto as the starting point for Agile to be honest. “over” has a very simple meaning and I know there is not supposed to be any magic in its use here.

When people try and reduce something which is about values to a repeatable process (especially given one of the values is ‘people over process’) it is generally a smell there are deeper problems understanding what agile is supposed to solve.

Topical point, Martin Fowler is from Walsall.

(Andy Wootton) #30

Sorry @jgumbley, I’m not sure what the “Not completely” referred to.

You have to take it as a starting point really, there isn’t anything else until you pick a set of ‘thinking tools’. I think I was specifically talking about Scrum, which is definitely the framework of a process but it isn’t SSADM or Prince 2 that come in a manual that can break your foot if you drop them. We got ‘over’ them. It can be adequately described by a diagram drawn on a large postage stamp and a chat, or a 16 page description written by it’s creators then probably about a lifetime of experience. I don’t know, I’m not there yet. ‘My point’ though is that, like rules, the less process you have, the more important the ones that remain become.

Defining what is a ‘bug’, a ‘defect’ or a ‘feature’ are becomes critical to the shared understanding that makes a meaningful conversation possible. The team can decide to be as rigorous or as slapdash as they wish in their process but my frustration that day was that the grown-ups were having a metaphysical conversation about what the word ‘bug’ actually meant in the context of the question and people who weren’t ‘listening’ to the subtleties kept ‘virtual shouting’ “BUT YOU HAVE TO FIX ALL THE BUGS”. It wasn’t helpful.

I think I knew that about Martin Fowler. The only person who ever tried to hit me was called Fowler. I hope they aren’t related.

(Jim Gumbley) #31

Pretty sure it wasn’t Martin who tried to thump you! Its not really in his character.

We actually advise our clients exactly what you describe. SCRUM isn’t agile at all, its a process which can help you get to an agile way of working.

(Andy Wootton) #32

No, I didn’t think it was. There was a Martin Fowler who wrote about databases in a magazine called ‘DEC User’ that I once wrote for. I’ve never been sure if it’s the same guy. He doesn’t look old enough.

Scrum gives you something safe to hang on to while you pivot. I once read some good advice that if you start with Scrum then you shouldn’t change it until you understand it fully. As we had it forced on us and had an existing process and a project bureaucracy to fit in with and protect ourselves from, we hacked it to pieces. Our problems never came from Scrum; more from the gaps it leaves you to fill in.

(Andy Wootton) #33

Yesterday, I heard from 2 employers I applied to weeks ago. Is it new budget season? The job requirements from one include the phrase “understanding of Agile / SCRUM methodologies”. I’m willing to ignore that it should be “agile” (probably) and “Scrum” but does anyone else hear alarm bells?

(Jon) #34

Folks are coming back from holiday, I think.

(Marc Cooper) #35

There was a contract in Newcastle recently where they were hiring a Senior Scrum Master and a number of Scrum Masters who were to report to the Senior Scrum Master. That set off sirens, semaphore flags, and squwaking skylarks.

(Andy Wootton) #36

‘Scrum of Scrums’. I’d like to see that in action, though not if it involves working for a betting company, which it probably does there.
“He robs from the poor to give to the rich…”

(Rnr_Pauline) #37

I’m not a developer, I’m a project manager in the not for personal profit sector and I’m interested in learning about and applying agile in my sector. I had a run through your course and I think I got through it OK. Do you think it’s suitable for people with technical skills? Pauline Roche

(Andy Wootton) #38

@Rnr_Organisation Do you mean the course or Agile? Agile is a set of principles that guide thinking about getting stuff done, in a different way to ‘projects’. It comes from software development but draws on ideas from Lean which came from Toyota’s continuous process improvement in car plants.

Agility works on things that are largely free from physical constraints, like processes, where parts can be addressed randomly but not in areas where things have to be tackled in a particular order and one must be finished before you do the next, like building or making a car engine. It aims to deliver value earlier and incremetally. Toyota were working on their manufacturing processes, not on their car designs though CAD frees design from the constraints of the real-world by moving engines into the software domain too.

I’m in town for meetings at 6pm at the B&MI for the next 3 Thursdays, if you want to meet for a chat about whether it might work in your area. Today too but I can’t see me being there before 15:00.

(Rnr_Pauline) #39

Hi @Woo and big apologies for not replying to your Feb '16 post until now! If you’re willing I would still like to chat with you about whether agile would work in my area; I organised this meetup about agile in March '16 and it was helpful - Pauline

(Andy Wootton) #40

I’m in Agile Staffs with Paul, though we don’t currently have a venue. I’m less techie than Paul. I worked with agility as a BA/Product Owner in laboratory software. I’d be happy to chat when I’m next in town. Are you at Impact? I haven’t been there yet.