Conference Presentations

It's the People; It's Always the People

Why do we insist on calling people “resources?” If software projects were a factory, people would be fungible-interchangeable equipment just like desks and computers. Because software development is highly creative work and not a manufacturing factory, we need to manage people as human beings, not as tasks or resources. Johanna Rothman describes how to find and develop the right people for your teams and projects-people who fit your culture, share your values, and will become integral parts of your team. She explores what skills make a team great and how great managers model those skills and reward people who use them to help the project. Find out how to empower your team, including protecting it from bad influences, making sure the team has what it needs, and helping team members learn to be accountable to each other. It's the people working in teams-and not their managers-who make software projects successful.

Johanna Rothman, Rothman Consulting Group, Inc.
You Can Always Get What You Want

Agile, waterfall, iterative, staged, gated, phased-none of it really matters if all you create are a few early "wins", mediocre solutions, and quick fixes. Many organizations twist the time pressure screws so tightly that creative thinking can only be done after work or surreptitiously during the five-minute coffee break or the fifteen-minute lunch at your desk. We often are told that “good enough” software is what the company needs. Although “good enough” is acceptable when the systems we create neither differentiate us from our competitors nor are critical to our mission, why do we waste precious resources creating those kinds of systems? Tim Lister knows that there is hope because many organizations do create superior systems-systems that set them above their competitors and wow their customers. What are these organizations doing to yield innovative, superior results from their software development?

Tim Lister, Atlantic Systems Guild
Redirecting the Doomed Project

It is nearly impossible to work in software development and not end up on a project which one day ends as a death march. These projects are characterized by being extremely overdue, significantly over budget, and, at the same time, critical to company success. Death marches can happen regardless of development methodology because the contributing factors often include dramatic scope change, lack of vision, and unrealistic deadlines-factors that are methodology neutral. Bob Hartman shares his experiences with death march projects and the approaches he has used to redirect them into successful efforts. He focuses on how stakeholders can identify and address underlying problems early in the project. Learn how to lead rather than manage, encourage creativity rather than stifle it, and become successful rather than beaten.

Bob Hartman, Agile For All
Agile Development Conference & Better Software Conference West 2010: Seven Deadly Habits of Ineffective Software Managers

Looking for an insightful-and humorous-review of the management disasters you may have witnessed during your professional software career? Ken Whitaker has collected seven of the most common disasters that he’s encountered in his lifetime of “in the trenches” software leadership roles. One of the habits everyone should appreciate is “Hiring Someone Who is Not Quite Qualified (but Who is Liked by Everyone).” Presented as a series of case studies, Ken explores these all-too-real situations that can be difficult to prevent and handle. Whether you are just starting out in a management role, an experienced software manager, a skilled project manager, or considering going into management, you'll take away valuable tips and techniques for avoiding these seven deadly management habits or handling them with fortitude.

Ken Whitaker, Leading Software Maniacs
The Art of Giving and Receiving--Feedback

When people work closely together, there's bound to be friction and irritation. Some people find it difficult to discuss these issues directly. So they hint and hope or simply procrastinate and don't do anything. Then, the irritation can grow out of proportion. Team members' ability to give peer-to-peer feedback-both about the work and the working relationship-is critical to developing a highly productive team. Esther Derby discusses the four parts of feedback conversations-opening, description, impact, and request-so you can say your piece without breaking the peace within your team. There's an exception to every rule, so Esther also explains when not to use all four parts and reveals the words that you should never use when offering feedback, the words that will always derail the conversation.

Esther Derby, Esther Derby Associates, Inc.
Collaborating with Non-Collaborators

We understand the vital importance of collaboration among team members. However, how can we deal with non-collaborators-people who won't work with us? Although we may not be able to change them, we may be able to work with them or around them. Pollyanna Pixton describes how to identify non-collaborators-a leader, team member, team, or even a process. She then examines the system within which the non-collaborators work: their success factors, motivations, measurement and reward systems, fears, hot buttons, and hidden agendas. Pollyanna teaches you how to assess the risks in dealing with non-collaborators. Using a trust and ownership model, she maps the traits of non-collaborators and considers tools and techniques to cope with each trait. Finally, if all else fails, learn the options for working around non-collaborators.

Pollyanna Pixton, Accelinnova
Agile Development Conference & Better Software Conference West 2010: Rightsizing Your Project in a Down Economy

In tough times, both shoes often drop simultaneously. Then, unsustainable "scarcity thinking" takes over. Many times, the tendency is to say "yes" to impossible dates, take on too much, quietly suffer the budget cuts, and pray that heroics will save the day. Resulting dysfunction can wreak havoc on your projects in the form of scope greed, death-march deadlines, and budget cuts. It takes a skillful manager to "right size" critical projects-right team, right scope, right dates-from the beginning. Michael Mah describes how to lead difficult conversations and discuss the undiscussable when needed resources are threatened. He shares how to artfully frame trade-offs for stakeholders to help them set priorities. Learn how to get buy-in for realistic scope, schedules, and team size using a blend of common sense, essential measurement concepts, and rules of software estimation.

Michael Mah, QSM Associates, Inc.
Earned Value Management (EVM) Demystified

Earned Value Management (EVM) is one of the key topics in most all project management courses and is part of the Project Management Institute's PMP® certification and PMBOK®. However, many software project managers do not understand EVM well-and even fewer practice it well. James McCaffrey demystifies EVM, explores its benefits, and clearly explains the often confusing terminology-planned value, earned value, actual cost, schedule variance, schedule performance index, cost variance, and cost performance index. In this hands-on class, you'll practice EVM techniques through a set of short and simple exercises within a case study. Leave with a rock solid understanding of the assumptions made by EVM, how to compute and correctly interpret EVM metrics, when EVM techniques are appropriate to use, and when alternative approaches are more suitable.

James McCaffrey, Volt VTE
Facilitation Patterns for Interaction Satisfaction

Good facilitation skills are essential for everyone in development. In fact, everyone facilitates whether they know it or not. If you work on a team, manage an organization, or simply work with others, the opportunity to facilitate arises often. Steven "Doc" List leads delegates in exploring the common patterns and anti-patterns-for both the facilitator and the participants-he's seen and experienced during facilitation interactions. Join Doc for this highly interactive class and have some fun taking on roles like Gladiator, Guide, and Conclusion Jumper. Explore the facilitation behaviors that work-and ones that don't-and participate in activities that provide an opportunity for you to practice new facilitation techniques. You'll laugh and learn, and you'll take away new skills and tools to help you and your team become more effective facilitators.

Steven List, ThoughtWorks
Turning Conflict into Collaboration

One stakeholder says "Zig." Another says "Zag." There's no compromise in sight, and the project deadline looms closer. Between the rock and the hard place? Welcome to the real world of software development. We don't have to like conflict, but our ability to successfully deliver quality projects can depend on how well we navigate conflict. Andy Kaufman introduces you to conflict handling modes that describe different approaches to deal with conflict. Understanding these modes can help you get beyond your typical conflict responses to more effective responses that provide an opportunity for greater collaboration. How do you deal with an overly emotional stakeholder or a developer who is ignoring your requests? Learn to identify the different conflict handling modes, understand your own personal tendencies, and improve your ability to deal with and reduce conflict.

Andy Kaufman, Institute for Leadership Excellence and Development, Inc.


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