Thursday, December 06, 2007

Doing Agile In Italy: Paperworks

In the last Agile Day in Bologna we had quite a few demonstrations of how to make Lo-Fi tools (such as Post-it, StoryCards, etc.) work, to master an Agile development process. Fascinated by Tim McKinnon's presentation, I then went to a local office supply shop to find some tools to play with. Unfortunately, when I started describing Tim's nylon attachable pocket board, the girl at the shop started looking at me quite …oddly (ok… if I describe it this way, nobody could understand, except the few that attended Tim's speech, but I assure you I did my best. I also looked for pictures of "the thing" in the 'net but I couldn't find one – …maybe because I don't know the name).

Anyway, I went to the shop. And what I asked for seemed odd. There was something similar, like cork boards – in this case you need some pins to attach story cards to the wall – or something else that could contain, buy not show the story cards. I then shifted on Post-It papers. Which are cool as long as you have the right board to stick them on. They also have some drawbacks: since they're sticky, you do not write anything in the B-side (while you do that in story cards or CRC cards). I also bought some Super-Sticky post it. They stick everywhere. But there's a smaller choice of colors so it feels like you're in Coldplay's "Yellow". I felt a bit frustrated but also eager to try to squeeze the best from what I had.

In a couple of days I had a chance to play with my Post-Its. My task was to define a development process that was suitable for a SOA environment, agile enough to be productive, formal enough to be used in a Banking Institute. We started playing with our Post-It and … worked. We were able to spot contradictions and missing pieces in a very short time. Writing the document will be the long and tedious stuff, but I guess in this case it's unavoidable: agility still has to cope with the suit-and-tie mismatch.

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