# Friday, 23 December 2011

Earlier this week the voting was completed and I was elected to the board of the Scrum Alliance for a three year term. It is a great honor to have been elected to the Board of Directors; I hope my experience will be valuable to the board and further the aims of the Scrum community.

My congratulations also go out to Daniel Mezick and George Gosieski who were also running. Daniel and George are both very impressive individuals and their selection as candidates only shows how strong the Scrum community is.

posted on Friday, 23 December 2011 21:10:17 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Monday, 05 December 2011

If you are a member of the Scrum Alliance you should have gotten an email asking you to vote for a new member of the board. Please vote! I am one of the three people who are standing for election, below is my candidate summary statement that I submitted to the Scrum Alliance.

Scrum Alliance Board Candidate Summary Statement:

I am honored to stand for election as a board member of the Scrum Alliance. If elevated, I feel that my education (MBA) and past industry experience as a developer, venture-backed entrepreneur, consultant, CIO, and senior management at an ISV will bring a unique perspective to the board.

Having managed both a P&L at an established firm as well as my own self-funded startup, I think my business experience will contribute to the financial and legal health of the Scrum Alliance. I understand what it is like to sit on a board of a high profile industry organization: I have served on the board of similar organizations and take the role very seriously. During the “.com” era, I was on the board of the New York Software Industry Association (NYSIA) from 1998-2004, and served as vice-chairman from 2001-2004. (NYSIA has now merged with the NY Tech Council.)

I am motivated to serve on the Scrum Alliance board since as a professional, I have implemented Agile and Scrum at the places I have worked. I would consider my experience very diverse. For example, I have implemented XP at Zagat (venture backed consumer site) during the “.com” era, as well as Scrum at Telerik (an ISV) in the post- “Lehman” economy. I have also implemented Scrum at my startup that was acquired by a larger non-Agile company and had to re-implement it as part of the merger. Additionally, I visit several Telerik customers in Asia who are bumping into some of the limits of Scrum and are implementing some of the “Lean” practices such as Kanban and “Software Kaizen.”

While my experience with Agile and Scrum comes as a practitioner, not a trainer, I do speak on Agile and Scrum at several industry events a year worldwide, so understand the educational and certification side of the organization. In 2011, I have spoken about Agile several times in many countries, reaching thousands of practitioners.

As a Certified Scrum Master (#37679) and member of the Scrum Alliance’s insiders “Agile Leaders” Google email group, I feel that I know the organization well and can contribute to its mission. I am familiar with the Scrum Alliance’s 2010-11 Strategic Plan and Certified Scrum Professional Program (I volunteered as a beta tester of the exam and passed, so I am now a CSP as well). I also feel that the Scrum Alliance’s goal of larger community outreach fits in with my experience as a conference speaker and user group leader.

While based in Asia, I am a New Yorker, and am an executive at a European company, so I have a truly global reach. I speak about Agile, Scrum, Lean, and Kanban all over the world. My company, Telerik, makes Agile tools and also has a global reach. (This year I helped Telerik open offices and launch new business in the UK, India, and Australia.) I’ll bring a global perspective, and if desired, I can also help the Scrum Alliance expand outside of its core markets.

I have a long history of volunteering and giving back to the community. I have been running user group events since 1996 and have been awarded an “MVP” award from Microsoft for my community outreach. I also am heavily involved with charity, helping raise money and organize a charity, Education Elevated, dedicated to building schools in remote villages. I lead treks to Mt. Everest Base Camp each year to raise money for the school.

I can wear jeans and a tee shirt (preferred) and speak to developers about deep technical and process issues and then turn around and put on a suit and talk to a CEO about business models, strategy, and macroeconomics. It would be an honor to bring my experience and creativity to the board of the Scrum Alliance. I have a passion for Agile and Scrum since they truly have changed the way I do business, and I want to help spread the word and adoption of Scrum worldwide. Lastly, I want to “give back” to Scrum by volunteering my time on the board since I feel Scrum has given me so much over the course of my career.

Thank you for considering me; it is an honor to even be considered for the board of directors.

posted on Monday, 05 December 2011 19:10:15 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Over the weekend I had the privilege of being a judge for the Startup Weekend Hong Kong. We had eight very impressive teams ranging from consumer apps to enterprise software. After the “speed dating” five minute presentations with only three minutes of questions, myself and the other judges went to deliberate. We could not agree on a winner at first and debated and took two votes where nobody had the same identical #1 and #2.  The fact that it took a few rounds of votes by the five judges to come up with a winner shows just how much quality there was in the startup teams. The winner, Awesome-Ship, was a team that wants to revolutionize shipping and be a platform for companies that ship products.

On Wednesday I will be speaking at the Hong Kong International Computer Conference event and my session, “The Use of Knowledge in Today’s Society” is about information overload, knowledge management, and entrepreneurship opportunity in Hong Kong. I make the case that with the super fast broadband, great business environment (ranked #1 by the World Competitive Index), access to the Asian markets, and a Facebook/iPhone obsessed society, Hong Kong is a great place to start a business.

I hope to see you at the Hong Kong Convention Center, but if not, my slides are posted below.

posted on Tuesday, 22 November 2011 05:23:53 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 01 November 2011

Today I will be speaking at the 1st World CIO Forum held in booming city of Shenzhen, China sponsored by the International Federation for Information Processing.

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My talk today is on Lean Manufacturing's influence on Agile methodologies: The Past, the Present, and the Future. I talk about how XP was a reaction to Waterfall’s “batch” mentality and heavily influenced by Lean’s notion of units of work v batch and reducing lead time (which heavily influenced iterations.) Then I talk about how Scrum and Kanban come directly from Lean, but with modifications for software development. I stress how lean is about eliminating waste by reducing the quantity of what is produced at one time (translations: very small iterations, if at all) and building a culture of continuous improvement. Sessions are only given 25 minutes, so I had to to this at a high level. I’ll work on a longer more in depth one for TechEd and the speaker circuit in 2012.

posted on Tuesday, 01 November 2011 21:52:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, 31 October 2011

This week I will be attending and speaking at the 1st World CIO Forum held in booming city of Shenzhen, China sponsored by the International Federation for Information Processing.

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The theme of the World CIO Forum is: Globalization and IT Innovation. Topics include: cloud computing (of course!), mobile innovation, green IT, CIO Leadership, “manufacturing 2.0” (my track), and e-government.

The night before the conference started (Halloween!), I had the pleasure of spending an hour with Li Ming, the deputy mayor of Shenzhen and ten fellow speakers. It was all very official; we were in a big room with name cards and we sat in big chairs drinking Chinese tea. Joining me at the meeting and then at dinner were very prestigious speakers, including a member of the board of directors of Microsoft and the CTO of Toyota (Info Technology Center). There were many toasts, something you can’t avoid in China. I feel that Telerik has made it to the big leagues.

I give a talk on Wednesday: “Lean Manufacturing's Influence on Agile Methodologies: The Past, Present, and Future.”

posted on Monday, 31 October 2011 09:11:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 18 October 2011

In the past, most developers’ approach to code is that you should write it once and hopefully never have to debug or revisit it again. This stems from the traditional waterfall approach of software development where we were trying to completely describe the entire system up front perfectly. Change was bad and bugs were not accounted for and left for the end.

The Agile movement ushered in the first change to this mentality. Agile introduced the concept of refactoring, or writing your software once and then revisiting it (often if needed) and restructuring its internals for improvement (without changing its external outputs). Refactoring is a core tenant of test driven development, where you are encouraged to refactor each method you write at least once.

The Lean Manufacturing movement is built around the concept of Kaizen, or Japanese for “improvement” or “change for the better.” Last week at the first even Lean and IT summit in Paris, France, I heard once or twice about the concept of writing code as a Kaizen event. Software Kaizen goes a step further than refactoring.

The Lean guys were talking about Kaizen as the removal of waste by the improvement of your own work. It is about understanding waste derived from your own decisions, looking at the unnecessary costs created by our wrong assumptions and decisions. The Lean guys spoke about how Kaizen is cultural shift that gets people thinking.

While refactoring addresses each individual method, Software Kaizen takes a much broader approach and looks for waste in your entire work. A lot of time we developers build features and stuff that are not needed. Where did you create a library that you only call once in the name of “maintainability?” Where did you make something unnecessarily complex in the name of “extensibility?” Where where your assumptions incorrect and caused problems or ambiguity in your code? When have you over engineered a feature? Refactoring only partially addresses this, we’ll go in on a regular basis and refactor a few complex methods, but we rarely ask ourselves if we need that entire method in the first place, or an entire feature. Software Kaizen asks us to look at our code and asks us why did we do it this way, with a “cut first” mentality. It challenges the assumptions we made at the time we wrote the code.

Traditional waterfall approached code as something you should write and be perfect the first time and only revisit it when you find bugs. Agile encourages refactoring your methods for improvements in the way it runs and reads internally. Software Kaizen encourages looking your system and looking at the choices you made in the name of maintainability, extensibility, etc, and ask yourself where you were wrong. Software Kaizen focuses on approaching your code knowing you are going to change it often. In the past we fought change, Software Kaizen embraces change as part of the process.

Give it a try, it is harder than it seems. (“Of course I need that really really complex method, I may one day port this code to a Mainframe!”) Good luck and happy coding.

posted on Tuesday, 18 October 2011 02:36:57 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Monday, 10 October 2011

A lot of people have posted tributes to Steve Jobs over the past week. I’ve seen him called the CEO of the Decade (something I agree with) and also compared to Henry Ford (I sort of agree with). I’d like to call attention to four lessons we can learn from Steve Jobs’ Apple, two positive and two negative. First the good:

Apple avoided falling into the trap of the Innovator’s Dilemma

Apple avoided falling into the trap of the Innovator’s Dilemma. In a nutshell, the Innovator’s Dilemma says the following (I am paraphrasing): when you invent something, first you are trying to penetrate a new market and convince people to buy your invention. At this stage you will do anything to get noticed. After a while, your invention becomes mainstream.  Your profits predictable. Your investors complacent. Then a new disruptive technology is starting to show up here and there. You ask your customers (who are all mainstream consumers or businesses) what they want and you build that for them. Pretty soon, you go out of business (or drastically lose share) because the new disruptive technology overtook you. You failed because you made good management decisions (focusing on profits, listening to customers, etc), hence the dilemma. Henry Ford is credited with saying:  “If I listened to my customers, I’d have built a faster horse.”

Apple constantly churned and churned out new products, defining new categories. The pace of innovation was breathtaking, as soon as a new iPhone was released, there were rumors of a newer and faster one. Some would say that Apple was going to cannibalize their older products with the new, but they forged ahead anyway, with the profits to show for it. Apple embraced the disruptive technologies, not fought them.

Apple worked to create an experience, not just raw technology

When you buy an iPad, you are buying an experience. With the integration with iTunes you can download Apps, books, movies, magazines, and of course music. There is a whole ecosystem around Apple and the iPad, that is why they don’t OEM iOS to other vendors to build a device, Apple wants to control the experience.

Android on the other hand has no such ecosystem. They build the OS and let the OEMs build the hardware. There are phones running Android that are much better than the iPhone and there are tablets that are just as good as the iPad, but don’t sell well. Why? There is no ecosystem. I went into the local electronics shop here in Hong Kong and played with the Lenovo and Samsung tablets and there was no true “feel” to them, it was just a screen waiting for you to configure stuff on. Good for geeks, but not for consumers. My mom needs the simplicity of an ecosystem and an integrated experience. 

Google and by extension their OEMs, figured that slick and cool technology was going to be enough to win. Apple realized that good technology was not enough, users demanded an experience, and Apple gave it to them.

Now some lessons from things that Steve could have done better:

Apple suffers from the “Curse of the superstar CEO”

When I was in business school, I read a case study called “Curse of the superstar CEO”. The article stated that recently we have looked to leaders (CEOs) who have a lot of charisma and we tend to worship them like a religious figure. The curse of the superstar CEO is very problematic, it leads to leadership succession problems as well as exaggerates the impact that the CEO has on the company they are leading.

Steve Jobs was larger than life, the black turtle neck shirt and jeans (which I liked) became a cultural icon. No matter how great a CEO Tim Cook will be, he will always be compared to Steve Jobs and will always disappoint simply for not being Steve. (If you don’t believe me, just ask Steve Ballmer how he is doing not being Bill Gates.)

Apple Took secrecy to an extreme

I understand how you want to keep things secret in a competitive marketplace. I also understand the value of trying to control the message. That all said, Apple took this all to an extreme. They shut down fan rumor sites (by suing fans who were kids!), sent the police to people’s homes to look for a lost iPhone prototype, and never talked to the press.

While this creates a tremendous amount of buzz, it also leads to misaligned expectations. When the MacBook Air and the iPhone 4S were announced, their reviews and reception were not that great as people were holding out and expecting something more. While the secrecy worked to generate buzz, it did not always work out as a positive. When secrecy is taken to such an extreme, it can work against you. While Apple is still super positive, they can get away with a lot, but not forever.

posted on Monday, 10 October 2011 11:43:59 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback
# Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Today is day 3 of running the Windows 8 Build tablet. Apparently I am the only person in Hong Kong with the Build Win8 tablet and everyone I  know in Hong Kong wants to play with it. Some Telerik customers read my blog post from yesterday and asked me if they can play with the tablet too. I set up a meeting at a local pub in Hong Kong to allow some Telerik customers to play with the tablet. So today, the tablet went into the wild. Smile

Stop 1: Starbucks

I was a little early to meet our customers, so I hung out at Starbucks. Just about all of the PCs in the Starbucks were Macs. I whip out the WinPad and it turned a lot of heads. One guy even came up to me and asked me what type of tablet I had. I did an impromptu demo since I was in the middle of a tweet war with some Telerik colleagues back in Bulgaria. Passed the tech elite/Starbucks test. SMS from our customer, so time to meet at the pub.

Stop 2: The Pub

When the Telerik customers showed up at the pub they went to work with the tablet. They liked the desktop mode option and we got into a long discussion on Metro only vs non Metro only devices.  Played a little with Visual Studio and looked at the references for a native XAML app. Spent a lot of time on Metro. We all agreed that if Win8 delivers as promised, Apple has a ton of completion on its hands. After an hour of playing and talking, I can say that it passed the enterprise customer test. We’re late for a networking event, so it is time for the next pub.

Stop 3: The Next Pub

There is a monthly networking event in Hong Kong called Web Wednesday where the techies and social media types gather around and talk shop. When we walked into the pub, I bumped into Furuzonfar (Foo-bar for short), a buddy of mine who is a student in Hong Kong University. Furuzonfar is an avid WP7 user and took the tablet for a test run. Pretty soon there was a circle of people around him and they where playing for a long time. Passed the college kid test.

A guy from Intel came by and played with it for a while too. He was happy that it was running an Intel chip. Smile Then some other WP7 enthusiasts came by and I had to snag a photo. Suddenly WP7 is a lot more compelling.

2011-09-21 19.20.10

Furuzonfar was generating so much attention that a reporter from the Financial Times came by and wanted to know what was going on.  I wrestle the tablet away from the college kids/Intel dude and do a demo for the FT reporter. She particularly liked how you can snap an app to the side of the window. As a mac user, she was impressed, so it passed the reporter test.

Finally it was time for the tablet’s field trip to end and I headed home. All in all, a lot of activity for a tablet in one evening.  I head home to New York for the weekend and will see if it passed the hardest test of all, the Mom test.

posted on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 11:33:51 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback