Friday, January 27, 2012

Agile Teams: Try Drumming for Team Building!

My previous blog mentioned a little bit about the “5th Indira International Innovation Summit”  presented by Indira College of Engineering and Management.  One of the sessions in this event was “Building Teams One Beat at a Time” by Ms. Aliya Hasal, CEO, Drum Café International.

15 minutes before the start of this session, event volunteers swiftly distributed Djambe drums to almost all 400 attendees in the auditorium. When the anchor Dr. Raju Bhatia invited the presenters on stage, the audience started beating the Djambe drums whimsically. I could feel a sudden desire or change of mind among all to keep beating the drums until the presenters acknowledged the enthusiasm and calmed down everyone!

We were in complete silence. Dr. Vinod Hasal (Director, Drum Café, India) started leading the performance on stage and miraculously gave us very simple instruction to follow the beats! Within minutes, the entire auditorium was in rhythm. We could feel unity, team-building, relaxation, creativity, learning and fun! He was a great coach! & He engaged the team of 400 enthusiastic, novice drummers very well! The result was rhythmic drum beats! The patterns changed every three minutes and the audience followed without missing the beats! A vast majority of us had never touched a Djambe drum before! However, we could join the team on stage and follow their rhythm.  As a result, this session rejuvenated us and made us believe in the power of co-creation.

I strongly believe that drumming sessions like this one can benefit organizations and communities. These sessions can help us build Agile teams. No doubt about it! My experience in this session reemphasized the fact that we must trust our team, give them the necessary infrastructure and tools, and provide them an open environment. This is because the quality of our workday counts! When we do this our teams become creative and innovative.

Above all, we must identify an agile coach. This is the foundation of agile teams. With a good coach, team members will align and start performing! When they perform together over multiple iterations there will be continuous improvement and high quality.

Have you been through a ‘drumming’ session for team building? What do you think?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Application of TRIZ in Software Engineering

Last year at SPIN Chennai Annual Conference (SPICON 2011), I delivered a talk on “Inventive Problem Solving for Customer Value Creation”. My talk was based on a real life problem solving experience. When you go through the presentation you will get a broad understanding of this talk.

This year, I got an invitation to speak at “5th Indira International Innovation Summit”  presented by Indira College of Engineering and Management .  During this event, the event organizers honored me with “Excellence in Innovation Award”.

It was a house-full event with more than 400 participants. The planning and execution of this event was very impressive. The selection of topics and speakers on both days offered a good balance between serious discussions and fun-filled learning.

In Software Engineering and Software Services Industry there are numerous opportunities to innovate. What we have accomplished is just the beginning. We have a long way to go! Do you have an experience to share? Feel free to write to me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Do You Follow Defect Prevention Techniques?

The term 'Defect Prevention' (DP) relates to defect analysis and preventive action planning related to defects found in various streams of project activities. Typically defects can be review defects or testing defects (there are other types of defects as well - For example, configuration defects or other forms of defects that are not captured during reviews or testing).

What can be our approach to DP? It can be something that includes a systematic way of collecting and analyzing defects and preventive action planning. Also, this approach includes the frequency of performing DP and a clear definition of ownership so that DP happens as planned. The objective of DP is to make sure that a significant number of those defects do not occur in future.

Creating and executing test cases, test automation, and code quality checks are meant for ‘Defect Detection'. Not for ‘Defect Prevention’.

So, how do we do DP? Well, we can do DP by gathering data on all defects, categorizing them, analyzing them and deriving certain conclusions. Based on these conclusions we decide on preventive actions and implement them.

If we do not derive and implement preventive actions, all we accomplish is a pure 'Defect Analysis' (also known as Bug Analysis). DP requires you to travel an extra mile (in terms of identifying and implementing preventive action plan) after you complete Bug Analysis.

80/20 principle is adopted as one of the DP techniques. When you analyze test defects you perform ‘Pareto Analysis' to understand the distribution of defects. Based on your findings, you come up with action items that help you prevent 80% of defects. There are other techniques too.

Agile teams go through iteration-end retrospectives. How can DP techniques help them perform better? What has been your experience? Do you follow DP techniques? Let us discuss.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Clouded by Cloud Security Concerns?

Cloud Computing is an emerging trend or seemingly an evolution in IT industry. When electricity, water, telephone, etc., are provided as utilities, why not the power of computing or data storage? Thoughts on similar lines triggered the concept ‘Utility Computing’ during early 60s. This concept has matured over years. With the power of internetworking it has reincarnated as ‘Cloud Computing’.

However, end users are clouded. They are unclear and concerned. The source of their concerns is ‘Cloud Security’. We park our expensive cars on streets. We are not concerned because of an appropriate car insurance plan. We do keep our hard earned money in banks. We use bank lockers to store important documents, jewelry, etc., We are used to these paradigms or provisions whether or not they offer adequate security.

Is there a cloud we can trust? This is what CIOs ask. As a matter of fact,  product companies are working on clouds we can trust. Cloud platforms will have an increasing level of adoption when security concerns are addressed adequately. In addition to this, cloud providers will have to get into contractual terms and commit to legal obligations in serving end users or customers. Until now, not many providers address these areas. Therefore, customers think twice and decide to adopt private clouds.

We will go through this evolution. However, Cloud Computing has its promises. It is possible to optimize IT budgets by leveraging the benefits of cloud. The term ‘Clouptimization’ relates to this possibility.