Daryl's blog

Stuff on agile, projects, and other random thoughts

September 23, 2012
by dscholz
1 Comment

Agile Inception Deck

Has this happened to you?  At the start of a project you have the kickoff meeting.  You review the project charter and other documentation (if any).  The meeting ends with “Alright, we are all on the same page!”  Then two weeks later it appears the basics of the project still are not understood among the members of the team?

I went to a session at Agile 2012 called Agile Inception Deck – 10 questions you’d be crazy not to ask before starting your project: Jonathan Rasmusson.  (His slide deck is at that link and has lots of great information)  This is something that any group can use to help gain clarity of what exactly you want to accomplish ahead of time.  This is from Jonathan’s book “The Agile Samuri” and I would highly recommend it.  Though Jonathan’s background is software development I believe you can use this for any other project.

A few things that I really like on this is creating an elevator speech, creating your not list, and meeting your neighbors.  Jonathan has a template to use for the elevator speech that will give people a quick (and consistent) way to inform anyone regarding the project.  Creating the not list discusses what is in, what is out (which is just as important as what is in), and what has yet to be decided.  Meeting your neighbors is all about finding all the people that are affected by your project.

 I will blog regarding this topic further in the future when i have used this for a few examples at St. Cloud State.  We have done this with one project and I believe it helped people get on the same page.

September 23, 2012
by dscholz

Remote poker game

So what do you do when you have a person that wants to join a live game of poker but lives in another state? Well, get a couple of laptops and use your imagination.  This is how we set it up.

First connect the laptop that is facing the others at the table with the person.  (We used a Google+ hangout to make that happen)  This allow interaction with the people at the table and the main audio source from the remote player.  The key is to set this one up first because the remote player’s camera will use the camera from their camera on this feed.

Next step was to use a video camera and set it up on a tripod to take a picture of the community cards in the middle of the table.  Using the video camera works well because you are able to use the optical zoom and not lose the quality of the picture.  We happened to use Skype for this one and it appeared to work well.  One other tip is to place masking tape in a square pattern on the table on where you need to community cards.  This allows you to zoom in to that spot on that table.

Third step was to find an old 5″ x 7″ picture frame and steal the glass out of it.  Find a piece of drywall and cut a hole that is a little smaller than the glass.  Place the piece of glass over drywall and use duct tape liberally.  Now place a laptop under with the camera facing the glass from underneath and now the person can see their two cards.

The remote player now has 3 different video screens going.  First one is of the table that allows them to see others at the table.  As you can see with the screen shot, it is pretty good but not great.  The second video window has the common cards in the middle of the table.  We were having some bandwidth issues, but overall it turned out ok.  The third video screen was the remote player’s two cards.

The remote person kept an Excel spreadsheet on their side to keep track of how many chips they had, we haven’t figured out a good way to make that happen yet.  The remote player happened to make it to the final two players and it seemed to go well overall.

This is the third time we have done this and it is working pretty well.  Any other suggestions on how I can improve this setup? 

September 15, 2012
by dscholz

Lean Coffee

While I was at the Agile2012 conference in Dallas, Texas I was able to participate in an activity called Lean Coffee.  Lean Coffee is a meeting format where you don’t come in with an agenda, but the format is structured to gain the most value for the people participating in the discussion that day.  More details are listed in the link above.

It starts out by people writing on post it notes of what they would like to discuss.  Those are shared with the group and there is a round of voting for the people participating in the discussion.  Everyone gets two votes (marked by placing a dot on the sticky you want to discuss) and the post it with the most votes, you start discussing.

The group I was in added time limits to the discussion.  Each topic started with a five minute discussion.  At the end of 5 minutes you would have three choices with majority rules- keep going (thumbs up, add 2 minutes), indifferent (thumbs sideways), or stop discussing (thumbs down, stop discussion and move to next topic).

The things I liked about Lean Coffee.

  • The discussion started with the topic that the most people wanted to discuss.
  • The time box of discussion kept from people rambling.
  • We were able to get through many different topics during the 30 minutes I participated.

I think we could find use in Lean Coffee at St. Cloud State for some different meeting formats.  What are your thoughts?

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