The Agile Architect

8 Not-So-Subtle Hints from an Agile Team...

Things agile developers want to tell you but won't.

We live in a polite society for the most part. And while agile teams value transparency, there are just certain things they won't tell you (or, frankly, shouldn't have to be said). Here are some.

  1. Don't mentally check out of meetings, dammit!
    If we are in a meeting, it's to get specific work done. If you have your laptop open and are working on something else, you distract us and undermine the meeting. If it's so important for you to work on, we should postpone the meeting or you should leave.

  2. Phones in a Box
    Please put your cell phone away when I'm collaborating with you. Unless you are using your cell phone as part of our work, you are wasting my time and undermining our project.

  3. Brush Your Damn Teeth
    Sure, we may wear shorts and flip flops to work. But that doesn't mean you can let yourself go. We are working together in this war room in close quarters. Please have some consideration.

  4. You Need To Pull Your Own Weight
    You can't hide. Everyone on the team knows you aren't working when you are doing “research”. If you don't know what you're doing, let us know. We'll help you. If you are just lazy, don't expect us to cover for you.

  5. Clean Up Your Workspace
    Yes, there's the article, “Good Agile is Messy Agile” but come on! This is ridiculous. Candy bars on the desks. Empty soda cans all over the place. Toy parts all over the floor. Abandoned papers everywhere. We spend too much time in this space to keep it a hovel.

  6. Read the Manual Before You Pair with Me
    I want our pairing session to be productive. I enjoy when we share our tips and tricks about the technologies we are using but I'm not a babysitter or an instructor. Please have the professionalism to learn some basics about the tools and technologies we are using before pairing with me on a story.

  7. No Cursing in the Workspace
    Cursing is unpleasant, unprofessional and catchy. It makes me uncomfortable and I don't want to get used to it or, worse, have it become part of my speech patterns. Leave the vulgar language at home please. (Editor's note: For someone who doesn't like cursing, you are using "damn" a lot in this article.) (Mark: Yep. It just proves my point!)

  8. Be On Time for Standup
    We have standup to sync the team and kick-start our day. When you are late, it diminishes the value. We've already delayed the start time to accommodate your schedule. Have some respect for your teammates and show up on time and ready to work!

Final Thoughts ....
Well, damn shucks, that was therapeutic. All of the complaints above are actual complaints I've received from my coworkers over the years about folks we work with. So if you recognize yourself in any of these and you know me, well ....

About the Author

Dr. Mark Balbes serves as Vice President, Architecture at WWT Asynchrony Labs, and leads multiple Agile projects for Government and Fortune 500 companies. He received his Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from Duke University in 1992, then continued his research in nuclear astrophysics at Ohio State University. Dr. Balbes has worked in the industrial sector since 1995 applying his scientific expertise to the disciplines of software development. He has led teams as small as a few software developers to as large as a multi-national Engineering department with development centers in the U.S., Canada, and India. Whether serving as product manager, chief scientist, or chief architect, he provides both technical and thought leadership around Agile development, Agile architecture, and Agile project management principles.

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