Monday, 29 March 2010

Managed failure is good!

One of the reasons why I like Agile development is because it enables the team to manage risk and uncertainty. It also allows a team to learn from earlier iterations and improve processes.

Reading the blog “Are You Squandering Your Intelligent Failures?” made me think how closely an executive approach to learning from failure is similar to the approach taken by Agile teams. It’s funny how I never really read about Agile projects that failed, unless you count London Heathrow Terminal 5. Oh! and Toyota - The Wrong Lessons From Toyota's Recalls — And the Truth.

Will there be a time when Agile projects become too process driven and people lose sight of the original purpose of Agile. Then like Toyota the problems start to creep in because nobody feels able/willing to hit the stop button.

To have done everything possible to prevent failure and fail shouldn’t be considered bad. To repeatedly fail because of the same problem is definitely bad. What does it mean to fail even when the processes should prevent failure?

Some random blogs

Very good explanation of why organisation blow their brains out trying to meet share price expectations - Why CEOs Don't Owe Shareholders a Return on Market Value  

It’s all too easy to forget simple rules about effective management, here is a reminder- Eight Things Your Employees Want From You

This is worth reading when considering innovation within your own organisation, just because it’s about starting your own business doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant to large organisations- The 2-Minute Opportunity Checklist for Entrepreneurs

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Technology roadmap - engineer or manufacture?

In October 2009 I went to a talk on “Enterprise Design Objectives - Complexity and Change” where John Zachman gave a talk on his framework. John is a very charismatic character and I would say it is worth going to one of his talks.

There were several related topics during his talk that stuck in my mind(1) engineering or manufacturing, (2) ontology (3) late binding / loose coupling.  While John’s talk was specifically about Enterprise Architecture and not software development there are similarities.

The definition of engineer and manufacturer, as I recollect, were:

Engineer – builds primitive models and templates for mass produced solutions

Manufacturer – takes primitive model or template and produces the final product, “creates an instance of an engineered solution”.

As a small organisation it is important to identify the balance between engineering and manufacturing, don’t re-invent the wheel. A balance between engineering to achieve a competitive edge and using existing products to accelerate the manufacturing process has to be achieved.

Altio has spent many years of effort engineering a framework for implementing RIA applications using Java, as a small business this is costly and makes maintaining momentum difficult. That is why the focus of future Altio releases is now on engineering only the features that provide the greatest value to existing and future customers. As many features as possible will be implemented using high quality products from third party sources.

As an organisation Altio is changing the balance of development effort from engineering to manufacturing.


Identifying items to engineer and those that can be re-used as part of a manufacturing process is achieved by defining capabilities, how each capability relates to another, and the features of each capability. In effect defining an ontology for the framework.

During the talk on Enterprise Architecture a statement was made that it is impossible to engineer the enterprise, the answer to this was the Periodic Table, an ontology of atoms. Very complex structures can be created from basic, loosely coupled atoms, humans are probably the best example of this. This was the justification for defining Altio capabilities and features, thus enabling us to generate a product backlog to begin development.

The key to delivery will be ensuring each capability is loosely coupled thus enabling late binding of solutions and modular implementation of each capability.

The value add to our partners and customers will be knowledge, support and framework capabilities that accelerate the delivery of high quality solutions.


Monday, 11 January 2010

Where did the last few month go?

I can’t believe it’s 2010 and my last entry was in October.

I’ve been maxed out working on the future roadmap of the Altio and technology.

Altio 5.3 was released in September, and Altio 5.4 will come out before March this year. Altio 5.4 is likely to be the last major release of Altio using Java Applets for the front end. Altio 6 will retain the Presentation Server backend but the user interface is primarily going to be Adobe Flash, developed using Adobe Flex.

This means that for 2010 the toolset for user interface development using Altio will be Java Applets, Adobe Flex and HTML. The long term future will be HTML/JavaScript, but it will be a case of seeing where Google and other big players take HTML5.

The key changes to the Altio framework will be more attention on data visualisation for specific business domains such as Foreign Exchange trading and compliance.

I can’t see 2010 being any less challenging than 2009, and let’s face it life would be boring without challenges to overcome.

Interesting links

Explore the Semantic Web's standards and real-world applications

ScrumButs Are the Best Part of Scrum

How Will You Make a Difference in 2010?