Technical Writing

HICSS-45: Agile Values, Innovation and the Shortage of Women Software Developers

The percentage of women software developers in the U.S. has declined from 42% in 1987 to less than 25% today. This is in a software/internet marketplace where women are online in equal numbers to men, directly or indirectly influence 61% of consumer electronics purchases, generate 58% of online dollars, and represent 42% of active gamers. Women avoid careers in software due to hostile environments, unsustainable pace, diminished sense of purpose, disadvantages in pay, and lack of advancement, peers or mentors. Agile Software Development is founded upon values that challenge such dysfunction in order to build self-organizing, collaborative and highly productive teams. In a high functioning Agile practice, developers engage each other, product owners and sponsors in a shared concern for quality, predictability and meeting the needs of end users. Can Agile values and practice drive changes in the workplace to better attract and retain women software developers?

Published as part of the IEEE transactions for the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences 2012. CopyRight notice and terms.


HICSS-42: Agile Principles and Ethical Conduct

Software practitioners experience pressure to compromise their work and their reasonable care for others. Even as software becomes more beneficial, pervasive, and interconnected, the potential for unintended harm grows. Agile Software Development is an approach to building software systems that embodies a set of declared core principles. How do these principles align to an ethical standard of conduct? This paper attempts from an Agile Practitioner’s perspective to compare and contrast Agile Principles with other approaches to Software Ethics. It identifies areas of strong resonance and gaps that exist between the stated Agile Principles and an explicit software code of ethical conduct.

Published as part of the IEEE transactions for the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences 2009. CopyRight notice and terms.


HICSS-41: Great Scrums Need Great Product Owners:
Unbounded Collaboration and Collective Product Ownership

Nominated for best paper in the Agile/Lean Software Development track

Scrum describes a separation of roles; the product owner is accountable for achieving business objectives and the team for technical execution. A pragmatic and collegial relationship between a product owner and team can satisfy the definition of collaboration and honor roles while barely tapping or actually working against the potential of a project and its participants. This paper surveys literature to describe different forms of collaboration, to establish that deep, unbounded collaboration is at the heart of agile values, and that partnerships of high trust and shared risk lead to value and innovation. Finally, this paper incorporates a real- world example of a product owner who, while remaining accountable to the outcome, shared ownership over vision, priorities and execution with her Scrum/XP development team.

Published as part of the IEEE transactions for the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences 2008. CopyRight notice and terms.


Agile 2007: Innovation and Collective Product Ownership

In 2006, Oxygen Media CEO Geraldine (Gerry) Laybourne, the woman largely responsible for Nickelodeon’s early success, partnered with her XP/Scrum development team to create a new mission and new revenue stream for her company. This experience report covers product conception through initial release of a single product. It describes how Gerry’s leadership qualities paired with agile practices to engender deep mutual trust and collective ownership over technical execution and business outcome. This unbounded collaboration provides a template for future projects at Oxygen and other organizations with innovation as part of their agile product development strategy.

Published as part of the IEEE publication, Agile 2007.


HICSS-40: Using Agile Practices to Spark Innovation in a Small to Medium Sized Business

The media industry is challenged to find new lines of business as technology redefines content, distribution and customer expectations. This is a case study of Oxygen Media where a CEO leading an innovation program partnered with her agile software development team. It spans nine months and details how top-down, bottom-up interaction lead to a new consumer software initiative. The strategy described evolved as the sum of small decisions taken over time driven by vision and filtered through Oxygen’s corporate culture. At each step, the company’s actions were informed by Scrum/XP practices and values. This paper draws support for Oxygen Media’s emergent strategy in Nonaka and Takeuchi’s five phase model for organizational knowledge creation. This model explains why Oxygen Media has had initial success in its innovation effort. It is also instructive where the model departs from Oxygen Media’s strategy and points to challenges yet to be addressed by the company.

Published as part of the IEEE transactions for the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences 2007.


Oxygen’s Agile Adoption January 2004 – October 2007

This experience report summarizes Oxygen Media’s agile adoption, our history, the benefiĀts we derived and suggestions for other groups introducing similar practices.

Our agile practice encompasses four years during which our team grew, we expanded our portfolio from marketing, ad sales and broadcast operations to consumer facing windows and web applications across a range of technologies: Microsoft Win Forms, ASP.NET, SQL Data Analysis Services (OLAP), Vista compatible Windows Presentation Foundation, XAML, open source .NET MVC frameworks and Ruby on Rails.

With agile practices, we became a performing, self-managing team recognized within the industry for both our software and our contribution to practices and platforms. The team attracted and retained top talent, increased code quality, breadth of knowledge and value delivered. Oxygen Media software has been recognized within Oxygen, NBCU, industry peers, Microsoft and user communities for its invention, simplicity, and effectiveness.

We provide eight broad recommendations. The most important of which is to understand that Agile adoption is about organizational change. It will surface false assumptions, inefficiencies, and dysfunction in the organization. Success comes from acknowledging and removing them.

Presented to staff at NBC Universal in January 2008.

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