Christmas Puzzle

This is a logic puzzle I picked up some time back. I think a version appears in a great book called Modern Heuristics.

Warning – it’s a bit of a time waster. But there is a solution, I promise.

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No email in the morning

For the time pressured, the title of this post is the conclusion. Read on to find out why.

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Agile in Government

Despite my last blog on some well publicised troubles, agile is still firmly central to the UK government’s digital strategy (incidentally this appears to be true over the pond in the USA). This topic was explored on Friday morning at agile on the beach.

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Does Agile work?

Ouch! The UK national audit office has just released a report criticising the DWP project on Universal Creditreleased on the last day of agile on the beach. It has been billed as a ‘rude awakening for the agile dream’, ‘agile chaos’ and even ‘failure of agile

Is this fair? The essential line from the agile community is that the project failed because it wasn’t agile enough. Although you might counter by saying that agile was simply the wrong tool for the job.

If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail

If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail (picture used with permission)

In this blog post I argue that although most of the failures were nothing to do with agile, the case nevertheless has some warnings and lessons about the application of agile that we would do well to heed.

  1. Watch the interfaces
  2. Manage the big picture
  3. Get the contract right
  4. Have clear objectives
  5. Embrace and learn from our mistakes

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Agile on the Beach?

Agile on the Beach. Is this a real conference? I was sceptical, until I checked the 2012 lineup and discovered that this conference – probably more than other agile conferences – tackled business as well as technical challenges. It’s also pretty good value. So I packed my bags and went to Falmouth. (By the way – it’s further than you think: over 4 hours by train from Bristol: BRI to PYN).

I was hoping to get some insights into a number of agile challenges. Particularly: the customer transition to agile; contracts; and agile in government. I was very happy to find that the conference exceeded expectations on all three counts.

What follows is a series of blog posts about the sessions I went to. Some of them need a bit of background reading so I will be posting them in a piecemeal fashion. There was plenty more, incidentally: on craftsmanship (including a fun sounding coding ‘dojo’); agile teams; and agile in business. I attended mostly, but not exclusively, the latter.

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Papers and referencing

I’ve been using the Mac version of a program called Papers2 (also available on Windows). I am slowly getting converted to the program, if you are looking for a better way to organise your academic reading I recommend you give it a try (you can download a trial version for 30 days). Here are some initial notes and tips:

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Future of the UK automobile industry?

I am rarely this timely with my blog posts but was alerted to this announcement by my colleague Andrew Graves:

The government and automotive industry are investing £500 million each over the next ten years in an Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) to research, develop and commercialise the technologies for the vehicles of the future.

via Billion pound commitment to power UK auto sector to the future – Press releases – Inside Government – GOV.UK.

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Christensen #3 – Building a Theory

In perhaps the most interesting (and certainly the most novel) lecture, Clay gave a meta-explanation of the Innovator’s Dilemma, using it to illustrate the process of building a theory.

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Christensen #2 – Disruptive Innovation and the Panda’s Thumb

Much of this lecture came from ‘The Innovator’s Solution‘ – a well judged (and marketed) follow up to Christensen’s seminal ‘Innovator’s Dilemma‘ book. The phrase Panda’s Thumb, btw, comes from Stephen Jay Gould, a brilliant evolutionary biologist who used the term to describe evolutionary hangovers (the appendix?) which cease to have a useful function.

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Christensen #1 – Disruptive Innovation and the economy

After recapping the theory of disruptive innovation, Clay turned his attention to the macroeconomic implications of this theory. Incidentally, if you haven’t heard the famous steel mill example, its a cracking good yarn (the better for being true). You can catch the whole lecture here:

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