What’s on Your Radar?

Reading time ~ 2 minutes

This is a great tool that I first saw used by Thoughtworks for showing changes in technology trends over time…  http://www.thoughtworks.com/radar/ (I don’t know who invented it). The TW example is very busy – there’s a mountain of new & changing technology trends out there!

But. This is a fantastic simple tool for tracking changes in your own domain or environment. And it doesn’t have to just be technology, this could be customers, prospects, types of work, focus areas, anything.

Here’s a sample I’ve put together for agile coaching . The Arrows show a change in focus since the last review (typically quarterly).  This is deliberately not an exhaustive sample but gives an idea of the what you can achieve.  It’s a great clarifying tool for both your coaching teams and your stakeholders.

Detail on the numbered items in this example:

1: TDD – Introduce, train & coach TDD practices. Ensure teams have the tools available to do so and the space in their schedules to do a decent job. Performance will turn the corner after an initial productivity dip so this needs a lot of care & attention.

2: Code Smells – Train teams on identifying code smells and when to act. We need to back this up with being polite & positive – perhaps some collaborative walk-throughs.

3: Refactoring – With TDD & Code smells, teach the “right” level of refactoring. There’s the natural refactoring needed during development and then there’s the open heart surgery of bad legacy code. We could refactor entire products and move nowhere (@see Netscape). Need to make sure this pragmatically taught.

4: Embedded coaching – with the major increase in XP and technical practices over scrum, we greater technical embedded coaching capacity.

5: No new code without tests – Make it socially unacceptable to check-in without tests unless there’s a real reason. (“It’s not testable” is usually an excuse, not a reason)

6: Shared code ownership – It might have been your baby once but it’s time for others to see how ugly it is and help you pretty it up. Nobody “owns” code any more, no matter how much of their creative heart & soul is invested.

7: Zero defects – We still have a crazy defect backlog. Let’s stop the bleeding this year and get it under control. Longer term we’re looking to get down to a stable level of entitlement.

8: Feature Teams – we’re working as product delivery teams and communities of practice right now which is ok but we need to get to a point where we can deliver fully working features through the product suite as a cohesive team without handovers.

9: Scrum – teams are all now using scrum as their overall operating framework, observing the “rituals” etc. We still need to watch & adjust but the main effort is over, this is now normal operation for the teams.

10: Agile Metrics – We’ve taught the teams and managers how to understand the new data they’re seeing, use it to their advantage, to make reasonable forecasts and highlight problems early. Again this will stay just over the horizon, it’s not going away but not something we plan to revisit for a while.

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