Empowered Developers: Strength to Your User Persona!

Copyright Fusion Alliance

Agile principles put the power of quality and the definition of ‘enough’ in the hands of developers. Yes, the Product Owner and Stakeholders get final say, but the best way to optimize your developers’ strength is to give them the power to make decisions about how to best fulfill a User Story. The Agile principle is clear: “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.”

My interpretation of this principle is that empowering a team allows them to create beyond your expectations. One oft-overlooked empowerment tool is the User Persona. Here is an example developed by our User Experience team:



Asking A Consultant For AGILE – Check Yourself For Success

When asking a consultant if they can run a project with Agile there are assumptions on both sides that will make or break satisfaction. In my experience, these factors have the most impact when entering into an agile consultant partnership on a project.


If so, make sure you discuss your methodology completely with the consultant, including which roles you expect them to fill. Agile methodologies vary widely, even those that fall under scrum.

If not, reconsider making a consulting project your first agile experience. The tools, vernacular and—more importantly—measures of success that you are accustomed to will likely be quite different. Don’t undervalue the debt of taking on a new methodology along with on-boarding a consultant.

DO YOU NEED AN AGILE COACH? Continue reading

User Stories? I Have No Users!

Innovation teams are often small, multifunctional crews tasked with constant prototyping.  Being open, communicative types, they find Agile useful for most projects.  Those teams often encounter a common prototyping pain point: Who writes user stories when we don’t have any users?  Agile hangs its hat on its ability to respond quickly to user feedback, to create user stories from that feedback, and to release features and content that address what users are demanding at that time.  When you are prototyping, however, you don’t usually have users and the traditional user story:

As a (user type/persona), I want to (insert desired action) so I can (insert revolutionary motivation here).

Without users to provide feedback, and without a product for anyone to provide feedback on, how do you address the issue of User Stories? Continue reading

Huboard: A Kanban Board For GitHub

Agile development teams using GitHub repositories usually have work in two places, as issues or defects in their github repositories and as user stories and epics in their agile work management tool. Often a plugin or bridge is used to make the work flow from the business view to the Github repository. Although this satisfies most compliance requirements and allows the development team to work where they are comfortable, it doesn’t provide the UNIFIED information radiator that promotes a common conversation among all members of the team, including the stakeholders. If you are using a physical Kanban board and other physical radiators you may not encounter this problem. For distributed agile teams, however, I’ve found it to be a common one.


I recently explored an application that displays GitHub issues and defects, as well as pull requests, from your repositories in Kanban work board format. In this post we will refer to aKanban Board, NOT the Kanban methodology. A Kanban Board is just an information radiator that shows where the work is in the development cycle. The Heroku application,Huboard,  has pros and cons for an agile project team, but overall can provide a lightweight, easily adopted solution to managing a sprint backlog for a distributed team.

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Social Media Governance in Regulated Industries – Part 4 – Local Processes

Many social media projects face the trailblazers conundrum. None of their company’s policies or procedures was written with social media or community networking in mind.  Best practices are rare and guidance from corporate governance is nearly nonexistent.  You face the added challenge of being the experiment while trying to be responsible, successful, and accountable.  You will never be able to mitigate all the risk and uncertainty from that situation.  What you can do is be proactive and address what you need to be successful and accountable.  Local processes that are the “right thing to do” and vetted by the team using them are ideal for this purpose.

Aside from documenting your process according to the guidelines in the previous post, our experience with local processes is very simple and can be boiled down to a few rules.


The first question you should ask is: Do I need this procedure to “do the right thing” and to show others in the company that we are “doing the right thing?” Generally, if it fills an un-addressed gap in global procedure, mitigates a risk identified at the Project Charter stage, or provides a wrapper for ongoing inventories of exceptions or content, it is worth it. If you are reasonably covered by existing work practices and corporate compliance requirements then think hard about adding another layer of complexity to what you maintain.  Can you be accountable and transparent with what you already have?  The exposure of social media provides much of the transparency on its own. Continue reading

Social Media Governance in Regulated Industries – Part 3 – Documentation

And now on to the most exciting, stimulating topic in regulated industries: documentation! I kid, I kid. Regulated Industries know the value and the burden of documentation. It may seem an inherent contradiction that you’re reading a blog titled ‘Project Agility’ and we’re discussing documentation, but it isn’t, I assure you. Agile is not messy and it is not wasteful. It is enough process/documentation/direction to be valuable and lets the work speak for the rest. ‘Enough’ is the key in regulated industries. If you have the privilege of blazing new trails with social media in your company, you also have a unique opportunity to work well within the guidelines of your regulated industry while also providing lean documentation.


Social Media Governance in Regulated Industries – Part 2 – The Right People

Last week I introduced a basic model for social media governance in regulated industries.  This week I want to get into the details and the framework I’ve seen work and work well, starting with the people who will bring the guidance, wisdom, and authorization you need to both start and support a social media project. This post focuses on the people and roles that make up a solid governance model.

First and always most critical are the people who make up your internal support network.  Departments represent corporate goals and fulfill corporate needs.  Individuals can also understand and invest in your vision.  Selecting and on-boarding the right people to your governance team is crucial.  The model and roles may vary, but here is the general construct.


Your executive sponsor should have the authority to give approval for your individual social initiatives.  This person should fit well into your company’s authorization hierarchy.  In addition to signing authority, your executive sponsor should be on board with your vision, and possibly contribute to it himself or herself.  Lastly, the executive sponsor should have a strong internal network and understand the nature of your projects well enough to recommend other internal contacts to fill some of the remaining roles of the governance model.  This role is accountable for the results of your project even if they aren’t involved in the day-to-day decisions of how to execute. Continue reading

Social Media Governance in Regulated Industries – Part 1

Digital presence isn’t always enough.  In a market flooded with browsing material, customers are gravitating to social media as a more personal, relevant experience with the brands they use.  This migration puts pressure on our clients in regulated industries to engage their customers in unprecedented and uncomfortable spaces.

In addition to the squirming virtually every business does at the thought of public negative feedback, two-way social conversations unleash a host of privacy and compliance concerns within regulated industries.  Here are some of those very real and right concerns:

  • Do we have the internal constructs and precedent to allow us to do this?
  • How do we manage the challenge of user privacy?
  • What if someone reports a product complaint in a social space?
  • How do we staff the effort?
  • How do we listen?

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