Professional Community 

The Amplio Community of Practice

What is the Amplio Community of Practice?

The shift from Waterfall to Agile was only half the path. Letting go of the predictability of what the product will look like and using preset dates was good. But letting go of the idea that there was a model of understanding available to predictably create success was not.

The most popular Agile methods have not significantly changed since their adoption. The biggest shift is in them being adopted in a wider variety of places – not all of which suit the frameworks.

Many essential concepts are missing, even though well known.

The limitations put on our thinking process by reliance on empiricism only, “inspect and adapt,” and “fail fast” is crippling most adoptions. This free community is intended to provide insights to people to break free of this. 

This community is a place for guided self-study. It will present both new insights to introduce you to important concepts as well as provide core understanding of essential insights.

 It is led by Al Shalloway, but is a place for community learning and expansion of how to get our work done.

Upcoming Presentation

Next session: January 3, 2024

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About the ACoP, A Note From Al Shalloway

I’ve been in what’s now called “Agile” for well over 2 decades.

It was exciting at the start – the promise of high-quality products, empowered teams, effective working conditions, and solving the problems facing most corporations. Unfortunately, 2+ decades after the Manifesto for Agile Software Development we seem to be closer to waterfall than what our vision was.

I believe that we have lost our way by taking a path of certifications in frameworks instead of looking at what is truly going on. Since 2006 I have been analyzing what works and what doesn’t.  What I have found in the success over this time that is mostly missing in the current Agile space is an understanding of first principles. Instead, most rely on empiricism only.

Kant suggests that “experience without theory is blind.”

Deming points out that knowledge is acquired as one makes a rational prediction based on theory, then revises the theory based on comparison of prediction with observation. Knowledge is reflected in the theory. Without theory, there is nothing to revise, i.e., there can be no new knowledge and no learning.

The current state of affairs has more to do with churning out and acquiring certifications. While not bad in themselves, but not what should be being focused on.

To counter this, I have created the Amplio Community of Practice to provide a guided learning journey. The ACoP will guide a person in most any role to greater understanding and expertise. The learning journey is guided by me. I will provide weekly assignments.

Recordings from past sessions are also available for you to peruse, depending upon your interest.

We meet every other Wednesday at 8 am Pacific. These sessions will mostly be presentations. Recordings of sessions are available to members and organized in a manner to assist learning. A community discussion board is available to answer questions. 

My promise to you is that if you join and put in 2-3 hours a week, you will learn extremely valuable concepts that are not widely known in the Agile space.

If you are a Scrum Master looking for experience you will find that this learning journey can leapfrog you ahead of more experienced Scrum Masters who do not have the deep understanding that a scientific approach can provide. 

What Others Are Saying

The Amplio Community of Practice(ACoP), is a stellar opportunity to guide you in your understanding of how to tap your existing knowledge of various Agile frameworks and methodologies to move you beyond the dogmatic practices to a place where you are able to choose the best options based on understanding First Principles and Constraints. It is an excellent introductory level to understanding how best to maximize your Agile knowledge to deliver value in your consultancy, coaching or business environment. Patrick Taiwo

Why a community is necessary

A note from Al Shalloway:

In “Unlimited Wealth”, Paul Pilzner posited that wealth equals physical resources multiplied by technology (including information) raised to the nth power where ‘n’ is the effects of technological advances. The industrial age brought great advancements because it greatly increased the technology available. But the industrial age is still one of a zero-sum game. A zero-sum game occurs when there is a transfer of wealth from one person to the other but the net wealth remains the same. For example, a person may buy a stereo from a store and the person now has a stereo and the store has some money but the net wealth of the two entities remains the same.

The information Age shuffled in yet another major wealth-creating potential. For the first time, we didn’t need to be enmeshed in a zero-sum game. Wealth can be multiplied in every transaction. If one company has information of value and provides it to another company, now both companies have the information. While the industrial age enables us to create wealth faster by leveraging human physical strength, the information age allows us to create wealth through sharing it. With artificial intelligence, information is now being created from information itself.

The potential now is advancing the state of technology. Fortunately, how to do this is already known. The question is not creating new methods but taking existing ones and enabling organizations to apply them.

I feel that the potential to change the world may just require making everyone wealthy by doing what we already know how to do.

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”Margaret Meade

Watch Past Presentations

Some recordings are only available for community members.

How the community works

Learn what few are learning

Myths in the Agile Space

There are many myths in the Agile space. These have resulted from the echo chambers each popular Agile approach promotes. Amplio looks across methods and pulls from all of them. It incorporates first principles by taking a scientific approach. Here are a few of the myths dispelled in this program.

  1. Myth: A simple system is a good thing. Reality: A simple, purposefully incomplete system is not as good as a system sufficient enough to not require rework that is easy to get what is needed.
    1. Simple systems leave out a great deal of what’s useful. Being purposefully incomplete means that people have to reinvent what’s already known by others.  This wastes everyone’s time.
    2. Simple systems require preordained practices. This means they are likely to be not fit-for-purpose for those adopting them since there are few universal practices.
    3. What’s needed is a more complete system that enables people to get what they need in a simple manner. This gives the illusion of being a simple system. As people’s needs change more of the system can be exposed.
    4. Simple systems often lock people into less than ideal practices until they just abandon them and work in an ad hoc manner.
  2. Myth: You need a simple system to create a simple start. A rich system can provide a simple start. Adopters can then expand on the system as they need to.
  3. Myth: That discovering what the product needs to be requires creating waste. The cost of this attitude has teams run “fail fast” experiments that with proper reflection could be avoided. If you use the customer journey and build in small increments you can navigate what’s needed without creating functionality that doesn’t provide value.
  4. Myth: That managers are an inherent problem. Managers often show up as a problem because few Agilists provide them a model of understanding. We must remember Eli Goldratt’s observation that “A comfort zone has less to do with control and more to do with knowledge.” The cost of this is that managers, who could be great proponents of better methods, show up as adversaries.
  5. Myth: It’s not just about getting better at what we do. It’s also about eliminating the waste we create. Most companies spend 80-90% of their time working on work that shouldn’t have been needed to be done in the first place. Waste of this type includes redoing requirements, working on the wrong requirements, and fixing bugs that shouldn’t have been written.
  6. Myth: Being based on empiricism without an underlying model is an effective approach. Kant suggests experience without theory is blind. Deming points out that knowledge is acquired as one makes a rational prediction based on theory, then revises the theory based on comparison of prediction with observation. Knowledge is reflected in the theory. Without theory, there is nothing to revise, i.e., there can be no new knowledge, no learning. The cost of this is incredibly slow learning and teams working with poor practices.
  7. Myth: A bottom up approach by combining teams together is an effective strategy. The key to creating value is to take an holistic point of view. This requires looking at the entire value stream. Christopher Alexander says you can’t build effective systems by taking the parts and combining them. The cost of this is a high coordination effort. This slows things down which often results in executives pushing work on teams which makes things even worse.
  8. Myth: Definition of Ready is a bad thing. Most companies are working on too many things. Some of these things were started before they were ready. This could be because they do not have sufficient clarity on the value they are to achieve or because not all of the capabilities needed are available as needed. A definition of ready doesn’t need to be a phase gate. It should be a way to start work at the appropriate time. Without this work loads increase and a significant amount of work gets stalled – increasing waste.

Essential concepts mostly missing in popular frameworks

Frameworks create an echo chamber that results in good ideas from other places not being incorporated into them. Here are a few key concepts and practices that are missing from popular frameworks.s 

  1. Attend to stakeholders’ objectives – not clearly specified. (waste if get the wrong stakeholders – and waste if get unclear objectives)
  2. Generic value stream – enables you to do a value stream analysis in hours instead of days. This can be the basis for creating an improvement backlog.
  3. A few key, universal practices
    1. How will I know I’ve done that (when given a requirement)
    2. Do fill-kitting
  4. MVPs (a la Eric Ries) and Minimum Business Increments
  5. Using MVPs as Eric Ries suggests
  6. How to work with people who don’t seem to get it.
  7. The Analysis Matrix – doing analysis in high variability domains.
  8. Attending to the Customer Journey
  9. UX: Customer vs from the system perspective
  10. Effective shared services
  11. Amplio Team Estimation. This board has links to a chapter on this and a video.
  12. How to do a Pareto-style mapping of value streams to get a quick understanding of the improvements we need(10:30). This is a technique to separate what must be done from what would be good to be done. It enables focusing on the first step in creating a product.

 These are a few of the topics covered over the course of the Learning Journey 

Create this as a template to see if people have these problems. Explain why you’d want to counter this.

A note from Al Shalloway

In 1999 I formed Net Objectives with the mantra “Effective Software Development Without Suffering.” I later changed that to “Effective Software Development With Joy.” As I have grown older I’m becoming clear about my mission on the Earth plane. It’s about helping people achieve success via an engineering approach that leads to joy. People often mistake my mission as to be promoting what I am doing at the time, be it design patterns, XP, Scrum, Lean, Kanban, SAFe, or now Amplio. But these are all means to an end – helping people do better in their working environment.

The key words here are “success”, “engineering”, and “joy.” Joy is the goal, success is the target, and engineering is the approach. People often equate engineering building overpasses, but it is much more involved than that. I like Albert Einstein’s observation that “Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers create that which has never been.”

Billy Koen gives a great definition of engineering in Discussion of the Method: Conducting the Engineer’s Approach to Problem Solving –  “The‌ ‌engineering‌ ‌method‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌strategy‌ ‌for‌ ‌causing‌ ‌the‌ ‌best‌ ‌change‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌poorly‌ ‌understood‌ ‌situation‌ ‌within‌ ‌the‌ ‌available‌ ‌resources.”

I study what works and what doesn’t. I change my model based on the reality of what I’ve seen. I recognize that my methods are incomplete in that everything I’m aware of can be improved and I am not aware of all I should be. But this incompleteness and lack of perfection are no reason to not take advantage of what we do know.

My intention is to convert learning from what is often a painful experience of realizing you’ve been doing something wrong to the joyful experience of discovering a better way.

The purpose of the Amplio Community of Practice is to create a community that wants to join me on this journey.