Addiction to Story Points on the Rise

A six-year, 100,000 team study conducted by the prestigious Institute of Engineered Software at Catawba-Melon Trade Technical College, concludes with alarming evidence that a growing number of teams are falling victim to paralysis through addiction to story points. The study shows that the addiction rate is growing as a function of an inverse contra-reversible power law. If this trend continues, the consequences to investors and users will be dire.

The Shallot suggests that concerned Coaches everywhere closely monitor their teams for the appearance of any of the following:

  • People cannot remember the integers between 5 and 8 or 8 and 13
  • Everyone brings Poker Cards to every meeting
  • The Math majors on your team have forgotten the real Fibonacci series
  • People cannot start un-estimated work or they fear doing so
  • People are obsessively counting points completed instead of real value delivered

If you find these symptoms, there is hope. As a first step, contact SPA (Story Points Anonymous) or simply take the entire team to a local meeting. The good people at SPA will help your team learn to reject empty rituals and replace them with helpful ideas like the value of building meaningful software products that actually satisfy clients.

If you are able to recognize your own victimization by this ugly addiction then this article is a waste of your time and we apologize. If instead, reading this piece caused some grey matter to activate, and you now see you have succumbed to the mindless dogma that pervades too many planning sessions (like those we attended while tirelessly researching this article) it is not too late.

Break free and start thinking again! It may hurt at first, but when your Free Will returns, you will thank us, and so will your users.

Complexity Saves Company

"It's a components-based solution that leverages a SOA architecture; with services built in Haskell, JavaScript, Java, and Cobalt consuming data from both traditional datastores, mash-ups, and NoSQL databases.  We us our own custom EJB framework for rendering the HTML to all media devices over WebSockets.  Oh, and all of our configuration is done in XML and beanshell, with our scripts in MIPS Assembly."

And the crowd roared!

That was how Arthur Schwarzbanger, CTO of, introduced their latest app.  Prior to the epic announcement, Mr. Schwarzbanger's company was in dire jeopardy of closing its doors.  The cornerstone, mission-critical, company defining application - that tells you what time it is -  has been delayed repeatedly because it was "not enterprise ready."  Rumors and leaks from unnamed sources suggested  the application was suffering due to the "Too Few Cooks in the Kitchen, Less Chiefs than Indians Syndrome (TFCKLCIS).

It was then that Mr. Schwarbanger had his epiphany.

"Our application was too simple.  Enterprises couldn't relate to it.  So we hired Gorrester and BMI technologies to do some extensive research into the time market and find out what we were missing.  They came back with a complete set of acronyms and buzzwords along with processes and methods to implment them.  We followed their recommendations with the due diligence of a lemming and were able to complete the project within the parameters established by the annual Chaos Report.

"We have enterprises beating down our door to adopt our latest release and pre-licensing  our next version - which will handle daylight savings time."

Version 2 of is scheduled to be released in Q1 2013 and will run in the whatTimeIsIt proprietary cloud solution based upon Loch Ness technologies.

Leanest Company Ever Disappears

After years of vigilant waste reduction, the World's leanest company spontaneously disappeared from the planet. The Shallot would like to report the name of the company, but just before they vanished, it was reduced to less than a single letter.

Striving for the shortest cycle time while hyper limiting work in progress appears to be the root cause of the success. Compounding this gain, the employees disappeared along with the company eliminating untold overhead like management, payroll systems, and support structures like email.

A major milestone en-route to total disappearance,was reached when the Lean Guru's realized that thinking was inherently wasteful.  "Imagine all the inventory you carry around in your head from years of education and experience and how seldom you, as a lean developer, use it,"  Max McLean said Maxine McLean.

Shortly before the company vanished, breathing was deemed to be wasteful and all air was removed from the building, replaced with a viscous substance to increase efficiency. "Just as fish use a single medium for breathing and transport, we wanted to emulate that efficiency," stated a spokesperson.  Many speculate that the lack of oxygen led to the loss of employees, but the Lean Black Belts are still betting that a Lean Principle was the root cause.

Along with breathing, eating adds massive wait times so it was eliminated. Employees lost insane amounts of weight, though many also lost their ability to work. We were told this was part of a new benefit package and removed even more waste.

Finally, rumors that a mist in the shape of Edward Deming now floats above the former location of their building took us on location to capture the image. Unfortunately, photos were not possible because the mist was simply too lean for our cameras. As a last ditch effort, we tried to communicate with the mist by flashing the 5 whys in Morse code.

Job Security Workshop

Just Announced - the Technology Job Security Workshop 2012 (TJSW) for DBMS and DA professionals will be held at the Ruby Reef Resort in Itbelongamick, Australia - the first week of January 2012.

"We thought it appropriate to hold this conference, supporting those unappreciated 'men behind the curtain,' in Oz (aka Australia), said a spokesperson for the conference.

The workshop aims to help DBMS and Data Management, "professionals, from the top companies in the world, learn the best tips and techniques to protect their six figure salaries and maximize the value of their certification. Developers will have an opportunity to learn several save-the-day techniques to improve perceived value. Executives will learn advanced techniques for grabbing credit while doing nothing.

"All technology professionals recognize the need to maintain or grow their footprint within an organization and how this requires constant vigilance and rapid appending of new buzzwords to one's resume. Increasing one's value-add is hard work until you reach the point of being the only one who knows some particular something. For those occupying the Olympian heights of corporate data officers (DBMS managers up to C-level data executives) this is a particularly vexing problem.  It is so difficult for them to communicate what value they offer," Johnny continued.

DBMS Managers, DBAs and DAs will be able to attend breakout sessions such as:

  • How to make ORM Vendor dependent.
  • Discounts for admins of vendor software. 
  • No and no! How to talk to developers
  • Why that 20 user app needs a cluster. 
  • Hard work, or perception thereof.  

"If the workshop is as successful as we believe, it will be held on a monthly basis.

Taiichi Ohno Tweets the 6th Why

After years of waiting Taiichi Ohno has finally released his long expected '6th Why.' 

For years, middle managers and senior managers alike have unknowingly used the wisdom of Mr. Ohno's first 3 Whys only to disregarded the results because they failed to understand them. Why 4 and Why 5 were discussed, not totally understood, and - until the last year - considered verboten in most western organizations.

Scholars have long believed that Taiichi had 'a little more to give' and was just holding out for more money or perhaps a Reebok sponsorship.

Luckily for civilization, Ohno post-humorously (though some might say quite hilariously) released his 6th and most profound Why last Tuesday.  In a time-released twitter statement, @leanDaddy62 tweeted unto the world: #Lean #LeanHipsters - 6th == ...Why

And with that, the 9th modern mystery was solved and #6thWhy became one of the leading twitter trends of the day.

As for how to apply this awesomely powerful why, there is no current consensus. 6thWhy certification is available from three major vendors and six competing standards organizations, plus one millionaire certification mogul.

National Archive of Dead Code Established

A plan to create a National Archive for Legacy and Outdated Computer Software (NALOCS) was announced in Washington today.

NALOCS, aka the Dead Code Archive or DCA, is the brain child of retired IBM software engineer Dr. Greg Stevens. When asked recently about how he came up with such a revolutionary idea Dr. Stevens stated "Honestly, the idea has been around for ages. There are places like SourceForge and GoogleCode that provide similar functionality for numerous open source projects.  I just took the Open Source model and adapted it to fit a more enterprise friendly setting."

Dead code is loosely defined in software as source code which is executed but the results are never used.  Dead code becomes very difficult to support and maintain because over time developers are hesitant to make changes to code even though they know it isn’t being used.

While the details for the plan are not finalized, it is expected that all companies with Federal or DOD contracts will have a mandate to use and reuse the DCA .  In this way a standard will be created and everyone else will join the DCA effort.  This will replicate the overwhelming success of other Federal and DOD standards like Ada.

Dr. Stevens explains,  "a company will be able to submit any dead code that has been in production for three or more years. As part of the submission process they will need to provide audit trails proving that the code is in fact dead, and that there haven’t been any changes to the code for at least one year prior to submission date."

The DCA will use IBM’s Clearcase as the storage component. As part of his interview, Dr. Stevens said, “Since we want to lock off the code and prevent people from making accidental changes we need a source control system that makes it very difficult to actually change the code. Using Clearcase as the underlying source control system is a no brainer here; it will even create jobs because it requires a team to support it.” Once opened, the DCA will, potentially, save companies millions of dollars in maintenance and staff costs.

However not everyone agrees that such an archive will be helpful to businesses and the economy in the long term. Some industry analysts think that the adoption of the DCA will reduce development staff by 20-30%. Such a large layoff could further damage the country’s economy. When asked about the plans, an industry expert who wished to remain anonymous exclaimed, "This is a completely stupid idea. These companies are just looking for ways to get rid of valuable employees. I mean seriously, all companies have dead code it's just one of those facts of life. Development is hard and leads to really complex code and now it sounds like they don't want to pay their developers to support the code." 

Smelly Coder Sues for Emotional Damage

A Californian man, Sam Carax, is suing his employer for emotional distress, claiming ruthless critiques have caused severe stress and depression impairing his ability to perform his job and creating a hostile work environment. 

Carax has been in charge of development of proprietary software at Bobby Brothers Inc for the past 25 years. With the recent death of Jimmy Bobby, his son Ricky has stepped up hoping to bring a fresh perspective to the business. Ricky once attended an Agile seminar.

"It all started with the first code review session chaired by Ricky," a tearful Sam related, "at some point in the meeting he pointed to some code and blatantly said, 'this smells.'  I looked where his finger was pointing and saw that it was a procedure that I had written."

Mr. Carax was surprised, as Ricky's father, the revered Mr. Jimmy Bobby, had never resorted to ad hominen remarks in the previous twenty-five years.  "At first I tried to take this as constructive criticism," Mr. Carax related, "making sure I did not set my extra-garlic gyro on the code printouts, washing my hands after any encounter with Zelda in accounting.  I even resorted to spraying Febrezetm on my printouts just before meetings."

None of this was any good.  "Ricky started saying that more and more things smelled, especially my code."

It is reported that Mr. Bobby used the 'S' word frequently and for many things that apparently earned his displeasure.  "But," stated Mr. Carax, "he used it about my code more than anything.  I began dreading going to work, convinced that within moments of arriving I would be told my code smelled.  It became impossible not to take it personal - to start believing that I smelled, smelled so bad that it infected every line of code I typed (even if I wore those little plastic gloves, like surgeons do)."

"It finally became clear that Ricky was creating a hostile workplace.  Attempting to defend himself, Ricky Bobby claimed that 'smell was just a metaphor' and it was not even his.  Someone named Grandma Beck was to blame. When it was pointed out that Grandma Beck was referring to diapers and a smell that was in no way metaphorical, Mr. Bobby was dumbfounded.

Certified Scrum Deity Announced

Finally, the Certified Scrum Deity (CSD) is now available!

We were unable to speak directly with the creator who was said to be either extremely busy or resting. We were able to learn that direct friends of the creator will be exempt from any coursework and instantly god-fathered in as CSDs. All others will be asked to offer up their soul as partial payment for the certification, the rest of the payment must be in unmarked bills.

CSDs will be asked to step completely away from any real work as part of their rite-of-passage from secular mortal to Scrum god.  The transition itself is arduous - aspiring CSDs will be required to read one short book and will have to endure at least two full days of the painfully obvious.

We are told that a newly anointed CSD will be so enlightened that his or her message will not be understood by the average Scrummer. There is talk of a Certified Scrum Translator to overcome this potential problem, but since the CST acronym is already widely used (at least in Denver), progress has slowed.

Further investigation exposed that those who have learned the secret rituals of the CSD process have mysteriously vanished. Unconfirmed rumors say they were captured by bald men in black shirts or that they have been teleported to Scrum-halla.  We do know the course instills a CSD with the attributes of omnipresence and omniscience.  The CSD therefore instantly knows what every team needs and should do; even if they cannot communicate that knowledge.  Teams ignore the CSD at their own peril - excommunication from the Alliance - becoming lost souls floating in the realm of software purgatory - is a known outcome of CSD ignorance.