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That Fantastic Agile Transformation Experience

Scott M. Graffius Author Interview

Scott M. Graffius Author Interview

Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions tackles project management in an approachable way that I found to be highly enlightening. How has your experience in project management helped you write this book?

I am thankful for all of the disruptors, innovators, and visionaries who contributed to the colorful heritage of agile and Scrum. In particular, I thank Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. Scrum was modeled after their groundbreaking paper, “The New New Product Development Game,” published in the Harvard Business Review in 1986. My book was informed by their article and 115 additional sources—listed in the bibliography—along with my first-hand experience launching Scrum in organizations.

I’m the Founder and CEO of Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions, an Inc. Verified Business, which helps our clients achieve their business needs through world-class project leadership. I had the privilege to work with a client in a division of a global entertainment business on their successful journey for improved responsiveness to changing business needs, faster delivery speed, higher satisfaction, and continuous improvement—which made them even more competitive and fueled their growth. That fantastic agile transformation experience and result was the inspiration for my book. I thank that client.

I also helped diverse organizations achieve their business needs through project management related services prior to Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions. I’m a former vice president of a provider of diverse consumer products and services over the Internet including social networking and internet access. Before that, I worked in organizations with businesses ranging from advanced technology products and services to business services, retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, and entertainment. I have experience with consumer, business, reseller, government, and international customer markets, as well as international experience spanning 20 countries.

In addition to hands-on experience, a deep understanding of project management (project, program, portfolio, and PMO management—inclusive of agile, traditional, and hybrid frameworks), engagements with professional associations, involvement with global standards, knowledge of leading practices, and professional credentials also shaped what and how information was presented in the book. Some examples follow. I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a focus in Human Factors. I hold six certifications: Certified Scrum Professional (CSP), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Project Management Professional (PMP), IT Service Management Foundation (ITIL), and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (LSSGB). And I’m proud to be a member of the Scrum Alliance, Project Management Institute (PMI), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), IEEE Computer Society, IEEE Consumer Electronics Society, IEEE Broadcast Technology Society, IEEE Internet of Things Community, and the IEEE Consultants Network.

I owe a tremendous debt to the technical editors: Chris Hare and Colin Giffen. Each offered insights that greatly improved Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions. I thank them for helping to make this book more clear, consistent, and valuable.

Agile Scrum is often used in technology projects, but do you think Agile Scrum can have a wider application?

Shifting customer needs are common in today’s marketplace. Businesses must be adaptive and responsive to change while delivering an exceptional customer experience to be competitive. Traditional development and delivery frameworks are often ineffective. In contrast, Scrum is a value-driven agile approach which incorporates adjustments based on regular and repeated customer and stakeholder feedback. And Scrum’s built-in rapid response to change leads to substantial benefits such as fast time-to-market, higher satisfaction, and continuous improvement—which supports innovation and drives competitive advantage.

Agile and Scrum were once the sole domain of software development. However, the benefits and results have not gone unnoticed by others. Practices are being adopted by additional departments and industries. The State of Scrum Report: 2017 Edition revealed that 21% of Scrum projects are run by departments outside of Technology such as Marketing, Finance, and Sales. And a New York Timesarticle in 2016—”The New Workplace is Agile, and Nonstop. Can You Keep Up?”—noted agile’s use in diverse industries. Examples ranged from a museum in Sydney, Australia, to an automobile dealership in Maine. Agile/Scrum is being used broadly.

What is one common misconception you find people have about the Agile Scrum methodology?

There are different frameworks supporting the development and delivery of products and services, and most methodologies fall into one of two broad categories: traditional or agile. Traditional practices (sometimes called waterfall) engage sequential development, while agile involves iterative and incremental deliverables. Organizations are increasingly embracing Scrum—the most popular agile framework—to manage projects, and best meet their business needs of rapid response to change, fast delivery speed, and more.

There’s a widely-held view that agile is new. But agile was used decades before it became well-known. A few examples follow. Software was developed in half-day iterations in 1958 for Project Mercury, the United States’ first human spaceflight program. Harlan Mills of IBM promoted in 1968 that “software development should be done incrementally, in stages with continuous user participation and replanning.” In 1980, Tom Gilb introduced the Evolutionary Delivery Model, an incremental alternative to traditional development.

While agile (which includes Scrum) is not new, many innovators and visionaries have advanced principles and practices over time. For those who would like to learn more, there’s a one-minute video—”Agile Has a Long and Colorful Heritage”—at https://vimeo.com/259429846.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have two works in the pipeline. Currently, however, there is no detail on content or publication dates for future books.

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Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions by [Graffius, Scott M.]Deliver Products in Short Cycles with Rapid Adaptation to Change, Fast Time-to-Market, and Continuous Improvement―Which Supports Innovation and Drives Competitive Advantage

Shifting customer needs are common in today’s marketplace. Businesses must be adaptive and responsive to change while delivering an exceptional customer experience to be competitive. 

There are a variety of frameworks supporting the development of products and services, and most methodologies fall into one of two broad categories: traditional or agile. Traditional practices such as waterfall engage sequential development, while agile involves iterative and incremental deliverables. Organizations are increasingly embracing agile to manage projects, and best meet their business needs of rapid response to change, fast delivery speed, and more.

Agile Scrum is for those interested or involved in innovation, project management, product development, software development or technology management. It’s for those who have not yet used Scrum. It’s also for people already using Scrum, in roles such as Product Owners, Scrum Masters, Development Team members (business analysts, solution and system architects, designers, developers, testers, etc.), customers, end users, agile coaches, executives, managers, and other stakeholders. For those already using Scrum, this guide can serve as a reference on practices for consideration and potential adaptation. 

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We Have Known Some Wild People

Roxanne Burkey & Charles Breakfield Author Interview

Roxanne Burkey & Charles Breakfield Author Interview

In The Enigma Rising R Group is hired to find a missing heiress. They must learn to work together to uncover intelligence in the underworld of cyber crime as they confront drug traffickers turned money launderers. This is a thrilling setup to a suspenseful novel. What was your inspiration for the setup to this book?

It’s not hard to be inspired when you have lived and loved throughout your life. We are fortunate to have a venue to crystallize those moments, with those people who have rotated through our lives, and make it a compelling story. We have known some wild people.

I found the novel to be a clever thriller story. How did you balance quick action with intelligent story telling to give the book a quick tempo?

Practice! We want to be known as great story tellers and so you must be able to “wordsmith” not only the dialog and the characters but the story line itself. We spent a lot of time polishing the dialog, the story, and the characters to get the proper flavor for our goal of a good techno-thriller. Our beta readers and editor helped challenge us to make a better product at every opportunity.

Again, there is a host of intriguing characters in this novel. What was your favorite character to write for this time around?

We really got into our “bad boy” characters Juan and Carlos. These are the Bad Boys, mom’s warn their daughters about. And as the phrase goes “their characters grew legs and took off”.

How do you see the Enigma series evolving in the future?

Actually we have built a character universe of over 150 characters for use throughout the series. By the time the reader hits the 9th book (just getting ready to release) you will be able to answer that question for yourself. But as a comment to be a teaser, readers can expect the series to have different theme’s per book that include, identity theft and dark net (#1), high tech battlefield communications using nano-technology & Drones (#3), a virulent Ghost Code launched by two nefarious types code named Mephisto and Callisto (#4), predicting the future using supercomputers linked together (#5), genetic engineering of humans to live 1,000 years (#6), gamification and smart cities being held hostage (first CATS book) (#7), world commodity manipulations to crush corporations and countries (#8), and a team of analog information mules that drive shady corporate profits across the Dark Net (2nd CATS books (#9). We don’t think you’ll be disappointed in these grown up stories.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The R-Group is the single most advanced information-gathering organization on the planet, providing services to the intelligence community on a contract basis. Their cutting-edge application of technology keeps their ability to gather, analyze, and use information well ahead of most major governments.

Carlos and Juan are entrepreneurs, although even the most generous observer would question the legality of their business model. The two brothers have discovered a way to covertly access satellite communications. Mostly, they’re putting their skills to work relocating drug lords targeted by the authorities, along with their cash, gold, artwork, and other assets—for a modest fee, of course.

When a valued private client hires the R-Group to track down a missing heiress, chance circumstance brings the technology leaders into contact with Carlos and Juan’s fly-by-night operation. The two brothers have skills the R-Group can use, so they offer them a chance to go legit. Presuming, of course, the brothers can rein in their contempt for societal rules.

A sequel to Breakfield and Burkey’s The Enigma Factor, The Enigma Rising continues their exploration of the high-stakes and high-tech world of information brokering as an engaging thriller of lost and found, loving and growing, and despicable greed.

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The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies

The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies

Upon entering the book, The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies, the reader is immediately greeted with an acceptance letter. Wolfgang Edwards uses this as a sort of introductory to foreshadow what is to come: you are literally stepping out of our own reality and into this new one and this letter serves to summarize that. What follows is the collections and stories of various students and characters who attend this university. Set in a fictional, sometimes bizarre, universe, Edwards explores various facets of the supernatural, blending fantasy with characters who have very human traits.

I think an interesting way to categorize this book is like taking Harry Potter to the next level. You sort of get that feel because of the setting that it’s in. It’s not magic per say, but exploring otherworldly things, some of which I was unfamiliar with before learning about it. So that’s really the closest way to describe it, although it goes far beyond that. I learned a lot because certain things piqued my interest which I honestly have never heard about before. The book is intriguing and I became more interested the more I read. One such example was a chapter titled ‘The Oneironaut’ which is based off a concept called oneironautics. I learned that this is the concept of lucid dreaming, or being able to control your dream, whether it is trying to wake up from a dream or make something happen within the dream.

The actual story is divided up into a number of different perspectives from each character. Some had more relatable stories and more developed characters than others; some were truly fantastic. It reads like a dark adventure of disconnected people that the author is able to draw together for a bigger purpose – much bigger, and much more dangerous. Throughout the various chapters, we learn of different schools within the University, from which the different characters attend. There’s the School of Coin, School of Metallurgy, School of Engineering, etc. Each school is headed by a dean; and one sticks out in particular. Dean Merkea – an unpleasant man with an ugly, tattered demon dog who even urinates on a character’s shoe at one point. My favorite chapter, Prisoner from Beyond, ties together Dean Merkea, a curator, and unravels the launch of a very unique exhibit at a museum.

Despite its setting, the author manages to piece together a few solid pieces of insight every so often that can be just as intriguing as the story. One such example was of Arakatzeko, a character who can be related to someone like Socrates today: deceased, but full of wisdom. As Araktzeko is studied, we learn alongside the characters: “the true rulers of the royal palace were the cats, who were said to live through every change in royal families without incident”. Such tangible reliefs are welcome and help humanize an otherwise crazy setting.

As the book progresses, you get a feeling it’s heading towards something – just not sure what. The unique stories of each of the characters has surely got something for everybody, admittedly some more than others. It is guaranteed to stay fresh and new until the very end, which may leave you wishing that the author could’ve just kept going.

Pages: 720 | ASIN: B01MUAKPM3

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An Equally Ferocious Misery

Clayton Graham Author Interview

Clayton Graham Author Interview

Milijun follows Laura and her son Jason as they witness aliens arriving on Earth which begins a strange trial involving the impregnation of human females with hybrid embryos and exploration of spiritual compatibility with the aliens. This is definitely one of the more original plots I’ve read all year. Where did this idea originate and how did it grow into a novel?

Milijun actually started as a short story. The birth of the alien RNasia occurred in the short story, and when they decided to wing their way to Earth I knew it could not end there. They seemed to want their universal journey to be worth something; they wanted their mission fulfilled. So I decided to oblige them. I trust the book is about more than an alien incursion into the Australian outback. The story challenges the reader to contemplate our place in the universe, or multiverses (as we are now led to believe may be a possibility). I wanted Milijun to explore how humanity would react when faced with an intelligence it cannot understand? It’s a good question, for it may happen someday. We are not currently prepared, of course, we are light years away from understanding how we should behave in such a circumstance. Milijun challenges our mindsets through the eyes of a mother and son, and as such is perhaps more powerful and meaningful than if that challenge was through the eyes of the United Nations or the President of the United States. The spirituality aspect is critical to the story. I have always been interested in the links between science, religion and the spirit and believe one day they will come together. Currently on our planet there appears to be a tremendous amount of high level investigative energy devoted to studies into the afterlife; how it relates to our known universe, what it is and where it can possibly be. In the end, Milijun probably asks more questions than it answers. But it does raise the questions. We cannot relax on Earth forever, ignorant of our cosmic surroundings, idling our time away, creating a mirage of prosperity, which appears to create an equally ferocious misery.

I felt that the relationship between Laura and Jason was deep. What was your inspiration for their mother-son relationship?

The novel certainly explores the relationship between a mother and son. How far can it be stretched before the links break? How far would a mother go to save her son? Would she be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, or undertake actions she would never have deemed possible prior to the alien incursion? I lost my own mother shortly after the Second World War. Thus, I grew into the teenage years under the guidance of my grandmother. Thinking back, they were more inspirational than they appeared to be at the time. Laura and Jason, I feel, have the connection which most mothers and sons would want – full of love, strong and unbreakable. If only all relationships, human and international, were like that!

Have you always been fascinated with alien invasion stories? When did your interest in it begin?

It’s our connection with the rest of the universe which fascinates me. Science Fiction has been with me since I was a teenager, escaping to new worlds in the back streets of Stockport, England, where I grew up as a child. Halcyon days, when education and school milk were free, and summers were real summers. We didn’t have much, but we had enough. I have always had an interest in Science Fiction and where it places humankind within the universe we know and love. I treasured the ‘old school’ science fiction written by authors such as HG Wells, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov and John Wyndham – well before many were made into films.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

I am working on ‘Saving Paludis’ at the moment, which is set in the year 3898 AD, some one hundred and forty light years from Earth. It explores the links between an alien culture and mankind, interplanetary economics, military force and power. It also asks the question: what happens when a culture concentrates on a single purpose-driven technology over a period of hundreds of years? Paludis is a far-flung world on the edge of Earth’s universal exploration. When the bottom drops out of the bauxite market, desperation is seeded as the planet begins to suffer. However, the discovery of a new technology that can dramatically change the way humans explore the universe looks like it will save the day. The mother planet, however, does not see it that way, especially when several savage attacks on Earth appear to emanate from Paludis. Inevitable conflict results, and it is only the combined efforts of a group of renegade humans and their alien allies which can ensure the survival of Paludis. They have to battle Paludis cultists, who wish to use the new technology for their own bizarre ends, the Paludis establishment and the earth military using their own unique brand of wits, strengths and intellect. Only perseverance, faith and bravado will win the day amongst the verdant marshes and snowy mountains of Paludis. But can they overcome the military might of the mother planet? Availability should be in the first half of 2017.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

MilijunIt is Australia in 2179. On a moonlit Nullarbor night, Laura Sinclair and son, Jason, witness aliens descend to Earth. The extraterrestrials endeavour to form a symbiotic relationship with humankind, and Jason is chosen as a genetic link in a bizarre trial involving the impregnation of human females with hybrid embryos and exploration of spiritual compatibility. Laura crosses swords with Major General Sebastian Ord from the Australian Defence Force, Eucla and Uriel, the enigmatic head of Milijun, a reclusive research facility in the outback. Following a disastrous armed attempt to capture aliens at Cocklebiddy Cave and a fierce confrontation at Eucla, Jason is abducted by an alien swarm. What follows tests the resolve of Laura to the core. Caught in a relentless web of frightening new technologies and alien mystery, spurred by the undying love of her son, she gains a strength of character she never thought possible. All she has to do is save herself, Jason and several women and unborn children from the scheming plans of man and alien alike …

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