Monday, November 10, 2014

What is the most important thing for your agile team?

I've been coaching agile teams for years now.  I must say that no matter how you put it down on paper.  No matter how many talks you hear.  It comes down to this set of little criteria to make a basic scrum team successful.

1.  Can a cross-functional team be formed?  That means...
  • They can do all of the work needed to take a feature to production
  • They don't work on other teams
  • They have the decision of how work to take on in a given time frame
  • They know what it means to be done

2.  Can the team be fed a solid, groomed set of small increments of user stories or use cases?  That means...
  • The team can finish each story in 2-5 days - soup to nuts
  • The user stories (or whatever else you have) has a beginning and an end and someone willing to negotiate (partner) on the middle part
  • The team needs to commit to how much of the work can be done in a given time frame
  • The INVEST model can be mostly applied
If you can't do these things then don't bother.  If you can, go rock it.  If you need help keeping teams together or forming backlogs... get help from an experienced coach.  I didn't my first time.  I failed my first time.  I didn't my second time.  I failed my second time.  I succeeded after a lot of unnecessary pain.  I hope this helps someone avoid that same pain.

Most of my early days was spent trying to figure out how to keep management from stealing my scrum team members.  The stealing would come in a variety of ways, from project managers to C-Level execs.  Today, that's what I enjoy helping others with... setting up resilient systems that value keeping teams protected and together.  Teams that identify team composition change as a risk and are thoughtful about the changes.   That's how I look at number 1 and 2... risk.  I know that agile fails when I don't have cross-functional teams and a backlog so therefore they are risk that I need to attack early and often.

What else do you see helping scrum teams succeed?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Countdown Timer Tip

If you are like me you use time boxes a fair amount.

I usually find myself looking up timers or using my iPhone to do a countdown. I like the pomodoro technique for my personal management, but I am not that diligent so I will backtrack to more rudimentary methods.  The other day I was again looking over the internets searching for the big online stopwatch that I make use of on so many projectors.

The online stopwatch has suited my needs nicely over the years.  But this time... I came across a new timer, at least for me, in the google "countdown timer".  Just search for countdown timer and it will pop up.  You can maximize it as well.

Very cool Google! 


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Trends for agile methods

I worked up this heat map of regional interest in scrum and then moved to a comparison between kanban, xp, lean startup and agile in general.  

Here's a look at the "hottest" agile states in the US:

From there, I looked at scaling methods.  The data here is pretty rational with scaling agile appearing largely around 2013 as a search item after Dean Leffingwell's talk at Agile 2012. Though many were figuring it out, he branded it! Hence it caught on. I also had to move to worldwide to get more data on DAD and LESS

Pretty interesting huh? I geek out on data from time to time so it was for me!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Anyone know this retrospective?

Here's a retrospective I am about to try and perform.  The intent is to get better at communicating between teams in a scaled environment.  My current set of teams are focusing externally vs internally and I am trying to come up with ways to visualize it.

The thought is that the product and services scrum teams can reflect on where issues are originating.  They can also visualize if they are only thinking externally vs internally.  I will likely at another item  at the bottom called "Them" to symbolize... "them" whoever they are :)

Let me know what you think!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cross post for scaling retrospectives

Check out my recent entry to the blog for scaling retrospectives in a tiered environment.  I am now holding retrospectives at multiple levels for teams.  It's amazing what you find.

Scaling Retrospectives

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Building Boats - A Kanban Team Game

Here's an "Old" original game that I used in Kanban trainings.  I liked all of the learning for me from the different days and personas.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Kiddie Kanban: The Going To Bed Kanban Board

Made for kid friendly reading... try it out and let me know what you think!

My 6 year old loves responsibility.
He loves being able to know what he has to do and getting it done himself.
He does not love when his dad tries to bark commands.

He is 6 though and tends to try to do too many things at once.

Often when he goes to bed, he might still have one shoe on, or his night time clothes on over his day clothes.

Last night we tried something new that was super fun.
We listed out all of the things that he needs to do before bed on sticky notes.

  • Take a shower/bath
  • Read a book
  • Change Clothes
  • Go Potty
  • Brush Teeth
  • Hugs and Kisses
  • Say Prayers

Then we put them on the wall.

    After that, he said, "I feel I don't know enough about one of them."
    I asked, "Which one?"
    "Prayers." he continued, "I want to learn some new prayers."

    We added it right away to the wall.

    Technical Debt :)

    Then, he took a step back and looked at the board. 

    He said, "This is like a Todo list for bed."
    I labeled it TODO.

    He mentioned, "We need to be able to tell when I am done."  I suggested a "Done" label.  

    I hung up a "Doing" label so we could see what he was working on.  He liked the idea.

    Next, we moved all of the things he needs to do before bed that he had already done to the Done label.

    He took another look at the notes on the wall.  He started moving the notes around.
    I asked, "What are you doing?"  He said, "I'm putting them in order." 
    "We call that, prioritization."  I said, "But be sure to move Potty before Shower, that's a professional tip."  He agreed.

    He started working.  He moved one thing at a time as he finished it across the wall to Done.

    We said some prayers after reading together and we learned a new one together.  A simple one.  "Thank you for today, Amen."

    So we accomplished "learn some new prayers" along the way.  Unfortunately, we never fit in the bath so I guess we'll be stinky together tomorrow.