Tag Archives: Management

Allowing for Cross-Functional Teams

A home entertainment provider called me in to facilitate User Story writing followed by release planning. The business unit had not tried either activity before. Leadership had been replaced and the new General Manager and Vice President of Technology decided to invest in the group’s burgeoning Scrum effort. The organization followed a structured work breakdown approach with tasks functionally derived. People were willing to approach product definition in an Agile way and wanted to experiment with User Stories. We discussed the vertical nature of Stories and that teams were formed orthogonally, based on the architectural stack. A few people pointed … Continue reading

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Admitting to the Real Date

We established a trusting relationship at vianet with our customer. We invited them to each Sprint review and planning ceremonies. They checked out and deployed our code from our servers in to their environment. Negotiating the Date It was the end of fall and our customer said they needed the work finished by the start of spring. Everyone wanted some buffer in case something delayed deployment and we agreed to finish development by the middle of winter. This date was written in to the contract drawn up by lawyers and signed by both sides. The rate that we were now … Continue reading

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Keeping Progress High and Questions Low

Everyone Wants to Know Status Vianet established a cadence around Scrum and soon our customer, stakeholders, executives and others would ask how the current Sprint was going. The people asking questions numbered more than we had on the team. The questioning increased as a Sprint neared its end. I asked if people could hold off with the questions until the end of the Sprint. It had become too much of a distraction for the team. Designing Good Retrospectives A friend suggested that I read “Agile Retrospectives” by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen. The book was recommended to me to help … Continue reading

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What’s going on?

When I ask someone “How’re you?” the response I usually get is, “fine”. If I ask “What’s up?” the response is, “not much”. These questions prompt rote responses. I can detect a little of how someone really feels in the inflection of the answer. There’s a subtle but important difference between “not much…” and “not much!”, but I am interested in knowing more than if you might be bored at the moment. For me, “What’s going on?” is the question that garners more than a habitual answer. In most instances, it triggers someone to tell me like it is. Not … Continue reading

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Traditional Hotel Managers on Duty

The last time traveling highlighted for me examples of managing by delegation. One example was with checking in, and the other was in getting another copy of my room key. In both examples I was led to believe that my requests would lead to action and instead, both examples led to disruption and stress for those involved. Walking in to the hotel lobby I observed a line with about 3 people waiting. There were 4 people behind the desk working fastidiously. It seemed I wouldn’t have to wait long. The Manager on Duty (MOD) was greeting people in front of … Continue reading

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What About the People?

Lately I’ve been reading about people lamenting unsuccessful adoptions of Scrum within organizations. Somehow, these entities survived before Scrum was introduced. They are not just going to fold because they have not done it right. They may choose to ignore some of the principles of Agile and continue to bring in revenue without coming all the way around. So the Agile community has some advice. Make sure good technical practices are in place. Have motivated and skilled people in the trenches with the will to change. Make sure there is executive support. Use some assessment tool. There are other suggestions, … Continue reading

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What a Pile of Product Backlog

What is all this stuff? Can we take a look at the Product Backlog? Does this backlog contain a long list of prioritized “stuff to do”? Does this list include defects, functional tasks and/or feature requests? What else? Does this list include everything? Are there more items in the backlog than we can see in one glance? Have we determined the business value in this “stuff” as a basis for stack-ranking these Product Backlog items? Can we estimate this “stuff” in terms of relative complexity and help with prioritization? In reality do we have multiple lists for the product being … Continue reading

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Death by Scrum Meeting

I recently received an email from a senior-level manager, who raises a valid question about all the meetings associated with Scrum. This particular instance of Scrum has over 50 people working in more than one locale. When yet another meeting was created, he raised a valid question: 90 minutes every week for backlog hygiene? And that is on top of all other scrums, scrum of scrums, business reviews, can we ship, planning etc. meetings and scrums? I am getting seriously concerned about our state and efficiency. If we need to spend 90 minutes on this weekly, than, IMHO, someone is … Continue reading

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How do you handle Sprint review and retrospective for multiple Scrum teams?

If there are multiple teams working off of one Product Backlog, how best to reflect and close the iteration? I see these choices: choice 1: one review per team one retrospective per team one consolidated review for everyone at end choice 2: one consolidated review one retrospective per team choice 3: one consolidated review one consolidated retrospective I have a bias to the last choice, if space is not a factor. What is yours? Do you prefer another way to coordinate these meetings? Here are my definitions for these Scrum ceremonies. Sprint Review: Story time. Only stories which are DONE … Continue reading

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Whole Team Incentives – Redeeming Features for Rewards

After VYC2.0 launched, I was asked who were the heroes in the group. The one or two people who deserved recognition for all of their hard work. I was hunting around for the email chain, but I’m pretty diligent about deleting emails. I wish sometimes I wasn’t so relentless at that, but I don’t have it. Essentially, I responded that calling out a couple of people creates competition, that everyone stepped up and deserves to be recognized. Management agreed, and everyone involved wound up with a Flip, and I was asked how we may be able to codify some whole … Continue reading

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