Tag Archives: Sprint

It’s MAD to Put All Work Through Discovery

I was sitting with a team when their manager came in and asked, “Hey. Are you guys finished with this feature?” The Scrum Master responded, “We haven’t even had time to even begin the discovery on it yet.” The manager looked surprised and said, “Oh, OK. Would you let me know when I can see it?” and walked out. It really surprised me as the feature seemed trivial and so I asked, “What do you need to learn about this? It seems really straight-forward.” “You’re right.” he said, “We could just build this. But we don’t want to.”

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Figuring Out How to Construct Teams

After the Agile coaching group shut down at Yahoo!, I decided to take a chance at being an independent coach. I quickly found work with a network management group. The business unit consisted of over 70 people, mostly working in San Jose and Bangalore. The Vice President of the technology group wanted to “burn all the ships”, and hoped this no retreat attitude would help the team convert to Scrum within a quarter. I spent over nine months with the business unit. Creating the Initial Teams To begin Scrum, the managers created three large teams along architectural boundaries and HR … Continue reading

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Gauging the Rate of Progress

An interesting pattern was revealed to me. I noticed it in my embedded team and with other teams who asked for help. Product Backlogs were not being estimated. Teams were not estimating in points, days, nor even time. It is unclear what led to this lack of discipline. A consequence of teams not being able to say when something might be done resulted in other people setting deadlines for those teams. Playing the Team Estimation Game Demand for coaching was high and we were always being called in to situations. In looking around if I found a backlog with hundreds … Continue reading

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Dealing With an Overwhelming Amount of Work

I located a job as an Agile Coach working at Yahoo! headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA.  I worked with a group of internal coaches, offering both training and coaching for the nearly 500 teams that were experimenting with the Scrum framework inside the organization. My directive there was to observe teams in action and offer help when asked. Observing Team Behavior Pretty soon I was invited by a Product Owner to observe his team’s stand-up. This team sensed that something wasn’t right with their Scrum implementation and he was seeking advice. They had also recently lost their ScrumMaster and people were … 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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Reassigning Points to Validate Estimation

Keeping a Good Agile Estimation Practice As part of our Scrum practice at vianet, we spent time as a team tending to the Product Backlog. We played planning poker and kept all our stories sized. We knew the entire size of the Product Backlog. Every Sprint we looked ahead and refined some User Stories. Our velocity was stable and we could predict what User Stories would fit in a Sprint. The total size of the Product Backlog and the number of Sprints left projected that we would not hit the date promised to the customer. Verifying the Estimates The Product … 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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Creating the Motivation to Pair Program

My first immersion in to Scrum occurred at StorePerform. We produced workflow solutions for big box retail stores. The company retained an external coach on contract and we attended training, which eased and accelerated the transition. Throughout the time we practiced unit testing and had a continuous integration server running. Keeping the Build Running Code coverage for us ran at about 30-35% and we had a company policy to keep it over 80%. We used a code review system to ensure, among other things, that unit tests were created. The team agreed that fixing a broken build was highest priority. … 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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