Scrum Guide Sliders

It was Monday afternoon on her first day of work at a new company and Sarah was feeling anxious. Having studied Scrum over the last few months, Sarah had been hired to serve as a Scrum Master and she was eager to begin applying her new skills, however nothing she had been told today seemed congruent with her lessons. As Sarah listened to her new manager explain why the company’s software required the organization to field a “UI team,” “service team,” and “back-end team,” she felt especially troubled by the phrase she’d heard multiple times on this day: “No one does Scrum by the book.”

“If no one actually follows the design of Scrum,” she wondered to herself, “why did my Scrum trainer teach it to me?”

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Starter Agile, Pt. 3

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My exploration of “Starter Agile” practices through the lens of Joshua Kerievsky’s “Modern Agile” concludes with this final group of three practices: standup meetings, task decomposition, and cadence-driven retrospective!

Disclaimer: this is my favorite set of practices to critique! Let’s dive in! Continue reading

Starter Agile, Pt. 1

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After sharing my thoughts on the insights Josh Kerievsky offers us through the lens of “Modern Agile,” I had a few readers request some insight into why I selected certain practices as “Starter Agile.” The comments walked the line between curiosity and concern, the latter being something I want to help alleviate.

Over the next three days, I’ll discuss nine practices and concepts that could be considered outdated as people continue to learn and experiment with Agile. I argue these topics have transitory value for brave folk learning Agile; a good place to get started… but others have discovered better ways exist.

Today’s first set of practices: timeboxes, story points, and velocity. Continue reading

Is Your Agile an Antique?

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From the point I first discovered Agile in 2005, Joshua Kerievsky has been one of my “self-invited remote mentors”. In other words, Josh provided guidance and mentoring from afar through his writing and speaking – and without the slightest idea of who I am.

A few weeks ago, I finally had the opportunity to meet Josh at Agile Open San Diego. In the confines of open space, Josh convened a session that invited participants to explore his recent “Modern Agile” paper, which formulates a new lens of thought into the evolution of Agile over the years. (If you haven’t read “Modern Agile”, you’re missing out – do that first!)

On the second day of open space, Josh convened an additional session to explore a juxtaposition of “modern” versus “antiquated” Agile. This got me thinking: is it harmful for us to label some practices “antique”? Continue reading

The Wisdom of Drinking Games

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About two years ago, I met a marketing professional at an Agile conference and we had a lengthy conversation about creativity and ways to encourage innovation. After sharing with him the Cognitive Network Model taught to me by Dr. Robert Briggs, he responded that his firm was using “a drinking game“–sans drinking–before every major client presentation. In his opinion, the mechanisms of the game seemed to align perfectly with Dr. Briggs’ theory: as images are called forth in working memory, particularly in new combinations, people generate thoughts they didn’t have prior – leading to new ideas.

A drinking game for creativity? I had to know more! As he explained the game, I realized this short, twenty-minute activity had all the elements of a good Agile activity: fun, collaboration, and useful lessons. Continue reading

Rebooting Metrics for Agile

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I’ve been measured as a 3.6 out of a possible 5 “performance” points. I’ve been measured on my sales volume per hour. I’ve even been measured on my percentage of overtime hours as a percentile representing “efficiency”. From salespeople, to service workers, to manual laborers, it’s nearly impossible to meet a worker that hasn’t been exposed to metrics as a form of management, motivation, or appraisal.

Deming, Drucker, and a host of wisdom spoke on the utility of metrics and, over time, business leaders have responded. An obsession with metrics is everywhere and there is no question that measurements of valuable business processes can help improve outcomes necessary for success. Enter the pursuit of (demand for?) “Agile metrics”. Continue reading