What is a Scrum Team?
First, we need a short preface to define Scrum. The Scrum methodology is a team-level agile framework that achieves goals by delivering higher customer value in sprint-based iterations. At the heart of Scrum, lies the Scrum Team — a self-organized force driving success.
Now imagine a small, cross-functional team of dedicated individuals, working collaboratively to deliver valuable increments of work in short iterations called Sprints. This team consists of a skilled Scrum Master, an insightful Product Owner, and a group of talented Developers. They embody the Scrum values of transparency, trust, and openness, creating an environment of continuous learning and improvement.
A well-structured Scrum Team brings numerous benefits to your organization. By carefully considering the team size, you ensure effective cross-functionality and self-organization, enabling them to tackle any challenge that comes their way. The Scrum Master acts as a change agent, coaching the team on mindset and values, while the Product Owner maximizes the product’s value, making data-driven decisions aligned with business objectives.
The team, as a cohesive unit, possess a diverse range of skills, working autonomously to craft exceptional product increments. They pursue technical excellence, constantly refining their Definition of Done and leveraging Extreme Programming practices for inspiration.
But the true power of a Scrum Team lies in its ability to deliver value consistently. By understanding customer motivations, aligning with the product vision and overall business goals, and measuring outcomes rather than mere output, an organization’s Scrum Teams become a catalyst for success.
Regular self-assessment, retrospectives, and continuous improvement are key to unlocking the full potential of your Scrum Team. By reevaluating their progress in delivering value, you can identify areas for improvement and drive organizational agility to new heights.
Why do Agile teams need dedicated resources?
When Scrum teams have too many shared resources, it can lead to a number of problems. For example, shared resources may be over-allocated and unable to provide the necessary support to the team, which can cause delays and hinder the team’s ability to deliver their work on time. Additionally, shared resources may have conflicting priorities, which can lead to confusion and miscommunication within the team. Furthermore, having too many shared resources can make it difficult for the team to maintain focus and stay on track, which can impact the team’s overall productivity and efficiency.
Agile teams typically need dedicated resources because it allows team members to focus solely on the work of the team, without being pulled in other directions. This can help the team to be more productive and efficient, as well as better able to respond to changes and challenges. Additionally, having dedicated resources can help to build a sense of ownership and commitment among team members, which can be important for the success of the team.
6 Essential characteristics of an effective Product Owner
As Agile methodology continues to revolutionize the way software development teams work, the role of the Product Owner has become increasingly important. The Product Owner is the individual responsible for managing the product backlog, gathering user requirements, and making sure the product is meeting customer needs.
To effectively fulfill this role, the Product Owner must possess certain key characteristics that are necessary for success.
1. Strategic Vision
The Product Owner must have a clear idea of the vision for the product and how it fits into the overall business strategy. They must be able to communicate this vision to stakeholders and the development team in order to ensure everyone is working towards the same goal.
2. Prioritization Skills
Product Owners must be able to prioritize tasks based on customer needs, business goals, and the team’s availability. They must be able to make tough decisions in order to ensure the team is focusing on the most important tasks.
3. Communication Skills
Product Owners must be able to effectively communicate with stakeholders, customers, and team members. They must ensure all parties are on the same page and that everyone understands the product’s goals and objectives.
Product Owners must have a good understanding of the user’s needs and be able to prioritize user stories accordingly. They must be able to empathize with the user and put themselves in their shoes when making decisions.
5. Technical Knowledge
Product Owners must have a good understanding of the technology the team is using and be able to identify potential technical issues. They must also be able to communicate any technical requirements to the team.
6. Business Acumen
Product Owners must understand the business objectives of the product and be able to make decisions that will help the product meet those objectives. They must be able to identify opportunities for improvement and make decisions that will result in the best outcome for the business.
The characteristics listed above are all essential for an effective Product Owner. To be successful in this role, Product Owners must possess a combination of business acumen, strategic vision, technical knowledge, and user-centric thinking. With the right skills, Product Owners can ensure their team is delivering the best possible product to their customers.
Problems with having more than one PO per team
There are a few potential problems with having more than one Product Owner (PO) per agile team:
Confusion and conflict
Having multiple POs can lead to confusion and conflict, as team members may receive conflicting direction or priorities from different POs. This can hinder the team’s ability to focus and deliver value effectively.
With multiple POs, it can be difficult to determine who is ultimately responsible for the team’s direction and decisions. This can lead to reduced accountability and a lack of ownership over the product.
Decreased team cohesion
Having multiple POs can lead to a lack of clarity and consistency in the team’s vision and direction, which can decrease team cohesion and morale.
It is generally recommended to have a single PO per agile team in order to avoid these problems and to ensure that the team has clear direction and accountability.
Signs your Product Owner is not fulfilling their responsibilities
Here are some signs that a product owner may not be effectively fulfilling their role:
They are not regularly attending sprint planning, review, and retrospective meetings, or they are not actively participating in these meetings.
They are not available to the team to answer questions or provide guidance on the product vision and priorities.
They are not prioritizing the backlog, or the priorities in the backlog are not clear to the team.
They are not regularly communicating with stakeholders to gather feedback and input on the product.
They are not making decisions or providing clear direction to the team on what to work on and when.
They are not effectively managing scope and trade-offs to ensure that the team is delivering value to the business.
They are not collaborating with the team and other stakeholders to ensure that the product is meeting the needs of its users.
A product owner (PO) who is not effectively fulfilling their role may be hindering the team’s ability to deliver value to the business and meet its goals and objectives. In such cases, it may be necessary to address the issue and find ways to improve the product owner’s performance.
6 Essential characteristics of a good Scrum Master
As any agile development leader knows, the role of a Scrum Master is critical to the success of any agile project. The Scrum Master must be able to ensure that the development process is running smoothly, that the team is productive, and that any impediments to progress are quickly identified and resolved. To be effective, a Scrum Master must possess a number of key characteristics and traits.
Here are six of the most important ones to look for when hiring a Scrum Master:
1. Communication and Collaboration
A good Scrum Master should have excellent communication and collaboration skills in order to be able to effectively communicate with team members, facilitate productive conversations and discussions, and ensure that all team members are on the same page.
The Scrum Master should be a strong leader, not just someone who is able to direct and control the team. They should be able to motivate and inspire the team, provide clear direction, and foster a sense of unity and collaboration.
3. Technical Expertise
The Scrum Master should have a good understanding of the development process, the technology being used, and the various tools and techniques. This knowledge will help them to provide effective guidance and direction to the team.
The Scrum Master should be able to quickly identify and troubleshoot any problems that arise during the development process. They should also be able to proactively identify potential issues and develop strategies to prevent them.
As the development process evolves, the Scrum Master needs to be able to adapt and adjust accordingly. They should be able to quickly identify changes that need to be made and be willing to make them in order to ensure the success of the team.
Finally, the Scrum Master must be able to understand and empathize with the team members. This will enable them to better understand their needs and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal.
These are just some of the key characteristics of an effective Scrum Master. The right person for the job should be someone who possesses all of these qualities, as well as strong technical and problem-solving skills.
Should team members rotate the Scrum Master/Team Coach?
It is possible for team members to take turns playing the Scrum Master role, with each person serving as the Scrum Master for a specific period of time before handing the role off to another team member. This approach can be beneficial in several ways.
First, it allows team members to gain experience and expertise in the Scrum Master role. This can be valuable for their personal and professional development, and can also provide the team with a broader range of skills and perspectives.
Second, rotating the Scrum Master role can help to prevent burnout and maintain team morale. The Scrum Master role can be demanding, and allowing team members to take turns in this role can help to distribute the workload and keep everyone engaged and motivated.
Third, rotating the Scrum Master role can also promote collaboration and teamwork within the team. By working together to fulfill the responsibilities of the Scrum Master, team members can develop stronger bonds and a greater sense of shared ownership over the team’s success.
Allowing team members to take turns playing the Scrum Master role can be a valuable approach, but it’s important to carefully plan and coordinate the rotation to ensure that the team’s workflow and progress are not disrupted. There are some dangers in this approach:
While allowing team members to take turns playing the role of Scrum Master can have some benefits, it can also introduce some potential dangers.
One of the main dangers is that rotating the Scrum Master role can disrupt the team’s workflow and progress. The Scrum Master plays a critical role in facilitating the team’s work, and changing the person in this role can cause confusion and uncertainty within the team.
Another danger is that team members may not have the necessary skills and experience to effectively fulfill the responsibilities of the Scrum Master. The Scrum Master role requires a specific set of knowledge and abilities, and not all team members may be equipped to handle these responsibilities.
Additionally, rotating the Scrum Master role can also create inconsistencies in the team’s processes and practices. Different Scrum Masters may have different approaches and styles, which can lead to confusion and inconsistencies within the team.
While rotating the Scrum Master role can have some benefits, it’s important to carefully consider the potential dangers and plan accordingly to minimize any negative impacts on the team.
How should a Scrum Master/Team Coach spend their time to be effective?
As a Scrum Master/Team Coach, there are a number of activities that you can focus on in order to be effective:
Facilitating team meetings
This may include daily stand-ups, planning meetings, and retrospectives. You can help the team to run these meetings efficiently and effectively, and to identify and address any challenges or issues that arise.
Supporting the team
You can provide support and guidance to the team as they work towards their goals, and help them to identify and address any challenges or obstacles.
You can help the team to remove any roadblocks or impediments that are hindering their progress, such as technical issues or dependency issues.
Protecting the team
You can help to protect the team from distractions and interruptions, and ensure that they have the time and resources they need to focus on their work.
Coaching and mentoring
You can provide coaching and mentorship to team members as they develop their skills and expertise.
As a Scrum Master/Team Coach, it is important to focus on supporting and enabling the team to work effectively and efficiently, and to help them to deliver value to their stakeholders.
Are your SMs supporting too many teams?
There are a few dangers of a scrum master supporting too many teams at the same time:
If a scrum master is spread too thin, they may not be able to provide the necessary level of support and guidance to the teams they are working with. This can lead to reduced effectiveness and productivity, and may hinder the team’s ability to deliver value.
Supporting too many teams can be demanding and time-consuming, and it can lead to burnout if the scrum master is not able to manage their workload effectively.
Decreased team satisfaction
If a scrum master is not able to provide the necessary support and guidance to the teams they are working with, team members may become frustrated or dissatisfied, which can lead to decreased satisfaction and engagement.
It is important for a scrum master to carefully consider the number of teams they are supporting, and to ensure that they have the necessary resources and support to effectively serve the needs of all of the teams they are working with. The number of teams that a scrum master should support can depend on a number of factors, such as the size of the teams, the complexity of the work, and the availability of resources. In general, it is generally recommended that a scrum master focus on supporting one or two teams at a time, as this allows them to provide the necessary level of support and guidance to the team.
6 Worst Scrum Master mistakes
Scrum Masters are the cornerstone of successful Agile projects and initiatives. As such, it is important to understand common mistakes that Scrum Masters make and how to avoid them. Here are 6 of the worst Scrum Master mistakes:
1. Not Understanding the Role
A Scrum Master is not a project manager. The Scrum Master is responsible for guiding the team to success, not for managing the team’s day-to-day activities. A Scrum Master should be able to recognize the team’s strengths and weaknesses and facilitate collaboration.
2. Not Listening to Team Members
A Scrum Master should be a good listener. It is important for the Scrum Master to take time to listen to the team’s ideas and opinions. This will help the Scrum Master to gain insight into the team’s dynamics and make better decisions.
3. Not Being Available
A Scrum Master should always be available to the team. This means being available in person, via email, or via video conferencing. The Scrum Master should be accessible to the team to answer questions and provide guidance.
4. Not Having Clear Objectives
A Scrum Master should have a clear understanding of the project’s objectives and how the team can achieve them. Without clear objectives, the team will be unable to measure progress and make meaningful decisions.
5. Not Holding Team Members Accountable
A Scrum Master should be able to hold team members accountable for their actions. This includes ensuring that team members are performing to the best of their abilities, ensuring transparency and engaging the team to pivot or replan if necessary.
6. Not Facilitating Retros
A Scrum Master should facilitate regular retrospectives. Retrospectives provide an opportunity for the team to reflect on their successes and failures and identify areas of improvement.
By avoiding these mistakes, Scrum Masters can ensure that their projects are successful. Scrum Masters must be knowledgeable and proactive to ensure that the team is working together effectively and efficiently.
When to use Kanban vs Scrum
Kanban and Scrum are both Agile project management frameworks that aim to help teams deliver high-quality products in a fast and efficient manner. In general, Kanban may be a better choice than Scrum in situations where the team needs to focus on continuously improving the efficiency of their work processes, or where the team needs to be able to quickly adapt to changes in priorities or requirements. This is because Kanban places a strong emphasis on visualizing work and managing flow, which can help teams to identify bottlenecks and improve their processes in real time. On the other hand, Scrum may be a better choice in situations where the team needs to deliver a large, complex project with well-defined requirements, as Scrum provides a structured approach to planning and executing work. Ultimately, the decision of which framework to use should be based on the specific needs and goals of the team.
Basics of the burn-down chart
A burndown chart is a visual tool that is used in Agile methodologies to track progress and predict what features and defect resolutions will likely be available for a release. To use a burndown chart effectively, you should follow these steps:
Identify the scope of work for the initiative and break it down into individual tasks.
Estimate the effort required to complete each task, and use this information to create a burndown chart that shows the total amount of work remaining over time.
Update the burndown chart regularly to reflect the actual progress of the team.
Use the burndown chart to identify trends and patterns in the team’s progress, and take action to address any issues or obstacles that may be hindering their progress.
Monitor the burndown chart closely to ensure that the team understands what is on track for release, and make adjustments as necessary to ensure that the initiative stays on schedule.
The key to using a burndown chart effectively is to use it as a tool for continuous improvement, and to use the information it provides to drive decisions and actions that will help the team to be more effective and efficient.
Key Benefits of using a burn-up chart
Scrum teams often face the challenge of managing a large number of tasks and ensuring that the team is making progress towards a goal. This is where the Burn-up Chart comes in. A Burn-up Chart is a graphical representation of the progress made by a team in a sprint or PI, and can provide a great visual representation of the work that has been completed.
This Chart is a great tool for teams to use when managing their sprints. It allows them to quickly and easily track the progress they’re making, and to see if they are on track to complete all of the tasks they have planned.
The Burn-up Chart makes it easy to identify any tasks that are taking too long to complete, or any tasks that have been completed ahead of schedule, so the team can adjust their sprint planning accordingly.
The Burn-up Chart can also be used to identify areas where the team needs to focus more attention. It can be used to identify tasks that are taking too long to complete, or tasks that have been completed ahead of schedule. This allows the team to shift their focus to the tasks that need more attention, and to ensure that the sprint is completed on time.
The Burn-up Chart also provides a great visual representation of the team’s progress. Teams can easily identify any areas where they may be struggling, and can quickly focus their attention on those areas. This helps teams stay focused and motivated.
4 Agile estimation techniques
Agile estimation is an essential part of agile execution. Estimating the effort and resources needed to complete an initiative is one of the most important decisions a team can make. It can determine whether a project succeeds or fails. With the right estimation techniques, teams can ensure the success of their projects. There are a variety of agile estimation techniques, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Some of the most popular techniques include Planning Poker, Wideband Delphi, Affinity Mapping, and the Magic Estimation Technique.
Planning Poker is a popular agile estimation technique.
It involves a group of people—usually the entire team—gathering to estimate the size and complexity of tasks. Each team member is given a set of cards with numerical values representing the size of the task. The team then discusses the task and places a card on the table. The cards are then compared and the most commonly chosen value is the estimated time for the task.
Wideband Delphi is another popular agile estimation technique.
This technique involves a group of experts who are given a task to estimate. The experts are then asked to submit their estimates anonymously. The estimates are then combined and used to create a consensus estimate.
Affinity Mapping is a technique used to estimate the duration of a task.
It involves grouping similar tasks together and assigning a numerical value to each group. This value is then used to estimate the total duration of the task.
The Magic Estimation Technique is a popular technique used to estimate the effort and duration of a project.
This technique involves breaking the project down into small parts and estimating the effort and duration of each part. The total effort and duration are then calculated based on the estimates of the individual parts.
No matter which technique is used, having an accurate estimate of the effort and duration of a project is essential for success. Estimating is an important part of agile execution and should not be taken lightly. With the right technique, teams can ensure they can sustainably and predictably deliver.
Need a quick estimation method? Try T-Shirt Sizing
T-shirt sizing is a method that is commonly used in agile development to estimate the size or complexity of a given task or feature. This method involves assigning a size to each task or feature based on its relative complexity, with sizes typically ranging from XS (extra small) to XL (extra large).
T-shirt sizing is often used in agile development as part of the planning process. It can help teams quickly and easily estimate the amount of work that will be required for a given task or feature, and can also provide a way to compare the relative complexity of different tasks and features.
T-shirt sizing is generally most useful when teams are trying to develop a high-level understanding of the work that needs to be done, and when they need to make decisions about which tasks or features to prioritize. It is not intended to provide precise or detailed estimates, but rather to provide a general sense of the relative size and complexity of different tasks and features.
T-shirt sizing can be a useful tool in agile development when teams need to quickly and easily estimate the size and complexity of different tasks and features. By using this method, teams can make more informed decisions about how to prioritize their work and allocate their resources.
How is cost of delay used in WSJF
In the context of Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF), the cost of delay refers to the potential costs and negative impacts of delaying a particular piece of work. WSJF is a prioritization methodology that is used to prioritize work based on its relative importance and value to the organization. The cost of delay is one of the factors that is taken into account when determining the relative importance of a piece of work, and it is used to reflect the potential costs and negative impacts of delaying the work.
For example, imagine that you are working on an agile project and have two pieces of work that need to be prioritized. The first is a small user story that will take a few days to complete, but has a low potential cost of delay. The second is a larger feature that will take several weeks to complete, but has a high potential cost of delay if it is not completed in a timely manner. If you were to prioritize the small user story first, you would be exposing yourself to the potential costs and negative impacts of delaying the larger feature, which would be the cost of delay of prioritizing the small user story.
The cost of delay in WSJF is a measure of the potential costs and negative impacts of delaying a particular piece of work. It is used to help prioritize work based on its relative importance and value to the organization, with the goal of minimizing the potential costs and negative impacts of delays.
Best advice for splitting user stories that are too big
If you have a user story that is too big to be completed in a single iteration, it may be necessary to split the story into smaller, more manageable chunks. Here are some guidelines for splitting user stories:
Identify the smallest possible piece of the user story that provides value to the customer. This could be a single feature or function, or a specific aspect of the user story.
Create a separate user story for each piece of the original user story. Be sure to include the acceptance criteria and any other relevant details for each new user story.
Prioritize the new user stories based on their value to the customer and the effort required to complete them.
Assign the new user stories to the appropriate team or teams, and ensure that they are included in the next planning cycle.
The goal of splitting user stories is to ensure that the user stories are small enough to be completed in a single iteration, and that they provide value to the customer in a timely and efficient manner.
Leverage the “technical user story” to capture non-functional requirements
Technical user stories can be leveraged to cover non-functional requirements by explicitly including non-functional requirements in the user story. Non-functional requirements are often referred to as “quality attributes,” and they describe the characteristics of a system or product that are not related to specific functionality, such as performance, security, usability, or reliability.
To include non-functional requirements in a technical user story, the team can use the following format:
As a [user], I want [feature] so that [benefit] with the following non-functional requirements:
[Non-functional requirement 1]
[Non-functional requirement 2]
[Non-functional requirement 3]
As a user, I want to be able to log in to the application using my email address and password so that I can access my account securely.
The login process should be secure, with password hashing and salting to protect against attacks.
The login process should be fast, with a response time of less than 500 milliseconds.
The login process should be user-friendly, with clear error messages and an option to reset my password if I forget it.
By explicitly including non-functional requirements in technical user stories, teams can ensure that they are considering the full range of requirements for a product or system, and can prioritize and plan work accordingly.
Get creative with your retrospectives
Here are some ideas for getting creative with your retrospectives:
Try a different format for your retrospectives. Instead of a traditional meeting, consider using a format such as a fishbowl discussion or a brainstorming session.
Encourage participation from all members of the team. This could involve asking everyone to contribute their thoughts and ideas, or using techniques such as anonymous voting to gather feedback.
Use a mix of qualitative and quantitative data in your retrospectives. In addition to soliciting feedback from team members, consider using metrics and other data to inform your discussions.
Take a systemic approach to your retrospectives. Instead of just focusing on individual issues or problems, try to identify patterns and trends that may be impacting the team as a whole.
Consider using visual aids, such as diagrams or graphs, to help communicate and explore ideas in your retrospectives.
The key to getting creative with your retrospectives is to be open to trying new things, and to be willing to experiment and learn from your experiences. There are many resources available to help you identify ways to make your retrospectives creative and engaging.
Are you a scrum team that skips retros?
There are several things that can happen to Scrum teams that skip retrospectives:
Decreased team morale
Skipping retrospectives can lead to decreased team morale, as it deprives team members of an opportunity to share their thoughts and feedback on the work that has been completed and to identify and address any issues or challenges that may be impacting their ability to meet their goals.
Decreased transparency and accountability
Skipping retrospectives can also decrease transparency and accountability within the team, as it reduces the frequency of progress reviews and makes it more difficult to identify and address any issues or challenges that may be impacting the team’s effectiveness.
Decreased continuous improvement
Finally, skipping retrospectives can decrease the team’s focus on continuous improvement, as it reduces the frequency of review and assessment of the team’s process and work, and can make it more difficult to identify and address areas for improvement.
Skipping retrospectives can have negative impacts on team morale, transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement, and it is important for Scrum teams to make time for regular retrospectives to ensure that they are able to effectively review and assess their progress and identify any areas for improvement.
Need a new Retro Technique: Try the Sailboat
The sailboat method is a technique for conducting retrospectives. It is called the sailboat method because it uses a sailboat as a metaphor to help teams reflect on their journey and identify areas for improvement.
To use the sailboat method, the facilitator draws a sailboat on a whiteboard or flipchart, and asks the team to reflect on their journey over the last iteration. The facilitator then asks the team to identify any obstacles or challenges they encountered during their journey, and to place them on the anchor as “baggage” that is pulling the boat down.
Next, the facilitator asks the team to identify any positive experiences or accomplishments they had during their journey, and to place them on the sailboat as “wind” that is helping the boat move forward.
Finally, the facilitator asks the team to identify any actions or improvements they can make to help the boat sail more smoothly and efficiently in the future. These actions are then written down and recorded, and the team commits to implementing them in the next iteration.
The sailboat method is a simple and effective way to help teams reflect on their work and identify areas for improvement. It is a visual and engaging approach that can help teams gain new insights and perspectives, and it can also help them build stronger connections and trust within the team.
Another Retro Technique: “King” or “Queen” for the Day
The “King or Queen for a Day” retrospective game is a technique that is used to identify and discuss issues and improvements within a team. It involves asking team members to pretend that they are the “king” or “queen” for a day, and that they have the power to make any changes they wish to improve the team’s processes or work environment.
To play the game, the team leader or facilitator asks each team member to think about one change they would make if they were “king for a day.” The team members then share their ideas with the group and discuss the potential benefits and drawbacks of each suggestion.
The purpose of the game is to encourage team members to think creatively and outside the box, and to identify areas for improvement that may not have been surfaced through more traditional retrospective techniques. It can also help to build team cohesion and foster a sense of ownership and empowerment among team members.
To conclude the game, the team can discuss which of the suggestions are feasible to implement and create a plan for incorporating them into the team’s processes.
Boring Retrospectives? Try the Escape Room version
The escape room method is a technique that can be used to facilitate a retrospective meeting in an agile team. In this method, the team is presented with a “puzzle” or problem to solve, and must work together to find a solution.
To use the escape room method for a retrospective, the facilitator can create a scenario or theme based on the team’s current project or challenges. For example, the theme could be “getting out of a sticky situation” or “solving a mystery.” The team is then given a set of clues or tasks to complete in order to solve the puzzle and “escape” from the scenario.
As the team works through the clues and tasks, they can reflect on their experiences and discuss what went well, what could be improved, and what they learned during the current iteration. This approach can be a fun and engaging way for teams to conduct a retrospective and identify areas for improvement.
Considered about your teams dwindling energy levels – Conduct the “Energy Level” retrospective
The energy level retrospective is a technique that can be used to facilitate a retrospective meeting in an agile team. This method involves having team members rate their energy level at different points during the current iteration, and then discussing what factors contributed to their energy level and how it affected their work.
To use the energy level retrospective method, the facilitator can ask team members to rate their energy level at the beginning, middle, and end of the iteration on a scale from 1 to 10. The team can then discuss what factors contributed to their energy level at each point, such as feeling overwhelmed or energized, and how their energy level affected their work.
The energy level retrospective can be a useful tool for teams to identify patterns and trends in their energy levels, and to identify ways to improve their energy management. It can also help teams to identify factors that may be affecting their productivity and satisfaction, and to make necessary adjustments.
The controversy of using velocity as an agile team performance metric…
Velocity is a controversial agile metric for a few reasons. First, velocity is often used as a measure of productivity, and there is a concern that this can lead to a focus on meeting predetermined velocity targets rather than on delivering value to the customer. This can result in teams engaging in unproductive behaviors, such as over-committing to work or sacrificing quality in order to meet their velocity targets. Additionally, velocity can be a highly variable metric, and can be influenced by a number of factors that are outside the control of the team. This can make it difficult to use velocity as a reliable predictor of future performance. Finally, some critics argue that velocity is not a meaningful or useful metric, and that it is better to focus on other measures of performance, such as customer satisfaction or business value delivered.
While velocity can be a useful tool for tracking and managing the progress of an agile team, it is important to use it in the right context and to avoid putting too much emphasis on it.
Steps to building high-performing teams
A high-performing agile team is a group of individuals who are able to quickly and efficiently deliver high-quality products or services through the use of agile methodologies. This type of team typically has strong communication and collaboration skills, is highly adaptable and able to pivot quickly in response to changing market conditions or customer needs, and is committed to continuously improving its processes and output. Additionally, a high-performing agile team is often characterized by a high level of trust and transparency within the team, and a shared sense of ownership and accountability for the team’s work.
There are several key steps to building a high-performing team. These include:
Clearly defining the team’s goals and objectives, and ensuring that everyone on the team understands their role in achieving these goals.
Providing the team with the necessary tools, resources, and support to be successful. This might include things like training, access to the right technology, or funding for key initiatives.
Creating an open and collaborative work environment, where team members feel comfortable sharing ideas and working together to solve problems.
Establishing clear communication channels, and ensuring that everyone on the team is regularly updated on the team’s progress and any changes to the team’s goals or objectives.
Encouraging a culture of continuous learning and improvement, where team members are encouraged to take on new challenges and learn from their successes and failures.
Providing regular feedback and support to team members, and creating opportunities for team members to grow and develop their skills.
Recognizing and rewarding team members for their contributions, and celebrating the team’s successes together.
Building a high-performing team requires a combination of clear communication, collaboration, and a commitment to continuous improvement. By focusing on these key areas, teams can become more efficient, effective, and successful in achieving their goals.
Potential antipatterns teams can fall prey to
There are many potential agile antipatterns that teams can fall into, but some of the most common ones to avoid include:
Over-reliance on daily stand-up meetings: While daily stand-up meetings can be an effective way to keep the team focused and on track, they can also become a crutch that hinders progress if relied upon too heavily.
Lack of clear goals and objectives: Agile teams need to have well-defined goals and objectives in order to be effective. Without these, the team may struggle to stay on track and make progress.
Lack of clear communication and collaboration: Agile teams rely on effective communication and collaboration in order to be successful. If these elements are missing, the team may struggle to make progress.
Failure to adapt to changing circumstances: Agile teams need to be flexible and able to adapt to changing circumstances in order to be successful. If the team is unable to do this, they may struggle to make progress.
Over-reliance on agile tools and processes: Agile tools and processes can be incredibly useful, but they are only effective if used properly. Over-reliance on these tools and processes can lead to stagnation and a lack of progress.
Tips for supporting innovation in your scrum teams
Scrum is a framework for agile software development that emphasizes collaboration, adaptability, and the delivery of working software. In order to enable Scrum teams to be innovative, there are several steps that organizations can take, including:
Create a supportive environment
In order to foster innovation, organizations should create a supportive environment that encourages creativity and risk-taking. This can involve providing the necessary resources and support that teams need to experiment and try new things.
Innovation often emerges from collaboration and the sharing of ideas. Organizations should encourage Scrum teams to work closely together and share their ideas and perspectives in order to foster a culture of innovation.
Allow for experimentation
In order to enable Scrum teams to be innovative, organizations should allow teams to experiment and try new approaches. This can involve providing the necessary resources and support to allow teams to take risks and try new things.
Provide regular feedback
In order to enable Scrum teams to be innovative, organizations should provide regular feedback on the teams’ performance and progress. This can help teams to identify areas for improvement and to refine their approaches in order to achieve better results.
Organizations can enable Scrum teams to be innovative by creating a supportive environment, encouraging collaboration, allowing for experimentation, and providing regular feedback. By taking these steps, organizations can foster a culture of innovation and support Scrum teams in their efforts to deliver high-quality software.
The Impact of Task Switching
Task switching, or the practice of constantly switching between different tasks, can have a negative impact on agile teams.
First, task switching can lead to decreased productivity, as workers may be unable to focus on a single task and may need to constantly switch between different tasks. This can result in lower quality work and increased cycle times, as workers may need to spend more time re-familiarizing themselves with tasks that they have set aside for a period of time.
Second, task switching can lead to decreased collaboration and communication among team members, as workers may be less likely to share their thoughts and ideas with others when they are constantly switching between tasks. This can reduce the overall effectiveness of the team and can make it difficult for team members to work together to achieve their goals.
Third, task switching can lead to increased stress and burnout among team members, as workers may feel overwhelmed by the constant need to switch between tasks. This can lead to decreased morale and motivation among team members, which can ultimately impact the overall performance of the team.
Task switching can have a negative impact on agile teams, and should be avoided whenever possible. To minimize the negative effects of task switching, teams should strive to limit the amount of WIP (work in progress) and to focus on completing tasks and projects in a timely and efficient manner. This can help to increase productivity, improve collaboration and communication, and reduce stress and burnout among team members.
Do Standups have to be daily?
Agile stand-ups, also known as daily stand-ups, are a common practice in agile software development. They are typically short meetings that take place every day, in which team members share what they have accomplished since the last stand-up, what they are currently working on, and any obstacles or challenges they are facing. Doing stand-ups only on a weekly basis rather than daily can have some drawbacks.
First, daily stand-ups help teams stay on track and avoid getting off course. By providing regular updates on progress and challenges, team members can quickly identify and address any issues that may arise. This can help prevent delays and keep the project moving forward smoothly. When stand-ups are only held weekly, it can be more difficult for team members to stay in sync and for the team as a whole to stay on track.
Second, daily stand-ups can help identify and address potential problems before they become major issues. By providing a forum for team members to discuss their work and challenges, stand-ups can help identify potential roadblocks or issues early on. This can allow the team to take corrective action before the problem becomes serious, which can save time and effort in the long run. When stand-ups are only held weekly, it can be more difficult to identify and address potential problems in a timely manner.
You may think you are saving time holding stand-ups only on a weekly basis, but doing so can also introduce some risks and challenges.
5 Signs your stand ups need a tune up!
Here are some signs that your agile stand-up meetings may need a tune-up:
The meetings are not focused and tend to wander off topic.
Participants are not actively engaged in the meetings and are not providing updates or asking for help.
The meetings are not providing value to the team and are not helping to improve communication and collaboration.
The meetings are not helping the team to identify and address challenges and roadblocks in their work.
Team members don’t show up!
If your agile stand-up meetings are not providing value to the team and are not helping to improve communication and collaboration, it may be time to reassess how they are being run and make adjustments as needed to improve their effectiveness.
Recognize the stages of your team’s evolution
Forming, storming, norming, and performing are stages of team development first described by psychologist Bruce Tuckman in 1965. These stages are often referred to as Tuckman’s stages, and they describe the typical patterns of behavior that teams go through as they form, develop, and mature.
In the forming stage, team members are getting to know each other and establishing relationships. They may feel excited and enthusiastic about the work ahead, but they may also feel uncertain or anxious about their roles and responsibilities.
In the storming stage, team members may start to experience conflict or tension as they work to define their roles and establish their place within the team. This stage can be challenging, but it is also an opportunity for team members to learn more about each other and to build trust and understanding.
In the norming stage, team members start to work more cohesively and to establish norms and patterns of behavior. They may also start to develop a sense of shared identity and purpose.
In the performing stage, the team is working effectively and efficiently towards their goals. Team members are able to communicate openly and collaborate effectively, and they are able to adapt to changes and challenges as they arise.
It’s important to note that these stages are not necessarily linear, and teams may move back and forth between stages as they work together. As a team progresses through these stages, it’s important to provide support and guidance to help them develop and mature.
Tips for SMs to support their teams during “Storming”
Here are a few tips for scrum masters who have a team in the “storming” phase:
- Encourage open communication:
Encourage team members to share their thoughts and concerns openly and honestly, and create an environment where it is safe to express differences of opinion.
- Facilitate conflict resolution:
Help the team to identify and resolve conflicts as they arise. This may involve facilitating discussions or mediating disputes.
- Set clear expectations and roles:
Clearly communicate roles and responsibilities, and make sure that team members understand what is expected of them. This can help to reduce confusion and conflict.
- Foster a positive team culture:
Promote a supportive and inclusive environment, and encourage team members to work together and support one another.
- Provide support and guidance:
Help the team to identify and address challenges, and provide resources and tools to support their development.
By taking these steps, you can help your team to navigate the storming phase and move towards more effective and efficient collaboration.
Create a Kudos Card Wall
A kudos card wall is a technique that is often used during agile retrospectives to recognize and celebrate the achievements and contributions of team members.
To use a kudos card wall, the team creates a physical or virtual wall and prints or posts a set of blank cards on it. Team members are then invited to write down and post a “kudos card” for a teammate who they would like to recognize and thank for their contributions. The cards should include specific examples of what the team member did that was valuable or appreciated.
The purpose of the kudos card wall is to create a positive and supportive environment within the team and to recognize and celebrate the contributions of individual team members. It can help to build team morale and foster a sense of appreciation and gratitude within the team.
At the end of the retrospective, the team can review the kudos cards and discuss the positive impact that the recognized team members had on the team and the project. The cards can then be saved and displayed as a reminder of the team’s accomplishments and appreciation for each other.
Refresh your team’s working agreement
Agile teams establish a working agreement in order to establish clear expectations and ground rules for how team members will work together. A working agreement is a document that outlines the team’s expectations for communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution. It is a crucial tool for helping agile teams to be successful, as it provides a common framework for team members to follow and ensures that everyone is on the same page. Additionally, a working agreement can help to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts within the team, and it can also help to build trust and foster a sense of collaboration and cooperation. Ultimately, a working agreement is an essential part of any agile team, as it helps the team to be more efficient, effective, and successful.
A good working agreement for a scrum team should include a number of key elements. Some of the key elements that should be included in a working agreement for a scrum team include:
The team’s purpose and goals
The working agreement should clearly state the team’s purpose and goals, and provide a clear direction for the team to follow. This will help team members to understand what the team is working towards, and will provide a common framework for decision-making.
The team’s values and principles
The working agreement should also include the team’s values and principles. This may include values such as collaboration, communication, and continuous improvement. These values will guide the team’s behavior and decision-making, and will help to foster a positive and productive team culture.
The team’s roles and responsibilities
The working agreement should clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each team member. This will help to ensure that everyone understands their role and what is expected of them, and it will also help to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts within the team.
The team’s communication and collaboration practices
The working agreement should include the team’s communication and collaboration practices. This may include details such as how team members will communicate with each other, how decisions will be made, and how conflicts will be resolved.
The team’s rules and expectations
The working agreement should also include the team’s rules and expectations. This may include expectations for attendance, punctuality, and participation, as well as any other rules or guidelines that the team has agreed upon.
Let your scrum teams pick a team name
The act of a Scrum team picking a name can serve several purposes. First, it can help to promote a sense of unity and teamwork among team members. By choosing a name together, the team can feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves and can foster a sense of belonging.
Additionally, a team name can also help to establish the team’s identity, both within the organization and among stakeholders. This can be particularly useful in organizations with multiple Scrum teams, as it can help to distinguish one team from another and facilitate communication and collaboration.
Finally, choosing a team name can also be a fun and enjoyable activity that can help to build morale and foster a positive team culture. In this way, the act of picking a name can be seen as an important part of the team-building process.
Just a few examples although you will find your teams to be very creative:
The Sprint Masters
The Scrum Warriors
The Agile Ninjas
The Scrum All-Stars
The Agile Mavericks
Adjust your team capacity for PTO
o incorporate your paid time off (PTO) into your capacity for sprint planning, you can follow these steps:
Determine your team’s capacity
The first step is to determine how much work your team can realistically handle during the sprint. This will depend on the size of your team, their skills and expertise, and the complexity of the work.
Account for PTO
Once you know your team’s capacity, subtract the number of hours that team members will be out on PTO. This will give you a more accurate picture of the team’s capacity during the sprint.
Plan your work accordingly
Based on the remaining capacity, plan the work for the sprint. Make sure to prioritize the most important tasks and allocate them to team members who will be available during the sprint.
Reasons team members may be resisting change
There are a number of reasons why people may resist change during an agile transformation:
- Fear of the unknown:
Change can be intimidating, especially if it involves unfamiliar processes or tools. Some people may resist change out of a fear of the unknown or a fear of failure.
- Loss of control:
Some team members may feel like they are losing control or autonomy when their work processes are changed. They may be concerned about their ability to perform their job effectively under the new system.
- Comfort with the status quo:
People often become comfortable with their current work processes, even if they are not ideal. It can be difficult to break out of old habits and embrace new ways of working.
- Lack of understanding:
Some team members may not fully understand the benefits of the agile transformation or how it will impact their work. This can make it difficult for them to see the value in the change.
- Personal reasons:
Some people may resist change for personal reasons, such as a lack of confidence in their own abilities or a fear of being judged by their peers.
To overcome resistance to change, it’s important to communicate clearly and transparently about the reasons for the transformation and how it will benefit the team. Providing training and support to help team members understand and adapt to the new processes can also be helpful.
Most common impediments for scrum teams
There are many potential impediments that can impact a Scrum team’s ability to deliver value. Some common examples include:
Dependencies on other teams or external organizations
Scrum teams often rely on other teams or external organizations to complete their work. If these dependencies are not managed effectively, it can create delays and hinder progress.
Lack of clarity on user stories or acceptance criteria
If the team does not have a clear understanding of what is expected from each user story, it can be difficult for them to make progress.
Scrum teams may not have the necessary resources (e.g. time, money, personnel) to complete their work. This can create bottlenecks and delays.
Complex or poorly understood technical challenges can slow down progress and create frustration for team members.
If team members are not communicating effectively, it can be difficult to identify and resolve impediments in a timely manner.
Internal politics or conflicting priorities within the organization can create roadblocks for the Scrum team.
Personal issues, such as illness or other distractions, can impact an individual’s ability to contribute to the team’s work.
It’s important for Scrum teams to identify and address these and other impediments as quickly as possible to ensure that they are able to deliver value on a consistent basis.
Do you have “False Velocity”?
Carrying work over to the next sprint, also known as “carryover,” can be dangerous for a number of reasons.
Carryover can make it difficult to accurately track progress and measure the team’s velocity. In these situations, the team frequently spends time deciding how much partial credit to take and how to resize the remaining work for the next sprint. This “false velocity” can make it challenging for the team to accurately estimate how long it will take to complete future work, which can lead to unrealistic commitments and missed deadlines.
Carryover can also be a sign of larger problems within the team, such as a lack of proper planning, communication, or collaboration. It’s important for the team to regularly review their process and identify any potential issues that may be contributing to the carryover of work.
It’s important for Scrum teams to avoid carrying work over to the next sprint as much as possible and potentially complete less work, but complete that work to adhere to the definition of done.
Are you “waterfalling” your sprints?
In agile software development, a sprint is a short, fixed period of time (usually one to two weeks) during which a specific set of work is completed. Sprints are a key element of the agile process, and are used to deliver working software incrementally and to continuously gather feedback from stakeholders.
To “waterfall” a sprint means to adopt a more traditional, non-agile approach to completing the work within a sprint. This might involve creating a detailed plan at the beginning of the sprint, breaking the work down into specific tasks and assigning them to individual team members, and tracking progress using a Gantt chart or other project management tool. This might also involve focusing on development in a sprint, but pushing testing to another sprint.
Waterfalling a sprint can be problematic because it goes against the principles of agile, which emphasize flexibility, collaboration, and continuous delivery. Waterfalling a sprint can lead to inflexibility and a lack of adaptability, as the team is locked into a specific plan and may not be able to respond to changes or pivot as needed.
It is best to follow agile principles and practices when working within a sprint, rather than adopting a more traditional, waterfall approach.
Why are we always getting interrupted mid-sprint?
There are several potential reasons why your Scrum team’s sprints might be getting disrupted, and it’s likely that there is more than one contributing factor. Here are some common causes of disruptions in Scrum sprints:
- Changes in scope or priorities:
If the scope or priorities of the work being done in a sprint change frequently, it can be difficult for the team to maintain stability and focus.
- Lack of clear goals:
If the goals of the sprint are not clearly defined or understood by the team, it can be hard for team members to stay on track and make progress.
External interruptions, such as meetings or unplanned work, can disrupt the flow of work within a sprint and make it difficult for the team to maintain momentum.
- Team skills and experience:
If team members are not fully skilled or experienced in the work they are doing, it can lead to disruptions and delays.
- Communication issues:
Poor communication within the team or with stakeholders can lead to misunderstandings and misalignment, which can disrupt the progress of the sprint.
To address these issues, it may be helpful to review your team’s processes and identify areas for improvement. For example, you could work to better define the scope and goals of each sprint, establish clear communication channels, and provide training and support to team members as needed. It may also be helpful to have a Scrum Master or other agile coach work with the team to identify and address any challenges they are facing.
User Stories specify “why”, Tasks specify “how”
In agile development, the “why” or purpose behind the work being done is typically captured in user stories, while the “how” or specific tasks required to complete the work are captured in the accompanying task list.
A user story is a short, simple description of a feature or functionality that will be valuable to an end user. It typically follows the format: “As a [user], I want to [do something], so that [I can achieve some benefit].” User stories are focused on the value that the work will deliver to the end user and are used to guide the development process.
The task list, on the other hand, is a list of the specific tasks that need to be completed in order to implement the user story. These tasks should be small, specific, and achievable within a single sprint. The task list helps to break down the user story into smaller, more manageable chunks of work and provides a clear roadmap for the team to follow.
By separating the “why” (user stories) from the “how” (tasks), agile teams can focus on delivering value to the end user while also ensuring that the work is broken down into manageable chunks that can be completed efficiently.
Clean up those “orphaned” user stories
In agile development, a story (also called a user story) is a description of a feature or functionality that is desired by a user or customer. A story typically follows a specific format, such as “As a [user type], I want [some goal] so that [some reason].”
An orphaned agile story may have been identified and defined, but has not been prioritized or scheduled for implementation nor has it been connected to feature, product or portfolio roadmaps. Orphaned stories may be important to the customer or business, but they may not be the highest priority at the moment, or there may not be sufficient resources or capacity to work on them.
Orphaned stories are often recorded and tracked in the team’s backlog, which is a list of all the stories that the team has identified but has not yet completed. The backlog serves as a reference for the team and helps them prioritize their work.
It’s important for agile teams to periodically review their backlog and ensure that orphaned stories are still relevant and aligned with the business goals. If a story is no longer needed or has become outdated, it can be removed from the backlog. If a story is still important and should be considered for future implementation, it can be reevaluated and prioritized accordingly and should be properly linked to the feature and portfolio levels of the hierarchy.
When the user of your user story is actually a “system”
In agile software development, user stories are short, simple descriptions of a feature that is being developed. They are written from the perspective of the user and are used to capture the requirements for a feature.
When the user of a feature is another system, rather than a human user, the user story should still be written from the perspective of the system that is using the feature. For example, if a system is being developed to interface with another system, the user story might be written as:
“As a system that interfaces with other systems, I want to be able to exchange data with other systems using a standard protocol, so that I can seamlessly integrate with other systems.”
In this case, the user story is written from the perspective of the system that is being developed, and it clearly describes the desired functionality and the benefit that it provides.
It is important to note that user stories are just one tool that can be used to capture requirements in an agile development process. Other tools, such as acceptance criteria and technical design documents, may also be used to provide more detailed information about the feature being developed.
Clarify the difference between “Acceptance Criteria” and “Definition of Done”
In agile development, the “Definition of Done” (DoD) is a set of standards that a product or feature must meet in order to be considered complete. The DoD specifies the requirements that a product or feature must fulfill in order to be considered ready for release or deployment. The DoD is typically created by the development team, and it can include criteria such as code review, testing, and documentation requirements.
Acceptance criteria, on the other hand, are the specific requirements or conditions that a product or feature must meet in order to be accepted by the customer or stakeholder. Acceptance criteria are typically defined by the customer or stakeholder, and they outline the specific features or capabilities that the product must have in order to be considered successful.
While the DoD and acceptance criteria are related, they serve different purposes. The DoD is used by the development team to ensure that a product or feature is complete and ready for release, while acceptance criteria are used by the customer or stakeholder to evaluate whether the product or feature meets their needs and expectations.
Don’t blindly fill your team’s backlogs with tickets!
There are several potential dangers of just filling your agile team’s backlogs with tickets without proper planning and consideration:
Filling the backlog with too many tickets can lead to an overload of work for the team, resulting in burnout and decreased productivity.
Lack of focus
A backlog full of tickets can make it difficult for the team to prioritize their work and identify the most important tasks. This can lead to a lack of focus and inefficient use of resources.
Lack of vision
Filling the backlog with tickets without considering the long-term vision and goals of the project can result in a lack of direction and purpose for the team.
When team members feel overwhelmed or uncertain about their work, it can lead to decreased morale and engagement.
To avoid these dangers, it is important to carefully plan and prioritize the work in the backlog, and to regularly review and adjust the backlog to ensure that it aligns with the team’s goals and objectives. This will help to ensure that the team is focused on the right work and has the resources and support they need to be successful.
Top 10 Characteristics of Great Agile Teams
Here are the top 10 characteristics of great agile teams:
Great agile teams work together effectively and are able to collaborate and communicate effectively across different roles and disciplines.
Great agile teams are flexible and adaptable, able to respond quickly to changing requirements and priorities.
Great agile teams demonstrate empathy towards their customers and stakeholders, and are able to understand and prioritize their needs.
Great agile teams take ownership of their work and are committed to delivering high-quality results.
Great agile teams build trust through open communication and transparency, and are able to rely on each other to deliver on commitments.
Great agile teams demonstrate respect for their teammates and value diversity and inclusivity.
Great agile teams are willing to take risks and embrace change, and are not afraid to challenge the status quo.
- Continuous improvement:
Great agile teams are always looking for ways to improve their processes and practices, and are open to learning and experimentation.
Great agile teams are able to focus on the most important tasks and priorities, and are able to deliver results efficiently and effectively.
Great agile teams enjoy working together and find meaning and fulfillment in their work. They create a positive and supportive work environment that fosters creativity and innovation.
Beware of the long sprint
Sprints that are too long can lead to a number of problems in an agile development process. Some potential consequences of creating sprints that are too long include:
Decreased focus and motivation
Long sprints can lead to a loss of focus and motivation among team members, as they may feel that the end of the sprint is too far off to be meaningful. This can lead to a decrease in productivity and engagement.
Increased risk of scope creep
Long sprints can also increase the risk of scope creep, as new ideas and requirements may emerge over the course of the sprint. This can lead to delays and make it difficult for the team to complete the work that was originally planned.
Increased risk of burnout
Working on a single sprint for an extended period of time can lead to burnout among team members, as they may feel overwhelmed by the volume of work. This can lead to a decrease in quality and an increase in errors and defects.
Difficulty adapting to changes
Long sprints can also make it more difficult for the team to adapt to changes or course-correct if necessary. This can lead to delays and inefficiencies in the development process.
In general, it’s important to carefully consider the length of sprints in an agile development process, and to strike a balance between allowing sufficient time to complete the work and maintaining focus and momentum.
3 Reasons to Timebox the Sprint
Timeboxing a sprint is the practice of setting a fixed length of time for the sprint, and it is an important aspect of agile development. There are several reasons why timeboxing a sprint is important:
- It helps to maintain focus and momentum:
Timeboxing a sprint helps to maintain focus and momentum by setting clear boundaries around the work that will be completed during the sprint. This can help to prevent scope creep and ensure that the team stays on track.
- It allows for frequent feedback and review:
Timeboxing a sprint also allows for frequent feedback and review, as the team can review and assess the progress made at the end of each sprint. This can help to identify any issues or challenges that need to be addressed, and can provide an opportunity to course-correct if necessary.
- It enables better planning and estimation:
Finally, timeboxing a sprint can help with planning and estimation, as it provides a clear framework for the team to use when determining how much work can be realistically completed during the sprint. This can help to improve the accuracy of estimates and improve the overall efficiency of the development process.
Explain “Sprint Zero”
Sprint zero is a term used in agile software development to refer to the initial planning phase of a project. It is the first sprint in a project and typically involves activities such as gathering and analyzing requirements, creating a high-level project plan, and defining the scope of the project. The purpose of sprint zero is to establish a solid foundation for the project, so that the team can begin working on actual features and functionality in subsequent sprints. Sprint zero may also involve setting up the development environment, establishing project management tools and processes, and identifying any dependencies or constraints that will affect the project. It is important to note that sprint zero is not a traditional sprint in the sense that it does not involve the actual development of any deliverables. Instead, it is focused on planning and preparation for the rest of the project.
Continuously missing sprint Goals? Reset!
Here are some steps that agile teams can take to reset themselves when they continuously miss their sprint goals:
Review and assess the current process
The first step in resetting an agile team that is missing its sprint goals is to review and assess the current process. This might involve reviewing the team’s planning and estimation practices, looking for potential sources of scope creep or other issues that may be causing delays, and identifying any other challenges or roadblocks that may be impacting the team’s ability to meet its goals.
Identify and prioritize key issues
Once the team has identified the key issues that are causing them to miss their sprint goals, they can prioritize these issues and develop a plan to address them. This might involve making adjustments to the team’s process or workflow, improving communication and collaboration within the team, or finding new ways to manage scope and focus on the most important work.
Set new, realistic goals
Once the team has identified and addressed the key issues that were causing them to miss their sprint goals, they can set new, realistic goals for the next sprint. This might involve revising the scope of work or adjusting the team’s capacity to ensure that the goals are achievable.
Regularly review and assess progress
To help ensure that the team stays on track and meets its goals, it is important to regularly review and assess progress throughout the sprint. This might involve setting up regular check-ins or stand-ups, or using agile tools and techniques such as burn-down charts to track progress and identify any issues that need to be addressed.
Resetting an agile team that is continuously missing its sprint goals involves reviewing and assessing the current process, identifying and addressing key issues, setting new, realistic goals, and regularly reviewing and assessing progress. By following these steps, teams can reset themselves and get back on track to successfully meeting their sprint goals.
Examples of Productive Failing Fast
One example of failing fast in agile is the “fail fast” mentality, which encourages teams to identify and address potential problems early on in the development process. This approach helps teams to quickly identify issues, learn from them, and make necessary adjustments before they become major roadblocks.
Another example of failing fast in agile is the use of prototyping and iterative development. By creating prototypes and testing them early in the development process, teams can quickly identify and address problems, rather than spending a lot of time and resources on a solution that might not work.
A third example of failing fast in agile is the use of continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) practices. By regularly integrating code changes and delivering them to production environments, teams can quickly identify and fix issues as they arise, rather than waiting until the end of a development cycle to discover problems. This helps teams to move more quickly and efficiently, and reduces the risk of major disruptions or failures.
But don’t misinterpret the concept of failing fast in these ways:
Thinking that it’s acceptable to neglect quality
Some teams might interpret failing fast as a license to cut corners or neglect quality in order to move quickly. However, failing fast does not mean ignoring best practices or sacrificing quality in the name of speed. In fact, maintaining high standards of quality is essential for ensuring that a product or solution is reliable and effective in the long term.
Failing to learn from mistakes
Failing fast is meant to help teams learn from their mistakes and make necessary adjustments. However, if a team fails to reflect on and learn from their failures, they might continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.
Failing to consider the impact on stakeholders
Failing fast should not be done at the expense of stakeholders, such as customers or users. Teams should consider the impact of their failures on these stakeholders and work to minimize any negative effects.
Failing to plan for contingencies
While failing fast is about identifying and addressing problems early on, it’s also important to have a plan in place for handling unexpected setbacks or failures. Teams should anticipate potential risks and have a plan in place for dealing with them, rather than simply reacting to problems as they arise.
Are your teams FAKING demos?
Faking demos in an agile environment refers to the practice of presenting work as being further along or more complete than it actually is in order to mislead stakeholders or to create the impression of progress. This can be damaging to the trust and credibility of the team, and can hinder the effectiveness of the agile process.
Here are a few examples of faking demos in an agile environment:
- Demonstrating incomplete or non-functional features:
Presenting features that are incomplete or non-functional as if they are fully functional and ready for release. This may mean showing a feature working, but failing to indicate that it has not been integrated with other code that could uncover issues.
- Using mock-ups or prototypes as if they are fully functional:
Presenting mock-ups or prototypes as if they are fully functional, when in reality they are not.
- Conducting the demo via powerpoint:
This is a sign that the team does not have working software.
Faking demos undermines the integrity of the agile process and can damage the trust and credibility of the team. It is important for teams to be transparent and honest about their progress, and to demonstrate progress through working software whenever possible.
Tips for preparing for a successful demo
There are a few key steps that agile teams can take to prepare for their demos:
Identify the objectives
Clearly define the objectives of the demo, including the specific features or functionality that you want to showcase, and the key messages that you want to communicate to the audience.
Plan the demo
Create a plan for the demo, including the sequence of events, the specific features or functionality that you will showcase, and any supporting materials that you will use.
Practice the demo
Practice the demo to ensure that you are comfortable with the material and that you can effectively showcase the software. This may involve rehearsing the demo with the team or doing a dry run with a smaller group.
Gather supporting materials
Gather any supporting materials that you will use during the demo, including slides, handouts, or other visual aids.
Test the software
Test the software to ensure that it is functioning correctly and that it is ready to be demonstrated. This may involve running through a checklist of key features or functionality to ensure that everything is working as expected.
Confirm the details
Confirm the details of the demo, including the date, time, location, and any logistical considerations such as connectivity or equipment needs.
Preparing for a demo requires careful planning and practice in order to effectively showcase the software and communicate its value to the audience.
Considerations for Scrum of Scrums
Scrum of scrums is a method used by teams that are working on large, complex projects. It is a way for teams to coordinate their work and ensure that they are all moving in the same direction. This is especially important in agile software development, where teams are working on interdependent tasks and need to be able to quickly and efficiently communicate with each other in order to meet deadlines and deliver high-quality products.
Here are a few tips for running an effective scrum of scrums:
Identify the key stakeholders who will be participating in the scrum of scrums and ensure that they are committed to the process.
Establish a regular schedule for the scrum of scrums meetings, and make sure that all participants are able to attend.
Keep the meetings focused and on track. Use a facilitator to keep the conversation moving and ensure that all participants have a chance to speak.
Set clear goals and objectives for the scrum of scrums meetings, and make sure that all participants are aware of what is expected of them.
Use the meetings to discuss challenges and roadblocks that the teams are facing, and work together to find solutions.
Encourage open communication and collaboration among the teams, and foster a culture of trust and transparency.
8 Ways to Create thriving CoPs (Communities of Practice)
Body: As organizations look to increase collaboration and learning opportunities, creating Communities of Practice (CoPs) has become an increasingly popular way to do so. CoPs are voluntary networks of people who share information and a common interest in a particular area or topic. They are a great way to foster communication and collaboration amongst members, and can be incredibly valuable to an organization. But how do you create a successful CoP?
Here are the 8 best ways to create a thriving Community of Practice.
1. Identify the purpose and scope of the CoP.
Before you begin creating the CoP, it is important to identify the purpose and scope of the group. What is the goal of the CoP? What topics or areas does it cover? What will members be expected to do? These are all important questions to consider before you begin.
2. Engage stakeholders.
Identifying stakeholders and engaging them in the process is essential for creating a successful CoP. Stakeholders can provide valuable input on the purpose and scope of the CoP, as well as insight on who should be involved.
3. Establish clear membership criteria.
Establishing clear criteria for membership will help ensure that the right people are involved in the CoP and that the group is focused on the right topics.
4. Establish a governance model.
Establishing a governance model for the CoP will ensure that it is well-managed and that decisions are made in a consistent and efficient manner.
5. Develop a communication plan.
A good communication plan should include both internal and external communication strategies. This will ensure that members are kept up to date on the CoP’s activities and that the CoP is visible to potential members.
6. Set realistic goals.
Setting realistic goals for the CoP is important for keeping members engaged and motivated. It is also important for measuring the success of the CoP.
7. Monitor and evaluate progress.
Monitoring and evaluating progress is essential for ensuring that the CoP is on track and meeting its goals.
8. Celebrate success.
Celebrating successes, both big and small, is a great way to keep members engaged and motivated.
Creating a successful CoP takes time, effort, and dedication. But with the right approach, you can create a thriving CoP that will be beneficial to both members and the organization.
5 Tips: Improving Engagement for Communities of Practice
1. Encourage participation and collaboration
Encourage members of the community of practice to actively participate and collaborate with each other. This could include setting up forums or discussion groups, hosting regular meetings or webinars, or encouraging members to share their experiences and knowledge with each other.
2. Provide opportunities for learning and growth
Offer opportunities for members to learn new skills and advance their knowledge and careers. This could include hosting training sessions, providing access to online resources, or offering mentorship programs.
3. Foster a sense of community and belonging
Create a welcoming and inclusive environment that encourages members to feel like they are part of a larger community. This could include hosting social events, creating recognition programs, or simply making an effort to connect with members on a personal level.
4. Make it easy for members to access resources and information
Provide easy access to resources and information that members of the community of practice can use to support their work and professional development. This could include online libraries, databases, or forums where members can ask questions and get answers from experts in the field.
5. Encourage innovation and creativity
Encourage members to think creatively and come up with new ideas and solutions to problems. This could include hosting hackathons or innovation challenges, or simply encouraging an open and creative culture within the community of practice.
Tips for getting promoted in an agile environment
Here are some ways you can increase your chances of getting promoted in an agile environment:
Understand the agile principles and values and apply them in your work. This includes being proactive, collaborative, and adaptable.
Contribute to the team’s success by taking ownership of your work, being reliable, and continuously improving your skills.
Communicate effectively with your team members and stakeholders. This includes being transparent, open to feedback, and actively seeking out opportunities to collaborate.
Be proactive in identifying and addressing roadblocks or challenges that may be hindering the team’s progress.
Seek out opportunities to learn and grow, both within your team and in the broader organization. This could involve taking on additional responsibilities, participating in training or development programs, or seeking out mentors or coaches.
Foster a positive and inclusive culture within your team. This could involve being a role model for others, helping to resolve conflicts, and supporting the growth and development of your team members.
To get promoted in an agile environment, it’s important to demonstrate that you are a valuable contributor to the team’s success and that you are committed to continuously learning and improving.