Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cultivating Collaboration via intense partnerships to solve problems.

I'm presenting this workshop at DFW Scrum.


DFW Scrum Meeting Aug. 18th 2015
It’s said that two heads are better than one, in reference to problem solving. We will use Tangram puzzles to simulate this experience, and via structured debriefs of these exercises, discover the powerful behaviors of awesome collaboration, and the negative warning signs of poor collaboration. We will jump right into simulation exercises, come prepared to have FUN and learn by doing. 
 No lecture - if you want a lecture… go here: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=+collaboration+pair+programming+lectures

Here are some of the resources and exercise if you wish to reproduce this workshop or want to dig further into the science behind collaboration.

Presentation Cultivation Collaboration (PDF)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Retromat:: A well planned Retro

Retrospective at GameStop based upon Corinna Baldaug's Retromat.


Retro process phases: Set the Stage, Gather Data, Generate Insight, Decide what to Do, Close the Retro

REF: http://plans-for-retrospectives.com


Set the Stage: give time to “arrive” and get into the right mood and focus upon the goal
Gather Data: reflect upon what happened, create a shared pool of information
Generate Insight: why did things happen this way? What patterns can we observe?
Decide What to Do: Pick what to work on, plan concrete steps of action
Close the Retro: reflect upon the retrospective, how could it improve? What shall we follow-up upon?


Activities for this Retro:


Quick Questions 
In ONE word – what do you need from the retro?
In ONE word – what is on your mind?
In ONE word – what is you current mindset in regards to your project: are you a:
Explorer – eager to dive in and research what worked
Shopper – Positive, happy if 1 good thing come out
Vacationer – Reluctant, but retros beat regular work
Prisoner – Only attend because they make you


The Four Ls
Regarding the last iteration, individually for each of these 4 questions (one item per sticky) write:
What I Loved
What I Learned
What I Lacked
What I Longed for


Perfection Game
Everyone rates the last iteration on scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (perfect).
Next – make suggestion to raise your rating toward a 10, rate that suggestion using remaining 10 – x points


Circle of Influence & Concern
On a chart of concentric circles… inner to outter circle;
Team controls – direct action
Team influences – persuasive action
System – response action


Sort insight from Perfection Game into circle of influence & concern;
Write possible actions – annotate the item with actions
Dot vote on which action to attempt

The team created this info graphic of their Four Ls exercise using the Circle of Influence & Concern. Stepping back they realized - they are the master's of their domain.

We Control our own Destiny

Feedback Door – Smilies
Happy, OK, Sad
Mark your satisfaction with the retro session on the chart.



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

On my ToDo book shelf




A wish list of books I'd like to read...




Passionate Performance  by Lee J. Colan

This quick read cuts through the clutter to offer practical strategies to engage the minds and heart of your employeees. Learn why this is such a powerful advantage for your organization. Read it and conquer your competition!

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World   by General Stanley McChrystal


A NEW APPROACH FOR A NEW WORLDMcChrystal and his colleagues discarded a century of conventional wisdom and remade the Task Force, in the midst of a grueling war, into something new: a network that combined extremely transparent communication with decentralized decision-making authority. The walls between silos were torn down. Leaders looked at the best practices of the smallest units and found ways to ex­tend them to thousands of people on three continents, using technology to establish a oneness that would have been impossible even a decade earlier. The Task Force became a “team of teams”—faster, flatter, more flex­ible—and beat back Al Qaeda.

How could we measure Team Happiness?

Do you believe that what you measure you will get?  If so you want to start to measure team happiness.  So what techniques do we have to measure something so ephemeral?


The health care industry has studied measuring pain and have very good data on their ability to measure and administer pain drugs upon a subjective self report.  Maybe we could do the same in knowledge worker teams and work groups.

Team Happiness Net Promoter Score sheet
Here's a riff upon the classic Net Promoter Score for measuring team happiness.

 "How likely is it that you would recommend our team to a trusted friend that is looking for a job?"

To calculate the NPS - the continuum is divided into 3 groups; the detractors (1 - 6), the passive (7 & 8), the promoters (9 & 10).  The passive are ignored - they do not promote your objective.  The NET promoter score is the percentage of people promoting your objective minus the percentage of people detracting from your objective.

     NPS = Promoter % - Detractor %  (valid range +100% to -100%)


How does this objective of promoting your team as a recommendation for a friend seeking a job a proxy for team happiness?  I've not met many good people that would shaft a friend by recommending an unhappy team - have you?

Note:  with small populations (like a scrum team) there is high variability based upon a few people's scoring,  another companion metric would be the percentage of people participating in the survey.  Did the whole team play - or do you have a core group that is the in-group?

See Also:

Visualizing Agility: Agile Metrics that Matter by Jay Packlick

Monday, July 27, 2015

Transparency - Two Way Visibility

What does the value of Transparency really mean?
Nextgov: How do you define transparency?
Fung: My definition is quite a bit different from the conventional wisdom about transparency. A transparency system is designed to allow people to improve the quality of decisions they make in some way, shape or form, and it enables them to improve their decisions to reduce the risks they face or to protect their interests. Some of those decisions are about political accountability but some are in private life, like what food to buy or what doctor to go to.
-- Archon Fung, professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government who studies government transparency.

Does your company practice fair pay?  Here's what one worker brought to Google and made a difference in transparency at the search giant.
Tell Your Co-Workers How Much You Make!  There's no law against it and it increases the chances you'll be paid fairly.

Does the Agile Manifesto imply some form of organizational transparency? I believe so, yes.  Here's what Jeff Sutherland has to say about the topic, look for the Individual and Interaction section.  Agile Principles and Values by Jeff Sutherland on MSDN.

Scrum's 5 core values list the concept of Openness.  Is this not very similar to Transparency?

There are lots of synonyms - visibility, openness, observable, apparent, etc.

Does this value of transparency imply that the information flows in both directions, up and down an organizational hierarchy, from line-workers to managers & directors, as well as from CEO to directors and wage earners also?


See Also:


Friday, July 24, 2015

Scrum Immersion workshop at GameStop - Case Study

Here's a overview of a Scrum Immersion workshop done at GameStop this month. A case study example.

Normally these workshops start with the leadership (the stakeholders or shareholders) which have a vision for a product (or project). This time we skipped this activity.

The purpose of the Workshop is to ensure alignment between the leadership team and the Agile Coaches with regards to the upcoming scrum workshop for the team(s). Set expectations for a transition from current (ad-hoc) practices to Scrum. Explain and educate on the role of the Product Owner.

Expected Outcomes:
  • Create a transition plan/schedule
  • Set realistic expectations for transition and next release
  • Overview of Scrum & leadership in an Agile environment
  • Identify a Scrum Product Owner – review role expectations
  • Alignment on Project/Program purpose or vision
  • Release goal (within context of Project/Program & Scrum transition)

Once we have alignment on the Product Owner role and the Project Vision we typically do a second workshop for the PO to elaborate the Product Vision into a Backlog. This time we skipped this activity.

The purpose of the Workshop is to educate the Product Owner (one person) and prepare a product backlog for the scrum immersion workshop. Also include the various consultants, SME, BA, developers, etc. in the backlog grooming process. 
Expected Outcomes:
  • Set realistic expectations for transition and next release
  • Overview of Scrum & Product Owner role (and how the team supports this role)
  • Set PO role responsibilities and expectations
  • Alignment of Release goal (within context of Project/Program & Scrum transition)
  • Product Backlog ordered (prioritized) for the first 2 sprints
  • Agreement to Scrum cadence for planning meetings and grooming backlog and sprint review meetings

Once we have a PO engaged and we have a Product Backlog it is time to launch the team with a workshop - this activity typically requires from 2 to 5 days. This is the activity we did at GameStop this week.
The primary purpose of the workshop is to teach just enough of the Scrum process framework and the Agile mindset to get the team functioning as a Scrum team and working on the product backlog immediately after the workshop ends (begin Sprint One). 
Expected Outcomes:
  • Set realistic expectations for transition and next release
  • Basic mechanics of Scrum process framework
  • Understanding of additional engineering practices required to be an effective Scrum team A groomed / refined product backlog for 1- 3 iterations
  • A backlog that is estimated for 1 – 3 iterations
  • A Release plan, and expectations of its fidelity – plans to re-plan
  • Ability to start the very next day with Sprint Planning

Images from the workshop

The team brainstormed and the prioritized the objectives and activities of the workshop.


Purpose and Objectives of the Workshop
The team then prioritized the Meta backlog (a list of both work items and learning items and activities) for the workshop.

Meta Backlog of workshop teams - ordered by participants

Possible PBI for Next Meta Sprint

Possible PBI for Later Sprints

Possible PBI for Some Day

Possible PBI for Another Month or Never

A few examples of work products (outcomes) from the workshop.

Affinity grouping of Persona for the user role in stories

Project Success Sliders activity
Team Roster (# of teams person is on)

A few team members working hard
Three stories written during elaboration activity

A few stories after Affinity Estimation

Release Planning:  Using the concept of deriving duration based upon the estimated effort.  We made some assumptions of the business desired outcome;  that was to finish the complete product backlog by a fixed date.
The 1st iteration of a Release Plan
 That didn't feel good to the team, so we tried a different approach.  To fix the scope and cost, but to have a variable timeframe.
The 2nd iteration of a Release Plan
 That didn't feel good to the PO, so we tried again.  This time we fixed the cost and time, but varied the features, and broke the product backlog into milestones of releasable, valuable software.
The 3rd iteration of a Release Plan
This initial release plan feels better to both the team and the PO, so we start here.  Ready for sprint planning tomorrow.



Friday, July 10, 2015

Exercise: Pair Programming Simulation using Tangrams

Yesterday (July, 2015) we did a lunch-n-learn at GameStop HQ on pair programming.  I think it was a great success, largely because we serve food, and I've been told that everything goes better when people are sharing a meal together (and even better with adult beverages).


Are you interested in Pair Programming?  I'll confess, the term is a bit misleading.  I was asked by multiple people if the topic was just for programmers.  No - no it's not just a programming technique. It is also for any kind of knowledge work.  Such as testing, or analysis, or writing stories, or ... yes coding, scripting, excel spreadsheets, etc.



The Agenda: Pair Programming Simulation


Start with a warm up exercise (totally non-related to the topic).  This allows all the late arrivals to find a seat and not miss out on the real start of the session.  I've found this technique (soft start) to be a required technique for companies that have not adopted basic meeting protocols, such as finishing prior to the start of the next meeting.  IF one does not finish on time, how can one start on time?

We used Thiagi's warm up of Buying Happiness

Flipped this lesson.  Although the experiment resulted in a - How Fascinating (failure).  No one actually participated in the homework to read the lesson before the experience session.  We continued without doing any actual lecture.

PDF - Pair Programming - Lessons

Query the audience - to share the common level of people with respect to the domain knowledge.  Ask a few questions - raise your hand if you have heard of pair programming, if you've done pair programming, if you only program in a pairs (every day)?  Look around - these are the experts.  Raise your hand if you are a beginner?  When you read the homework on pairing, you remember that pairing beginners with beginners is an anti-pattern.  So what shall we do about that?

Restructure the seating arrangements, have people select appropriate pair for their skill level.  Don't allow the beginners to sit together and the experts to create a click.

Part ONE.  Pair Drawing.

Let's do the simplest thing that could possibly work... everyone has learned to draw/sketch.  Let's use this innate skill to explore pairing basics.

PDF - Pair Face Drawing

Part TWO.  Lunch.

Typically what draws everyone to your meeting... food.  Don't do Lunch-n-Learn with out this.

Part Three.  Pair Puzzle Solving.

Let's extend our learning into a harder problem domain... solving a puzzle - Tangrams.

PDF - Pair Puzzle - Tangram Solving

This exercise can touch upon the aspects of Test-First (TDD) practices.  Typically a topic for another Lunch-n-Learn.

Debrief.

A great facilitator does the exercise / simulation just to get to the debrief.  Reflection is the only activity where double loop learning may occur.  Using metaphor and analogy to relate drawing faces or solving Tangrams to developing software is the job of the debrief.


In a large group with many subgroups this can be done by projecting the debrief question on the screen and having the subgroups (tables) debrief themselves.  Extra points given for summaries of learning points or action items discovered.

We did a debrief after each example problem.  Then ran out of time to debrief the whole workshop - but did get Level One feedback on the workshop.  It was a 8 or 9 (out of 10) with a few improvement to make for next time.