Sunday, November 21, 2010

Do you know how to stack the deck?

You want to make an Agile transformation in your work group.  What one action could facilitate that Agile transformation?

I have a friend who's 5 year old son was learning to play card games. After learning a few games, she noticed that he had learned to stack the deck. No one had taught him, he discovered he could influence the outcome of the games if he ordered the cards in a "better" way. Shuffling is so old school.
Would it be cheating if you stacked the deck?

The most successful Agile transformations I've been a part of were rigged games.  The sponsors allowed the teams to hire new staff (programers, testers, team leads, coaches).  The staff they hired were not typical - they were Agilist.

All you need to transition a team to Agile is three developers.  A team is 7 +/-2.  If just 3 of those people are going to do the Agile thing given any problem - then the team is stacked.

Image a retrospective.  The team is trying to decide on a problem: Last sprint we were disorganized, fighting lots of story "fires" but it could have been more focused.  We didn't plan out the stories very well.  A proposed solution is to Task the stories during planning meeting next sprint.  With a stacked team, that should be an easy consensus (Fist to Five) to change the teams process toward a more Agile (Scrum) process.  Or the team could experiment with limiting work in process and encourage swarming - a Lean technique.

These stacked teams transitioned to an Agile life style much more quickly than other teams without a stacked team.  Wonder why?  Is it because behavior that is described and modeled is easier to assimilate into our own behavior?  We are use to learning by example.
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