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The Founder Effect

One way to scale Scrum is to get one team functioning (mature team) and then populate new teams by dividing the original members up amongst the newly created teams. Does this work?  I think the answer is both yes and no.  Does science have any analogies to study that would help us to predict what factors lead to the yes answer and away from the no answer?

The Founder Effect - an effect that evolutionary biology predicts from the classic theory of evolution.  The most adaptable will survive.  We agilist believe in this theory.  Here's a study of the founder effect in Caribbean lizards.  The study reflects that the founders of a population have a significant  effect upon the new population.  However the environment also has a significant effect.

To draw the conclusion the studies author,  Schoener said: “The answer we found is that founder effects can leave a persistent signal as generations replace one another over time, even as populations adapt to new conditions. Our study of these fundamental evolutionary principles affects our general understanding of how the biological world works.”

What should this tell you about the Scrum scaling practice?  That the individuals that found the new teams will have a large effect upon the team's performance.  And that the environment will influence this team also.  What I think we forget in making this scaling Scrum technique is that significant energy (Scrum coaching) went into the first team.  This is an environmental factor.  If that factor is removed for the subsequent team then the individual will have a much more difficult time instilling the philosophy of Agile by themselves.  Their "signal" will be diluted in the progenitor team.  Now if the organizational values and principles are Agile (truly Agile) then the environment is going to support this lone founder.  Yet, in many transformations this is not true - the scaling happens before the organization has had the changes set.

Founders are very important.  My favorite technique for Scrum adoption is to "stack the deck" - embed 2 or 3 known agilist on the team.  Yet, the environment is perhaps the one thing that the leadership has more control over.

In the book Switch - by Chip and Dan Heath creates a wonderful metaphor for change.  The rider, elephant, and the environment give us a nice model for what we can effect as change agents.

I just walked into the workplace bay of a team that did just this Scrum scaling technique.  Eight months later, I could no longer tell that the teams were practicing Scrum.  The environment did not sustain their new Scrum practices. The founders were mutated toward the old ways faster than they muted the processes toward the new Scrum processes.  The Scrum adoption didn't manifest in the next generation team.
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David's notes on "Drive"

- "The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us" by Dan Pink.

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What I notice first and really like is the subtle implication in the shadow of the "i" in Drive is a person taking one step in a running motion.  This brings to mind the old saying - "there is no I in TEAM".  There is however a ME in TEAM, and there is an I in DRIVE.  And when one talks about motivating a team or an individual - it all starts with - what's in it for me.

Introduction

Pink starts with an early experiment with monkeys on problem solving.  Seems the monkeys were much better problem solver's than the scientist thought they should be.  This 1949 experiment is explained as the early understanding of motivation.  At the time there were two main drivers of motivation:  biological & external influences.  Harry F. Harlow defines the third drive in a novel theory:  "The performance of the task provided intrinsic reward" (p 3).  This is Dan Pink's M…

What is your Engagement Model?

What must an Agile Transformation initiative have to be reasonably assured of success?

We "change agents" or Agilist, or Organizational Development peeps, or Trouble Makers, or Agile Coaches have been at this for nearly two decades now... one would think we have some idea of the prerequisites for one of these Transformations to actually occur.  Wonder if eight Agile Coaches in a group could come up with ONE list of necessary and sufficient conditions - an interesting experiment.  Will that list contain an "engagement model"?  I venture to assert that it will not.  When asked very few Agile Coaches, thought leaders, and change agents mention much about employee engagement in their plans, models, and "frameworks".  Stop and ask yourselves ... why?

Now good Organizational Development peeps know this is crucial, so I purposely omitted them from that list to query.

One, central very important aspect of your Agile Transformation will be your Engagement model.  

Exercise:: Definition of Ready & Done

Assuming you are on a Scrum/Agile software development team, then one of the first 'working agreements' you have created with your team is a 'Definition of Done' - right?



Oh - you don't have a definition of what aspects a user story that is done will exhibit. Well then, you need to create a list of attributes of a done story. One way to do this would be to Google 'definition of done' ... here let me do that for you: http://tinyurl.com/3br9o6n. Then you could just use someone else's definition - there DONE!

But that would be cheating -- right? It is not the artifact - the list of done criteria, that is important for your team - it is the act of doing it for themselves, it is that shared understanding of having a debate over some of the gray areas that create a true working agreement. If some of the team believes that a story being done means that there can be no bugs found in the code - but some believe that there can be some minor issues - well, …

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Martin Fowler's book Refactoring:  Improving the Design of Existing Code has a simple example of a movie rental domain model, which he refactors from a less than ideal object-oriented design to a more robust OO design. Included in this Refactoring_FirstExample.zip Zip file are the Java source code files of the Movie, Rental, and Customer classes. Along with a JUnit CustomerTest class. Using these example source files you too can follow along with the refactoring that Fowler presents in the first few chapters of his book.


Metrics for a Scrum Team (examples)

What metrics do you collect to analyze your scrum team?

We live in a world of data and information.  Some people have a mindset that numbers will diagnose all problems – “just show me the data.”  Therefore many directors and senior managers wish to see some list of metrics that should indicate the productivity and efficiency of the Scrum team.  I personally believe this is something that can be felt, that human intuition is much better in this decision realm than the data that can be collected.  However, one would have to actually spend time and carefully observe the team in action to get this powerful connection to the energy in a high-performing team space.  Few leaders are willing to take this time, they delegate this information synthesis task to managers via the typical report/dashboard request.  Therefore we are asked to collect data, to condense this data into information, all while ignoring the intangible obvious signals (read Honest Signals by Sandy Pentland of MIT).
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