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Learn Scrum - a video series

How do you want to learn about Agile/Scrum?  This question is a 21st century problem.  Only a few years ago (last century) there was practically one way to learn a new skill or domain of knowledge - study via the printed page, e.g. buy a book.  But today we have alternative ways.  And yes they very well may be better at teaching than books.  Heck, I know a woman that learned English by watching cartoon network in Poland.

So when people want to learn about Scrum (or Agile - they are not the same thing) I typically ask how they would like to learn.  Do you want a book, or a google search term, or perhaps a video?  Most people are responding to the question with a request for a video.

Scrum Training Series (dot-com)
Here's my best resource:  The Scrum Training Series is 6 video cartoons that follow a new team into the daily activities and learning of a newly forming team with a Scrum Trainer (facilitator or coach) by the name of Michael James of CollabNet.  And yes, he wears a cowboy hat in real life also.  The videos are in 6 modules:  Introduction to Scrum; Backlog Refinement Meeting; Sprint Planning Meeting; Daily Scrum Meeting; Sprint Review Meeting; Sprint Retrospective Meeting. There are also quizzes to be taken along the way.  I suggest you watch these with a group and then discuss the topic, compare and contrast what you are currently doing or have done in the past with what the team in the video does to succeed.

Since I've been doing the Agile Coaching gig, I've never seen a successful team that didn't have an engaged and dedicated Product Owner.  This is the first role to get functioning in an Agile transition (adoptions or transformation), and sadly the most overlooked (see: 5 keys to Scrum Adoption).  Why is it often overlooked?  Because it is a leadership role, and most leaders are not willing to change how they approach doing work.  Rather they wish the teams (individual contributors) to change while the leaders are allowed to stay in status quo.  (See Also:  We Don't Hire Product Owners Here  by Rich Mironov).

A great video overview of the Product Owner role in Scrum is by Henrik Kniberg of Crisp's Blog: Agile Product Ownership in a Nutshell.

Here is Kniberg's explanation of what your manager is doing when they optimize resource utilization rates on your team.  Is this what you really wanted?
The resource utilization trap

And another of Kniberg's videos on Spotify culture and how they have mutated Scrum.

Mike Cohn has entered this space of educational videos with a new (Apr. 2014) offering called Front Row Agile,  a pay for access site.  Currently most courses are labeled "coming soon".

Alan Dayley of Big Visible has a nice example of Release Planning:

Rally Dev has some videos on their Agile Chalk Talk series:

Iteration Planning

User Stories

Story Points

Sizing and Estimation

Agile Teams

Agile Manifesto

Retrospecting Your Iterations

Lean and Agile

Kanban and Scrum

If you find other videos on the web that are useful - please add them in the comments below.  Thanks.

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David's notes on "Drive"

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

Amazon book order
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.


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…

Elements of an Effective Scrum Task Board

What are the individual elements that make a Scrum task board effective for the team and the leadership of the team?  There are a few basic elements that are quite obvious when you have seen a few good Scrum boards... but there are some other elements that appear to elude even the most servant of leaders of Scrum teams.

In general I'm referring to a physical Scrum board.  Although software applications will replicated may of the elements of a good Scrum board there will be affordances that are not easily replicated.  And software applications offer features not easily implemented in the physical domain also.

Scrum Info Radiator Checklist (PDF) Basic Elements
Board Framework - columns and rows laid out in bold colors (blue tape works well)
Attributes:  space for the total number of stickies that will need to belong in each cell of the matrix;  lines that are not easy eroded, but are also easy to replace;  see Orientation.

Columns (or Rows) - labeled
    To Do
    Work In P…

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: 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, …

A Beloved Community Fixture

Does your Agile community have a local hub, a place where you are 80% sure you will run into almost everyone in the local universe if you attend enough events, meet ups, and bar tabs?

Mine does, ... let's test this out...  I will tell you my locations - and if you know much about it, let's see if you can ... guess, ... no, not guess,  predict, no... forecast - can you forecast the name of our local hub of Agile community?

I'm in Grapevine, TX ... let me broaden that for you...  Dallas / Fort Worth.

Now if you have any experience with the DFW area ... been to user groups in the area or perhaps software development oriented conferences.... you may know the place where... like Cheers - where everybody knows your name.  Who is it?

Spoilers .... hi sweetie ... I will put the answer a bit further down the page.
I just read this article in INC. - Here's the Secret Sauce for Turning Your Business Into a Beloved Community FixtureBy Leigh Buchanan Editor-at-large, Inc. magazine.

Craftsman - is not the gender neutral term we men believe it to be

Pondering... why are gender "neutral" words such as craftsman are not as gender neutral as we men seem to think they are?
I've been personally trying to break myself from a bad habit... one that I've thought was not such a big  deal...  I use the term "guys" in mixed company to describe a group of people ... not yet a team.  In mentoring groups toward becoming a team, I reserve that term for groups that truly behave like a real team.  I was giving a presentation at a local special interest group and afterwards a person gave me some useful feedback... my usage of the term "guys" was distracting and verging on "off-putting" in the room of mostly females.  I needed to read the audience and the room - and choosing the proper term would help them to engage... what I truly desired.

I remember in the 1970s (yes this should date me) teachers in school told us that some words were considered gender neutral - I believe that "guys" was on…