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Showing posts from November, 2013

13+2 Sprint Cadence

Sprint length - a fun debate. What is the best practice - a funny question. There is no best practice for sprint length.  But what factors should go into the decision?


The team's ability to become predictable within the sprint duration.The Product Owner's ability to plan and to commit to the unknown of not changing the plan for the sprint's duration.The frequency of needed feedback on the direction the team is making toward the release goal.The ability of the team to create their sustainable pace.

Many team's I've worked with have trouble defining their sustainable pace.  I've argued that this pace that allows the team to deliver both working software that is potentially shippable each sprint and to have high quality deliverables along with team learning is quite a bit below the teams typical sprint velocity.

When teams are under extreme pressure to deliver they typically forget one of the 7 habits of effective people - to sharpen the saw.  So why not build this…

The Holiday Stratagem

What do the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays do to your teams tempo and cadence?

For most US teams this holiday period from mid November to after the first of January is hectic and disruptive in various ways.  This calls for a Holiday Stratagem.  A trick to allow the team to have some semblance of continuity and flow during these times.

To discuss this stratagem let's first define some terms:

Tempo - the rate of workdays to calendar days
Cadence - the beat of the sprint events to fall upon the same calendar day of the week
Sprint duration -  in work days (in this example I'll use 10 work days)
Sprint length - the length of calendar days between two sprints (14 days for the example 2 week sprint)

What do you value more?  The ability to deliver more work in the short term -or- the ability to predict long term the capability of the team to deliver that work?  Or perhaps something else, like teaching a new team the trade-offs in making decisions and helping them to learn from refle…

Starting a Tech Lending Library

Just bought the Craig Larman agile library collection on Amazon for our lending library at work.

I first feel in love with Agile by reading Larman's Agile & Iterative Development: A Manager's Guide.  The organizational context that sets the stage for comparing and contrasting various agile (and non-agile) methods of software development is a powerful framework.  I find few managers choosing a method understand these concepts enough to make an informed choice.  Only a few hours with this book would raise their awareness to a much improved state.

Here how I started a mini-movement... one email...

I find an empty book shelf to be an aberration.  So I’m filling it up with techie books and some not so techie books.  Feel free to BORROW a book for a few weeks then bring it back for someone else to borrow.  Bring in those dusty books you found interesting and join me in creating a Tech Dev Lending Library.   Connector Breakout Lounge 5001.
There is no check out system, no late fees…

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
    Stories
    To Do
    Work In P…

Velocity Calculus

In the practice of Scrum many people appear to have their favorite method of calculating the team's velocity.  For many this exercise appears very academic.  Yet when you get three people and ask them you will invariability get more answers than you have belly-buttons.  That in its self is an interesting phenomenon, worthy of a blog post.  But this is not it.

Calculus is the mathematical study of change.


This video is a photo journal simulation describing how to calculate a Scrum sprint velocity.  It explains the calculus for one of the most difficult decision a team faces.  What to do with that first unfinished story.


Relative Points explained

Are your teams having difficulty understanding the relative nature of story points?  Try an analogy ... maybe one that is already well know... yet so often used that they have forgotten just how easy it is to use relative measures.  I'll bet they use it every day, multiple times per day.  That kind of practice makes usage very easy.  That is how easy story points will become for a team that practices.

Here's your analogy - in less than 10 seconds.  But you might need to repeat it about 14 times...



YouTube channel:  Minute Physics


Trending toward Collaboration

Is this a trend in the industry?  Perhaps some of the first movers in the work-from-anywhere movement have had a chance to see the return on this policy.  Perhaps they have some indicators that collaboration is a skill best practiced in person.  Practiced with full body awareness, in sense-around with many of our more that 20 senses - rather than just a select few.  Are you aware of how many entities must practice the same behavior, concurrently for there to be a true movement?  Do you want to be on the front end of the last movement in your industry or the bleeding edge of this movement?

Yahoo sees the ROI from canceling the work from home policy.
"There is definitely merit to the idea, however, that bringing its agile programming teams together in the same place at the same time can have a small but crucial impact on performance. In his book People Analytics, MIT visiting scientist Ben Waber discusses the role of dependencies for programmers, that teams must coordinate closely …

What is the impact of coaching?

Guest post by: Tracy Gibson  (tracy@gibson.name)
"If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living." ~ Gail Shelly

Long-term results are the impact of coaching. We all want to improve our life in an area of career and work, money and wealth, people and relationships, health and wellbeing, and/or learning and growing. Yet how often have we vowed to change and sooner or later, the resolve that we have to start has waned or the methods chosen seem too hard. That wavering moment is where coaching steps in and strengthens our resolve.

A good coach is someone who is an expert at helping others create positive change in their lives. For some clients, the positive change they most want may be focused on personal goals such as relationships, time management, work-life balance, stress reduction, simplification, health, etc., but other clients may be more interested in professional or business goals such as leadership, getting a promotion, sta…