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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:  http://scrumtrainingseries.com.  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.

video
http://blog.crisp.se/2012/10/25/henrikkniberg/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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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, …

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…

Webinar: Collaboration at Scale: Defining Done, Ready, and NO.

I was invited to participate in a Scrum Alliance Webinar.  Maybe you would like to listen to us in a discussion of techniques to collaborate at scale (remotely and with many people).  The topic is one that I've got some experience in discussions - yet I never seem to get to done...
Collaboration at Scale: Defining Done and Ready and NO for Distributed Teams
With Joel Bancroft-Connors, Agile Organizational Coach; David A. Koontz, Agile Transition Guide; and Luke Hohmann, CEO and Founder of Conteneo, Inc.


14 February 2018 11 a.m. ET (USA).




The Scrum Guide is pretty clear on the criticality of the definition of Done: "When a Product Backlog item or an Increment is described as "Done," everyone must understand what "Done" means. However, the Scrum Guide ALSO says that the definition of Done can "vary significantly per Scrum Team." This leads us to examine when and how the definition of Done should vary, how distributed teams should cr…

A T-Shaped 21st Century Knowledge Worker

Knowledge workers in the 21st Century must have many areas of deep knowledge, while also be capable of collaboration across multiple other domains with dissimilar T-shaped individuals.  This description of a person is a metaphor.  Compare it to the shape of the "I" in the classic saying there is no "I" in Team.


I first read about Scott Ambler's term "Generalizing Specialist" - but it's so hard to remember the proper order of the words... get it backwards and it has an inverted meaning... T-Shaped is easier to remember. 
A generalizing specialist is someone who:
Has one or more technical specialties (e.g. Java programming, Project Management, Database Administration, ...). Has at least a general knowledge of software development. Has at least a general knowledge of the business domain in which they work. Actively seeks to gain new skills in both their existing specialties as well as in other areas, including both technical and domain areas.  General…

A FAILURE to Communicate

I was working with a failing team some time ago.  I use "failing" to describe the outcome of the team - not the people on the team.  Are you OK with that description?



An issue arrose in the stand up - a team member that was to verify the quality of a procedure did so and reported that there were a few records that didn't match expectation in the data set.  Upon inquire the number of records not matching was over 2000.  Most people acknowledged immediately the exaggeration - I could tell by the laughter.  After about 10 minutes of discussing the details of the problem - it appeared the team had a handle on the specific situation.

I stopped the discussion and inquired if they could name the impediment.  One team member did a great job of describing the impediment as a _communication gap_.  Wonderful - I could work with that - the problem had a name and it didn't include anyones Proper Name.

"If the problem has a first name; we are going to have a problem."

I&#…