The Scrum approach to agile software development marks a dramatic departure from waterfall management. Scrum and other agile methods were inspired by its shortcomings. Scrum emphasizes collaboration, functioning software, team self management, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities.
For more on this unbelievable story – click on the video from CBS below.
One of the things I am thinking about and working on is the concept of being more available.
It’s New Years Eve and personal and professional transformation seem to be top of mind for most everyone around this time a la (a) goal setting exercises and (b) the obligatory New Years resolutions.
I wanted to offer two different takes on transformation, one is a bottom up and one is top down. In the bottom up interview the #1 blogger in the world talks about how to make incremental changes through experimentation when you don’t have the authority to change the entire system. In the top-down interview we hear from a professional CIO how to transform a failing business to be more data driven and innovative.
The first take on transformation is from Seth Godin, the #1 blogger in the world. Here’s Seth Godin’s interview on transformation. Have a watch. Do you agree or is this characterization oversimplified?
Next – have a watch of Uber-CIO Randy Mott. Randy Mott was the CIO of Wal-Mart, Dell as well as HP and is now CIO of GM). In this interview with Information Week where he talks through his transformation playbook:
*Data Driven Decisions
*The Speed Merchant – bringing cycle times down
*Efficiency vs. Effectiveness
*How to move money around to be more around innovation and less around keeping the lights on
He will be in-housing over 8,000 IT jobs to innovation centers to hot tech markets like Austin, Texas or Silicon Valley.
Do you agree with Randy or Seth? What are your guiding goals in 2013? Looking forward to reading your comments.
Tags: agile, interview, transformation
Building and maintaining a Product Backlog can be a time-consuming effort. Though the Product Owner has final say in the prioritization, a good product backlog is a result of a combined effort of the entire team – Product Owner, Scrum team, ScrumMaster and stakeholders.
One expert in this area is CollabNet Certified Scrum Trainer Angela Druckman. Ms. Druckman will be hosting a webinar focusing on techniques and ideas for improving the overall effectiveness of backlog management.
The webinar will be held on Monday October 27, 2011 at 11:00 am pacific time. You can register here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/568237585Tags:
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How can large enterprises become more agile? Many people think that the common obstacles to agility in large organizations are due to “giantism” and are entirely unavoidable. In other words, it’s like trying to maneuver the Titanic around the iceberg. Many people within the large organization will resist the change saying, “too much to do” or “not enough resources”. However, these are often misconceptions that reinforce bad habits and contribute to change resistance. In a recent article posted on gantthead.com called “Obstacles to Enterprise Agility”, Michael James, a CollabNet Certified Scrum Trainer outlines some of the key impediments to enterprise agility which include:
- Naïve Resource Management
- Organizing teams by functional specialization
- Organizing teams by architectural components
- Rampant technical debt
- Lack of commitment to transformation
Are you working on an agile transformation? Do these sound like topics that have been on your mind lately? If so, I encourage you to check out Michael’s article here.Tags: agile, impediments to enterprise agility, obstacles to agility, Scrum Basics, scrum impediments
I recently attended a webinar hosted by Scrum company Danube Technologies. The session, called “Definition of Done: An Organizational Perspective,” was led by Dr. Dan Rawsthorne, PhD, one of Danube’s Certified Scrum Trainers. Over the course of an hour, Rawsthorne discussed creating and revising acceptance criteria for various kinds of user stories and how those stories can be used as standardized templates as well as an educational tool within a Scrum organization. In all, it was a great webinar; Rawsthorne clearly speaks from years of experience.
Sound like something you, your team, or your company could benefit from? Check out the entire list of special event webinars offered by Danube. They’re free and always hosted by a Certified Scrum Trainer. There’s a chunk of time at the end reserved for questions and, importantly, there’s no sales pitch. Highly recommended.Tags:
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Lately, our discussions here have focused on scaling Scrum for the enterprise. That is, we’ve been thinking bigger and moving away from some of the fundamental issues pertaining to Scrum and team dynamics. But a reader request reminded me that not everyone is focusing on translating the benefits of small team Scrum for the largest, most complex development environments. So let’s get back to the basics and consider a more introductory topic: the Product Backlog Item.
The Product Backlog Item (or “PBI,” “Backlog Item,” or sometimes simply “Item”) represents all the work a team needs to complete. However, since Scrum utilizes an incremental and iterative approach to development, only a handful of these PBIs are tackled by the team in a given sprint.
Because it is the primary responsibility of the Product Owner to determine what work will yield the most business value, it is also his or her duty to prioritize the PBIs. That is, each sprint, the Product Owner determines which PBIs a team will attempt to complete within the sprint. This is often referred to as the Product Owner dictating the “what” (i.e. what is to be delivered by the end of the sprint), while the “how” is left for the team to decide. That is, the team decides “how” to complete its PBIs—in what order, which team members will work on specific Items, etc.
During the sprint, Tasks are defined for each PBI, so that the Team has a clear sense of how it will accomplish its work. It is important to note that the Product Owner should not be monitoring their progress at the Task level. Rather, Tasks are simply more granular versions of the work entailed to complete a PBI. As such, they are created for the benefit of the team—both in terms of sizing up their PBIs in a realistic manner and ensuring the Team knows what everyone is doing to complete Sprint goals.
It is important to note that PBIs are estimated using Story Points—i.e. abstracted estimates of difficulty—whereas Tasks are estimated with hours. Since these two forms of estimation are completely unrelated, PBIs and Tasks should not be compared; they are separate entities.
As a best practice, PBIs should always be estimated using a consistent scale of Story Points. These points can be anything—factors of two, t-shirt sizes, dog breeds, headaches, etc.—but what is important is for the team to agree upon their scale, the approximate values of each estimate within the scale, and use them consistently.
Tasks, on the other hand, should employ hour estimates. Most developers are comfortable estimating the number of hours they believe it will require to complete a given Task. However, some advanced Scrum teams prefer not to assign hour estimates to their Tasks. Instead, they simply mark their Tasks as “done” or “not done,” which means the corresponding report would track Tasks remaining, rather than hours. In ScrumWorks Pro, all meaningful, long-term metrics rely on PBI estimates, not those associated with Tasks.
Tags: Product Backlog Items, Scrum Basics, Tasks
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As Scrum continues to grow in popularity, one of the hottest topics on the minds of the community is how to translate the benefits of a paradigm created for small, collocated teams for enterprise-level installations of hundreds, if not thousands of users. Given that communication channels increase (and therefore communication decreases) as the size of a team grows, this issue is only compounded when teams begin to scale to Scrum-of-Scrum configurations. Clearly, the solution is a tool designed specifically for Scrum projects that can allow teams to remain small, but nonetheless connected to the bigger picture.
Of course, the tool also needs to be flexible enough to meet the unique demands of large and complex development environments. For example, large organizations often develop products with shared components, which require the ability to plan releases against multiple backlogs. And while Scrum and other agile management methods have steadily crept into the software development landscape, the project management tools available have not kept pace.
But all that may be changing now. I just watched a screencast of ScrumWorks Pro 4 (you can watch it, too, here: http://danube.com/sw_flash/release-4/) and this release’s new functionality makes it the first truly enterprise-ready Scrum tool. Namely, it addresses the issue outlined above by allowing customers to manage high-level features and releases that span multiple product backlogs. This is a really important breakthrough. Before that functionality existed, organizations had to creatively develop workarounds for their agile tools to achieve the same effect, but, still, with less-than-ideal results. Now, products can be associated with multiple programs, which, in turn, allows shared components to be modeled accurately while providing organizations with a more realistic view of overall progress. This is going to eliminate some very big headaches for some very big companies… You can read more about it here.Tags: program management, project management, Scrum Basics, Scrum tool, ScrumWorks Pro
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If you missed our original post on this topic, InfoQ has published a follow-up to the Scrum Users Group controversy here. After the Scrum Alliance issued a notification to Scrum users group nationwide that it held rights to the use of the phrase “Scrum users group,” a wave of confusion ensued. The Alliance’s Cory Foy weighed in on our comments section to better explain what was happening. It seems that Foy has now been appointed “community liaison” and will interface with the various users groups to help Scrum continue to flourish on a grassroots level. Key to this outreach effort is an inclusive mailing list to get the word out about events and groups, while generally fostering a dialogue focused on Scrum. Sounds like the situation’s definitely improving, but InfoQ reporter Mark Levison still concludes his article by wondering if anything’s really changed.
This seems like a step in the right direction to me. What do you think?Tags:
As Scrum’s popularity increases, there is a rising demand for professionals with Scrum experience. However, since Scrum is still a fairly new management method, that puts many aspiring Scrum practitioners in a tough spot: They want the experience of working in a Scrum environment, but they need Scrum experience to get the job. Obviously, then, there is no better experience than actually working in a Scrum environment, but there are plenty of ways to build experience that will pay off in that environment.
One way to secure valuable experience is to attend a two-day Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) course. CSM courses focus on an interactive approach to learning the basics of Scrum, including its vocabulary, principles, and practices. The course lasts only two days, but most attendees find that the information covered really sticks due to the hands-on nature of the course. Several companies offer CSM courses and a full list of trainers and their schedule of courses is located on the Scrum Alliance website.
Of course, real life experience working in a Scrum environment is far more compelling than simply attending a CSM course. When an individual works on a Scrum team—whether as a ScrumMaster, Product Owner, Analyst, Developer, Tester, etc.—for a full year since completing a CSM course, he or she may apply to become a Certified Scrum Practitioner (CSP). The Scrum Alliance reviews and, based on one’s qualifications, approves the CSP designation. Clearly, the CSP title is attractive for employers, who view it as proof that an individual understands Scrum’s principles and processes and has practiced them.
Short of getting experience on a Scrum team, the next best thing is to illustrate to your prospective employer that you possess qualities valued within a Scrum environment. These might include skills such as pair-programming, test-driven development, continuous integration, and refactoring code. Apart from these development techniques, it’s important to demonstrate a strong background in collaboration and facilitation. Since Scrum places greater emphasis on the success of the team, rather than personal heroics, an individual who has proven his or her leadership potential—without extensive authority—would be an excellent candidate for the ScrumMaster role.
Beyond Scrum courses or, of course, working in a Scrum environment, an individual can prepare for a career in Scrum by developing certain skill sets and demonstrating personality attributes that would fit within the Scrum paradigm.Tags: A Career In Scrum
Scrum Training Series
- Scrum based funding model – 20 percent May 9, 2013
- The Next Big Idea March 5, 2013
- On Being Available February 17, 2013
- Should Scrum Always Require the Product Owner to Attend the Sprint Retrospective Meeting? February 5, 2013
- Happiness Metrics January 23, 2013