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.

23rd
JAN

Happiness Metrics

Posted by ewok_bbq under Agile Principles

Happiness Metrics were all the rage (no pun intended) in 2012.  While it sounds really ‘squishy’ and non-empirical, I see this metric coming up again and again with customers I am visiting.

One of my favorite thinkers is Shawn Achor of Good Think.  Shawn spent over 10 years traveling the globe studying people and their behaviors.  Here’s what he found:

Success does not make you happy

  1. Achieving your goals can simply result in  moving the goal posts
  2. If happiness is on the  other side of that goal post – you are delaying your happiness indefinitely.
  3. The field research shows Happiness = Successful

You can re-wire your brain in about 21 Days – The Ripple effect will be amazing  (try it on your teams)

  1. Do Random Acts of Kindness
  2. Journal about positive business interactions
  3. Send  unsolicited positive emails to coworkers
  4. Do physical Exercise and Meditation

 

 

Watch him in his own words here at his TED Talk:

 

551608_10151315526287436_1070784083_nIf you are struggling to get started – pick three or four of the 12 listed to the left and start journaling about it.  After three weeks, come back and leave a comment for me on where you’re at.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3rd
JAN

Results of an Agile Assessment

Posted by admin under Agile and Scrum, Agile Assessment, Agile Principles, Scrum Basics, Scrum Discussion, Scrum Transitions

We recently set a team of consultants from my company to conduct a formal assessment of a medium sized financial firm’s an Agile capabilities. I’d like to share thew approach here. The team went on site to conduct interviews and observations in 5 areas –

• Value delivery
• Agile engineering
• Project Management
• Product management
• Environment and Organizational Culture

Also, the investigation took input on the demographics of the individual project being examined, the stakeholders involved and the competitive/regulatory environment in which the organization as a whole operates. Understanding the context in which an organization operates is crucial to understanding the optimal level of Agility, and thus, the plan of action.

Understanding the goals of the organization is particularly important. Not every axis needs to be top-ranked to achieve the company’s goals. In fact, on this particular assessment we found that only one needed urgent attention – Project Management. I’ll provide details in another post.

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20th
DEC

Introduction to Scrum Video

Posted by admin under Agile and Scrum, Agile Manifesto, Agile Principles, Scrum Basics

A colleague of mine, Michael James, just posted his Introduction to Scrum video on YouTube. You might want to take a look and/or pass this link to your colleagues. The full series is available at ScrumTrainingSeries.

I think is the right length and depth for an overview of Scrum – it’s not so short as to be trite (or worse, incorrect), but it’s not an exhaustive examination of Scrum either. This video is good prep for people who are planning to enter a ScrumMaster class and don’t want to go in cold. It is also good for stakeholders around the company who want an understanding of Scrum so that they can work better with their development teams.

I’d be very interested in hearing your views of this video.

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21st
NOV

Technical Debt – The High Cost of Change

Posted by admin under Scrum Basics, Scrum Discussion, Scrum Transitions

My consultants and indeed my own software development teams often grapple with technical debt. often Products carry technical debt when they are difficult or risky to change. Technical debt isn’t listed on your balance sheet, yet it can destroy your business.  It’s important to understand where Tech Debt comes from in order to effectively address it:

  • A common reason for bringing technical debt into a code base comes from the business stakeholders. Assuming they have a reasonable understanding of the consequences, the business might consider getting something released sooner is of more value than avoiding technical debt. They should understand the “interest” payment that will be incurred if they insist on this path! In many cases, businesses stakeholders simply don’t understand the ramifications of what they are asking for, nor do they fully grasp the concept of. They make decisions solely on immediate business pressures rather than taking a more long-term view.
  • Technical debt also comes in the form of poorly constructed, inflexible software. This may come about when functions or interfaces are hard-coded, and as such, are difficult to change.
  • Lack of documentation is another reason for technical debt, both in the code itself and in the external documentation. When documentation is poor, new team members who want to modify the code in the future have a hard time coming up to speed on the code which that slows development.

Enlightened management can have a real impact on mitigating the addition of technical debt and in paying it down as you go, by constant refactoring. There is an interesting webinar on this topic available here.

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9th
NOV

Strategic Vision and Scrum

Posted by admin under Agile and Scrum, Agile Manifesto, Agile Principles, Scrum Basics, Scrum Discussion, Scrum Transitions

When organizations adopt an agile approach to development like Scrum there is so much focus on the iterative nature of agile development that long range vision and strategic product design can get lost. Jimi Fosdick is doing a webinar on November 28 to discuss the need to include long term product vision, coherent user experience and User Centered design and architecture along with specific best practices for achieving a coherent product that delights users.

Topics will include:
• Discussion of Product Vision and approaches to crafting a compelling overall vision for products
• Discussion of User-Centered/Value-Driven design and approaches to incorporating user experience (UX) and software architecture early in the development process
• Explanation of the pitfalls of a lack of vision and so-called “hybrid” models for incorporating UX and architecture into Scrum Projects

You can register for the webinar here

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25th
OCT

Estimating Earned Business Value on Agile Projects

Posted by admin under Agile and Scrum, Agile Manifesto, Agile Principles, Scrum Basics, Scrum Discussion, Scrum Transitions

A pattern I’ve noticed is that Scrum projects are typically managed informally, with the only measures used being various velocity metrics and burndown charts. This may be an issue. Many project managers and executives resist scrum because these only measure the speed of delivery, not the project’s cost or the business value it generates. One of the major differences between traditional and agile projects is that traditional projects focus on delivering software that satisfies requirements, while agile projects focus on maximizing ROI through continuous feedback and re-planning.

This is where Earned Business Value calculations come in. It fits well with Agile projects, since the focus of agile projects is on business value rather than conformance to requirements (outcomes over outputs). In many cases, EVM metrics are easier to calculate and understand in agile environments than in traditional ones. There are three key management measures – Cost Performance Index (CPI), Schedule Performance Index (SPI), and Earned Business Value (EBV) – that provide information to help manage an agile project from and ROI perspective.

There is a solid white paper on this topic at .

I’d also be very interested in your comments to this post.

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4th
JUN

The Daily Scrum; It’s a Good Habit to Make

Posted by admin under Agile and Scrum, Scrum Basics, Scrum Transitions

When you think of the word “habit” what do you think of? In the dictionary, there are several distinctly different meanings for “habit” such as:
1. A customary practice or use
2. An acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary
3. An addiction, especially to narcotics
4. A dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality

We tend to think of “good” habits or “bad” habits. When the behavior we are repeating results in positive circumstances, it is “good”. When it leads to negative results, addictions etc. it is “bad”.
The “daily scrum” is the heartbeat of scrum and is a “good habit”. Tamara Sulaiman, a Certified Scrum Trainer, in her blog post titled “Techniques for Improving Your Daily Scrum; when Your Daily Scrum isn’t Daily” says, “The daily scrum is one of the most valuable practices that any team can use.” The purpose of the daily scrum is to increase the team’s communication and focus by answering 3 questions, “What have I accomplished since the last meeting? What do I plan to do for the next meeting? What impediments are in my way? “ When teams don’t huddle daily, they risk losing the communication, focus and momentum of a team necessary to build the right product with the appropriate quality on time. Oftentimes, teams will have excuses for avoiding the daily scrum or stand up meetings. I’m sure you will be familiar with many of the excuses Tamara talks about. The daily scrum, however, makes teams more successful because it is the smallest, tightest feedback loop built into the Scrum framework. Think of it like brushing your teeth or exercising daily– it’s a good daily habit to make and will pay off in the long haul.

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23rd
APR

Obstacles to Enterprise Agility

Posted by admin under Uncategorized

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.

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17th
MAR

What is Scrum?

Posted by admin under Agile and Scrum, Scrum Basics

 

 

Chances are you’re reading this blog because you use Scrum or agile. But some of you may be here because you want to learn more about Scrum and agile—it’s something you’ve just heard about and now you need to find out what it’s all about. If that’s the case, Joshua Brown’s recent article on the basics of Scrum is a great place to start. It addresses the framework’s basic structure, roles, and rationale for departing from traditional management. It’s short, but it starts at ground zero and builds from there.

If you’re looking for additional materials to help you wrap your head around the basics of Scrum, I’d recommend taking a look at “What Is Scrum? The Five-minute Explanation for Folks Not Yet Practicing It” and “Scrum Mechanics: An Introduction to the Basic Scrum Engine” by Danube’s Katie Playfair. Last year, CST Michael James authored a Scrum Refcard for DZone, which is another great crash course for Scrum newbies. Download it here: http://www.collab.net/sites/default/files/uploads/CollabNet_scrumreferencecard.pdf

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2nd
FEB

Can CSMs and PMPs Get Along?

Posted by admin under Scrum Discussion, Scrum Transitions

A hot topic in the Scrum community of late has been whether the agile framework is compatible with traditional project management. Lately, an intellectual curiosity about the other has materialized in both camps. That is, after years of assuming they were on opposite sides of the fence, both groups are trying to determine what they can learn from each other.

If you’re a traditional project manager who wants to learn more about Scrum and how it could improve processes at your organization, then you should take a look at an article on Agile Journal called “An Agile PM Isn’t What You Think: Where Does Traditional Project Management Fit into an Agile Project with Scrum?” The article’s author, Jimi Fosdick, who is both a Certified Scrum Trainer and a Project Management Professional, lays out what’s at stake in Scrum and proceeds to illuminate how its minimal framework actually addresses the job functions of traditional management roles. If you’re thinking through these issues, then Fosdick’s article will be a valuable read!

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