Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Are you a Scrum Master? If so, read this important success secret

As a scrum master you must listen more than you talk. One of the things that I'm trying to do more of as a Scrum Master is to give the team a chance to give their ideas rather than me as the scrum master giving my ideas. This is not easy to do especially since a lot of times you know the solution. As a Scrum Master you may be a Dev lead, Architect, QA Analyst, etc. But if the team comes up with the solution they will feel like it was their idea and not yours. In Agile as a Scrum Master we must move away from the top down management structure and be more of a coach who supports the team in achieving their goals.  

Another thing I find as an effective listening skill as a Scrum Master is to do a retrospective on yourself with each individual team member  by asking the following questions: 

  • How am I doing on this project?    
  • What are some things I can improve on?   
  • If you could change one thing that would make a difference for you, what would it be and why? 

By asking these questions and intently listening to the team for their feedback it'll help you to become a better Scrum Master. It will also help you to understand some of your strengths and weaknesses. Ensure that you take notes of the discussions so that you can look at them later and see if there are any common themes. Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you by writing a comment on this blog. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Agile metaphor: Creating an Agile Board for books you read

Creating an Agile Board for books you read

I sat and thought how can I use Agile in my everyday life. I do a lot of reading so I decided to create a an Agile scrum board of the books that I'm reading. My sprints are scheduled for one month at a time. What I've found by using Agile scrum boards is it helps me to see how many books I'll be able to read in a month. With this approach I can look at the books length and determine how many I can read for that month. The new books that I purchase I place those books in the backlog. I will then prioritize those books based on my reading priority. I've found by doing this I'm much more focused on the books that I'm reading.

One thing I've started to do is creating Agile T-shirt sizes based on the size of a book and determine how many books I can complete in a month based on T-shirt sizes.  In Agile T-Shirt sizing you pick out the size of the book based on the length of the book. Here's how I'm doing my T-shirt sizes.
• Small – 50 Pages or less
• Medium – 100–200 pages
• Large – 200-300 pages
• X-Large – 300-400 pages
• XX-Large – 400 pages or more

Over a period of time I've determined my velocity by realizing that I can read about 600 pages per month. So in terms of T-shirt sizes it means that I can read two large books, three medium books or 12 small books per month. Or a combination of different sizes that equal 600 pages. By doing this I can be much more selective of the books I read. I believe just like in Agile software development I'll be able to increase my velocity over time. Not only does this work for books you can also setup a board for your daily tasks as well. Below is what my book reading Agile scrum board looks like:

I'd like to encourage you to try using an Agile scrum board with something you're attempting in your daily life.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Agile metaphor: Agile way of working as Living in a nudist community

Agile way of working is like living in a nudist community. In a nudist community, you do not hide your true physical appearance. You reveal yourself in the true form. Similarly, in an Agile environment, you have nothing to hide about your work – just make is available for inspection to everyone.

When you visit out of your nudist community, you will wear the cloths to conform to the norms of the new community but it does not mean you need to hide your identity. You talk about your small community. Similarly, when an agilists interact to the external world, he presents best of Agile and invites others to try in. It does not mean who ever try in will embrace the Agile way of working – some will and some will not.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Scrum Metaphor: Retro as Family Meeting

Retro is one of the most important ceremonies in scrum framework. In retro team members should speak freely without any fear of retribution and judging. Retro is like Family Meeting.

As name suggests, in family meeting only family members are allowed to participate, who can watch the back of each other. Similarly, in retro only team members who can back up each other ( devTeam) and Scrum Master ( after all he is a servant leader for the team) and Product Owner (is your PO part of the family?) should participate. Like family meeting, retro should be conducted in a closed-door environment where everyone expresses his or her opinion, grievances can share freely without fear of judgment by others.

In a family meeting, family can discuss a lot of things but family may decide to share few selective bits of information with the external world, so the retro. In the family meeting, all is discussed – good, bad, and worst. Family decides what to share with the external world but family work as collective to improve overall capability of the family.

Family meeting works like a mirror to family and helps family members to remain trustworthy to each other and become better over time.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Scrum Metaphor: Demo as Cat Walk

Demo is like Cat Walk where designers show off their creations to potential and current customers.  In this case, PO is a designer and devTeam is like tailor and craftsmen who work under the guidance of designer to realize his vision of the product.

People watching the cat walk are potential and current customers even who come to learn about latest designs. Designer (Product Owner) collects feedback from audiences to improve his creation and so the craftsmen. It is possible designer may not show off all of his creations in cat walk only the best. Depending upon the interest of an audience, he can take that person on the detailed tour.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Scrum Metaphor: Sprint Review as town council meeting

Sprint Review meeting is like town council meeting where council members (team members) listen town residents and even sometimes outsiders about their work, performance, and suggestions for future work. The discussion in town council meeting is centered on famous three questions:

1.       What did the council do for the betterment of the town?
2.       What impediments were faced by the council?
3.       What are the future plans?

Though questions in Sprint Review meeting are very similar to Retro but here focus is on views of town residents not the views of the council. Residents also air their grievances and suggestions for the betterment of town as per their worldview.

Council (team) collects information from deliberations and take up with relevant stakeholders which may result in Product Backlog Item. The interaction among team members and stakeholders generally happen after the Sprint Review meeting. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Scrum Metaphor: Information Radiator as Billboard

The information radiators are like billboard which represent the team and its work and is available to any passerby, if someone needs more information, contact team.

Information radiators help a team to remain honest to the world and to itself and announce that information is not only available on demand but available just look into it. We as a team has nothing to hide.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Scrum Metaphor: Scrum Master as a General Family Physician

Scrum Master is like old fashioned General Family physician who keeps a tab on the general health of the family. He takes care of common medical conditions and advises on healthy practices to keep the family healthy. Family members regularly visit him as well for special reasons.  As the family physician is with the family for a long duration, a trust gets developed between family and him. This trust enables him to become an adviser to the family.

As a family physician is a general practitioner, he may refer family members to specialists if a need arises.  He also keeps himself well aware in the field of general medicine by education and training.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Scrum Metaphor: Product Owner as a lead wagon driver

A Product Owner is like a lead wagon driver who is leading a convoy of gypsies to its ever eluding final destination. In his wagon devTeam is traveling and Scrum Master is working as a conductor. The other vehicles are following the lead wagon in which stakeholders are enjoying their ride and eager to reach next halt. Our wagon driver regularly checks out with wisest and older members of the convoy to get wisdom and direction.  The lead wagon driver also consults young and restless of the convoy to get their views and incorporate them in his journey of the pursuit of happiness and well being of the tribe.

As in gypsy lifestyle, there is no final destination only desire and efforts to discover betterment of tribe, so as for PO.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Scrum Metaphor: DevTeam as a Soccer Team

Do you watch or play a Soccer game? Have you noticed how different players do their “job” and their tactics change during the game depending upon opposing team irrespective of what they thought of before of start the game?

DevTeam is like a soccer team where some members are specialized for certain type of tasks (e.g. defender or forward or even super specialized like a goalie) but almost everyone can play each other’s position.  The team has a coach who helps the team to lay down the strategy to win the game but during the play, it is the team which makes the decision.
Team Manager’s role is to collect all resources and make available to the team, so the team can do the best – soccer game.

The team as a whole win or lose, not the individuals even the coach and manager. A consistently winning team has members who gel with each other and in the team for a long time. Almost each team member understands each other – professionally as well as psychologically.

Each member pursues its specialization but also learns how to fill the gap if some team mate is not available due to some reason.