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The Case Against Scrum's Sprint Practice - Another Look

In the excellently written article  Dark Scrum:  The Case Against the Sprint, Ron Jeffries' does a wonderful job of explaining a common problem of Scrum's mainstay practice, the Sprint.  As I read the article I could only think of many managers I've seen over my years that didn't trust Scrum, the teams, or the coaching to deliver.  And feeling pressure to make deadlines imposed from little information (desire more than empirical evidence) had reverted to past heavy handed pressure techniques to make a deadline.  After all it was their career that was on the line.

To summarize (and you would do better to just click the link and read it):  As an exercise in explaining the inverse of "Good Scrum", Ron uses the term "Dark Scrum".  In this inverted world, Ron makes the case that the Sprint is a bad practice, because a manager expecting the common faster progress (Jeff Sutherland's statement “Twice the Work in Half the Time”) will demand that result.…

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: 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, …

Committed Sardines Game

The Committed Sardine By Ian Jukes 
A blue whale is the largest mammal on earth. The adult blue whale is the length of 2½ Greyhound buses and weighs more than a fully loaded 737. A little known fact is that a blue whale is so large that when it decides to turnaround, it can take 3 to 5 minutes to turn 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

As a result, some people have drawn a strong parallel between blue whales and our school system. It just seems to take forever to turn them around. There as some people who just don’t believe the public school system can be turned around.

But compare the way a blue whale turns around (slowly) with how a school of. . . Sardines – which is the same or even greater mass than a blue whale. . . A school of sardines can almost turn instantly around – how do they do it?

The answer is simple. If you take a careful look at a school of sardines you will notice that although all the fish appear to be swimming in the same direction, at any one time, there will b…

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
    To Do
    Work In P…

What is your Engagement Model?

Jim Harter states in his article from Gallup:
According to our recent State of the Global Workplace report, 85% of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. The economic consequences of this global "norm" are approximately $7 trillion in lost productivity. Eighteen percent are actively disengaged in their work and workplace, while 67% are "not engaged." This latter group makes up the majority of the workforce -- they are not your worst performers, but they are indifferent to your organization. They give you their time, but not their best effort nor their best ideas. They likely come to work wanting to make a difference --- but nobody has ever asked them to use their strengths to make the organization better.
Is this analysis a cart and horse locating problem?  Do we need better diagrams of which comes first?
When we get performance management right, engagement will naturally rise. Performance management is a trailing tool (not a leading indicator or …