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Agile - sharing experience

The idea with the blog is to share experience about Agile in practice, I have been facilitating CoP (Community of Practice) with Scrum Masters, Product Owners, Team members etc. since 2010 with the purpose of sharing learnings from team to team...

“Learn from the mistakes of others-you can never live long enough to make them all yourself.” quote from John Luther

When discussion goes off topic in the stand-up meeting

Standup meeting Posted on Fri, November 30, 2012 16:56:36

We see it almost every day when people gets enthusiastic about something in the daily stand-up meeting and start to discuss it – this is really a good sign for the team, but it should also be controlled, the stand-up meeting is a short meeting to keep track of the status, you should postpone all other topics you want to discuss to after the meeting.

An effective way to do this is to write a short sentence on the white board and then move on with the stand-up meeting. When you are done with the meeting, those in the team who want to discuss this topic can stay and discuss it – I have seen many meetings where the entire team stay and discuss it, but it still needs to be after the stand-up meeting, or you will see an inflation in the meeting which is not good.

Challenges with Stand-up meetings

Standup meeting Posted on Fri, November 30, 2012 14:59:02

A practical problem that most teams face when they start to work with Scrum or other Agile discipline with stand-up meetings is that it is hard to keep the discipline and focus.

The purpose with the meeting is to keep track of the sprint plan, this is done through the traditional 3 statements:

  1. What did I accomplish yesterday?
  2. What will I do today?
  3. What obstacles are impeding my progress?

I often see is people who stand a couple of meters from the Scrum board and say “I worked yesterday and I plan to work today”, often they use slightly different words, but the value of what they say is often very limited.

When I raise the problem, almost everyone agree that it has no value, but even though we all agree it is very hard to get people to act in a way that give value, most have a hard time to understand what they should say and are affraid that they will bother others with their talk.

The important thing is to find a way to communicate that give the team (developers, PO, SM, and other stakeholders) a good view of how things are progressing, i.e. a developer may have a task to modify some code to add a new icon to the webshop. The developer could say something like this “I am working on the task to add the new “about” button, I have modified the Java code, I still need to modify the unit-test code and our graphical expert have not delivered the final icon, so I am using a dummy icon while waiting for the correct icon, I believe that I have 2 hours left on the unit-test code and ½+½ hour for the review, so a total of 3 hours is left for this task – I will finish the unit-test today and start to work on the xxx task after I am done, please let me know if someone have time to review my code today” the developer will then add a new task to the scrum-board to remember to change the icon.

It also have a lot to do with the personality types in the team, too many introvert people will pull down the team in terms of communication, and this is a real challenge for management and the team, I remember one person who did not like Scrum at all, however he was a fantastic developer, so we found out that he was really happy to fix bugs and warnings, so he became a one-man army solving all kind of problems coming to the department and he had a lot of fun!

The last bullet “impediments” is kind of a dark horse, I often see the same impediment on the wall for weeks, i.e. the team forget to follow up on the status and what shall be done to fix it, the missing final icon above could be such an impediment, but it should rather be moved to a coming sprint as a task (or super small story).

There is much more to say about this, but it is hard to describe all possible problems, I have seen most, but I don’t recall them all – feel free to share your experience and challenges with us!