What would you do if you had magic (agile) wand?

Categories Lean-Agile
Magic wand

I am almost at the end of my journey towards the ICP-ACC learning path. To decode that – I am learning and acquiring new skills to become a better coach. My goal now is not to brag but to share a great thing I learned.

One of the stages of a coaching session is “Exploring.” As the title says, the goal is to help your coachee explore the problem area and get to the “aha” moment. 

To do that, I guide them with a series of questions using the knowledge from the previous steps. I found one of those questions very powerful. 

What would you do if you had a magic wand?

At first, I thought this was a stupid question and refused to ask it during my coaching exercise. Magic wand, right? Who am I? Gandalf?

Then I pushed myself to ask the question, and I was surprised by the result.

I asked the coachee why it happened like that. When he was in the middle of the problem root cause discovery, he realized he had some constraints set.

By asking this question, the coachee was encouraged to think wild, to forget about those constraints for a while. He was able to describe his ideal situation and path forward. He realized that those constraints are artificial, and he can ignore them. 

So what?

We often set limitations like that for ourselves, and most of the time, they are why we don’t take the step that could make us more successful. So, what would you do if you had a magic wand?

Inspiration for Scrum Masters and Other Leaders (vol 1)

Categories Lean-Agile

I hope you have read my article about building a scrum master community. where I share some thoughts on how to help the scrum masters grow and become real stars.

This week I have decided to explore the opportunity to create a spam source (I meant a digest) for the other leaders with whom I am working, with the same goal in mind.

Then I said to my self, what a beautiful covid day; Why don’t I share the links for you, maybe you could find them useful too.

Scrum Master Inspiration

Ruinous Empathy of a Scrum Master
You must have heard about the Radical Candor book and its quadrant model. Today I want to talk about how you can apply this model to a Scrum Master role

Scrum Team Roles and Responsibilities
The Scrum team chiefly consists of three roles: The Scrum Master, Product Owner & the Development Team. Anyone outside the core team doesn’t have any direct influence over the Team.

2019 Scrum Master Trends
Old but gold: The survey results reveal salary trends and agile adoption patterns, while also exploring gender equality within the Scrum Master role.

Product Owners and Engineering Leaders

Defect Management in Scrum
Eventually, everyone who has done some basic Scrum training asks the question, “How do you handle the fixing of bugs? Where does this fit in the process?”

Becoming a Manager of Engineers
Becoming a manager is usually one of the biggest challenges of an engineer’s career. This article will give you some great advice and help you grow.

Top 10 Software Engineering Metrics Too often, software engineering team leaders are worried that measuring metrics could be perceived by their team as an unnecessary, intrusive complexity that will erode their culture and wellbeing

The Product Owners and The (Business) Value
Product Owners’ main responsibility is to maximize the value for the Product, in order to create, deliver and maintain a successful Product, but what is value?

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Burn Baby Burn!

How much time do you spend in meetings? I guess a lot. How do you track the ROI of a meeting? Yeah, there are formulas and approaches and studies in the universities, but if you want to check a pretty neat way of doing that – see this website. I challenge you to show that on the screen during your next meeting. :)

Building Scrum Master CoP S01E01: Inspiration

Categories Lean-Agile

As an RTE, I want to have a healthy and smart Scrum Master community, because I count on them to help me run the train.

In my current ART, I am working with fifteen amazing scrum masters from development, design, documentation, testing, performance, and globalization. As you can feel, they have unique skill sets, but they all possess the quality of an excellent agile leader.

Hand-picked content for Scrum Masters

One of the things I decided to do, so I can help them grow is to prepare a weekly dose of inspiration in the form of a newsletter.

I know it’s mainstream, but so far, I got a few great feedback entries encouraging me to continue with I do.

I always read the articles before sending them out, and I am picking up content that applies to solve the problems we know we have in our small world.

K.I.S.S.

Also, I want to keep it simple and entertaining because I know this is one of the few thousands of e-mails they receive. I don’t want my e-mail to go to /dev/null immediately :)

The newsletter design for my community of Scrum Masters

What’s next

This article is a part of series of articles on building a great Community of Practice (a.k.a CoP). I plan to write on that topic almost every week. If you have the same intent as me – helping your Scrum Masters grow – keep an eye here.

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Redefining the Scrum of Scrums

Categories Lean-Agile
Agile Monster

Scrum of Scrums or SoS (not as in … — …) is a scaled agile technique for facilitating the coordination between all the teams working on the same objectives. 

If you do Scrum already you can think about that as a large standup for people representing each team, where they do the same – answering the holy questions:

  1. What has your team done since we last met?
  2. What will your team do before we meet again?
  3. Is anything slowing your team down or getting in their way?
  4. Are you about to put something in another team’s way?

SoS is not a status meeting for the management; it is a meeting for working together as a team of teams to handle dependencies and joint problems. 

I will now share how I run that meeting for maximum efficiency.

Schedule

I intend to keep in short, no more than 45 min. the time is divided and planned:

  • First 5 min, the facilitator talks about any critical updates.
  • 30 min for risks and dependencies management. We go team by team, and the scrum master talks shortly about the topics.
  • The last 10 min we save for Q/A (see below for what exactly)

Keeping track on what we decided and discussed during the Scrum of Scrums

I create a table for every meeting in our wiki for every Sprint, that looks like this:

Scrum of Scrums Table with Data

The team name

Nothing to add here, it should be self-explanatory, but sometimes you could change it to “I wish my team name was…” and leave it to the imagination of the scrum masters.

Board

A link to the Scrum or kanban board. If anyone wants to explore more, they should have a quick way to navigate to the board.

Scrum master

The name of the person that represents the team in that meeting and the point of contact of the team if you need anything from them after the meeting.

Sprint Goal

The Sprint goal usually is defined as a high-level summary of the target the product owner would like to accomplish during a sprint. 

I have added it here because the team needs to know what they are willing to achieve in that Sprint. 

Success criteria

How will the team know if they have achieved the Sprint Goal?

WIP

 On how may epics(as in Jira epics), the team works at the same time. Sometimes the teams work on many items at the same time without considering the impact of that.

Little’s Law—the fundamental Law of queuing theory—tells us that the average wait time for service from a system equals the ratio of the average queue length divided by the average processing rate. (While this might sound complicated, even the line at Starbucks illustrates that.) Therefore, assuming any average processing rate, the longer the queue, the longer the wait. Simply reducing queue length decreases delays, reduces waste, increases flow, and improves the predictability of outcomes.

Again this should be used as a conversation starter, not as a blame mechanism.

Updates

 As in, how are we progressing towards the goal? 

Risks

Are there any open risks you would like to call out. It can be 3-rd party dependency that you can’t handle or some people leaving, and you haven’t planned for that or anything that is a risk to the delivery of the goal.

Dependencies

Does your team own any dependencies? We use this as a conversation started. That’s the most important part of the meeting.

What else

Open up the Scrum of Scrums meeting

Usually, the meeting is a closed event – one person from the team is allowed to attend. I have opened that meeting to everyone by sending the invite to every team member that contributes to the product. The condition is that they can listen only, and if they have some questions, we will use the last 10 -15 min from every meeting for such a discussion. 

By using this “hack,” I was able to give visibility to everyone to understand what the teams will be working on in the current Sprint. Usually, we have people from the support, field teams, and management listening to what the teams plan to do, without turning this into a status meeting.

Rotate

I decided to experiment with rotating facilitators of the Scrum of Scrums. Habitually, the RTE is the leading facilitator. I believe in teamwork, and that’s why every week, there will be a different facilitator – one from the Scrum Masters. I think this boosts ownership and supports transparency.

Take that step

If you are willing to use one of my approaches, feel free and then share the results. I am also curious about how you hold your Scrum of Scrum meetings.

Continuous feedback during the SAFe PI Planning

Categories Lean-Agile, Technologies, UX
Agile Monsters: Feedback

PI Planning is a high-priced event. You need to book a room, prepare the materials, order food, plan a social event, flight people over, pay for hotel and transportation and some meals, + even more costs.

The total price can go up to tens of thousands of euros and, in some cases, maybe more.

If you add on top of that the time people spend focusing on the PI Planning process – ~100 people for a few days, you get the whole idea.

That’s why it is very crucial to get feedback on:

  • How to improve the experience on the attendees
  • How to cut some costs
  • How not to repeat mistakes we did already
  • How to make the event more efficient

What SAFe recommends on collecting feedback

SAFe recommends having a retrospective-like event at the end of the Pi Planning, where all the attendees can put some stickies on the wall, and the facilitator will help to combine them in affinity notes, and then the RTE will create follow-up items in the backlog.

I see a bit of a problem in that since we tried it first:

  • The people were super tired and didn’t have the motivation to do yet another exercise.
  • They had feedback on their minds, but they didn’t like the attention to stand in front of everyone and put their stickies on the wall and explain why.
  • Some of the attendees shared verbal feedback with me during the day, but forgot to add it on the boards, thinking that the RTE will do something anyway.

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What difference did I make?

I was reading a great case-study from Eik Thyrsted Brandsgård and Henrik Knibergand and based on something that they did, I decided to go even further and create a Feedback Meter: A scale from +2 (meaning this is super great, and I want this to continue) to -2 (meaning consider changing that in the future).

The board was there for the duration of the whole PI planning event, and the attendees could put their stickies on that scale. Also, I needed to communicate from time to time that the feedback board is there, and it can be used at any time.

Continuous feedback meter.

What I have accomplished with this continuous feedback approach?

  • A mood meter: A quick view on the mood in the room at all time – you can see from that picture that we need some improvements :)
  • Act on time: A see something – do something attitude – if something needs improvement, don’t wait till the end of the Planning, but act now and add a sticky
  • Participation: An excellent way to read the feedback from others and to add your own to theirs.
Agile Monsterd: Continuous feedback

Continuing after the PI Planning

There are 2 groups of attendees that you would miss if you stick to what SAFe recommends as a retrospective practice – those that are attending remotely and those people that love to share anonymous feedback for some reason.

I know you would tell me that this is behavior that I should not encourage, but in my case, I received surpassing feedback from that particular crowd.

To solve that problem, I have created a Podio survey and engaged anyone who could go and add even more feedback online.

What is your opinion on continuous feedback?


I am eager to learn more about how you deal with problems like that in the comments. Remember to start with +2 :)

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