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.

[optinform]

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 :)

Read more…

Storytelling in SAFe

Categories Better UX, Lean-Agile, Technologies
Agile Monsters #1

Let me start with a bit of theory: There is an Agile framework called SAFe ® that allows enterprises to scale and deliver value faster by optimizing how it flows through different systems and sub-systems, using the principles of Lean-Agile.

One of the primary artifacts of that framework is something called a Big Room planning where all of the teams working on one program get together for a while and discuss open items, groom stories, and plan the objectives for the next 5 sprints.

PI planning

I will not get into the details explaining what a sprint is or what grooming is, I assume, if you clicked on my boring title, you should know that already. If not, well, feel free to DuckDuckGo it and find out.

Let me get back to the topic. During that planning event, I, as a Release Train Engineer or say as a facilitator, am responsible for explaining some of the metrics so anyone can understand it. One of those metrics is the PPM.

Define: PPM

I have a piece of good news for you, I don’t expect you to know what that is, because is SAFe specific and I’ll try to explain you in by copy and pasting something from the SAFe website (yes I want to make a point here)

“Each team’s planned vs. actual business value is rolled up to create the program predictability measure”. 

SAFe Website
Author: Collab

To decode that. I’ll share with you that each team defines their own objectives during the PI planning, and the Business Owners are assigning the value to each one of them, based on the assumption of the amount of value that the team will deliver in the next few sprints.

[optinform]

What does it mean to be predictable in this case? (as in Program Predictability Measure)

I will not talk about how to change the ways you define and measure your PPM now, but I would definitely write another article about that. 

  • Reduced time-to-market that can be elevated to faster value delivery.
  • Increased flexibility for changes in scope with minimal cost.
  • Value delivered in the way the customer expects it.

If we drill down to the specifics, this could go all the way to how much time yous pend on a defect and how efficient is your CI/CD pipeline or how well defined are your Acceptance Criteria.

Per “Blogagility”. The effectiveness of the business outcome of our collaboration and alignment either builds Trust, or it destroys it. 

Blogagility website

I totally agree with that statement. That’s why I focused my story on how trustable we are in the eyes of our Business Owners.

Why Trust matters.

I used a storytelling approach to explain why it matters and tried to connect it to our own software development world.

Here comes the story:

It was one Friday night, and after a hard day at the office, I went home and met some Balkan friends. We did some things that Balkan people do, drinking some liquids that Balkans people drink and when we started seeing Balkan dictators at some point there was this voice behind me:

My son: Dad, where is the pizza.

Me: grabbed my phone, opened the app I used for home delivery and clicked on my order. 

The app: Time for delivery: 18:45; Status: Preparing

Me: looks at my Ikea clock on the wall: It was 20:00.

Me: clicks on the contact us icon and enters my order id.

The app: Order not Found

Me: uses my so-amazing Czech language and checks the status on the phone

The app support: Oh, we apologize, the supplier forgot about your order, here’s your money back.

The time: You lost 40 min of your life.

The app: Your order has arrived.

Me: ?!?

So we ended up with pizza (not so warm) and money in my pocket. You could way that this is a win-win situation, but I mostly care about the experience, not about the money.

Let’s go back to the Trust.

This happened twice, so my Trust with the process of that company went down. 

I really don’t care about who’s fault it is.

  • is it the cooks (developers) that were too slow?
  • or it’s the delivery guy (the CICD pipeline)?
  • or it’s the misalignment (program manager) between different departments?
  • or something completely different?

At the end of the day, the Trust in your product matters, and your product is a complex system that should work well together.

I can imagine that this problem doesn’t happen just to me, and it happens to other people, and they complain differently. Then the company receives that feedback, and they can say what their trust score as we can say as a team of teams (a Program) what our PPM is.

I saw some people nodding their heads in agreement with me this time, so I believe that it was one small step forward to explaining some of the terms in a way that makes sense.

I consider that a success.

Read more…

HacktoberFest – done; Why care?

Categories Community Management, Open Technologies, Technologies

I still remember the good ol’ times where I almost convince an entire company to allow their > 500 employees to contribute to an opensource or a free software project at least 1 hour a month.

The journey was hard. I prepared a strategy and facilitated the discussion, and spend numerous hours taking to smart legal people to create a framework for that.

Also kind of convinced everyone that this is a good thing and created a list of projects to contribute to, separated in categories – for developers, for testers, for marketing and sales, for the other experts we had.

I also finally convinced the company that that one hour will be donated (because the company owns all you do during working hours).

Well, nothing happens with that Initiative after I left. I still see some ideas mentioned on their blog, but it seems it’s not supported anymore.

Maybe you lost my train of thoughts and to be honest I am in the same situation as well. Haha!

I just wanted to brag about that I finished my #hacktober challenge this year and their goals it seems to be the same as mine while trying to convince the company – teach everyone why sharing is caring and why contributing to the Open knowledge is the best you can do.

You don’t have to be a developer or a byte guru to do so; Everyone can do that, and it makes you proud, and it makes you feel happy.

Credits: Photo by OneRas. Licensed under Creative Commons license

Voice navigation – bringing your app to the next level?

Categories Open Technologies, Startups, Technologies, UX

This morning I was surprised by Google Drive. They offered me to use voice for some basic commands, instead of selecting them or using a shortcut (in my case).

A few months ago I created an experiment by combining the shiny SoHo Interface with a few good working opensource javascript implementations for voice and gesture to control the interface.

I knew that some companies were experimenting with it but maybe because I was too busy with other projects and day-to-day routines I hadn’t realized that the time for it has come. 

I am sure that the experiment by Google (seems useless from user point of view) will evolve into something more usable and can save a lot of time to the end-user.

 

Pros:

  • It’s fun – you can shout commands to your website and it will respond with an action.
  • Sometimes you can do something useful – like control your HTML5  game or even login to your favorite website.
  • Brings apps to people that can’t write (yet), but can talk – this is something huge.
  • Widens the horizon of the developers and companies – think about one more usability and User Experience layer
  • It is super exciting and it evolves well.

 

Cons:

  • There are some technological ones, but I don’t want to be a hater this time :) Yay!
  • The other one is what happens with all of the data collected by the mic? Some of the devices are known for listening all the time for the our precious voice. Should we start ripping batteries off from our laptops and tablets like we do for our mobile phones?

 

How to get started?

See my demo here – there is a video  for voice and gesture controlled UI. This is how a modern app should look like – you can use your voice, but also to listen to the voice answer sent back to you and if you feel like moving things around – use your webcam to do it..

 

More links:

 

  • I am using Annyang for the voice commands 
  • Gest.JS for the gestures
  • and this JS library to interact with the GoogleTTs engine 

What is the future?

Bright – pretty soon we’ll be seeing more and more startups combining the Voice with the millions of the APIs that exists to build even interfaceless applications that will work well at the beginning and then will replace most of those apps we use these days.

 

What do you think?

 

Why is Bulgaria Web Summit 2015 so different from any other event?

Categories FLOSS Events, Mozilla, Open Technologies, Startups, Technologies

When I talk to sponsors and even to friends about the Summit, they always ask me what makes our event different.

So here’s the secret:

We started this event 11 years ago (under a different name) as an effort to create something amazing and affordable for IT guys in Bulgaria. At the same time we never compromise with quality. The main purpose of the event is for our attendees to learn new things, which they can apply in their work on the very next day and to return the “investment” they have made in the conference.

Speakers

In most of the conferences I’ve been in Europe, well-trained company folks talk about their success at Fakebook or Playpal and how to clone it to your company – This doesn’t work and you will not see it at our event and in the same time you have to spend tons of money just to listen to the guy.

In the most conferences I’ve been in Europe, well-respected gurus talk about some programming art – they do that all the time, they just talk, they don’t code anymore – You will not see this at our event – We invite only professionals and they share their experience with you and on the next day, they will not depart for another event, but they will go back to do the thing they do the best.

We have had amazing speakers over the years. Some of them became friends of the event and they can come again and again, even without paying them a dime. We build relationships with our speakers, because we are Balkan people and this is what we do.

Many people still remember Monty’s Black Vodka, Richard Stallman‘s socks and many other stories that must be kept secret :)

 

The audience

We do have the best audience ever! I mean it. We have people that haven’t missed an event since 2004. They are honest and if you screw up they will tell you and they will give you kudos if you do something amazing. In most of the years, the tickets are sold months before the event, even without a schedule and even without the speakers yet known, because we proved the event is good.

We have people who met at our event and got married, we have people who met at our event and started business together, we have companies that hired great professionals because of our events; we have kicked off many careers by showing the people great technologies and ways to use them.

 

The money

Of course it’s not all about money. We do need them to make the event great, but our main goal is not to make money out of it. As you can see the entrance fee is low – for the same event in Europe (same speakers) you would have to pay 5-10 times more. We realize that we live in a different country and the conditions are different, but we are trying to find a way to keep the fee low and at the same time to still keep up the quality of the talks and emotions. We can achieve this only thanks to our sponsors. Thank you, dear sponsors!

 

Experiments

We do experiment a lot. We are trying to make a stress-free event, full of nice surprises, parties and interesting topics.

We are not one of those conferences where you get tons of coffee in the breaks (sometime we even don’t have breaks, nor coffee for that matter, just beer!) and a schedule 3 months in advance or you can sit and pretend you are listening, because someone paid you the fee. With us you are a part of the event all the time: we have games, hackathons and other stuff you can take part in. We give you the bread and butter, use your mind to make a sandwich. :)

 

We grow

We failed many times at many tasks, but we are learning and improving. We are not a professional team doing this for the money. We are doing this for fun and to help our great and amazing community. We count on volunteers. Thank you, dear volunteers!

 

Marketing?

We are one of the few events that don’t have history of the event on their website. Duh! We do believe that if you visit us once (because a friend told you about us) you don’t need a silly website to convince you again to come :) We do not spend (a lot of) money on marketing or professional services. We count on word of mouth and you. Thank you!

Join us and see for yourself!