Thursday, February 7, 2008

Scrum Breakfast in Zürich: Continuous Improvement

Yesterday, Marcello Leonardi gave a talk about his experience as developer and Scrummaster in namics' WLC project. It was cool — 25 people, mostly experienced project managers. Some had just started with Scrum, a few had been using Scrum for awhile, and others were just thinking about starting. But all had interesting experiences to share.

Marcello talked about the WLC project. Marcello started as a developer about the time I took over the project, and took over as Scrummaster after about 8 months. On the one hand, I felt like a proud father, because I introduced Scrum to the project and after 22 Sprints, 3 major releases, and a Best of Swiss Web award, the project is still going strong.

On the other hand, after hearing Marcello's talk, I realized that the project is doing better now than when I ran it. Had I made wrong decisions? Left out something important? Could I have done a better job? Saturday, I wrote "Why would anybody want to be [confronted with their own weaknesses and shortcomings]?" And here I am, not 4 days later, confronted with my own words.

Marcello took over the project from me and continued to improve it. Here is a list of the changes he made:
  • Customer provided a full time Product Owner
  • "Customer Day" Product owner on site to work with team
  • More thorough technical preparation of stories before Sprint Planing Meeting
  • Introduced Planning Poker to the Estimation Meetings
  • Added variety in methodology of the retrospective meetings

The success of the first two points were made clear when he showed a picture of the team. For the first time in the history of the project, the product owner (customer) was in the pictures. The borders between supplier and the customer were dissolving for the benefit of the project and the customer. Lean Software Development is not just a buzzword, it's real!

This is exactly what continuous improvement means. What you do right should be ritualized. Everything else can be improved, and improvement is a step by step process.

Congratulations, Marcello! Some day, you'll have a successor. May he or she improve the project, just as much you did!

8 Feb 08: Update Marcello's Presentation is now online.


suls said...

Peter, I wanted to thank you for the event. It was a really interesting experience for me to dive into the agile world. The talk and the following discussion also showed me how much more there is to learn beyond the university.

Will the slides be available somewhere online?

- Mathias

Peter said...

Thanks! I love the information exchange. Even when you've read the books and cut your teeth on real project, there is still so much to learn!

Marcello's Presentation is now online.