Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2015

10 Warning Signs, that your team is not self-organizing

How do you know that self-organization is working? The Bern Chapter of Scrum Breakfast Club looked into this questions, and identified the following warning signs (which I have taken the liberty of translating).

The team reports to the Scrum Master at the Daily ScrumPeople wait for instructions from the Scrum MasterTeam members don't hold each other responsible [for their commitments]The same impediment comes up twice"That's the way it is" => resignation"I" instead of "We"Flip charts are lonelyCulture of conflict-avoidanceDecisions processes are unclear, nor are they discussedPersonal goals are more important than team goals
To this list I would add my a couple of my favorites:
you don't see a triangle on the task board (not working according prioritization of stories)after the daily Scrum, people return directly to their desks (no collaboration)there are a least as many stories in progress as team members (no pairing)
P.S. You can join the …

10 tips for doing Scrum when you're decentralized, part-time or doing other stuff you're not supposed to do

How do you use Scrum when you're
integrating existing packages, not developing softwaredeploying a visual designworking with a decentralized teamworking with a part-time team? The new Scrum Breakfast Club portal is based on Wordpress and who knows how many plugins. My part-time "team" and I have been working on this project for about 6 months. Calling us a team might be a bit optimistic, because we were:
5 part-time people, located in two countries (6 hours apart)working no more than 40% on the projectworking for five different companies, andonly 2 people have been involved for the entire project. Despite these obstacles, we did produce a cool product (IMHO) and we enjoy working together (also IMHO)!

As we have gone through process of creating Wordpress-based web presences using Scrum, I have learned a couple lessons which I will carry forward.
Produce something that works every week. This is a wonderful constraint which prevents both individuals and the project as a whole…

Is your Scrum User Group really a user group?

Ken Schwaber recently chided the Scrum Alliance for having a trademark on the term "Scrum User Group." Man! There is something about the way divorced couples can fight forever through their kids. I'd like to ignore the couple for a moment, and talk about the children: What is the state of user groups in the Scrum and Agile community?

After a period of working too hard, I have been able to attend a few user group meetings this year. A couple of patterns have stood out for me. Patterns that don't feel right, but maybe I am exaggerating? Do you recognise any of these?
The user group is associated with an agile consultancy.The user group event starts with some promotion of said consultancy.The user group doesn't have a website or even a meet-up page.The user group website is mostly promoting high-value courses.Membership is free (just sign up for our mailing list).The user group event is mostly attended by beginners The only really experienced Agilist present is the …

What powerful questions does Scrum help you answer?

The video on powerful questions made me think about the deeper purpose of the various Scrum activities. Can I formulate Scrum as a series of Powerful Questions to be general enough, that they might be useful outside of software development? Here is the image I came up with and below are the questions I think each of the Scrum Activities and artefacts strives to help you answer.


SprintThe Sprint is a container to limit ourselves to setting reasonable medium-term goals. What can we reasonably expect to accomplish by the end of the sprint? VisionHow will our efforts make the world a better place?Who needs our product and why?Why should we build it? Product BacklogWhat characteristics should our product have?What goals must we accomplish to achieve our vision? Backlog RefinementWhat could we do to get us closer to our vision?What small steps could take us nearer to our goal?How can we make the steps smaller and more likely of success? Sprint PlanningPart 1 - What is the best possible st…

What is a powerful question?

Have you ever noticed that some questions cause people to pause and think before answering, while others provoke an automatic, non-constructive response? What's the difference?
Powerful questions challenge you to think deeply and often help to get unstuck and find solutions to your difficult, challenging problems.
At the Product Owner Camp #POcampCH in Sursee Agile Filmakers extrrodinaires Karen Greaves and Sam Laing led our group through the creation of a short educational video on Powerful Questions.



In one hour, we learned about Powerful Questions, the 4-C's teaching method, (Connection, Content, Concrete Examples and Conclusions) and how to make an attractive educational video.

Thanks to Karen and Sam, plus Deb Hartmann, Véronique Hyde, and Yves Bertrand for a great collaborative learning experience!


More tips for CST Aspirants

What does it take to become a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST)? Passion and Energy. You should stand out from the crowd!

The Scrum Alliance Trainer Acceptance Committee held its first ever workshop for CST Aspirants last week at SGPHX, the Phoenix Scrum Gathering. This gave candidates a chance to ask questions and understand what is really expected of a CST to get through the final examination.

The answers to two questions really stood out for me in this workshop:

Why do I have to submit my own learning materials?How many students must I have taught?

Why do you have to submit your own learning materials? Many Aspirants today work for a company that has already created a "deck" for teaching Scrum. I am told that Scrum.org even requires their trainers to train to a standardized deck. Why reinvent the wheel? 
If an Aspirant is using someone else's materials, here is a typical conversation during the final interview: Examiner: What does this diagram on page 35 mean?Aspirant: <…

Tips for CST Aspirants

So you want to become a Certified Scrum Trainer? What does it take to become a CST? I facilitated a workshop at the Phoenix Scrum Gathering (#SGPHX) on the challenges of becoming a trainer. Several people shared their experiences, including current and former members of the TAC (Trainer Acceptance Committee) and Tirell Payton, a Certified Scrum Coach whose first attempt at passing the TAC was not successful. 
Tirell wrote the following summary, which I thankfully quote:

During the retreat Peter Stevens facilitated a session on the CST process and some of the potential pitfalls the aspirants encounter as they go through the process.

I acted as the scribe and town crier, and as such lots of people have come up and asked me for my list of items.  The items on the list follow 2 key dimensions:  The common items that lead to candidates not being accepted and advice for how to make it through the process with your sanity intact.

For those of you on the list, hopefully these items wi…

Clickbait is evil!

Anyone who has taken one of my Scrum classes knows that I believe that multitasking is evil! I have come to realize that clickbait is evil too.

Why? For the same reason. Clickbait, like multitasking, destroys productivity.  At least for my own purposes, I have decided do something about it, and I am wondering if other people feel the same way.

What is clickbait? Let's say you an article open a reputable site, like CNN.com. See all those links on the right side, like Opinion, More Top Stories, Promoted Stories, More from CNN? That's click bait. My guess is 1/3rd of any given web pages consists of catchy headlines whose sole purpose is to get you to spend more time on their site (or maybe, to cash in on Cost-per-Click syndication schemes, to get you go to some other site). By the time you get 2/3rd down the page, 100% of the content is usually clickbait.
What is evil? What do I mean by evil? Evil things are bad for you. Like weeds in the garden or corrupt politicians, you'll…

What is the Product Owner Camp in Switzerland?

Dawna Jones, the management writer and initiator of the Stoos Sparks web series spoke with me about the Product Owner Camp in Switzerland. What is is about, who would want to go, and above all why? Check it out!
Product Owner Camp In Switzerland. Product Management meets Product Ownership. How do we create great products together? June 11-13, 2015. Registration and information at POcampCH.org.

Should the Scrum Master validate the inputs from a retrospective

The retrospective can be the most challenging of the Scrum activities, because, well, people are involved. A former student, Vijay, asked me:
The scrum master is facilitating the retrospective meeting by hearing the positive and negative from the team members. Should the scrum master or team members validate each other's feedback during the retrospective? I hope the answer is.... Dear Vijay, I think the purpose of the first phase of a retrospective is to seek understanding. Different people in the team will have different truths. The objective is to understand all the truths, rather than to find the truth. So I prefer to ask the question, "what happened?" Just the facts, no judgements or accusations. Oh, by the way the left side (top half) of the flipchart,  this is for things that made you happy. The other half is for things that made you sad. It is helpful to understand the mood, but don't ask the question too soon, lest people focus too much on the thumbs up or do…

Dive deep into Product Management, Product Ownership and Creating Great Products

I have become really excited about the potential of bringing an excited, passionate group of experts into room to work on challenges and problems that inspire them! So I am really excited about the Product Owner Camp in Switzerland!
Product Owner Camp in Switzerland (#POcampCH) is an Open Space conference inspired by the successful Agile Coach Camp in Kandersteg and Scrum Coaching Retreat in London. Unlike its role models, #POcampCH focuses on product creation: "Product Management meets Product Ownership: How do we create great products together?"
Thursday kicks off with an optional master class, "How to Get Quickly from Idea to Minimal Viable Product?" led by Karen Greaves, Samantha Laing, and Steve Holyer. Social activities are planned Thursday and Friday evening for attendees to interact, learn, and get to know each other.
Friday and Saturday, all day, involve all participants to conduct a series of parallel sessions addressing current topics around product creat…

Understanding the Indian 'Yes'

My experience with the word 'yes' in India is that it doesn't seem to mean what I think it means. And the word 'no' does not seem to exist. Doing business with India for me has always been a somewhat strange experience. As native speaker of North American English, there is a language barrier. Yes, it's English, but.... I was never really sure when negotiating with my business partners whether they were really going to deliver what they said they would. Often there would be substantial differences between what I thought we had agreed to and what was actually delivered.

Since I agreed to a four city tour in November of Scrum Trainings, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to explore what yes really means, and why it remains such a stumbling block. What did I find out about 'yes' and other aspects of Indian culture?
Raising the question My Scrum courses devote substantial attention to working agreements. At the start of each course, I facilita…

What good are story points and velocity in Scrum?

We use velocity as a measure of how many story points to take into the next sprint. When you take in enough stories, and story points, so that you reach your average velocity, then, you can end the sprint planning meeting. Although this is a common approach, it is exactly how you should not use story points in Scrum. It leads to over-commitment and spillover (started, but unfinished work) at the end of the sprint. Both of these are bad for performance. How should you use story points in planning? How do you create the Forecast? And what do you do if the team runs out of work?

The first thing to remember is that Development Team is self-organizing. They have exclusive jurisdiction over how much work they take on. The Product Owner has final say over the ordering of items in the backlog, but nobody tells the the Development Team how much work to take on! Not the Product Owner, not the ScrumMaster, and certainly not the math!

As a Product Owner, I would use story points to help set mediu…

Are agile trainers agile?

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of people out there who will train you to do Agile (and some will even try to convince you to be Agile). Some of them are certified, some are not. How many of them apply Agile to their own profession? I believe the answer is "not many," and I have realized that I was not one of them. This a-ha moment help me refine the purpose of my CST mentorship program.

When people say "Agile", most people are referring to the four values of the Agile Manifesto. While these are important, I believe the fundamental definition of Agility is contained not the four values, but the first statement: We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. (emphasis added).

I don't develop software, I train people to do Scrum. Actually, I like to believe I enable them to turn their current project into their best project ever, so maybe this "training Scrum" is too limiting. Hmm... let's no…

Announcing: Scrum Trainer Mentoring Program

Do you want to become a Certified Scrum Trainer? Becoming a CST is long process which requires you to demonstrate both your knowledge of Scrum and your ability to teach Scrum to the satisfaction of the Scrum Alliance Trainer Acceptance Committee (TAC). Many trainers resist working with aspiring CSTs, out of fear of competition, lack of interest or lack of time. Until now.

After a couple of attempts on an ad-hoc basis, with both successes and failures, I believe the best way to mentor CST-aspirants is to lead them through a structured program. My goal is that by the end this program, you will be well qualified to teach Scrum and should be ready for the rigors of the TAC. I believe a structured mentorship will be a better way to achieve that goal.

My motto is partnership. I believe that future CST's and I can work together and we can grow together. And I have some ideas on how we can benefit each other. Interested?

Check out the CST Mentorship Program!Contact me to discuss further!


An invitation to join a learning consortium

As many of you know, I have been working with Steve Denning, author of Radical Management, unofficial speaker for the Drucker Forum, and Member of the Board of the Scrum Alliance. His passion is about how management needs to reinvent itself to meet the challenges of the creative economy.

Steve and the Scrum Alliance are striving to build a Learning Consortium to explore the management implications of the emerging Creative Economy.

The members of the Learning Consortium will select five organizations from among these submissions and organize one-day site visits at their locations. Each host organization will make presentations and hold discussions about what it is doing, how it is doing it, and what it is learning. Membership of the consortium is limited to 30 organizations.

Each organization will be invited to send participants on the site visits. Once the site visits are complete, Scrum Alliance will organize a conference at which the Learning Consortium will make presentations an…

What does it take to be a good Scrum Trainer...

... and, who would like some kind of training to help become one?
The Doctor: Am I a good man?
Clara: I don't know. But I think you try to be and I think that's probably the point.
The Doctor: I think you're probably an amazing teacher. This year, I have my second full year as a Certified Scrum Trainer behind me. Looking back, it seems the first thing that happened after becoming was a CST was getting a steady stream of requests from aspiring CSTs to co-train with them. I held off the requests until this year. I have now worked with four aspiring trainers. In each case, I learned a lot and have come to appreciate both the value and the limitations of the mentoring system. I want to create a workshop for aspiring Scrum Trainers, so that they can rapidly achieve the level of a good CST.
What does a good trainer do? In my eyes, the purpose of a Scrum Master course is not to teach people the basic mechanics of Scrum. You can learn that from a 10 or 12 page document. The purpos…