Skip to main content

What's a good spike?

Problem: Our forum has some unpleasant limitations. In particular, pasting formatted text into a forum post from Outlook (and possibly other sources) produces weird and wonderful results: the HTML gets converted so you don't see formatted text, you see the raw HTML A bit annoying.  So we decided to do a spike to evaluate an alternative:
spike: evaluate TinyMCE / other options for editing text in forum
We got to the end of the evaluation, and as PO, I had more questions at the end of this evaluation than at the beginning! Why?

I think the answer can be found in the title of the spike. What's wrong with this title? First, it starts with an verb in the imperative. "Team, do this" It is not an invitation to think. Second how do we know if the we have satisfied the objective? It doesn't really say. It just says 'evaluate.'

Here's an improvement:
spike: can we eliminate our copy/paste problems by using TinyMCE?
By formulating the spike as a question, it becomes clearer what is the objective of the spike. This in turn makes it easier to tell whether the spike is done.

Of course, this still doesn't answer the question of whether it is a good thing to deploy it in our context. It's a closed question and assumes part of the answer, i.e. that TinyMCE is the best solution. How about:
Which forum editor best satisfies the needs of our users?
Of course, that might be a bigger spike, but the goal is clearest and most focussed on the people who really matter!

In my Certified Scrum classes, I demonstrate using Scrum in the class by organizing the class with Scrum. The course topics are the product backlog. I used to define the product backlog as user stories, but I now express them as questions. My students ask questions; learning is the result of asking questions; and formulating the product backlog as a series of questions seems like a natural approach. I wonder questions as backlog items could be used for other kinds of story as well?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Scaling Scrum: SAFe, DAD, or LeSS?

Participants in last week's Scrum MasterClass wanted to evaluate approaches to scaling Scrum and Agile for their large enterprise. So I set out to review the available frameworks. Which one is best for your situation?

Recently a number of approaches have started gaining attention, including the Scaled Agile Framework ("SAFe") by Dean Leffingwell, Disciplined Agile Development (DAD), by Scott Ambler, and Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde. (Follow the links for white papers or overviews of each approach).

How to compare these approaches? My starting point is Scrum in the team. Scrum has proven very effective at helping teams perform, even though it does not directly address the issues surrounding larger organizations and teams. An approach to scaling Scrum should not be inconsistent with Scrum itself.

Scrum implements a small number of principles and constraints: Inspect and Adapt. An interdisciplinary Team solves the problem. Deliver something of va…

Sample Definition of Done

Why does Scrum have a Definition of Done? Simple, everyone involved in the project needs to know and understand what Done means. Furthermore, Done should be really done, as in, 'there is nothing stopping us from earning value with this function, except maybe the go-ahead from the Product Owner. Consider the alternative:
Project Manager: Is this function done?
Developer: Yes
Project Manager: So we can ship it?
Developer: Well, No. It needs to be tested, and I need to write some documentation, but the code works, really. I tested it... (pause) ...on my machine. What's wrong with this exchange? To the developer and to the project manager, "done" means something rather different. To the developer in this case, done means: "I don't have to work on this piece of code any more (unless the tester tells me something is wrong)." The project leader is looking for a statement that the code is ready to ship.

At its most basic level, a definition of Done creates a sh…

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 …