Skip to main content

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.


Comments

Anonymous 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.

Popular posts from this blog

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…

Explaining Story Points to Management

During the February Scrum Breakfast in Zurich, the question arised, "How do I explain Story Points to Management?" A good question, and in all honesty, developers can be an even more critical audience than managers.

Traditional estimates attempt to answer the question, "how long will it take to develop X?" I could ask you a similar question, "How long does it take to get the nearest train station?

The answer, measured in time, depends on two things, the distance and the speed. Depending on whether I plan to go by car, by foot, by bicycle or (my personal favorite for short distances) trottinette, the answer can vary dramatically. So it is with software development. The productivity of a developer can vary dramatically, both as a function of innate ability and whether the task at hand plays to his strong points, so the time to produce a piece of software can vary dramatically. But the complexity of the problem doesn't depend on the person solving it, just …

Money for Nothing, Changes for Free

“Money for Nothing, Changes for Free” encourages both customers and suppliers to focus on value.

A key advantage of Scrum projects is that at least once per sprint you have something that could be shipped and no work in progress. You can change direction every sprint, and you can reevaluate whether the project is a good investment or if your money could be better spent elsewhere. Abrupt cancellation is risky for the supplier.

While the concept of an early-exit penalty is not new, Jeff Sutherland gave it a unique allure with his allusion to the Dire Straits hit.
Desired Benefit Incentivize both customers and suppliers to focus on functionality that provides genuine value.
Structure This works with Agile software projects because there is little or no work in progress. After each Sprint, functionality is either complete or not started. Work is basically on a Time and Materials basis with a cost target, often with the intention that the project should not use up the entire project budge…