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Showing posts from May, 2014

The Three Faces of Done

How can you expect me to test it if it's not done?! I hear this question a lot from people just starting out with Scrum. What does it mean for something to be "Done" in Scrum?
Build the Right Thing, Build it Right, Build Enough Under Scrum, the objective is to produce a potentially shippable product every sprint. Scrum is an incremental framework, which means you achieve your overall goal incrementally. Each sprint, even each backlog item, produces an additional slice of the product. This slice is integrated with all previous slices into a whole. That potentially shippable whole is called the "Increment."

Everything that goes into the Increment has to be "Done" and the increment as whole has to be "Done." If it's not done, you can't ship it. So what does it mean for something to be done? That's what the Definition of Done is for.

The Definition of Done is an agreement between all the members of the Scrum Team: what does it mean …

Bring back the fun! Four tips for the Product Owner...

...when the market isn't buying your product
"Is it OK to pass on market pressure to my team?" This question came up in my last Certified Scrum Product Owner course ("Leading Innovation").  It seems that the company's development efforts, i.e. their products, had not been producing the desired effects in the marketplace. As a result, the finances were not looking so rosy, the investors were getting worried, budget cuts were in the air, and who knows what that means for people's jobs! The PO (recently converted project managers) wanted to put the teams under more pressure to perform, feeling it was both necessary and justified. Scrum says the teams are protected from undue influence, so we have a typical conflict between the classical approach and the Scrum approach.

So let's look at the this pressure, where it comes from, what to do about it, and how to best react to this situations.
Where is the pressure coming from? Most of the time, the market do…

Three things to like about SAFe

I have written skeptically about SAFe and other approaches to scaling Agile. Some people have written even more skeptically (see Daniel GulloRon JeffriesDavid Anderson, Ken Schwaber and Dave Snowden for examples). Last weekend, I was able to take a closer look at SAFe through the eyes of its practitioners, and to my surprise, I found three things to like about it.

The Swiss Agile Coach Coach Camp in Kandersteg was an amazing opportunity for top practitioners to learn from each other. I asked Matthew Caine, who had been doing some SAFe implementations, if he would take half an hour or so to explain the key principles, to which he readily agreed.

I really appreciated Matthew's candor on SAFe's purpose and limitations. SAFe is not for corporate IT environments. It is for (parts of) companies that produce big software products. If your organization is already agile, it will slow you down. So if you are able to deliver functionality at least every two months, SAFe will not hel…

How do you improve the waterfall with Scrum or Agile?

Many Project Managers come to my courses to find out whether Scrum and Agile are something for them and their for organizations. Sometimes the answer regarding Scrum is 'No.' What then? What can you do with the lessons of Scrum to improve your productivity if you're constrained to phase driven development? This is where the values of the Agile Manifesto can be really helpful!

Yvonne Horst, a Project Leader for Swisscom and recent CSM, just sent me a nice example (she also sent a nice recommendation for my course, but I digress):
"I would like to point out one idea. The usual staffing approach for projects in a non-Scrum environment is to send specialists into a project and have them produce the artifacts of the respective phase. At the end of the phase the artifacts are handed over to the next group of specialists, which makes it sometimes extremely difficult to ensure the know-how transfer over the whole lifespan of the project.

"The idea of the Scrum team with …