The following is a recap of our Agile Community of Practice (aka, Taste of Agile) meetup on Saturday, July 11, 2020. In this meetup, we discussed a few questions which will be summarized below to the best of my ability. I look forward to your comments and thoughts. As always, the question author remains confidential just like the Vegas commercial. What happens in our session stays in our session.
Q: First time here ,how do you start? What I’m suppose to ask?
A: We follow a Lean Coffee format. We begin by creating a sticky for anything you wish to ask or you are wondering about. History has shown we do about five questions when we manage time poorly. About ten when we manage time aggressively. Vote on the questions when we have more than six. Discuss them in ranking order. Not discuss some questions if we run out time.
Ask anything wish to ask or you are wondering about. Or, you can just listen if you are curious. This is a safe space so there are bad questions and no person is treated disrespectfully.
We are glad you are here!!!
Q: Remote Retrospectives! So hard - tips for making them better/easier? tips, tips A: Conversation began describing a shy person who did not speak during a retro. Shy because they are new and have gotten comfortable with the team? Shy because they are not comfortable with the team? Might time and encouragement help the person get comfortable with the team. I am comfortable when I am in an environment for the first time. Unlike my extroverted colleagues, I need to feel safe environment. I start with asking a question or answer and watch for the reaction. I have found that good facilitators are aware of my type they begin with a team question or activity. You going into the water and I will watch you to make sure you feel safe. Try Personal Introduction exercises. Let's see if you can find commonality with the others.
Number of siblings
My first job
High School sport or club participation
Best achievement to date
Best dish made or eaten
You can also try other “getting to know us better” exercises.
Riddle of the day.
Questions that require a person to think or find something.
Food or drink recipe of the week.
Anything to get them to talk and bond.
Besides these questions, what might be done to help this person get more comfortable? Ask! Find out if there is a safe space shortcoming needing addressing. What might happen if the person is reminded that the retro is a safe space? If the team reviews their team values? Reminded that thoughts and opinions are valued by the team? Sometimes the issue goes deeper. The perception is there is no safe space. The intros and exercises help me learn about the others, but I still need more time to get to know the team.
The FIVE DYSFUNCTIONS of a TEAM is a book by Peter Lencioni where he points out that “Genuine teamwork in most organizations remains as elusive as it has ever been. ... Organizations fail to achieve teamwork because they unknowingly fall prey to five natural but dangerous pitfalls, which I call the five dysfunctions of a team.” Should this be the reason the team members do not feel safe to be open, honest, or transparent, this is worth considering. Without a certain comfort level among team members, a foundation of trust is not possible. This becomes visible via the team’s behavior. Performing the team exercise mentioned above helps. However, this type of team behavior need more focused attention from the team. How does each team member's behavior illustrate trust? If you asked me to give you a work examples where you demonstrate being trustworthy to your team, how would I demonstrate it. Please note, trust is not the more standard definition of one’s ability to predict a person’s behavior based on past experiences. For example:
always produces high-quality work because it has always been the case; just like clock works, always on time; or
like always, tackles the problem just like I expected.
It is not the commonly described dependability, predictability definition.
When I practice trust with my mates, I am asking for help, offering and accepting apologies without hesitation, etc. Still not sure if this is the problem, use powerful questions to find out. If you have taken the SAFe Scrum Master class, examples are in section 2.5. If you have not, these are thought-provoking and reflection questions.
What did you think of that retrospective?
What did you see missing from the retrospective?
What did you learn or discover from the conversation and retro goal?
What did not get said that would helped us get to the goal quicker or would have resulted in a better goal?
Try an internet search "asking powerful questions coaching" to find out more. Finally point in this discussion. A remote retro will help hide things and take longer longer to execute when impediments exists. Therefore, get everyone involved by starting with team questions to get everyone talking early. Allow the team to post possible retro topics before the session. Help them understand what is scheduled to happen by clearly stating the retrospective topic and how the retrospective will flow. Encourage the team to take ownership of their continuous improvement and feel this is their retro and not the ScrumMaster’s. Q: Is rolling wave planning done in Agile? A: Before answering the question, let's make sure everyone understands the questions since it will help understand the answer. WATERFALL: Rolling Wave Planning is the progressive planning of a project (can be a product) which multiple passes at the end-to-end plan is performed. As Andrea explained, this results in decomposing the work (Work Breakdown Structure) to the task level at different times. What must be done first? What is next? What should be next, etc? The first is decomposed down to the task level so the team can complete this work. You might recognize this as delivering in iterations. AGILE: From the same starting point, vision and EPICs (large request requiring decomposition), the Product Owner identifies business value to the EPICs at Portfolio or Product level. What must be done first? What is next? What should be next, etc? Without getting into MVPs or releases, what does business value identify as first? EPIC 1 is first. This EPIC is decomposed down to features (aka, capability required to deliver the EPIC). The Feature is decomposed into User Stories. These stories are sized, as per the Definition of Ready, and moved from the Product Backlog, to the Sprint Backlog so the team can complete this work. You might recognize this as delivering in one to four-week time boxes (aka, sprints or iterations). Knowing this let’s compare. Multiple passes are used in place of end-to-end plan up front in both approaches. This allows for more accuracy and learning to occurred. Agile uses smaller time box, that is one to four-weeks sprints/iterations with smaller being better, so I expect to see some benefits. In my Waterfall projects, we decomposed to 3 month. Image guessing what will happen in September with what you know in June. In my Agile projects, I get feedback, risk reduction, product knowledge every one to four-weeks. I also like the "nice job!" reminder and celebration opportunity. In Agile I am also decomposing a feature and refining the user stories every one to four-weeks using the review meeting to get feedback so that I can make sure I deliver what you need. I did not consider this in my Waterfall project since I assumed I knew what you wanted when I started to move the requirements into functions and features. When roll wave planning I want to progressive elaborate my WBS to stay aligned with the stakeholders needs. In Agile, I want to refine (progressive elaborate) the product vision in the product backlog so that the high value EPICs received development priority and the low value EPICs stay at the bottom of the priority queue. In Agile "roll wave planning" we refine based on what we learn to make the best decisions at the last possible moment.
Note: high value is meant as high business value, risk reduction, dependency impact, cost of delay, etc.
Q: What is the most important scrum ceremony? A: A trick question? If Agile mindset drives the process, ceremonies (aka, events), and practice followed, each thing I do must be important. Otherwise, my team retrospective (Agile Principle 12) should kick it out a wasteful ceremonies/meeting. However, maybe the question is a test. Let’s play. First reply was Planning. Sprint Planning in Scrum or PI Planning in SAFe. I am sure LeSS and Scaled Scrum have a planning step as well. Team needs to select work, discuss how to deliver, identify risk and dependency not yet identified to address them. Close with a planning review and “let’s go team” chat as they agree to delivery the goal. Skip it and the team does not know what to do? Second reply was daily team conversation and sync. Team should get together, to update themselves on progress and re-sync for the next 24 hour cycle. Even in Kanban the assesses the board and discuss how to plan the next 24 hours to eliminate flow blockers. Why? Having a plan focuses and aligns everyone. Skip this and do you ever get to the goal line? Third reply was Agile Principle 12, reflect and adapt or inspect and adapt. It could be a “product delivery” or “process, tools, and team” based reflection. Identify corrective actions or action and move on to the next time box. Without the reflection, you are destined to commit the same mistakes again and again. We agreed that we cannot identify any Scrum ceremony/event to exclude. Removing one contributes to the team success. What about the Backlog Refinement meeting, sometimes thought of as a Scrum ceremony. We also agreed that if the team is a high performing team, they still do this to keep the product backlog aligned with the product vision and product priorities. Q: Is there any drawback of the Agile model? A: The author asked based on a recent delivered release with quality issues, broken code or testing defects and did not meet the stakeholders needs. As I thought of this, I was taken back to "The Emperor’s New Clothes" first published in Copenhagen, by C. A. Reitzel, on 7 April 1837. It about a vain emperor who gets exposed before anyone warns him that he has no clothes on. Why did I think of this?
Waterfall-Agile project. They run unrecognizable Sprint Planning events, Standup meeting in the traditional project status meeting, Waterfall time boxes, swap team members like parts on an assembly line, move defects to future sprints, Product Owner is missing in action, Product Owner and Scrum Master combining roles, starved teams, and/or retrospectives are a burden to the team who they are designed to help.
Practicing Agile versus Agile Mindset as the basis for all behaviors, decisions, and process, practices
Agile projects which risk, issue, dependency management are ignored.
An Agile project can be a major fail if everyone is not all in. Agile is no solution when executed poorly. Based on the time box duration, the team feels the pressure to explain something they may not understand or cannot correct since it is exposed at the end of every time box.
We also discuss the two items behinds asking this question.
The first issue, broken code or testing defects. Was the acceptance criteria missing or poorly defined? Did the team take on too much and not have sufficient time to finish? Was there a dependency not meet? Does the team have all the skills to deliver? How does the team approach testing?
Might your process have a flaw? This is a great retrospective topic.
The second issue, did not meet the expectation. Was there a share understanding? Does the team know the vision? Did the Product Owner not take to the team and ensure they were on the right track?
Is the Product Owner aiding the team in delivering customer value?
Q: Can you please share the Product Owner in a nutshell video?
Q: What are the Scrum Meeting Ceremonies?
Q: What do I need to know about Agile for the current PMP exam? Any suggestions???
Practice Agile does not deliver. Being Agile delivers.