Scrumming Man

Plan, Sprint, Show, Repeat

Category: Scrum (page 1 of 2)

Agile Thanksgiving

Being from the “correct” side of the pond, thanksgiving isn’t a holiday I’ve ever celebrated but today being Thanksgiving in the USA it made me think what am I thankful for in my agile journey. I’ve used the giving thanks warm-up numerous times in a retrospective but never truly thought of the people who have helped me in my journey as a Scrum Master. Continue reading

Retrospective – Hot Air Balloon

Yesterday i tried a new retrospective technique with the team i am scrum mastering. The inspiration came from here (thanks guys at Fun Retrospectives).

Its called the Hot Air Balloon and encourages the team to look back as well as forward. It also gives me a chance to try and improve my dreadful drawing skills (yes that picture has been drawn by a 31 year old man and not a child!)

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Retrospectives – feel all the feelings

I was recently asked by another Scrum Master to facilitate a retrospective for his team as he wanted to take part. The team were looking back over their Alpha phase of their development which was 10 weeks or so long.

As you would expect a lot of items came up during the retrospective as the team were looking back across quite a large period of time. One thing that was quite interesting was that some members of the team felt in their sprint retrospectives that they weren’t given the chance to voice their opinions as the retro’s very quickly became very tech heavy and in-depth (the team have faced a lot of technical challenges during this phase). This left the non developers on the team feeling like they were not really included in the conversation and lead to some discontent and bad feeling, which as anyone will tell you is not fantastic for team morale and productivity.

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Estimation: it’s more than just knowing about the size of something

Recently I’ve been working on a greenfield project for a CMS website to replace a temporary site that was thrown together quite quickly. As part of this we held a discovery phase which enabled the team to establish user need, some very high-level technology explorations and create a backlog to estimate cost and size. The next stage of the project was to start building something which meant we needed to take our backlog and estimate it.

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Is the Product Owner becoming an endangered species?

Recently I’ve noticed a worrying trend in a few organisations that I’ve worked with in that they think the Product Owner role is dispensable when using Scrum. At times it has been as extreme as not having a PO at all to the lesser end of the spectrum where there is a PO but they are doing this role alongside their usual “9-to-5” and can’t commit sufficient time to the team. Both scenarios (and anywhere in between) are dangerous and something i feel should be avoided.

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Kanban vs Scrum: When is it best to use which approach?

Recently I have been working on a project for a new client delivering replacement digital processes for their paper based predecessors. Due to the nature of the work I am unable to provide specifics about the projects but can divulge the approach the team has used to achieve this work.

On day one of my assignment the team and myself were cobbled together and asked to finish off the project which was started six months ago or so. The project has been dormant whilst a third party went away and developed their part of the system in an waterfall way (perhaps i’ll save that experience for another blog!). Whilst a backlog existed it hadn’t been refined for around six months and contained some items that were done, some that weren’t required and was missing a lot of stories that we had to do.

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Book review: Scrum by Dr Jeff Sutherland

I’ve recently purchased and read Scrum by Jeff Sutherland and wanted to let you al know my thoughts.

First of all Jeff Sutherland along with Ken Schwaber invented Scrum back in the early 90’s making them the Scrum Gods and Jesus all rolled into one. Since then they have spread Scrum through various companies and organisations like Scrum Inc and involvement with others such as the Scrum Alliance. There are many people out there who are prepared to give you an opinion on Scrum (after all you are reading my own blog dedicated to my experiences with Scrum) but getting insights from one of the creators is invaluable. The insights gained from those first few sprints, the realisation of needing roles such as a Scrum Masters and Product Owners to the experiences of implementing Scrum in failing, successful and companies anywhere in between are what make this book such a great read in my opinion.

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Sprint planning: Hours vs Points

Hours or points for sprint planning seems to be quite an opinion splitter in the Scrum community. Even the Scrum heavyweights Mike Cohn and Jeff Sutherland have chipped in with their opinions with both landing on either side of the argument.

I’ve discussed this a few times on the Scrum Alliance LinkedIn group and whenever I put my  point across I’m not sure if my point has ever really come across. To be clear I always estimate stories in points (i’ll save the reason why for another blog) and always use story points for velocity calculation. I then always break tasks into hours. At the start of any sprint planning session I will always show the team their historical velocity for the last few sprints (no more than 5) and ask the team if there is any known absence for the next sprint. At this point I will ask the team what they think they can achieve in the coming sprint. The Product Owner should know the teams velocity and should have a good idea of what this team usually achieves in points to help them decide what to bring in.

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Scrum Retrospective Technique: Mood chart

One of the scrum ceremonies the Scrum Master facilitates in the sprint Retrospective. I don’t think its fair or accurate to say that one of the ceremonies is more important than the other as they are all a vital part of the Scrum process. However, as an empirical process the retrospective is the real chance for the team to inspect and discuss their practices whilst agreeing achievable improvements they can make to their process for the next sprint. A team which doesn’t utilise the retrospective does so at their peril.

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What makes a good user story?

A User Story is a common method of turning traditional user requirements into a feature for an Agile team to work on. It is written from the end users perspective and describes the value of the work to the business along with the acceptance criteria that satisfies the story.

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