2015-08-04

Experience Agile

Want your students or clients to really learn Agile? Then get them to teach Agile.

"Experience Agile" is the activity I use to close my my two-day Agile class. Students learn Agile by doing Agile and by teaching Agile to each other. The assignment:
Design, implement, and deliver courseware that teaches you everything you need to know about Agile.
The activity leads them through every step of the Agile product development life span, from product vision and team inception, through delivering the first version of their product. It works!

Download it here. Enjoy!

2015-07-21

The Core Protocols: A Guide to Greatness

Introducing my book, The Core Protocols: A Guide to Greatness. Here’s the blurb:
Want to live in greatness? This book is your guide. The Core Protocols show you how to discover and obtain what you want, on your own, with your friends and family, and with the people you work with. Follow these easy recipes to understand and articulate your personal alignment, to connect and align with others, to share vision together, and to make the abundant goodness of the universe yours. Based on the work of Jim McCarthy and Michele McCarthy, this book is your concise guide to understanding what you want, connecting with others who support you, and living in greatness.
Here’s a review:
The Core Protocols are a life-changing experience in logical relationships and work. I use them all the time. I teach them. I share them. 
Destined to be a classic of intra and interpersonal interaction that is maybe slightly ahead of its time, those that embrace their simplicity reap massive rewards. 
I'm in.
Want a copy? You can buy it on Amazon.

Enjoy!

2015-06-10

Manifesto for Greatness

On May 1, 2015, a group of 16 people gathered at Crystal Lake near Seattle, Washington. We announced to the world that we feel. That we suffer and that we are responsible. That we want a world filled with abundant love and greatness. That we have been "booted" running a new operating system, the code for abundant love and greatness.  That we want to infect the world with love and greatness at epidemic speed and force. That we are in. That we want your help.

We announced to the world what we want and who we are. We want abundant love and greatness in the world. We are the Greatness Guild.

This is our manifesto, a Manifesto for Greatness. We ask for help. Will you join us?

Manifesto for Greatness

We feel GLAD, SAD, MAD and AFRAID.

We have suffered mediocrity, broken promises, drama, selfishness and separation for too long. We are responsible for this mediocrity.

We observe that GREATNESS emanates from SELF-AWARENESS, FAITH, HOPE, PASSION, COURAGE, WISDOM, JOY, LOVE, INTEGRITY, VULNERABILITY, SAFETY and TRUST.

We have the tools – the CORE COMMITMENTS and CORE PROTOCOLS – that encode and deliver these virtues and ignite people to greatness.

We want the world to live in love and greatness.

WE ARE IN.

Will you join us?

Algimantas Stancelis, Alice Ivashina, Andrea Chiou, Axel Reed Dyksterhuis, Christian Délez, Christophe Thibaut, Dana Dyksterhuis, David Papini, Fazeel Gareeboo, Harold Shinsato, Josh Grob, Julia Ivashina, Richard Kasperowski, Sergej Koščejev, Stephen Hardy, Tolga Yazar



Read more about our efforts at greatnessguild.org.



2015-06-03

Scaling Scrum: How To


Here’s a great Scrum scaling pattern based on the pattern that one of my clients uses. They use this pattern to scale their 500 people into a very successfully business unit of a huge technology company.

For each Product Backlog, there is one Product Owner (PO), one Scrum Master (SM), and up to four Development Teams. Each Development Team, plus the PO and SM, are a proper Scrum Team. The four Scrum Teams collaborate together on the single Product Backlog, ensuring that they are working on a single cohesive value stream.

Step 1: Form teams

The goal is to form teams that can get Increments of new product Done. To get things Done, each team must have all of the skills necessary—each team must be cross-functional.

The group’s manager creates a roster template on the wall. The roster template includes a column for each team and empty slots for team members. Rows indicate the desired mix of skills on each team: programmers, testers, UX specialists, DBAs, Op’s, etc.

Everyone in the group writes their name on a Post-It.

The manager explains the goal to the team. Group members fill the empty roster slots with their names. Talking and collaborating are encouraged! When all roster spots are filled, teams formation is complete.

Though not officially part of the scaling pattern, for great teams in just a few days, send them to a Core Protocols one-day workshop or five-day BootCamp.

Step 2: Scrum!

Here are recipes for your scaled Scrum events:

Sprint: All teams’ Sprints are synchronized, starting and ending at the same time.

Sprint Planning

Part 1—What: The whole group gathers in their shared work area. The PO re-acquaints the group with the contents of the Product Backlog. Each Development Team selects the subset of Product Backlog Items (PBIs) that they think they can get Done during the sprint.
Part 2—How: Each Development Team creates their individual Sprint Backlog. They carefully note dependencies and other collaboration needs with their cousin Dev Teams.
Part 3—Align: The whole group gathers again. Each Dev Team shares their Sprint Backlog with the group. Dev Teams share collaboration needs. They inspect and adapt, adjusting as needed. They agree on their Sprint Goal.
(Did you notice the Diverge-Converge pattern? You'll see it again in the Daily Scrum and Sprint Retrospective.)

Daily Scrum: Each team holds its own Daily Scrum. Daily Scrums are staggered so the SM and PO can attend all of them.
Daily Scrum of Scrums: Representatives of each Dev Team meet to share their progress toward their individual and joint Sprint Goal. They inspect and adapt and adjust their plans.

Sprint Review

The group meets all together, along with stakeholders invited by the PO, for their Sprint Review.

Sprint Retrospective

Part 1—Teams: Each team holds their own Sprint Retrospective. They create a concrete plan to improve their team during the next sprint. They also identify ideas for improving the whole group. This meeting lasts about one hour.
Part 2—Group: The whole group meets to inspect and adapt as a team-of-teams. They create a concrete plan to improve the whole group during the next sprint.

Product Backlog Refinement

Refinement with volunteer leaders: The PO and volunteer leaders from the group meet to refine the Product Backlog regularly, usually 1-2 times per sprint. The purpose of this meeting is to get the backlog more Ready for the whole group, so we don’t waste people’s time with PBIs that aren’t Ready enough for the group to estimate together. For great collaboration, the size of this volunteer group is around 8 people. (“More than eight, no collaborate.” -Luke Hohmann) This subgroup may provide *initial* estimates for backlog items, to help the PO with initial forecasting. These estimates are not final, though, because estimating is the Development Team’s responsibility. Consider not sharing these estimates with the members of the Dev Team to prevent anchoring. Consider using this Product Backlog Refinement Workshop xxx .
Refinement with whole group: The whole group convenes to refine the Product Backlog. The purpose of this meeting is to get the Product Backlog ready, with 1-2 sprints worth of PBIs totally Ready, and up to 6 months of backlog estimated—with the whole Development Team estimating backlog items together.

Scaling to 500 people

Each group is around 40 people. The pattern scales horizontally, up to 10 Product Backlogs and 40 Scrum Teams. For every five POs, there is a PO Manager. When there are two PO Managers, there is a PO Director above them.

Scrum Masters form a community of practice, perhaps with a manager handling there career development and HR needs. Programmers, testers, and other specialists do the same.

All together there are around 500 people in the business unit, including managers and support staff.

2015-05-20

How to: A Great Product Backlog Refinement Workshop

Are your Sprint Planning meetings painful? Are your Sprint outcomes always as great as you want?

Have you ever held a Sprint Retrospective and decided to get your Product Backlog truly Ready?

Here’s an outline of a Product Backlog Refinement Workshop I use with teams I manage and coach:

Goals
The goals of the workshop are:
  • Get the Product Backlog Ready for the next Sprint Planning meeting
  • Get 6 months of Product Backlog Items estimated so the Product Owner (PO) can forecast well
Who: whole Scrum team
The whole Scrum team is invited. The Product Owner is present—he is responsible for the Product Backlog, and he wants the backlog to be great. The Scrum Master is present—he is a good facilitator and can help the team succeed. The Development Team members are present—they are responsible for estimating the size of the Product Backlog Items (PBIs), and they want to be familiar with the PBIs before Sprint Planning.

When & where
  • Same time and place, every week: so everyone knows and everyone can participate
  • 2-hour time box
  • Preferred place is the team’s everyday workspace.
Artifacts
  • Input: The input to the workshop is the Product Backlog in its current state.
  • Output: The output is a Product Backlog that is more Ready
Steps
To conduct the workshop, follow these steps:
  • In 30-minute cycles,
    • The PO presents the next PBIs that aren’t Ready to the team. (up to 5 minutes)
    • The Development Team decomposes into sub-teams of 3-4 people.
    • Each sub-team selects one of the next PBIs and gets it Ready. (15-20 minutes)
      • Use User Stories, 3 Cs, INVEST, your Definition of Ready, etc. to guide you.
      • If Readiness is blocked by an impediment outside the Scrum team, the sub-team makes a concrete plan for what they will do to get the PBI Ready before the next Sprint Planning or Backlog Refinement meeting.
    • Merge back into whole group, the full Scrum team.
    • Sub-teams present their work to the whole group. (5-10 minutes)
    • Take a break (5 minutes)
    • Repeat
  • Celebrate!

This workshop is inspired by “Try… Requirements workshops for Product Backlog refinement" in Practices for Scaling Lean & Agile Development, Craig Larman and Bas Vodde, 2010. Thank you, Craig and Bas! 

2014-09-03

Great Games for Scrum and Agile Learning

I love using games and interactive activities when I share Scrum and Agile with people. Here's a list of some of the games I use.

Name games
These games are from Stanley Pollack's excellent book, Moving Beyond Icebreakers.
  • Name shout, name wave, name race, name and motion, name and secret skill, name and adjective
  • Bag Toss 
Class start-up
These ways of collaborating are some of the Core Protocols.
Scrum and Agile fundamentals
Estimating
Retrospectives
Self-organization
  • Line Up
  • 60 Paces
  • Triangles
  • Human Knot
  • Human Sculpture
Multitasking
  • Alphabet and numbers: How fast can you go at simple tasks? What if you multitask? Round one: in 10 seconds, write the letters, e.g. A B C D. Round two: in 20 seconds, write letters and numbers, e.g. A1 B2 C3 D4. Round three: in 30 seconds, write letters, numbers, and the letters of your name, e.g. A1R B2I C3C D4H. Round four: in 40 seconds, write letters, numbers, the letters of your name, and the letters of the alphabet backward, e.g. A1RZ B2IX C3CY. Michael de la Maza taught me this game. Here’s a timer you can use.
Batch size

What are you favorite Agile and Scrum learning games?

2014-05-22

How to Facilitate a Great Daily Scrum (Scrum Master skills series)

Welcome back to the Scrum Master Skills Series! In part 1, I shared my notes on how to facilitate a great Sprint Planning session. Here, in part 2, I share my notes on ho to facilitate a great Daily Scrum. Enjoy!

Intro

  • Facilitate: to make facile, to make easy. That’s your job as facilitator.
  • Create an experience. Design the experience. Want the team to feel positive? Design a positive experience.
  • Begin with, “The purpose of this meeting is …”
  • Make it a Visual Meeting. Use a kanban board, Post-Its or Stattys or EcoStatics, paper, and pens. 
  • Make it a human meeting. Use your bodies and your voices, and make eye contact.
  • Use a Time Timer.
  • Read the Scrum Guide. As Scrum Master, you’re expected to know Scrum. The Scrum Guide is your guide.

Daily Scrum

  • Set a recurring appointment series--the same time and place every day. Make it easy for people to attend.
  • Get it done in 15 minutes--or less! The time box is 15 minutes. That's 1 minute per person, followed by 5-10 minutes for the team to adapt. 
  • Read the Scrum Guide. Do what it says. Use the three questions in it.
  • Make it a physical meeting. Use a kanban board. Ask Development Team members to touch the Post-It Note for each activity they discuss, and to physically move their Post-It Note to its new column on the kanban board.
  • The first question, "What did I do yesterday that helped the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?", helps with Student Syndrome: there’s peer pressure to get stuff done every day, not just every sprint.
  • The third question, "Do I see an impediment that prevents me or the team from meeting the Sprint Goal", is a form of Ask For Help. Encourage team members to ask each other for help--ask them, “Do you need help from anyone on that?” You might even think of the first two questions as warm-ups for this one, the most important question.
  • Try: Really facilitate! Keep the team focused. 
  • Try: If some team members are remote, attending by voice, call on people by name 
  • Try: Scrum Masters observe each other and play Perfection Game  
  • Practice every day!
  • Try: Use a burndown chart that you drew in Excel or by hand. Tape it to the wall. 
  • Avoid: Electronic tools during the Daily Scrum. VersionOne and Rally slow you down. You can only go as fast as the tool, which isn’t fast enough for people-speed.
  • Try: Don't call on people. They aren't reporting to you. They are reporting to each other. Honor the principle that they are self organized.  
  • Try: Don’t say anything. There’s limited conversation bandwidth. The more of it you use, the less information shared amongst team members.
  • Try: A talking stick. Or at least, “Hang on, one conversation at a time.”
  • Avoid: Free form discussions. 
  • Avoid: “We can take it offline.” Oftentimes, that’s a euphemism for, this conversation has no value, and we’ll drop it now, and we won’t remember to get back to it later.
  • Try: Use a Parking Lot to log important conversation topics to discuss after the Daily Scrum, with whomever is interested in those topics. 
  • Try: Track impediments on a kanban board 
  • Try: Let the team do it--only prompt them if they need it. It’s the team’s meeting, not yours. Let them report to each other
  • Try: Show up late, see whether they started the meeting without you. Remind them that it’s their meeting and they should start without you--we start on time, every time.
  • Try: Invite your Product Owner. It’s a great way to make sure your PO isn’t surprised at the end of the Sprint.
  • Avoid: Dismissing people early because they said their piece. Don’t optimize for the individual’s time. Optimize for the team’s overall success.
  • Avoid: “We’ll skip you.” My NVC reaction: Anger! Your skipped me! Try: Let me take a turn; being respectful of the team’s time, I’ll probably say, “Pass”.

Activity

  • Practice a Daily Scrum: answer the 3 questions
  • Update the task board on the wall
  • Update the burndown chart on the wall


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