Tag Archives: sprint

Agile and Product Mgmt – Year in Review

I committed this year to write 52 blogs and I did it!  There are 16 on my previous employers website and 36 on www.runyanconsulting.com.  As I look back and review and reflect on the posts, here are my favorites.

Product Management Blogs

I am very passionate about Product Management and I think it is sometimes an undervalued skill set.  Where I have a chance, I always try to share the strategic and practical benefits that come from having great product management resources.  This year, I wrote a five part series about how to Launch a Product and recently completed a 3 part series on how to sunset or decommission a product.

Image Source: http://www.greenbiz.com/

Image Source: http://www.greenbiz.com/

 

Agile Blogs

I am equally passionate about Agile because I have seen how it can improve people’s job satisfaction and raise the level of productivity and effectiveness for the whole organization.  This category was harder to choose my favorites, so I came up with four.  First, there was a series on creating an Agile Culture and what it really means for management.  This series generated some controversy, which I love because it means we are talking about important things.  Next, I am surprised that many organizations are not familiar with Fist of Five.  We use the Agile technique all the time and it is a difference maker in driving productive conversations.  Many organizations also  struggle with how to incorporate Agile into the day-to-day business, so I offered three options for incorporating bugs and maintenance into your Agile teams.  Finally, I am a big believer in the sacredness of the Sprint and I believe that organizations that are disciplined enough to honor a sprint commitment will typically be more successful than those who are loosey-goosey with the guidelines.

Other

Finally, I care deeply about leadership and family so some of my blogs were dedicated to those topics.  One that has been particularly fun is documenting our evolution to an Agile Family.  We have learned (and laughed) a lot together.  Also, I spent some time really thinking about Innovation and what drives an innovative spirit in some people but not others.  This particular blog might be my favorite of the year.

I hope you have enjoyed some of these blogs and maybe learned something new.  I know that I have learned with each post and I am grateful to have the opportunity to continue growing and exploring new ideas.  What is in store for 2014?  Who knows for sure, but it is going to be a great year!

 

Handling Bugs and Maintenance in Agile

One question that comes up often when teams are exploring the transition to Agile is how they are going to handle bugs or maintenance issues.  This blog will outline three scenarios that have worked for teams.

1. Building time into the Sprint

Image Source: http://www.asrintl.com/?page_id=310

Image Source: http://www.asrintl.com/?page_id=310

Perhaps the most common way that teams deal with unpredictable bugs and maintenance issues is to reserve some time for them within the Sprint.  For example, the team can handle 40 story points per sprint, but they only commit to 35 points, so they will have some time available for the unplanned bugs that need immediate action.  In some sprints, the bugs may account for more than the allotted 5 points and in other sprints, they may be less but on the whole, the team learns their rhythm and builds in enough reserves to handle whatever may come up.

Scrum Meetings

There are a handful of meetings that the Scrum Methodology includes as part of the cadence and this blog addresses each one and why they are important.

teamwork

Image Source: http://silenced-no-longer.blogspot.com/2012/11/a-revelation-putting-together-puzzle.html

Sprint Planning

The first meeting is called Sprint Planning and this is a two-part meeting.  The first part is  where the Product Owner has the opportunity to clarify and answer questions regarding the highest priority items in the backlog.  The Scrum team and Product Owner then set the Sprint Goal by deciding which stories will be included in this Sprint.  This is sometimes referred to as the “What” part of the meeting when we determine what we are going to build.  The second part of the meeting is for the Scrum team to discuss the individual tasks that will be required to execute the stories and any technical considerations or dependencies.  This is referred to as the “How” part of the meeting when the Scrum team decides how they are going to accomplish the what.  The team also usually picks the tasks that each individual is going to work on and estimates the amount of time that each task will take to complete.

The Agile Family

As you can tell, I am a bit of a nut about Agile.  There are so many things about it that I appreciate and now I have something new to add to the list.  We were told about a TED talk by Brue Feiler regarding an Agile Family and I had to watch it.  Following Bruce’s direction, we started our own Agile movement on Sunday night and since then three amazing things have happened.

First, let me share our dynamics.  We have two daughters, 11 and 12.  They are only one grade apart in school and they do everything together – including fight.  We are a loving, caring, sarcastic and funny family who definitely has moments of chaos and meltdowns.  During the school year, my least favorite time of day is just before bedtime.  Since my husband is a stay-at-home Dad, I feel like it is my responsibility to get my little angels tucked in every night.  Let me tell you – shear torture.  They would stall and play and not do what I asked and whine and stall.  You get the picture.  It got so bad we even nicknamed the little one “Delay Fish” from Dory’s character in Finding Nemo.

So as I watched Bruce’s TED talk, I thought – the nighttime ritual is what I want to change.  We started our first family meeting on Sunday with each girl making a list of what they need Agile_Checklistto accomplish before going to bed.  It includes showers, teeth brushing, finding and charging your cell phone and more.  I added some of the items that annoy me – like hang up your towel.  We then turned their notes into a checklist and taped it to the mirror in their bathroom.

We then said ‘what is something that doesn’t work in our family right now?’  The girls said (in their own words) that we weren’t good at respecting each other’s personal space.  Then we defined what that meant and created a Working Agreement. (1) Leave someone’s room when asked. (2) Have their permission to use something of theirs and (3) enter someone’s room only when you have permission.  Pretty reasonable.  We then asked what the punishment would be for someone who violated this agreement.  The girls agreed on the loss of TV on Saturday.

Sacredness of the Sprint

Here is another excerpt from our upcoming Agile textbook.  This is a topic that I am particularly passionate about!

No Changes to the Sprint

One of the most importance cultural changes related to Agile adoption is adhering to the sacredness of the sprint.  What does this mean?  It means that once a sprint goal is committed to, there should be no changes to that goal.  sprint_sacred.jpgThe group that has the hardest time adhering to this is upper management.  There is always some crises or customer request or great idea that an executive wants the team to investigate immediately and there is a tendency for executives to pull the team off of their sprint commitment to work on the latest critical task.  The companies that allow this type of distraction have the most difficult time adopting Agile.  The companies that stand firm and honor their sprint commitments tend to be more successful in their adoptions over all.  Truly, it is a sign of executive commitment to the process and the methodology if they honor this one aspect.

Mike Cohn, in his book Succeeding with Agile, is very firm on this issue. “Nothing is allowed to change within the sprint. The team commits to a set of work on the first day and then expects its priorities to remain unchanged for the length of the sprint. “ (2010, pg 279)