We had two groups today.
Should each sprint have a goal other than completing all the work?
When a team commits to getting all the work done is that enough? What if the work doesn’t really matter? Should they be setting a bigger goal. This may allow the team to negotiate success during the sprint or better prioritize the work or the approach. Additionally, goals from retrospectives are good for improvement of the team.
Teams out of balance
What do you do when you have a team that doesn’t have the right skill set, personality makeup or knowledge set to be effective. Lots of discussion about how team was formed. Additionally, tuckman model on letting teams go through the process. If teams self selected and are storming best to get the team to deal with issues directly instead of saving them which generally just shifts the problem.
How do you operate if you aren’t doing a bunch of upfront design and are doing everything during planning? Discussion about going to lower fidelity design, using design frameworks/standards, involving developers as part of the design process. Good product ownership necessary as well as healthy planning meetings.
Product owner vs Product manager
Who is in charge of what and what happens when they are not in sync? Talked a lot about there needs to be a single voice of direction to the team. That the product manager really should be setting the course for the product and product owner, but should be fairly hands off after that.
Mortgage driven development “mindsets”
How do you deal with some team members resenting other members for not being passionate. Really discussed that more often than not this is a lack of bigger vision the product existing. Also that people have different mindsets fixed vs growth and talked about Carol book Mindset.
The incremental rewrite / The big rewrite
Technical debt often leads to the big rewrite. Despite all the bad press, the most concerning thing is thinking those that haven’t learned how to pay down debt would actually not create significant new debt just by starting over. The converse being that the incremental rewrite often leads to very little innovation as it doesn’t deal with feature parity bias at all.
Track performance metrics at the individual level / Decisions based on data
Should we be tracking individual performance on teams. Codermetrics by Jonathan Alexander discussed.
Topics not discussed.
Scaling agile WTF
Remote teams does it work
Communities of practice
Best way to curate Kanban backlog
How do we determine the team/process is getting better
1. Inspiring team who aren’t interested in improvement
How are you measuring improvement? How do you celebrate the teams accomplishments?
2. Ceceding from the union
1 and 2 where posed as separate discussion points but the group agreed that they both deal with the same core issue of team identity and unity. This discussion focused on shared team values as a way to encourage the team to have a shared value system.
Exploratory/R&D and agile
This team is moving from a product focused charter to one of exploratory or R&D charter. The group discussed using Lean Canvas as a framework for organizing and that having clear business problems that the team should solve to provide focus.
Space constraint pair programming environments
Are you conference room constrained? If not, make it a project room to facilitate pair programming. In the end, the space, and equipment, that the team utilizes needs to match the pairing goal.
Talking to real users
Talking to real users can happen at any time. This means that you may need to reach out to your contacts for input, chance meetings with the public may lead to learning opportunities. Strong product management will lead the effort to interface with your users to learn their likes/needs/areas of improvement. The group discussed the value of usability studies as a means for understanding users. One participant suggested setting up a teaching seminar where users and developers work side by side. The developers act as experts/trainers to the customers. In the interchange, devs learn what areas of the app users have problems.
Good Interview Questions for Agile
Agile in itself is a pretty broad topic. Are we hiring for agile or the characteristics that demonstrate a contributor that is a constant learner. The following where two questions that could be used to illustrate to candidates learning profile:
- Tell me how you helped someone else complete a task/project?
- Tell the candidate that they have 5 minutes to teach a topic/subject they are passionate about. The timer starts when the candidate starts to speak.
Help my people deal w/feeling vulnerable due to influx of new talent
Lots of conversation regarding pairing the new talent with the existing staff to illustrate the new hires willingness to teach. Question asked about the existing staff fears: is a loss of recognition, status? The group discussed open vs. closed learners (those with fixed skills – don’t want to change, those willing – open to learn).
Rewriting to compete
Is it possible to rewrite an application not for feature parity but to compete head-to-head? There are some inherent risks with this approach, namely, maintaining two different versions of an application. The team discussed lifting an existing application to provide immediate benefits to users. In short, interesting concept but no one had any practical ideas on how this would work.
Cross team collaboration best methods:
In a world of distributed teams, how do we foster collaboration? One of the most fascinating solutions was creating an always active electronic connection/”window” between distributed teams. A group member shared a story where distributed teams had a work area with a window that featured a continuously open video conference type setup. Team members could use the window to hold impromptu discussions.
Is using a Kanban board at home for the family healthy?
The group explored the pros/cons of using a Kanban or Scrum in a family environment. Stories were shared where an Agile approach becomes the butt of family jokes (b/c we are bringing work home in a very literal sense) or can helps foster communication within the family.
Topics not discussed.
How to wean a VP off a fixation on specific metrics
Reason why agile fails
Best electronic communcation tool for cross site teams