Poking at any entrenched framework always elicits a response; almost all of the responses are well thought out and reasonable.  In the past five essays, we have explored two major questions:  (more…)

Storms on the horizon!

In whatever flavor of agile that you are doing, meetings and ceremonies are lightning rods for resistance. In response, numerous approaches for improving the scenario have sprung up. Most of the tweaks or go-to techniques are a reflection of teams, coaches, guides, and Scrum Masters being agile and are great ideas for the situations a team might find itself in; a few, however, are bad ideas (perhaps for good reasons but bad nevertheless). (more…)

Daybreak Over Lake Eire Is All About What Is Overhead

A brief interlude to our focus on meetings in agile frameworks to discuss the use of the word overhead.  

Once upon a time, my grandfather wanted me to be an accountant, just like he was. With all due respect to my uncle (who later became a lawyer), brother, and brother-in-law who found their way into that profession, that was just not in the cards for me. But despite that lack of desire, I have spent a lot of time with accounting over the years as a manager and business owner with income statements (not to mention all of the classes during my undergrad and grad studies) and balance sheets. The term overhead has a precise meaning. Overhead encompasses all the costs on the income statement except for direct labor, direct materials, and direct expenses. In all of the businesses I have been intimately involved with, day-to-day operations is a balancing act between spending on overhead and direct expenses. How much should be spent on planning, content marketing, office space, insurance, management, billing, and rent versus creating or selling a product or even billable time. Both overhead and direct expenses are important (we are assuming what you are doing is efficient and effective for the sake of discussion) but only to the point of diminishing returns. For example, recently I had a conversation with a person in the office down the hall (yes . . . I am working from home) about how much backlog refinement and prioritization was needed. The Scrum Guide suggests this can consume up to 10% of the capacity of the team. Note: I have asked Scrum Masters to validate my own experience and received a wide range of answers that rarely reach 10% (not a great sample) — the important part of the responses was that everyone has an opinion informed by how they practice and the context they find themselves in. My office neighbor suggested that the right amount, in their opinion, was that a team should spend the amount of time so that the backlog was refined to a point where periodic planning could occur and if someone got their story done with an hour left in the day that they could pull the next ticket. The focus was on doing just enough so that there could be a continuous flow of work. (more…)

Is a baby just a scaled down adult?

One of the most common complaints about using Scrum is the amount of meeting time.  In How Much Meeting Time, we used the meeting length recommendations from the Scrum Guide for a one month sprint to calculate the meeting burden rate. The number was 22.5%, assuming everyone is involved in each meeting and the meetings toe the line in terms of the guidance provided. One of the common recommendations to mute the meeting overhead problem is to use shorter sprints or iterations.  (more…)

 

Meeting Time Is Not Always The High Point Of The Day

If you have ever performed as a Scrum Master or agile coach you have been asked about the overhead in Scrum. Overhead is almost always a codeword for meetings where “stuff” happens but nothing is built, coded, or tested, which in a software-centric scenario will drive a coder or tester up a wall. If we exclude (for the time being) some really bad practices that have been promoted and adopted, the amount of time in Scrum specific meetings is generally predictable. (more…)

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SPaMCAST 573 features our essay using a workflow to prioritize a backlog. Items on any backlog proliferate. Product backlogs used in agile and lean development approaches are no different.  Many outsiders have the mistaken notion that once on the list that that is the end of the story — let’s dissuade them of this idea.

 Gene Hughson brings his Form Follows Function column to the podcast.  Gene and I discussed his experience as an application architect. 

 Re-Read Saturday News (more…)

Birds lined up as a metaphor of lining thngs up

Lining things up!

Items on any backlog proliferate. Product backlogs used in agile and lean development approaches are no different.  Many outsiders have the mistaken notion that once on the list that is the end of the story. Mentally the story goes something like, I told that product owner in the email that I needed “x” and that it was important to a C-level executive, therefore it is in the backlog, the team will expedite their new priority, and magically new functionality will be delivered. (more…)

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I apologize for the delay in publication — ahhh the vagueries of travel!

SPaMCAST 570 features our essay on the components of good sprint goals. Sprint goals provide direction and energy, and they communicate with the outside world. A sprint goal should be a straightforward statement that a product owner should be able to craft quickly and then agree upon with a team. We provide a structure to keep goals simple and impactful.  

We will also have a visit from Susan Parente. In this installment of Susan’s Not a Scrumdamentalist column, we discuss value.  Value is core to many practices, the problem is that value is a very nebulous concept. Susan provides guidance. Continue the conversation with Susan at parente@s3-tec.com and visit her company at www.s3-tec.com (more…)

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This week in SPaMCAST 568 marks the return of Sandeep Koorse.  Sandeep brings deep insight into the Agile mindset, passion, and experimentation. All three are required for a healthy team. Sandeep last appeared as part of SPaMCAST 511.

Sandeep is an innovative leader with over 15 years of experience in helping companies achieve higher results through a careful evaluation of their processes and their technology. Known for determining the metrics and behaviors that promote consistent excellence then sharing those values with colleagues through influence and authority. Recognized by peers for exceptional problem-solving abilities, excellent communication skills, and a passion for the community. Reach out to Sandeep at sandeep@koorse.com (more…)

So the answer is . . .

A minor update for Sprint Planning in late 2019!  At some point planning for planning needs to give way to planning.  Planning identifies a goal and helps to envision the steps needed to attain that goal. In Agile, the planning event also sends a message about the amount of work a team anticipates delivering in an iteration. While every team faces variations based on context and the work that is in front of them, a basic planning process is encapsulated in the following simple checklist. (more…)