Product backlog defense — make no mistake: Your product backlog is the last line of defense preventing your team from becoming a feature factory. Figure out a process that creates value for your customers. Moreover, have the courage — and the discipline — to defend it at all costs.
TL;DR: Webinar Product Backlog Anti-Patterns — May 8th, 2018
Join the third Hands-on Agile webinar product backlog anti-patterns — from out-dated and oversized tickets to the part-time proxy product owner and his or her idea repository. Learn more about the numerous product backlog anti-patterns that can manifest themselves when you try to create value for your customers and your organization on May 8, 2018, from:
06:00 to 07:00 PM CEST (Central European Summer Time)
TL;DR: Scrum Master Trends Survey 2018 — An Anonymous Poll by Scrum.org and Age of Product
The purpose of this the anonymous Scrum Master Trends Survey is to create a clear, data-backed benchmark that allows everyone in the agile community to get an understanding of Scrum Masters, their background, how they got there and where their compensation falls in comparison to others in the community.
By the way, the report will cover Scrum Masters as well as Agile Coaches, both employed and freelancing.
TL;DR: Webinar Agile Maturity and Agility Assessment
Join our second webinar agile maturity and learn more about the poll results what indicates an agile organization, whether agile maturity is a fad, and what the open source project of the ‘Agility Assessment Framework’ is about on April 24, 2018 from:
06:00 to 07:00 PM CEST (Central European Summer Time)
A sprint planning checklist? How dare you: Agile is a mindset, not a methodology. It is a journey, not a destination. There is no one-size-fits-all-and what else could you possibly cover with a checklist, the mother of all standardized processes?
Well, it always depends on the purpose of a tool's application. Read more why scrum checklists are a handy tool if applied at an operational, hands-on level, reducing your cognitive load and freeing up time for more relevant things.
TL;DR: Agile Failure Patterns — Why Agile is Simple and Complex at the Same Time
Agile failure seems to be increasingly more prominent nowadays despite all the efforts undertaken by numerous organization embarking on their journeys to become agile.
The funny thing is: Who would disagree that the four core principles of the Agile Manifesto —
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
— are derived from applying common sense to a challenging problem? Moreover, that the application of those principles might be suited to fix numerous organizational dysfunctions and reduce an error-prone and complex social setting to maybe just a complicated one?
Scrum Master Hiring: Demand Creates Supply and the Job Market for Agile Practitioners is No Exception
Maybe, “Agile” in general is a management fad and not trend at the moment. But what we can say for sure is that Scrum has become very popular for software development purposes. A seasoned Scrum master is nowadays in high demand. And that demand causes the market-entry of new professionals from other project management branches, probably believing that reading one or two Scrum books will be sufficient.
If you are looking to fill a position for a Scrum master (or agile coach) in your organization, you may find the following 38+9 interview questions useful to identify the right candidate. They are derived from my ten years of practical experience with XP as well as Scrum, serving both as Product owner and Scrum master as well as interviewing dozens of Scrum master candidates on behalf of my clients.
Are you—as a scrum master or agile coach—experiencing more communication kerfuffles with “your” team? Is its speed of improvement stalling? Are you under the impression that the team is slipping back into old habits and patterns? Maybe, it is time to run a reverse retrospective where your share your observations with the team.
Learn how to run a reverse retrospective to realign with your scrum team.
Supposedly, becoming agile is a journey, not a destination. Which is a convenient narrative if the viability of your consultancy depends on selling men and materiel. The fuzzier the objective of an agile transition the less likely there will be an agile audit addressing the return on investment question the customer might have.
Moreover, a fuzzy objective such as ‘we want to become an agile organization’ is probably the reason for applying the same methodologies indiscriminately to every organization—a one size fits all approach for agile transitions.
However, what if not every organization embarking on a transition to agile practices is meant to become a teal organization or a holacracy? What if being late to the agile transition party is instead a deliberate choice than a manifestation of hubris, ignorance or leadership failure?
Read more on why feedback loops in the form of an agile audit are beneficial for organizations and teams alike.
What looked like a good idea back in the 1990ies—outsourcing, for example, software development as a non-essential business area—has meanwhile massively backfired for a lot of legacy organizations. And yet, they still do not understand what it takes to build a decent product/engineering culture. Learn more about typical anti-patterns and are signs that the organization has a toxic team culture.
TL; DR: Lipstick Agile — Happiness in the Trenches?
Have you noticed how many people in the agile field are unhappy with their work situation — caught in a lipstick agile situation where an organization already struggles doing agile? (Not to mention ‘becoming agile.’)
Scrum masters, and agile coaches who are close to either burnout or indifference. Product owners who “own” the product by name only, and developers who are questioning why Scrum a) skips all the practices that make XP work, and b) often turns out to be just another form of micromanagement.
Scrum Master Anti-Patterns: The reasons why scrum masters violate the spirit of the Scrum Guide are multi-faceted. They run from ill-suited personal traits and the pursuit of individual agendas to frustration with the team itself.
Read on and learn in this final post on scrum anti-patterns how you can identify if your scrum master needs support from the team to up his or her agile game.
The following 56 scrum product owner theses describe the role of the PO from a holistic product creation perspective.
The 56 product owner theses cover the concept of the product owner role, product discovery, how to deal with external and internal stakeholders, product roadmap planning, as well as the product backlog refinement. The theses also address the product owner’s part in scrum ceremonies such as sprint planning, sprint review, and the sprint retrospective.
TL;DR: 28 Product Backlog and Refinement Anti-Patterns
Scrum is a practical framework to build products, provided you identify in advance what to build. But even after a successful product discovery phase, you may struggle to make the right thing in the right way if your product backlog is not up to the job. Garbage in, garbage out – as the saying goes. The following article points at 28 of the most common product backlog anti-patterns – including the product backlog refinement process – that limit your Scrum team’s success.
TL;DR: 42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions That Will Benefit Your Organization
This second publication in the Hands-on Agile Fieldnotes series provides 42 questions and answers for the Scrum Product Owner interview.
Co-authored with Andreea Tomoiaga, 42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Hiring Agile Imposters represents the most important learnings of our more than 20 years combined hands-on experience with Kanban, Scrum, XP, and several product discovery frameworks. We have worked as Scrum Product Owners, Scrum Masters, agile coaches, and developers in agile teams and organizations of all sizes and levels of maturity.
We have each participated in interviewing dozens of Scrum Product Owner candidates on behalf of our clients or employers. The questions and answers herein are what we have learned.
Suitable agile metrics reflect either a team’s progress in becoming agile or your organization’s progress in becoming a learning organization.
At the team level, qualitative agile metrics typically work better than quantitative metrics. At the organizational level, this is reversed: quantitative agile metrics provide better insights than qualitative ones.
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #138—shared with 16,548 peers—focuses on large-scale agile: Jeff Sutherland shares success stories from large organizations turning around, we learn about BDD treaties as a means to coordinate teams, and why self-selection of teams has such a profound impact on organizations.
We also dive deep into first principles. (If you like to ‘reinvent the wheel’ as a creative approach this article is for you.) Moreover, we improve our communication skills with developers and learn how to design and ship successful product.
Lastly, we address the need to protect our product creation process with tooth and claw to prevent becoming a feature factory.
TL;DR: Webinar Product Discovery Anti-Patterns — April 10th, 2018
Scrum has proven to be a practical product delivery framework for digital products like applications or apps. However, Scrum is equally suited to build the wrong product efficiently as its Achilles heel has always been the product discovery part. What product discovery part, you may think now. And this is precisely the point: The product owner miraculously identifies what the best way to proceed as a team by gating and prioritizing the product backlog is. How that is supposed to happen is nowhere described in the Scrum Guide. Consequently, when everyone is for himself, product discovery anti-patterns emerge.
From sunk costs, HIPPO-ism, my-budget-my-features to self-fulfilling prophecies — learn more about the numerous product discovery anti-patterns that can manifest themselves when you try to fill Scrum’s product discovery void.