TL;DR: Use Burn-Down Charts to Discover Scrum Anti-Patterns
A burn-down chart tracks the progress of a team toward a goal by visualizing the remaining work in comparison to the available time. So far, so good. More interesting than reporting a status, however, is the fact that burn-down charts also visualize scrum anti-patterns of a team or its organization.
Learn more about discovering these anti-patterns that can range from systemic issues like queues outside a team’s sphere of influence and other organizational debt to a team’s fluency in agile practices.
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.
Scrum has proven to be an effective 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 is the best way to proceed as a team by gating and prioritizing the product backlog. 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.
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.
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 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.
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #129—shared with 14,709 peers—covers mental models relevant to your agile journey and shares the download link to an excellent book on team-centric agile software development. (Yub, it is free of charge.)
We then dive into organizational resilience through business agility, what your stakeholders want to know regarding your product roadmap, and why loving your customers’ problems will make your life so much easier.
Lastly, Intercom’s VP of Product created an overview what product people with an agile mindset can expect from the organization. (And the good folks at Intercom are checking a lot of the right boxes!)
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #128—shared with 14,506 peers—covers disrupting companies—seven habits that make any organization highly vulnerable—, Jeff Sutherland’s new framework to scale scrum, and the movements that inspire the future of work.
We then dive into the advantages of autonomous product teams and learn that a bug-free product is not necessarily a sign of a quality mindset.
Lastly, if your stakeholders believe your team is a black box, why not build an information radiator? C. Kyle Jacobsen can help you with that.
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #126—shared with 14,145 peers—covers the state of agile engineering in 2018, why creating and nurturing a groundswell of enthusiasm is essential for an agile transition, and what organizations need to focus on in search of (agile) excellence.
We then learn how any product-oriented organization can create a culture of experimentation and why the velocity of experimentation is probably not a vanity metric. Apropos metrics: there is a new list with anti-patterns available.
Lastly, McKinsey seems to get serious about ‘agile.’ Check out the trademarks McKinsey identified in all agile organizations and let me know your opinion in the comments.