No matter if you are a Scrum Master or an agile coach, sooner or later, you will run into a problem that’s outside of the team’s sphere of control. The question is: How do you solve impediments of this kind? What approach has worked best for you in the past?
Barry Overeem, Christiaan Verwijs and I teamed up to provide some transparency in this matter and share your best techniques and approach with the agile community. All it takes to contribute is five minutes of your time to participate in the anonymous ‘how to solve impediments’ survey. (We expect results to be available in November.)
The seventh Hands-on Agile webinar Scrum Sprint Anti-Patterns analyzes 12 ways a Scrum team can improve its effectiveness by avoiding typical sprint anti-patterns. Learn on October 2nd, 2018, at 6 pm CEST more about gold-plating, delivery Y instead of X, absenteeism, side-gigs, and organizing people instead of the flow of work.
A meta-retrospective is an excellent exercise to foster collaboration within the extended team, create a shared understanding of the big picture, and immediately create valuable action-items. It comprises of the team members of one or several product teams—or representative from those—and stakeholders. Participants from the stakeholder side are people from the business as well as customers.
Meta-retrospectives are useful both as a regular event, say once a quarter, or after achieving a particular milestone, for example, a specific release of the product. Read more on how to organize such a meta-retrospective.
TL;DR: Webinar Agile Maturity and Agility Assessment
Is agile maturity a fad or a trend? How can an organization make an informed decision on what level of agility might become achievable before starting a transition?
Our second webinar addressed the question of agile maturity and detailed the survey results what indicates an agile organization. Moreover, we introduced the ‘Agility Assessment Framework’ open source project which aims to provide agile practitioners with the tools needed to answer these questions.
Almost three years into building this community, I believe we might now have achieved the critical mass to organize a great conference — the Hands-on Agile 2019 Conference. Currently, I would target the second quarter of 2019 for the first Hands-on Agile conference. To reduce complexity, I would plan for Berlin as its location although London might be an alternative.
Update 2018-08-12: The survey results are in — it is Berlin, see below.
“Accelerate” [advertising] is a must-read book for anyone involved in building agile organizations and teams. It lays out a path to success based on a statistical analysis of data. It also puts an end to the popular narrative that ’becoming agile’ is somehow a fuzzy process. The data shows that there are patterns at all levels that successful agile organizations share.
Scrum Master Duties: supposedly, a great scrum master serves only one scrum team — that's at least a popular narrative in the scrum community. Nevertheless, there is also a loud voice that doubts that approach: what would you do the whole day - with a single team? Aren't they supposed to become self-organizing over time? And if so, does the scrum then need a scrum master 24/7?
As I worked for years as a product owner on scrum teams without a dedicated scrum master-which was working well-I was curious to learn more about that question, too. Hence I ran a survey in late June and early July 2018, the results of which are presented here.
In total, 261 scrum masters participated in this non-representative survey in the two weeks before July 5th, 2018. 19 participants chose not to provide their consent to Google processing and to store their answers. Hence their contributions were deleted, resulting in a sample size of 242 responses.
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.
Learn how individual incentives and outdated organizational structures — fostering personal agendas and local optimization efforts — manifest themselves in scrum stakeholder anti-patterns which easily can impede any agile transition.
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 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.
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 #159—shared with 19,054 peers—covers the agile industrial complex and its fake-agile distortion field, according to Daniel Mezick, we kick-off new Scrum teams, and we advocate to manage the flow of work, not people.
We also appreciate another success story from the continuous product discovery field, supported by a proven & tested reference idea funnel, and ask: is Design Thinking merely preserving the status quo?
Lastly, we address agile sensemaking—a visualization of working and learning in a state of perpetual beta.
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #158—shared with 18,935 peers—visits the poster child of self-managed organizations—Semco—, we deal with building trust in teams, and we learn why agile companies no longer require plans.
We appreciate Roman Pichler’s sprint planning tips & tricks for product owners, we dive into the commandments of outstanding products, and we understand how falling in love with a solution can wreck a whole organization.
Lastly, we come back to product discovery and learn a new approach how to reinvent a strategy to figure out what’s worth building.
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #157—shared with 18,862 peers—applauds Martin Fowler for his Agile Australia keynote on Agile 2018, we learn about the road to mediocrity, and we ask: Is the Peter Principle not a satire but reality?
We also address the issue of hidden (technical) costs of being ‘agile,’ as well the how to solve the conflict between prioritizing business needs as well as maintaining the health of the code base.
Lastly, we deal with the challenges of planning poker in a short and entertaining video.