Technical Debt & Scrum: Who Is Responsible?

TL;DR: Technical Debt & Scrum

If technical debt is the plague of our industry, why isn’t the Scrum Guide addressing the question of who is responsibly dealing with it? To make things worse, if the Product Owner’s responsibility is to maximize the value customers derive from the Development Team’s work, and the Development Team’s responsibility is to deliver a product Increment (at least) at the end of the sprint adhering to the definition of “Done,” aren’t those two responsibilities possibly causing a conflict of interest?

This post analyzes the situation by going back to first principles, as laid out in the Scrum Guide to answer a simple question: Who is responsible for keeping technical debt at bay in a Scrum Team?

Technical Debt & Scrum: Who Is Responsible?

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Scrum Master Trends Report 2019 — Free Download

TL; DR: Scrum Master Trends Report 2019

Back in 2017, we started the Scrum Master Salary Report 2017—the first industry report that covered in depth the educational background, working experience, industries, and organizational details of the companies Scrum Masters or agile coaches work for. For its 2019 edition—the Scrum Master Trends Report 2019—, we partnered with Scrum.org—the leading Scrum training and certification institution founded by Scrum co-founder Ken Schwaber—to improve the underlying data set.

Learn more about the state of the industry and download for free the Scrum Master Trends Report 2019.

Scrum Master Trends Report 2019 by Scrum.org and Age-of-Product.com

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Team Building Mental Models

TL;DR: Team Building Mental Models

Team building has always been a challenge, not just since the advent of agile frameworks and the resulting emphasis on self-organization, engagement, and achieving a valuable objective. This post covers four team building mental models — or concepts — that have proven useful in understanding the context of creating agile teams: from Taylorism to Tuckman to Lencioni to Dan Pink.

Team Building Mental Models — Age of Product

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Hiring: 38+9 Scrum Master Interview Questions to Avoid Agile Imposters [PDF and Video]

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 thirteen 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.

So far, the this Scrum Master interview guide has been downloaded more than 14,000 times. sc

38+9 Scrum Master Interview Questions, Fourth Edition 2018

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Webinar #9: Sprint Review Anti-Patterns [Video]

TL;DR: Webinar Sprint Review Anti-Patterns

The ninth Hands-on Agile webinar sprint review anti-patterns addresses twelve anti-patterns of the sprint review—from death by PowerPoint to side-gigs to none of the stakeholders cares to attend.

Webinar Sprint Review Anti-Patterns — Hands-on Agile Webinar #9

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📅 Agile Camp Berlin 2019: April 26–27, 2019

Save the Date: Agile Camp Berlin 2019

The Agile Camp Berlin 2019 will happen from April 26 to April 27, 2019 and the Agile Camp Berlin 2019 venue will be the Evangelische Schule Berlin Zentrum right in the middle of Berlin.

📅 Agile Camp Berlin 2019: April 26–27, 2019

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Speaking Truth to Power — Taking A Stand as an Agile Practitioner

TL;DR: Speaking Truth to Power

Do you need an emergency fund as a change agent—whether you are acting as Scrum Master, Product Owner or agile coach—because conflict is inevitable, but change is not?

In my experience, speaking truth to power, pointing at the emperor’s new clothes and the reality in the trenches, is necessary a trait for every change agent — including Scrum Masters and agile coaches — in organizations that lack strong leadership.

Learn more, how this form of professional honesty can backfire when the incumbents, privileged by the existing system, strike back.

Speaking Truth to Power — When the System Strikes back

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Webinar #8: Scrum Master Anti-Patterns [Video]

TL;DR: Webinar Scrum Master Anti-Patterns

The eighth Hands-on Agile webinar Scrum Master Anti-Patterns addresses twelve anti-patterns of your Scrum Master—from ill-suited personal traits and the pursuit of individual agendas to frustration with the team itself.

Webinar Scrum Master Anti-Patterns Hands-on-Agile Webinar #8

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Solving Impediments as a Team

TL;DR: Solving Impediments as a Team

The main message of the retrospective was clear: there are too many interruptions by stakeholders and the senior management. The interruptions impeded the flow of work through the team. Consequently, achieving the sprint goal had been at risk several times in the past. Moreover, the team missed the sprint goal twice recently. Solving impediments as a team has become a necessity.

Learn more on how to tackle impediments as a team by running experiments and iterating on the solution.

Solving Impediments as a Scrum Team Interruption Buckets v2 — Age of Product Retrospectives

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Scrum Master Duties, Serving a Single Team (Survey Results)

TL;DR: Scrum Master Duties, Serving a Single Team

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 Duties, Serving a Single Team (Survey Results) — Age of Product

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Scrum Stakeholder Anti-Patterns

TL; DR: Scrum Stakeholder Anti-Patterns

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.

Scrum Stakeholder Anti-Patterns by Age-of-Product-1650

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Agile Failure Patterns in Organizations 2.0

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

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. 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?

Age of Product: Agile Failure Patterns in Organizations

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Scrum Master Anti-Patterns — 20 Signs Your Scrum Master Needs Help

TL;DR: Scrum Master Anti-Patterns

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 Master Anti-Patterns — 20 Signs Your Scrum Master Needs Help — Age of Product

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28 Product Backlog and Refinement Anti-Patterns

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.

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Hiring: 42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Agile Imposters

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.

Image from age-of-product.com

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.

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Agile Metrics — The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

TL;DR: Agile Metrics

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.

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Food for Agile Thought #184: Agile Management Trends, Waste, Twyman’s Law, 251 Free PM Resources

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #184—shared with 21,451 peers—covers eight winning agile management trends, we dive into waste in software creation, and we learn why Microsoft prevailed where General Electric failed.

We also address how to place a growth mindset at the core of your product strategy; we bring clarity to what data-driven means, and we applaud fyi for curating an enormous list of free product management resources.

Lastly, we bust trust building myths when you are in a leadership position—be surprised by the data!

Did you miss last week’s Food for Agile Thought’s issue #183?

Food for Agile Thought #184: Agile Management Trends, Waste, Twyman’s Law, 251 Free PM Resources

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Food for Agile Thought #183: Leadership Health Check, InfoQ’s State of Practices, Feedback Fails Us, Courageous Leader Myth

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #183—shared with 21,403 peers—covers a new leadership health check tool by Crisp, InfoQ’s State of Practices report 2019—Liberating Structures made it onto the list—, and we analyze what ‘executive sponsorship’ means for change in reality.

We also address how to move from an output-minded to outcome-minded organization; we attempt to figure out whether there is an end to customer development and we warm up to a coaching tool for product managers looking for excellence.

Lastly, we dive into the issue that providing feedback does not seem to have a real impact on other people. What does that mean for retrospectives and self-organizing teams?

Did you miss last week’s Food for Agile Thought’s issue #182?

Food for Agile Thought #183: Leadership Health Check, InfoQ’s State of Practices, Feedback Fails Us, Courageous Leader Myth

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Food for Agile Thought #182: Agile-Industrial Complex, Pro Scrum, Cynefin 2019, Marie Kondo Your Product Backlog

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #182—shared with 21,278 peers—addresses the agile-industrial complex, the stages of progress in becoming agile—provided your organization belongs to the lucky few—, and the state of Cynefin in 2019.

We also learn more on how to deal with complaints that your user stories are not detailed enough—and why it is worth to get to the ground of this notion—; why strategy maps are essential to building valuable products, and how to Marie Kondo your product backlog.

Lastly, we understand why capability maturity models are unsuited for assessing any form of agility.

Did you miss last week’s Food for Agile Thought’s issue #180?

Food for Agile Thought #182: Agile-Industrial Complex, Pro Scrum, Cynefin 2019, Marie Kondo Your Product Backlog

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Food for Agile Thought #181: Dark Agile, Agile Governance, Scrum Master Trends Report, Product Reviews

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #181—shared with 21,092 peers—addresses transparency, the lack thereof and other forms of dark agile. Moreover, we get a backstage view at the Scrum Master Trends Report, and we borrow from Atlassian’s team health tool.

We also get some new ideas about how to create product reviews people like to participate in; we refresh our memory why the traditional governance approach is unsuited for ’agile,’ and embrace the idea that product launches do not have to be a troublesome thing.

Lastly, Ron Jeffries asks what the agile community can do to reach out to those practitioners who haven’t yet experienced the real thing as outlined in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. What are your thoughts?

Did you miss last week’s Food for Agile Thought’s issue #180?

Food for Agile Thought #181: Dark Agile, Agile Governance, Scrum Master Trends Report, Product Reviews

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Food for Agile Thought #180: Micromanagement Perils, Scaling Agile Teams, Impact vs. Output, MVP Viability

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #180—shared with 21,092 peers—focuses on micromanagement perils and the magic that happens once you leave the industrial paradigm behind you. We also learn about four different approaches on how to scale agile teams, and we revisit the velocity as well as the minimum viable product discussions.

Being dedicated storytellers ourselves, we borrow from Pixar’s rule book on storytelling, and we embrace eight ways how we can focus our product teams on outcome/impact, not output/features.

Lastly, we applaud Mike Cohn for busting more product development myths!

Did you miss last week’s Food for Agile Thought’s issue #179?

Food for Agile Thought #180: Micromanagement Perils, Scaling Agile Teams, Impact vs. Output, MVP Viability

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