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 identified 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 is focused on hiring for the Scrum Product Owner role.

42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions Avoid Hiring Agile Imposters by Age of Product

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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The Big Picture of Agile: How to Pitch the Agile Mindset to Stakeholders

TL;DR: The Big Picture of Agile

Let’s face it: While your enthusiasm for the big picture of agile practices is admirable, your stakeholders will most likely be moved by one thought only at the beginning of the transition: “What’s in for me? How will I now have my requirements delivered?”.

Read on and learn about one way how to kick-off the transition to a learning organization by pitching a simplified version the big picture of agile practices to your stakeholders first.

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Cargo Cult Agile: The ‘State of Agile’ Checklist for Your Organization

You want to know the state of agility in your organization? Here we go: Download the checklist, distribute it generously among your colleagues and run a quick poll. It will only take 5 minutes of their time–and then run an analysis on their feedback. If the average number of checkboxes marked is higher than nine, then you are probably practicing cargo cult agile. Consider changing it. Or abandon your agile experiment all together. But don’t refer to it as “agile” any longer.

Everyday Failures in Applying Agile

Agile methodologies, like Scrum, have been on the rise across organizations of all kind and sizes for some years by now. Many consultants responded to the increasing demand for agile practitioners, particularly from corporate organizations, with rebranding themselves.

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Hiring: 38 Scrum Master Interview Questions to Avoid Agile Imposters

Scrum Master Hiring: Demand Creates Supply and the Job Market for Agile Practitioners is No Exception

Hands-on Agile: 38 + 6 Scrum Master Interview Questions (2017 Edition)

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.

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Food For Thought #89: Scaling Agile Is Futile, Scrum in Asia, How to Kill Features

Age of Product’s Food for Thought of April 30th, 2017—shared with 7,968 peers—features two heavyweight agile champions on why scaling agile is futile. We also can confirm: the further east you go the less Scrum works. Sorry, we needed to address the elephant in the room.

On the product side, we dive deep into how to kill features and why this is important for any aspiring creator of a great product. (Spoiler alert: those embrace simplicity.) We also talk about the “cigarettes” of the B2C web industry, and what it takes to get ‘lean startup’ as a concept going in an enterprise.

Lastly: we learn about the unfortunate trend of creating local maxima due to a lack of long-term thinking. Enjoy Labor Day!

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Food For Thought #88: Big Bang Agile, Hail Failure, Syncing Sales

Age of Product’s Food for Thought of April 23rd, 2017—shared with 7,693 peers—celebrates lasagne from Colgate, pardon me: failure, and why C-level execs believe in big bang agile transitions. (Of course, we know they need passion from ones in the trenches, and Thoughtworks believes that, too.)

We then dive deep into the fetish of estimations, and why agile process-fetishists might turn the DoR into a stage-gate. (Sneaking in the dark side through the backdoor, so to speak.)

On the product side, we have another look at our nemesis, the sales team, and we learn why chefs supposedly make good product managers. Lean startup aficionados might enjoy the MVP, MMF, and MRF analysis.

Lastly: Up your game of convincing other people of your ideas with storytelling and learn right from the source.

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Food For Thought #87: Lipstick Agile, Distributed Agile, Remote Agile, 400 Slack Communities

Age of Product’s Food for Thought of April 16th, 2017—shared with 7,528 peers—enjoys in this issue lipstick agile, tragile, and wagile. Also, we learn why US-made tomato paste represents a success story for self-management aficionados, who – by the way – may soon be joined by venture capitalists like Fred Wilson.

We then dive deep into hands-on tips on how to improve distributed agile in general, and the remote product backlog refinement in particular.

On the product side, it is again all about product discovery, outcome vs. output, real-time, continuous user research, and how Jeff Bezos intends to keep Amazon relevant – by inventing on behalf of customers.

Lastly: If you haven’t yet contributed to the ‘Scrum Master Salary Report 2017’ hurry up and join 435 peers who already did so. And one more thing: We have a list of 400 Slack Communities. Just in case, you may free time at hands.

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Food For Thought #86: Dual-Track Agile, 11th State of Agile, Clarity Metrics, Product Psycho Tricks

Age of Product’s Food for Thought of April 9th, 2017—shared with 7,402 peers—celebrates the 11th Annual State of Agile Report by VersionOne, despite the fact that it reveals a most unsettling news about SAFe.

We ask whether a scrum master should aim for putting herself out of a job, or whether having more than one team at a time is sustainable. We also learn how to support the product owner (and the team) in slicing user stories in the right way.

On the product side, this issue is all about dual-track agile, product discovery, early adopters, and getting the minimum viable product right. Okay, one for the road: ever heard about clarity metrics? Gotcha… 😎

Lastly: We risk a glimpse at the dark side of product design with Uber’s behavioral psychology experiments. Thank you, Travis!

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16 Stand-up Anti-Patterns Threatening Your Transition to Scrum

TL;DR: 16 Stand-up Anti-Patterns

The daily stand-up is the ceremony with the highest anti-pattern density among all scrum ceremonies. Learn more about the stand-up anti-patterns that threaten to derail your agile transition.

Hands-on Agile: 16 Stand-up Anti-Patterns Threatening Your Transition to Scrum
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