Scrum: The Obsession with Commitment Matching Velocity

TL; DR: The Obsession with Commitment Matching Velocity

Despite decades-long efforts of the whole agile community—books, blogs, conferences, webinars, videos, meetups; you name it—we are still confronted in many supposedly agile organizations with output-metric driven reporting systems. At the heart of these reporting systems, stuck in the industrial age when the management believed it needed to protect the organization from slacking workers, there is typically a performance metric: velocity.

In the hands of an experienced team, velocity might be useful a team-internal metric. But, when combined with some managers’ wrong interpretation of commitment, it becomes a tool of oppression. So when did it all go so wrong?

Scrum: The Obsession with Commitment Matching Velocity — Age-of-Product.com
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Food for Agile Thought #312: The Micromanager, Ralph Stacey (1942-2021), Jeff’s HiPPOism, Cost per Story Point?

TL; DR: The Micromanager, Jeff’s HiPPOism — Food for Agile Thought #312

Welcome to the 312th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 33,158 peers. This week, we deep dive into the main culprit of many failed agile transformations: The micromanager. We also learn about the most underappreciated Scrum event, and we remember the late Ralph Stacey.

We then talk HiPPOism, referring to the “Jeff-wants-it”-Fire Phone of Amazon; we look at two frameworks to improve product interaction and the overall user experience, and we address a tricky and risky topic: Transferring a legacy product onto a new tech stack.

Lastly, we ask: Can we use story points for cost calculation? Also, we note that research efforts need to be represented in Product Backlogs to encourage continuous learning.

Food for Agile Thought #312: The Micromanager, Ralph Stacey (1942-2021), Jeff’s HiPPOism, Cost per Story Point? — Age-of-Product.com
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Download ‘76 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Hiring Agile Imposters’

Welcome to the Download Page of the “76 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions” Ebook

If you are looking to fill a position for a Product Owner in your organization, you may find the following 76 interview questions useful to identify the right candidate. They are derived from my fifteen years of practical experience with XP and Scrum, serving both as Product Owner and Scrum Master and interviewing dozens of Product Owner candidates on behalf of my clients.

71 Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Imposters — Age-of-Product.com
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Food for Agile Thought #311: No More Deadlines, Shipping the Org Chart, Goodbye Managers, OKRs Are Networks

TL; DR: No More Deadlines, Goodbye Managers — Food for Agile Thought #311

Welcome to the 311th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 33,103 peers. This week, we reflect on the abandonment of deadlines for team health and the effectiveness of engineering projects. Also, we delve into the obsolescence of the modern manager; we define cross-functional vs. t-shaped to avoid confusion within teams and larger agile ecosystems, and we have a look at how large companies manage engineering projects.

We then explore how teams can make better product decisions, for example, by employing the Jobs-to-be-done framework; we share war stories from Microsoft regarding the perils of reflecting internal communication structures in a product’s design, and we list eight concerns about NPS, from displacing other efforts to a bad word of mouth.

Lastly, we share the results of a large study on remote work based on data from 61,182 US Microsoft employees over the first six months of 2020, and we point at a critical issue in applying OKRs: They don’t work as intended when merely handed down from top to bottom.

Food for Agile Thought #311: No More Deadlines, Shipping the Org Chart, Goodbye Managers, OKRs Are Networks — Age-of-Product.com
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Hiring: 76 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Agile Imposters

TL; DR: 76 Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Imposters

If you are looking to fill a position for a Product Owner in your organization, you may find the following 76 interview questions useful to identify the right candidate. They are derived from my fifteen years of practical experience with XP and Scrum, serving both as Product Owner and Scrum Master and interviewing dozens of Product Owner candidates on behalf of my clients.

So far, this Product Owner interview guide has been downloaded more than 9,000 times.

Hiring: 76 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions: PO Anti-Patterns — Age-of-Product.com
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Estimates Are Useful, Just Ditch the Numbers

TL; DR: Estimates Are Useful, Just Ditch the Numbers

Many people dislike estimating work items as estimates supposedly open the path to the misuse of velocity by the managers, reintroducing Taylorism, micro-management, and excessive reporting through the backdoor. To them, for example, the proponents of #noestimates, estimates conflict with basic ideas of agile product development such as self-management, becoming outcome-focused, or leaving the feature factory for good.

I like to suggest a different, less ideological approach: estimates are useful at the team level, just ditch the numbers. How so? Estimation of work items is a fast way for a Scrum team to figure out whether all team members are on the same page regarding the why, the what, and the how of the upcoming work. The numbers are a mere side-effect, probably still valid to inform the team, though. (Indeed, the numbers are not intended to be used beyond the team level.)

Estimates Are Useful, Just Ditch the Numbers — Scrum Master Survival Guide — Age-of-Product.com

By the way, similar to the fact that you cannot “not communicate,” I am convinced that people will always “estimate,” whether they talk about it or not.

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