TL; DR: Fixing Toxic Cultures — Food for Agile Thought #365
Welcome to the 365th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 36,117 peers. This week, we dive into the research on toxicity in the workplace and point to three means of fixing toxic cultures, from leadership to social norms to work design. Also, we detail how to collaborate with challenging people you need to include in your work and argue that principally ruling out discussions on productivity leads in the wrong direction. Additionally, we reflect on critical techniques for any transformation: learning, unlearning, and changing the habits of participants and stakeholders.
Then, we appreciate Lenny Rachitsky’s visualization of the hierarchy of goals in product management, and we share tips & tricks to start or grow your Product CoP, from starting at a minimum viable level to formalizing the CoP to expanding the community management team. Moreover, Janna Bastow shares how the unsuitedness of timeline roadmaps—based on deadlines—helped her design her approach to outcome-based planning.
Finally, we check out a new tool to “help facilitate your thinking when taking new products or ideas to market.” Also, we share a free ebook on identifying what is worth building, from involving your team members to communicating your research results with stakeholders, and we point to six critical elements of successful user journey mapping, from the business goal to mapping a specific user’s experience.
TL; DR: Scrum Master Interview (6): Demand Creates Supply and the Job Market for Agile Practitioners is No Exception
Scrum has proven time and again to be the most popular framework for software development. Given that software is eating the world, 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. Which makes any Scrum Master interview a challenging task.
Suppose you are looking to fill a position for a Scrum Master (or agile coach) in your organization. In that case, you may find the following 73 interview questions helpful in identifying the right candidate. They are derived from my sixteen years of practical experience with Scrum and XP, serving as Product Owner and Scrum Master. So far, I have interviewed dozens of Scrum Master candidates on behalf of my clients. This article covers a new set of questions on Sprint Planning.
So far, this Scrum Master interview guide has been downloaded more than 25,000 times.
TL; DR: Empowered Product Teams? — Food for Agile Thought #364
Welcome to the 364th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 36,083 peers. This week, we share the real-life case of an organization embracing Marty Cagan’s ‘empowered product teams (EPT)’ model entirely—with underwhelming results. Moreover, we ask why the concept of “Done” seems to be constantly misunderstood in organizations while we explore why engineering speed drops over time and what you can do about it. Additionally, we delve into an “understanding of management (managing), self-managing, and the manager role.”
Then, we consider that many transformations fail because they lack a focus on product leadership and cover the challenges of managing a product in its mature state, from figuring out whether your product has achieved that stage to the four top-handling strategies. Also, Doc Norton analyzes the path from complexity to our need for certainty to experimentation based on observations, questions, hypotheses, methods, and results, and we illuminate the importance of Sprint Goals for a Scrum team’s success.
Finally, we listen to Allan Kelly proposing a seven-step, lightweight process to develop products, building on his previous work, and appreciate a new exercise from John Cutler to help teams to move from focusing on how they measure to what they measure. Lastly, Kellan Elliott-McCrea reflects on the annual planning ritual in engineering, from the futility of a bottom-up approach to constraints and dependencies.
TL; DR: Nine Sprint Goal Principles
In Scrum, the Sprint Goal serves as the spotlight that provides transparency to the Sprint Backlog, as the flag that allows the team to rally, and the one thing that provides focus and cohesion. No Scrum team has ever been able to reap the benefits of the framework to the fullest extent without making the Sprint Goal a cornerstone of its efforts. The following nine Sprint Goal principles point at critical issues any Scrum team needs to consider on its path to excellence.
TL; DR: Tracking Learnings, Impact Mapping for Fun & Profit — Food for Agile Thought #363
Welcome to the 363rd edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 36,042 peers. This week, we delve into tracking learnings and what to do with all the “stuff” that continuous product discovery produces. Also, we analyze the utility of agile games as change-supporting tools and share a decision-making approach to scaling, from “don’t scale” to “managing dependencies between work to be done.” Finally, we consider the fact that “simple” covers a vast ground and has the potential to cause confusion and misinterpretation. (You may want to reconsider your KISS approach.)
Then, we advocate getting comfortable with impact mapping when you have a “vague goal but haven’t yet done a good exploration of how to get there.” Again, we also stress the importance of product discovery, given that we all love “our ideas” when building new businesses, before we point out five practices that will enable your team to take full advantage of the Product Backlog as a tactical tool.
Finally, we appreciate Paulo Caroli’s curated list of popular practices for organizing meetings; he also provides a downloadable PDF and a Mural template. On top of that, Andrea Saez shares the “Customer Value Explorer,” a canvas to map customer value against business objectives. Lastly, Google Cloud published the “2022 Accelerate State of DevOps Report,” focusing on security.
TL; DR: HoA #44: Honey, I Shrunk the Backlog w/ Allan Kelly
In this energizing 44th Hands-on Agile session on product backlog management, Allan Kelly clarified one thing: The backlog was a great idea until it wasn’t. Many successful teams deliver backlog items daily, but their backlogs aren’t getting smaller. The never-ending backlog overshadows delivery success. Product discovery, dual-track agile, OKRs, etc., make it worse by accelerating backlog growth without taking any of the rotting items away.
Learn more about Allan’s remedy for oversized product backlogs in less than an hour.
📺 Watch the video now: Allan Kelly: Honey, I Shrunk the Backlog — Hands-on Agile 44.