Archive for the 'Agile' category

A surprise in the 2013 Scrum Guide?

August 4, 2013 10:45 pm

I was looking at the updated 2013 Scrum Guide, and because of some questions that have come up at work, I looked at how much time the guide suggests as the upper limit for various Scrum meetings.

The four larger meetings look like this in the scrum guide:

Planning: 8 hours per month
Review: 4 hours per month
Retrospective: 3 hours per month
Refinement: no more than 10% of available capacity

That last one was a bit of a puzzler to me. How much would that be if expressed in hours, like the other meetings?

If we call “a month” 30 days, and each day 8 hours, we end up with 240 hours per month. Translating to percent of time we arrive at:

Planning: 3.33%
Review: 1.67%
Retrospective: 1.25%
Refinement: no more than 10% of available capacity

Turn that back into hours on a two week sprint (80 hours) and you get:

Planning: 2.67 hours
Review: 1.33 hours
Retrospective: 1 hour

And the kicker (after subtracting the three meetings above from 80 hours, leaving 75 hours):

Refinement: no more than 7.5 hours, assuming “ideal capacity”

This was a HUGE surprise to me. Actually a happy surprise! I’ve heard over and over from scrum teams I work with that clarity on what to build is the biggest problem they need to work on. So the good news is that the official Scrum Guide recognizes that it’s okay to spend up to 7.5 hours or so (in a two week “ideal” sprint) on refinement activities, which to me include improving clarity on what to build. I only wish it hadn’t been expressed in %-of-time.

The Scrum Guide of 2013 – Top 50 words

10:06 pm

I thought it would be fun to run the latest Scrum Guide through to see what it talks about a lot. I replaced Scrum-specific terms that use two words in the guide to one word terms using CamelCase. Here’s what it looks like:


What do you make of it? I’m glad the word Retrospective shows up in the top 50, even if it is just barely.

Agile retrospectives – on cadence or on demand?

11:43 am

Here’s a quick thought for (probably mostly Ha- and Ri-level) practitioners of Agile software development who are thinking about holding retrospectives on a fixed cadence versus going to an on-demand practice.

I like that the weekend comes around every five days. I’d sure feel uncomfortable if it didn’t. I enjoy the comfort of knowing that I’ll get some time with different things to do: play, learn, relax, create, sleep, connect with others. Every once in a while I’ll need a day off outside the weekend to take care of exceptional things. Other times I’ll need more than just a few days, so I’ll take a week or three for a change of scenery and recharge.

Is it so different for teams at work? Just a thought.

Interview technique idea when hiring for an Agile job

July 19, 2013 5:58 pm

I’m not sure if this is an original idea, but I came up with (and used it) today. Normally I’ve had my questions written down in a notebook and gone through them one by one, trying to steer the conversation, which sometimes causes abrupt and somewhat awkward transitions. Today I did this instead:

Write down each question on its own index card. Some questions are fully formed, some just keywords.
Show all of the cards to the person I’m interviewing, saying “Here are the questions and topics I’d like us to talk about. Please play product owner for a minute and prioritize them in an order that works for you, and then we’ll start talking. If you want to ask me clarifying questions while you order, feel free to do so.”

I didn’t know how this was going to work out, so I started by asking “What do you think of this idea for our interview?” I got a really good response.

In order to not take up the whole time with the candidate talking about the cards, I stopped midway through and said “OK. How about your questions for me?” After that we came back to the remaining questions on the table, and finished with another short “Do you have more questions for me?” segment.

I think this was a pretty good way to be transparent about the interviewing process, a good way to let the candidate start forming a narrative and not getting blindsided, and giving the candidate a breath of fresh air from the traditional interviewing format.

These were the questions on my cards:

Agile Journey
Organizational Change
Scaling Agile
Outline a retrospective. How do you keep it fresh?
What is your Agile superpower? [I shared what I consider mine as an example when we got here]
Frameworks you’re not familiar with
Reading. Who influences you? Who do you influence?
Agile method/framework you’re familiar with

As we went along, I sprinkled in more questions, of course, but this was my skeleton.

What do you think? Novel? Useful? Boring? Comments would be much appreciated!