Celebrating one year of Scrum Boosters!
In 2014 I started at Xebia in the business unit Agile Consultancy and Training (ACT). Colleague Nicole Belilos took me under her wings and helped me develop and grow within this group of Agile coaches. Together with Laurens Bonnema we formed a group who had experienced a lot of bad Scrum, fake Scrum, Scrum and…We wanted to do something about that, because we really believe in the power of Scrum, when done well. We started a cluster called Xcellent Scrum, a group within our business unit with a real focus on helping organizations in improving Scrum. We became certified trainers for Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org and we developed the Scrum Master Academy together with Jesse Houwing.
We encountered a new issue rising in the organizations where we were hired as Agile Coaches and part of Agile transformations. Scrum Masters who had the title or certification but were not able to facilitate Scrum to optimize its effect or who were not able to get teams and organizations further in Scrum.
More Physical and Digital tools for Scrum Masters and their teams
A couple of months ago I blogged about some of the tools and toys that live in the trunk of my car. I take these along everywhere I teach and coach. Since posting, people have suggested additional items that just must be in my toolbox.
Time Timer Plus
Time-boxing is an important component of Scrum. It provides focus towards a goal and prevents you from over-analyzing things. We use time boxes extensively in each Professional Scrum class.
This lightweight, large timer helps visualize the time-box clearly to the class without having to juggle tools on screen.
Thanks: Evelien Roos and Just Meddens for this tip.
Logitech R800/700 and Spotlight
I’m using a trusty old Logitech Wireless presenter R800/700. It’s easy to use, has a laser pointer that works no matter what you point it at and has a built-in timer that can be used to warn you when you’ve been talking for far too long.
Use Mob Programming to maximize your learning
In every Scrum.org Professional Scrum Development class, we touch upon both technical and collaboration practices to help improve the development teams explore new options. In a recent class, we had two teams that, after two sprints, hadn’t been able to deliver any “Done” increment to show at the Sprint Review. They were plagued by all kinds of issues, merge conflicts, refactoring gone bad, lack of automated tests and everything else that happens in real life. I decided to introduce Mob Programming to see whether that could help them.
The first experience with Mob Programming is usually total chaos and I tried to prepare the team accordingly. Trying out any new technique – anything that’s out of your comfort zone – can result in initial chaos, it requires a bit of courage to move onward. For those of you that don’t have any idea what Mob Programming is, I recommend reading our recent article in XPRT magazine which gives an overview of it or watching a recent recording of Woody Zuill’s presentation.Read more →
Scaling Scrum to the limit
You’re likely to have been asked the question: “we need to go faster, how many more people do we need?” Most people naturally understand that just adding a random number of people isn’t likely to make us any faster in the short run. So how do you scale Scrum to the limit? And what are those limits?
Meet Peter, he’s a product owner of a new team starting on the greatest invention since sliced bread. It’s going to be huge. It’s going to be the best. Peter has started on this new product with a small team, six of his best friends and it has really taken off. In order to meet demands while adding new features, Peter needs to either get more value out of his teams and if that is no longer possible, add more team members.
He and his teams have worked a number of sprints to get better at Scrum, implemented Continuous Integration even to deliver to production multiple times per day. It is amazing what you can do with a dedicated team willing to improve. But since their product was featured in the Google Play Store they’ve found themselves stretched to their limits. Peter has found himself in the classical situation in which many product owners and project managers find themselves. How do you replicate the capabilities of your existing team without destroying current high-performance teams? He contacts a good friend, Anna, who has dealt with this situation before and asks for her advice.Read more →
Physical and Digital tools for Scrum Masters and their teams
About 40 people gathered at the nlScrum meetup dedicated to physical and digital tools for the agile workspace. Tools that help developers, coaches and trainers to survive in the toughest environments.
We broke the evening up into a hybrid between an Open Space and your local Farmers’ market with people displaying their wares and the tools they use. Rosenboom showcased their office solutions including interactive smart screens and high-quality whiteboards among the usual assortment of markers and post-its. And Plantronics brought their collection of noise cancelling headphones for much-needed concentration or a well understood remote collaboration as well as a couple of their conference kits that link up to a phone or laptop to turn any room into a reasonably good conference room.
I had taken possession of one such tables to show the little things I carry around or have in the back of my car in case I might need them.
Traditional Agile Coaching goes like this: we take a look at what you are doing and we advise you what we think is a good next step in your growth and Agile Maturity. These next steps are supported by exercises, simulations, insights and experience that come from our own personal Agile Backpack. At my last assignment, we wanted to learn the teams how to become more self-organizing and self-learning, to take initiative in their own growth path so that they really become owners of it. We decided to support the teams by pull coaching instead of push coaching. The Agile Toolkit was created to support this aid.
Overburdening: how to cope with it and work is irrefutable
Sometimes teams must take up work that exceeds their capability. Consider a company policy that says ‘The call desk picks up calls within 60 seconds’. This policy forces a call desk team to pick up new calls within 60 seconds. Saying ‘No’ to new work would be a sensible thing to do. But just not in this case. When in such a position what can you do to overcome overburdening and still keep happy customers?
In this blog post I’ll show that by looking at the workflow one can discover new options to overcome the overburdening and still not say ‘No’.
Alternative ways are described in The Business Support Team Pattern and Help! Too Many Incidents! – Capacity Assignment Policy In Agile Teams.
Read more →
Improving a Team’s Collective Intelligence. Feedback Please!
It seems all over nowadays. Teams do it, peers do it, managers do it. Feedback here, feedback there, feedback everywhere. Feedback seems here to stay. Why? Because it makes people stronger. They learn how they behave and how their behaviour affects others. This transparency enables individuals to change and start experimenting with more effective behaviour. Wouldn’t it be great if we could apply a feedback instrument to the whole team? Improving team feedback!
Is Scrum Agile and is Agile Scrum?
2 minutes read
(drawing by Alexander)
The short version: yes and no! Scrum is Agile but Agile is not (only) Scrum.
Future Fit Organizations
Organizations want to become flexible and Agile or as we like to call it at Xebia: Future Fit. Just like when you go to the gym and want to become fitter. Yes, there are more ways to achieve that.
You can see Agile as a container for multiple ways of working. In case of the gym there are many sport activities you can do. Scrum is one of the frameworks that could help you to become more Agile. Besides Scrum there are more sport programs (Kanban, DSDM, XP) that supports the organization to become Agile.
That`s just the basic explanation, but Agile is a lot more than just a container. Agile is about mindset, the way you think, the values that you live by. You can read more about Agile in the Agile Manifesto.
Scrum is simple to understand and difficult to master. In practice this means that it will take time to really understand why each component within the framework serves a specific purpose and is essential to Scrum’s success and usage. With Scrum you work in short iterations named “Sprints”. At the end of every Sprint you deliver a potentially releasable product increment. The core of Scrum is based on empiricism. That means that you will decide on actual experiential learnings what you will do next. This will show in Scrum on the following three pillars: transparency, inspect and adapt. Everything within Scrum is interwoven with these aspects. For example the Sprint Retrospective is the moment for the Scrum team to look back at the Sprint (inspect) to see if they can improve (adapt). You can read more details about Scrum in the Scrum Guide.
In my next blogpost you can read more about Scrum. Hope that this helps you to explain the difference between Agile and Scrum!
Please let me know if this helps you and drop a comment below!