July 2014 Meeting

Stellenbosch Lean Coffee – 24 July 2014

Improv in Agile

  • What is improvisation?
    • Made up in the moment… No script
    • Baking vs Cooking
      • Baking is specific, based on a recipe… like scripted theater, where we execute according the the script or recipe.
        • e.g. waterfall
      • Cooking is more ‘in the moment’ collaboration and problem solving. Can be more creative.
        • Agile and its feedback loop
    • Improv Actors deal with
      • Uncertainty
      • Pressure
      • Need for collaboration
  • Improvisation applied to Agile Teams
  • Types of exercises for use in Agile Teams
    • Improv exercises in the retrospective can also be beneficial (e.g. describe this sprint).
    • Silent Stop/Start exercise (Jolt)
      • Need to be aware of ’emtpy spaces’
      • Need to be alert to others’ intentions
      • This allows us to collaborate
      • When the trigger to stop/start is silenced, the team still carries on
      • Indicative of a ‘self-organising’ team
  • Benefits of Improv
    • Helps develop the pre-frontal cortex
    • Reframing of problems
    • Mindfulness of what is going on

The role of emotions in Agile Teams

Proponent: Burgert Kirsten of Playing Mantis, Psychologist & Improvisational Actor

  • Question: How have we experienced emotions in Agile Teams?
    • Emotions in this environment may be difficult to determine, as devs/engineers are usually very introverted.
      • Unless they’re mobile developers or involved in UI/UX, in which case they tend to be more extrovert.
    • Emotional lows and frustrations in various ceremonies
    • Emotional highs when we realise that we have a voice and a say via the retrospectives.
    • Resistance to process when Agile is imposed, by policy, as the methodology to use.
    • Through the retrospective (properly run) the resistance turned to support and enthusiasm.
    • Unhappiness when Agile Methodologies are not followed properly or used as a micromanagement tool.
    • Fear: As in fear of public demos.
      • In some companies, all of management participates in the demonstrations, which is intimidating
        • Is this ok? Should there be an audience at the demo other than the development team and the product owner?
        • What is the purpose of demos?
        • How do we remove fear from the demos?
      • Stand-ups where everyone, bar the president of the company, is present.
        • These should be only for the development team. I.e. Only the people doing the work.
        • Negative emotions are triggered when the focus is on what the person did with regard to the task, and not on the task itself.
  • Some insights shared by Burgert Kirsten
    • We are geared to
      • Seek rewards and pleasure
      • Avoid pain and threats
        • Emotions within a team dynamic can be considered in terms of the acronym SCARF:
          • S for Status: If status is threatened
            • Fear of judgement causes negative emotions and resistance
          • C for Certainty: Lack of certainty
            • Causes negative emotions and resistance
          • A for Autonomy: Lack of autonomy
            • No choice, micromanagement are causes of negative emotional responses.
          • R for Relatedness: Not being able to relate to others
            • Not knowing other people.
            • If you don’t know someone, you tend to see them as a foe. When a connection is made, only then can we see them as a friend.
            • Meaningful relationships at work. Lack of, causes negative emotional responses.
          • F for Fairness: The perception of fairness
            • Feeling of being treated unfairly causes negative emotional responses.

Gathering & Refining Scope

  • Gathering is done with Tech Lead and Product Owner
    • Don’t overthink or over-engineer stories
    • Over thinking tends to be wasteful.
  • Mind mapping has been used to determine the scope of a user story
    • First expand the mind map with everything you can think of. Include everything that may pertain to the user story.
    • After the expansion, choose the minimum set of features that will make the user story implementation acceptable by the product owner.
  • Where do we gather scope?
    • After Product Owner has discussed with client, Product Owner engages with Development team in Backlog Grooming Sessions.
    • After sufficient backlog grooming has taken place, Sprint planning I is where the Development Team and Product Owner agree on what is in scope.
      • Pareto Principle
        • Law of the Vital Few
        • Roughly 80% of the effects come form 20% of the causes.
        • 20% of your implemented features will satisfy 80% of clients’ requirements.

What is an epic?

Burn-up Charts

  • As opposed to a burn-down chart, which is viewed at every stand-up during a sprint, the Burn-up chart is viewed at the end of every sprint, and shows the progress in terms of a longer term release plan.
  • It depicts the number of story points that are in scope for the release target, along with our current status in terms of the ideal, a trend line indicating whether we meet the target or not based on current velocity.
  • Can be used instead of ‘gantt charts’ in order to communicate project status in terms of the release target to customers.
  • Reference to a Google Doc Template for a Burn-up Chart with sample data:

Backlog Grooming

  • Frustrations
    • Not enough of it
    • Not enough detail in stories
    • Ungroomed stories popping up out of the blue, bypassing groomed stories
      • Adressed by means of increased collaboration
      • Clear up uncertainties on the spot with Product Owner
      • Causes delays within the sprint and has a definite impact, so it must be avoided.
    • Backlog Grooming must be focused and with clear scope.
    • Roles within the grooming must also be understood and each role must contribute whatever their role entails.
    • Following a half-baked approach to either Scrum or Kanban is not ideal. Understand the roles, ceremonies and artifacts and use them effectively… at least for a number of sprints before ‘chopping and changing’.
    • Frequency?
    • Regularity?

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