Scrum Gathering 2010 Notes
I used to attend Agile and quality related conferences years ago and have saved notes from many of them. While some topics have become overtaken by events since then, there still seem to be some useful ideas that I’d like to pass along.
The first day offered some ideas such as:
Using a Kanban board for “pre-team” work flow, i.e., for the creation of the initial Product Backlog.
Considering “Done” to mean that the result is such that a customer can consume it.
Flesh out potential impediments before Sprint Planning deals with a story.
Do not ask a team to take work into a Sprint that isn’t ready.
There is often too much focus on “how” a job is done rather than “why” we are doing it, i.e., what is the value the activity that the “how” is intended to provide?
Dennis Stevens mentioned something called a Business Capability Heat Map.
A questions was asked: “What are we trying to scale when we talk about ‘scaling Agile’?”
Eliminate elements of a method that assume/encourage people to not talk to one another (i.e., “status” meetings are not talking to one another).
Defect fixing should NOT be counted toward forward velocity, i.e., 0 pts (no matter how large?) though tasking and story pt impact definitely need to be accounted for.
Take It To The Team — a statement I have heard Ken Schwaber use over and over.
Lyssa Adkins spoke about working with teams saying;
- Everything you do for them is one more thing they don’t know how to do for themselves.
- Let the team fail, and recover, together.
- Don’t praise them for the work they do, but on how much better as a team they are getting.
- Goal: to produce astonishing stuff (not mediocre stuff faster)
Mike Cottemeyer spoke about:
- Planning to manage for uncertainty, not planning to (assume you can) eliminate it.
- An Agile Project Manager manages the context “around” the team, not act as a conduit between the teams.
- Help teams manage the value stream across the teams.
- Kanban interesting across teams, not within a team — use to “scale” agile.
The third day was devoted to Open Space with initial description of that process including comments like:
- Never have these people been together like this before and never again will they be together like this.
- The principles of Open Space -
1. Whoever comes is the right person (they cared to come)
2. What ever happens is the only thing that could have happened (focus on now, not what should or might happen)
3. Whenever it starts is the right time (when people were ready)
4. When it is over, it’s over (go do something else useful)
- The Law of Mobility & Responsibility: if you are not learning or contributing something, go somewhere else where you can.
- Failure may an inability to get access to (and positively affect) the value stream.
US Scrum Gathering 2010 Ideas from Mike Bria
[The rest of these notes are ideas from Mike Bria based on his reporting of the Gathering.]
Monday morning saw the start spearheaded by a quick but lively commencement ceremony by the Scrum Alliance’s personable new president and chairman Tom Mellor. Following that, Scrum co-founder Jeff Sutherland joined CMMI authority Kent Johnson for a well-received keynote showing how Scrum and CMMI are not necessarily in opposition, highlighting how Systematic successfully adopted Scrum while maintaining CMMI Maturity Level 5.
From there the day moved into it’s “deep dive” sessions, an interesting approach for a conference format where each session lasted the entire day (rather than the more typical 60–90 min structure). “Inspecting and Adapting” previous years drove conference organizers to give this a try and day end buzz around the conference showed positive response. Topics covered in this format were:
. “Coaching the Coaches” led by Lyssa Adkins, a well-received dive into some of the skills that distinguish a “coach” from an “expert” or “mentor”. Chatter indicated people were finding real inspiration discussing and practicing ideas and tools presented by Lyssa like “journaling your value” and mastering the “coaching conversation”, as well as a memorable catalogue of “coaching failure modes” (like “The Hub”, “The Butterfly”, and “The Nag”) and “coaching success modes” (like “The Magician”, “The Wise Fool”, and “The Creeping Vine”).
• “The Kanban Exploration” led by Karl Scotland, where one definition of a Kanban System was used to trigger discussion around what ways Kanban and Scrum are alike, and what ways they differ. Post session chatter gave interesting insight about how one might say that Scrum and Kanban differ in their detailed methods but not in higher level intent of those methods. Take for example the question of whether Kanban’s practice of “Value Stream Mapping” fits with Scrum — people would agree Scrum does not explictly do value-stream mapping, but Scrum does do “retrospective” which ultimately has the same purpose. Similar debate around the big question of whether Scrum is really a “push system”, or whether it can be viewed as “pull system” like Kanban. Interesting thoughts by Jurgen Appelo about the session here, and related info here.
• “Coaching Self-Organized Teams” led by Joseph Pelrine, a thought-provoking and interactive session focused around social complexity science and team dynamics research to get traction on what might really be behind the mysterious “self-organizing team”. The repeated “key take-away” buzzing around: “change the environment and the team will change themselves”. Also floating around are some interesting (and entertaining) footage of participants operating like bird flocks, and of participants experiencing how simple rules can drastically change behavior.
. “Software Craftsmanship Workshop” led by Micah Martin, where participants spent the day discovering “code katas” and “randori” as a way to hone their programming skill.
• “Artful Making Workshop” led by Lee Devin, an interesting exploration into how software teams can take a cue from the things that those in theatre do to effectively run adaptive projects.
• “Specify Critical Product Quality Requirements” led by Tom Gilb and Kai Gilb, focusing on a toolset for Product Owners to identify “Product Qualities” to effective prioritize.
• “Improv: The Mechanics of Collaboration” led by Matt Smith, relating the ideas and techniques of “improvisation” to software collaboration in another session related to the, un-official but observed, recurring day theme of “honing and leveraging ‘Individuals & Interactions’”.
• “Innovation Games® for Scrum Teams” led by Luke Hohmann, where participants experimented with games like “Product Box”, “Speed Boat”, “Buy a Feature”, “Remember the Future”, and “Prune the Product Tree” to learn useful and fun ways of collaborating with functional stakeholders.
Day 2 began with more traditionally timed sessions across the conference’s five themes of “The Edge of Chaos”, “Huge Scrum!”, “Good Practice”,”Scrum in Context”, and “When worlds collide”.
A comment from David Bulkin to Mike regarding Kanban having more of a value stream focus when a new effort is initiated
Per our discussion over dinner last night, I think you and I ascribe to the philosophy that in the end there are practices that are appropriate given a context, and practices that are not appropriate for a given context. As such, we don’t generally don’t get hung up on Scrum vs. XP vs. kanban etc.
But, with the being said, I think that a kanban practitioner will likely examine an existing software development process, make it visible on a board, and then start to change it after understanding the value stream and how it fits into the larger organizational context.
Many Scrum implementations have, on the other hand, been more radical with new roles, new terminology, new process, all at once. This approach presumes a solution without understanding the uniqueness of the situation.
I do believe that Scrum is a desirable goal for many teams, but I think a Kanban Change Management approach as advocated by David Andersen is a better, for many, than the radical Scrum implementations which have often been attempted.
So, from the perspective of an initial implementation I do think there is a sharp difference between Scrum and kanban, but I do admit that this distinction is less significant once a project is underway, as, per your point, the Scrum Retrospective is a way to modify the processes of the team on an ongoing basis.
Bria — An Exciting Day Two
Day two of the 2010 Scrum Gathering, packed full of a whirlwind of topics, talkers, activities, useful nuggets, and again (of course) healthy debates.
According to many, day two’s most notable highlight was the lunchtime auditorium talk from special invited guest Harrison Owen — the creator of the highly-regarded agile collaboration “tool” known as Open Space.
What may have surprised many is that this is not unique to agile, nor even new; Harrison’s first Open Space (the genesis of which he credits to “three martini’s” and some intense time constraints) was held to facilitate a diverse group of architects, engineers, and lighting specialists tasked with doing a last minute redesign of big part of the 1985 Olympic grounds. Owens recounted how he was inspired by his time in West India to create the Open Space formula he describes as “sit in a circle, create a bulletin board, start a marketplace — and go to work”.
Since then, Owens has facilitated big and small Open Spaces for thousands of diverse industries and groups — last week, at 75, he was in Geneva using Open Space to help a UN High Commission human rights group work out intense problems ranging from torture to sex slavery.
Among the many quotable nuggets, maybe most notable are these:
· “most organizational dysfunction boils down to our futile struggle to organize self-organizing systems”,
· “no one follows their business plan; if they did they’d be out of business”,
· and that success comes if we just “allow ourselves to be what we already are [self-organizing beings]”.
Among the day’s popular sessions, at least in terms if attendance count, was Jeff Patton’s anticipated “Using Story Mapping” session.
In typical form, Jeff gave an information setup presentation than dove into a live story mapping demonstration, helping Dan Mezick (“the customer”) visualize, and map, a hypothetical community planning product (the audience on cue to chime as other “interested stakeholders”).
Another session that received a lot attention was by Jurgen Apello (of the well-known NOOP blog), “The Dolt’s Guide to Self-Organization” in which he presented a provocative array of tangible ways to deconstruct, understand, and effectively implement “self-organization”. As is the case with much of the week’s content, Jurgen’s slides (useful in and of themselves) are already available on Slideshare.
And also among many, many other good sessions generating decent chatter today are “Social Media & Agile Projects” (by Christian Vindinge Rasmussen & Cathrine Lippert) which presented a case for how social media can be used inside and around agile projects for collaboration, user focus, marketing, knowledge sharing and recruitment.
Mark Strange’s “Scrum-WWDD? (What Would Deming Do? Was an interesting reprisal of Deming’s timeless teachings viewed in an agile context.
A highly noteworthy sound-bite generating a lot of debate is the following (from a still yet to be identified speaker): “mature teams don’t need a Scrum Master”. Interesting, what do you say?
Another tweetable favorite of the day is the Gartner prediction stating “companies that block their employees internet usage will be extinct in 10–15 years”
And, finally, honors for the “most recognizable face” during the first two days goes to a deserving Lyssa Adkins, who was at the front of 4 room-filling sessions (including her all-day deep dive yesterday) giving useful and refreshing advice on agile coaching, breaking free of your “traditional” project manager shackles, and harnessing the power of positivity to achieve productivity.
Bria — An All-Open Space Final Day
The 2010 US Scrum Gathering in Orlando wraps up after an all-Open Space Day 3, exemplifying the collaborative and empirical essence of Scrum as its originally intended.
Attendees had the pleasure of entering a wide open conference space at 8:30am to see a gigantic circle of chairs prepared to seat all of the few hundred gathering participants. At its center was Open Space creator Harrison Owen to kick off the festivities with some entertaining and enlightening banter, including a refresher on the Open Space formula (“sit in a circle, create a bulletin board, start a marketplace — and go to work”), an overview of the few rules (like “The Law of Two Feet”, indicating if you aren’t into the session your in then use your two feet and find another, that’s all good), and a run-through of some the personality types that make Open Space work (like “The Butterfly” and “The Bee”).
Then onto the creation of the “bulletin board”, which within 10 minutes was filled with three 90 minute rounds of 18 sessions each, totaling over 50 audience generated topics for discussion. After a few minutes of a bustling “marketplace”, it was 9:30 and off everyone went, to a corner, a side-room, a lobby floor, a table by the pool, to one of 18 pow-wows of their passion.
The day continued like this, and anyone “butterflying” around could witness one example after another of the phenomenon of successful self-organization — a certain recurring theme of the gathering on the whole.
By mid-afternoon the auditorium “News” wall was filled with revelations, decisions, learnings, and more that session participants took out of the diverse array of the day’s workgroups. (Expect these to be available on the Alliance website and/or Gathering blog soon)
At 3:30 the circle filled back up for an official wrap-up, by Scrum Alliance president and chairmen Tom Mellor, of what many called “the best gathering ever” (one attendee’s interesting tweeted description was “summer of Love mixed with great content”).