Scrum Gathering 2016 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.

Andrea Tomasini — Stop scaling…start growing an agile organization!

Tomasini asked “What are we scaling: delivery model, organizational structure, individuals & teams?”

Other things pointed out were:

· Large projects are sometimes structured to achieve some “large = valuable” [, but certainly expensive] result. Small projects get value sooner.

· Uncertainty exists whether we like it or not or hope you can eliminate it by “compliance metrics”.

· Design — Document — Rollout — Fix [rinse, repeat] is an approach focused on standardizing before one has stabilized.

· Encourage “Safe to Fail” experiments

· The goal should not be to “become Agile,” otherwise it is process for process sake.

· No ROI in technology investment [per se] — invest in people.

· Make culture explicit through storytelling and engagement [MBWA]; through ritualization.

Doc List — Facilitation Patterns & Anti-Patterns

Facilitation is about helping others achieve some goal using techniques like:.

· Interrupt, ask, redirect commit (intervention approach)

· AMPP — wait for a pause, then Ask, Mirror, Paraphrase, Prime

· Role reversal — take the other person’s point and “argue” for that

· Ground (team) rules

· Patrick Kua’s Starfish

o Keep

o Start Stop

o More Less

List also mentioned Larsen & Derby’s Circle of Questions and the Margolis wheel — 1 on 1 dialogue.

Having a “safe” word to move discussion along such as ELMO — enough, let’s move on.

Randy Hale — Driving Culture Change and an Organizational Agile Mindset

It’s all about beliefs which are based on prior experience (or, at least, perception about those experiences) — so, to effectively create change, means to give people new experiences.

Johannes Schartau & Greg Myers — Forging the Team Space — Agile Facilitation on Fire

They asked us to investigate Liberating Structures activities:

· Mad Tea — concentric circles, inside faces outside one for one, each just states their question and get an answer, no dialogue/discussion, then rotate (left or right) a couple people [more than one so you cannot just overhear what the adjacent person says]

· Change the frame to change the reality

· Celebrity interview

· 25/10 Crowd Sourcing (anonymous idea rating — do 4–5 times)

· Troika Consulting — 3 people, each states a questions/situation then turns their back and listens while the other two discuss it

· What? So what? Now What? — get out all the facts before solution discussion

My Open Space session on “What I Wish My Training Had Covered”

In proposing this session, I had expected most of the feedback might be about things Scrum Masters or Product Owners had encountered as problems/issues and would have wanted some “heads up” about in the training. You’ll see below what was raised. Some comments of mine to provide more context are in brackets — “[ ]”:

People said they would have liked more on:

· Diverse (culturally) and distributed teams.

· Project tracking techniques, KPIs

· Keeping teams engaged [after they’ve been through a number of Sprints]

· How to coach Product Owners

· Shouldn’t there be a Scrum “team” certification [everyone who wants any sort of Scrum training just has SM, PO, and a 5-day developer course to hope covers the topic]

· What’s the Scrum master sphere of influence, how to get teams to grow

· Managing one’s own personal change (and help others do the same)

· [What to do about teams feeling that there are] Too many meetings

· Maintaining morale [team]

· Coaching team members

· Training seems to teach the “target state,” but not how to get there

· What could be “compromised” to get things started

· What not to do [i.e., dysfunctions to avoid]

And toward the end of the session, Peter Stevens asked the group “What is causing you pain?” to which he got the following comments:

· *Servant* not needed [i.e., teams feeling that, after a while, they “know” Scrum and don’t need the Scrum Master perhaps because] the “Pressure is off when they got the basics right”.

· Lack of cohesion between silos (most of the work is between the silos)

· What’s the next step? No career path [and this seemed to be to be suggested by many of the prior comments above]

· Lot of change in management [i.e., having to “(re)educate” a new set of management]

· My SM has no SM training [right, management picked a Scrum Master who had never had any formal training and did not indicate they would need it]

· Spillover [the prior session to this discussed the problems of teams not finishing work and having it spill over into the next Sprint]

· [Management or POs feeling teams should] Do defects in your over[/own] time, misconceptions about story points [, saying defects should be worth ‘0’ points, viewing points something like a scoring system you “get credit” for, hence no credit for defects]

· Useful tools? {and someone suggested the] Spotify health check

· How do you validate that what you did yesterday really works? [Something I have taught in my class as a daily, individual “retrospective” on one’s own accomplishments for the day.]

Another Open Space on “The Kick-off: Setting Your Team Up For Success

Here are pictures of the flipchart notes from this session:

Open Space session on “Leadership Frameworks for Organizational Agility

Here are flipchart pictures for the session:

Open Space facilitated by Peter Stevens on “I Want to Be and Agile Trainer

The session consisted of a lot of questions about the general steps of becoming a Trainer:

Which type of certification should I do? Scrum Alliance? IC Agile? Scaled Agile?

Can benefit a person who is in charge of training people at a company

Hurdle — how do you train 100 scrummasters when none of them want to go to you since you aren’t certified?

People are already training folks in their company without CST

Companies want to be Agile, but CST is focused on scrum. Scrum is a good place to start.

How to teach people

- teach a class at a community college

- work with a community org or volunteer group

- teach people at work


- get and keep feedback

- use Net Promoter System

- Happiness system — ultimate question

Daily Standups

Open Space on “Talking to Skeptics

If at first you don’t succeed keep sucking until you succeed

If your wrong be wrong strong

Who do you know that are skeptics?

· Developer

· Mainframe


· Client/Consulting/Vendor

· Project Managers

· Government

· Project Managers

Berkman (did a study on skeptics): they could be an indicator of their means of understanding. The skepticism could be an indicator of how they understand concepts.

General groups of Skeptics: Open Minded Skeptics and Close Minded Skeptics:

· Estimator

· Know it All

· Contract (SOW)

· Skeptics in Disguise (Ninja Skeptic)

· Its all going to blow over soon

· Panic Response

· Complainers

· Hidden Agenda

· Self-Servant Leader

· Can Kickers (Delayers)

· Too much overhead

· I want to know when I am going to get and this doesn’t

Skeptics can be your best ally because once you convince them then they could be a great champion for your cause.

Understanding their concerns to achieve some alignment.

“We are doing the same amount of planning. We are just distributing it over time”. Why? Humans don’t estimate well. Environments change, etc

Right sizing the tasks so that communication in the burn down make sense

Impediments should be on the wall “Large friendly letters”

· Obstacle Board: The SMs job is to remove the obstacle. When an obstacles don’t get removed then it get displayed on a wall and continues up the chain until resolved.

· Never have retrospectives that repeat the same issues

What does the CTO care about?

How do you talk to a CTO who comes from the perspective that “I want to see you fail so I can prove you wrong”:

· There has to be a show me. “Start small and look for a small win”

· “Speak inside of their conversation not yours”

· “There is no reason to move to Agile unless something is broken”

· “Before you used to bring me something I didn’t want in 3yrs in 2mill. Now you bring me something I didn’t want in 2 weeks and 50k”

Open Space Notes for Specialty vs. Cross-functional Teams

  • Have plane mechanics and car mechanics rather than bring plane mechanics over to work on cars. Not worth it.
  • Where is most communication taking place? More surrounding building the product or more about more communication needed?
  • Bring work into a single team that has strong communication lines.
  • We cannot always get rid of cross-team communication, but we want to minimize as much as possible with team structure.
  • Generalized specialists wanted — will teams take time to take the one step back to take two steps forward in future.
  • Don’t want to split a person across teams if possible (anything less than 50% is a red flag).

Conclusion: If you have multiple component (specialized) teams working together, then try to keep an objective of minimizing dependencies between team. Either by minimal team restructuring or refactoring the component architecture.

Being Agile in a Non-Agile Environment

Pictures of notes from this session:

Engaging Executive leaders in agile transformation — build an agile leader scrum team

John Kotter’s eight step framework :

  1. Increase urgency

· Increase the urgency that already exists, don’t manufacture one

· Not panic — the need to do something

  1. Build guiding teams

· Agile teams focused on bringing value to the customer

· In this case, the org is the customer

· PO has content authority over the backlog

· SM removes impediments

· At least one exec member

· Modified structure

1. Regular stand ups

2. Monthly planning

3. Monthly grooming

4. Backlog includes

· Impediments to agile adoption

· Focus area

  1. Some major thing (pain point) in the portfolio like…

· Quality

· Timelines

· Process

· Communication

  1. Get the vision right

· Team creates it at the first meeting

· Not delivering software, but delivering value by process improvements

1. Revise change management

2. Introduce devops and continuous integration

  1. Communication for buy-in

· Teams see execs doing it and it boosts morale and their own buy in to the process

  1. Enable action
  2. Create short term wins
  3. Don’t let up

· Press harder and faster. Don’t let it die

· Decrease sprints to two weeks

· Use metrics to demonstrate value

· Share metrics for Transparency

· They can feel some of the same pain other teams feel

  1. Make it stick

· Coach

· Communicate

· Continuous improvement

One month sprints to start

  • Hold sprint reviews and retrospective
  • Demo completed stories

Same issues arise as any other team starting up

  • Stories too big or not groomed
  • Lofty expectations

Team needs to include one or more people with a passion for agile

Remind of values from agile manifesto

  • The agile manifesto is crystal clear and shines a spotlight on problems, organizational and cultural.



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