Archives for

8 Agile Habits To Get Rid Of Today

Agile-habits

We are all creatures of habit. Taking the same road to work, drinking our morning coffee and mostly having a time proven routine for anything and everything we do. However as there are good habits, there are also bad ones that can put us at a disadvantage in the long run. 

Agile or work environment is no different and you can fall into practices that seem fine, but actually are hurting you instead. What are they? Have you become a victim? Here are our top 8 bad Agile habits.

#1 No backlog refinement

Most teams groom and prioritize their backlogs in the beginning, however as the project goes along some tend to do that less and less. While it may be true that nothing changes, those cases are rare and not taking care of your backlog becomes a problem. Keep your list tight and priorities straight – only this way you will be able to get the best results.

#2 Not standing during the Daily Scrum

Daily Scrum or daily standup is a vital part of keeping the team on the same page and updated on the progress. However some teams tend to forego the standup part and stay in their cushy seats instead. While you may be tempted to rest in those early morning hours, sitting makes the meeting not only longer, but also less effective. So suck it up, get things done quicker and then get back to that comfy chair.

#3 Not updating the board daily

Another task that may seem tedious to you is updating the task board every time something changes. However, updating the board at least daily is crucial – the team can understand the progress and the project manager leaves you alone without asking for a progress reports every hour. Taking those 5 minutes to update is really not that excessive. 

#4 Ignoring WIP limits

While teams set WIP limits, some team members find ways to ignore them and do what they want to instead. Doing that may seem fun at the time, but in the end helps no one. With piles of unfinished tasks and no clear identification of bottlenecks you are setting yourselves up for failure. Next time go ask for help instead of looking for an easier way.

#5 Not offering true autonomy

Agile promotes cross-functional and self-reliant teams, however some Scrum  Masters and Product Owners still tend to run the show. It is important to realize that their role is more of facilitators unless they want to end up with a herd of sheep that will fall apart the first time they have to face any responsibility.

#6 No cross-functional teams

Another common bad habit comes from the teams not being truly cross-functional. You may be tempted to stay with your friends or colleagues that do the same job and thus make it easier to work together. But when the crisis hits having 5 designers on the team will not seem like such a bright idea. So when forming a team make sure the team can complete the project from start to finish.

# 7 Not focusing on the customer

No matter if it is an Agile or any other project customer should always be your main focus. For some, however, that is easy to forget. Instead they focus on tasks or completing a sprint, completely ignoring the review and not taking advantage of it. It is time to forget the KPIs and focus on who you are delivering to.

#8 Not embracing failure

Failure will happen.  No matter how good, experienced or just lucky you are.  Figure out the reason and then focus your energy on eliminating it, not passing fault. Hold constructive meetings with your team and agree how to change your behavior in the future. Learn from your mistakes.

Any other Agile habits you would like to shake? Share with us in the comments!

 

Read More

5 Agile Boards Used By Non-Developers

BoardIf you follow this blog, Agile application in industries other than software development is nothing new. However, while I often discuss on how to apply the methods in various situations, i have not before actually shown you how it look s in real life.

Agile is beautiful in the sense that it can literally take any form as long as it remains true to the key values. But when you are just starting out with the method it may be difficult to go beyond the traditional 3 columns of To Do, Doing and Done.

In order to inspire and get your own creativity going, here are 5 Agile boards used in traditional departments outside software development.

The web of HR

No good company functions without its employees and it all starts with HR. Taking a web form, this Agile board example comes from Jennifer at TranspireLife. Here, every pizza slice represents a different job position and each of the lines stand for a step in the hiring process. Once there is a vacancy, candidate cards are added to the specific part of the web and moved towards the center as they pass through interviews and other steps.

The procurement board

Procurement processes are important but can get confusing easily, especially when there are multiple projects and people involved. That is why this procurement team worked out a system of their own. Using the basic idea of Agile, they have listed all the ongoing projects on the left of the board arranging them according to the responsible team member and limiting each team members WIP to 7. The columns on this board represent weeks and help track the duration of each project.

This is done using Lego – the color representing procurement stage and the size representing estimated duration. Each week the Lego is moved forward and once that stage is done, the final duration is written on the brick and moved back to week one stacking the next stage Lego on top of it. This way keeping track of expected vs. real time spent and visually tracking all the projects.

The design board

This next Lego board from Vitamins brings us to the design department. Here the board takes on a more visual approach resembling a calendar –  rows represent months and columns are dedicated to days. Each project is given a different color and the sub-rows in each moth are assigned to a specific team member. Due to the specificity of the design department the tasks do not need to be as detailed in the board and instead it is more important to know what the team is working on and which projects are the focus at any given moment.

The collaboration of Finances, Operations and HR

While it is difficult to adapt Scrum in various departments, with mixed functionalities the task becomes even more challenging. That is exactly the case with this board from MetaGeek where Finances, Operations and HR are all one team. Due to the complex processes, the team decided to stick with the basics –  a physical board and 3 clear columns that allow tracking progress and who is working on what. As a result, the teams claim they have started collaborating more and now see how their responsibilities relate clearly.

Executive Add-On

Lastly,  no company is complete without an executive office and analyzing each teams board to understand the overall progress is not something they want to spend time on. This team has found a solution for that – an epic arc, an additional lane that represents on how far the team has advanced.

Once the team starts working on the epic, they clarify tasks and add them to the backlog. Tasks are color coordinated with the epic and move through the board as usual. Instead of staying in the backlog, the epic is moved along the arc, which is comprised of the traditional project stages like planing, in progress and done. This way giving both the team and the management the information they need.

 

Read More

Has Your Team Become Agile Zombies?

zombies

By now, Agile is synonymous with change and improvement. Teams are practicing it to be better, create according to customer needs and to deliver faster. However, is taking on the methodology of improvement enough? Or are you still facing a risk of failing?

Christiaan Verwijs has a definite answer to this question and that is Zombie Scrum. Extensively discussed in this article it talks about teams that adopt the technology and seem to successfully practice it, but in reality are all but Scrum zombies failing to unleash the full power of Scrum and hurting themselves in the process.

Does your team fall into this category? Here are the symptoms to check!

#1 No Beating Heart

On the surface all Scrum teams work to the same beat of Sprints – each one is planned, executed and finished delivering value at the end. As such it is the beating heart of the operation that drives the team forward and makes improvements happen. But what if this is only the facade?

If you have a Zombie Scrum team on your hands, the Sprint effectiveness only seems real. Once you look a little deeper, the differences are obvious – there is no value delivered after each iteration, product is often nonfunctional and Sprint review is not an actual demo, but rather screenshots and PowerPoint presentations on what should/has been done. Instead of a beating heart, these teams just go through the motions without any effect.

#2 No Contact With The Outside World

Ideally the Scrum team works to deliver value and to get feedback from their environment. It helps the team grow and improve the product in order to get the desired effect. Zombies are quite different.

Still stuck in the linear way of project management, they focus on their part of the job and while imagining themselves as only a small part of a big process, avoid responsibility at all costs. This means that a team with zombie fever is much more likely to avoid interactions with other teams in the company, shift blame and organize sprint reviews without any stakeholders present.

#3 No Emotional Response To Sprint Outcome

Stemming from the isolation comes another important part of Agile – reacting to the results. A healthy team will celebrate wins and analyze losses in order to see what can and should be done differently in the future. Contrary to that Zombies actually do not care about the Sprint outcome.

Whether it is a success or a failure they face, they simply move onto the next Sprint without any reaction. Whichever outcome it is they face, makes little to no difference to the team. This is often due to a never there Product Owner and isolation from other people in the project. Zombies simply do their job and don’t even bother with results.

#4 No Drive To Improve

Lastly, all of Agile is based on improving and adding value. It is the end goal and the main reason why people practice the method.

However, a team that is just going through the motions and is stuck with a hardly present product owner and Scrum master, often fall into the cycle of not caring. There is no joy, no motive and it seems no need to improve or change anything, rather than just completing tasks and not not giving it an extra thought. Is is a path that not only doesn’t yield results, but also creates a false image of Agile not being effective at what it is created to do.

Recognize your team in any of these traits? There is still time to change the way you practice Scrum and improve for the better!

Read More

Scrumban User Cheat Sheet

SB-Cheat-Sheet-banner

The last of my cheat sheets (so far) comes in the form of Scrumban. A mixed Agile approach that aims to merge the two most popular practices Scrum and Kanban. While some say that this is the most unstable and changing approaches of the three, there are still some things that stay the same no matter the application.

So dig in, enjoy and let me know if you think anything else should be added!

Read More

Kanban User Cheat Sheet

K-Cheat-Sheet-banner

Ever felt lost about the Kanban terms or wanted to have a quick check whether you are doing it right? Below is another handy Agile framework cheat sheet combined just for that! Check it for a quick reminder on how to move forward.

Kanban-Cheat-Sheet

Read More

Scrum User Cheat Sheet

Cheat-Sheet-bannerJust started applying Scrum and still find it difficult to understand all of the different terms and rules? The two different backlogs, roles, meetings and everything else is quite confusing at first. However, there is no need to worry as I am here to help!

Grab this handy cheat sheet and enjoy quick Scrum facts for your convenience.

Scrum-Cheat-Sheet

Read More

Top 10 Questions About Scrum and Their Answers

Scrum-FAQ

Undoubtedly, there is no lack of information about Scrum and how it should be used. Articles, to do lists, mistakes, user cases and anything else you might think of can be reached in minutes. However, when you are just coming into a new approach and learning its ways, you will most likely have certain questions and struggle to find the answers.

To help you out in this situation, here are the most common questions new users have about Scrum and their answers.

Is Scrum Agile?

This is one of the most frequent questions from new practitioners and one that cannot be answered with a single yes or no. Scrum is part of the Agile family, as it is one of the frameworks used to realize Agile rules and principles in real life projects. Other Agile applications, such as Kanban, XP and others are simply other frameworks used to bring Agile values to life. So yes, Scrum is Agile but Agile is not just Scrum, it is much more.

Should I choose Scrum?

Read More

All You Need To Know About: Kanban

All About Kanban

In the spirit of continuing with the article roundup, this week I present to you everything related to Kanban. If you are still wondering how push and pull differs or what does WIP limit stand for, this one is for you. So take a look and dive into the world of self-organization and progress.

The Basics

Just starting with one of the more flexible Agile approaches? No worries we’ve got you covered. Learn the basics with 5 steps to start doing Kanban, configure your work space after reading Setting Up a Kanban Board and start adding work items with the knowledge of 5 Ways to Execute Kanban Task Cards.

Once your process is all set up and running, learn to measure the progress with two most popular Kanban reports:

Read More

All You Need To Know About: Scrum

Agile process

This week I continue with our article roundup – an effort to provide you with all our knowledge in one convenient place. After the two previous posts on project management and agile, I thought it would be time to go a little deeper and this time we are talking about Scrum. Yup, the basics, roles, estimations and anything else you might be looking for, I’ve got it right here.

Basics

No Scrum project can be started without knowing what you are doing and while you may have already read all that goes into the practice, actually doing it is different. Check out Getting Started With Scrum Task Board to set up your first board, read Frequent dilemma: what sprint duration is best for your team to figure out what sort of a sprint duration to choose and pick out the scrum cards for you with The 4 Scrum Cards To Consider.

Once you are all set up and the actual work begins, learn how to write your first user stories with the help of Writing Effective User Stories for Scrum and choose the best way to estimate work by Estimating in story points compared to hours.

Read More

All You Need To Know About: Agile

The Ultimate Agile GuideOver the years, we have written a lot about Agile. Whether you’re just looking for fundamentals or want to know what’s coming next, you will most certainly find it in this blog. However, you would in fact have to look and we don’t want to bother you, so instead here is a list of our Agile articles. Hope you enjoy!

Agile Basics

No blog could call itself Agile without talking about the basics and we certainly know it. Check out these when starting out to learn more about the transition – Transitioning to Agile: Understanding the Methods and Transitioning to Agile: Running Effective Meetings, dive deeper into the Agile structure with Agile Hierarchy – How Are The Methods Related? and Scrum vs. Kanban vs. Scrumban – What’s the difference? and successfully lead the change with the help of Becoming A True Agile Leader.

Want to read all of that in one place? Check out this – The Ultimate Agile Guide, for the basics as well as our inside view and knowledge.

Read More