If your Sprint begins with two days of design followed by six days of development and finally two days of QA, each phase stacked right behind another like dominoes, then congratulations…you have a mini waterfall.
Nod your head if you have said the following:
- “I need a day off so I can get some work done.”
- “I’ve been in meetings for the last 6 hours solid.”
- “It feels like I haven’t been at my desk in two days.”
- “I’ll get to that this weekend.”
You’ve likely heard phrases like this around the office or said them yourself too many times. According to a Families and Work Institute study one in three American employees are chronically overworked. Multitasking, interruptions, too many meetings and an overwhelming workload are sited as some of the main contributors to their inability to maintain a reasonable work week. As Agilists we drive home the concepts of focus, prioritization and sustainable pace for our teams but the rest of the company is left out to dry, including ourselves.
This is the second half of our short series on Scrum events. Check out the first post explaining the necessity of Scrum events, including the impact if they were not to occur.
We get a lot of questions on when Scrum events should happen. While there is no one-size-fits-all, the following is my advice.
Refs gather for a quick meeting
In Scrum, there exists a general confusion about the Scrum events, or meetings: when they happen, who attends and why they exist.
The last question comes up…a lot. There will be resistance to “all the overhead” of Scrum, meetings included. In order to convince others to participate in Scrum events you can’t just say, “those are the rules of Scrum.” Developers and managers need to be convinced, which means we Agilists need to make sure they understand the value. Here are the Scrum Events and a quick explanation of why they exist.
There are a lot of bad work habits: being late, checking Facebook too* many times, not putting your dirty coffee mug in the dishwasher, and interrupting your coworkers during meetings. Bad habits are “bad” because results are negative. They become even more destructive when they directly oppose a goal, e.g., late-night eating when you’re trying to lose weight.
It’s the same with Agile.
During an Agile transformation or adoption, behaviors that were innocent, even positive, can pause momentum or even BLOCK progress. That’s because Agile is not just a process change. Truly becoming Agile involves updating practices and taking a long, hard look at company culture. Below are nine bad behaviors to curb and good replacements if you want to make sure Agile sticks.
The role the ScrumMaster plays on the team is never static and takes on many forms. Their role is one of servant leadership; as the team needs, the ScrumMaster provides. When the team first adopts Scrum, the ScrumMaster plays the teacher: training the team on the mechanics of Scrum, guiding the Product Owner on how to build a backlog, educating stakeholders on the new ways they will be given transparency into the progress of the product.
As the team progresses the ScrumMaster transitions into more of a coach: creating space for the team to self-improve, mentoring Product Owners on increasing outcomes while reducing output, and helping stakeholders embrace team empowerment. In just the span of a day the ScrumMaster will oscillate from teacher to coach to mentor to mom to confidante to guru to barista and back again 30 times.
There is one role, though, the ScrumMaster should never slide into for the team, and that is the manager.
Did you guys know it was election season?
Don’t worry, we’re not here to discuss the five candidates on the presidential ballot. We’re here to discuss and debate the following question…
If the United States was a development team, would POTUS be a ScrumMaster or the Product Owner?
A lot has happened since my last Agile marketing post about revamping the editorial calendar. For one thing, I still use my editorial calendar, but it’s become a brainstorm repository instead of an organizational tool. Also, I now have another person on my marketing team which has been a tremendous help and immense relief as we’ve been really busy with conferences, white papers, blog posts, and started the arduous process of updating the website in addition to creating physical marketing collateral.
It is a lot to manage for a two-person team so I started to look for ways to become more effective with time and bandwidth. I have a backlog and a Kanban board to visualize the work, a good first step. Now, how do I discuss what’s involved with my team and stakeholders. Specifically…
- How do I have meaningful conversations about scope with my team?
- How do I show productivity in a way that’s meaningful to stakeholders*?
- How do I use data to discuss and prioritize with stakeholders?
I know story points are used in development to estimate work. Can it work for marketing?
I was recently asked what in my experience was the most likely cause of gummed-up Agile transformations. I didn’t hesitate in answering “the frozen middle.”
Top-level management buys into a transformation because they hear faster, better, and more predictable. Teams buy in because it is simply more fun (I’m told “funner” isn’t really a word) and they get to build cool stuff. What about the folks between the teams and executive management? Middle management may be ill prepared for what is needed from them in the course of a transformation.
Sometimes I get emails from recruiters inquiring if we have open positions. The following is an example:
I was just wondering if you got any open spots for BA ( Financial ) or Network Admin.
I have these senior resources based out of CA but open to relocate nationwide.
Each time I receive these emails, I have to think about what he’s really saying. “Resources?” Oh…he’s talking about people. Then I get this icky feeling similar to when people hear the word Voldemort.
I grasped early on in my agile journey that “resources” can be a dirty word when used interchangeably with “people” or “person”.
By definition, it is accurate to refer to a person as a resource. According to the Oxford English Dictionary:
Resource (n): A stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively.
It’s the connotation that makes its usage provocative and careless.