I had a great Scrum Gathering this year. In particular I’m really happy that we did lightning talks as the two biggest things that sparked my learning were from Cara on setting achievable goals for retros and Carlo about reviews – both of
which were lightning talks.
Setting achievable goals
Retros rock. But sometimes they do become stagnant. Sometimes that is because the same stuff comes up all the time. But also often it is because nothing actually is getting done. Cara gave a really great demonstration of how to make SMART actions and make them meaningful and actionable – and even to raise up the impediments to getting the action done so that they can be apparent up front as well. Take a look at the video at http://vimeo.com/29257791 . If your retros aren’t getting results, really do consider giving this a try. It is obvious – but most of us aren’t doing it.
Your sprint review sux
Reviews have troubled me in the past. We’re better at them now. But for a long while they weren’t very effective. So I’m interested in practical ideas around reviews. I sat in on a Scrum Clinic topic about making reviews more interesting and got a couple of ideas to try – but Carlo’s lightning talk on reviews was yet another way to look at reviews. I really like the concept of looking at the product with your product owner as a team looking for ways to make improvements rather than just looking at what we just did in the last sprint. We’ve almost been doing this in our last couple of reviews and I’m looking forward to making it more and more relevant. Thanks Carlo for the eye opener. And of course the concept that maybe the CEO in the review should be something else – like a demo every 2 or more sprints – separate from the reviews. The sprint review should be a safe place for the team to agree and discuss about on what to do next. Check out the video at http://vimeo.com/29253187.
There are two other things that have been bugging me for a while – from opposite spectrums of agile challenges. What are agile software development practices and what is an agile company really. Unfortunately I got some tastes of these topics at the gathering, but nothing really meaty to chew on.
I sat in on a couple of the software dev talks looking for insight and inspiration and held a couple of discussions that gave me some ideas. But for me this is one of the harder aspects of agility. Scrum just organises the way you work. Agile software dev practices like XP and using DDD, real OO design and architecture to achieve agility in code actually change the way you write code and even think about how you do your job. And developers are a lot pricklier about changing that than simply the organisational style around it.
The other end of the spectrum is what makes a company agile. And what are the things that make your company not agile. Boris’s management by constraints hit a chord for me. I sat in a couple of other talks but didn’t get struck by new big insights. Since then I’ve been reading some of Ester Derby’s blog and some ideas are formulating – both from a real problem statement and a hypothesis as to how to solve the problem. I’ll write more on this at another time as my mind ticks over it.
Overall this was the best Gathering in Cape Town that I’ve attended. I’ve been to all three – and I’m not at all biased due to the fact that I was involved in the organisation of this one. Really! :). I got a lot out of it. So thanks to all those who helped make it an awesome success.