A retrospective on a planning talk

I gave a talk at SUSGA on Thursday evening.  The talk was entitled Release Planning with Scrum: Controlling the Chaos.  My slides can be seen here.

I think the talk went well.  I think it was well received overall.  We did touch on a couple of topics that weren’t specifically under the auspices of the talk that I’m sure I’ll blog about soon.  But the content itself seemed to be understood and generated much conversation – which is largely the point.

I did learn a couple of good things

  • When I know my content, I’m okay at presenting.  This is good 🙂
  • Karen had a great comment of how to deal with sizing of epics when turning them into smaller stories. Simply generate only as many stories as fit the number of points. Once you’re over that amount – either cut stories, or admit scope creep.  (And I would add – measure to understand the growth)
  • I don’t necessarily tow the party line in my view of certain topics.  I’m sure I’ll blog about some of those soon to explore both my thinking and hopefully get feedback from others.  That interaction/conversation in my mind is largely the point of why I blog so I’m sure it will be fun.

I would do a couple of things differently

  • I should have written up bullet points on the points that each group brought up so that they could be remembered and blogged.  I intended to, but I only remembered half way through the discussion.
  • I would touch a bit more on release planning versus releasing software – i.e. when you’ll get something versus when something will be live.  You still want to plan to know in a ball park manner how long it will take to get something specific even if you release software into the wild every sprint.
  • I practised a lot – which is great.  But based on that practice I should have changed my slides as by the time I got to the presentation I knew all the points around the points on the slides so I could possibly have achieved less PowerPoint hell.  Perhaps next time I’ll create two sets of slides – one to practice until I know what I want to say.  And the other the cool image laden slides that I can talk about.  Something to think on.  I’m not presenter type so I’ve got lots to improve around this.
  • I suspect one or two people do release planning very differently.  I should have stressed that this is the way that I have done it, and that I’ve found success, but by no means is this a blueprint for the only successful way to do release planning.  Between the PMI comment (that this is “practical agile”) and the comment that the talk was good as I presented my content well – there were certain people who possibly think what I’ve been doing is overkill and maybe not agile…  but I’d love to hear what the other options are in helping stakeholders understand and take part in what is happening.

The interesting thing is I wasn’t nervous until the hour or so before the talk.  That is progress too. I’m starting to get better at this public speaking thing.

Thanks to everyone for the support and positive vibe of the evening.  I think it was great.  And hopefully it inspired some ideas, thoughts and conversations in the community that we are.  If that is all that happens, then I’m happy.

And thanks to the Yellowtail crowd who made it out.  It was really great to see you all again 🙂