Author Archives: Chris Sims

Emergency Work In Scrum

Red box with axe in case of emergencyScrum strikes a useful balance between flexibility and focus. In sprint planning, the product owner presents the most important objectives to the development team. The development team commits to as many of those as they believe they can deliver in the sprint. Once sprint planning is over, the business doesn’t change their mind about what they want. The development team is able to focus on delivering the product backlog items to which they committed. At the beginning of the next sprint, the business has another opportunity to change direction in any way they need to.

Every so often something comes up that can’t wait until the next sprint cycle. This could be a problem that has arisen, such as customers not being able to log in. It could be a business emergency such as needing a feature rushed into production in order to land a new client. Such unplanned work is the subject of something that I call “the emergency protocol.” The emergency protocol isn’t an official part of scrum, but it’s a useful addition that many organizations choose to adopt.
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From Component Teams To Feature Teams

Components I recently facilitated a software development group’s transition from component scrum teams to feature scrum teams. The new structure reduces cross-team dependencies, which had been causing significant delays in shipping new features. Over the course of a day, we dissolved the existing component teams, groomed a shared product backlog, created a shared definition of done, self-organized into new teams, and held LeSS-style sprint planning meetings. The excellent work everyone did left me in awe, and I felt honored to have the opportunity to facilitate the day. The participants left energized and excited for their new adventure.

What follows is a description of how we structured a one-day event to transition the participants from being members of component teams to being members of feature teams.
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Agile And Scrum Conference List 2019

Graduates of our Certified Scrum Master (CSM), Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), and Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner (A-CSPO) workshops often ask how they can continue their journey of learning about scrum, as well as earn Scrum Educational Units (SEUs) to help them renew their Scrum Alliance certifications. Attending conferences is a great way to accomplish these goals. Here is a list of conferences that you might consider attending in 2019. I’m sure we’ve missed some good ones, so point those out to us by leaving a comment.
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Scaling Scrum With Scrum

Leadership Scrum Team

One of our clients recently reached out to us asking for advice about how to manage their organization’s scaled scrum adoption. They wanted to know if they could use scrum to manage the adoption of scrum in the organization. The short answer is yes.

Guiding an organization’s adoption of scrum is a big project. It’s a project that will require a cross-functional team. It’s a project where the full scope of work can’t be known when the work starts. It’s complex, exactly the kind of endeavor that you want to use scrum to implement. When I’m working with organizations that are adopting scrum at scale, I always start by recommending that they create a scrum adoption team, and that this team use scrum to do the work of rolling scrum out to the organization.
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World Café – Scaling Highly Interactive Meetings

WorldCafeGlobe

World Café is a fun, flexible, and scalable technique for group conversations that leads to creative solutions to complex problems. World Café has some similarities to Open Space Technology: both techniques work for groups ranging from a few people to a few thousand; both are frameworks that support individuals and interactions. World Café is useful for generating and communicating ideas, making decisions, and even doing hands-on work. We’ll be teaching product owners how to use it in our upcoming Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner (A-CSPO) workshop.

How It Works

The facilitator breaks the room into groups, then sets them to explore a set of related topics, one per table. Each table has a host whose job is to stay with the table and provide continuity while the groups discuss the topic. The other participants rotate between tables on a regular schedule, perhaps every 15-30 minutes. The idea is that those who travel between tables will cross-pollinate ideas between the topics and bring fresh perspectives. By participating in each topic, the participants come to have a holistic understanding of the main issue, and are able to understand each sub-issue within this context. In the last round, people have the option of returning to a previous table so there is opportunity for closure and continuity.
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Announcing Our Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner Workshop

Product Action Plan

Agile Learning Labs is excited to announce the first public offering of our Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner workshop (A-CSPO). This workshop is designed for people who have their CSPO and are ready to build a richer skillset, and earn the next level of Scrum Alliance certification. Chris Sims is one of only ten trainers in the world authorized to teach an A-CSPO workshop.

One of the highlights of this interactive workshop is the half-day product road mapping session. Participants will be guided through the creation of a series of minimal viable product (MVP) releases for their product, and learn how to adjust their MVP and their roadmap as market conditions and business needs change.

Another highlight is the use of the World Cafe framework to dive deeply into the skills a product owner needs to communicate effectively with the stakeholders and development team.

The workshop includes several topics taken from the world of lean product development, including the creation and testing of product hypotheses as well as creating a Lean Startup Canvas.

Additional topics covered include: defining and validating business value, crafting a product strategy and vision, how scaling impacts the product owner role, product backlog refinement, avoiding cognitive bias, and much more.

The course includes about 4 hours of self-paced pre-work, followed by a 2-day in-person workshop. In order to take the workshop, you will need to already hold a CSPO from the Scrum Alliance. In order to complete the A-CSPO certification process, you will need to self-report at least one year of product owner experience. Details can be found here on the Scrum Alliance website.

If you are ready to take the leap and become an Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner, then register for our upcoming A-CSPO workshop!

Cheers,

Chris Sims

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How To Create Your Team’s Definition Of Done


Note: My thinking about the definition of done has evolved since writing this. You can find my updated thoughts and advice in the article How To Create A Definition Of Done.

Cheers,

Chris Sims


A scrum team’s definition of done is an important tool that helps the team add new functionality while keeping the product in a releasable state. Here is one way of facilitating the creation and evolution of your scrum team’s definition of done.

Identify The Work Needed To Release Something

Have the development team identify all of the work items (often called tasks) needed to release a high quality product backlog item (often called a user story) to production. Each piece of work goes on a sticky note. Be as specific as possible. If a team member says “testing” get specific about what that entails and write specific sticky notes:

  • Each acceptance criteria has an automated regression test
  • Unit test coverage is greater than 80%
  • Manual exploratory testing has been done
  • All the tests are passing

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Customer Interview For Product Discovery

Conducting customer interviews is a great way to validate, or invalidate, your product idea. Interviewing potential customers is almost always a cheaper and faster way to learn what your customers’ needs are, compared to building the product first and then discovering that you built the wrong thing. Even with an existing product, you can discover which new features will be most valuable through customer interviews. Here’s a great video that explains how to do it.

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