Nominal Group Technique For Working Agreements

A group using nominal group techniqueNominal Group Technique (NGT) is a facilitation tool that helps a group quickly build a comprehensive list of ideas, issues, options or solutions, and then select the best one(s). NGT works faster than traditional brainstorming, yet generates more complete and higher quality results. NGT prevents the quieter voices from being overwhelmed and allows each participant to contribute to their full potential.

The Nominal Group Technique was developed in the 1970’s by Andre Delbecq and Andrew H. Van de Ven. The effectiveness of NGT has been validated by subsequent research.

Let’s see how NGT can be used by a scrum team to create working agreements for their scrum events and other meetings. Such agreements are often called meeting ground rules.
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How To Create A Definition Of Done

Team celebrating A scrum team’s definition of done helps them continuously add value to the product and avoid backsliding or breaking things. When a product meets the definition of done, new value is available and the stakeholders can access the value whenever they choose. One way to think about the definition of done, is as a checklist that helps us guarantee the quality of the product.
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Scaling Scrum – Scale Value, Not Headcount

Org Charts By Manu CornetScaling scrum is all the rage. People love to debate the merits of the various scaling frameworks: LeSS, SAFe, Nexus, Scrum@Scale, Discipled Agile, FAST Agile, and others. The underlying assumption is that the way to scale up value production is by increasing the number of people and teams. More people and teams can get more done, right? Perhaps, but there are significant costs to scaling up headcount, and alternative ways to scale up value production.
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Agile Conferences For 2021

Image From Chicago Scrum GatheringI recommend conferences and MeetUps as a great way to learn, network, and earn Scrum Educational Units (SEUs). This past year was challenging for such events. Many were cancelled. Some managed to inspect and adapt, moving online.

I’m pleased to share our 2021 list of agile, and agile adjacent, conferences. It’s the largest list we’ve ever published.

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Velocity: Is More Really Better?

Red CorvetteA product owner recently asked if it was okay to want more velocity from their team. Their team usually completed product backlog items (stories) that totaled about 180 points every sprint. The product owner thought: if my team could increase velocity to 200 points every sprint, that would be better.

I think it’s very much a part of the human condition to always want more. However, I’m not sure velocity is what you want more of.
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Sprint Review – Key To Higher ROI

Sprint ReviewScrum teams are expensive. Salaries and the other costs of maintaining a team represent a significant investment. A well run sprint review can dramatically improve the return your organization gets on this investment (ROI). Sadly, sprint review is widely misunderstood, and poorly implemented. The result is wasted time and lost opportunity. Let’s explore how to unlock the value of sprint review.
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Easy Estimation With Story Points

Relative estimation, using story points, has proven itself superior to traditional time-guessing approaches. Common approaches to creating story point estimates, notably planning poker, aren’t great at getting the whole team involved in the conversation. Usually, only the outliers participate. This article describes a better approach, which Agile Learning Labs has been using with our clients for over a decade.

How To Start

Estimation gridThis approach assumes that your team already has some estimated items in your product backlog. If you don’t, no worries, just use The Team Estimation Game to create your initial estimates. The Team Estimation Game was invented by Steve Bockman, who we at Agile Learning Labs were fortunate to work with for several years.

So, you have some product backlog items (stories) with estimates and some new items without. Start by laying out the Fibonacci numbers on a table, or in a shared spreadsheet. When doing this online I usually use Google Sheets, as they allow the whole team to interact with a spreadsheet in real time. Next, take the stories that have estimates and put them in columns (or rows) under the number corresponding to their estimate. Thus, all of the one-point stories will be under the number one. All of the two-point stories will be in a column under the number two, and so on. All of the unestimated stories are in a stack on the side of the table, or in their own column in your spreadsheet.
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GROW Your Retrospectives

Question:

I have been assigned as the PO to a non-development scrum team for product marketing. After one week of work, we have delivered only 2 banner ads from a team of 10 people. The problem seems to be the process of approvals, reviews, kickoffs, briefs, tickets etc that need to happen in order to deliver the work. How would you coach me to help everyone see that our current process could be improved?

Answer:

Chris Sims with a plant.My first recommendation is to address this in the team’s retrospective. As product owner, it’s appropriate for you to say you would like to see the team get more ads, or other product backlog items, done in a sprint. Be a bit careful though; it’s very easy for the team to hear that as you blaming them or thinking that they’re not working hard. From the tone of your question, I don’t think that’s where you are coming from, but still be aware they may interpret things that way.

In the retrospective, you might consider using the GROW model that I’ve been writing about recently. GROW is designed for coaching, but it’s also great for structuring a retrospective. It stands for: Goal, Reality, Options (and Obstacles), and Way Forward. It’s an arc that you, or the scrum master, might guide the team through.
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Coaching Questions With GROW

Chris Sims with a plant.My previous article covered the GROW coaching model. This article builds on that by adding coaching questions. Questions are a powerful tool a coach uses to help the client find their own way forward. While the coach can provide information and guidance, a key element of coaching is supporting the client in solving their own problem.

Some questions help the client see things in a new way, or consider things they hadn’t before. Much of coaching is deep listening. Questions are the invitations we give to our clients, asking them to share with us. They also allow the coach to gently guide the client’s examination of the situation, and ultimately move them into problem solving and action planning.
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