Category Archives: teams

Hear Chris Sims on the Agile Weekly Podcast

In Integrum, Chris talks to Roy van de Water and Drew LeSeur of Integrum about running Agile Learning Labs as a transparent company with a radical compensation plan, writing The Elements of Scrum using scrum, and how our new book, Scrum: A Breathtakingly Brief and Agile Introduction is an iteration of our first one.

Roy and Drew ask some excellent and hard questions, so tune in and give a listen!

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How to play the Team Estimation Game

The Team Estimation Game is the best technique we have found to get a scrum team up-and-running with useful estimates. It plays like a game, but it accomplishes valuable work: assigning story point estimates to user stories.

Teams using this technique are typically able to estimate 20 to 60 stories in an hour. The game was invented by our friend and colleague, Steve Bockman. Here is how one team plays the game:
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The best example of teamwork ever recorded?

Seriously, this video (via David Chilcott, via Mitchell Levy) makes me think: I want to do this with people some day. It may be in software, or it may be in publishing, it may be in basket weaving (it certainly won’t be in guitar playing or singing), but I want to be one of these guys!

The most common thread in the video’s comments on YouTube seems to be about the bearded guy on the left. He seems to answer the question of whatever-happened-to-The-Captain, which still leaves unanswered the question of whatever-happened-to-and-Tennille.

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Want a smart team? Make sure it gets the recommended daily allowance of estrogen

A team without a woman is like a bicycle with… some fish? So it would seem, according to Grace Nasri, who writes in the HuffPo about the gender gap in tech from an interesting perspective. She got my attention with a 2011 HBR story profiling research by Anita Wooley and Thomas Malone showing that the one significant factor that demonstrably upped the measurable collective intelligence of a team was the presence of females on it.
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Hello Chase, Goodbye David: A change at Agile Learning Labs

Our friend and colleague David Parker is leaving Agile Learning Labs’ staff. He has received a much better offer–and one we can’t possibly counter–that of stay at home dad to Chase Kamran Parker-Katiraee, who assumed his post of infant-in-chief earlier this week.

We predict a fair bit of wrangling over just who is the customer and who the product owner on this particular project, but anticipate that development will flourish nonetheless. If we’re lucky, David and his wife Layla will supply us with lots and lots of adorable sprint demos along the way. Our compliments to the team!

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How Can Our Scrum Team Improve Product Quality?

XZ, a participant in a public Certified ScrumMaster workshop that I gave in Beijing last week, asked me how his scrum team could improve their software product’s quality. I thought the answer would be of general interest, so here it is.

Hi Chris,

Thank you for giving us the certified scrum master training last week in Beijing. Your training is very impressive, and I appreciate it a lot. I asked you a lot of questions; may I ask one more? In our company, the automation for regression tests hasn’t been set up, yet. Without automation of the regressions tests, unit test, and pair-programming, how can our scrum team improve the quality of the product?


Dear XZ,

First, let me encourage you to keep up the work to automate your regression tests; few things have as big a return on investment. It enables the team to move much faster, and make changes and improvements in the code fearlessly. The other practices you mention: unit testing and pair-programming, are also great practices, and I encourage your team to try them too.

Having said that, your question was what else could your team do. Additional practices I would recommend your team consider are: code reviews, frequent testing by real users, testing bashes, and whole-team ownership of quality and testing.

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5 Reasons Scrum Helps Teams Become High-Performing Faster

Scrum masters and product owners know how hard it is to get their team to become high-performing. They can rest assured that they’re on the right track. Scrum helps teams become high-performing faster than other work methods. The reason is simple. Becoming high-performing is baked into the scrum recipe. In my experience coaching agile teams, I have observed over and over that teams that use scrum go from forming, storming, norming and ultimately to high-performing more quickly and reliably than teams that don’t. Here are five reasons why:
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Agile in California with QA in China?

After visiting a start-up that is adopting scrum, I received the following email from “B” and I’d like to share the answer here. As you will see, they are trying to be more agile, and wondering how to deal with their remote quality assurance team.

Hi, Chris,

Great agile session today. I learned a lot from you. Here are my two questions:
What is the impact of agile to the remote team? We have an outsourced QA team in China.
For the QA testing, how often should developers deliver a stable build to QA for testing?


With part of the team in California and part in China, the biggest source of trouble will be communication. Of course, this is true even if you are not trying to work in an agile way.
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