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Category Archives: Scrum

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Certified Scrum training versus Professional Scrum training

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You have choice when determining what kind of professional training you are going to receive – Certified Scrum or Professional Scrum. Within the Scrum community you also have choice in the style of training and certification you choose to receive, and from whom you choose to receive it.

Scrum is an Agile methodology with increasing value in innovating organizations. And your options for training allow you to choose a variety of roles within the Scrum team, most notably Scrum Master, Product Owner, Team Member (Product Developer). As the Scrum framework increases in popularity, the desire for knowledgeable professionals who understand the intricacies of Scrum, not just the framework but also the roadblocks and challenges, are essential to the organization.

Take Scrum training from a knowledgeable expert, who has experience transitioning organizations from traditional project management mindset to Agile methodology. This is because learning Scrum roles and framework is only half the challenge! Implementing Scrum in the real world requires insights from a Scrum trainer who has been through the real ropes of transition before.

Scrum training options:

There are two organizations that offer Scrum training and within these organizations, professionals are certified to be trainers who deliver Scrum training to you. The organizations are Scrum Alliance, offering Certified Scrum courses, and Scrum.org, offering Professional Scrum courses.

Innovel offers Certified Scrum Product Owner® and Certified Scrum Master® courses through private in-house training options and public courses.

Choosing your Scrum training course:

  • Trainer selection. Do your research and determine the right trainer for you based on references, testimonials and word of mouth. As stated above, you are looking for someone who has bench strength in implementing Scrum in the real world, not just teaching credentials. The Scrum Alliance has a rigorous process for trainers to receive credentials to teach their Certified Scrum courses. These trainers are called Certified Scrum Trainers® (CSTs). There are only 200 in the world as it is a highly specialized and skilled group of Scrum leaders. Robin Dymond is the lead trainer at Innovel and is a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) with Scrum Alliance Robin has been a CST since 2008, and has lead Agile transitions in the US, EU and Canada. He incorporates stories from these experiences into every training class.
  • Class size. It is very important you ask what size the classes will be that you are considering attending. Scrum framework comprehension is largely achieved by the practice of exercises, teamwork and interaction with the Scrum trainer. This is best achieved when a class size allows for discussion and group work. A class that is too small does not allow sufficient discussion and peer-learning. A class that is too large does not allow sufficient opportunity to ask the trainer questions about your unique situation. Innovel recommends class sizes minimum of 10 students and maximum 30 students. Our training sweet spot is 12-24 students. All classes are optimized for this ideal learning environment.
  • Certification or accreditation. Certified Scrum Master® (CSM) and Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO) are the designations most widely recognized worldwide. These designations are most sought after by innovating organizations. These are provided by Certified Scrum Trainers® through the Scrum Alliance. Both designations require 2-day in depth training. Certification for CSPO is achieved when the trainer alerts Scrum Alliance that you have fully attended and actively participated in the rigorous 2-day training. Certification for CSM also requires full attendance and participation in the course, as determined by the trainer, but also requires completion of an online exam after the course is finished. The CSM exam and a 2 year membership with the Scrum Alliance are included with the cost of your training course. There are no additional fees.

    Professional Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Product Owner designations are offered via Scrum.org. Designation as a PSM does not require a hands-on training course with a qualified instructor, but rather tests your knowledge based on your experience. PSM training courses are available, however gaining an accreditation is done via exam, typically with an additional fee.

    Both courses are based on the official Scrum Guide. Innovel provides Certified Scrum training via the Scrum Alliance. We believe that Innovel Certified Scrum Master and Innovel Certified Scrum Product Owner training is the preferred choice of training and certification for discerning professionals, seeking both a valuable accreditation and world-class leadership in Scrum.


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Is getting my Certified Scrum Master (CSM®) worth it?

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This is the key question most people need to answer before deciding to take a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) course.

What everyone wants to know is “will this really benefit my career?”

In short, yes, it will. 

But even though you may feel the course will benefit you, there are still some common objections that may be roadblocks to committing to the CSM course. Some of these are:

  • It is comparably expensive (when looking at less rigorous Scrum training programs).
  • It is inconvenient to leave work for 2 full days (or more, if traveling to the training).
  • It cannot be completed online.

And when looking at the value of this training and certification there are a handful of common questions:

  • Isn’t Scrum simple enough? Why do I even need this course?
  • Why take a Scrum Alliance certified course when there are cheaper, quicker options?
  • I am already a PMP, why do I need this certification too?

Anyone considering taking their Certified Scrum Master course with Innovel will need to answer these questions. Read on, we’ve made the homework easy for you. And if you still are wondering, just drop us a note and we’ll be happy to address anything else you need to know.

Why does the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) course cost more than some other courses?

The Certified Scrum Master® (CSM), by Scrum Alliance, is the most widely recognized certification in Agile and Scrum. The Certified Scrum Trainers® (CST) in the Scrum Alliance include the inventor of Scrum and many thought leaders who pioneered Agile principles and practices.

One of the reasons for its success is that the Scrum Alliance sets a very high bar to become a CST. Setting a high bar for the trainers the Scrum Alliance ensures participants have an excellent learning experience. Trainers must have substantial real world experience implementing Scrum in multiple organizations, and share stories from these experiences in the training. They must be excellent at both doing and teaching.

Why is the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) 2 full days in person and not online?

There are key reasons why this training will never be offered online. Learning a new way of working involves questioning, discussing, trying out ideas and learning from experiences with other participants. Participants learn the principles of Scrum by working in teams, and gain confidence by solving problems together. Participants can bring up questions that relate to their current work situation and have them answered and receive advice by someone who likely has dealt with that same issue in the past. While people will not retain everything covered in the course, they retain the memory of the experience, the framework, and the confidence to try it.

Isn’t Scrum simple enough? Why do I need this course?

There are many ways to learn, there are many books and videos on Scrum, there is the Scrum Guide available for free online, and there are meetups on Scrum and Agile in many cities. We recommend using all these resources. Do you need the CSM to do Scrum? No, just as you don’t need a music teacher to learn to play music. Students who know Scrum and have been doing it for a while and attend my Certified Scrum Master course still find it beneficial. They often find new ideas and different perspectives on implementing Scrum. They gain clarity on previously unclear ideas and contribute to the class by sharing their experiences. They learn new techniques and ideas they can try in their organization.

I am already a PMP. Why should I get my CSM?

As a project manager you have learned a certain way to fulfill your role. Implementing Scrum to run projects is fundamentally different then the ideas presented in the PMBOK. By taking your CSM you will learn a very different and far simpler and more practical framework to manage projects. By getting your CSM you are demonstrating to potential employers that you are flexible and have more then just one way to help them organize and deliver projects and products. Demand for the PMP in IT and software development is in decline, since most organizations are moving towards Agile and Scrum to manage the work. A CSM can help you make the transition.

So, will taking the Certified Scrum Master course really benefit my career?

There are distinct trends affecting most industries today that lead all answers to YES.

We’d love to hear your feedback or answer any other questions you may have. Just drop us a note at info@innovel.net. Or, if you are ready to sign up for any public Certified Scrum course visit our Public Courses information page.


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Canada’s 150 Celebration Sale!

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Kickstart innovation with Innovel’s Certified Scrum and Agile training this year!

If Canada’s first 150 years were built on hard work and resources, we think Canada’s future relies on creating products and services that customers far beyond our borders need and want.
 
Canada’s future relies on the innovation of its people. Innovel’s Scrum and Agile training will give you the tools you need to lead fast moving and innovative projects and product development.
 

To help do this, we’re celebrating:

Canada 150 Sale
Save $150 on every Innovel Certified Scrum training course for the rest of 2017.
 
This Canada 150 Sale discount can be applied to any posted rate including early bird rates (but cannot be combined with other discounts like group offers). 
 
We have many CSM and CSPO classes in locations across Canada for you or your team to attend. Visit our information pages for more details and to register soon:

Our sale is limited to the first 8 participants in each course, so we encouraging those looking for Certified Scrum Master® or Certified Scrum Product Owner® courses this Fall, to secure this price quickly.

SaveSave

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Innovel Announces New Certified Scrum Training Courses in Canada

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I am really excited to be back Canada with public Scrum certification courses, after years honing our private and public Scrum training in international markets.

Early bird rates are available and registration is now open in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal:

More fun, More value, More Retention

We offer more than the basics of Scrum in our CSM® courses. While we will teach you about the Scrum framework, the roles, and the techniques to plan and implement Scrum in your projects, we also make this very interactive and enjoyable 2-day workshop style class useful with discussion exercises and group-oriented simulations. 

And, our new Certified Scrum Master Plus™ is CSM® with a 3rd day add-on to help with scaling (multi-team development) questions, Scrum Master coaching and facilitation skills, and creating an implementation plan for your first Scrum. Our students often say that the CSM should be a 3-day course to allow more time to absorb and understand the ideas. They asked, we created this highly beneficial third day, exclusively available with Innovel.

Certified Scrum Product Owner® Training by Innovel will show you how to effectively work with a Scrum team to take a product from idea to implementation. While we cover Scrum basics, this course focuses on Agile Product Management, Lean Startup, working with stakeholders, prioritization, reducing risk and maximizing business value.

Contact rdymond@innovel.net if you would like more information about our private or public training courses or to request a group discount code (10% off for groups of 3 more).


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Team Team Scrum Team: Team Building or Team Work?

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Team building or team work? Team building is a bit of a strange idea. Think of the great sports teams or project teams of all time, did they do “trust falls” or high ropes courses for team building? Great teams form when good people learn to work together, to trust each other, and have an environment where people can learn and grow into a great team.

“OK, what are the top 10 books on team building?”

How many books do you need? If I recommended 10, how many would you read? How many work related books did you read last month or last year?

I would recommend starting with 1 video based on a TED talk by Daniel Pink.

Then read the book that the video is based on so its points sink in.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us: Daniel H. Pink: 8601234640691: Amazon.com: Books

Then read up on one framework/model for thinking about team formation:

Tuckman’s stages of group development – Wikipedia

A recent article on teamwork covers some of the challenges of modern team work where team members maybe dispersed (its OK, has some good examples)

The Secrets of Great Teamwork

and finally this classic book by Richard Hackman on leading teams, that while a bit dated supports many of the ideas presented above.

Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances

Leading Teams Book Cover

Richard Hackman, one of the world’s leading experts on group and organizational behavior, argues that teams perform at their best when leaders create conditions that allow them to manage themselves effectively. Leading Teams is not about subscribing to a specific formula or leadership style, says Hackman. Rather, it is about applying a concise set of guiding principles to each unique group situation–and doing so in the leader’s own idiosyncratic way. Based on extensive research and using compelling examples ranging from orchestras to airline cockpit crews, Leading Teams identifies five essential conditions–a stable team, a clear and engaging direction, an enabling team structure, a supportive organizational context, and the availability of competent coaching–that greatly enhance the likelihood of team success. The book offers a practical framework that leaders can use to muster personal skills and organizational resources to create and sustain the five key conditions and shows how those conditions can launch a team onto a trajectory of increasing effectiveness. Authoritative and astutely realistic, Leading Teams offers a new and provocative way of thinking about and leading work teams in any organizational setting.

…then there is how not to do it: TEAM TEAM TEAM from IT Crowd.

Use those as jumping off points to additional learning.

Finally, none of this matters if you do not have the environment for effective team to arise. For that you should use Scrum, a team based framework for doing the most important work first, in short cycles, and using feedback (retrospectives) to continually improve the environment and the team.


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Improve Measurably with Improvement Stories

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Americas cup 2013 race

The Americas Cup, started in 1851, is the oldest international sporting trophy. In 2010 the Cup was disrupted by teams using multi-hull trimarans with fixed wings instead of sails. By 2013 fixed wing catamarans with hydrofoils had sailed at 3 times wind speed.

One of the continuing challenges we see with some Scrum teams is a lack of improvement in how they work over time. There are many reasons for this, however continuous improvement is the cornerstone of Lean thinking, and the reason we have a retrospective in Scrum.

There are many ways to improve. Lean thinkers advocate the A3 plan for improvement, an excellent way of thinking about larger improvement efforts. You will often hear Lean thinkers talk about “Kaizen events,” Kaizen is Japanese for improvement, and these events are focused efforts to implement improvement. In Lean, Kaizen is a mindset, the search for improvement is continual and a critical part of day to day work of everyone.

In the software community we have numerous good ideas for improvement including Retrospectives, Devops, and automation.

However all improvement starts with deciding to value making the improvement over producing something else, like a feature or a bug fix. This is usually where the problem starts. Teams and Product Owners tend to value new functionality over improvement. From the perspective of a long lived product development effort, every improvement made is an investment that pays off for the lifetime of the product. For example an improvement that saves a team member 10 minutes every day may seem too small, however if that 10 minutes is saved over a 2 year period, that adds up to about 5000 minutes or 83 hours. That’s more than two weeks of productive time that can be spent on more valuable activities. A recent study of the most productive software developers at Google found that they spent approximately 1/3 of their time building tools to improve or automate their work environment. If the best of the best spend 33% of their time sharpening the saw, then shouldn’t the rest of us should make similar investments?

Changes to Scrum that prioritize improvement

Jeff Sutherland, the inventor of Scrum, in discussion with Lean expert Hugo Heitz realized that Scrum teams weren’t realizing their potential because they didn’t proritize improvement. Since then Jeff has advocated the pattern “Scrumming the Scrum” where teams use the Scrum cycle to improve Scrum. The twist is that the improvement is the first thing the teams do, before working on any new functionality. To implement this change the Scrum board gets another swim lane, the improvement or kaizen lane.

scrum board with improvement lane

By breaking out the improvement in its own lane and putting it a the top board, we attach the visual and social importance to improvement. We are making a clear statement to stakeholders that investing in improving how we work is more important then any one piece of functionality.

Describing incremental improvements

User Stories first emerged from the XP community in 1998 as part of the planning game. Over the past two decades there has been much work on improving User Stories and Acceptance Criteria. This thinking has clarified both the mechanics of User Stories and the value of the different features of the format. There have also been a number of variations developed. As the Agile community refined User Stories, it also borrowed good ideas from the EVO methodology developed by Tom Gilb. Gilb defined System Qualities to specify needs the system must meet that were not features (non-functional requirements).

To date the Agile community hasn’t really defined a good way of describing improvements. The Lean community has A3 plans that are very are useful but often are too large to fit in a Sprint. The A3 format also tends to be a mini project with a number of changes, deliverables and measures, while in Agile and Scrum we use iterative and incremental delivery. So we need a way to define improvement that leverages iterative delivery and our previous learning about describing user and system needs.

What is an improvement? This is an interesting question. Is it a feature? Maybe. Is it a process change? Possibly. Is it a tool? Could be. Is it a social agreement? The interesting thing about improvements is there is a wide range of things we may do to improve our situation and how we work. Given there is such a wide range of possibilities, this is similar to the Feature/function in User Stories. So let’s look at how we can leverage user story thinking for improvements.

User stories consist of 4 parts:

  1. The user role
  2. The feature or function
  3. The benefit or goal we are trying to achieve
  4. A definition of done in the form of Acceptance Criteria

In more general terms we can say that user stories are of the form Who, What and Why. User stories are powerful because we bookend the thing we plan to build with two important pieces of information, who is going to use it and why they want it. This means we need to find an actual user and validate that they really do want the functionality. We also need to understand why they want it in order to prioritize it against all the other things we might do for our users.

Looking at the work of implementing improvements we see a similar need. There are many different improvements we can make, how do we prioritize them? Who benefits from the improvement? What benefit do we expect to receive? How do we know we received the benefit? Given these questions are similar to questions we have  answered with User Stories we can leverage this thinking.

Measuring Improvement

While it is great to say we have improved, it is more interesting to say we have improved by a measurable amount. If we are investing time and energy in improvements that could be spent on functionality that generates business value, then we should try to show how improvements provide quantifiable benefits. To define a quantifiable improvement we need to determine:

  • What we are measuring
  • How we will measure it
  • The current state
  • The (anticipated) improved state*

*this is likely just a guess

By making clear statements about measurement we force questions about methodology and we make it more transparent how we intend to quantify the outcomes.

Creating an improvement story

Defining “who” in an improvement story:

Since improvement stories may impact team, process, stakeholders, users, management, we have a broad number of potential roles. Choose the role most closely associated with the benefit, and involve them with measuring the improvement.

Defining “what” in an improvement story:

The improvement needs to be do-able. This means if we pull it we can get it done within the Sprint, and we can see a result from the work that provides a benefit we can take advantage of next sprint.

Defining “why” in an improvement story:

Why are we making the improvement? What waste are we eliminating? What aspect of work is improved? What increases do we expect to see for the defined Role?

Knowing when we have improved:

It isn’t enough to say we have improved. We need to find ways to quantify the benefits. How can we measure the improvement?

Example improvement story:

During their retrospective, a Scrum team comes up with a number of improvements they could make in the next Sprint. The team decides there are two improvements they will tackle in the next sprint, reducing the time to install new builds onto the QA server, and improving communication with another team who they rely on.

The team crafts the improvement story together during the retrospective.

Starting with “why”:

The team defines the expected benefits, with testers talking about the time wasted waiting for a new build and developers complaining about getting hassled by testers for a build, having to stop working on a feature to run through a bunch of tedious manual deployment steps. Both developers and testers will benefit, so they decide to write the improvement story both ways for fun. The testers do some quick calculations and determine that on average they will save an hour per day per tester. The developers determine they will save 15 minutes per day per developer. Both developers and testers expect this change will improve team working relations by eliminating at least 2 or 3 conflicts per week, reduce multi-tasking and make the team happier.

What can we do to improve this sprint?:

The team discusses the possible solutions they could pursue, from implementing a new build server to automating database configuration. As a first step the team agrees to write deployment scripts that will automate copying the current build from the development build server to the QA server and run a smoke test. Since database changes are less common they choose to defer automating database updates to a future improvement. The team writes up the improvement story from the tester point of view:

Automate QA Builds – Tester  

As a tester I can run a script to get the latest working build on the QA server so that I save 20 hours per sprint and don’t have annoying conversations with developers.

We know we will have improved when:

  • We have reduced tester wait time as measured by testers using a stop watch
    • From the current state of 20 hours to 5 or less hours per sprint
  • We have reduced team conflict about getting builds as measured by red postits on the scrum board
    • From the current state of 4 to 6 conflicts per sprint to 1 or 2 per sprint

  

And then they write it from the developer point of view:

Automate QA Builds – Developer

As a developer I can write a script to automate getting the latest working build on the QA server so that the testers will stop bothering me 3+ times per day for the latest builds.

We know we will have improved when:

  • We have reduced number of times I am bothered as measured by “build please” postits on my monitor
    • From the current state of 30 times per sprint to 5 or less per sprint
  • We have reduced team conflict about getting builds as measured by red postits on the scrum board
    • From the current state of 4 to 6 conflicts per sprint to 1 or 2 per sprint
  • We have reduced the time to get feedback on my bug fixes as measured by the bug tracker
    • From 3-4 days to 1-2 days 

In creating these improvement stories the team has agreed on what they will measure and how they will measure it. By agreeing to put red postits on the Scrum board every time there is a conflict the team creates visibility about the aggravation (or lack of) caused by the friction of the current system.

The team realizes there is an additional important benefit from making the improvement. Not only will it eliminate wait time and frustration for team members, it will also speed up feature development, since testing, bug fixes and validation will happen in a shorter timeframe. The team likes this benefit but isn’t sure how to measure it, so they leave it as a topic for next retrospective.

Sizing and Decomposition

As with User Stories, Improvement Stories can be written at both a high level and detail level. They can be sized using story points, and can be decomposed into the specific tasks the team needs to get the Improvement implemented.

Improvement Story Templates

There are two different templates you can try for creating improvement stories

Template B “Start with why.” This template emphasizes the importance of why more than the standard template.

improvementstorytemplateB

 

Template A is likely more familiar to most people who are using User Stories.

improvementstorytemplateA

 

We hope adding improvement stories will help you implement continuous improvement within your team and organization. Stay tuned to Innovel for additional writing and examples on improvement stories.


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Lean thinking and speed of Boeing 737 Final Assembly

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How long does it take to do the final assembly of a Boeing 737 and does Lean thinking matter? Final assembly includes wings, tail, wheels, engines, interiors, wiring, cockpit controls, and flight systems.

The Boeing 737 is assembled in one plant in Renton, Washington near Seattle. Since implementing Lean thinking and continuous improvement, monthly output of 737s from Boeing’s Renton plant has tripled:
1999  11
2005  21
2014  42
2017  47
2018  52

As of April 2015, the two 737 production lines produce 42 planes per month or 2 planes per day. It takes 9 days from the time an empty shell arrives at the factory until a completed plane roles out the door ready to fly to the paint shop.

Interested in learning how to use lean thinking to speed up your projects? Innovel offers Certified Scrum Master® and Lean and Agile for Managers courses to show you how to speed up your IT, Marketing, and Development projects.

Watch a timelapse of a Boeing 737 being assembled.


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How can a CEO make software development teams deliver more features, faster?

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I recently provided some free advice on Linkedin about software development. A manager had recently implemented Scrum to improve their development process.

While things are better, the CEO, who doesn’t really care about what methods they use, was not satisfied. He wants more features, faster. In this organization they have a lot of legacy code, so implementing new features is slowed by the complexity of the code base.

The CEO wants a solution that will speed up development. The CEO has proposed taking the best developers from every team and putting them on one team where they will create designs and prototypes of the new features that will be implemented by the teams.

The CEO thinks this approach will speed things up. If we assume the teams in place today are competent, the CEO’s proposed approach could really damage the delivery organization’s effectiveness, morale and really slow things down. I hear this kind of thing regularly, so here is how I think about this problem.

Update: I received feedback from a reader that I should explain why the CEO’s proposal will not work. I skipped this explanation because it will take more time and take away from the point of the article. The situation is similar to a person who doesn’t understand cars trying to fix one. They can spend lots of money replacing car parts and never fix the problem.

Here is my analysis of the risks of the CEO’s proposal. Feel free to skip this specific analysis if you want focus on the solution

In this specific case the solution proposed by the CEO is to take the best developers from the current teams to create a new “super” team. The “super” team’s mandate is to create designs and prototypes for the other teams to implement. So the “super” team won’t actually deliver new features customers can use. Every design decision the “super” team makes now needs to be conveyed to the other teams. This “super team” idea increases communication overhead, slows delivery of new features, takes the most productive developers and stops them from delivering features. The “super team” also breaks the currently functioning teams by removing their best developers, making the teams less productive. The intellectual capacity of the team members is wasted because now they only follow the “super” team’s orders (designs, prototypes, etc). This reduced autonomy reduces intellectual capacity of the organization and decreases morale. The staff on the “super team” are also likely to be frustrated, since they are no longer delivering valuable software features, and the work they enjoy the most will be done by others. The people on the “super team” have little experience working together so they will be slow as they figure out how to work together and become a team. The “super team” will spend most of their time communicating instead of coding. The “super team” will likely suffer from departures as the “best” developers, increasingly frustrated with the lack of programming and increased communication overhead look for other jobs. The CEO thinks his proposal will create a team of heroes that will speed up the process. However the solution actually increases communication overhead, increases length of feedback loops (features working or not), slows down the teams, decreases morale, increases waste and creates frustration. Given the information we have today, that the main problem is a legacy code base that is hard to work with (not staff competency), the “super team” solution does not address the core problem.

The organization has a certain speed at which it can produce new things, and the CEO wants the organization to produce faster. Well, every CEO wants that, so nothing new here. The solution proposed by the CEO will not speed up delivery of features, it will slow down the system. The only way the CEO will get an organization that delivers faster is if he pays very close attention to HOW the company builds products, specifically how work flows starting with a new feature request to completed features in production. One can’t fix a system without first understanding how the system works. By paying attention to how work is done, the CEO and every manager can then lead the organization by asking for regular improvements in the process. There are many thinking tools from Lean, the Theory of Constraints, etc. that can help management and teams find problems and solutions.

Getting features out faster is usually the second thing to worry about. Most software that is built is never used. This has been shown in study after study for more than a decade. The only way the CEO will get more value delivered from the organization is to pay close attention to what is being built and ensuring that only the most valuable and important things are being built. This means really understanding what a customer needs AND what they actually use (vs what they think they want). Lean startup provides lots of practical advice to solve this problem of building the right thing.

Since the biggest fastest improvement is achieved by simply not building crap your customers will rarely or never use, I recommend the CEO and the management team together:

1. Change what you are working on to maximize value

Learn: Watch Agile Product Ownership in a nutshell

Read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries (they will enjoy it, written by a tech executive)

Take a 2 day Certified Scrum Product Owner or Lean Startup course from Robin Dymond Contact Us.

Act: Remove as many features as possible from the product backlog (nice to haves, not needed now, not sure who needs it), and harshly re-prioritize the rest of the features.

For example one management team I worked with used the following prioritization scheme:

    1. 1. We’ll go out of business if we don’t have [Feature]
    1. 2. It will cost us lots of money but we won’t go out of business if we don’t have [Feature]
    1. 3. Everything else
    With this re-prioritization the management team discovered that they could get all the 1 and 50% of the 2 priority features done by the deadline. These priorities cut the delivery time by 50% and ensured that the fraud detection system for a major U.S. bank would not hold up a very large re-platforming program. The rest of the 2 priority features were mitigated with manual processes and delivered after the re-platforming.

Apply and Improve: Implement Lean Startup thinking to product feature discovery, prioritization and product feature validation.

2. Change how you organize work to maximize learning, collaboration, and effectiveness of the organization

Managers and leaders:
Learn: Read and study about Lean, Theory of Constraints (TOC), Scrum Velocity
Take a 2 day Lean and Agile for Managers course on these topics from Robin Dymond Contact Us.
Apply: Value stream mapping and Lean tools, TOC.
Hire a Lean Agile consultant to help management and the organization transition to Agile, Lean and TOC management principles and practices. Innovel consultants specialize in this area. Contact Us.
Improve: Measure your starting baseline, including value stream, bottle necks, information silos and velocity. Incrementally improve the value stream, remove bottlenecks, remove silos, and improve flow.

3. Change how you practice design, coding, and testing to improve quality and speed

Teams:
Learn: Take hands on training in Agile engineering practices and Agile testing.
Apply: Hire a technical consultant to help teams apply Agile engineering and Agile testing practices in their day to day work. Innovel consultants specialize in this area. Contact Us.
Allow time for new practices to be learned and mastered.
Improve: Measure baselines for unit and functional automated test coverage, and code quality. Invest in improving these metrics over time.

Teams working with Legacy code and using Agile face specific challenges. Team members and managers should:
Learn: Read the PDF Working Effectively With Legacy Code and then read the book Working Effectively with Legacy Code
Read about “Technical Debt.”
Apply: Measure baseline technical debt in your system, long term and short term debt. Develop a strategy for paying down technical debt.
Improve: Implement the technical debt strategy together with teams and management and actively manage technical debt.

Metaphor for management: “Does shoving more paper into a printer make it print faster or make things worse?”

smoking printer

Happy New Year!!


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New ebook, Agile Advice

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book coverMy colleague Mishkin Berteig started his Agile Advice blog in 2005 when we were both doing Agile coaching for teams at Capital One. His blog was one of my favorite Agile blogs, he was getting out the lessons we were learning and providing smart succinct advice. In many ways Mishkin’s blog was ahead of its time, offering sage advice to issues and situations that many people had yet to come across. Mishkin has taken his blog content, tuned it up and added additional interesting stories in his new ebook Agile Advice. You can check out the blog for many great ideas, while the ebook is a more convenient format for those looking to improve their coaching and Agile transition knowledge.


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How Healthcare.gov could have saved billions of dollars and been delivered in 1/2 the time.

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By September 2014 spending on the 15 state health insurance exchanges and healthcare.gov will climb to over $8 Billion dollars*. This huge expenditure for health insurance shopping sites could have been avoided if the federal and state governments had mandated and followed modern software development practices.

onebillionincash

$1 Billon USD. We’ll need eight for healthcare shopping sites.

How did the governments, on something as high profile as healthcare reform, decide to use a risky 40 year old process to manage the delivery of the health insurance exchanges?

Comparisons were made between healthcare.gov and amazon.com, yet the way in which these two websites are developed could not be more different. Healthcare.gov used the phased or waterfall approach with 55 different contractors responsible for different aspects, and no one responsible for delivering finished product. Amazon.com uses Scrum, an Agile approach that emphasizes small cross functional teams who deliver working tested features every 2 weeks.

To understand how a website like healthcare.gov could have been delivered using the Amazon.com approach, I created a short illustrated video. This video demonstrates, in a simple way, how to deliver a site like a health insurance exchange using a fraction of the budget in about half the time. These techniques are very similar to how companies like Spotify, Google, Square, Valve, Salesforce, Amazon and many others manage getting software development done.

Got a few minutes to save billions of dollars on software development?

I hope you like this talk, please subscribe on youtube if you are interested in future videos. If you are looking for in person training for yourself or help for your organization, please contact me:

https://www.innovel.net or http://www.scrumtraining.com

Cheers
Robin Dymond, CST

*Health and Human Services data

*Report by Jay Angoff on Health Exchange enrollment costs per state


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