The Top 10 Impediments You Avoid at OnAgile 2016

The 2nd annual OnAgile is upon us! OnAgile is the virtual conference put on each year by the Agile Alliance. It will be held live on Friday, October 20th and available on-demand for 90 days. The theme this year is Agile Transformation: the Enterprise, the Team & You.

Not only is OnAgile a super value at just $49 for members and $79 for non-members (not to mention the group discounts), but it’s also the world’s most convenient Agile event. In fact, there are many an impediment to avoid by attending a virtual conference and OnAgile is no different. With that in mind, I have for you “The Top 10 Impediments You Avoid at OnAgile”.

  1. Experience an amazing speaker line-up without having to get up from your cushy ergonomic chair or even leave your plush 10,000 thread count bed (if you choose to stay in bed, beware laptop burn which would create a whole other impediment). It’s like having the likes of Esther Derby, Jurgen Appelo, and Niels Pflaeging over for lunch, except you get to control their volume and even mute them on occasion. The full speaker line-up can be viewed here.
  2. No need to miss your morning stand-up … unless of course you really wanted an excuse to.
  3. No need to beg your boss to fly you across the country to attend a live conference. In fact, you are doing him or her a favor … better yet, you are doing the company a favor. And, at the cost of a couple extra-large pizzas, you could always choose to foot the bill yourself and avoid talking to your boss altogether.
  4. No pat-down from the TSA because you forgot to leave your Snoopy toenail clippers at home.
  5. Clothing optional! That’s right! So you missed laundry day because you were in flow for 12 hours on your latest side project. No clothes, no problem! Go commando for all we care. However, if you will be experiencing OnAgile from your office we strongly encourage the use of clothing.
  6. No waiting in line to ask a question behind that guy that’s not really asking a question but rather explaining a huge problem that only a consulting engagement can solve.
  7. So your all-too-diligent ScrumMaster has you already booked to groom the backlog on October 20th. Don’t fret! You don’t have to experience OnAgile live to experience OnAgile. All of the speakers’ presentations, content, and even the Q&A remain available to you to access over and over again for up to 90 days.
  8. With a front row seat to OnAgile, there’s no chance of getting caught next to that guy that came straight from an all-nighter at the conference party.
  9. No more racing to get to a conference room to see Johanna Rothman before it fills up. Trying to convince the volunteer that you are fine to stand the whole time never quite works out. At OnAgile, everyone gets in to see the speakers and I mean everyone.
  10. With a super-modern virtual conference platform displayed on your monitor, you will look plenty busy when your boss stops by to give you a new assignment or your spouse asks you to take out the garbage.

If you are interested in avoiding all of these impediments and more, be sure to register for OnAgile 2016 now. The event will be live on October 20th and then available in a recorded format for 90 days thereafter.

Help us spread the word using the hashtag #OnAgile on your social networks!


My Radio Debut on That Business Show

I had another first this week.  It wasn’t something on my bucket list but it certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone.  I appeared on live radio on July 6th on That Business Show’s Working Women Wednesday hosted by Jamie Meloni.  You are just now hearing about this because I didn’t want to let anyone know to listen live (except my husband, of course) for fear of sounding like a complete idiot.  In fact, I chose the July 6th date thinking many people would be out on holiday and there wouldn’t be anyone around to listen anyhow.  Leading up to the day of the show, my proud introvert self went through my usual 4 (or maybe 6 but who’s counting) stages of fear.  It didn’t help that Jamie sent an email two days prior mentioning live video streaming and an in-studio photographer.  What? Now video and pictures too!  Finally I reach the last stage of fear which was final acceptance.  I was brushing my teeth that morning and realized, “Damn. This thing is really going to happen”.  No tropical storm or South Tampa flood or widespread power outage was going to save me.  And so, I did it!   And I can’t, I won’t, say I liked it because that’s the introvert in me, but I will say that Jamie made it fairly quick and painless and I hope somewhat more entertaining than just listening to me give a talk.

Now, I share with you the video recording of this traumatic life event after having run it past good friend, Toby Morris, giving him direction to tell me whether to blog it or bury it.  In Toby style, he said to bury it on the front page of my blog, so here you go.

Video & Recap

Next, I’m off to begin the 4 (or 6) stages of fear for, not 1, not 2, but 3 panels I’ve committed to over the next 3 months.  Ugh!


Managing Cross-Team Dependencies with a Dependency Board

DependencyBoardPlease welcome new guest blogger, Terry Winslow, as she explains the Dependency Board in use at Valpak.  Terry is an Agile Project Leader at Valpak.  This means she wears many hats as ScrumMaster, Kanban Lead, and Agile Project Manager.

One of the biggest challenges in agile is managing cross-team dependencies.   Cross-team dependencies exist when two or more teams need each other to deliver an end-to-end increment of working software.  Over Valpak’s 4+ years of agile development we have learned that cross-team dependencies are a way of life.  But how do you manage these dependencies?  There is no magic one-size-fits-all answer.  Like many things in agile, management of cross-team dependencies has evolved over time.

When Valpak started our agile journey we had the daily Scrum of Scrum standup.  The Product Owner and ScrumMaster of each agile team would meet daily and discuss cross-team dependencies.  At that time, our code base was so interrelated that code changes made by one team would affect other teams.  These daily standups were needed to coordinate code changes and releases.  As our code base became more decoupled these Scrum of Scrum standups were held twice a week.

Eventually, we discontinued the Scrum of Scrums all together.  The work of managing cross-team dependencies fell on the ScrumMasters to coordinate between the Scrum teams.  The ScrumMasters coordinate cross-team dependencies with other teams while grooming stories for upcoming sprints.  While the ScrumMasters do a great job, we wanted a way to visually see the dependencies.  That is where the dependency board was born.

The left side of the board has a row for each team along with a column to place user stories that have dependencies for the current sprint.  Along the top are columns for groups that are required to help complete stories.  These groups could be other Scrum teams, database administrators, architects, or subject matter experts.

Each sprint, the ScrumMasters display the user stories that have dependencies on the left side of the board and indicate which people are needed from other Scrum teams using the columns.  A dependency meeting is scheduled after all Scrum planning meetings are completed.  The ScrumMaster for each Scrum team reviews the user stories and the team members needed to complete the story.  All ScrumMasters agree that the needed team members have either 1) a corresponding user story on the other teams Scrum board or 2) have included the needed work in support time.  If there are any discrepancies, the two ScrumMasters work it out with their teams and Product Owners before the end of the day.  This could include pushing a story out a sprint until the needed team members are available.

The dependency board is a great way to visualize cross-team dependencies.  It allows teams to commit to working together to complete working software.  By setting a scheduled meeting to review the dependency board, we make sure that all teams are aware of any cross-team dependencies and we don’t have any cross-team dependency surprises later on in the sprint.


Agile Coaches Corner Podcast

Here’s my 12 minutes of fame on the Agile Coaches Corner podcast sponsored by AgileThought.


Thoughts on Agile Acceptance

Cara Penyak, an Agile Project Leader on my team, volunteered at the Global Scrum Gathering in Orlando last week and brought me back a new friend, Lee Allison.  Lucky me!  I don’t even need to attend a conference to make new friends.  Anyhow, Lee asked me to review his latest blog post “Agile Acceptance” and I thought what better topic to re-blog than this.
A framework is defined as “a basic structure underlying a system, concept, or text.”  Seems pretty straightforward but, among the agile community, frameworks are super polarizing for whatever reason.  If frameworks represent a “basic structure” then they are surely intended to be adapted.   Who cares which scaling framework you start or end with?  
It’s the Agile Manifesto we should all be upholding.  It’s adapting to change over following a plan which makes us agile, not which framework we choose or even which certifications for frameworks we hold. Let’s not forget our roots!  What’s most important are those 4 values and 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto.  In fact, the Agile Manifesto is framework agnostic.  Basically, Scrum, SAFe, LESS, or whatever isn’t the only way to be Agile.  There is no one right way! 

Congratulations Valpak! 100 Sprints and Still Agile Strong

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This past Friday, Valpak celebrated its 100th sprint with a Sprint Review celebration like no other.  Just to put this milestone into perspective …

Sprint 1 started back on October 14, 2011.  That means 100 (mostly 2-week) sprints took us 4.25 years which in working time equates to …

  • 220 Weeks
  • 1,100 Days
  • 8,800 Hours
  • 528,000 Seconds

Or put another way, we accomplished …

  • 8,462 Stories
  • 38,091 Story Points
  • 42,310 Tasks
  • 6,400 Standups (that’s a lot of calories burnt)
  • ∞ Value Delivered
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We moved our Sprint Reviews out of a conference room and into our main break area.

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Teams performed their Sprint Review while also paying tribute to the 100th sprint milestone in their own way.

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We celebrated our 100th sprint with a 100 cupcake salute.

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Each cupcake represented a sprint. A flag was placed in each cupcake with the most significant accomplishment of that sprint across all teams.

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You could literally eat your favorite (or not so favorite) sprint.

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We did a random drawing based on the sprint number of the cupcake you ate.

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At the end of the Sprint Reviews, Chris Cate (CIO & EVP) said a few words of appreciation and encouragement. Notice the CIO Magazine cover we Photoshopped for the occasion.

 


2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.