No large-scale Agile transformation is ever easy and Valpak is no different. Day in and day out I see things that scare the hell out of me. With that, I have for you the top 10 things that scare the hell out of me. Feel free to offer up some of your own too.
Top 10 Things That Scare The Hell Out Of Me
1. Everything takes 8 hours … Estimating tasks during planning can be scary for some team members, but what scares me even more is when some estimate every task to be 8 hours. Seriously! From a word change on a screen to a new workflow, everything takes 8 hours?
2. Waiting on requirements … Or really, waiting on anything for that matter. Instead of waiting, keep moving forward. I mean you are sprinting, in fact. Or even better, go collaborate with that person you’re waiting on to get the task done together. Now that is the Agile way!
3. Over-confident teams convinced they are high-performing … Confidence is a powerful asset to a team, but too much can be a bad thing. Over-confident teams believe that they are already high-performing, so no further improvements can make them any better. Cap the confidence and strive to be more and more Agile each day.
4. Stand-ups that linger … The daily 15-minute stand-up can be terrifying when it’s let to linger on and on and on. ScrumMasters can do us all a favor by keeping the stand-up moving along and calling it “done” when all statuses have been spoken. It’s inevitable that there will be conversations that follow the stand-up (with the Product Owner, with Stakeholders, between team members) but the ScrumMaster can release the rest of the team to get back to work.
5. Demos of screen shots instead of working software … This is probably the most controversial one. I know, I know, sometimes screen shots are the most practical approach to the demonstration of a given feature, especially where a series of time-consuming steps are involved. Where able to be successfully demonstrated within the time box of the demo, I prefer to see working software. Maybe that’s just me, but it gives me a warm-fuzzy.
6. Everything needs a spike … Spike to think, spike to meet, spike to talk to another team, spike to say “Good Morning”; everything needs a spike! Don’t get me wrong. There is certainly a time and place for a spike. However, spikes can be susceptible to abuse if not careful. No matter what your role, don’t be afraid to challenge the need for a spike.
7. Throwing in the towel too soon … I’m shocked when on day 2 of an 8 day sprint, team members start tossing out stories (all other things unchanged, of course). Really?! What makes this so impossible just 2 days after we planned and committed to doing it? I’m a firm believer in encouraging teams that the impossible is possible. This is easier with some than others. A good reality check is important in the last half of the sprint but meanwhile, let’s give it the ‘ole college try!
8. ScrumMasters waiting for impediments to be served up on a platter … Only in fiction do team members serve up impediments to their ScrumMasters like a nicely wrapped gift. In reality, team members are constantly impeded by one thing or another, but never really bring it up in the stand-up nor do they mention it to their ScrumMaster. It’s the ScrumMaster’s job to smell out impediments like a drug sniffing German Sheppard and attack them like a Pit Bull.
9. Laptops in retrospectives … I realize that we are in the Digital Age, but laptops are not needed in retrospectives. The whole team should be fully engaged in the retrospective. If some team members are on their laptops (focused on something else), it really ruins the collaborative learning mood of the whole retrospective.
10. Stories with words like “analysis”, “development”, and “testing” … I spent 14+ years applying Waterfall methods and I know a Waterfall phase when I see one. Words like “analysis, “development”, and “testing” are best used with tasks, not stories. When applied to stories, they wreak of Waterfall and make my skin crawl.