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Magic - The Scrum Gathering: day one

Last week I headed out to Kelvin Grove for the annual Scrum Gathering. It was a packed two days, and  I managed to find my way through to lots of great talks. Below are some brief notes I made from some of the ones that I attended from the daunting five track spread.

The magic of Agile Development - Geoff Watts

  • The framing of questions can change the answer. Timing, presentation, and word choice can all effect how Scrum is accepted by the team. Analyse the conditions the team are in, rather than the team.
  • We need to start with simple things because mastery of anything is hard.
  • Having a simple, clear, goal make it easier to do Continuous Improvement.
  • Pygmalion effect: the greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform. Working as part of a team gives you greater pain tolerance: you can cope with more; you’re more resilient.

The Lies We Live - Incremental and Iterative Development - Austin Fagan and Wayne Pringlewood

  • Iteration is about re-doing, whereas Incremental is about doing new small pieces.
  • Deploying to Production is the only validation of your assumptions. QA is only verifying them. Aim for testable hypotheses over assumptions.
  • Try iterating three times on a story. You can learn by iterating, and learn fast. There is a balance, though, because you also need to deploy to production to deliver value.
  • You don’t have to be right the first time.
  • What stops us from iterating? Often it's uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity.
  • Set a hypothesis with pass/fail conditions to learn the most from it.  Focus on quick feedback. Have non-linear, overlapping, processes.
  • A Minimum Sellable Product can be better than a Minimum Viable Product. Build, Measure, Learn.

Agile Anti-patterns - Adam Weisbart

Tools for dealing with Agile Anti-patterns

  • The Vanilla Ice Rule: “Stop. Collaborate, and listen.”
  • The Annoying Toddler Rule: ask “Why?” five times. The root cause of the problem becomes clear.
  • The Archimedes Rule: Take a stand.
  • Love of Agile: look at the Manifesto and the Principles.

Organisational impediment form: Surface Issue; Root Cause (use Why? five times); Business Impact; Emotional Impact; Clear, actionable request.

Retros should be a safe, private, place for the team.

Culture eats Agile for breakfast - Peter Hundermark

  • Organisational culture. How does management treat staff? Do staff feel enabled or impeded by management?
  • Visibility and Predictability are important. Feedback is important to gain organisational and cultural awareness.
  • It’s difficult to change to Agile on top of other organisational changes. There needs to be support for change, and the long term view to keep them going. Whether the change is being made top down or bottom up, the other end will resist it.
  • Three levels of culture
    • Artifacts: visual structures
    • Values: goals, philosophies
    • Underlying assumptions: root cause why.
  • If one of your primary goals is delivering value to customers and bureaucracy gets in the way, it’s sending a message to staff that internal efficiency is more important than that goal.
  • Decrease anxiety: be aware of and sensitive to others’ fears. Try coaching and mentoring. Be aware that deep change causes conflict.