Thursday, November 9, 2017

Getting started with Scrum

Here are some notes I've made to act as a prompt for new or newish Scrum Masters to look over ahead of a coaching session with an experienced Coach. The crux of the matter is that Scrum is designed to reveal problems and encourage certain useful patterns of behaviour, while setting the stage for ongoing improvement via inspection and adaptation.
  • What are you doing? How's it going?
  • Are you experiencing any of the common challenges listed below? Or other challenges?
  • Let's talk about it!
Further reading:
* * *
“Scrum isn’t a silver bullet; it’s a silver mirror.”
“Teams that finish early accelerate faster.”

  • Think of Scrum as a system for delivering and improving, that can itself be improved.
  • Understand the intent behind the practices; don’t just follow them ritually.
    • Ask “Why?” and don’t be satisfied with simplistic answers.

Scrum in a nutshell*
  • Set a sprint length of 1 to 4 weeks (and stick to it)
  • Start of sprint: Set a meaningful goal; pull an amount of work from the Product Backlog into the sprint backlog that you can reasonably expert to finish in the sprint, while reserving learning / improvement time, and saving some capacity for urgent, unplanned work
  • During the sprint:
    • Hold a daily stand-up
    • Hold a set number of refinement sessions during the sprint to help the Product Owner prepare the upcoming items nearing the top of the Product Backlog
    • Check completed work against your explicit Definition of Done
  • End of sprint: Review / demo, hold a retrospective

*This is a process view, and doesn’t get into the roles or finer points.

Some common challenges

  • Unfinished work at the end of the sprint
  • Learning / improvement time gets squeezed out
  • Coping with “surprises”
    • Unplanned work
    • Unexpected absences
    • Unexpected work item complexity
    • External blockers
    • Other impediments
  • Poorly defined work or acceptance criteria
  • Difficulty in breaking work into small chunks
  • Team members with “nothing to do”, and lacking the skills to help others
  • Uninspiring sprint reviews / demos
  • Retrospectives feel like a waste of time
  • Lack of follow through on retrospective actions

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