Wednesday, November 26, 2008

When Agile Works

When I started consulting on an "agile" team back in February, my first thought was, "Hey! You guys lied! This isn't agile."

The working practices were reminiscent of James Shore's recent blog post.

There was Scrum but they lacked visibility, risk mitigation and self management.
There was a morning stand up, but it was a status meeting with over 20 people -- mostly watchers.
There was a single product team, but members were broken up into domain groups with their own managers, politics and definitions of success.

There were bad practices, communication breakdowns, over-commitment, over-time, half finished features, inconsistency and plenty of technical debt.

Team members had all the stress and no power to change.

But, there was hope.

Within the first few months the company reorganized and moved towards product hierarchy eliminating the contention between groups.

=>Consistent goals and priorities.

The BAs, design and product owner worked closely with an agile coach to create a product backlog. They began having sprint reviews and retrospectives.

=>Visibility and reflection.

A few people became scrum masters. A few others scrum product owners. They started going to agile conferences and local meetings.

=>Engagement.

I left at the end of July to have Kaylee. Things were changing, but we were still far from a well functioning agile team.

When I returned in November, I heard that our agile coach said this was the best agile team he's been on.

I thought to myself, "I think he's been drinking some kool-aid..."

However, when I came in for sprint review and planning, I was amazed.

So much changed.

Team members were involved.

Practice improvements and innovations were made throughout the day.

Charts and metrics were used, not shown.

People were having the right conversations.

The differences not only showed in the team and interactions, but the product.

They had visible success.

I feel very fortunate to have the unique look into the evolution of this agile team.

When you are on the team, it can seem like things don't change. Our retrospectives are a microscopic view compared to a projects lifespan. If I was working for the past 3 months, I may have not noticed.

Maybe a periodic review of how things were/how things are would be a good motivator and illustration of how cool agile can be when its working.

3 comments:

Kaushik Chauhan said...

Hey Wunda,

You really writes awesome. I really appreciate your writing and am very much impressed with it. I tried to find an RSS feed to subscribe to your blog but think its not turned on yet?

Great work! Keep it up!

Thanks,

Kaushik Chauhan
kmchauhan (at) gmail (dot) com

Balghooriat said...

:-) Keep it up

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