Articles and Posts Tagged “teamwork”

Rely on Specialists, but Sparingly

Last week, I talked about the concept of equality on an agile team. I mentioned that one meaning of equality could be all team members do the same work, so that everyone in agile becomes a generalist.

A common misconception is that everyone on a Scrum team must be a generalist—equally good at all technologies and disciplines, rather than a specialist in one. This is...

Equality for All Agile Team Members?

Liberté, égalité, fraternité" is the national motto of France, and originated during the French Revolution. And while freedom, equality, and brotherhood are great ideals for a country, I'm not sure about one of them for agile teams: Equality.

I'm frequently asked if agile means that...

Teams Should Go So Fast They Almost Spin Out of Control

Yes, I really did refer to guitarist Alvin Lee in a Certified Scrum Product Owner class last week. Here's why.

I was making a point that Scrum teams should strive to go as fast as they can without going so fast they spin out of control. Alvin Lee of the band Ten Years After was a talented guitarist known for his very fast solos. Lee's ultimate performance was of the song...

Agile in the Age of Hyperspecialization

Starting the start of the industrial revolution in 18th century, there has been a trend of increasing specialization. Rather than workers being involved in all aspects of creating a product, workers began to produce smaller and smaller subsets of the product. By the time Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations in 1776, pin-making had become specialized to the point where it…

Announcing Q1 Agile Software Development Training in the U.S. & Europe

Mike Cohn, author and scrum agile expert, will bring his Agile software development training classes, Certified ScrumMaster, Succeeding with Agile, Certified Scrum Product Owner, Agile User Stories and Agile Estimating and Planning training to parts of the United States and Europe.

Layfayette, CO November 29, 2010 --

ScrumMaster and agile expert Mike Cohn has announced…

5 Free Agile & Scrum Tools for Project Planning and Prioritizing

Mountain Goat Software and Mike Cohn, author and Agile Scrum expert, have announced the release of four free tools used in agile and scrum projects for planning and prioritizing.

Layfayette, CO November 6, 2010 -- Mountain Goat Software, an agile training and scrum certification company, has released five free agile and scrum tools ScrumMasters and Agile teams can use…

Nine Questions to Assess Team Structure

It is perhaps a myth, but an enduring one, that people and their pets resemble one another. The same has been said of products and the teams that build them. If it is true that a product reflects the structure of the team that built it, then an important decision for any Scrum project is how to organize individuals into teams. This paper presents a set of guidelines to…

Distributed Teams: Build Trust through Early Progress

Critical to creating a coherent team is building trust among team members. This is much more difficult on a distributed team. Unable to rely on repeated, frequent face-to-face communication, distributed teams need to take other measures to build trust. Traveling ambassadors, starting meetings with casual conversations, occasional in-person meetings of the full team, working…

Removing Team Members

People often ask me whether teams should have the right to vote members off. To help answer that question, let me share a story with you. I was at a conference when I saw Derek walking toward me. I had first met him a year earlier when I taught a class at his company. I had been back a handful of times, and always enjoyed talking with him. We hadn’t talked in three months…

Comparative Agility Assessment - Determining How Agile You Are Comparatively

With this in mind, Kenny Rubin, Laurie Williams and I created the Comparative Agility assessment (CA), which is available for free online. Like the Shodan Adherence Survey and Agile:EF, a CA assessment can be based on individual responses to survey questions. However, it was also designed to be completed by an experienced ScrumMaster, coach, or consultant on behalf of a team or company based on interviews or observation.

Remove Finish-to-Start Activities on Agile Projects

When it comes to agile projects, one element of agile project management that is difficult for teams to master is how to overlap their work. If a team doesn’t learn effective ways to do this, team members may settle on a less desirable approach: activity-specific sprints. An activity-specific sprint is as bad a practice as it would be an acronym. In this approach, the team…

Cultivate Communities of Practice

On a multi-team project, it is possible for individuals to become isolated, speaking mostly to others on their individual teams. Good ideas are slow to propagate across the organization. Similar functionality is implemented differently by different teams. We put scrum of scrums meetings in place to reduce the impact of some of these problems, but those only go so far. An…

How Do You Get from Here to Agile? Iterate.

Historically, when an organization needed to change, it undertook a “change program.” The change was designed, had an identifiable beginning and ending, and was imposed from above. This worked well in an era when change was necessary only once every few years. But in today’s fast-paced, ever changing environment, it makes more sense to create agile organizations, ready to…

There Is No End State When Transitioning to Agile

None of the agile processes as described by their originators is perfect for your organization. Any may be a good starting point, but you will need to tailor the process to more precisely fit the unique circumstances of your organization, individuals, and industry. As Alistair Cockburn once told me, “Having a chance to change or personalize a process to fit themselves seems…

Using a Task Board with One Remote Team Member

I want to address a question I was emailed yesterday but that I receive frequently. What should we do in the case when the team really likes having a task board, but when one team member is remote? My first answer is always: Try to get the one person to move to where the rest of the team is.

I don't expect to see any moving trucks roll out when I ask this, but I have to…

Should a Team Swarm on to One Backlog Item at a Time?

This week I want to address the question of whether a team should work on one product backlog item at a time or whether it's OK to work on multiple items. In general, a team should feel comfortable working on multiple product backlog items at the same time during an iteration.

A typical seven person team will plan between five and ten items into an iteration. They'll…

Should the Daily Standup Be Person-by-Person or Story-by-Story?

I want to address a question that I got recently and that comes up every month or two. I was recently emailed the following:

Most of our teams complete 10 or more user stories per sprint. When answering the 3 questions in the daily Scrum, it was clear what each person was working on, but it wasn't as clear how each story was doing or when a story was in trouble. For…

How To Fail With Agile

Not everyone involved in an agile transition wants the change to be successful. This tongue-in-cheek article details twenty things you can do to sabotage an agile transition. Of course, the twenty things also serve as reminders of things to avoid or watch out for.

Programmers and testers (and others) can work together on things smaller than user stories

A common misperception is that testers cannot do any work during an iteration until the programmers finish a user story or product backlog item. However, the unit of transfer between programmer and tester can be smaller than the user story.

Let’s see how this could work through an example: Suppose a tester and I are working on the story about auto-incrementing the next…