Lean Thinking

Written by Published in Agile

A couple of posts back I mentioned Estimation and my desire to poke a stick at the hornet's nest that estimation can be. Estimation is always a controversial topic. It's often at the heart of serious conflicts within organisations. There are a huge number of estimation methods and techniques but nothing seems to prevent these issues from coming up. Before I poke a stick into the hornet's next (well, not so much poke as take a full bodied swing with run up and follow through), I'll spend a little while looking at why we estimate in the first place.

Any time we have two parties involved in something there is estimation happening. Right back from prehistoric times -

Ogg - I estimate that this stone axe is worth the same as that reed bag filled with nuts so let's trade.

Ugg - I estimate that this reed bag filled with nuts is worth at least 2 axes so let's not.

Ogg - Seriously? You're taking food away from my family... these axes are the finest workmanship. Maybe one axe plus a flint scraper but that’s the best I can do.

And so on.

 

24 February 2014

Story Smells

Written by Published in Agile

Most agile teams these days organise their backlog into user stories. The user story isn't mandatory in any agile methodology but they have become the defacto standard for agile projects. There are many good reasons for this, not least of which is that a well written user story keeps the focus squarely on delivering something of value to the user. Many user stories though are not well written. It takes more than using "story normal form" - As a I want so that I can - to generate a good story.

Many of the backlogs I see are filled with stories that, frankly, stink. Bad stories don't keep the focus on what is important. They distract, confuse and mislead. There are some criteria like INVEST that we use to assess user stories and properly applied they make a big difference to the quality of the stories. They do take some time to learn and apply though so I'll give you a few quick tips to get started. Over the years I have come across a number of common mistakes that teams make when writing stories that cause their backlogs to stink –

10 February 2014

To Task Or Not To Task

Written by Published in Scrum

I have noticed a trend recently in the Scrum community of de-emphasising, or getting rid of entirely, the concept of Tasks. Teams are encouraged to just run with stories and no finer grained level of detail. I’m not sure this is a good idea. I do have to say here that when I say "tasks", I am not necessarily talking about technical tasks. A task (to me) is something of less than a days duration that needs to be done in order to get the story done. It could be a sub-story, a technical task or a single acceptance criteria, or whatever the team uses to break down the stories into smaller chunks.

One of the arguments for cutting out tasks is that it saves time in sprint planning. One scrum coach told me that “we can cut sprint planning down from 3 hours to just 45 minutes” by essentially cutting out the entire second part of the sprint planning meeting and just work out a list of stories to be done. That implies that the time spent breaking those stories down is waste. I don’t agree.

Written by Published in Blog

Hi Folks

Hope the Holiday Season is a good one for you and yours.

I'm taking a break over the holiday season so the hoards of you who are waiting with baited breath for my next post (I can dream can't I?), will have to wait till February.

Have a Happy New Year!

Cheers

Dave

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