• Issue 75 - August 18, 2016

    It’s Issue 75. Here are the best articles from last 25 issues. Enjoy.


    5 Practical Tips for Portfolio Management

    You’re working with someone to help them plan and manage their portfolio in an Agile way. They turn back and tell you, “I have to deliver a roadmap for my portfolio for the entire next fiscal year by this month’s end”. Frustrating. One of the things you can do to diagnose the root cause of this frustrations is to apply the “5 Simple Rules”, to reduce the complexity of Portfolio Management. Here’s how.


    Scrum Master or Armchair Psychologist?

    New Scrum Masters often latch onto the mechanics of Scrum, but overlook the personal interactions of a team. When difficulties arise, it is important to ask: “Do we have a Scrum problem, or is it a people problem?” How do you build a team, and trust within a team? Are you a Scrum Master or an armchair psychologist?


    Daily Stand up Meeting Patterns

    Daily stand ups, or daily Scrums are commonplace. Mostly people just follow a fixed pattern. Subtle details are what distinguish effective stand-ups or a mere spending of 15 minutes everyday. So what does good look like? How to keep the energy level up? How to keep improving your daily meetings?


    How to Deal with These 5 Types of Personalities?

    Do you have team members who continuously miss team meetings? Do you have a team member who just goes on to do their own thing, like a western movie cowboy – regardless of what the team agreed? Do you have a geek who’s really good at certain things, like coding or testing, but not so good at people skills? Do you have someone who’s ever the skeptic? Or someone who just loves their data, or code or some metrics, and can’t care less about anything else? How do you deal with them? Here are a few tips. This article talks about developer personalities, but these are applicable to all skillets.


    The Product Owner Journey

    Who is the right person to fill in the role of the Product Owner? Do they come from marketing, sales or maybe from the IT department? Or maybe it’s that perfect project or product manager? And how does the role of the Product Owner evolve over time? What if it is like a Russian nesting doll that becomes more beautiful and richer the more it grows? Here are 5 Product Owner levels.


    Key Questions for First Time Scrum Masters

    You know someone who’s the first time Scrum Master. How do you help them work with the team issues (such as the blame-game, inflated egos, etc.) as they transition from a conventional organisation to a flat organisation? How do they handle pressure from stakeholders to deliver more? What are some key organisation and team level questions for the first time Scrum Masters? Have a look.


    Avoid These 10 Scrum Mistakes

    As they say, Scrum is simple in concept but can be difficult to do really well. Scrum is the most widely used, and arguably, the most abused Agile framework. What are some most dangerous and common Scrum mistakes? And how do you avoid them? Have a look.


    5 Tips for Better Product Backlog Refinement

    Teams need to prepare backlog items for future sprints. This is called backlog refinement. Do the team members need to know the business domain? Or is this the job of the Product Owner? This article puts the emphasis on the team, which is an interesting take on backlog refinement. When was the last time you evaluated how backlog refinement is done? Here are 5 tips which can help you improve your approach to backlog refinement.


    Crappy Metrics. Good Metrics.

    Most tools encourage us to track metrics. So we track velocity, burn-down/up, planned vs delivered work and the list goes on.  How useful are these? When used to compare team performance, most of these are counter-productive. Want more points? Want more stories? Want to ‘improve’ estimates? No problem. These will get better. But what’s the effect? So what should we measure? Ron Jeffries presents a few ideas on some useful metrics.


    Cost of Poor Software Quality?

    How much do we spend on debugging software each year, as an industry? Think about a very large number. You’re not even close. How does that cost hit our profit and competitiveness? How much waste does it cause? Here’s a short description of much do we lose because of poor quality software, and a nice infographic that captures that.


    20 Questions Scrum Masters Should Ask Their Teams

    You’re about to start as a new Scrum Master with a team. You’re asked to attend a Product Backlog refinement session with that team. You want to explore and learn about the team, so you can help them in the best possible way. What questions should you ask? Here’s a list of 20 questions that can help you learn about a team.


    Characteristics of a Great Scrum Team

    Agile teams are self-organizing, cross-functional, and highly productive. They do the work: creating valuable releasable product increments. But what makes a very good Scrum Team? Here’s a perspective. (pdf)