In perfect agile world, all team members are clones of each other. While the secret labs are still perfecting the cloning process, the real world must deal with all different types of agile developers. Doug and Jack are believers in an agile team having a Tech Lead. The Tech Lead on an agile team can be delegated by title or by experience and personality but it’s important to have that type of developer on your team. Doug and Jack interview Doug the Tech Lead. This dude has been in the industry for a few decades and knows his stuff. Doug the Tech Lead is a humble guy but if all agile Tech Leads acted like Doug, the agile world would be a better place.
Author: Scrum Under Siege
Notes for Another Time
I had to ask myself what could possibly relate to our latest podcast on story notes. I’m sure glad that I decided to get my oil changed on my car today. I pulled up to a Valvoline Instant Oil Change near me. I waited in line for about 5 mins and pulled into the bay. There I was asked if I had been there before and what service I was looking for. The normal items came up in conversation like oil request and anything that was flagged in the carfax for recommended maintenance. They asked me if I wanted them to make a note about anything. I opted to have them remind me about an engine filter change the next time I stopped in and a tranmission fluid change in the next 15,000 miles.
Now you must be sitting there and thinking about how this all relates back. Well with anything, you need to make notes that are helpful to you. For example, next time I go in there will be the notes that we dicussed. I won’t remember what we talked about an if there are no notes then I wouldn’t maybe do the routine maintenance that my car requires. Check out our latest podcast about this exact subject. We don’t believe it is a straight forward as you may think. There is also a flipside of this point that we will touch on. Check it out and let us know your thoughts.
Mother says bigger is not always better.
A few months back I stumbled across Arrested Development on Netflix. I heard it was good so I started watching it. Great show. Straight up comedy with no attempts to be serious or heartfelt. I like that. Jason Bateman is outstanding as the son (Michael) who just tries to do the right thing but his family thwarts him at every step. I would like to think I am the Michael of my family but my mom says I’m more like Buster (she would say that).
There are 5 seasons on Netflix. It turns out the first 3 seasons aired on Fox from 2003 to 2006. Netflix picked up the show years later and made seasons 4 and 5. This makes complete sense to me as the first 3 seasons were comedic awesomeness. The characters were great and their lines were delivered the exact way that my sense of humor responds to.
Seasons 4 and 5 did not touch my funny bone. They didn’t even come close. The episodes didn’t really advance the storylines or the characters much imo and at the end of the day, the show just wasn’t that funny anymore. All good things must come to an end.
The problem was, Arrested Development didn’t end soon enough (season 3). Think of an agile story that is too big and bloated. It cannot get to done in a sprint and just keeps dragging on and on and on. Good agile stories are like Arrested Development seasons 1 to 3. They are enjoyable. Large agile stories (seasons 1 to 5) just go on past their time and lose their edge. I think this makes sense because no one wants to see an adult George Michael (Michael Cera) just like no one wants to work on a giant story that carries sprint to sprint.
Recipes don’t always make good stories
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been doing a lot more cooking and baking. To be fair to Doug, this is Jack writing the blog. Doug is a young guy. Since I don’t have the “baking gene” nor the “delicate palette” I rely heavily on recipes. I’ve learned that some recipes work and some produce what taste like dog food. Sorry dogs but your food is terrible.
For instance, a good friend of mine gave me her ginger snap cookie recipe (see image). This recipe is rock solid. Do not change a thing. I have always loved ginger snaps, so trust me when I say follow the recipe.
I grew eating Chicken Chow Mein. Mom and dad would buy it (take out) and bring it back home. For years, my wife and I have been customers of D Fongs Chinese. In my brain, their Chicken Chow Mein defines the meal for me. I searched several Chow Mein recipes online and finally found one that might turn out like D Fongs. Nope. Terrible recipe. Not even going to share it with this small yet discernible audience. But it did give me a foundation of the ingredients. Since then, I’ve made several changes to the recipe and have come kinda close a few times where the meal was decent. The quest for perfecting that recipe continues.
Think of story formats like a meal recipe. If you like how things turn out and so does your audience, then keep following the recipe. If you or your audience is struggling with your story format, then maybe you should try cutting down on the soy sauce and add a little more corn starch to thicken things up a bit.
Ginger snap baking notes.
Cream shortening and sugar together. Beat in egg until well blended. Add molasses. Then add flour and spices. Roll into 1 inch diameter balls and dip into sugar. Put on cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes. You want to remove cookies from oven before the fall so that they remain soft. These freeze very well.
PBI (Story) MVP
I’m rather excited to write about this post this week. I recently had a few recommendations from friends to go and check out the new Netflix series called The Dark Crystal. Having spent my last weekend checking out the series, I can highly recommend that you also check this series out. Its a spin off of from the 1982 movie. I have included a Netflix trailer if you are interested in learning more about the new series.
I’m going to do my best to not spoil the series for you and relate it back to our podcast episode. There is a race of Gelfling that are part of different clans. There are seven Gelfing clans: The Dousan, The Drenchen, The Sifra, The Spriton, The Stonewood and The Vapra clan. Each clans has their own traditions and a specific thing that they are known for across the region. From a viewership perspective, there is so much to uncover about the characters and customs. However, if we take a step back and look at the Skeksis, they view Gelfings as pretty much the same thing overall. They aren’t unique or special from a distance. Now what does that have to do with PBI’s in Scrum? Well from a standpoint of what do want to call our work on the teams? PBI is meant to show that there items in the backlog that need be done and worked on. Now there are some things that have flowed over from XP to now. For example Stories and Spikes. If you are in that boat, that okay. Just agree on what you will do. Check out our latest podcast to learn more. In addition I have included below a YouTube video about everything you need to about the new series on Netflix.
Do testers make good cleaners?
We recently did a kitchen and dining room remodel. We knocked a small wall down, readjusted the floor plan a bit and now we have a nice open floor plan. One of the finishing touches on this remodel was getting a big dinning room table that seats eight people. Now our house has a great setup to entertain and hold all the major family events like birthday parties, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
One of the benefits from entertaining so many times, is we always do a thorough job cleaning the house the night before. We pride ourselves on keeping a clean house year round, but cleaning before a gathering forces us to take those extra little cleaning steps. Extra dusting, moving shoes and coats out of the entryway, organizing the coupon bin and important mail bin on the counter, extra thorough bathroom cleaning and just a better job of tidying things up.
My wife is a clean freak and first level germaphobe by nature so when she sets her mind to thorough cleaning she can sometimes get a little too thorough. I’m all about the thorough cleaning but I need to steer her away from cleaning the hidden corners of the guest bedrooms. It’s good to clean the shower floor but when cleaning for a gathering, just make sure the shower curtain is closed. Vacuum the hallway that leads to the washer and drier? Not needed at the moment. No guests will go there. Do that another day.
House cleaning is kind of like agile testing. The hardest part about being an agile tester is knowing what to test and when not to test. Testing the AC on a story seems like an easy concept. Evidently it’s not an easy concept per the conversations I have had about over testing stories. Take the time to find and educate your tester on what to test and what not to test. We don’t need to vacuum that abandoned hallway every day.
What flavor of agile coach do you want?
The urge hits me around 730pm most nights. It’s been a bit since dinner and I want to have a snack. Not sure why this is. Was it something I learned from my dad? He always had a bowl of ice cream most nights. When I say he, I guess I mean we. Or maybe it’s natural to want a little sack before bed.
So when the snack urge calls and I answer, the question comes down to this, do I crave salty or sweet? As I’ve grown older, salty has been winning. Currently Chili Fritos is my achilles heel. Hard to stop eating them. BBQ Pringles are also a salty favorite. For sweet, Cheetos are my go to snack. Cheetos and me go way back.
If you are looking to hire an agile coach, you need to figure out what you want them to do because agile coaches come in different flavors. Don’t hire a salty coach if you want a sweet one.
Don’t tie yourself to a bad developer.
What does finding the perfect tie have in common with our latest episode? Well actually a lot. Below you will see my amazing tie rack with all my great ties. I’ll admit it’s not the greatest collection of ties but they do the job. Recently I took a step back and looked at my ties. Good lord some of them were from the early 90s. My better half (my wife) advised me to get some more hip updated ties. She is my fashion muse and I’ve learned over the years to listen to her on certain things. This was one of those moments.
So I went tie shopping. While it wasn’t hard, it wasn’t easy. I had to think thru my wardrobe. What did I have for shirts? Thats important because fashion etiquette says plain ties with patterned shirts and patterned ties with plain shirts. I like that etiquette and followed it. Nothing to say I could wear patterned shirts with patterned ties but thats not me. Jack doesn’t roll that way. Doug might, but Jack won’t ever.
Looking for a developer to join your team is a lot like buying ties. Sure you want to find someone you like but also think about what is expected of them in an agile world. Do patterned developers look nice with a patterned team? So remember that you may have found the perfect developer but if they don’t fit your team, then it might not work like you expected.
Looking for a Agile BSA
The topic for today is a tough one in the real world to relate to, but I think I have the perfect example. With the football preseason is full swing and every fan across the country watching their team closely to see if their team will be good. For most fans, this is a chance to see the Quarterback their team: drafted, signed or traded for. For most teams, the season will be pinned on the hopes that they found their guy.
If you are a Cardinals fan (we pity you), then you most certainly know what I’m talking about. You signed Sam Bradford last year to see if your team could make the playoffs, while Rosen was drafted in the first round to be the future. Last year didn’t end like you maybe hoped, but this years draft led to your team trading Rosen to Miami and drafting Kyler Murray number 1 overall. Time will tell if this is in fact your future franchise Quarterback who can lead this team back to the playoffs. Comparisons of what RG 3, Lamar Jackson and Andrew Luck have done in their rookie campaigns will give hope to this years rookie class. However when the team is wrong about their choice at quarterback, then fans hope that next year will be better. The team that comes to mind is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yes, they got rid of Bortles for Foles to see if thats the answer.
Much like finding a Quarterback that will help the team move in the right direction is difficult, some teams just know what to look for from a future quarterback like the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts. They stick to specifics around what skills they look for and what they want in player. I haven’t seen those teams reach, and will pass on players that don’t meet expectations.
Finding the right BSA for your agile team can be extremely tricky. Agile BSAs understand how to write good user stories. They understand the size of a story even before the team estimates it. They understand that their work is consumed by the team, not by the Product Owner. I think a good agile BSA is much like a great NFL quarterback, they are unicorns. You can find them but it isn’t easy.
Looking for a Product Owner
Comparing a relevant topic to “Looking for a Product Owner” was a little tough this week. Good news, I do have something that relates. Its actually because I’m changing up my wardrobe with different brand clothes. The hard part about this, is finding new items that are comfortable yet work with my body shape.
I have always been amazed at how difficult it is to find different dress pants or jeans that fit. I am often surprised that when I go to try pants on, they can either fit perfectly or look absolutely ridiculous on me. I’m at the point and time now where I know if I want to try something new, I should probably put aside a couple hours. I have learned my lesson to not go and buy 4 of the same items until I put them into my normal rotation to see how it will all work out. In the past I’ve been caught by having clothes that fit when I tried them on but horribly shrunk up or fell apart in the wash. So what I have learned to do is buy 1 of a couple items to see if I would want more added to my wardrobe. By doing this little test, I have saved myself a lot of time by avoiding mistakes that would have led me to buy more items in the future.
Just like figuring out what clothes will work for you, searching for a perfect Product Owner is just as difficult. Thats why in our latest podcast, we leave you with advice on how to find them. Often you have to test their abilities to ensure you have the right person.