Sticky Note Retro

Problem / Solution podcast regarding retros

If they only asked me what I wanted, I would have told them and everything would have been better. Oh if only things were that simple. For example, we always get together at my mom’s house for my birthday. She makes a diner, we eat, then open presents. Fun times. Mom always asks me what do I want to eat for birthday dinner. I tell her make what you want mom. I do this to make things easier for mom. Guess what happens? She makes a beef roast in the crock pot with carrots and potatoes. Sounds good but it’s not. Mom (love her to death) is not much of a cook. Why didn’t she make my favorite (chicken curry hot dish)? I’ll tell you why she didn’t make it, because I never told her when she asked me.

Good agile retros occur when the team is honest and talkative. A scrum master does the needful and solutions are created for problems and assigned to people. Things get better. It’s not that easy in the real world. All teams are different. All scrum masters are different. This podcast give ideas to solve some common real world problems that can occur at retros.

A couple of scrum masters making a podcast in a garage.

Some maintenance required

Podcast about refining problems and solutions.

It doesn’t matter what kind of car you own, a modern Tesla or a rusted out Ford pickup, you need to take care of it. If all you do is drive it and park it and drive it and park it, chances are that car isn’t going to last. You need to give that car some love. Sure you might love your car a lot. I know a few of those people but at the very least let your car know that you are thinking of it with good intentions.

Car attention means changing the oil when needed. A car wash here or there is always appreciated. A good spring vacuum works. Checking the air in your tires can go a long ways to building a good car relationship. It’s important to do minimal maintenance on things you own. I think we can all agree on that.

Consider refining sessions in the agile world like important car maintenance. The more effort the team puts into their stories, the easier those stories will be able to do. Unfortunately it can be easy for teams to not take the refining sessions seriously. Give your stories a little love at refinement and watch how those stories treat you during the sprint. You get what you give.

Guy working on his car.
This dude is refining his rear axel.

Art of the demo

Demo problems and solutions to those problems.

You and the family go on a vacation. Let’s make this a cool example and say the vacation is in Hawaii. You spend 10 glorious days there. Then you get on a plan and fly back home. Hello winter and work. Everybody at work asks you how your vacation was. What did you do in Hawaii? What island did you stay on? So you tell them you stayed on O’ahu. You and the family had some nice beach time. You visited Pearl Harbor. You climbed up Diamond Head. You did some snorkeling.

Picture of Diamond Head volcano taken from Honolulu beach.
The art of a Hawaiian vacation.

Did you tell them what airline you flew out on? Did you explain the wait for the shuttle from the airport to the hotel took longer than expected? I hope not. What about that morning you woke up with a hang over because you were having too much fun the night before? Nah, no need to mention that. That stuff is all trivial that really isn’t part of your vacation memories.

A sprint demo is just like telling your friends and family about your vacation. Tell your audience what you did. Give them a few details about some of the things that happened along the way. Don’t bore them with trivial details. At the end of the day, you want to share your sprint successes at the demo just like telling your friends how beautiful Hawaii was.

Hawaii helped launch Elvis’s comeback. Elvis was a master of the demo!

Carry Over Trap

Podcast about the carry over trap.
Running in a big crowd
Running from Capacity? Ouch, my knee hurts.

In the Carry Over Trap podcast we address problems that arise around carrying story points from sprint to sprint. In real life we face similar challenges. The most relevant topic that comes to mind is running. For those of you out there that run or workout this will help you make the connection.

Every so often, I commit to a running plan or goal that I want to achieve. If you want to try and do a half marathon or tri-workouts, there are plans out there that you can follow. For the first couple weeks the plans are relatively easy tasks to complete. As the weeks progress and your own work and life schedules compete for your time, your running or workout schedule slips. I’m sure you thought this before like me: “I can catch up by working out longer or run a little further tomorrow”. Eventually a day turns into days, and you are left wondering what happened. Usually I will end up overdoing the running part to catch up and injure my foot or knee. After a couple weeks to months I will have to start all over again. This is very relatable to sprints. Eventually everything that was supposed to be completed in previous sprints will burn through and the team will be left with a clean slate. The good news is that starting over in running and sprints can let your learn from the previous mistakes and avoid the problems that arose in the past. Our lastest episode tackles whether carry over is in fact always bad or is it okay in some cases. You can find the episode listed above. Below you will find a great short video that will talk about your future self taking on commitments you won’t be able to accomplish.

This episode is sponsored by MNRegister’s jobs page. MNRegister has the best local jobs, just for you!

Future us will know how to deal with the problem

Capacity Planning Pitfalls

Listen to avoid pitfalls.
Coffee bean bag over flowing with beans that has already reach capacity.
Reached capacity to hold coffee beans

With Spring Training in full swing again, we thought we would touch on how pitch counts in baseball relate to capacity planning in Agile. We have this notion that most Major League Baseball starting pitchers are going to go out and pitch 7 inning every outing. Sounds like a great plan, right? With the rise of statistics and data in baseball, most pitchers are limted to 100 pitches to prevent injury. The result, most pitchers are pulled way before 7 innings. If you team has a power pitcher on the mound, you may see the star go 5 innings a outing. Often fans are rooting for pitches to stay out on the mound and continue to shut out the opponent. Pitchers who are asked to go out and pitch more than the standard 100 pitch count end up giving up more runs then expected or get injured. We will hear about new pitching stars appear without a pitch count, but in a few short years later their careers are shortened or their skillset diminish.

Baseball mound meeting with a pitcher to swap a different pitcher in.
This pitcher has reached his capacity before he was able to complete his goal. Poor guy.

In Agile you can make the same mistake with your own teams. Its easy to burnout your team or not accomplish what your team had hoped for. In this latest episode about Capacity planning pitfalls we will address common mistakes made on teams. Hopefully you will be able to take away some new tools for your teams. Below we found a short video where Al Leiter talk about the importance of the pitch count and how this impacted his own career.

Al Leiter talks about the importance of pitch counts

Key to Stand-up

The good, the bad, and the stand up.
A man giving a presentation to a group of people
Interesting and engaging speaker

Have you ever attended a conference or watched a YouTube speaker that you were excited about listening to? We all have. Have you ever been disappointed as the topic goes into far too much detail? I think its happened to quiet a few of us. Thinking about the speeches that I’ve really enjoyed listening to were the ones that focused on th high level topic. Usually these speakers have rooms that are packed or are the videos that are highly downloaded. Often observed are many interactions between the audience and the speaker.

Now what does this have to do with Stand-ups? While its easier to operate a 15 minute time box robotically or drone on for a hour update. To truly make a ceremony effective in Agile, it has to be engaging. You want the collective team to stay engaged and actively eager to help each other out. Seems easy enough, but most teams tend to struggle with this. Listen to our latest podcast about what we have experienced. Its sure to be impactful. We have included a mock stand-video from YouTube to get a few laughs about things you may see in your own experiences.

Check out this funny video on a mock Stand-up

Charter of death

Charter of death podcast

FYI – This podcast is about Charters. It is not about death. We just wanted to have a little fun with the title.

A few years back I would home brew a batch of beer every now and then. Home brewing beer was fun but a lot of work. First you had to buy the ingredients. After that you needed to find several hours to brew. Lots of setup, cleaning, boiling, mixing, straining, cooling. After that you needed to have the batch ferment for a few weeks. Not done yet. Still need to bottle and clean up. Lots of work and guess what? My last batch failed. It was useless. Thus it was my last batch.

Charters are like home brewing beer in our opinion. Sometimes they workout, other times you should pour them down the drain. Doug and I think Charters can be useful but you better be thoughtful about why you are chartering and then adjust accordingly.

Home brewing kit that is a mess
This brewing equipment is the equivalent of a 4 page charter.