Mother says bigger is not always better.

Podcast about large agile stories

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).

Thats Buster on the left. He loves his mother.

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

Podcast about story formats

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.

Bake for 9 to 10 mins.

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.

Do testers make good cleaners?

Podcast on agile QA

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.

Hallway to nothing that important.

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.

Don’t tie yourself to a bad developer.

Podcast on finding an agile 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

Looking for an 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.

Finding a QB is hard

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.

This poor quarterback will never have a chance to succeed and he knows it.

Looking for a Product Owner

Podcast on hiring an agile 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.

Doug’s closet.

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.

Looking for a Scrum Master

What to look for when trying to hire a Scrum Master.

Everybody has a picture in their mind of what their ideas should be like. Just like grocery shopping, we expect that tomatoes should be red and taste like a tomato (unless you like green tomatoes). Highly recommend deep fried green tomatoes for anyone looking to try something different. I digress from my point. When I look for Cheetos to snack on I want them to be crunchy and have a cheese flavor. When you buy generic Cheetos or knock off Cheetos, you are rolling the dice and might end up with a sub par fake Cheeto. If that didn’t resonate with you, then try buying knock of cola and expect it to taste like Coca-Cola. Just isn’t the same.

Here in Minnesota, we love to fish for and eat Walleye. It’s our state fish and something we are proud of. A few years back, it was being reported that local restaurants were advertising Walleye dinners but actually serving Zander. Zander is a fish that is not local to Minnesota, but looks and tastes just like Walleye. You can’t tell people they are eating walleye when in fact they are eating Zander. Thats an outrage and a form of “bait and switch”. Yes that was a fishing pun and I’m damn proud I came up with it.

This is what makes hiring a Scrum Master difficult. Everybody and their dog can get a Scrum Master certification. That doesn’t mean they understand what agile servant leadership means. Matter of fact, it is often very difficult to find someone who had a good understanding of the role. Often Agile is easy to understand and even more difficult to master. Just as people dining at restaurants thought they were getting Walleye, instead they where tricked with Zander. Just like in the business world, companies can be tricked by Scrum Master certifications. In this podcast we give some advice on how to a true (or semi true).

That ain’t no walleye son.

Interview with a Business Agility Coach

Podcast Business Agility Coach

We interview a good friend who has shared our agile journey and our agile beliefs. Her name is Erin and she recently became a Business Agility Coach. What does a Business Agility Coach do? Listen and find out the answers to these questions:

  • What does a Business Agility Coach do?
  • DO you follow a certain type of agile methodology?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How have you made things better?
  • What challenges/skepticisms have you faced?
  • Who do you find more annoying – Doug or Jack?
Jack, Erin and Doug

Projects projects projects

Projects projects projects podcast – #35

This was a fun one when I sat down and started to brainstorm ideas on what relates to our latest podcast about projects projects projects. I believe this should be very relatable to everyone reading this. In our daily lives we take on several things during the day or week that we need to juggle at home.

I’m picturing my week right now. I need to set my schedule and get into a routine for the upcoming week. There is the laundry and meal prep on the weekends that needs to be done in order to prepare for the week. During the week I need to plan around busy schedules to have dinner plans set. Now that doesn’t seem to bad, but we also need to determine when to podcast. So the Scrum Under Siege crew needs to get something on the books. Sometimes it feels a little overwhelming, but the best way to get through everything is to take small task and complete them. Eventually I establish a cadence that I can use to determine what I can accomplish.

So many projects so little time

Now how does this relate to our latest podcast? Well sometimes you are going to be at work and assigned several projects. Part of it is understanding why it happening. Most cases this will be out of your control. Part of it is establishing a cadence so you can help determine when your work will be done. We have helpful tips in the podcast to help talk through a lot of this. Check out the episode above.

Stop the solutioning

Podcast about staying on track when story mapping

We just did a fantastic episode (above) about story mapping and how to keep your team focused. If you ever have tried to multitask, then the thing that will resonate with you is that its hard and often it leads to both task not ending well. Now story mapping can be similar to multitasking if you aren’t focused on the right thing. The reason you do story mapping, is for the team to figure why and what you want to build without getting into the low level implementation details.

Don’t talk to your buddy. Just sing and scream with the band.

Now in my personal life, this reminds me about something that took place a few months back with my nephew. We decided to go see The Pixies and Weezer. We caught up on stuff as we went to the concert. We had a few good conversation and a couple laughs over a beer while we sat and waited for the bands to start playing. We were excited to hear the bands even though we only knew a few songs from each band. Once they started playing, we decided to focus on the music. Sure we could have tried to a have a conversation during the concert, but we would’ve had to yell at each other. That would have dampered our experience at the concert, and we would have missed the music and had a lousy chat. It’s similar to trying to solution while story mapping. It’s ok to talk about some solutions during times you feel stuck, but concentrate on the core part of the discussion which is what you want the user to do. If you want to hear about our thoughts, listen to our episode above.

Now back to the concert, it was amazing and I had a blast! Live music has an energy that is fantastic to experience in person. Favorites songs at the concert were Gouge Away and Say it ain’t so. If you aren’t familiar with the bands above, I recommend you check them out: Doolittle and Weezer (Blue Album). One of my favorites as a new comer coming onto the scene is Flora Cash. If your looking to have a blast and some fun with your friends, I would recommend bands with a Irish flair like Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly. Great stuff.