Archives: February 16, 2016

Burn Up Anyone?

I have been working with a new client over the last 3 months. This has been really fun as it has meant that I get to explore Whitstable, meet new people and of course kick starting the teams on the right path to agility. If I am being honest, working with teams is a real passion of mine and the one thing I miss being an Agile Coach.

The teams and leadership here have got it in such a short time and they have come so far in the time we have had together. I always jokingly say to them ‘we have all the major impediments of a theme park and a zoo’ to quote Jurassic park, but that’s all part of the journey.  When I start panicking, you start panicking Smile

We have had some pretty major projects going on at the same time as the move to Scrum and naturally this caused some unease about when things are going to get done.

Now I am not a tools person, I actively avoid using them on the basis that people change their behaviours around how the tool works rather than what is in the best interest of the team, but my mind has been changed recently by one particular chart.

For those that know me, know that I am not very good with excel and I always envied coaches like Dan Brown who can whip out a beautiful spread sheet full of charts and useful data. Meanwhile I am trying to work out how to add up three cells (slight exaggeration there!) So what I am about to show you is an absolute pipe dream for me.

I introduce you to…..

The Project Burn up!

Yes I know it’s not new, but it’s something that coaches and ScrumMasters have to craft themselves on spread sheets and export data from old systems…often having to access the deep dark depths that no mortals query can reach. Each person then has their own version with different formulas and there is no consistency.

The boys at ripple rock have been beavering away for the last 6 months building something that plugs into your TFS or Jira installation.

This means my clients, with a flick of a button on VSTS  can now have access to be able to forecast based on data and understand where the optimistic and pessimistic date ranges are.

They can run this on the whole backlog and for specific projects.

This has been revolutionary to them and helped them to make decisions about client interactions and live dates. It is also something they can run repeatedly as and when the backlog changes and the teams complete their work.

Here is an example.

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Key points about this chart

  • It provide stakeholders with a realistic expectation of when they can expect delivery of a release. It clearly shows that there are two key variables that determine the ‘Landing Zone’ for a project.  The orange bar represents the optimistic and the purple represents the pessimistic landing zones
  • I can clearly see the scope of the work and the through put rate that we are completing at.

As no two teams are the same, I am given the option to change the chart settings.

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To name a few things, I can change:

  • The date ranges
  • Sprint length
  • Throughput rate
  • The Scope
  • Overwrite fields

This is exciting for me and for my clients and it truly is ‘Plug & Play’

So boys, you have converted me with this chart alone….(Waves good bye to excel!)

I also want to say I am proud of what you have all achieved in a short period of time.  

So thank you for creating it Smile and my clients are already loving it.

Looking forward to the next evolution!!

(Images are taken from ‘SenseAdapt’)


New Retro – When No One Can Hear You Scream!

I wanted to share with you one of my latest retrospectives.   Well, it’s not that new I just forgot to tell you about it Smile

Continuing my theme of movies from the 80s, I was having a think about other movies that I love and how I could use them to drive continuous improvement in the team. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to introduce you to ‘Alien’. A retrospective that looks at the gestation of the creature in comparison to the sprint cycle.  You are probably thinking I am a little crazy,  I like to think its about pushing the boundaries and keeping it fresh.

Typically I print off my images, but I thought I would hand craft this time.  In the name of complete transparency I did not draw the end Alien.   I thank Richard Arpino for this.

2015-06-23 12.19.39

I had 5 different stages:

  • Laying the eggs – Sprint Preparation
  • Sucking on face and putting in the Alien – Planning
  • Everythings ok! – Sprinting
  • Chest Explosion – Sprint Review
  • The final Alient product – Delivery

I asked each member of the team to brainstorm their thoughts around the key themes. I used the following ‘Film relevant’ questions to help them when they got stuck.

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We then themed, discussed and agreed on the final actions.  Bonus points were awarded for each film line they managed to get in.

Overall appreciation for the retrospective was high and there was definitely jealousy amongst the floor about my team always getting the best retros.

With all my retrospectives they are fun, people want to join in and we deliver real actions out the end.

Keep you retrospectives fun people!

Do let me know if you create any fun ones for your team  Smile