In Own Your Leadership Part 1: Dave and Sherry collaborated on seeing if the team could deliver one feature at a time, to improve the team’s throughput and quality. They had mixed success. The first story took them three full days, instead of their anticipated one day. All the other stories are even larger. The tester couldn’t test and automate in the time she had.
Sherry and Dave called a team meeting and suggested a retrospective so they could learn from what they had done. The team agreed. They had a 60-minute retrospective focused on this question: What prevents us from releasing a story every day or so? They decided on three possibilities for what to do next:
1. Workshop the stories with the PO to make each story smaller.
2. Decide how to work as a team to integrate more test automation at every level (unit testing, feature-set testing, and system-level testing).
3. Decide if swarming with 2-hour checkins was enough to judge their progress. Should they consider any changes to the swarming?
Sherry discussed the stories with the PO. He wasn’t product owner—he was actually a product manager. He didn’t have the time to spend with the team, writing, discussing, and accepting stories. He didn’t think he had time to create a roadmap and update it on a weekly or biweekly basis. His job was to work with customers, not the team.
Sherry realized this was a problem, both for the PO and the team. He couldn’t do his job. The team needed him. She asked for a two-hour timebox to workshop the stories: discuss them and break them apart into smaller chunks. He agreed to participate. Sherry also put the lack of a PO on her list to discuss with her manager.
Without Sherry, the team decided to take a one-hour timebox and discuss what they could do about testing. Remember, their goal was to *finish* one story at a time until the end of the iteration. They didn’t feel as if they were finishing if the tester wasn’t done.
The team members decided to experiment with their technical practices. One pair of developers decided they would try to use TDD (Test-Driven Development) and see what happened. They would report back the next day.
Dave was concerned because neither of the pair had received formal training in TDD. Did they know what to do? Jack, one of the pair, replied that he’d been reading about TDD and practicing in his spare time on his personal projects. Jill, the other part of the pair, replied that she had received training in pairing and TDD as well as mobbing.
Dave was a little suspicious about mobbing. He wanted to see if reducing their two-hour timeboxes to one hour for their swarms might work better. He asked the team if they were willing to consider that option. Yes, they were.
The next day, the team spent two hours workshopping the stories. They had enough small stories (about a day in duration) for several iterations. They still had several stories they didn’t know how to make smaller.
The team also agreed to use a one-hour timebox for their swarming. The team discovered problems with testing earlier. And, even though Jack and Jill were pairing and trying to use TDD, they didn’t progress faster the first day.
Dave and Sherry were a little concerned but decided it had only been one day. They needed to give this experiment more time.
Let me go meta for a little bit here. Sherry and Dave are leading the changes, suggesting options to the team and to the PO. When you transition to agile, you might expect that. And, Dave and Sherry are surprised by what happens in installment three. Look for that installment in a little over a week.
If you are struggling with your agile approach as Sherry and Dave are, Sign up for the Influential Agile Leader in Toronto May 9-10, 2017. Let me know if you would like to discuss anything about this workshop.
My online workshops for Q2 are:
- Build your writing habit with Writing Workshop 1: Write Non-Fiction to Enhance Your Business and Reputation
- Learn to engage with your readers is Writing Workshop 2: Secrets of Successful Non-Fiction Writers
- Become an effective product owner with Practical Product Owner workshop.
If you’re not sure about any of them, let’s talk.
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If you like the idea of romance between smart technical women and just-as-interesting men, I’m starting to write romance in my spare (!) time. See Johanna’s Fiction.
Till next time,
© 2017 Johanna Rothman
Tags: leadership, servant leadership, teams, transition to agile, value