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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Need for dedicated testers in Agile environment

Here is a short article for Zephyr’s guest blog

image Scrum recommends 3 roles, the Product Owner, Scrum Master and the team.  There is no dedicated role as a tester (or QA) if you are following pure Scrum.

Agile also recommends that the team members are expected to be cross functional with T-shaped skills popularly known as “Generalized Specialists”.

However, the challenge I have seen in many projects is how “generalized” one could be while performing the role. Most of the projects are, so budget and time constrained that everyone is part of the rat race. They just want to get things done, and there is hardly any time for the team members to learn from each other and building generalized skills.

Building cross-functional and T-shaped skills is not easy. It needs a dedicated attention, time, effort and $ is involved from the organization to enable this. One cannot ask a developer to sit with a tester for a few days and learn testing. Personally I believe that testers mindset is something that comes with passion. In addition, mindsets of developers and testers are different.

There is one more reason behind having dedicated testers, and this is due to “IKEA effect”. The Harvard article concludes that,

“When people use their labor to construct a particular product, they value it more than if they didn't put any effort into its creation, even if it is done poorly.”

In the context of this article, when developers create the code, they value their creation more than the testers. The developer doesn’t like someone finding fault with their creation. This is one of the reasons why one gets to hear all sorts of excuses from the developers.

Read rest of the article here

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Melbourne: Upcoming Agile trainings and conferences

The Agile community is getting ready for a new and exciting year ahead.  Several interesting and fascinating Agile trainings, conferences and workshops have been scheduled.

Here is the first list:

February

1 - Advanced Agile Master Class with Alistair Cockburn. 17-19 February

2 - Certified LeSS (Large Scale Scrum) Practitioner with Bas Vodde. 24-26 February.

March

3 - 1st Conf, 16 March 2015. For people starting out with agile. Alistair Cockburn keynote.

4 - Workshops for 1st Conf, including Introduction to Kanban, and Management 3.0 … with more coming.

July

5 - LAST Conference 2015. Friday 24 July. Submissions open now.

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NB - The code POBA will apply a discount to all of those events :)

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Scrum Australia 2014 : Build great products with Scrum + Design Thinking + Lean Startup

I had the privilege of speaking at Scrum Australia 2014 conference couple of months ago. It was a fascinating experience to stand in front of such an energetic and knowledgeable audience and share ideas.  Scrum Australia team had put a lot of effort and energy in getting good speakers not only from Oceania but from abroad as well.  I enjoyed every bit of this conference for 2 days.

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The title of my topic was “Building products that customers love by strengthening Scrum with Design Thinking and Lean Startup methods” .

I believe that we need to combine various methods, and use their strengths to build the products. Scrum has its own strengths, and similarly Design Thinking and Lean Startup as well.  However, none of these methods on their own can be used on their own to build great products.

First of all one needs to ensure that any new product idea is viable, desirable and technologically feasible.

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It is very important that one has a good understanding of the problem one needs to solve.  Most of the products fail mostly because of lack of understanding of the problems.

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Design Thinking comes handy in articulating the problems, and Lean startup could be applied with product testing, pivoting.

I would like to thank  Lynne Cazaly for beautifully depicting my session with the following “Visual Note”

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I had put together this idea of bringing the 3 methods together (Scrum + Design Thinking + Lean Startup) long ago. This idea was published by Cutter as an Agile advisor.  Cutter was also gracious enough to make this article public. The entire article is available here if any one is interested in getting  into a detail a bit.

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I have been attending Scrum Australia conference without fail since the last couple of years, and return with a load of new knowledge and experience. I am already looking forward for the 2015 conference :-)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Correlation does not imply causation

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After every Agile conference, agilists return back to work with tons of new ideas.  They get excited about these new ideas and would be looking forward to roll them out sooner than later. However, based on my past experiences, I have realized that many ideas could do more harm than being helpful.  This is not because ideas we hear at conferences aren’t good, however, what we assume as the “idea” behind success may not be the “one” causing the success.

Popular ideas being borrowed in the Agile community include the Spotify’s  tribes/guilds, Google’s 20% innovation time and many more. In this advisor, I am challenging the readers to think before they act and understand the hidden secret’s of success.

Here is link to the complete article. image

This advisor has been written to enable the Agile conferences attendees to look deeper about the “causation” aspect rather than the “correlation” .

Thursday, October 09, 2014

How to make wall-related decisions in Distributed Agile projects

I authored the following article for Cutter which got published today. So, it is hot out of the press.

The subject that every distributed Agile team is questioning is the topic of setting up visual walls. Conflicts arise when purists argue in support of setting up visual boards across all locations, while the distributed teams consider it an inconvenience.

Many companies don't realize the importance of making the right decisions related to visual walls. Typically, wall setup is left to the ScrumMaster. These companies don't realize that this "single-handed" decision could result in loss of productivity, increased stress levels, and thousands of dollars in loss due to waste.

====  I am recommending a principle based approach for deciding if the information needs to be displayed on Physical wall or Digital wall. ===============

Wrong wall decisions or forcing wall decisions on a team could end up with stale walls and thousands of hours could be wasted in maintaining these walls. Be sure your organization considers the core principles during its exploration of walls.

Since this article is available only for Cutter Members, kindly continue reading rest of article on Cutter

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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

If you are start up, think beyond one user

As I am coaching and mentoring a few start ups in Melbourne and elsewhere, I have noticed common pattern of issues across the board.

  • All start up founders are really enthusiastic and dream of becoming rich –> Nothing wrong with it
  • All start up founders have a strong idea in mind ---> Nothing wrong with it
  • Most start up founders believe that their idea would take over the world, even though they have never tested beyond one user   ---> Something wrong with it

Recently read a story about startup failure “Patient Communicator”.   The founder built fantastic features applying iterative development method, however, it was never tested beyond his father’s medical center.

As the founder shares his experience, PC began as a product for my father’s medical practice.  Plain and simple, I never assessed the market need for a patient portal.  It’s extraordinarily difficult to take a product that was built perfectly for a particular user and commercialize that into a broader market.

If you are in start up journey, think beyond one particular user !  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Large Scale Scrum (LeSS)

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak about Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) at Agile PM meet up group  in Melbourne.  It was really an honor to speak with such an incredibly experienced, knowledgeable audience. At the end of the session, we had very engaging Q&A.

As part of the session, I shared some of the challenges of  scaling Agile and possible solutions as well. One of the solution being, applying the Large Scale Scrum(LeSS). 

Based on my experience of working on several large scale Agile projects, I have come to realize the following 4 types of challenges common across large enterprises.  They are People, Process, Tools/Technology and Org Structure/Culture. 

I have summarized the challenges into this diagram

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Even though these challenges are common in small Agile projects but gets amplified while scaling Agile.

The popular  Scaling Frameworks are as follows:   Spotify,  XScale, SAFe, DAD (Disciplined Agile Delivery).

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In addition to the above,  Large Scale Scrum(LeSS) by Craig Larman is popular as well.  I have personally applied this while working with Craig Larman during 2006 at Valtech India. LeSS and LeSS Huge are two variants for large scale projects.  LeSS huge can be depicted as shown in the diagram below:

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LeSS is based on some of the proven principles around Queuing Theory,  Systems Thinking  and Empirical Process Control  as shown below.

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If you want to learn more about  applying Large Scale Scrum on your projects, do drop me an email and happy to share the ideas.