Tales of the Bizarro Scrum – The Code Freeze

Developer: “We do a code freeze 2 days before the end of the Sprint so we can start testing.” A statement like this typically means the team is not applying agile engineering practices, the team doesn’t properly break out product backlog items into small vertical slices, and the team is working in a mini-waterfall approach with…

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Top 5 Agile Engineering Practices

Let’s take a look at the top 5 Agile Engineering practices that are essential to succeeding with Scrum and overcoming the struggles team face with trying to deliver a Product Increment at the end of each and every Sprint. Test Driven Development (TDD) TDD is a development practice where we start with a very small automated…

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Tales of the Bizarro Scrum – Isn’t Scrum Just a Team Level Thing?

Executive: “Isn’t Scrum just a team level thing? Why do we need to train and coach the management team?” This sentiment is a common misunderstanding. However, for Scrum to be effective, it requires a change in organizational culture and operations. Without these changes, organization end up implementing Scrum-fall, Scrum-but, or Dark Scrum. It’s where everybody is…

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Top 13 Patterns to Split a User Story

Here are the top 13 patterns to split a user story. When clarifying user stories with the team during product backlog refinement, run through the following questions: 1. Can a business person understand the user story? If not, consider re-writing it from a business perspective. 2. Does the user story include a value statement? If not,…

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Tales of the Bizarro Scrum – Assigning Points to Everything

Development Team Member: “I’m taking a bio break. I’ll mark that down as 1 point!” This of course is an exaggeration and I truly hope no team is doing this. However, team members are doing similar things when it comes to estimating using story points, especially when velocity is being tracked by upper management. When this…

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Top 5 Reasons Teams Struggle with Delivering a Product Increment at the End of the Sprint

Here are the tops 5 reasons teams struggle with delivering a Product Increment at the end of every Sprint. Lack of understanding of what a Product Increment is There is a general lack of understanding as to what a Product Increment is and how we build things iteratively and incrementally. Many teams adopt Scrum but still…

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Tales of the Bizarro Scrum – Yes, We Are a Self-organizing Team

Development Manager: “Yes we are a self-organizing team. I task out all the activities and then I let the team decide which tasks they want to work on. I don’t assign any of the tasks myself.” Not assigning tasks is a good first step, however, it falls short of what is means to be a self-organizing…

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4 Stages of Agile Adoption

I typically see teams in one of 4 stages when adopting Agile practices. The Multi-Sprint Hand-Off Teams here are working in Sprints. 2 week Sprints. They have a requirements Sprint, a Design Sprint, a Coding Sprint and a Testing Sprint. This might be better than what they were doing before but it is still taking 8…

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Tales of the Bizarro Scrum – The BAs are Holding Us Back!

Developer: “I don’t have much to do. I’m still waiting on the BAs to finish writing the user stories. They always hold us back!” A comment like this highlight siloed thinking among team members. There are only 3 roles in Scrum. A Product Owner, a ScrumMaster, and a Development Team. Note that business analyst, developer, tester,…

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Top 5 Customer Interview Rules

Customer interviews are key for validating product ideas early. Here are 5 customer interview rules to follow when conducting problem interviews with customers in order to validate a particular hypothesis. 1. Do the interviews in person, 1 person at a time Doing the interview in person and focused on an individual helps in establishing a connection…

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Tales of the Bizarro Scrum – Are You Sure It’s Going to Take this Long?

Scrum Master: “Are you sure it’s going to take this long? The product owner wants it done in the next Sprint and I already told her it won’t be a problem.” I have 3 issues with this kind of statement. First, it seems that the Scrum Master is acting as the intermediary between the Product Owner…

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Tales of the Bizarro Scrum – Developers and Deliverables

Developer: “Last Sprint I delivered 18 story points all on my own!” This post will not be about story points. I will leave the story points are evil discussion for another time. Instead I want to focus on the intent behind such a statement. And by intent, I am referring to the proud declaration and feeling…

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Tales of the Bizarro Scrum

Bizarro Scrum is like Bizarro world where everything appears to be the opposite of what it should be. It is about common day to day situations that a lot of Scrum teams experience when they transition to Scrum. In this Tales of the Bizarro Scrum blog series, I’ll highlight statements that team members make that on…

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TDD – That Was Easy!

At the 2019 Global Scrum Gathering in Vienna and at AgileDC 2019 in Washington, DC, I presented on Test Driven Development. Below is the abstract of the talk, along with the presentation slides. AgileDC 2019 Abstract: Have you tried TDD? Do you hate it? Do you have a hard time applying it in practice? Do you…

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Acceptance Test Driven Development

Agile Testing – Testing from Day 1 Presentation

At the 2019 Global Scrum Gathering in Austin, TX, I presented on Agile Testing. Below is the abstract of the talk, along with links to the Agile Testing blog series and the presentation slides. 2019 Austin Global Scrum Gathering Abstract: Many teams struggle with fitting in testing activities inside of a Sprint. They end up doing…

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