This category contains 164 posts

Running like clockwork allows improvement

Last week I was speaking to someone who asked what I considered the most important aspects of agile that I would seek in a team. One of the items on my list was ensuring the process ran like clockwork. From experience, this helps wider involvement from people outside the delivery team: senior product people and … Continue reading

Putting things on walls aids collaboration

I once worked on a project where the key sponsor was particularly keen to get our work in progress up on the office walls. He had more significant wishes, too (such as the outcome of our project), but putting our work on display was a clear wish. His reasons were perhaps best categorised as “cultural”. … Continue reading

The emotional cost of having options

There’s a principle in modern project management called “the last responsible moment”. Or, more precisely, delaying a decision until the last responsible moment. There’s sometimes some semi-mathematical talk around this issue regarding cost of delay, but as a general rule of thumb I think it’s a sensible idea. To express it as a negative, I … Continue reading

Learning to work with user stories

A short time ago I was talking to friends about teams who struggled to create “good” user stories. One friend talked about an organisation where most teams understood what a good user story looked like, but one or two still created user stories that looked like tasks from an old-style project. These might include things … Continue reading

Shorter show and tells are better

The other week I was at a show and tell with—thankfully—not the usual suspects. The team and key stakeholders were present, but also some other curious people from around the organisation. There was a lot to cover in 30 minutes, so the team rattled through the material and there were a couple of brief questions … Continue reading

Eliminating uncertainty can be excessive

We sometimes think we want to eliminate uncertainty. Clarity is helpful in our projects and in our businesses. When I listen to discussions about Brexit (today’s status: approaching the leave date without knowing what will happen then) we hear about businesses wanting certainty. All this is fine, but in fact that’s not always strictly true. … Continue reading

Avoid hostage situations when refactoring

Last week I talked about refactoring and the need—throughout that process—to still be able to deploy frequently. What I did not explain was why it was important to still be able to deploy frequently, and that was a bit of an omission, because we shouldn’t take these kinds of mantras lightly. The reason is to … Continue reading

The word puzzle analogy for technical changes

I’ve often come across a situation where a team needs to undertake a major refactoring or some other technical change, which may take in the order of days or weeks, and we need to discuss how to approach it. In years gone by, before continuous deployment was the norm and microservices were popular, it usually … Continue reading

Carpe sprintum

I’m reading a book called “Carpe Diem Regained”, about how the phrase (meaning seize the day) has been interpreted and misinterpreted over the centuries, and what it can usefully mean to us today. One aspect that I found parallelled my project work life was that one interpretation of carpe diem is about effective prioritision. The … Continue reading

Burn-up charts made even easier

I’ve updated my Google Sheets burn-up template once again. Here are the changes: There’s a handy new shortcut key for the most common action: adding a new line to record a change in a user story. This is Shift + Ctrl + Alt + 1 on PC and Shift + Option + Cmd + 1 … Continue reading