Team

What I really like about Agile (and Scrum) is its revolutionary potential for organizational change. But change is difficult, and many Scrum implementations fail or don’t achieve their potential. How we can successfully implement Scrum? In this post, I will discuss one such approach, called Shock Therapy. Although it certainly has its share of success stories, I will present three arguments against this approach and provide a critical perspective. The bottom line is that it is doubtful if Shock Therapy can achieve sustainable change. I will round up with a few approaches that may help in achieving sustainable…

In Scrum, a basic principle is to deliver working software at the end of the sprint. For a webapplication, it is often obvious what this entails. Other than the functionality to be delivered, it also includes such things as text labels, error messages, help texts and user documentation. But for content-oriented websites (such as company sites), this is more challenging. After all, many websites feature sections for news, maybe a portfolio of projects or customers, a profile and a list of services or products. Traditionally, many (smaller) webdesign shops approach these projects by first completing the website with dummy content…

Some teams treat their Sprint Backlog as a 'Sprint specification document'. When they start a sprint, they begin by exhaustively identifying and estimating all the individual tasks that are necessary to complete a user story. This results in Sprint Backlogs with overly specific tasks such as 'write stored procedure for X', 'set up class design for Y', or 'implement and style button Z'. Sometimes, tasks are also distributed within the team, before any work has actually been done. Although this approach gives the team a (theoretical) sense of understanding what needs to be done, it also means that they are…

I recently received an interesting scientific article from Gunther Verheyen titled "Getting Things Done: The Science Behind Stress-Free Productivity" (Heylighen & Vidal, 2007). The article discusses possible scientific explanations for the success of a personal productivity approach called "Getting Things Done" (GTD; Allen, 2001). The authors apply insights from cognitive psychology and cybernetics to better understand why this approach is so effective. Although GTD is focussed on individual time management, the authors mention the potential for collaborative work. Although the authors are probably not aware of Scrum (a framework for collaborative software development), their paper provides useful insights…

We've recently had to merge a version branch of a codebase back into the trunk. You see, two teams had been working on mostly separate parts of a system for three months. The result was quite painful. We lost several days on cursing, fixing merging- and tree conflicts, testing the code and working through new bugs. This bothered me quite a bit, not in the first place because I was the one cursing as I did most of the merge. But also because I felt that as a team, we were wasting precious time and money. I am quite…