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Scrum Master Lessons from my 4 Year Old Son

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At a recent cookout, my 4 year old son, Dawson, ran for the back yard and easily joined a game of hide and seek. Watching this unfold, I realized that these kids are naturally agile. They got straight to playing (the value) and didn’t need a lot of ceremony to get there. They kids all did a quick hello, told Dawson what game they were playing, and invited him to join in (daily scrum). Then they played.

He and his friends self-organize, self-manage, and solve problems on the fly. They naturally exhibit the agile values and scrum practices that many adults struggle with daily.

For example, most parents have been bombarded with an unending stream of “Why’s?” from their child. Why does this work? Why did that happen? Why? Why? Why? While this line of questioning can be stressing, it is also invaluable to finding the root cause of an issue. Scrum teams use this approach – called The 5-Why’s – to get past technical issues and down to interpersonal issues that could be hindering the team.

This session is a fun discussion about the behaviors I’ve noticed in my son and how they translate to important lessons that all scrum master need to learn to better serve their teams.

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Scrum Master Lessons from my 4 Year Old Son

  1. 1. Scrum Master Lessons from My 4 Year Old Son
  2. 2. @ryanripley
  3. 3. #Path15
  4. 4. “Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.” --Norm Kerth, Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Reviews
  5. 5. What is Scrum?
  6. 6. SCRUM IN ONE SLIDE Development Sprint Planning Sprint Review Sprint Retrospective Sprint ROLES: Scrum Master, Product Owner, Developer ARTIFACTS: Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Product Increment
  7. 7. What is a Scrum Master?
  8. 8. “The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring Scrum is understood and enacted. Scrum Masters do this by ensuring that the Scrum Team adheres to Scrum theory, practices, and rules.” --The Scrum Guide
  9. 9. The Scrum Values: •Commitment •Respect •Focus •Openness •Courage LINK: http://agileanswerman.com/scrum-values-can- make-or-break-your-agile-project/
  10. 10. What is an impediment?
  11. 11. “Anything that prevents the scrum team from being productive.”
  12. 12. Every scrum master can be more successful at serving their team by understanding these 10 lessons.
  13. 13. “A dead scrum master is a useless scrum master.” --Ken Schwaber
  14. 14. It’s Important to Try New Things 1
  15. 15. “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.” --Agile Manifesto
  16. 16. “Three pillars uphold every implementation of empirical process control: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.” --The Scrum Guide
  17. 17. “Experimentation is at the heart of Agile”
  18. 18. Is it safe to fail?
  19. 19. Are experiments safe?
  20. 20. “Your teams velocity is worse than the other scrums teams. Find a way to get your velocity up, or we may have to reassign resources.”
  21. 21. “I don’t care if you want to use software to track user stories, we’re going to start with 3x5 cards and masking tape!”
  22. 22. O’RLY ???
  23. 23. Embrace Learning Opportunities (Failure) 2
  24. 24. “DAD! Stop helping me!” --My son, tired of me inflicting help
  25. 25. Happy Accidents •Thomas Edison “failed” thousands of times until he found the correct filament for the light bulb. •Post-It notes were invented to replace bookmarks. •Kleenex tissues were originally made to remove make-up. •WD40 is named after the number of attempts to get the water displacement formula correct. These ideas were at one point failures…
  26. 26. Not every experiment is a winner…and not every failure is a loser.
  27. 27. SCRUM IN ONE SLIDE Development Sprint Planning Sprint Review Sprint Retrospective Sprint ROLES: Scrum Master, Product Owner, Developer ARTIFACTS: Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Product Increment
  28. 28. Is it safe to fail?
  29. 29. “That developer is slacking. When is the scrum master going to take care of the poor performer?”
  30. 30. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? 3
  31. 31. What is the 5 Why’s technique?
  32. 32. Often we push past the surface issues and find more complex system and relationship issues at the 5th “why”
  33. 33. People do not fail, systems do
  34. 34. Learn Gradually 4
  35. 35. “I don’t think that design will work. You should code the story like this…”
  36. 36. THINGS TO LOOK FOR: •Is design/architecture emergent? •Are the developers disengaged? •How does the team decide the best way to do their work? •Is pair programming, #mobprogramming, or swarming happening?
  37. 37. ADJUSTMENTS: •Leave the developers alone •Step down as scrum master and resume a coding role •Focus on guiding rather than directing •Ask for permission to help
  38. 38. “What does it matter how many times I reassign team members, isn’t that what self-organization is for?”
  39. 39. Words Matter 5
  40. 40. Your words are winning hearts and changing minds.
  41. 41. Be consistent.
  42. 42. Following through isn’t optional.
  43. 43. Following through isn’t optional.
  44. 44. “Teams ship working software at the end of each sprint. That’s why we implemented scrum. Work the weekends if you’re behind. The team needs to deliver on their commitments.”
  45. 45. What about the word “Agile”?
  46. 46. Communication is your greatest tool. How you frame discussions WILL make or break your agile transformations and projects.
  47. 47. Sustainable Pace Is Important 6
  48. 48. “Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.” --Agile Manifesto
  49. 49. Sustainable pace is a quality play •Burned out developers deliver bad code •They also find better jobs
  50. 50. Sustainable pace is a productivity play •Continuous integration, automated testing, skill building, and whole team understanding become important when long hours are not an option
  51. 51. Sustainable pace is predictable •Over a period of time, the amount of work that a scrum team - working at a sustainable pace - can accomplish will become consistent
  52. 52. Sustainable pace is humane
  53. 53. “Your team leaves at 5:00pm and refuse to work weekends. Why don’t they have a sense of urgency?”
  54. 54. Watch value, not the clock…
  55. 55. Play Well With Others 7
  56. 56. “How inclusive is your team?”
  57. 57. “That’s not how it’s done! Here, let me show you the “right way” to be agile…at 2am.”
  58. 58. ARE YOU A HERO?: •Team seeks your approval before acting •Team asks about the “right way” to do Agile •Are you insisting on “correct” solutions?
  59. 59. THINGS TO CONSIDER: •Resist the urge to solve the teams problems •Get comfortable with awkward silence •Focus on relationships
  60. 60. BEWARE LEARNED HELPLESSNESS Helplessness can lead to overlooking opportunities to improve
  61. 61. Time Box Events 8
  62. 62. A time box is a fixed period of time to perform an action or to achieve a goal.
  63. 63. SCRUM IN ONE SLIDE Development Sprint Planning Sprint Review Sprint Retrospective Sprint ROLES: Scrum Master, Product Owner, Developer ARTIFACTS: Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Product Increment
  64. 64. Prevents over-investment in activities
  65. 65. Promotes a focus on value
  66. 66. Minimizes cost and impact of errors
  67. 67. Be Kind 9
  68. 68. ?????? AGILE IMPACTS EVERYONE • Organizational Change • Leadership Change • Team Change • Status Change • Job Description Change • Role Change • Culture Change
  69. 69. WARNING SIGNS: •Arguments – “What has to be true…?” •Emotional outbursts •Am I talking to the team or at the team? •Your feelings – “Am I enjoying my role?”
  70. 70. ARE YOU BEING KIND? •Take time to reflect on difficult exchanges •What is motivating you? •Anxiety, fear, or frustration •Address the “friction” in the retrospective •Ask the team for feedback and support
  71. 71. It’s hurts to grow…literally 10
  72. 72. “A project manager could maybe become a tester...maybe.” --Ken Schwaber
  73. 73. “500 YARDS OF FOUL-SMELLING MUCK” --Red “The Shawshank Redemption” The PMP® to CSM® pipeline…
  74. 74. We are telling people to give up the tools, methods, processes, and behaviors that have made them successful.
  75. 75. INSPECT: •How the team manages their work •Focus of Daily Scrum meeting •Unsolicited advice •Interrupting progress to pontificate
  76. 76. ADAPT: •Questions over statements (2:1 ratio) •Make failure an option – and then fail •The team owns tasks and solutions •Ask for permission to help
  77. 77. Learn to be introspective
  78. 78. http://agileanswerman.com ryan@agileanswerman.com @ryanripley Podcast available on iTunes, Stitcher, and AgileAnswerMan.Com
  79. 79. IMAGE ATTRIBUTION “Broccoli” - ©Julia Frost – Flickr.com – Creative Commons License “Singleton Bank Rail Crash” – Public Domain “Soap” - ©Frankleleon – Flickr.com – Creative Commons License

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