24 November 2016

My notes on Toronto Agile Conference 2016

Toronto Agile Conference 2016 has happened in November. It was a great selection of Agilists and Agile enthusiasts. It was jam packed with great stuff to learn. I have attended three sessions about leadership, project management in Spotify and Leadership again and one keynote about the Host Leadership. The followings are my notes from the conference. You can also find others & my tweets on that day with TOAgile2016 hashtag.

23 November 2016

The Legend of HOW!

One of the practices of Agile Teams, that you might have heard of and is very popular, is writing "user stories". A very important part of the User Story is the absence of the HOW. A good user story is one with no HOW.

For the Business Analysts (BAs) audience, user stories will resemble Business Requirement Document (BRD). I usually get that talking to BAs about user stories. A good point to bring up comparing the user stories to BRDs is that there is no HOW in both of them. 
Business requirements are often listed in a Business Requirements Document or BRD. The emphasis in a BRD is on what is required, rather than on how to achieve it, which is usually delegated to a Systems Requirements Specification or Document (SRS or SRD) or other variation such as a Functional Specification Document. 
Agile has 4 values and 12 principles. If you look at the history of software development, you will find that these values and principles are not something out of ordinary for its time. These are basically a collection of better practices put together, which is well thought through. Nevertheless, there might be new slogans and names used for them (and for a reason). 


My advice is not to simply forget the practices in place all at once and try to learn from scratch. Ask yourself, why there was a process existed and if it is important to continue having that or not. Agile is about knowing what and why to do to get to the goal more effectively. Ask yourself, why there is no HOW in BRD before questioning why there is no HOW in user stories. What would be the reason(s) that we leave the HOW for other people to figure it out?

16 November 2016

There is no Leadership with no Approachability!

If you are a good leader, want to be, or think you are, you need to think about your approachability all the time. If you are good at it, you want to make it better, if you are better, you want to become number one. There is always somewhere you can push your approachability skills to become better.


The following is my cheat sheet for approachability, summarized from different sources.

2 November 2016

35: An Excellent Facilitation Technique For Big Crowds

You are going to facilitate a session. The session has a large number of people attending. You are not confident with your facilitation skills for large meetings. You are not sure how to ask them to come to an agreement on the next steps, what to work on, what, as a team, they need to focus on? If you find yourself in situations like that the 35 retrospective comes in handy.

This is how it works:
  • Distribute blank cards to everyone. 
    • I suggest to use a thick paper card and avoid using sticky notes. I also suggest the card to be colored on one side and white on the other side.
  • Come up with one thing
    • It can be idea, it can be an action item, it is mainly based on what you are looking to get out of the meeting. 
    • You would ask participants to write their idea on one side (e.g. the colored side) of the card.
    • You also need to remind them to only write one thing.
    • The writings need to be readable, this is very important.
    • Everyone should write something, or they are out of the game. This is also important.
  • Get them moving
    • This is the fun part. Now, you would ask everyone to stand up and walk with their cards in their hands.
    • You ask them to face the colored side to the floor.
    • They are going to exchange cards rapidly with other people. 
    • After a while, you would ask everyone to stop and find a partner
  • Scoring begins 
    • At this point you ask the couples to read each card and discuss it. 
    • They are going to score the cards up to 7 points. They are going to spread 7 points among two cards.
    • They can give one card 0 point and 7 points to the other one, or any other combination.
    • By the end of the discussion, they will write the points assigned to each card on the other side (e.g. the non-colored side) of the card.
  • Repeat 5 times
    • You would ask the participants to do this 4 more times, exchange their cards, find a partner and score.
  • Calculation of the points. 
    • After the 5th round, everyone needs to add up the points on the back (e.g. non-colored side) of the card and write it down. 
  • And the winner is ....
    • There is no winner per say1
    • You would ask who has a card with 35 points? If there weren't any you ask for 34 points? If there weren't any you would ask for 33? And so on. 
    • The cards with the highest points are the cumulative agreement of priorities based on the people participating. 
35 used in a retrospective

Update: I have found a post on gamestorming defining this exercise from Dave Gray.

1 The winner is of course you, if you insisting of finding the anwer. You managed to facilitate a session with full of energy, good discussions, and an outcome.