The Agile sales pitch

So your teams love to work Agile and are in pursuit of finding the highest value for your clients and end-users. Still your clients live in a world where ‘buying features for fixed prices with contractual deadlines’ are the standard. This is very understandable as ‘What are we getting for our money?’ is a logical question upfront.

So I keep questioning how do I sell the Agile way of working to a world that is just not ready for it…

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Written by Niels van Reijmersdal

December 11th, 2016 at 19:22

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Continuous improvement with retrospectives

Every now and then you need to reflect and see where you can improve. The retrospective can be a tool to find the most important parts you and or your team can improve on. This post will show you a possible retrospective format and its results.

As our team started using Agile/Scrum we took the retrospective format straight from the Art of Agile book. We used it for months with great results. After a while we wanted to include some metrics to see if we are still on track. We introduced the happiness factor. We gave each iteration a school grade and thought up some positive things that happened the last period. Lower grade’s can be used as a signal to create structural organizational improvements. Also according to The Happiness Advantage, starting out with a positive mindset opens up the brain and should lead to much better brainstorming results.

Our current retrospective format is something like this:

  • Discuss the results of the improvements of the previous iteration
  • Everyone writes down at-least two positive notes and gives the current iteration a grade. Everyone reads both out loud.
  • Brainstorm session
    • Everyone writes things that could improve his/her grade on a post-it (one topic per post-it)
    • Read them out loud
    • Short discussion
    • Repeat until most idea’s are on the table
  • Cluster the post-its into groups (preferable using mute-mapping)
  • Give each cluster a name
  • Everyone votes on three clusters with three, two or one point
  • From the cluster with the most votes we create around two improvements that we can accomplish in the next iteration

In our case the improvements can be anythings, as-long it helps the team to be more effective or motivated to-do their jobs. Sometimes small annoyances like noise would disappear without any action points, because it was more top of mind after the session and it would not return for a while.

Major results are a better working environment, improved coding guidelines, process improvements, better workstations, comfortable sized iterations, less overhead, but also training and better coffee. Overall our happiness is very stable. We really handle the major, but also the minor issue’s. This gives the team the feeling they are in control.

We tackled small local issue’s, but also bigger organizational impediments. By taking small steps we can see if the improvements have a real effect, instead of re-organizing everything in one go. We made some great improvements over the last years using these technique’s.

Written by Niels van Reijmersdal

September 8th, 2013 at 13:28

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