Salient Agile Practices For Accelerated Business Outcomes Part 2
Traits of A dysfunctional Business:
There are several traits of a dysfunctional business. These traits are counter productive and may impact business outcomes. They include but not limited to:
Traits of A dysfunctional Business:
The topmost industries and organisations have a culture that fosters unity, harmony and focused on delivery the goals or objectives set. These leading organisations have traits as shown in figure 2
How Do I Increase Quality and Team Performance ?
- Removal of Impediments:
Impediments is always a limiting factor for businesses. Laborious processes may become impediments in the delivery of projects and business objects. The may result in undue delay of projects and tasks and impact on speed to market. In today’s fast paced economy, a business may not survive undue delays of products and features owing to stiff competition from other players. Hierarchical organizational structures that may not be relevant to the delivery of value may be an impediment. Organizations that are “Thick” at the top may introduce several approval huddles that may result in the delivery of solutions.
- Team Size
Agile frameworks clearly advocate businesses run with an optimized team size. Number of employees should not be too small or too large for a given project or activity. Organization that may not get the right team size may have a financial impact owing to the large team size or may experience delay in the delivery of products and services. Once there is a delay in the delivery of a solution, organizations begin to lose the competitive edge.
- Daily Meetings
Meetings are key to ensure projects and tasks are on track. Traditional organizations may not have the right frequency of meetings and may only react when things are out of control. Agile projects have time-boxed meetings to ensure projects and tasks are tracked. In these meetings limiting factors that may impact of the agreed business objectives will be nipped in the bud.
- Product Backlog:
Managing a healthy product backlog is key. Traditional business models may not have the right skills and tools to ensure a healthy product backlog is maintained and prioritized to ensure the business is successful.
- Continuous Improvement Mindset:
A continuous and relentless improvement mindset is the driver for growth. This way, businesses with continue to stay ahead of the curve. Without a continuous and relentless improvement mindset, businesses may not survive the turbulence of our time.
- Interruption Buffer
Its important to have an interruption buffer or slack. This way, organizations are able to tolerate change that may present an opportunity ensure beat competition and remediate risks that not have been envisaged.
- Make Work Visible:
The Kanban is a tool that makes work visible and assures accountability. Once visibility is created around deliverables, attitude towards work immediately changes. With a Kanban and other agile practices, management and team members need not access their mails or voluminous documentation to track progress of a project
- Avoid Multitasking
It is good practice to take on workload that one can manage and deliver on. However, this becomes counter productive once an individual or organization is unable to manage appropriate workload and multitask. An agile framework is designed to ensure minimum viable products are processed and delivered for every sprint.
Salient Agile Practices for Accelerated Business Outcomes
A Social Contract is a set of agreements that a team makes within itself to describe how the team members will behave and work together. Social Contracts are sometimes called Working Agreements. Ideally it will balance aspirational goals of the team with the details of actual behaviours and attitudes that the team want to see in action.
The Social Contract should be unique to each team and changed as required. It is a set of agreements, not a straight-jacket, and as new team members come on board it may need to change.
There are several key attributes of a Social Contract:
- Outside of an Organisation’s agreed policies and procedures, but cannot override them.
- Created and changed by mutual agreement of the team members.
- Exists for the life of the team.
- Enforced by mutual agreement of the team members
Why have a social contract?
Agile Teams should be as self-organising as possible and therefore it is ideal for an Agile team to define their own standards and have a sense of ownership and commitment to them. This helps the team to build a unique character and creates a shared sense of identity.
A Social Contract can also be an important way of reminding team members that the way of working has shifted from a system of control, to a system of trust. People invariably forget their agreements over time. Anyone can ‘enforce’ the Social Contract by pointing out deviations. This in turn contributes to a safe working environment which enables team members to have conversations about behaviours considered inappropriate
Why spend thousands of dollars on a survey tool to determine the mood of your team? Will the team clearly tell management how they feel by taking 10 minutes or more of their time to fill out a lengthy survey?
An important agile practice of introducing mood marbles where team members pick and drop a coloured marble which determines how they feel is a wonderful, convenient and a less expensive approach in running a “Survey”.
The goal of Mood Marbles is to gather overall team sentiment in projects or teams. Team members can choose a marble colour to depict how they feel or about the status of the project each day. For example, green = great, yellow = ok, red = not good/urgent. They can also input a comment after selecting a colour to indicate a call-to-action to move towards a “green” status. The average colour of the whole team and individual members can be viewed for any given day, week, or month to view the trend of team members’ sentiments.
An Agile retrospective is a meeting that’s held at the end of an iteration in Agile software development (ASD ). During the retrospective, the team reflects on what happened in the iteration and identifies actions for improvement going forward. An atmosphere of honesty and trust is needed in order for every member to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts
The Agile retrospective can be thought of as a “lessons learned” meeting. The team reflects on how everything went and then decides what changes they want to make in the next iteration. The retrospective is team-driven, and team members should decide together how the meetings will be run and how decisions will be made about improvements.
Planning Poker is a consensus-based estimating technique. Agile teams around the world use Planning Poker to estimate their product backlogs. Planning Poker can be used with story points, ideal days, or any other estimating unit.
What is Planning Poker ?
Planning Poker is an agile estimating and planning technique that is consensus based. To start a poker planning session, the product owner or customer reads an agile user story or describes a feature to the estimators.
Each estimator is holding a deck of Planning Poker cards with values like 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40 and 100, which is the sequence we recommend. The values represent the number of story points, ideal days, or other units in which the team estimates.
The estimators discuss the feature, asking questions of the product owner as needed. When the feature has been fully discussed, each estimator privately selects one card to represent his or her estimate. All cards are then revealed at the same time.
Poker cards helps in ensuring every team member thoughts or ideas are brought to the fore. In a traditional setup, once two or three influential members speak, a decision is made. These decisions may not be the most appropriate and may not be in the interest of the business. Poker cards ensures decisions that are made are collective with every team member being a part of the decision-making process.
Showcase provides a platform for all stakeholders to get together at the end of the Sprint to review what the team has worked on and provide their feedback on the functionality, which is being built. As software requirements are subjective hence its important for all stakeholders to view the implementation and ensure what’s built is inline with the expectation. The distributed nature of software development makes showcases challenging and hence it’s pertinent to plan, and prepare for showcase in advance. Based on my experiences of showcase few pointers below could help in planning, and presenting in showcase:
Purpose of Showcase
- Demonstrate work done
- Highlight progress
- Highlight risks / issues
User stories are one of the primary development artifacts for agile project teams. A user story is a very high-level definition of a requirement, containing just enough information so that the developers can produce a reasonable estimate of the effort to implement it.
With Story Cards, you spare the business or requesting party the headache of writing voluminous requirement documentation. With voluminous requirement documentation, the specific objectives of the task or project may be missing. Story cards ensure requirements are defined unequivocally and without ambiguity.
How do Story Cards Look Like?
Burn-Up & Burn-Down Chart:
Burn down and burn up charts are two types of charts that project managers use to track and communicate the progress of their projects. A burn down chart shows how much work is remaining to be done in the project, whereas a burn up shows how much work has been completed, and the total amount of work. These charts are particularly widely used in Agile and scrum software project management.
A burn down and burn up chart of the same project. In the burn down chart it appears that the team did not accomplish much in the middle of the project but heroically finished everything at the end. The burn up chart shows the complete picture – that the scope increased at the beginning of the project, and some scope was removed to finish the project by the deadline, whilst the team made steady progress through the entire duration of the project.
An agile standup is a meeting in which attendees participate while standing. The discomfort of standing for long periods is intended to keep meeting short. The meetings are usually timeboxed to between 5 and 15 minutes. The stand-up is sometimes referred to as daily scrum.
MoSCoW as a practice is a method of prioritization technique used in management, business analysis, project management, and software development to reach a common understanding with stakeholders on the importance they place on the delivery of each requirement; it is also known as MoSCoW prioritization or MoSCoW analysis. Prioritization is key for the survival of businesses. Once you prioritize work right, there is a high probability for success.
It is essential for businesses in the 21st Century to adopt an agile framework. Agility helps to create time to review current approaches and identify the blocks, bottlenecks and issues that limit the business. Businesses that are Agile centric are well informed through dashboards that provide real-time, tactile communication channels for collaborating and maintaining a shared understanding throughout the business. Without an agile mindset, traditional project management approaches tend to try and fix solutions from the start and deliver by running one long slow marathon of work to reach the goal. Agile in contrast looks at the project as a series of short sprints, each sprint is typically between 1-3 weeks with a minimum viable product produced at the end of the sprint. Regular retrospectives as discussed in this article are essential to ensure people, processes and technology are on track and in check.
If you want a solution that helps you find the 20% of your work that delivers 80% value, you ought to adopt SAFe. The unique and leading Agile framework with a value-driven method where success is measured on value created with a focus on the creation of working solutions that create the best return on investments. Once these are achieved, organizations become profitable and operate and deliver solutions at an optimized cost. These organizations always retain happy shareholders, motivated staff and loyal customers.
Think Agile….Think SAFe
Agile Project Manager, Strategy & Business Planner,
IT Infrastructure Manager & Cloud Technologist