Author: A Narasimhan

CHOW #51– Energizing Continuous Improvement in Agile teams

Vijay is the Scrum Master of an operations team providing 24-hr support for various software products. They had few retrospectives but somehow the improvements were not well translated into action items and some of them were not even acted upon. But no one would question the team on why they were not completing the action items on identified improvements. Of late, retrospectives are becoming kind of boring and hardly any improvement surfaces during those sessions. The product owner and even managers are not really concerned and are just happy conducting the ceremony every two weeks. But as a serious Scrum Master, Vijay is really concerned and trying hard to find out ways by which he can help the team focus on continuous improvement. As a coach, how can you help Vijay in his task?   Suggested Solution: Vijay has to spend time with Product Owner (and managers) to understand whether they have any goals set for the team. Any organization would have goals and Vijay needs to understand the goals and help Product Owner to define those goals in terms of Epics or stories for the team. Many operations teams think that they need not do any ‘planning’ as Kanban does not mandate planning like Scrum does. While it is true for day-today work as the team would not even know what work would come the next day and...

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CHOW #32– Can you help the Product Owner of a team using Kanban?

Suri has just attended a two-day training on Product Ownership and has been made the Product owner of the Database support team. The team supports various Database products in the enterprise and work in multiple shifts. They have started using Kanban for the past three months but seem to have some problems in meeting customer expectations. Last month several customer complaints were received about delayed service. Having played the role of a Product Owner for a Scrum team for over six months, Suri is new to Kanban and is trying to figure out what best he can do to help the team to improve customer service. But he is not sure what should be the first thing that he should look into. Team’s throughput seems to be good. They are closing most tickets raised in a day though they are handling multiple types of work. Some are involved in projects spanning over couple of months but most of their time is dedicated to daily support. And despite the throughput which the team is maintaining, cycle team seems to be going up all the time.  What are some of the possibilities that Suri should explore as PO to help the team? I would like to hear your thoughts to help the Product Owner.   Suggested solution: As the Product Owner, Suri needs to analyse the situation taking into account the...

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Role of the Product Owner in Kanban teams

Kanban is less prescriptive than Scrum and does not specify roles such as Scrum master or Product Owner. Sometimes there is a role of Board Owner but it is not really a Product Owner. Also no ceremonies such as Planning, Retrospective or Backlog Refinement are prescribed. The goal of team members is to get all the incoming work done as quickly as possible. The work itself comes randomly and is picked by team members as and when they are available to pick the next ticket. So it is not the typical planned deliveries that a Scrum team does and...

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An Anecdote from Ken Schwaber’s training

I feel myself very fortunate to have attended the CSM training provided by Ken Schwaber several years ago. I still remember how effective the training was and how he focused on some of the most fundamental aspects of Agile and Scrum. I would like to share here one such interesting exercise done during the training. It is important that Agile teams focus on improvement and for that they need to have many ideas flowing in. The moment you have several ideas, conflicts might ensue, which is a typical characteristic of many cross-functional teams. Teams get very innovative when they...

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