Author: Harish Achappa Kallira

The Story Teller

A backlog must resemble a good folktale- that people will talk about after they have listened to it, allowing freedom to interpret and be able to be told in multiple variations without changing the outcome. Product Owners play a direct role in creating backlogs that teams can own and understand the problem that they are trying to solve. Product Owners need to become story tellers than requirement specialists. My experience in working with teams has been that the backlog usually appears empty or stuffed with disparate items early in the lifecyle. Once clarity is available on what needs to...

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CHOW #85- Planning with a not so clear backlog

Amit is a lead for a team. His team has a clear charter to improve the quality of client engagement information available to their sales team. Towards this, the team is working with analytics and the latest in software – machine learning. The team is following Agile and does quarterly planning; and here-in lies their challenge. Earlier, quarterly planning used to be figuring out how much the team feels they can do. They knew what they were buildin in a reasonable way In this current charter, the team does not know what they are going to do – they...

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Design Thinking – What it is and how to start using it (contd)…

An advantage of considering Design Thinking as an Innovation LEVER is that it clarifies what Design Thinking actually is – and what it is not. Design Thinking provides a structure – for individuals and teams to look closely at challenges, understand the problem before moving to create a solution. Hence, practising Design Thinking will also need tools and skills required to use the structure effectively. Each step of creating a response has tools that have been used for ages. Tools for research, for generating ideas, to validate assumptions and to build solutions incrementally while getting constant feedback. Effective use of this structure requires multiple skills – a strength that only a poly-skilled team can bring in. It is critical to build facilitation skills for effective collaboration across teams and stakeholders with these skills and knowledge. Without these tools and the collaboration skills, the structure that Design Thinking provides will end up being procedural – risking Design Thinking being tagged as a fad. In subsequent posts, I plan to write about: The relevance of Design Thinking, Agile and DevOps in the lifecycle of businesses (are they the Three musketeers of innovation?) Challenges in looking for and creating innovation when teams are distributed. Introducing Design Thinking in to teams – and in existing environments. I will greatly appreciate you writing and responding on this post – to further me on the...

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CHOW #73- Painting the big picture

Rohit is managing a team that has newly transitioned to agile for the past few months. Over these months, across multiple sprints – the team has been regularly preparing stories for sprints. As part of sprint planning –  they estimate stories using story points and track velocity. The product owner has changes that need to get done and has reached out to Rohit to work with the team and prepare a plan on when they are likely to get done. The team refuses to provide details – as they are agile and will not be able to plan ahead....

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Two reasons to stop sizing during sprints

In many new agile teams, sprint planning is used to discuss the stories, estimate stories in story points and plan for the sprint. However, as many sprints happen – and underlying conversation gets louder. Stakeholders want to know how much will actually get done by the team over few months. Teams are provided with some goals – and asked for a time frame for when most of these would get done. The agile ceremonies –  especially sprint planning and estimation that the team follows do not seem to help. Usually, teams seem to find the high level goals and...

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