Author: S Vasudev

CHOW #8– Updating the burn down

You could be a Scrum Master or a Team Member in a Scrum team. Everything is going well, except that the work remaining is not getting updated in the tool you are using. The team members forget to update, delay the updates. As a result though you learn a lot on what progress was made the previous day towards accomplishing sprint goals, you are unable to figure how the team is doing overall. What could be done to improve this situation?   Suggested solution: Solutions tried out in different situations: Bring up the burn down chart at the start of the daily scrum, it works like a charm. The team members who have not updated their progress and work remaining will add “missed updating, will do right after the daily scrum”. The moment this data is made use of by the team, the need to keep it updated automatically syncs in. One team arrived at a unique mechanism, added a fourth question “Whether I have updated my progress and remaining hours?” This was suggested by a team member fresh out of college, I was skeptical, but thought why not give it a shot. This too works, tried in many teams. The beauty is that the fourth question is a transient one, in the sense that it gets dropped after a while, as it becomes redundant. This is done by...

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CHOW #6– Dealing with multiple stakeholders

You are a manager for a team that is working on a Product. Your fairly large team, is responsible for: adding features providing fixes to existing issues working on a new architecture You have to deal with three different stakeholders for these three initiatives and send them updates on a weekly basis. You find that you are lagging behind on the new architecture initiative. You decide to dedicate two half days of the week, of the entire team for working on this. Things are going well, but off late you notice that the two stakeholders responsible for the support and enhancing the features are acting strangely. They seem to want more frequent updates, insinuate that you are neglecting their needs, escalate trivial issues to your Director. You learn that, a junior team member inadvertently shared with the stakeholder who is responsible for support, his work on the  new architecture as a reason for not starting work on a critical fix. There was however no breach in the SLA for the  bug fix time. It was completed within the agreed norm. Now you know a possible trigger, how would you deal with it?   Suggested solution:   The trigger was an inadvertent communication of your internal workings of the team causing one of the stakeholders to suspect that his work is given lesser focus. Quite possibly he has shared that with another...

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Common areas of Development for Project Managers

When we started on the journey of PM Competency Development using our ProMentor Framework, one of the inputs was the assessment of the individual. This was done based on formal inputs from their managers, using custom in-house instruments; as well as a self assessment. The self assessment would include a one-on-one interaction where we could co-relate it with the formal inputs and help the individual arrive at the areas of development. These development areas would span the hard and the soft aspects of the project management. There would be three to four coaches working with a batch of 20-25...

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Live the velocity

One of the Scrum Masters I was coaching had brought up the issue of the team members not clued into/or caring much for the team’s velocity. The team was very capable, the team members would participate passionately in the Sprint Planning, try to ensure that they are able to meet the forecast/commitment. Would listen in to updates in the Daily Scrum intently. They would help out each other when required, at times on their own volition or when asked by the other. Only issue was that they were not bothered about the velocity. The velocity was fluctuating and one day, as I was passing by their bay, I heard the Scrum Master tell her team, “Look guys the velocity is fluctuating, what will the managers think/say?” I stopped and gave a pitch – the team should be more bothered about the velocity than the managers, the velocity is owned by the team first! The concept of the team owning the velocity, was something that had not settled in the minds of this fairly new scrum team. I ended by saying that if managers do ask you a question on the velocity, you need to demonstrate such in-depth understanding of why it is so, that the managers walks away feeling assured that the team knows what it is doing. In the following weekend happened to watch “Drishyam” on the TV,...

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Wish You were Here

Sharing a serendipitous innovation that helped in effective group communication for absent members. In one of my earlier roles, we used to have a Group communication meet every last Friday of the month. This meeting was a mandatory meeting, with important information/decisions shared. After that, what was shared, was assumed to be known to all. But at times one or two group members would miss it, and encounter surprises sometime in the future and even spring inadvertent surprises for others as well. If a person was unable to attend he or she would have to get an OK from me. Here is how one of such conversation went: Sundar (one of my team): Hmm, I will not be able to attend the meeting today, I have a important family function on Saturday morning and have to catch a bus at 2 pm. Me: You missed the last month meet too, I think you will have to attend this and go. Sundar: No Vasu, you have to let me go, I will make up for it. Me: How? Sundar: I will go through the deck and any minutes. Me: But that did not work last time, you missed out on some aspects and it became an issue for you as well as your team lead who got dragged into it. Sundar: I know, I know, I feel guilty too, but what to do,...

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