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We do Agile, but not Scrum

I often hear people saw “we follow the Agile Methodology”, or “we don’t do Scrum but we do Agile”. As if it is a thing I should know about. If you have done this then please note, there is no such thing as the Agile Methodology. My husband describes it best. Agile is an abstract super class. It has no specific instantiation. For those of you who aren’t OO geeks, that means Agile is just a word which groups a number of approaches together, it is not a methodology in itself. Read more


Training Exercise: Scrum Simulation

Recently while co-training a CSM (Certified ScrumMaster) class with Peter Hundermark we found ourselves with a polarised class of people who had only just heard about Scrum and people who had been practicing for months or years . Inspecting and adapting as we do, Peter and I decided to split the class. I invented a new exercise during the lunch break for the beginners, to help them grasp exactly what all the Scrum meetings are about, how they fit together and how the artefacts are used. It turned out to be a very successful exercise for teaching the concepts to newbies, and took about 90 minutes. I have given timings below of what I would time box each section to in future, being a new exercise I didn’t timebox well, as I had no idea how long it would take, and so we ran out of time near the end. Read more

How To Organise A Scrum Gathering

I recently stumbled across this in my blog drafts folder, and thought it was about time to finish it, since we are contemplating a new event this year.

As one of the organisers of the first South Africa Scrum Gathering in September 2010, I decided to blog about the experience. Hopefully fellow User Groups around the world who are considering a Gathering can learn from this. Read more

Training Exercise: Scaling Scrum

It’s been a while since I blogged, but I have a good excuse… I have been working hard co-training CSM (Certified ScrumMaster) and CSPO (Certified Scrum Product Owner) classes with Peter Hundermark. I am hoping to become a CST (Certified Scrum Trainer) myself, and the best way to learn is co-training with other trainers.

Over the last few weeks I had the pleasure of co-training with Gabrielle and Robert Benefield. During a discussion about sharing different training exercises I thought it would be great to blog about some of the exercises we use in training; to share them with a larger audience and get some feedback from how they work for other people.

I’ve already had great feedback on my estimation techniques post which explains a session you can run with teams to help them understand different estimation techniques. It seems likely that more training exercise posts would be helpful. The first topic is an exercise Gabby used to teach Scrum scaling patterns. Read more

A Development Manager’s Strategy

It’s the end of the year and as a software development manager I find myself thinking about strategy. I’ve been in this position for 5 months now, and I think it is time to start consciously working towards a strategy rather than just doing what I think is right. After a few discussions with others I think I have the foundation of something that really resonates with me, what I believe, and what I hope we can achieve. I thought I’d share it and see what people think.

I believe there are three things that our board and executive team expect from product development. These are the 3 key goals or objectives for me for the year: Predictability, Quality and Value. Read more

Story Mapping

Story Maps are a different way to visualize your Product Backlog. This post will give you a brief intro so you can build your own.

What’s the Problem

We all know that the Product Backlog is the prioritised list of user stories we need to implement in up coming releases. So what are the problems that exist with a backlog that might cause us to look at another tool to use in conjunction with the backlog.

  1. Backlogs are usually lists in Excel and make it difficult to visualise what needs to be done.
  2. There is no way to show a connection between a larger feature and the 3 smaller stories that make up that feature in a backlog.
  3. The order of workflow is not visible in stories in a backlog.
  4. Usually release scoping happens at the larger feature level since it’s unwieldy to work at the lower story level when planning releases.
  5. Backlog’s don’t offer any way to confirm if you’ve covered everything. Read more

Breaking Down User Stories

This post has been moved to my company blog at Growing Agile – you can read it here:

The First Month

It’s been 1 month since I started the new job. In the spirit of Improve your scrum implementation in one week, I thought I’d reflect on what I think I have achieved in my first month. Did I take any of my own advice?  Read on to find out 🙂

I didn’t do much in week one, except observe. I was very conscious of coming in as the new broom and changing everything. I was aware I might throw out some of the good stuff they already had in place if I did. I wanted to first understand what they had, and only then make changes.

I spent some time chatting to a few people one on one to get their point of view on things. I tried very hard (and wasn’t always successful) not to share my opinions too early. I didn’t want to influence what I was observing. I did make lots of notes and lists. I noted down all the things I though could be potential improvements. I knew that I wouldn’t implement everything immediately, and that after a while I would lose that fresh perspective I had in week one. So I made an idea backlog, and jotted down anything I though might be a good idea. Read more

Workshop: Estimation Techniques

This post has been moved to my company blog at Growing Agile – you can read it here:


Open Space

What is Open Space? You can think of it as a self organising conference. People decide what they want to talk about, and when and where they will do so.

We’ve held a few at SUGSA meetings in Cape Town. But at the Orlando Scrum Gathering, I attended a full day of Open Space facilitated by Harrison Owen. It was a different experience for me, and I think I’m starting to get what this open space thing is about. Hopefully this blog post can help to spread the idea, because more open space is a good thing in my book. Read more