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Maryse Meinen: Value Over Velocity, A Product Owner’s Journey to Value-Driven Development, NoEstimates Unplugged Week

This is one of a series of episodes where Product Owners explain how they used, and benefited from #NoEstimates in their work with teams.

To know more about #NoEstimates, sign-up to get the first 3 chapters of the book here.

Introduction to #NoEstimates

Maryse Meinen shares her journey into agile and lean methodologies, highlighting a pivotal moment at her first international conference where she attended a workshop on #NoEstimates led by Seb Rose. The workshop’s quiz on estimating the distance from Earth to the moon led her to an epiphany about the common tendency to provide estimates even when uncertain, driven by peer pressure—an insight that spurred her to experiment with the #NoEstimates approach.

A Real-World Example of Success

Maryse describes her experience with a new team tasked with developing an infrastructure solution without relying on traditional estimates. By focusing on conversations, card confirmations (the 3 C’s of User Stories), and refining story points to either 1 or 0 based on whether a story was refined, the team managed to prioritize work more effectively. The practice of making items as small as possible and focusing on delivering value in various forms proved to be beneficial.

Challenges in Implementation

The biggest challenge in implementing #NoEstimates was not from management or stakeholders, but rather from inexperienced scrum masters resistant to deviating from traditional estimation techniques. Maryse found success by allowing the team space to operate independently and focusing on outcomes rather than estimates.

Impact on Planning and Prioritization

Shifting the focus from estimates to value delivered led to a significant change in how Maryse’s team approached planning and prioritization. By setting sprint goals around solving real problems for real people, the team moved away from a task-centric to a value-centric approach. One of the core tenants of the #NoEstimates approach.

Measuring Progress Without Estimates

Maryse’s team measured progress by the problems they solve, framing sprint goals around these problems and communicating achievements in terms of value delivered to stakeholders, rather than in traditional estimation-driven progress metrics, like tasks completed – which would not necessarily deliver any value to end-users and customers.

Advice and Resources for #NoEstimates

Maryse encourages teams to start experimenting with #NoEstimates and emphasizes the importance of continuous learning and adaptation. She recommends engaging with the #NoEstimates community on Twitter and exploring resources by Allan Kelly and Seb Rose, as well as the NoEstimates book.

About Maryse Meinen

Maryse is an Product Owner dedicated to fostering experimentation, agility, and empathy within organizations. She builds and facilitates great teams, coaches leaders, and believes in simplicity and human-centric methodologies. With expertise in Lean/agile development and a passion for teaching, she shapes adaptive and learning-focused cultures.

You can link with Maryse Meinen on LinkedIn.

Luis Garcia: Forecast Over Estimation, How To Transform Your Approach To Project Management, NoEstimates Unplugged Week

This is one of a series of episodes where Product Owners explain how they used, and benefited from #NoEstimates in their work with teams.

To know more about #NoEstimates, sign-up to get the first 3 chapters of the book here.

Introduction to #NoEstimates

Luis Garcia, transitioning from estimation discomfort to a #NoEstimates approach as a product owner, discovered its benefits after attending a workshop by Woody Zuill. Faced with the challenges of hard commitments in government projects, he sought to shift focus from when to what and why in project discussions.

A Transformative Project Example

Implementing #NoEstimates in a kanban team, Luis emphasized work breakdown and comfortable task sizing. This method facilitated stakeholder communication, improved expectation management, and enabled precise progress measurement through metrics like cycle time and using techniques like Monte Carlo forecasting.

Overcoming Implementation Challenges

When Luis tried to introduce #NoEstimates, he originally faced skepticism, misconceptions about planning, and stakeholder resistance. In those cases, Luis advises focusing on forecasting based on available data, ensuring team stability, and managing expectations effectively. And focusing on progress transparency, instead of trying to change people’s minds.

Strategic Stakeholder Management

Successfully integrating #NoEstimates involved fostering team accountability and ownership over the refinement process, thereby enhancing stakeholder dialogue and planning efficiency. For example, Luis shares that #NoEstimates shifted the team’s focus to identifying and preparing the most valuable tasks, leveraging data for all planning and prioritization decisions. This focus helped to keep stakeholders informed, and improved transparency.

Measuring Success and Communicating Progress

Without traditional estimates, Luis’s team adopted a probabilistic approach to measure and communicate progress, supported by insights from the book “Thinking in Bets” by Annie Duke.

When it came to adopting a different way to measure and communicate progress, practicality was key; even simple tools like Excel were effective for data management in the #NoEstimates process, emphasizing simplicity and scalability.

Advice for #NoEstimates Adopters

Luis recommends low-change experimentation with #NoEstimates to experience its benefits firsthand and stresses the importance of informative discussions over rigid planning.

Resource Recommendation

For those considering #NoEstimates, Luis suggests starting with the “NoEstimates” book and following thought leaders like Vasco Duarte, Woody Zuill, and Allen Holub on social media.

About Luis Garcia

Luis is a Program Manager at Formula.Monks, specializes in developing impactful digital products. Luis has over 10 years of experience and several Agile certifications, he adeptly applies Agile frameworks to meet client needs. His background includes a Master’s in Computer Engineering and an Executive MBA. He is also fluent in English, Spanish, and French, he values diverse work environments and continuous learning.

You can link with Luis Garcia on LinkedIn.

Lee Beckett: Using NoEstimates to Help Agile Teams Focus On Value, And Create Transparency – NoEstimates Unplugged Week

This is one of a series of episodes where Product Owners explain how they used, and benefited from #NoEstimates in their work with teams.

To know more about #NoEstimates, sign-up to get the first 3 chapters of the book here.

Exploring #NoEstimates

Lee Beckett shares his journey from coder to Product Owner (PO), and how his diverse experience led him to question the effectiveness of traditional estimation techniques in agile environments. He discusses the adoption of a #NoEstimates approach, highlighting its benefits in simplifying processes and focusing on delivering value.

Lee illustrates how abandoning estimates, except for significant items, streamlined project workflows and improved team dynamics. This approach fostered a culture of trust and transparency, crucial for managing stakeholder expectations and focusing on product delivery.

Challenges and Solutions

Implementing #NoEstimates was surprisingly straightforward for Lee’s team, emphasizing the importance of establishing trust and transparency with stakeholders from the outset.

Lee stresses honesty in forecasting and advises giving stakeholders meaningful insights rather than fixed dates to help manage expectations effectively.

After adopting #NoEstimates, the team’s planning focused on work discussion rather than assigning numerical values, allowing for more flexible and goal-oriented sprint planning.

Measuring Success

Without traditional estimates, the team measures progress through product delivery and stakeholder feedback, ensuring a focus on value creation.

Lee advises teams to ensure open communication and clear prioritization with stakeholders before moving to #NoEstimates, ensuring a foundation for success.

Recommended Resource

For those interested in exploring #NoEstimates further, Lee recommends the “Agile for Humans” podcast, particularly the interview with Josh Anderson and Ryan Ripley.

About Lee Beckett

Lee Beckett, has over 17 years of experience in digital product development, and is a certified Product Owner and Lean Practitioner. Skilled in setting product goals and managing backlogs, Lee excels in guiding teams through the product lifecycle and fostering a culture of empiricism and learning in agile environments.

You can link with Lee Beckett on LinkedIn.

Johannes Andersen: Ceremony Over Substance, The Scrum Master Trap, And How It Affects Teams And The Product Owner

The Great Scrum Master: Beyond the Backlog, How a Great Scrum Master Helps Product Owners

From a Product Owner’s perspective, Johannes shares what an ideal Scrum Master looks like. This Scrum Master not only introduced him to Scrum but also focused on the underlying purpose beyond mere processes. His patience, clarity, and pragmatic approach in defining priorities and solving conflicts greatly facilitated the PO’s understanding of product development challenges. This Scrum Master’s ability to foster meaningful conversations significantly helped Johannes in the PO role, highlighting the importance of a Scrum Master’s soft skills in guiding and supporting the product vision.

The Bad Scrum Master: Ceremony Over Substance, The Scrum Master Trap, And How It Affects Teams And The Product Owner

From a Product Owner’s perspective, Johannes highlights an anti-pattern where the Scrum Master becomes overly focused on ceremonies and strict adherence to Scrum guidelines, losing sight of the actual outcomes. This approach mistakenly centralizes process ownership with the Scrum Master, rather than distributing it among the entire team. Johannes advises addressing this issue by realigning the Scrum Master’s role towards shared goals and understanding, using tools like Team Topologies for discussion. The key is moving beyond the “servant” aspect of “servant leader” to foster a team environment where understanding and self-direction are prioritized.

The Ultimate Guide to Supporting Product Owners as a Scrum Master

Are you having trouble helping the team work well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Johannes Andersen

Johannes comes from a finance and fintech background, and is now an enterprise agility maestro at a leading telco in Copenhagen! He focuses on optimizing the flow from strategy to execution, championing portfolio management with a keen eye on doing the right things, even if imperfectly. Johannes is an international speaker on product development topics.

You can link with Johannes Andersen on LinkedIn.

Johannes Andersen: Autonomy as an Achievement, Empowering Self-Sufficient Scrum Teams

When it comes to being a successful Agile Coach and Scrum Master, Johannes emphasises the goal of becoming unnecessary as the team matures. For Johannes, success is evident when the team autonomously conducts check-ins, engages in constructive debates, and effectively self-organizes while maintaining good relationships. The ability to request help and independently run retrospectives are signs of a well-functioning team that continuously challenges its own processes.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Timeline Retrospective With a Twist

Johannes shares a favorite retrospective format, focusing on flexibility and open dialogue. Starting with a timeline to objectively list events, the process encourages a shared understanding of recent activities. The team then categorizes experiences into “Well,” “Not Well,” and “Makes Me Wonder,” before voting on action points. As familiarity grows, discussions evolve to directly address improvement areas. Johannes emphasizes the value of natural conversation over strict adherence to structured methods, suggesting that effective retrospectives can thrive on organic interaction.

How can I, as a Scrum Master, supercharge my facilitation?

Retrospectives, planning sessions, vision workshops, we are continuously helping teams learn about how to collaborate in practice! In this Actionable Agile Tools book, Jeff Campbell shares some of the tools he’s learned over a decade of coaching Agile Teams. The pragmatic coaching book you need, right now! Buy Actionable Agile Tools on Amazon, or directly from the author, and supercharge your facilitation toolbox!

About Johannes Andersen

Johannes comes from a finance and fintech background, and is now an enterprise agility maestro at a leading telco in Copenhagen! He focuses on optimizing the flow from strategy to execution, championing portfolio management with a keen eye on doing the right things, even if imperfectly. Johannes is an international speaker on product development topics.

You can link with Johannes Andersen on LinkedIn.

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