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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.

BONUS: Mastering the Art of Forecasting, Prioritization Paradigms and Flow Metrics with Troy Lightfoot

Agile Planning Insights From The Gambler’s Ruin Thought Experiment

Troy, in this Agile Uprising podcast episode, delves into his intriguing journey in the realm of forecasting and estimation for software development. Inspired by that episode, we discuss the concept of Gambler’s Ruin, a mathematical problem turned into a game. Troy shares the main insights from Gambler’s Ruin and mentions Prateek Singh of ProKanban.org who has used this concept to demonstrate that even a slight skill advantage can lead to success when focusing product development on what Troy calls “Small Bets”

Small bets and impact on prioritization

Continue reading BONUS: Mastering the Art of Forecasting, Prioritization Paradigms and Flow Metrics with Troy Lightfoot

Bojan Smudja: How to break free from the feature factory anti-pattern, and learn to motivate Scrum teams

In this episode, Bojan reflects on a team consisting of 7-8 co-located members who were initially operating under a seemingly perfect Scrum setup. However, despite having a smooth workflow and delivering a product already in production, the team faced significant challenges. They lacked a sense of ownership and focused only on completing JIRA tasks without considering real outcomes. Bojan admits allowing this pattern to persist without interference. The team fell into the trap of becoming feature factory workers, losing sight of the purpose behind their work.

Anti-patterns such as “it’s not my job” and “I finished my part of the ticket” emerged. Even attempts to improve team dynamics, like playing sports, didn’t address the underlying issue of delivering outcomes. This situation persisted for an extended period, ultimately impacting the success of the product. Bojan’s tip for listeners is to develop empathy towards the customer, emphasizing the importance of understanding their needs and aligning efforts accordingly.

Featured Book of the Week: Agile Estimating and Planning by Mike Cohn

In this segment, Bojan discusses two influential books: “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries and “Agile Estimating and Planning” by Mike Cohn. He highlights a significant lesson he learned: the impossibility of having both fixed scope and a fixed deadline. Bojan emphasizes the importance of finding a balance between these two factors. He also mentions some practices that demonstrate how to implement agile planning effectively. Bojan also highly recommends “The Lean Startup” as a valuable resource for beginners in the field.

Transform Your Agile Teams with Hard-Earned Lessons from Super-Experienced Scrum Masters

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!


About Bojan Smudja

Bojan is an Agile coach dedicated to assisting individuals, teams, and organizations in reaching their objectives. With his expertise and guidance, he empowers others to embrace Agile methodologies and maximize their potential for success.

You can link with Bojan Smudja on LinkedIn.

Tinatin Tabidze: Mastering Agile as a Non-Technical Scrum Master – Insights and Tips for Success

Tinatin, a non-technical scrum master, faced challenges in her role due to unfamiliar terminology and the desire to contribute actively, and from the start. She faced a tough learning curve while implementing an authentication and authorization system for a fintech company. At the same time, her team was unable to deliver at the end of each sprint. For her own learning as well as to help the team, she helped the team create a roadmap with an emphasis on visualization. This roadmap was used by the team to communicate deliveries to stakeholders and understand project delays.

As junior scrum masters, we may face situations like this. Tinatin suggests that, at the start, technical knowledge is not necessary, but over time it is important to be adaptable and participate in technical discussions as scrum masters change from team to team, and participate in different technical domains.

Recovering from failure, or difficult moments is a critical skill for Scrum Masters. Not only because of us, but also because the teams, and stakeholders we work with will also face these moments! We need inspiring stories to help them, and ourselves! The Bungsu Story, is an inspiring story by Marcus Hammarberg which shows how a Coach can help organizations recover even from the most disastrous situations! Learn how Marcus helped The Bungsu, a hospital in Indonesia, recover from near-bankruptcy, twice! Using Lean and Agile methods to rebuild an organization and a team! An inspiring story you need to know about! Buy the book on Amazon: The Bungsu Story – How Lean and Kanban Saved a Small Hospital in Indonesia. Twice. and Can Help You Reshape Work in Your Company.

About Tinatin Tabidze

Tinatin Tabidze is a Scrum Master currently working in Stuttgart, Germany. Originally she started out as a project manager. She has experience with multiple scrum and kanban teams, working with scaled agile frameworks.

You can link with Tinatin Tabidze on LinkedIn.

Jill Stott: Learning to work with dominant people in Scrum teams

Jill was working in a team where all the team members knew each other well, it was almost like a group of friends. However, this team was not perfect. They struggled to complete even a third of all the stories they took into the Sprint. When looking back, she can recognize the pattern of the dominant/opinionated developer who wanted to take a lot into every sprint. This left the Product Owner and Business Analyst for that team frustrated, because the unpredictability had already become a problem. Listen in to learn how that team was able to move away from the “take as much as you want” mentality into the sprint.

Featured Book of the Week: Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins

In Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins, Jill found an essential guide to her work as a Scrum Master. It was the book that helped her understand the different responsibilities of a Scrum Master, the difference between Agile Coaching and the Scrum Master role. It’s a book she still refers to even now.

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!

About Jill Stott

Jill Stott is here to make friends! She’s worked in IT for too many years to count. She is passionate about assisting ScrumMasters to be successful and happy in their roles. Jill knows that there is no such thing as a perfect chocolate chip cookie and she isn’t afraid to use puppets.

You can link with Jill Stott on LinkedIn.

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Down-to-earth, hard-earned Scrum Masters lessons and the Tips from the Trenches e-book table of contents, delivered by email
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This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
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This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
Internal Conference
Checklist
Internal Conference
Checklist
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Motivate your team with the right metrics, and the right way to visualize and track them. Marcus presents a detailed How-To document based on his experience at The Bungsu Hospital
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
A moving story of how work at the Bungsu Hospital was transformed by a simple tool that you can use to help your team.
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
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