BONUS: Diana Getman – How checklists make Agile teams faster and deliver with high quality, without adding more processes

In this episode, we explore the role that checklists can have in helping teams improve their process and their performance without adding more processes. 

It is a normal tendency to “add more processes” to fix a problem a team is experiencing. In this episode, we challenge that view. Checklists, we argue, are a simple, effective tool that helps you reach a similar goal, but does not require the process to grow, and become bloated. 

2 Common types of checklists that help teams improve how they work

There are several types of items we can add to a checklist. In this segment, we discuss 2 common types of checklists, and how they can help teams. We start by discussing the “process checklists”, which may include important tips on how to execute a certain process. 

The key thing to remember is that checklists don’t replace processes, but are rather a set of reminders, or items that help teams execute a process once they’ve already read and understood the process. 

The second type of checklists we discuss are those that summarize a series of requirements or pre-conditions that a team needs to follow-up on. This may include quality requirements or certain tasks that need to be completed before a certain work item is considered complete. 

The most common checklists Scrum teams use

Scrum teams have a common set of checklists that they use. We discuss the commonly used Definition of Done, and also talk about the importance of having a Definition of Ready, and how that may help teams get started on the right foot when a new Sprint is about to kick-off.

Additionally, we talk about a pre-release checklist. With a pre-release checklist, teams are able to keep a memory of what they’ve learned from the past about meeting the release requirements, and can continuously improve that critical aspect of any team’s process.

In this segment, we also tackle the usual objections that people given when asked to consider the use of checklists. Checklists may be seen as “more bureaucracy”, but instead, they are there to help teams summarize a process that already exists, provides transparency about the process execution, and ultimately it should be a time saver for the team.

How about you? How have you used Checklists in your work? Share your experience in the comments below.

About Diana Getman

Diana Getman has more than 25 years of experience as a project manager leading cross-functional teams, in both startup and non-profit organizations. Diana has held the roles of Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Agile Coach and is the current President at Ascendle, a custom software development firm in Portsmouth, NH.

You can link with Diana Getman on LinkedIn, or visit Ascendle’s blog for more on checklists.

Making Agile Retrospectives Impactful – A Visualization Tool by Jeff Campbell

This is a guest post by Jeff Campbell, author of Actionable Agile tools (available on Amazon, and direct from the author at bit.ly/aatbook)

Visualizing Continuous Improvement

I am a big believer in continuous improvement, weather that be in the form of Retrospectives, a Kaizen approach, or something else that helps the team reflect regularly. But for the earlier years of my career as a Scrum Master I found myself frustrated by a lack of improvement despite all this reflection (retrospectives that have no impact…).

Often,what I was seeing was that we talked about the problems the team was facing, and then didn’t follow-through with the actions we agreed to take.

When we tried to change our behavior. We might have succeeded for a day or two and then would forget about it. This isn’t continuous improvement this is just continuous discussion!

We need a good way to make sure we are actually making the change we set out to make!

Click to learn more about how you can help your PO

Continue reading Making Agile Retrospectives Impactful – A Visualization Tool by Jeff Campbell

Woody Zuill: “The system is where it’s at”

Woody Zuill discusses systems, and tools to help us understand the system. We also discuss how important retrospectives are, and how to go about increasing the amount, and value of your retrospectives: Just-In-Time retrospectives.

About Woody Zuill

Woody Zuill, an independent Agile Consultant, Trainer, Coach, and Guide and has been programming computers for 30+ years. As a pioneer of the Mob Programming approach of teamwork for software development he has been sharing presentations and workshops on Mob Programming for conferences, user groups, and companies all over the world. He is considered one of the founders of the “#NoEstimates” discussion on Twitter.
You can connect with Woody Zuill on LinkedIn or contact Woody Zuill on Twitter.
If you are interested, check the MobProgramming conference.

Niko Kortelainen on how to run effective retrospectives

Retrospectives are both important and hard to get right. There are many teams that stop having retrospectives and feel lost as to how to run them effectively. Niko shares with us his own view of how to run effective retrospectives, filled with tips and advice, this is a must listen episode about retrospectives.

About Niko Kortelainen

Niko Kortelainen is a Scrum Master at Digia, which among other things commercializes the cross-platform Open Source framework Qt. In his journey he discovered that the most challenging problems in software industry are not technical problems and ever since then, he has been focusing on how to make everyday work more fun.
You can link up with Niko Kortelainen on LinkedIn and connect with Niko Kortelainen on Twitter.
You can read Niko Kortelainen blog, where he wrote about his experience with adopting Scrum.

Alex Fürstenau explains how retrospectives can help teams get out of the “us vs them” anti-pattern

When a team faces a problem they have a choice between blaming someone else (“them”), or taking ownership and making it happen even if that improvement looks beyond their reach. We as Scrum Masters can help teams take ownership, even when they need to involve other people in the resolution of the problem. Alex explains the problem, and some of the possible techniques to get the team to understand that they own the results of their work.

About Alex Fürstenau

Alex Fusternau scrum master toolbox podcast(1)When he was 12, his father bought him his first computer, a C64. The moment he saw characters appearing on the television was the moment when he knew he would do something with computers. Several years and a computer science study later that “dream” became true.
Alex quickly realized that the customers were not happy with our product. The first approach was to fix more of the requirements but it made things worse. During that time (around 2002) he thought “There has to be a better way” and he found several, among which was Agile.

You can link with Alex Füsternau on Linkedin, or connect with Alex Füsternau on Twitter. Alex also facilitates a regular meetup in Hamburg on the topic of Liberating Structures, for more on the meetup visit their meetup page.

Cliff Hazel on moving teams to the next level

It is hard to help teams take steps that move them to the next level. It is human nature to seek comfort and safety. Cliff developed an approach to get teams out of the rut, by helping them want to take their game to the next level. He uses some very simple tools that he explains in this episode.

About Cliff Hazel

Cliff Hazel scrum master toolbox podcastCliff Hazel is a coach at Spotify who is trying to learn about how to build effective teams, and how we can create the conditions for them to thrive. His main interests are: Complexity and Systems, Visualisation and Information Radiators, Curiosity and Continuous Learning
You can link with Cliff Hazel on LinkedIn, connect with Cliff Hazel on Twitter and catch him in some conference near you.

Zuzi Sochova on the “we’re already good” anti-pattern

Many teams get stuck in a bad place, but there are some teams that also get stuck, but because they think they already are “good enough”. Listen in to learn how Zuzi learned to work with teams that already think they are “good enough”.

About Zuzi Sochova

Zuzi help companies and individuals to be more successful. She teaches teams and their managers how to be more efficient, how to provide better quality and how to communicate and organize teams so that people have fun, they are motivated and have high commitment. Zuzi helps teams and managers find out how to handle customer relationship to help them improve customer satisfaction.
You can visit Zuzi’s website at: http://sochova.cz/, and link with Zuzi Sochova on LinkedIn, or connect with Zuzi Sochova on twitter, or your favorite conferece.

Jeff Campbell on the Coffee Room Whining Anti-Pattern

We’ve all done it in one way or another. We spend time in a retrospective criticizing what is wrong, and assigning blame to others. Jeff Campbell has been there as well, and in this episode he explains how you can get teams to stop spending their valuable time whining, and start taking action.

About Jeff Campbell

Jeff is an Agile Coach who considers the discovery of Agile and Lean to be one of the most defining moments of his life, and considers helping others to improve their working life not to simply be a job, but a social responsibility. As an Agile Coach, he has worked with driving Agile transformations in organisations both small and large. He is one of the founding members of www.scrumbeers.com and an organiser of www.brewingagile.org in his spare time. He is also the author of an open source book called Actionable Agile Tools, where he explains how he uses 15 of the tools he uses in his daily work as a scrum master and agile coach.
You can link with Jeff Campbell on LinkedIn, and connect with Jeff Campbell on Twitter.

Anton Zotin on the way to introduce new methods to teams

We can sometimes overwhelm the teams we work with by introducing too many methods. Anton explains how he likes to introduce methods to the team, by running experiments with the team to see if the method fits the team, and solves the problem they want to tackle. He also gives a critical advice on one of the most common anti-patterns for Scrum Masters: wanting to help too much.

About Anton Zotin

Anton is an Agile guy born in cold Siberia but with hot and passionate heart. He has worked in all sorts of companies and environments, and has been an agile fan since 2004. Nowadays works and lives in Berlin. And he deeply believes in people.
You can connect with Anton Zotin on LinkedIn, or find Anton Zotin on twitter. You can also ask him questions over email.

Marcus Hammarberg on visualizing work, and its impact on the system

When we introduce visualization methods in an already dysfunctional organization, there’s a tendency to see problems and point at the guilty parts. However, our dysfunctional processes are the result of the system conditions, not the people in the system. Marcus reminds us of that fact and asks us to hate the sin, not the sinner. He also shares a great tip to get started with visualizing the work in progress.

Marcus shared with us a discount code for all that purchase his book until October 14th, 2015. Don’t miss it, purchase the book at http://bit.ly/theKanbanBook, and use the code scrumkan.

Marcus is the author of Salvation:The Bungsu Story, a fascinating account of a real-life crisis, and how Agile, Lean and Kanban saved the Hospital from bankruptcy! Twice! Get ready for the journey, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

About Marcus Hammarberg

Marcus is a Software / agile consultant from Sweden on IT-sabatical leave in Indonesia, working for the Salvation Army hospitals there. And yes, using techniques from agile in that work even in non-software environments.
One of those approaches he is using is Kanban, as Marcus is the author of the book Kanban in Action with Joakim Sundén, don’t forget to go to http://bit.ly/theKanbanBook, and get the book with the discount code scrumkan.
You can link with Marcus Hammarberg on LinkedIn, and connect with Marcus Hammarberg on twitter.