Ian’s journey from journalism to becoming a Scrum Master is a testament to his adaptable mindset and persistence. His transition stemmed from a unique start; he secured his first job due to his fast typing skills and a desire to meet Peter Jennings. Ian’s persistence in seeking a meeting with Jennings honed his tenacity. The introduction to the Scrum Master role came through recognizing the news industry’s agile, continuous delivery setup. Despite challenges, like sending out 400 resumes for just 3 interviews and a job offer, Ian’s honesty on his resume and his ability to relate his existing skills to the software field were pivotal. In interviews, he remained coachable, acknowledged his learning curve, and emphasized genuine interest in others. He underlines the importance of not striving to be the smartest person in the room, instead focusing on collaboration and curiosity.
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.
Teams that are motivated, can also find themselves in trouble. This happens, for example, when teams are eager to get started and rush into implementing stories that are not well understood or defined.
In this episode, we talk about the possible pitfalls of being “too” driven, and how we can help teams get ready to start implementing before committing to early.
In this episode, we refer to a tool called “Definition or Ready”, a simple checklist (à lá Definition of Done) that helps teams make sure that they have enough information to get started implementing.
Featured Book for the Week: Emotional intelligence by Daniel Goleman
In Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Elena found an explanation and a reminder that humans are not computers. We are emotional creatures. Our emotions drive our behavior as much as anything else.
About Elena Popretinskaya
Elena considers herself a lifetime learner (she says, she absolutely loves having “aha!” moments). And she especially enjoys learning together with and from other people: her team and her friends. Elena is curious about everything: people, software craftsmanship and the world around. Elena is also a passionate hiker and a cross-country skier 🙂
Definition of Ready is a term that has emerged recently in the Scrum / Agile community. In this episode we discuss why that concept is important, and how it can help teams improve their performance. We also discuss why planning a little bit in the Sprint is better than trying to plan the whole sprint up front.
About Jon Eversett
Former Business Analyst, Product Owner wannabe, currently a Scrum Master. Jon works with teams with different maturity levels and some relatively new Product Owners. You can find Jon Eversett on LinkedIn, or interact with Jon Eversett on Twitter. You can read Jon Eversett’s blog to find out more about his ideas on the role of the scrum master and all things agile.