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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.

Drew Craig: Unravelling an Agile Team’s Struggle with Overcommitment, And The Inevitable Consequences

In this episode, Drew delves into the common pitfall of teams overloading their backlog, leading to failed sprints and destroyed team morale. The challenge lies in helping teams realize the importance of realistic commitments. Drew suggests analyzing data, considering historical averages, and aligning discussions with product goals and roadmaps. Addressing the fear of reducing commitments due to leadership pressure, he emphasizes the need to collaborate with leadership and focus on data-driven decision-making.

Featured Book Of The Week: Multipliers, by Liz Wiseman

In this episode, Drew shares pivotal books shaping his career as a Scrum Master. “Drive” by Dan Pink offers clarity with easy-to-understand insights about motivation, grounding practitioners in their roles. Drew appreciates its ability to simplify complex concepts. “Multipliers” by Liz Wiseman provides insights on strengthening teams and shifting from doing to enabling. Drew’s takeaway involves pondering, “How can I be a multiplier?”

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 Drew Craig

Drew calls himself an Agile Coach for humans; inspiring growth for individuals, teams, and systems to be better together. In all of his roles, the connection has been the people. He is passionate about establishing sustainable and simple processes, techniques, or insights as mechanisms toward self-sufficient and empowered systems.

You can link with Drew Craig on LinkedIn and connect with Drew Craig on Twitter.

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

Rohit Ratan Mani: Motivating Teams With a Proactive and Inspirational Product Owner

The Great Product Owner: The Power of a Proactive and Inspirational Product Owner

In this episode, Rohit shares his experience working with a highly enthusiastic Product Owner (PO) who joined from the business side. This PO actively sought knowledge by attending training sessions and conferences, generously sharing their learnings with Rohit. They introduced the concept of NoEstimates and encouraged experimentation. Despite initially being unfamiliar with NoEstimates, Rohit appreciated the PO’s drive for innovation. He emphasizes that Product Owners like this create a safe environment for the team to explore, challenge, and improve. The episode highlights the importance of a proactive and knowledgeable PO in fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth.

The Bad Product Owner: Collaboratively Establishing Clarity in Scrum Master and Product Owner Roles

In this episode, Rohit recounts his experience with a problematic Product Owner (PO) and how he addressed the situation. Initially, the PO relied heavily on Rohit to build and write the backlog, causing him to become a substitute PO. Realizing the negative impact of this pattern, Rohit initiated a conversation with the PO to clarify his need to prioritize the team’s focus. He emphasizes the importance of setting clear boundaries and saying “no” to taking on others’ responsibilities. The episode underscores the significance of establishing accountability and ensuring a healthy balance between the Scrum Master and Product Owner roles.

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 Rohit Ratan Mani

Rohit is an Enterprise Agile Coach, helping Leaders, individuals and teams to develop a growth mindset to be top achievers in their respective work area and  in personal life.

You can link with Rohit Ratan Mani on LinkedIn and connect with Rohit Ratan Mani on Twitter.

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This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
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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
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