Gurucharan Padki: The critical differences between Project Management and Agile/Scrum

There’s a big contrast between some of the Agile values and principles, and the approach that we see implemented when Project Management is the ruling approach to delivering software. Agile and Scrum require that leaders (including Scrum Masters) learn about servant leadership, instead of looking at teams as “school children” that must be managed, and controlled.

In this episode, we talk about the key differences we must be aware between the “old” approach to software development (based on project management ideas), and what Agile is all about.

In this episode, we refer to the Tuckman’s stages of group development.

About Gurucharan Padki

Gurucharan Padki comes with 18 years of experience in the IT industry, of which he has spent more than a decade in the Agile world delivering products, programs and projects with focus on engineering and quality . He has played the role of product owner, scrum master and agile coach in multiple organizations across India and the world driving transformations.

You can link with Gurucharan Padki on LinkedIn.

BONUS: Enabling accountability with NoEstimates in government, with Craeg Strong

In this episode, we explore the use of NoEstimates approaches in a regulated and governmental environment. 

When Craeg and his team was called in to the Social Security administration, they were asked to help the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) assess the use of software development methods in an environment where the teams were adopting Agile methodologies, but the overall governance still followed the old school, linear (aka waterfall) methodologies. 

When the OIG is involved, it usually means that the organization being audited needs to prove that they are taking good care of public money invested in their processes. Therefore the challenge was to ensure that the teams were both following the Agile practices they said they had adopted, as well as taking the necessary actions to ensure proper use of public funds. 

Using NoEstimates to increase accountability

Continue reading BONUS: Enabling accountability with NoEstimates in government, with Craeg Strong

BONUS: Changing industries and breaking into the Scrum Master role with Ben Mills

In this episode, we cover how Ben found his vocation for the Scrum Master role, and the techniques he applied to break into the tech industry and the Scrum Master role. 

Changing industries is never easy, but changing from non-tech to tech and to a completely new role, like the Scrum Master role is even harder. 

For many of our guests, the Scrum Master role has been a calling, a sort of vocation that becomes obvious once you start. For our guest in this episode, Ben Mills, the vocation to be a servant leader and to help others overcome struggles was already there. And that vocation was what attracted him to the Scrum Master role.

People before anything else

When Ben started to learn more about the Scrum Master role, and eventually after taking the Scrum Master certification course, he understood that the role called for a mindset that put people before anything else. Their relationships, the collaboration, their ability to solve conflict, etc. 

At this point Ben, at the time a Pastor, started to apply what he had learned in his own team. Ben had been a project manager before, so organizing and following up was not new, but the role of the Scrum Master and the process of Scrum called for something else. 

In this segment, we refer to the episode with Alioscha Chaplits, Rachel Macasek and Daniel Lenhart about starting as a Scrum Master when you don’t have any tech industry experience.

Breaking into the tech industry and the Scrum Master role 

For aspiring Scrum Masters, it may not always be easy to first break into the tech industry, and later into the Scrum Master role. Ben shares with us some of the tips that helped him, and still help him to grow his network, and find the right people to ask questions. 

In the end, the perspective that people are the critical link in the success of teams can bring insights and prepare you for the role. 

In this segment, we talk about the book Shift From Product To People, published by Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast. 

Resources for aspiring Scrum Masters

Some of the books that inspired Ben Mills in his quest to understand the Scrum Master role: 

But perhaps, one of the stories that influenced Ben the most, was one story of his own. When he was starting out as a project manager, and learned an important lesson about transparency. Listen in to find out what that story was, and how it can transform your work as a Scrum Master.

About Ben Mills

Ben is a scrum master, a project manager and a Pastor. That’s a very unique journey that he is sharing with us. 

He’s starting his career as a scrum master and is sharing his journey with us on this BONUS episode.

You can link with Ben Mills on LinkedIn.

 

 

BONUS: Incremental Delivery in Business Intelligence (BI) and Data Warehouse projects with Raphael Branger

Raphael has been a guest on our regular show, and in those episodes, we approached the topic of Agile applied to Business Intelligence projects. In this episode, we dive deeper into the concepts and ideas that Raphael mentioned earlier, and we learn how Business Intelligence projects can be delivered incrementally, and in an agile manner. 

Slicing User Stories to enable incremental delivery

We start this episode with a practice that is critical for Agile teams: how to slice User Stories to enable the delivery of incremental value to customers. We discuss several strategies that Raphael uses to be able to deliver valuable functionality even in the first week of a project. 

Taking into account that usually, BI projects are executed by larger, and more traditional firms, his approach brings clarity and ensures that the team and the customer are able to evaluate the product from the first week. This practice is critical in collecting feedback from customers early on and avoiding producing products (dashboards, in this case) that no one will use. 

In this segment, we refer to a blog post by Raphael where he describes his User Story slicing approach in more detail.

#NoEstimates in BI projects

One of the inspirations for Raphael’s work on slicing User Stories was the #NoEstimates book and a few conversations that he and Vasco Duarte had in the early stages of Agile adoption at IT-LOGIX, Raphael’s company.

In Raphael’s perspective, the focus should shift from “sizing” stories to understanding what might be a good experience for the customer: customer delight; and then validating those assumptions directly with customers by delivering possible solutions very early on. 

As a way to apply #NoEstimates, Raphael started to apply the concept of “timebox” (limited time) to each of the User Stories being developed. His own rule is that a User Story should be developed within 1 or 2 days at the most, which pushes the teams to focus on what is critical to provide value to the customer. 

Timeboxing User Stories to validate assumptions

In this episode, we also explore how Raphael came to the realization that User Stories need to be timeboxed, rather than estimated. He shares a story of a project where the team produced a dashboard that did not get used by the customer (they had metrics). That was a transformative point in Raphael’s approach, leading him to focus on early and often delivery. Which led to the #NoEstimates heuristic that a User Story should be given a timebox. 

In this segment, we refer to the episode about a team that Runtastic that is using #NoEstimates, and how that has helped the team focus, and provide value faster. 

About Raphael Branger

Raphael Branger is a Certified Disciplined Agile Practitioner and a pioneer in adapting agile methods in the context of data and analytics projects. He works as a Principal Consultant Data & Analytics at IT-Logix in Switzerland with more than seventeen years of experience in business intelligence and data warehousing.

You can link with Raphael Branger on LinkedIn and connect with Raphael Branger on Twitter

 

BONUS: #NoEstimates in practice, interview with the Runtastic app team

In this episode, we interview Andre, Fabian and Aleksandar, team members at one of the Runtastic App teams. At the time of recording, they had 5 months of experience with #NoEstimates at the team level, and that led us to explore how they applied #NoEstimates; what prompted them to change their way of working; and many other practical questions related to the use of #NoEstimates approaches in their product development work.

The path to #NoEstimates

Continue reading BONUS: #NoEstimates in practice, interview with the Runtastic app team

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