BONUS: The Art of Slicing Work with Anton Skornyakov

This episode features Anton Skornyakov, an expert in Agile methodologies and the author of “The Art of Slicing Work: How to Navigate Unpredictable Projects.” Let’s unpack the concept of slicing work and explore how it can revolutionize productivity and project management.

Inspiration Behind The Book

“Focusing on ‘what’s the result we want from this discussion’ shifts our mindset towards more practical, outcome-oriented conversations.”

Anton shares what drove him to write his book. In his coaching practice, he noticed that many organizational discussions were mired in theory rather than focusing on actionable outcomes. By centering the conversation on “the next step” and the desired results for the upcoming two weeks, teams can move from abstract planning to concrete, actionable steps.

Understanding Slicing Work

Continue reading BONUS: The Art of Slicing Work with Anton Skornyakov

Andrew Mitchell: Shared Accountability and Problem-Solving, A Practical Way To Help Scrum Teams

In this episode, Andrew discusses a team that struggled with excessive time spent on refining stories and engaging in arguments during daily scrums. The organization was in the early stages of its agile transformation, and the team had difficulty transitioning from detailed requirements. Engineers felt judged by bugs, leading to a fear of making mistakes. To address these issues, Andrew introduced the concept of shared accountability, shifted the team’s focus to problem-solving, and encouraged smaller work slices. He also emphasized the importance of prioritizing helping people over solely delivering software. These changes aimed to foster collaboration and a supportive team environment.

In this episode, we refer to the book NoEstimates, and the method it describes that served as inspiration for Andrew’s work.

Featured Book of the Week: Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

In this segment, Andrew recommends the book “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek as required reading for Scrum Masters. The principle of the book originates from the US Marines, where leaders eat their meals after the soldiers. Andrew highlights the key tip of “They would do it for me,” emphasizing the importance of leaders who prioritize the well-being and needs of their team members. He describes the book as wonderful, implying that it offers valuable insights and lessons for Scrum Masters.

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 Andrew Mitchell

Andrew prioritizes people when building products, aiming for happy and engaged employees who create great products and serve customers well. He emphasizes trust, psychological safety, servant leadership, and believes Scrum is the best framework to achieve these goals.

He was also a host of the Product Owner Summit 2023, where we collaborated.

You can link with Andrew Mitchell 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

 

Slicing work for Value, the lost art of #Agile that can transform your team’s productivity and predictability.

Agile is about adapting to change. Change is a reality, we can’t avoid it. How we react to change is what will make or break our product development efforts.

For us to be Agile and adaptable, however, we must be able to change direction quickly. Adjust the deliverables after we collect market/customer feedback. Many teams I’ve worked with were doing exactly the opposite!

Teams often get stuck in the “this story can’t be broken down any further” anti-pattern. They push themselves to deliver enormous User Stories, and therefore end up having to do a lot of upfront planning and estimation (both are needed when the work items are very large).

If teams were able to slice work down to very small increments – say, one day or less – then they would not need to spend so much time planning and estimating. They might even be able to adapt during a Sprint, instead of waiting for the end of the Sprint.

Continue reading Slicing work for Value, the lost art of #Agile that can transform your team’s productivity and predictability.

Ruben Betancourt on how slicing Epics into smaller deliverables can increase your chance of success

It’s hard enough to deliver a small increment of a product, yet we often find ourselves and our teams in positions where they need to deliver a whole product, project or release in 1 go. No change for mistake. And you know what happens: when failure is not an option, failure is the only option!

About Ruben Betancourt
Ruben Betancourt is a computer systems engineer with experience in project management. Currently in love with agile software development methodologies.
You can link with Ruben Betancourt on LinkedIn and connect with Ruben Betancourt on Twitter.

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