Friday 7 January 2011

Heads up!

Wow, it's been a while, but I finally have a bit of time to get back to this stuttering attempt at blogging.

Something that I have come across with teams and maybe others have experience of this, is the need for teams to make sure that they are aware of where they are in terms of the sprint.

Scrum, for example has the basic mechanisms for informing us how we are progressing. The burndown should be on a nice angle downwards, and our stand up questions should indicate if anyone is having issues. But does the team, as a whole, have a good feel for how the sprint is panning out?

I ask this because as an ex-developer, I know how easy it is to immerse oneself in the coding and become a little island.

One thing I like to do is get the team to take a step back and take a good look at the the Scrum board. After a stand up, once you're in to the sprint (but not so it's too late to fix things!) have a look at where the cards are. Do things look ok? Are the top priority items getting done? Will there be time to test and fix?

If not, the team can think about how to deal with things. Maybe switching themselves around a bit to help with blockages.

Now - before you tell me this should automatically happen with the stand ups etc, what I find is that you can sometimes surface things that the 3 question format may have missed.

I also like to remind everyone to lift their heads up occasionally and see how evryone else is doing.

Agile development should be collaborative, but sometimes, as individuals, we drift in to isolation. All I am saying is that it doesn't do any harm to say, "heads up!" now and then.