How Can We Do It Better?

Performance Appraisals in an Agile Organization

Performance appraisals are a part of life in nearly every organization, and yet no one likes them1. Bad performance appraisal processes can seriously harm your organization's ability to recruit and maintain talent. Individuals being reviewed worry about whether their contributions will be recognized, and the impact a questionable appraisal may have on their career. If they believe they are continually treated unfairly...

  1. Posted on July 7, 2015 7:54:PM by John Clifford to Retrospectives

Chickens and Pigs Revisited

There's been a lot of discussion on the subject of 'chickens and pigs' and commitment in Scrum, whether the Scrum community has a generally-agreed definition of commitment, and whether commitment is useful. First, let's talk about the definition of commitment, certainly a loaded word and one that is used improperly in most organizations. People commit to one another when they marry; to be faithful, and to be mutually responsible and accountable to each other. A commitment is defined,...

  1. Posted on April 29, 2015 5:39:PM by John Clifford to Retrospectives

The Best of All Possible Worlds

I just finished reading the Scrum Alliance’s 2013 ‘State of Scrum’ report , and was reminded of the joke about how the pessimist and the optimist both believe we live in the best of all possible worlds....

  1. Posted on July 2, 2013 5:46:PM by John Clifford to Retrospectives
  2. Agile, Scrum

Dear Construx: Story Point Inflation Causes Ever-Expanding Project!

Dear Construx:   How do you deal with the risk of Story Point inflation throughout a Scrum project? My team goes through release planning, ending up with a backlog where each item has been estimated using story points. Based upon our estimates of story points and team velocity, we predict, and commit to, a release date. So far, so good. As our project progresses, the Product Owner breaks larger ‘epics’ into...

  1. Posted on August 9, 2010 6:22:PM by John Clifford to Retrospectives
  2. Methods & Processes, Technique, Agile, Scrum, planning, estimation, Management, practices

Determining Duration on Scrum Projects

One thing I’m often asked is, how do you come up with valid project estimates in Scrum? After all, Scrum doesn’t want you to worry about more than the current sprint, does it? The basic rule of estimation is, estimate size/effort/complexity and then derive duration. For Scrum, we follow the industry best practice of using story points, an arbitrary measure of relative effort/size/complexity that is not time-based. Let me explain by using one of the analogies from my training. It’s...

  1. Posted on August 6, 2010 5:41:PM by John Clifford to Retrospectives
  2. Methods & Processes, Technique, project management, Agile, Scrum, planning, estimation, Management

Keeping Scrum Pure or Adapting Scrum to Your Culture?

One question that I often hear is, “Do we have to implement Scrum by the book, or should we adapt it to our environment?” The answer is, “Yes!” You should do both. And, they are not mutually exclusive. To me, 'keeping Scrum pure' means adopting the three roles, four meetings, four artifacts, and two levels of commitment, and adhering to the principles behind Scrum, e.g., self-directed teams that commit, timeboxing, etc. This aligns with the Construx toolbox metaphor for...

  1. Posted on May 21, 2010 8:44:PM by John Clifford to Retrospectives
  2. Methods & Processes, Technique, Agile, Scrum, practices, Process

Construx Job Opening: Software Development Trainer-Consultant

Construx is looking for a trainer/consultant. Construx has a fantastic staff and unmatched benefits. For the well qualified person who wants to do excellent work in a highly stimulating environment, it is a dream job -- which is why we've been recognized as the Best Small Company to Work for in Washington State twice. Here's the official job posting: Construx is seeking an experienced software engineer to provide training and consulting services with an initial...

  1. Posted on February 16, 2010 6:12:PM by John Clifford to 10x Software Development

Cobblestones On The Road to Perdition

The more I work with companies that are struggling with Scrum, the more I’m starting to believe that ‘hybrid’ Scrum adoptions, where people pick and choose which Scrum practices to follow and which to ignore, invariably lead to failure. Whoa! you say… Wait a minute! Agile is about doing what is right, not following a process! It says so in the Agile Manifesto! “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools!” Listen up, Sparky! The Agile Manifesto has...

  1. Posted on November 13, 2009 9:35:PM by John Clifford to Retrospectives
  2. Methods & Processes, Technique, Agile, Scrum, estimation, Management, practices, processes, methodologies

Transitioning to Scrum: Selecting the Product Owner

Many teams moving to Scrum have questions about the Product Owner position. Is the Product Owner a member of the Scrum team? What role does the Product Owner play in the day-to-day life of a Scrum project? How do we map current functional roles to Scrum roles, specifically with regard to the Product Owner? Who should we select as our Product Owner? Let me start by saying the Product Owner is perhaps the most important role in Scrum… something you don’t often hear from...

  1. Posted on August 13, 2009 12:23:PM by John Clifford to Retrospectives
  2. Methods & Processes, Technique, project management, Agile, Scrum, requirements, Management, product owner

Scrum Smells: Going Along To Get Along

A question was posed on one of the Scrum discussion forums recently about changing the sprint backlog during a sprint. The scenario was as follows: the sprint has been running for 2 days when the Product Owner comes to the daily standup and wants to replace a committed sprint backlog item with one of equal size in the product backlog. What should the Scrum Master do? As this was a real question posed to the forum, I wondered how often the Product Owner comes to the team two days into...

  1. Posted on August 5, 2009 6:54:PM by John Clifford to Retrospectives
  2. Methods & Processes, Technique, Agile, Scrum, Management, processes, product owner