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Monthly Archives: September 2017

How to Unlearn Your Learned Helplessness at Work

Not every office is incompetent like the one from the show The Office—but on that same note, some offices really are that incompetent. It reaches a point where people stop being able to identify or reverse what is not working. In a post at her blog, Natalie Warnert addresses the problem of “learned helplessness” in business and what you can do about it. Chained Competence Warnert says you and others may be subscribing to learned …

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The Two Ways to Add Detail to User Stories

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood—surely Robert Frost was talking about user stories. He was inevitably describing how there are two potential ways to flesh out user stories, and you need to decide which is right. Luckily, in a post at Mountain Goat Software, Mike Cohn explains what these two methods are and when to use them. A Fork in the Road The first option is to split the story into sub-stories. Cohn uses …

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Six Ways Agile Can Grind to a Halt

Agile is not a “just add water” proposition—applying it on top of an otherwise unchanged business will not guarantee success. Some businesses and some projects are better inherently suited to agile than others, and failing to acknowledge this could cause bad friction during agile implementation. In an article for InfoQ, Ronit Eliav identifies six ways agile projects can get stuck in place: Unsustainable system architecture Limitations of existing tools Culture gap Difficulty scaling up Not …

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What Else Does the Scrum Master Do?

Scrum masters guide their teams, remove impediments to team success, and ensure the principles of scrum are being properly upheld. Can they do anything else? Sure! They can also provide coaching to management. In an article for Scrum Alliance, Daniel Dojcinovski describes how scrum masters can be of strong use to the business beyond their immediate teams. Scrum at the Top Dojcinovski notes how, once a team truly understands how agile works, they typically become …

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Are You Misreading Team Velocity?

When you give yourself a cheat day on a diet, that is alright. When you give yourself multiple cheat days and your integrity starts to erode—that is not alright. Such erosion can occur in our use of velocity too if we are not careful. In an article for TechBeacon, Matthew Heusser reminds us of the right and wrong ways to use team velocity. Wrong Number Story points are a wholly relative unit of measure whose …

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4 Steps to Fix a Broken Deployment Process

When you are managing potentially hundreds of applications across different environments, developing a rhythm for releasing code at the right times is a challenge. Technical Delivery Manager Colleen Stock has gone down the road of trying to smooth out a bumpy deployment process before. In an article for AgileConnection, she shares four steps that have worked for her in creating improvement: Find the bottleneck. Don’t get in the way of development. Automate testing with useful …

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Is Agile the Answer to the Government’s IT Skills Deficit?

Skilled, ambitious IT workers aspire to work in a dynamic, challenging setting like Google. They seldom rub their hands together at the prospect of working for the government. As a result, government IT skills can be lackluster at times. In a quick article for FCW, Steve Kelman muses over whether agile might be able to shake up the status quo and empower government IT to take greater control of its operations. More Understanding with Less …

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Is Agile Creating Pockets of Efficient Darkness?

We are long past the attitude of thinking that agile does not work; we know it does work. But like anything that works, it is not perfect. Agile particularly can offer challenges of visibility. In an article for CIO magazine, Andrew Lientz describes this issue and what can be done to push past it while maintaining agility. Trust in the Dark Waterfall offers a lot of documentation and generally a lot of things that are …

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Should You Use the Chaos Story?

Once the scrum team has committed to enough work to fill up the sprint, then the backlog gets sealed tight, never to be altered until the next sprint. This can create some sticky situations when new, unanticipated demands emerge mid-sprint. In an article for Scrum Alliance, Erik Hansen proposes using and inserting a “chaos user story” into sprints as a means of directly addressing these unexpected challenges. Dealing with Madness To emphasize why the ability …

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