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Agile Software Development

Why Not to Extend a Sprint

In an ideal scenario, setting a bold deadline will inspire bold results, where a team works extra hard and intelligently to get work done in a small timeframe. But more often, bold deadlines result in missed deadlines. Scrum is aimed at getting away from such issues. Unlike waterfall projects, where too much investment has been made in a project to deliver less than “everything at once,” a scrum project can deliver in reliable, functional increments. …

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Overproduction Is the Death of Productivity

In a post at his blog, John Yorke makes a hard condemnation of “overproduction” and its prevalence in the workplace. Overproduction is any work that does not produce business value. Gold-plating—the act of building additional product features beyond the required scope—is perhaps the most blatant sort of overproduction, but it is only one type. It also crops up in more insidious ways. Speeding into a Brick Wall Chiefly, the other place where overproduction occurs is …

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Five Story-Splitting Mistakes to Stop Making

Not every user story cleaves as easily as wood into more manageable parts. Sometimes, you divide the story only to find that you still are not satisfied with the results. Mike Cohn believes there are some common causes at the root of these issues. In a post at Mountain Goat Software, he identifies five story-splitting mistakes you should avoid for an easier life of storytelling: Treating it as just the job of the product owner …

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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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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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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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9 Questions Scrum Masters and Product Owners Should Be Asking

Questions are like a magnifying glass. Point them the right way, and you will uncover something you did not know was there. In a post for Mountain Goat Software, Mike Cohn shares nine questions to illuminate every aspect of your agile work. Question Everything First are two questions about estimates: “In the vaguest possible terms, would you estimate this work takes hours, days, weeks, months, or years?” This is a healthy, noncommittal way to get …

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What Is the Scrum Master’s Duty?

We can all benefit from a reset to our expectations from time to time. For instance, there are lots of different ways that people view scrum masters, and not all of the perceptions are accurate. In a post for Voices on Project Management, Christian Bisson briefly overviews all the right and wrong ways that people picture scrum masters. The Real Identity Bisson has heard of people describing scrum masters as “elves of happiness,” as “coordinators,” …

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Aligning Stakeholder Goals with User Stories

Practice Lead Ines Garcia has a bone to pick with the idea that stakeholders and delivery teams want different things. In fact, she outright calls it a myth that has perpetuated for too long. In an article for Scrum Alliance, she discusses what she sees as the real challenges to creating the right user stories. Use Your Words Garcia believes that, although different stakeholder groups may not be pursuing the exact same goals, it is …

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Where Self-Organizing Teams Fall in the Team Authority Spectrum

“Self-organizing” has a nice ring to it, so people feel empowered to say they are part of self-organizing teams. Is the term fully accurate to what goes on in scrum teams though? In a post for Mountain Goat Software, Mike Cohn describes different types of authority and explains where “self-organizing” fits into that spectrum. Powers Retained Cohn derives four types of authority pertaining to teams from Harvard professor Richard Hackman: Manager-led Self-managing Self-designing Self-governing Manager-led …

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