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Re: [agile-usability] I smell a rat! Or is it just stinky cheese?

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  • Dave Rooney
    William Pietri wrote: [snip] ... At one client, the effect of having the business people co-located with the developers resulted in a business analyst
    Message 1 of 10 , Oct 7, 2008
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      William Pietri wrote:

      [snip]

      > Fifth, consider whether business-side expectations for the team's
      > productivity are too high. Maybe 80% of the teams I evaluate have a
      > business-side fear that developers aren't productive enough, and the
      > number one response to that is to get people to work more hours. This is
      > rarely effective, and usually counterproductive, sometimes drastically so.
      >

      At one client, the effect of having the business people co-located with
      the developers resulted in a business analyst commenting on just how
      much work went into implementing a single story. She knew there was
      work, but when the developers enumerated the tasks required she was
      quite surprised at just how much.

      Yet another reason to co-locate - TRUST! :)

      Dave Rooney
      Mayford Technologies
      "Helping you become AGILE... to SURVIVE and THRIVE!"
      http://www.mayford.ca
      http://practicalagility.blogspot.com
    • faithbolliger.sanfran
      Hi William Thanks for your thoughtfulness. ... We do use planning poker, although the team does not like Fibonacci count and have settled on a system of .5, 1,
      Message 2 of 10 , Oct 8, 2008
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        Hi William
        Thanks for your thoughtfulness.

        You said:
        > I think the bad estimates should be pretty easy to fix. There I'd use
        > one of the Delphi method variants:
        >
        > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphi_method
        >
        > The one I normally use is Planning Poker:
        >
        > http://www.planningpoker.com/detail.html
        >
        > In particular, I'd require that the team come to consensus on an
        > estimate. If after a few rounds they can't, then have them explicitly
        > identify the core of the disagreement, and give them explicit research
        > time to resolve the difference. If everybody has to agree, they'll
        > challenge one another's estimates, and I'm sure you won't be the only
        > one to catch onto this pattern.

        We do use planning poker, although the team does not like Fibonacci count and have
        settled on a system of .5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

        On a side note: I continuously struggle to understand this in terms of real time, it's total
        felt experience for me. Particularly towards the end of the release when there are scraps
        of work to be done I feel as if our units of measurement are unhelpful. My lead tech will
        talk about the need to give each individual story a measurement even if it doesn't seem
        worthy of say .5 because the sponsor needs to know there is a "cost".

        This perspective of everything having a cost, feels more like stick than carrot (value).

        Back to issue at hand: So the dev team collectively throws estimates in our planning
        sessions, but as a rule of thumb we take the highest estimate. I do see devs challenge
        each other occasionally but not often. In cases of one specific tech lead, if this person
        doesn't like a story he will continue to throw high numbers. I have noticed a pattern that
        kills further discussion, the dev will say "well it still think there is complexity we aren't
        seeing and therefore I am not comfortable with anything lower than X pts".

        I would like to change this rule of thumb that we go with the highest estimate. Do others
        have this policy?

        fb
      • faithbolliger.sanfran
        William - More great feedback on co-location, sprint cycle, hours, business expectations and shared team goals/motivation. Unfortunately our teams are not
        Message 3 of 10 , Oct 8, 2008
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          William - More great feedback on co-location, sprint cycle, hours, business expectations
          and shared team goals/motivation.

          Unfortunately our teams are not co-located, we are in 4 different locations. And there is
          no actual daily overlap between 2 of those locations, except for sprint planning.

          We are on a 2 week sprint cycle, we used to do 1 week sprints which I liked but the devs
          felt it required too much work to get build stable, too much time required to prep for the
          demo and hence we had loads of hangover. To some degree we have less hangover. And
          we have worked hard to get the team to understand the demos need not be so formal, etc.

          The devs are working 40 hours if not less. We are a team of outsourced and offshore
          partners plus some onshore distributed contractors. I know the contractors have other
          clients and am confident this is some of the drain on velocity at times. I have traveled to
          work at our offshore partners location and know they keep 40 hours plus time during the
          day is playful. I don't think we are overworking them.

          Business expectations are probably misaligned. Although after 9 months now with this
          team, expectations have been significantly lowered. In my opinion, to the detriment of the
          team.

          How do others get outsourced, offshore, distributed teams to motivate? I could get better
          at motivating!

          What is the success rate for a distributed, outsourced team models?

          fb
        • marjoriepries
          ... terms of real time, it s total ... release when there are scraps ... unhelpful. My lead tech will ... even if it doesn t seem ... a cost . ... Everything
          Message 4 of 10 , Oct 8, 2008
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            --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "faithbolliger.sanfran"
            <faith.bolliger.ny@...> wrote:
            >
            >

            > On a side note: I continuously struggle to understand this in
            terms of real time, it's total
            > felt experience for me. Particularly towards the end of the
            release when there are scraps
            > of work to be done I feel as if our units of measurement are
            unhelpful. My lead tech will
            > talk about the need to give each individual story a measurement
            even if it doesn't seem
            > worthy of say .5 because the sponsor needs to know there is
            a "cost".
            >

            Everything that takes time to do, does have a cost. I'm guessing
            these things you call "scraps of work" are tasks necessary to
            get "release-ready" but maybe task lines are being drawn too finely
            in order to have something that looks like a "story." If so, then
            perhaps certain things could be grouped together under traditional
            PMO-sounding tags so that they have more weight and visibility.
            Without hard examples of these things you call "scraps" I'm not sure.
            Maybe even some old-fasioned bug logging and tracking would resolve
            it.


            > This perspective of everything having a cost, feels more like stick
            than carrot (value).
            >
            > Back to issue at hand: So the dev team collectively throws
            estimates in our planning
            > sessions, but as a rule of thumb we take the highest estimate. I
            do see devs challenge
            > each other occasionally but not often. In cases of one specific
            tech lead, if this person
            > doesn't like a story he will continue to throw high numbers. I
            have noticed a pattern that
            > kills further discussion, the dev will say "well it still think
            there is complexity we aren't
            > seeing and therefore I am not comfortable with anything lower than
            X pts".
            >
            > I would like to change this rule of thumb that we go with the
            highest estimate. Do others have this policy?
            >
            > fb
            >

            We don't go with the highest estimate. We go with the consensus or
            most frequent estimate. That means we have a discussion about the
            extremes. Can your tech lead get more specific, in a general way,
            about his/her concerns? That is, can they enumerate aspects of the
            card and relate them to previous examples or projects where surprises
            happened? Perhps a trained facilitator could help with that.

            And is it important that they get more specific? What I mean is, if
            the track record for every card where they've voted high has
            generally proven to have hidden complexity, then as a member of the
            team, I am going to stop niggling over every card where this happens
            and vote with the expert knowing that in time I'll experience what
            he/she suspected and be better able to smell the smells and
            articulate the concerns myself.

            A lot of times, teams that have been together long function this way
            because it's just more efficient to stop talking and start working.
          • William Pietri
            Hi, Faith. Great questions. Do you have any data handy? For example, I d love to see the velocities in each of the iterations for the last release. And maybe
            Message 5 of 10 , Oct 8, 2008
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              Hi, Faith. Great questions.

              Do you have any data handy? For example, I'd love to see the velocities in each of the iterations for the last release. And maybe the individual story estimates from a typical iteration and one you think was off, like that bit right before release?

              Thanks,

              William

              faithbolliger.sanfran wrote:
              Hi William 
              Thanks for your thoughtfulness.  
              
              You said:
                
              I think the bad estimates should be pretty easy to fix. There I'd use 
              one of the Delphi method variants:
              
                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphi_method
              
              The one I normally use is Planning Poker:
              
                  http://www.planningpoker.com/detail.html
              
              In particular, I'd require that the team come to consensus on an 
              estimate. If after a few rounds they can't, then have them explicitly 
              identify the core of the disagreement, and give them explicit research 
              time to resolve the difference. If everybody has to agree, they'll 
              challenge one another's estimates, and I'm sure you won't be the only 
              one to catch onto this pattern.
                  
              We do use planning poker, although the team does not like Fibonacci count and have 
              settled on a system of .5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
              
              On a side note:  I continuously struggle to understand this in terms of real time, it's total 
              felt experience for me.   Particularly towards the end of the release when there are scraps 
              of work to be done I feel as if our units of measurement are unhelpful.  My lead tech will 
              talk about the need to give each individual story a measurement even if it doesn't seem 
              worthy of say .5 because the sponsor needs to know there is a "cost".  
              
              This perspective of everything having a cost, feels more like stick than carrot (value).
              
              Back to issue at hand:  So the dev team collectively throws estimates in our planning 
              sessions, but as a rule of thumb we take the highest estimate.  I do see devs challenge 
              each other occasionally but not often.  In cases of one specific tech lead, if this person 
              doesn't like a story he will continue to throw high numbers.  I have noticed a pattern that 
              kills further discussion, the dev will say "well it still think there is complexity we aren't 
              seeing and therefore I am not comfortable with anything lower than X pts". 
              
              I would like to change this rule of thumb that we go with the highest estimate.  Do others 
              have this policy?
              
              fb
              
              
              
              
              
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