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Re: [scrumdevelopment] Keeping cross-cutting tasks visible (without technical stories)

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  • Alan Dayley
    Interesting point of view, Malcolm. You may be pointing out a lack in emphasis on the Product Owner role in many training and use situations. I don t think
    Message 1 of 28 , Dec 1, 2010
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      Interesting point of view, Malcolm.  You may be pointing out a lack in emphasis on the Product Owner role in many training and use situations.  I don't think it is a fault of the Scrum framework, however.

      Phrases seen in Scrum writings with regard to the Product Owner role:  "...owns the ROI of the product..."  "..represents the customer..."  "...owns the Product Backlog..." and the odious "...single wringable neck..."  And even the title of the role means *owner* of the product.

      What part of these terms does not mean stewardship?  You are pointing out that Product Owners are not getting the message, *despite* what the Scrum training and literature states.  Maybe an oath would help but I don't think the message of product stewardship is lacking in Scrum.

      I had some other ideas to write but Ron was faster with his elaborations, which I don't think I can say any better.

      Nice discussions!

      Alan

      On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 8:21 AM, Malcolm Anderson <malcolm.b.anderson@...> wrote:
       

      Ron

      This issue in Scrum of how to keep up the technical maintenance has always bothered me.

      I was cruising along with your answer, singing praises to your ability to make the unclear, clear. 
      Until you got to the point where you seem to encourage a lack of transparency.



      >At first, maybe this takes a little longer per story. This is not a real concern, as no one but the team really knows if the team
      >can do twelve this Sprint or only ten. The team commits to what they can do. They do it, and the world becomes a better place.

      This sounds like "lying to your product owner" (and the product owners that I've worked with, do know that "the team can do twelve")
      This goes against the value of transparency. 
      It also takes away the PO's right to incur short term technical debt in order to make a particular deadline.


      One of the weaknesses of Scrum is that we think, it's self evident that product owners are responsible for maintaining the health their product while they provide value to their customer.

      I believe that this all comes down to Stewardship, and not making it clear to the product owner that they need to be Stewards to their product.

      I've got 3 questions, the answers to which I believe are currently "No, No and No"

      1) Is there a Product Owner body where Product Owners discuss with other product owners how to be a better product owner?

      2) Is the concept of Stewardship a part of the PO training?

      3) Has the PO body taking on a commitment to maintaining and improving the health of their products?


      Until the answer to the above 3 questions is Yes, Yes, and Yes, this is going to be an issue with Scrum.
      Until we have some kind of "Product Owner Oath of Stewardship," this is going to be an issue with Scrum.
      Until stewardship is self evident to people other than Scrum Masters, this is going to be an issue with Scrum.


      Thanks

      Malcolm Anderson
      Scrum Coach & Agile Engineer





      On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 6:16 AM, Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
       

      Hello, Roy. On Wednesday, December 1, 2010, at 3:29:27 AM, you
      wrote:



      > I think this notion of only ever doing things that have value to
      > the customer has been somewhat misunderstood, or misapplied. There
      > are most certainly things that need to be done that do not have an
      > immediate, direct, or even obvious value to a customer ... but
      > they still must be done. So what if user stories are not written
      > for them, and so what if they really don't fit the notion of user
      > stories (however defined). Being afraid to get it done because
      > Scrum doesn't seem to cover that situation just leads to
      > development paralysis.

      If one is to do Scrum well, one needs to understand Scrum well.
      Deviating from it every time something "seems" odd will not help a
      team to prosper. It troubles me that so much of your advice, Roy,
      deviates substantially from what Scrum and Agile teach, even when
      there are perfectly good Scrum / Agile answers.

      So here's so what.

      The fundamental point of Scrum is for the PO to prioritize work
      for the team, so that the best possible product can be delivered
      within the desired time and budget. The PO will get the best
      product if work is chosen that is of high "business value". (Low
      development cost is also a concern in choosing the work, but may
      will be substantially less important than value.)

      Clearly, the PO is capable of driving out more value when a larger
      percentage of the team's time comes under her control, since
      otherwise, she is directing a smaller flow of work, which will
      inherently reduce total value. Therefore it is undesirable to
      slice away a strip of the team's development time and make it
      unavailable for stories.

      However, so-called "technical stories" have a value proposition
      which is almost completely different from an ordinary story. A
      technical refactoring story may promise faster velocity sometime
      in the future, while an ordinary story is something that real
      users actually want. It is therefore very difficult, perhaps
      impossible, to compare an ordinary story and a technical story for
      value. Therefore it is undesirable to present technical stories at
      all, since they are so difficult to prioritize.

      This seems, if one doesn't think about it very hard, to be a
      dilemma. We can't take away the PO's time, we can't prioritize the
      technical stories. We can't have them at all. We are doomed.

      Like most dilemmas, this one is solved by using a third
      alternative. It turns out that [almost?] every bit of technical
      work, if it should be done at all, is done in support of one or
      more stories. IN PARTICULAR, the kind of work the OP is talking
      about, creation of tests and creation of clean code, is inherently
      part of creating stories.

      Why inherently, one might ask. Because for code to be DONE, it
      must work, and to know whether it works, we must test it. Because
      we are working incrementally, we will revisit much of the code
      many times and we might break it, so it is wise that the tests be
      recorded for reuse, i.e. automated.

      Further, since we are building the system incrementally, we are
      building the design incrementally. We do not have the time (nor,
      likely, the ability) to define the design correctly up front. We
      do not have the time to build it up front even if we did have the
      ability to define it. We must, perforce, evolve the design.
      Therefore, for each feature to be DONE, its design must be fit for
      the current purpose.

      Therefore, testing, and design improvement, are /inherently/ part
      of the work of doing stories.

      How does this help us with our dilemma? We have, through our human
      failings, fallen behind on the testing and design. What are we to
      do? We do not want to slice time away from the Product Owner. The
      Product Owner cannot correctly prioritize these strange technical
      stories. We are doomed.

      No. All we need to do is to bear down a bit on improving the code
      we work on, doing all it takes to bring it back up to the proper
      definition of DONE, namely "well-tested and well-factored". We
      make the code a bit better every time we pass through it.

      At first, maybe this takes a little longer per story. This is not
      a real concern, as no one but the team really knows if the team
      can do twelve this Sprint or only ten. The team commits to what
      they can do. They do it, and the world becomes a better place.

      Better yet, soon, surprisingly soon, it doesn't take longer after
      all. Since we are improving the code and tests in the areas we
      work in, velocity picks up quite quickly in the areas we work in.
      We wind up going faster than before, because we are going better.

      Our Product Owner retains her ability to prioritize the whole of
      our work, and our code improves. No confusion, no political
      discussion, no need to make promises about the future that we may
      not be able to keep.

      We don't need technical stories or tricky negotiations. We just do
      the job we were always supposed to do, namely make each story
      DONE, fully tested, with a good design in place.


      Ron Jeffries
      www.XProgramming.com
      Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire.
      He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to
      light - Howard Roark (The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand)



    • Malcolm Anderson
      Hi Ron I appreciate your focused attention on this. This got long, and is looking like it s to be a conversation held over beer. Responses inline Malcolm ...
      Message 2 of 28 , Dec 1, 2010
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        Hi Ron

        I appreciate your focused attention on this. This got long, and is
        looking like it's to be a conversation held over beer.

        Responses inline

        Malcolm



        On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 10:40 AM, Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
        > Hello, Malcolm.  On Wednesday, December 1, 2010, at 10:21:40 AM,
        > you wrote:
        >
        >> This issue in Scrum of how to keep up the technical maintenance has always
        >> bothered me.
        >
        >> I was cruising along with your answer, singing praises to your
        >> ability to make the unclear, clear. Until you got to the point
        >> where you seem to encourage a lack of transparency.
        >
        > Well, since clearly I would NOT encourage a lack of transparency,
        > let's look a bit more deeply at what's going on.

        I didn't figure that you would be. :)

        >>> At first, maybe this takes a little longer per story. This is not
        >>> a real concern, as no one but the team really knows if the team
        >>> can do twelve this Sprint or only ten. The team commits to what
        >>> they can do. They do it, and the world becomes a better place.
        >
        >> This sounds like "lying to your product owner" (and the product
        >> owners that I've worked with, do know that "the team can do
        >> twelve") This goes against the value of transparency.
        >
        > Actually, the transparency violation has already occurred. The team
        > told (and gave evidence) that they can do twelve, and screwed up the
        > code base to do it. The team has produced software which everyone
        > thought was DONE, but it was not DONE.

        Here is an issue that seems to be at the base line. I'm working with
        experienced teams that know nothing of the agile engineering
        practices. They do NOT have an agreed upon definition of DONE. Here,
        on this list, (in what I say is the "Scrum Community"), we expect that
        Test First TDD will be part of the done criteria. We expect that the
        team will be working with some kind of continuous integration. We
        might even expect that they are doing Paired Programming, or at least
        code reviews. We expect that people are using design patterns and
        doing object oriented programming.

        I can tell you that as Scrum becomes more popular, we as coaches and
        trainers are going to start running into more and more large
        established companies for whom "Agile Engineering" is more of a
        punchline than it is, a self evident body of proven practices.

        So here is a foundational disagreement. I do not believe that there
        is any consensus out there about "what constitutes DONE." It sounds
        to me, like you do believe there is some consensus around the matter.



        >
        >> It also takes away the PO's right to incur short term technical
        >> debt in order to make a particular deadline.
        >
        > The PO does not have that right.

        I disagree. There are a lot of reasons for taking on short term
        technical debt. I use the analogy of the credit card with a 36%
        interest rate. You do not want to use that card. But there are times
        when it makes great business sense to use that card in a short term
        situation.



        > The team agrees on the definition of DONE. If that definition does
        > not include "well tested", then the software is not known to work.
        > Software not known to work is not "potentially shippable". The team
        > must, by the definition of Scrum, produce increments of work that
        > are potentially shippable. Therefore, work must be well tested. This
        > is not optional.

        Again, I agree with you. Your definition of DONE is self evident to
        me. I disagree with you that it is self evident to the majority of
        the developers out in the world. I disagree with you that it is self
        evident to more than 3% of project managers. And even if it is self
        evident to them, they will tell you, "there's no way that that will
        ever work here; too many cowboys, and our code is too fragile" (which
        just seems self inflicted)

        > The dev team decides how to do the work. The PO has absolutely no
        > authority about how the work is to be done: the PO's authority is to
        > prioritize the stories. The dev team decides how much can be done
        > and how to do it.

        Agreed

        > Furthermore, the PO does not have the ability to decide whether
        > taking on technical debt will improve the chances of making a
        > particular deadline, BECAUSE NO ONE HAS THAT ABILITY. There is no
        > evidence that taking on technical debt for more than a few hours
        > makes anything happen faster, since code containing technical debut
        > is not known to work correctly and is known to work poorly.
        > Maintaining poor code always takes longer than maintaining
        > well-designed code.

        Agreed in spirit. Still think there are times when it makes sense to
        "be stupid on purpose."

        > It is common to think, or hope, that writing crappy poorly tested
        > code will somehow turn out to be better than writing good well
        > tested code. This happens rarely, if at all, and we never have the
        > ability to decide correctly whether this is our situation or not.

        Agreed. Self evident even. To me and you.

        >> One of the weaknesses of Scrum is that we think, it's self evident
        >> that product owners are responsible for maintaining the health
        >> their product while they provide value to their customer.
        >
        >> I believe that this all comes down to Stewardship, and not making
        >> it clear to the product owner that they need to be Stewards to
        >> their product.
        >
        > Yes but I don't see your point regarding how the product is built.
        > That is simply not part of the PO's job in Scrum. I can think of few
        > situations where it would be, since in most situations the PO is not
        > technically qualified.

        I disagree strongly with you here. The PO doesn't have to be
        technical to take responsibility for the health of his or her project.

        The PO does need to believe that the agile engineering practices can
        make a dramatic difference in the quality and responsiveness of their
        code base. Again, its self evident to me, and obviously to you.

        A non technical PO that takes on the responsibility of maintaining and
        improving the health of their products code will end up with better
        code than a technical PO that doesn't believe that there is value in
        improving the health of your code.

        Case in point, recently I worked with a very bright, very technical
        product owner who believed that code quality could only come from more
        complete up front analysis before coding ever starts. ("recently" in
        this sentence means 2010)


        >> I've got 3 questions, the answers to which I believe are currently "No, No
        >> and No"
        >
        >> 1) Is there a Product Owner body where Product Owners discuss with
        >> other product owners how to be a better product owner?
        >
        >> 2) Is the concept of Stewardship a part of the PO training?
        >
        >> 3) Has the PO body taking on a commitment to maintaining and improving the
        >> health of their products?
        >
        > As far as I know the answers are no. And, the PO job is already
        > incredibly difficult. Making them responsible as well for the
        > "health" of the product -- assuming that by that you mean the
        > technical quality -- will add the burden of being expert in software
        > development to an already very difficult job.

        I hoped that you were going to surprise me and tell me about the
        thriving ScrumProductOwnersRock yahoo group

        Again, we disagree here. I believe that non-technical POs can do a
        great job in promoting improved health of their code base.



        >
        > If done, this would also be a different thing from Scrum. Scrum's
        > design has a strict line between what, the domain of the Product
        > Owner, and how, the domain of the Development Team. Perhaps a
        > framework could be defined that would be better than Scrum that did
        > not have this line, but it would not be Scrum, it would be some new
        > thing.

        I disagree with you. I do not think that having the Product Owner
        have some care about the codes health contradicts anything in Scrum.


        >> Until the answer to the above 3 questions is Yes, Yes, and Yes, this is
        >> going to be an issue with Scrum.
        >> Until we have some kind of "Product Owner Oath of Stewardship," this is
        >> going to be an issue with Scrum.
        >> Until stewardship is self evident to people other than Scrum Masters, this
        >> is going to be an issue with Scrum.
        >
        > Actually, I disagree that this is the key issue around technical
        > quality.
        >
        > Technical quality should be in the hands of the people most
        > qualified to provide it, just as the choice of what features to do
        > and which to leave out is in the hands of the people most qualified
        > to do it.

        I'm an agile engineer, I expect that teams will see value by taking on
        some simple disciplines. I've dealt with Product Owners who don't see
        it that way. They see a cost today, that they do not believe will
        bring them rewards tomorrow. The data on Paired Programming is
        overwhelming, I don't believe it's possible to do research on it and
        come away not wanting to try it. But it's counter intuitive, "You
        want me to put two people on a task that one should be able to handle?
        I can't afford that kind of luxury." Some times that quote comes
        from technical people.


        >
        > There are many things one could object to about Scrum. The existence
        > of the ScrumMaster role, for example. But one thing that Scrum has
        > pretty darn right is the notion of creating teams with the business
        > people deciding what, and technical people deciding how.

        I guess it comes down to this Ron. I believe that a commitment to
        product stewardship is a "what" and falls on the PO to support their
        team in taking the time to decide the how of improving their products
        code and design.
      • Malcolm Anderson
        Thanks Alan I agree, if you read between the lines, stewardship is already demanded. But if PO s are not getting the message then we need inspect and adapt
        Message 3 of 28 , Dec 1, 2010
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          Thanks Alan

          I agree, if you read between the lines, stewardship is already demanded.  But if PO's are not getting the message then we need inspect and adapt *how* we are sending that message.

          This is made more difficult because more and more POs are being drafted from the PM ranks. 
          I'm still seeing PMs drafted as Scrum Masters (because everyone knows that "Scrum Master" is Agile for "Project Manager".)  Thankfully for them, no one knows what a Scrum Master is, or does, so they HAVE to do research on it.

          (I just saw a job requirement yesterday that was looking for a PMP certified project manager "with strong agile and scrum experience."  There was no requirement for Certified Scrum Master, and certainly no requirement for Certified Product Owner.  This horrified me, but it's a sign of our times)

          As Scrum becomes more popular, we will have to re-educate more and more people. 
          The word "stewardship" clearly emphasize something that the scrum body takes for granted.

          I was kind of joking when I wrote the phrase "Product Owner Oath of Stewardship" but maybe it's not a bad idea. 

          Malcolm


          On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 10:48 AM, Alan Dayley <alandd@...> wrote:
           

          Interesting point of view, Malcolm.  You may be pointing out a lack in emphasis on the Product Owner role in many training and use situations.  I don't think it is a fault of the Scrum framework, however.


          Phrases seen in Scrum writings with regard to the Product Owner role:  "...owns the ROI of the product..."  "..represents the customer..."  "...owns the Product Backlog..." and the odious "...single wringable neck..."  And even the title of the role means *owner* of the product.

          What part of these terms does not mean stewardship?  You are pointing out that Product Owners are not getting the message, *despite* what the Scrum training and literature states.  Maybe an oath would help but I don't think the message of product stewardship is lacking in Scrum.

          I had some other ideas to write but Ron was faster with his elaborations, which I don't think I can say any better.

          Nice discussions!

          Alan



        • Malcolm Anderson
          Ron, Alan I probably should not blog at midnight. http://geekswithblogs.net/geekusconlivus/archive/2010/12/01/scrum-product-owners-oath-of-stewardship.aspx
          Message 4 of 28 , Dec 1, 2010
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            Ron, Alan

            I probably should not blog at midnight.

            http://geekswithblogs.net/geekusconlivus/archive/2010/12/01/scrum-product-owners-oath-of-stewardship.aspx

            Ron, you'll get a track back too, I promise.

            Malcolm



            On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 10:48 AM, Alan Dayley <alandd@...> wrote:
             

            Interesting point of view, Malcolm.  You may be pointing out a lack in emphasis on the Product Owner role in many training and use situations.  I don't think it is a fault of the Scrum framework, however.


            Phrases seen in Scrum writings with regard to the Product Owner role:  "...owns the ROI of the product..."  "..represents the customer..."  "...owns the Product Backlog..." and the odious "...single wringable neck..."  And even the title of the role means *owner* of the product.

            What part of these terms does not mean stewardship?  You are pointing out that Product Owners are not getting the message, *despite* what the Scrum training and literature states.  Maybe an oath would help but I don't think the message of product stewardship is lacking in Scrum.

            I had some other ideas to write but Ron was faster with his elaborations, which I don't think I can say any better.

            Nice discussions!

            Alan

            On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 8:21 AM, Malcolm Anderson <malcolm.b.anderson@...> wrote:
             

            Ron

            This issue in Scrum of how to keep up the technical maintenance has always bothered me.

            I was cruising along with your answer, singing praises to your ability to make the unclear, clear. 
            Until you got to the point where you seem to encourage a lack of transparency.



            >At first, maybe this takes a little longer per story. This is not a real concern, as no one but the team really knows if the team
            >can do twelve this Sprint or only ten. The team commits to what they can do. They do it, and the world becomes a better place.

            This sounds like "lying to your product owner" (and the product owners that I've worked with, do know that "the team can do twelve")
            This goes against the value of transparency. 
            It also takes away the PO's right to incur short term technical debt in order to make a particular deadline.


            One of the weaknesses of Scrum is that we think, it's self evident that product owners are responsible for maintaining the health their product while they provide value to their customer.

            I believe that this all comes down to Stewardship, and not making it clear to the product owner that they need to be Stewards to their product.

            I've got 3 questions, the answers to which I believe are currently "No, No and No"

            1) Is there a Product Owner body where Product Owners discuss with other product owners how to be a better product owner?

            2) Is the concept of Stewardship a part of the PO training?

            3) Has the PO body taking on a commitment to maintaining and improving the health of their products?


            Until the answer to the above 3 questions is Yes, Yes, and Yes, this is going to be an issue with Scrum.
            Until we have some kind of "Product Owner Oath of Stewardship," this is going to be an issue with Scrum.
            Until stewardship is self evident to people other than Scrum Masters, this is going to be an issue with Scrum.


            Thanks

            Malcolm Anderson
            Scrum Coach & Agile Engineer





            On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 6:16 AM, Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
             

            Hello, Roy. On Wednesday, December 1, 2010, at 3:29:27 AM, you
            wrote:



            > I think this notion of only ever doing things that have value to
            > the customer has been somewhat misunderstood, or misapplied. There
            > are most certainly things that need to be done that do not have an
            > immediate, direct, or even obvious value to a customer ... but
            > they still must be done. So what if user stories are not written
            > for them, and so what if they really don't fit the notion of user
            > stories (however defined). Being afraid to get it done because
            > Scrum doesn't seem to cover that situation just leads to
            > development paralysis.

            If one is to do Scrum well, one needs to understand Scrum well.
            Deviating from it every time something "seems" odd will not help a
            team to prosper. It troubles me that so much of your advice, Roy,
            deviates substantially from what Scrum and Agile teach, even when
            there are perfectly good Scrum / Agile answers.

            So here's so what.

            The fundamental point of Scrum is for the PO to prioritize work
            for the team, so that the best possible product can be delivered
            within the desired time and budget. The PO will get the best
            product if work is chosen that is of high "business value". (Low
            development cost is also a concern in choosing the work, but may
            will be substantially less important than value.)

            Clearly, the PO is capable of driving out more value when a larger
            percentage of the team's time comes under her control, since
            otherwise, she is directing a smaller flow of work, which will
            inherently reduce total value. Therefore it is undesirable to
            slice away a strip of the team's development time and make it
            unavailable for stories.

            However, so-called "technical stories" have a value proposition
            which is almost completely different from an ordinary story. A
            technical refactoring story may promise faster velocity sometime
            in the future, while an ordinary story is something that real
            users actually want. It is therefore very difficult, perhaps
            impossible, to compare an ordinary story and a technical story for
            value. Therefore it is undesirable to present technical stories at
            all, since they are so difficult to prioritize.

            This seems, if one doesn't think about it very hard, to be a
            dilemma. We can't take away the PO's time, we can't prioritize the
            technical stories. We can't have them at all. We are doomed.

            Like most dilemmas, this one is solved by using a third
            alternative. It turns out that [almost?] every bit of technical
            work, if it should be done at all, is done in support of one or
            more stories. IN PARTICULAR, the kind of work the OP is talking
            about, creation of tests and creation of clean code, is inherently
            part of creating stories.

            Why inherently, one might ask. Because for code to be DONE, it
            must work, and to know whether it works, we must test it. Because
            we are working incrementally, we will revisit much of the code
            many times and we might break it, so it is wise that the tests be
            recorded for reuse, i.e. automated.

            Further, since we are building the system incrementally, we are
            building the design incrementally. We do not have the time (nor,
            likely, the ability) to define the design correctly up front. We
            do not have the time to build it up front even if we did have the
            ability to define it. We must, perforce, evolve the design.
            Therefore, for each feature to be DONE, its design must be fit for
            the current purpose.

            Therefore, testing, and design improvement, are /inherently/ part
            of the work of doing stories.

            How does this help us with our dilemma? We have, through our human
            failings, fallen behind on the testing and design. What are we to
            do? We do not want to slice time away from the Product Owner. The
            Product Owner cannot correctly prioritize these strange technical
            stories. We are doomed.

            No. All we need to do is to bear down a bit on improving the code
            we work on, doing all it takes to bring it back up to the proper
            definition of DONE, namely "well-tested and well-factored". We
            make the code a bit better every time we pass through it.

            At first, maybe this takes a little longer per story. This is not
            a real concern, as no one but the team really knows if the team
            can do twelve this Sprint or only ten. The team commits to what
            they can do. They do it, and the world becomes a better place.

            Better yet, soon, surprisingly soon, it doesn't take longer after
            all. Since we are improving the code and tests in the areas we
            work in, velocity picks up quite quickly in the areas we work in.
            We wind up going faster than before, because we are going better.

            Our Product Owner retains her ability to prioritize the whole of
            our work, and our code improves. No confusion, no political
            discussion, no need to make promises about the future that we may
            not be able to keep.

            We don't need technical stories or tricky negotiations. We just do
            the job we were always supposed to do, namely make each story
            DONE, fully tested, with a good design in place.


            Ron Jeffries
            www.XProgramming.com
            Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire.
            He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to
            light - Howard Roark (The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand)




          • peterskeide
            I think you have some good points here. Like you, I feel that sometimes baking in some technical work in a User Story is like hiding information, especially
            Message 5 of 28 , Dec 2, 2010
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              I think you have some good points here. Like you, I feel that sometimes "baking in" some technical work in a User Story is like hiding information, especially if the technical issues and the User Story are unrelated.

              It is important to remember that developers are stakeholders too. That's why I don't see a problem with the product backlog sometimes reflecting the needs of the developers.

              In a perfect world everybody get to work on exciting new products, know exactly what to do and how to do it well. Unfortunately, that just isn't so for most of us. Sometimes we must work on legacy systems where there never was a clear definition of done. Sometimes we must help organizations/projects that are transitioning to agile and just learning practices that we as a community take for granted. In such situations it can be very important to highlight issues related to technical debt or developer supporting infrastructure. I think the Product Backlog is one way to make such issues visible.

              Also, don't forget that Scrum does not mandate User Stories. For some, technical requirements may be just the thing. Others prefer Use Cases, or perhaps measurable stakeholder goals (as promoted by Gilb). Hopefully, everyone takes their own context into consideration and then *choose the format best suited to their current needs*.

              --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Malcolm Anderson <malcolm.b.anderson@...> wrote:
              >
              > Ron
              >
              > This issue in Scrum of how to keep up the technical maintenance has always
              > bothered me.
              >
              > I was cruising along with your answer, singing praises to your ability to
              > make the unclear, clear.
              > Until you got to the point where you seem to encourage a lack of
              > transparency.
              >
              > >At first, maybe this takes a little longer per story. This is not a real
              > concern, as no one but the team really knows if the team
              > >can do twelve this Sprint or only ten. The team commits to what they can
              > do. They do it, and the world becomes a better place.
              >
              > This sounds like "lying to your product owner" (and the product owners that
              > I've worked with, do know that "the team can do twelve")
              > This goes against the value of transparency.
              > It also takes away the PO's right to incur short term technical debt in
              > order to make a particular deadline.
              >
              >
              > One of the weaknesses of Scrum is that we think, it's self evident that
              > product owners are responsible for maintaining the health their product
              > while they provide value to their customer.
              >
              > I believe that this all comes down to Stewardship, and not making it clear
              > to the product owner that they need to be Stewards to their product.
              >
              > I've got 3 questions, the answers to which I believe are currently "No, No
              > and No"
              >
              > 1) Is there a Product Owner body where Product Owners discuss with other
              > product owners how to be a better product owner?
              >
              > 2) Is the concept of Stewardship a part of the PO training?
              >
              > 3) Has the PO body taking on a commitment to maintaining and improving the
              > health of their products?
              >
              >
              > Until the answer to the above 3 questions is Yes, Yes, and Yes, this is
              > going to be an issue with Scrum.
              > Until we have some kind of "Product Owner Oath of Stewardship," this is
              > going to be an issue with Scrum.
              > Until stewardship is self evident to people other than Scrum Masters, this
              > is going to be an issue with Scrum.
              >
              >
              > Thanks
              >
              > Malcolm Anderson
              > Scrum Coach & Agile Engineer
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 6:16 AM, Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
              >
              > >
              > >
              > > Hello, Roy. On Wednesday, December 1, 2010, at 3:29:27 AM, you
              > > wrote:
              > >
              > >
              > > > I think this notion of only ever doing things that have value to
              > > > the customer has been somewhat misunderstood, or misapplied. There
              > > > are most certainly things that need to be done that do not have an
              > > > immediate, direct, or even obvious value to a customer ... but
              > > > they still must be done. So what if user stories are not written
              > > > for them, and so what if they really don't fit the notion of user
              > > > stories (however defined). Being afraid to get it done because
              > > > Scrum doesn't seem to cover that situation just leads to
              > > > development paralysis.
              > >
              > > If one is to do Scrum well, one needs to understand Scrum well.
              > > Deviating from it every time something "seems" odd will not help a
              > > team to prosper. It troubles me that so much of your advice, Roy,
              > > deviates substantially from what Scrum and Agile teach, even when
              > > there are perfectly good Scrum / Agile answers.
              > >
              > > So here's so what.
              > >
              > > The fundamental point of Scrum is for the PO to prioritize work
              > > for the team, so that the best possible product can be delivered
              > > within the desired time and budget. The PO will get the best
              > > product if work is chosen that is of high "business value". (Low
              > > development cost is also a concern in choosing the work, but may
              > > will be substantially less important than value.)
              > >
              > > Clearly, the PO is capable of driving out more value when a larger
              > > percentage of the team's time comes under her control, since
              > > otherwise, she is directing a smaller flow of work, which will
              > > inherently reduce total value. Therefore it is undesirable to
              > > slice away a strip of the team's development time and make it
              > > unavailable for stories.
              > >
              > > However, so-called "technical stories" have a value proposition
              > > which is almost completely different from an ordinary story. A
              > > technical refactoring story may promise faster velocity sometime
              > > in the future, while an ordinary story is something that real
              > > users actually want. It is therefore very difficult, perhaps
              > > impossible, to compare an ordinary story and a technical story for
              > > value. Therefore it is undesirable to present technical stories at
              > > all, since they are so difficult to prioritize.
              > >
              > > This seems, if one doesn't think about it very hard, to be a
              > > dilemma. We can't take away the PO's time, we can't prioritize the
              > > technical stories. We can't have them at all. We are doomed.
              > >
              > > Like most dilemmas, this one is solved by using a third
              > > alternative. It turns out that [almost?] every bit of technical
              > > work, if it should be done at all, is done in support of one or
              > > more stories. IN PARTICULAR, the kind of work the OP is talking
              > > about, creation of tests and creation of clean code, is inherently
              > > part of creating stories.
              > >
              > > Why inherently, one might ask. Because for code to be DONE, it
              > > must work, and to know whether it works, we must test it. Because
              > > we are working incrementally, we will revisit much of the code
              > > many times and we might break it, so it is wise that the tests be
              > > recorded for reuse, i.e. automated.
              > >
              > > Further, since we are building the system incrementally, we are
              > > building the design incrementally. We do not have the time (nor,
              > > likely, the ability) to define the design correctly up front. We
              > > do not have the time to build it up front even if we did have the
              > > ability to define it. We must, perforce, evolve the design.
              > > Therefore, for each feature to be DONE, its design must be fit for
              > > the current purpose.
              > >
              > > Therefore, testing, and design improvement, are /inherently/ part
              > > of the work of doing stories.
              > >
              > > How does this help us with our dilemma? We have, through our human
              > > failings, fallen behind on the testing and design. What are we to
              > > do? We do not want to slice time away from the Product Owner. The
              > > Product Owner cannot correctly prioritize these strange technical
              > > stories. We are doomed.
              > >
              > > No. All we need to do is to bear down a bit on improving the code
              > > we work on, doing all it takes to bring it back up to the proper
              > > definition of DONE, namely "well-tested and well-factored". We
              > > make the code a bit better every time we pass through it.
              > >
              > > At first, maybe this takes a little longer per story. This is not
              > > a real concern, as no one but the team really knows if the team
              > > can do twelve this Sprint or only ten. The team commits to what
              > > they can do. They do it, and the world becomes a better place.
              > >
              > > Better yet, soon, surprisingly soon, it doesn't take longer after
              > > all. Since we are improving the code and tests in the areas we
              > > work in, velocity picks up quite quickly in the areas we work in.
              > > We wind up going faster than before, because we are going better.
              > >
              > > Our Product Owner retains her ability to prioritize the whole of
              > > our work, and our code improves. No confusion, no political
              > > discussion, no need to make promises about the future that we may
              > > not be able to keep.
              > >
              > > We don't need technical stories or tricky negotiations. We just do
              > > the job we were always supposed to do, namely make each story
              > > DONE, fully tested, with a good design in place.
              > >
              > >
              > > Ron Jeffries
              > > www.XProgramming.com
              > > Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire.
              > > He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to
              > > light - Howard Roark (The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand)
              > >
              > >
              > >
              >
            • Ron Jeffries
              Hello, peterskeide. On Thursday, December 2, 2010, at 6:25:41 AM, ... I would not recommend that. I don t know anyone who would. Ron Jeffries
              Message 6 of 28 , Dec 2, 2010
              • 0 Attachment
                Hello, peterskeide. On Thursday, December 2, 2010, at 6:25:41 AM,
                you wrote:

                > I think you have some good points here. Like you, I feel that
                > sometimes "baking in" some technical work in a User Story is like
                > hiding information, especially if the technical issues and the
                > User Story are unrelated.

                I would not recommend that. I don't know anyone who would.

                Ron Jeffries
                www.XProgramming.com
                If you don't push something beyond its boundary of usefulness
                how do you find where that boundary is? -- Martin Fowler
              • Alan Dayley
                Nice discussion of the thoughts, Malcolm. I m flattered. An Oath of Stewardship can be a useful framework for discussion of interaction between the Product
                Message 7 of 28 , Dec 2, 2010
                • 0 Attachment
                  Nice discussion of the thoughts, Malcolm.  I'm flattered.

                  An Oath of Stewardship can be a useful framework for discussion of interaction between the Product Owner and the developers on the team.  And I may use it as such.  I'd not ever support such a thing be promulgated as mandatory.

                  Alan

                  On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 11:00 PM, Malcolm Anderson <malcolm.b.anderson@...> wrote:
                   

                  Ron, Alan

                  I probably should not blog at midnight.

                  http://geekswithblogs.net/geekusconlivus/archive/2010/12/01/scrum-product-owners-oath-of-stewardship.aspx

                  Ron, you'll get a track back too, I promise.

                  Malcolm



                  On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 10:48 AM, Alan Dayley <alandd@...> wrote:
                   

                  Interesting point of view, Malcolm.  You may be pointing out a lack in emphasis on the Product Owner role in many training and use situations.  I don't think it is a fault of the Scrum framework, however.


                  Phrases seen in Scrum writings with regard to the Product Owner role:  "...owns the ROI of the product..."  "..represents the customer..."  "...owns the Product Backlog..." and the odious "...single wringable neck..."  And even the title of the role means *owner* of the product.

                  What part of these terms does not mean stewardship?  You are pointing out that Product Owners are not getting the message, *despite* what the Scrum training and literature states.  Maybe an oath would help but I don't think the message of product stewardship is lacking in Scrum.

                  I had some other ideas to write but Ron was faster with his elaborations, which I don't think I can say any better.

                  Nice discussions!

                  Alan

                  On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 8:21 AM, Malcolm Anderson <malcolm.b.anderson@...> wrote:
                   

                  Ron

                  This issue in Scrum of how to keep up the technical maintenance has always bothered me.

                  I was cruising along with your answer, singing praises to your ability to make the unclear, clear. 
                  Until you got to the point where you seem to encourage a lack of transparency.



                  >At first, maybe this takes a little longer per story. This is not a real concern, as no one but the team really knows if the team
                  >can do twelve this Sprint or only ten. The team commits to what they can do. They do it, and the world becomes a better place.

                  This sounds like "lying to your product owner" (and the product owners that I've worked with, do know that "the team can do twelve")
                  This goes against the value of transparency. 
                  It also takes away the PO's right to incur short term technical debt in order to make a particular deadline.


                  One of the weaknesses of Scrum is that we think, it's self evident that product owners are responsible for maintaining the health their product while they provide value to their customer.

                  I believe that this all comes down to Stewardship, and not making it clear to the product owner that they need to be Stewards to their product.

                  I've got 3 questions, the answers to which I believe are currently "No, No and No"

                  1) Is there a Product Owner body where Product Owners discuss with other product owners how to be a better product owner?

                  2) Is the concept of Stewardship a part of the PO training?

                  3) Has the PO body taking on a commitment to maintaining and improving the health of their products?


                  Until the answer to the above 3 questions is Yes, Yes, and Yes, this is going to be an issue with Scrum.
                  Until we have some kind of "Product Owner Oath of Stewardship," this is going to be an issue with Scrum.
                  Until stewardship is self evident to people other than Scrum Masters, this is going to be an issue with Scrum.


                  Thanks

                  Malcolm Anderson
                  Scrum Coach & Agile Engineer





                  On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 6:16 AM, Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
                   

                  Hello, Roy. On Wednesday, December 1, 2010, at 3:29:27 AM, you
                  wrote:



                  > I think this notion of only ever doing things that have value to
                  > the customer has been somewhat misunderstood, or misapplied. There
                  > are most certainly things that need to be done that do not have an
                  > immediate, direct, or even obvious value to a customer ... but
                  > they still must be done. So what if user stories are not written
                  > for them, and so what if they really don't fit the notion of user
                  > stories (however defined). Being afraid to get it done because
                  > Scrum doesn't seem to cover that situation just leads to
                  > development paralysis.

                  If one is to do Scrum well, one needs to understand Scrum well.
                  Deviating from it every time something "seems" odd will not help a
                  team to prosper. It troubles me that so much of your advice, Roy,
                  deviates substantially from what Scrum and Agile teach, even when
                  there are perfectly good Scrum / Agile answers.

                  So here's so what.

                  The fundamental point of Scrum is for the PO to prioritize work
                  for the team, so that the best possible product can be delivered
                  within the desired time and budget. The PO will get the best
                  product if work is chosen that is of high "business value". (Low
                  development cost is also a concern in choosing the work, but may
                  will be substantially less important than value.)

                  Clearly, the PO is capable of driving out more value when a larger
                  percentage of the team's time comes under her control, since
                  otherwise, she is directing a smaller flow of work, which will
                  inherently reduce total value. Therefore it is undesirable to
                  slice away a strip of the team's development time and make it
                  unavailable for stories.

                  However, so-called "technical stories" have a value proposition
                  which is almost completely different from an ordinary story. A
                  technical refactoring story may promise faster velocity sometime
                  in the future, while an ordinary story is something that real
                  users actually want. It is therefore very difficult, perhaps
                  impossible, to compare an ordinary story and a technical story for
                  value. Therefore it is undesirable to present technical stories at
                  all, since they are so difficult to prioritize.

                  This seems, if one doesn't think about it very hard, to be a
                  dilemma. We can't take away the PO's time, we can't prioritize the
                  technical stories. We can't have them at all. We are doomed.

                  Like most dilemmas, this one is solved by using a third
                  alternative. It turns out that [almost?] every bit of technical
                  work, if it should be done at all, is done in support of one or
                  more stories. IN PARTICULAR, the kind of work the OP is talking
                  about, creation of tests and creation of clean code, is inherently
                  part of creating stories.

                  Why inherently, one might ask. Because for code to be DONE, it
                  must work, and to know whether it works, we must test it. Because
                  we are working incrementally, we will revisit much of the code
                  many times and we might break it, so it is wise that the tests be
                  recorded for reuse, i.e. automated.

                  Further, since we are building the system incrementally, we are
                  building the design incrementally. We do not have the time (nor,
                  likely, the ability) to define the design correctly up front. We
                  do not have the time to build it up front even if we did have the
                  ability to define it. We must, perforce, evolve the design.
                  Therefore, for each feature to be DONE, its design must be fit for
                  the current purpose.

                  Therefore, testing, and design improvement, are /inherently/ part
                  of the work of doing stories.

                  How does this help us with our dilemma? We have, through our human
                  failings, fallen behind on the testing and design. What are we to
                  do? We do not want to slice time away from the Product Owner. The
                  Product Owner cannot correctly prioritize these strange technical
                  stories. We are doomed.

                  No. All we need to do is to bear down a bit on improving the code
                  we work on, doing all it takes to bring it back up to the proper
                  definition of DONE, namely "well-tested and well-factored". We
                  make the code a bit better every time we pass through it.

                  At first, maybe this takes a little longer per story. This is not
                  a real concern, as no one but the team really knows if the team
                  can do twelve this Sprint or only ten. The team commits to what
                  they can do. They do it, and the world becomes a better place.

                  Better yet, soon, surprisingly soon, it doesn't take longer after
                  all. Since we are improving the code and tests in the areas we
                  work in, velocity picks up quite quickly in the areas we work in.
                  We wind up going faster than before, because we are going better.

                  Our Product Owner retains her ability to prioritize the whole of
                  our work, and our code improves. No confusion, no political
                  discussion, no need to make promises about the future that we may
                  not be able to keep.

                  We don't need technical stories or tricky negotiations. We just do
                  the job we were always supposed to do, namely make each story
                  DONE, fully tested, with a good design in place.


                  Ron Jeffries
                  www.XProgramming.com
                  Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire.
                  He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to
                  light - Howard Roark (The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand)





                • banshee858
                  ... Have you tried something like this? List all the technical debt stuff on little post-it notes adjacent to the Task Board. When a Product Backlog item
                  Message 8 of 28 , Dec 2, 2010
                  • 0 Attachment
                    --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Paul Tevis <ptevis@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > The team I'm on right now is about four months into a Scrum
                    > transition, and we're finally starting to deal with technical debt
                    > reduction and technical practice improvement. One thing that I'm
                    > struggling with is how to make the work that we're doing on these
                    > visible to the team, while at the same time keeping our focus on
                    > delivering customer value (i.e. doing real stories).
                    >
                    > My concerns are (1) as soon as we start tracking non-story tasks we'll
                    > lose focus on delivering customer value, and (2) if we don't make
                    > these sorts of tasks visible, we won't make progress on them at the
                    > rate we need to. What are good patterns you've seen for dealing with
                    > technical tasks that aren't directly attached to a story (or that cut
                    > across multiple stories)?
                    >
                    Have you tried something like this?

                    List all the technical debt stuff on little post-it notes adjacent to the Task Board. When a Product Backlog item (PBI) is selected for a Sprint, look at the technical debt pieces and find the pieces that make sense to finish while working on the PBI. Add those to the scope of work for the PBI and estimate how long it will take to complete the feature and the technical debt pieces.

                    That way you make the technical debt work visible, you can prioritize it and link it to real value.

                    Carlton
                  • Ron Jeffries
                    Hello, banshee858. On Thursday, December 2, 2010, at 2:20:45 PM, ... Very nice! Ron Jeffries www.XProgramming.com We accomplish what we understand. If we are
                    Message 9 of 28 , Dec 2, 2010
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Hello, banshee858. On Thursday, December 2, 2010, at 2:20:45 PM,
                      you wrote:

                      > Have you tried something like this?

                      > List all the technical debt stuff on little post-it notes
                      > adjacent to the Task Board. When a Product Backlog item (PBI) is
                      > selected for a Sprint, look at the technical debt pieces and find
                      > the pieces that make sense to finish while working on the PBI.
                      > Add those to the scope of work for the PBI and estimate how long
                      > it will take to complete the feature and the technical debt pieces.

                      > That way you make the technical debt work visible, you can
                      > prioritize it and link it to real value.

                      Very nice!

                      Ron Jeffries
                      www.XProgramming.com
                      We accomplish what we understand. If we are to accomplish something
                      together, we need to understand it together.
                    • Adam Sroka
                      On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 6:39 PM, Malcolm Anderson ... If you were going to make that business decision you would at least want to know: 1) How much am I
                      Message 10 of 28 , Dec 2, 2010
                      • 0 Attachment
                        On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 6:39 PM, Malcolm Anderson
                        <malcolm.b.anderson@...> wrote:
                        >
                        >
                        > There are a lot of reasons for taking on short term
                        > technical debt. I use the analogy of the credit card with a 36%
                        > interest rate. You do not want to use that card. But there are times
                        > when it makes great business sense to use that card in a short term
                        > situation.
                        >

                        If you were going to make that business decision you would at least
                        want to know:

                        1) How much am I spending?

                        2) How much interest will I incur? Over what period of time?

                        3) Will I have enough revenue to pay it back?

                        When teams voluntarily take on technical debt they rarely (if ever)
                        know the answer to even one of these questions.

                        The interest we are talking about is much higher than you think. It is
                        more analogous to a loan shark than a credit card. I have seen teams
                        create enough of a mess in a single two-week Sprint that they were
                        never able to fix it. I myself am only able to fix the messes I make
                        with a reasonable amount of effort if I do it within a few days. After
                        a few weeks the effort is an order of magnitude higher than the
                        initial investment.

                        < beating a dead horse >
                        This is not what the technical debt metaphor was ever intended to
                        address. Even when we do the best job possible our understanding of
                        the problem evolves over time. We have to go back periodically and
                        refactor the code to represent our *current* understanding of the
                        problem. If we don't then our understanding and the code will continue
                        to diverge until the code becomes very hard to maintain. *That* is
                        what technical debt means. Neither Ward Cunningham (the originator of
                        the metaphor) nor anyone who understood him ever said that writing
                        crappy, untested code is sometimes a good business decision.
                        < / beating dead horse >
                      • Alan Dayley
                        +10 Alan
                        Message 11 of 28 , Dec 2, 2010
                        • 0 Attachment
                          +10

                          Alan

                          On Thu, Dec 2, 2010 at 1:56 PM, Adam Sroka <adam.sroka@...> wrote:
                           

                          On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 6:39 PM, Malcolm Anderson

                          > There are a lot of reasons for taking on short term
                          > technical debt. I use the analogy of the credit card with a 36%
                          > interest rate. You do not want to use that card. But there are times
                          > when it makes great business sense to use that card in a short term
                          > situation.
                          >

                          If you were going to make that business decision you would at least
                          want to know:

                          1) How much am I spending?

                          2) How much interest will I incur? Over what period of time?

                          3) Will I have enough revenue to pay it back?

                          When teams voluntarily take on technical debt they rarely (if ever)
                          know the answer to even one of these questions.

                          The interest we are talking about is much higher than you think. It is
                          more analogous to a loan shark than a credit card. I have seen teams
                          create enough of a mess in a single two-week Sprint that they were
                          never able to fix it. I myself am only able to fix the messes I make
                          with a reasonable amount of effort if I do it within a few days. After
                          a few weeks the effort is an order of magnitude higher than the
                          initial investment.

                          < beating a dead horse >
                          This is not what the technical debt metaphor was ever intended to
                          address. Even when we do the best job possible our understanding of
                          the problem evolves over time. We have to go back periodically and
                          refactor the code to represent our *current* understanding of the
                          problem. If we don't then our understanding and the code will continue
                          to diverge until the code becomes very hard to maintain. *That* is
                          what technical debt means. Neither Ward Cunningham (the originator of
                          the metaphor) nor anyone who understood him ever said that writing
                          crappy, untested code is sometimes a good business decision.
                          < / beating dead horse >


                        • banshee858
                          ... Not my idea - it came from Tobias Mayer. Carlton
                          Message 12 of 28 , Dec 3, 2010
                          • 0 Attachment
                            >
                            > > List all the technical debt stuff on little post-it notes
                            > > adjacent to the Task Board. When a Product Backlog item (PBI) is
                            > > selected for a Sprint, look at the technical debt pieces and find
                            > > the pieces that make sense to finish while working on the PBI.
                            > > Add those to the scope of work for the PBI and estimate how long
                            > > it will take to complete the feature and the technical debt pieces.
                            >
                            > > That way you make the technical debt work visible, you can
                            > > prioritize it and link it to real value.
                            >
                            > Very nice!
                            >
                            Not my idea - it came from Tobias Mayer.

                            Carlton
                          • tobias.mayer
                            I can t take credit for it either. I first witnessed this with a team I worked with at Business Week in NYC. It emerged from the collective consciousness of
                            Message 13 of 28 , Dec 6, 2010
                            • 0 Attachment
                              I can't take credit for it either. I first witnessed this with a team I worked with at Business Week in NYC. It emerged from the collective consciousness of the team. As I recall this is what they did (just expanding on Carlton's description):

                              Whenever they found technical debt, or any kind of code problem that needed fixing, they didn't fix it unless it was essential to complete the story they were working on (this took some discipline). Otherwise they wrote a sticky note (a task) and added it to a special box on the visual management wall labeled Technical Debt. This served two purposes: a reminder to the team, and a visual representation to the business of the state of the codebase.

                              At any subsequent planning meeting, when the USER-FACING stories were discussed (I don't buy into the concept of "technical stories") someone may remind the team that if such-and-such a story was attempted then certain code debt items called out on the wall would need to be fixed as part of that story. The rule was "no workarounds". This clean up work was then considered as part of the essential work of the story, and the story was estimated accordingly.

                              These tasks were NOT part of the backlog, they didn't get prioritized and were never fixed in isolation. Instead, when the story was estimated and committed to, these tasks simply became extra tasks towards the completion of the story. It was very elegant, very simple and it worked well for that team. Code debt got cleaned up when doing so resulted in value to the user.

                              And visually everyone could see the results of that clean up: An fast-emptying space on the wall.

                              Tobias


                              --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "banshee858" <cnett858@...> wrote:
                              >
                              > >
                              > > > List all the technical debt stuff on little post-it notes
                              > > > adjacent to the Task Board. When a Product Backlog item (PBI) is
                              > > > selected for a Sprint, look at the technical debt pieces and find
                              > > > the pieces that make sense to finish while working on the PBI.
                              > > > Add those to the scope of work for the PBI and estimate how long
                              > > > it will take to complete the feature and the technical debt pieces.
                              > >
                              > > > That way you make the technical debt work visible, you can
                              > > > prioritize it and link it to real value.
                              > >
                              > > Very nice!
                              > >
                              > Not my idea - it came from Tobias Mayer.
                              >
                              > Carlton
                              >
                            • Ron Jeffries
                              Hello, Tobias, Excellent! Just what I like to see! R On Monday, December 6, 2010, at 1:51:46 PM, ... Ron Jeffries www.XProgramming.com In times of stress, I
                              Message 14 of 28 , Dec 6, 2010
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                                Hello, Tobias,

                                Excellent! Just what I like to see!

                                R

                                On Monday, December 6, 2010, at 1:51:46 PM,
                                you wrote:

                                > I can't take credit for it either. I first witnessed this with a
                                > team I worked with at Business Week in NYC. It emerged from the
                                > collective consciousness of the team. As I recall this is what
                                > they did (just expanding on Carlton's description):

                                > Whenever they found technical debt, or any kind of code problem
                                > that needed fixing, they didn't fix it unless it was essential to
                                > complete the story they were working on (this took some
                                > discipline). Otherwise they wrote a sticky note (a task) and added
                                > it to a special box on the visual management wall labeled
                                > Technical Debt. This served two purposes: a reminder to the team,
                                > and a visual representation to the business of the state of the codebase.

                                > At any subsequent planning meeting, when the USER-FACING stories
                                > were discussed (I don't buy into the concept of "technical
                                > stories") someone may remind the team that if such-and-such a
                                > story was attempted then certain code debt items called out on the
                                > wall would need to be fixed as part of that story. The rule was
                                > "no workarounds". This clean up work was then considered as part
                                > of the essential work of the story, and the story was estimated accordingly.

                                > These tasks were NOT part of the backlog, they didn't get
                                > prioritized and were never fixed in isolation. Instead, when the
                                > story was estimated and committed to, these tasks simply became
                                > extra tasks towards the completion of the story. It was very
                                > elegant, very simple and it worked well for that team. Code debt
                                > got cleaned up when doing so resulted in value to the user.

                                > And visually everyone could see the results of that clean up: An fast-emptying space on the wall.



                                Ron Jeffries
                                www.XProgramming.com
                                In times of stress, I like to turn to the wisdom of my Portuguese waitress,
                                who said: "Olá, meu nome é Marisol e eu serei sua garçonete."
                                -- after Mark Vaughn, Autoweek.
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