Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

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

Expand Messages
  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 of 28 , Dec 6, 2010
                    • 0 Attachment
                      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.
                    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.