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RE: [scrumdevelopment] Concept of "work ahead" team

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  • Jesse Houwing
    Keep in mind that these sessions are not only meant to get a clear backlog item, but also to transfer knowledge from the domain expert, stakeholders and po to
    Message 1 of 25 , Aug 31, 2013
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      Keep in mind that these sessions are not only meant to get a clear backlog item, but also to transfer knowledge from the domain expert, stakeholders and po to all team members.

      Since the other team members have relatively recently started, they should have a gap in their domain knowledge, these sessions should give them a lit of insights when the contents are presented in a way that really explains them.

      It might feel like a lot of unrequired work to get the backlog in shape, but it is a lot of really needed work to get your team members in shape.

      Get them to ask questions. Get them,to ask the same question over and until you get to the real why. That way your team members will be able to understand and carry the vision in all their work.

      Sent from my Windows Phone

      From: Alex Pereira
      Sent: ‎29-‎8-‎2013 15:05
      To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Concept of "work ahead" team



      I Agree with Peter here. Although my Agile experience is far lower than a lot of people in this group, I came to realize that it probably depends on what stage of Agile the organization is, and also, the domain experience of developers/QA on the team.

      Take for example my current job (as a sr. dev), in which I have been for only 3 1/2 months - I was also hired for my previous experience as a Scrum Master. The company is in the early (really crawling) stages of Scrum, and the VP wants all developers/QA to participate in the backlog refining meetings. This is by far the worse arrangement, which I have been trying to persuade them to change.

      My team consists of:
      1 Team Lead/Sr. Dev - been here for over 5 years, so lots of domain knowledge
      1 Jr. Dev - been here about 2 years
      1 Mid Dev. - been here about 6 months
      1 Sr Dev (me) - been here about 4 months
      1 Jr. Dev - been here about 2 months
      1 Sr QA - been here for over 9 years, so lots of domain knowledge

      We have about 2-3 backlog refining meetings each week, and for the most part, with the exception of the team lead and QA, the rest of the team have very little input to give. Which means we are wasting time. I understand we have a lot of issues to overcome here, but for the context of this email, I will just stick with the "work ahead" team concept.

      Based on my past and my current experience, I think the best "lean" approach would be to have a group consisting of the most knowledgeable team members (team lead/sr. dev + QA), together with PO, UX, and other stakeholders create and expand user stories as much as they can. We could probably cut down meetings involving all devs/qa to 1 per week, in which we could discuss the approach to be taken (further refining) and also estimate. I believe this would be the most lean and optimal approach. 



      Alex Pereira
      http://www.brainstack.net/ (Professional Blog)


      From: Peter Trudelle <trudelle@...>
      To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
      Cc: Kurt Häusler <kurt.haeusler@...>
      Sent: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 8:43 PM
      Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Concept of "work ahead" team

      While I largely agree with Kurt's characterization of the extreme
      version of such meetings, I think that that a simple form of them may be
      useful at early stages of an organization's transition to Agile.  I've
      recently set a couple of these up, calling them "Epic Time", but more
      along the lines of Customer Teams, or Three Amigos, to source and refine
      stories to ensure they are ready for the team to take up at Story Time. 
      The Scrum teams had been agonizing over stories that weren't ready,
      spending 30+ minutes per story trying to figure out what they might
      mean, with the POs trying to act as intermediary with
      customers/stakeholders, who were not engaging directly with the teams.
      These Epic Time meetings involve the PO, customers/stakeholders, SMEs,
      and team members sent by the team to represent development, testing, and
      user experience.  We try to ensure a flow of  higher-quality stories to
      the team, so as not to waste the entire team's time.

      Peter


    • Alix Moghdam
      *It seems that this team is helping the PO to create a better backlog. If so, I think it does not harm. But they should remain at the PO fields and boundaries:
      Message 2 of 25 , Sep 3, 2013
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        It seems that this team is helping the PO to create a better backlog. If so, I think it does not harm. But they should remain at the PO fields and boundaries: Defining Stories from business point of view and prioritizing them. And the PO should still be responsible about the final decisions. This team just helps him/her.
        If this team falls into technical fields, then it could be an anti-pattern. They should not decide about implementation, design, and other development-related topics. 
         
        @Alix


        On Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 10:48 PM, Richard Griffiths <richard@...> wrote:
         

        Michael, Srinivas, Madhur

         

        Thanks for the responses (condensed for brevity)

         

        > When you refer to the "chosen few" I'm curious who is doing that choosing.

         

        Actually the sub team has formed from within the team - PO, BA and architect, they very much look at up-coming stories to get them in some form of shape for the whole team to review them at story sizing/grooming sessions.

         

        > A sub-team (of a chosen few) which regularly does this tends to form a unspoken (maybe even spoken) hierarchy which is best avoided. 

         

        We do have some time-zone issues and not everyone is able to meet to plan for the future and groom the backlog on a daily basis; this way we get team input, and as noted, we do rotate people in and out, but it seems to be working.

         

        We have planned grooming sessions (one per week) where everyone attends and we refine and size as appropriate

         

        I was more concerned that there was an expectation that the sub-team/work ahead group would estimate the stories.

         

        My answer was, fine, as long as they, and they only, are happy to take on the work J

         

        Richard

         


        From: Richard Griffiths <richard@...>
        To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Tuesday, 27 August 2013 12:28 PM
        Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Concept of "work ahead" team

         

         

        Hi all, I’ve started to hear this more often – the “work ahead” team being a smaller group out of the team (BA, Architect, UX) who will groom the stories, relatively size them, have them ready for the team to do further work on.

         

        Shouldn’t the whole team be involved in these exercises, not the chosen few?

         

        --

        Richard

         

        Speed is n0 subsitute fnor accurancy

         

         


      • Ron Jeffries
        Alix, ... The team that does this helping is learning things. It would be better if the team that was doing the building could get that learning first hand.
        Message 3 of 25 , Sep 3, 2013
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          Alix,

          On Sep 3, 2013, at 9:36 AM, Alix Moghdam <ali.moghadam@...> wrote:

          It seems that this team is helping the PO to create a better backlog. If so, I think it does not harm. But they should remain at the PO fields and boundaries: Defining Stories from business point of view and prioritizing them. And the PO should still be responsible about the final decisions. This team just helps him/her.

          The team that does this helping is learning things. It would be better if the team that was doing the building could get that learning first hand.

          Ron Jeffries
          I know we always like to say it'll be easier to do it now than it
          will be to do it later. Not likely. I plan to be smarter later than
          I am now, so I think it'll be just as easy later, maybe even easier.
          Why pay now when we can pay later?

        • Cass Dalton
          I still feel that this makes the dev team lose out on some of that good conversation. Understanding what makes a story better gives the dev team valuable
          Message 4 of 25 , Sep 3, 2013
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            I still feel that this makes the dev team lose out on some of that good conversation.  Understanding what makes a story "better" gives the dev team valuable context for that story

            On Sep 3, 2013 9:52 AM, "Alix Moghdam" <ali.moghadam@...> wrote:
             

            It seems that this team is helping the PO to create a better backlog. If so, I think it does not harm. But they should remain at the PO fields and boundaries: Defining Stories from business point of view and prioritizing them. And the PO should still be responsible about the final decisions. This team just helps him/her.
            If this team falls into technical fields, then it could be an anti-pattern. They should not decide about implementation, design, and other development-related topics. 
             
            @Alix


            On Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 10:48 PM, Richard Griffiths <richard@...> wrote:
             

            Michael, Srinivas, Madhur

             

            Thanks for the responses (condensed for brevity)

             

            > When you refer to the "chosen few" I'm curious who is doing that choosing.

             

            Actually the sub team has formed from within the team - PO, BA and architect, they very much look at up-coming stories to get them in some form of shape for the whole team to review them at story sizing/grooming sessions.

             

            > A sub-team (of a chosen few) which regularly does this tends to form a unspoken (maybe even spoken) hierarchy which is best avoided. 

             

            We do have some time-zone issues and not everyone is able to meet to plan for the future and groom the backlog on a daily basis; this way we get team input, and as noted, we do rotate people in and out, but it seems to be working.

             

            We have planned grooming sessions (one per week) where everyone attends and we refine and size as appropriate

             

            I was more concerned that there was an expectation that the sub-team/work ahead group would estimate the stories.

             

            My answer was, fine, as long as they, and they only, are happy to take on the work J

             

            Richard

             


            From: Richard Griffiths <richard@...>
            To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Tuesday, 27 August 2013 12:28 PM
            Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Concept of "work ahead" team

             

             

            Hi all, I’ve started to hear this more often – the “work ahead” team being a smaller group out of the team (BA, Architect, UX) who will groom the stories, relatively size them, have them ready for the team to do further work on.

             

            Shouldn’t the whole team be involved in these exercises, not the chosen few?

             

            --

            Richard

             

            Speed is n0 subsitute fnor accurancy

             

             


          • George Dinwiddie
            Hi, Richard, ... I ve found that grooming stories with the whole team can drag on and on, accomplishing relatively little and frustrating everyone. On the
            Message 5 of 25 , Sep 3, 2013
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              Hi, Richard,

              On 8/27/13 2:58 AM, Richard Griffiths wrote:
              >
              >
              > Hi all, I’ve started to hear this more often – the “work ahead” team
              > being a smaller group out of the team (BA, Architect, UX) who will groom
              > the stories, relatively size them, have them ready for the team to do
              > further work on.
              >
              > Shouldn’t the whole team be involved in these exercises, not the chosen few?

              I've found that grooming stories with the whole team can drag on and on,
              accomplishing relatively little and frustrating everyone. On the other
              hand, it's important that everyone have some involvement. It's
              particularly important that someone doing the work not be handed an
              estimate made by someone not doing the work.

              About 5 years ago we pioneered a "Three Amigos" process at a client
              where a small group containing the product owner, a tester, and a
              programmer (and sometimes more, particularly UX in that client) would
              discuss a story or two to get it clear on the details. Today I recommend
              that this discussion result in acceptance scenarios that clarify the
              story and indicate minimum acceptance criteria. Often there are many
              such scenarios, and the story can be split along the lines of the scenarios.

              Different sets of "Three Amigos" would work on grooming different
              stories on different days, giving everybody involvement in the process
              but not everybody involved in the same stories.

              This clarification would happen before the planning meeting. At the
              planning meeting, everyone took part in estimation and determining how
              many stories fit. The clarity brought by having explicit examples in the
              acceptance scenarios made the estimation and planning proceed much more
              quickly.

              You might be interested in this article from Better Software:
              http://manage.techwell.com/articles/weekly/three-amigos

              - George

              --
              ----------------------------------------------------------------------
              * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
              Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
              Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
              ----------------------------------------------------------------------
            • Adrian Howard
              ... Are there other ways to drop the annoyance level? For example: * grooming less at a time (my preference) * things like affinity estimation
              Message 6 of 25 , Sep 3, 2013
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                On 3 September 2013 17:52, George Dinwiddie <lists@...> wrote:
                > I've found that grooming stories with the whole team can drag on and on,
                > accomplishing relatively little and frustrating everyone. On the other
                > hand, it's important that everyone have some involvement. It's
                > particularly important that someone doing the work not be handed an
                > estimate made by someone not doing the work.

                Are there other ways to drop the annoyance level? For example:

                * grooming less at a time (my preference)
                * things like affinity estimation
                (http://kanemar.com/2008/04/21/scrum-trainers-gathering-44-affinity-estimating/)

                Not arguing that 3 Amigos is a useful approach... but as years go buy
                I'm more and more hesitant about approaches that stop the whole team
                participating.

                Cheers,

                Adrian
                --
                adrianh@... / +44 (0)7752 419080 / @adrianh / quietstars.com
                Subscribe to the latest Agile & Lean UX news here > http://is.gd/KREt5S
              • Ron Jeffries
                Hi Adrian, ... I tend to agree. Limiting knowledge / learning to a few seems off to me. Ron Jeffries www.XProgramming.com I know we always like to say it ll be
                Message 7 of 25 , Sep 3, 2013
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                  Hi Adrian,

                  On Sep 3, 2013, at 8:34 PM, Adrian Howard <adrianh@...> wrote:

                  Not arguing that 3 Amigos is a useful approach... but as years go buy
                  I'm more and more hesitant about approaches that stop the whole team
                  participating.

                  I tend to agree. Limiting knowledge / learning to a few seems off to me.

                  Ron Jeffries
                  I know we always like to say it'll be easier to do it now than it
                  will be to do it later. Not likely. I plan to be smarter later than
                  I am now, so I think it'll be just as easy later, maybe even easier.
                  Why pay now when we can pay later?

                • Adam Sroka
                  My interpretation of three amigos is that it does not preclude whole team participation but describes the three viewpoints required to have a quorum on any
                  Message 8 of 25 , Sep 3, 2013
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                    My interpretation of three amigos is that it does not preclude whole team participation but describes the three viewpoints required to have a quorum on any story. On a high functioning team anyone should be able to represent any of the three. So, you need a pair to have the conversation and the customer/PO to make the final call. 

                    On Tuesday, September 3, 2013, Adrian Howard wrote:
                     

                    On 3 September 2013 17:52, George Dinwiddie <lists@...> wrote:
                    > I've found that grooming stories with the whole team can drag on and on,
                    > accomplishing relatively little and frustrating everyone. On the other
                    > hand, it's important that everyone have some involvement. It's
                    > particularly important that someone doing the work not be handed an
                    > estimate made by someone not doing the work.

                    Are there other ways to drop the annoyance level? For example:

                    * grooming less at a time (my preference)
                    * things like affinity estimation
                    (http://kanemar.com/2008/04/21/scrum-trainers-gathering-44-affinity-estimating/)

                    Not arguing that 3 Amigos is a useful approach... but as years go buy
                    I'm more and more hesitant about approaches that stop the whole team
                    participating.

                    Cheers,

                    Adrian
                    --
                    adrianh@... / +44 (0)7752 419080 / @adrianh / quietstars.com
                    Subscribe to the latest Agile & Lean UX news here > http://is.gd/KREt5S

                  • Adam Sroka
                    Perhaps, if we are planning in a manner that feels like it is a waste of time for some of the folks on the team, it is, in fact, a waste of the time for
                    Message 9 of 25 , Sep 3, 2013
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                      Perhaps, if we are planning in a manner that feels like it is a waste of time for some of the folks on the team, it is, in fact, a waste of the time for everyone on the team, and we should find a leaner and more effective way to plan. Conversations that are valuable are not a waste of anyone's time. 


                      On Tue, Sep 3, 2013 at 8:38 PM, Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
                       

                      Hi Adrian,


                      On Sep 3, 2013, at 8:34 PM, Adrian Howard <adrianh@...> wrote:

                      Not arguing that 3 Amigos is a useful approach... but as years go buy
                      I'm more and more hesitant about approaches that stop the whole team
                      participating.

                      I tend to agree. Limiting knowledge / learning to a few seems off to me.


                      Ron Jeffries
                      I know we always like to say it'll be easier to do it now than it
                      will be to do it later. Not likely. I plan to be smarter later than
                      I am now, so I think it'll be just as easy later, maybe even easier.
                      Why pay now when we can pay later?


                    • Adrian Howard
                      ... That feels right to me. Cheers, Adrian -- adrianh@quietstars.com / +44 (0)7752 419080 / @adrianh / quietstars.com Join my Fundamentals of Lean UX workshop,
                      Message 10 of 25 , Sep 3, 2013
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                        On 4 September 2013 02:05, Adam Sroka <adam.sroka@...> wrote:
                        Perhaps, if we are planning in a manner that feels like it is a waste of time for some of the folks on the team, it is, in fact, a waste of the time for everyone on the team, and we should find a leaner and more effective way to plan. Conversations that are valuable are not a waste of anyone's time. 

                        That feels right to me.

                        Cheers,

                        Adrian
                        -- 
                        adrianh@... / +44 (0)7752 419080 / @adrianh / quietstars.com
                        Join my Fundamentals of Lean UX workshop, Sep 4, http://uxcambridge.net

                      • George Dinwiddie
                        Adrian, ... That s part of this. But when we first did this, it was also part of the whole team exercise. ... Estimating is not part of the grooming. That s
                        Message 11 of 25 , Sep 3, 2013
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                          Adrian,

                          On 9/3/13 8:34 PM, Adrian Howard wrote:
                          > On 3 September 2013 17:52, George Dinwiddie <lists@...> wrote:
                          >> I've found that grooming stories with the whole team can drag on and on,
                          >> accomplishing relatively little and frustrating everyone. On the other
                          >> hand, it's important that everyone have some involvement. It's
                          >> particularly important that someone doing the work not be handed an
                          >> estimate made by someone not doing the work.
                          >
                          > Are there other ways to drop the annoyance level? For example:
                          >
                          > * grooming less at a time (my preference)

                          That's part of this. But when we first did this, it was also part of the
                          whole team exercise.

                          > * things like affinity estimation
                          > (http://kanemar.com/2008/04/21/scrum-trainers-gathering-44-affinity-estimating/)

                          Estimating is not part of the grooming. That's generally done at the
                          planning meeting by the whole team. And, yes, I find affinity estimating
                          a better technique than most. I've considered counting the scenarios. I
                          generally recommend calling them all "1."

                          > Not arguing that 3 Amigos is a useful approach... but as years go buy
                          > I'm more and more hesitant about approaches that stop the whole team
                          > participating.

                          I suppose you can do mob programming, but most teams don't have
                          everybody working together on every task.

                          The Three Amigos approach doesn't stop the whole team from
                          participating. It does gain a lot of clarity in small group discussions,
                          but that clarity is then brought to the whole team at planning time. The
                          whole team is then able to assess each story more quickly. In my
                          experience, if people think that important scenarios are missing,
                          they'll generally say something.

                          The use of acceptance scenarios makes it easy to keep straight on what
                          is in a particular story, and what is out. Confusion over what's in and
                          what's out seems to cause most of the problems in whole-team grooming
                          exercises, in my experience. After a discussion that says "this part is
                          in and that part is out," invariably someone brings up the need for
                          "that part" later in the discussion.

                          Breaking into small groups and bringing it back to the larger group is a
                          time-honored and effective facilitation technique. But if you're
                          uncomfortable with it, by all means try it with the whole team. I think
                          the most important part of this is generating explicit scenarios to
                          illustrate the story. Doing so more efficiently is much less important.

                          - George

                          --
                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                          * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
                          Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
                          Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                        • George Dinwiddie
                          Ron, ... That would seem off to me, also. That s not what I recommend. - George -- ... * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
                          Message 12 of 25 , Sep 3, 2013
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                            Ron,

                            On 9/3/13 8:38 PM, Ron Jeffries wrote:
                            >
                            >
                            > Hi Adrian,
                            >
                            > On Sep 3, 2013, at 8:34 PM, Adrian Howard <adrianh@...
                            > <mailto:adrianh@...>> wrote:
                            >
                            >> Not arguing that 3 Amigos is a useful approach... but as years go buy
                            >> I'm more and more hesitant about approaches that stop the whole team
                            >> participating.
                            >
                            > I tend to agree. Limiting knowledge / learning to a few seems off to me.

                            That would seem off to me, also. That's not what I recommend.

                            - George

                            --
                            ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                            * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
                            Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
                            Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
                            ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                          • George Dinwiddie
                            Adam, ... Yes, it s viewpoints, not job roles, that count. At a minimum, - someone to keep an eye on the business desires - someone to keep an eye on
                            Message 13 of 25 , Sep 3, 2013
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                              Adam,

                              On 9/3/13 8:54 PM, Adam Sroka wrote:
                              >
                              >
                              > My interpretation of three amigos is that it does not preclude whole
                              > team participation but describes the three viewpoints required to have a
                              > quorum on any story. On a high functioning team anyone should be able to
                              > represent any of the three. So, you need a pair to have the conversation
                              > and the customer/PO to make the final call.

                              Yes, it's viewpoints, not job roles, that count. At a minimum,
                              - someone to keep an eye on the business desires
                              - someone to keep an eye on implementation issues
                              - someone to keep an eye on edge cases and what might go wrong.
                              I've found it better if these viewpoints are embodied in three separate
                              people in the discussion. Often one person CAN hold these three
                              viewpoints, but it's hard to do so simultaneously. And I caution people
                              that there may be other important viewpoints. Some common examples:
                              - someone to keep an eye on UX issues
                              - someone to keep an eye on security issues
                              - someone to keep an eye on specialized business desires that are
                              separate from user needs, such as accounting or legal

                              - George

                              --
                              ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                              * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
                              Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
                              Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
                              ----------------------------------------------------------------------
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