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Collaborative workshop and The letter to Santa Claus: Act4

Posted by jc-Qualitystreet on 2011/11/20

Or gaming & agile mindset at Home :)

Christmas is coming and for the fourth year we’ve prepared during a great collaborative workshop with kids, our letter to Santa Claus (or technically speaking, our prioritized Backlog for Santa Claus)

Final Version Eva
Final Version Eva -

A prioritized and customized backlog !

Some constraints…

  • Santa Claus is very busy
  • His sledge is not expandable
  • The deadlines are tight
  • The delivery date cannot be moved
  • And unfortunately a additional one this year, two sites for the delivery… that’s life… :(

The workshop

We didn’t have to make a long opening: the kids are already familiar with the process, they’re ready and impatient to start…

They know they cannot have everything (lessons learned from the past…)  and that being good (or not) has an impact on Santa Claus’s motivation to deliver what they wish…So they’re aware of the necessity to set priorities for their Christmas backlog !

Step 1: Needs analysis, Brainstorming and data collection
Passionate reading for weeks, intensive research from several sources… confrontation with friends at school were a fantastic preparation for our “collaborative workshop” at Home

Catalogs

Catalogs

Items selection: cutting

Items selection

Step 2: Backlog Initialization

  • Images are cut
  • One image is placed by sticky note(pink ones for my daughter; orange notes for my son). The main backlogs are initiated
Brainstorming and selection

Time to cut

One image by Sticky note

One image by Sticky note

Backlog item example... Buzz l'Eclair

Backlog item example... Buzz l'Eclair - The 2C rule: Card and Conversation :)

Step 3: Backlog Prioritization
Notes are laid either on the ground or on the table (their preference this year). Kids make their prioritization effort and rank them in order of preference. They place on the top toys they want most, the most important to them…

Prioritization effort: Here are the Top priorities

Prioritization effort: Here are the Top priorities

Starting by the top priorities

Starting by the top priorities

Priorities checking: compare and use triangulation ! this PO skill is acquired

Priorities checking: compare and use triangulation ! this PO skill is acquired

Move to the wall

Move to the wall

Move to the wall for a better visualization...They really enjoyed it!

Move to the wall for a better visualization...They really enjoyed it!

Step 4: Backlog Customization
Since last year, the backlog customization has become a crucial step…

Backlog customization: essential!

Backlog customization: essential!

Customization...

Customization...

More customization for my daughter

More customization for my daughter

Step 5 : Backlog display and printed version
Go to the room for an optimal visibility & accessibility.

Final Version Eva

Final Version Eva

Final Version Solal (actually not yet finished...)

Final Version Solal (actually not yet finished...)

Print a version in a Letter format and send it to Santa Claud…

Results

Once again, we really had a great time… :)

10 strategies to split large user stories

Posted by jc-Qualitystreet on 2011/04/19

A user story is a requirement of the system to be developed, a brief description of a feature as viewed by the user (Role → Goal), very popular on Agile projects.

“As a customer, I want to book a train ticket to go to Paris”

User Stories are usually associated to the 3C rule, quality criteria (INVEST) and the “User Voice” format

As a <User Role>
I can <Goal>
So That <Business Value>

user stories INVESTEd... goal oriented and customer-centric

user stories INVESTEd... goal oriented and customer-centric

Each user story must be estimated (by the team) and prioritized, but also SMALL ENOUGH to be delivered in a sprint (usually smallest teams take at least 3 stories per sprint). This is a necessity if you want to observe real benefits in terms of value delivery, visibility, flexibility, feedback and continuous improvement.

During my agile coaching activities, I am regularly asked to help the team and Product Owner to split user stories into smaller ones.

Here are the 10 strategies I use to effectively split large user stories:

1 Steps of a workflow

The user performs a task according to a well-established workflow. The large user story is split according to these steps in order to be developed incrementally. Each step has its own user story.

2 Scenario

By splitting a user story by scenario, you get a User Story for the main success scenario and other user stories for any errors or alternative paths:
when x happens, then…
when…, then

3 Sequence in a scenario

The case is more precise, you divide the story according to a specific sequence in a scenario.

4 Operations

Splitting a user story by operations is often the most obvious way to decompose. A CRUD (Create, Retrieve, Update, Delete) feature is a good example. Separate the CRUD or group two operations in a user story may be appropriate … to create an account, to view it, edit it and delete it.

5 Size or type of data

Pretty obvious too. You divide large user stories according to the type of object (e.g. various account types, messages in English, French, Spanish…)

6 Type of input, output or configuration

Variations in terms of material or not, on configurations but also in terms of input means or User Interface can lead to new and smaller user stories.

7 Persona or role

This time, you choose to break down the user stories based on the role or the persona who will use the product. This is a very good option easy if you use the user voice format or the Persona approach. The story mapping activity is a good way to visualize it.

8 Level of knowledge

The level of knowledge acquired on a feature is a good criterion of decomposition… You can get a specific story for what is known, another one for the unknown (leading to a spike and exploration activity)

9 Level of complexity

For example a user story can describe a feature in the simplest way of implementation, others will follow by a greater level of complexity or detail.

10 Level of quality expected

Performance, Security, Usability … these non-functional requirements are usually described in the elements of conversation, of a specific user story. There are conditions of satisfaction, but they can also help distinguish between these user stories (eg display it in less than 60 seconds, less than 30 sec; data in real time or not …)

Illustrations will be added progressively. If you want to participate, please submit your comments with your example and strategy number…

My Product Backlog is DEEP… and PHYSICAL!

Posted by jc-Qualitystreet on 2011/02/01

The product backlog is a prioritized list of everything that might be needed in the product. This is the thread of a Scrum Agile project.

My Product Backlog is DEEP…

My Product Backlog is DEEP...

My Product Backlog is DEEP...

The acronym D.E. E. P. (detailed appropriately, estimated, emergent and prioritized) summarizes key attributes of a good product backlog.

Unfortunately among agile teams, few product backlogs now meet these criteria, but surprisingly (or not), the question of the tools to manage it seems to be more “exiting” … From dedicated tools, to Excel or Google spreadsheet; from Sharepoint to Jira or even QualityCenter :) … which tool to choose? That’s forgotten pretty quickly, another key characteristic of the product backlog: its physical aspect!

My Product Backlog is DEEP… and PHYSICAL

Having a physical version of the product backlog, visible and easily accessible is crucial. Associated to the burnup chart, it’s a key element within the information radiator of the project.

We see the end!

We see the end!

Indeed, unlike a virtual (electronic) product backlog, the physical product backlog:

  • offers to everyone (belonging to the Scrum team or not) a real time visibility on the progress of the product development: what we’re doing, what we did and what we need to do to finish the product;
  • is a strong sign of transparency and openness
  • gives a meaning to the work of the team (source of motivation and engagement);
  • provides each team member with a clear idea of the big picture.

An agile state of mind and some prerequisites

The cost of initialization of a physical product backlog (for example the writing effort) is minimal.  However, its effectiveness requires that:

  • the physical product backlog belongs to the information radiator located where the team works (closed to the Product Owner in a collocated environment);
  • the physical product backlog becomes a real meeting point for the team and the Product Owner;
  • the product backlog is groomed and managed continuously: leaving a product backlog abandoned in a corner of the wall is the sign that something goes wrong.

Obviously, electronic versions of the product backlog remain essential for distributed teams operating in remote environments. Yet even in these contexts, a return to simplicity and value is often useful. Tools must only exist to make processes more efficient and to facilitate the work of people.

So a virtual product backlog tool should remain a source of value, and should be neither a constraint nor a waste.

Scrum, Backlog and Santa Claus: Act 3

Posted by jc-Qualitystreet on 2010/11/11

Or Agility at Home :)

Christmas is coming and for the third year we’ve done with kids, our letter to Santa Claus, or rather our prioritized Backlog for Santa Claus.

With Agile and Kaizen mindset, we seek to improve our process (see our 2009 process - English or our 2008 process - French)

A prioritized and customized backlog !
A prioritized and customized backlog !

Same constraints as previous years

  • Santa Claus is very busy
  • His sledge is not expandable
  • The deadlines are tight
  • The delivery date cannot be moved

Other elements of context

My kids are now experienced Product Owners :)

  • They handle sticky notes and patafix with dexterity…
  • They know they cannot have everything (even if you always want more)…
  • Being good (or not) has an impact on Santa Claus’s motivation to deliver what they wish…

SO , they realize they must prioritize their Christmas backlog !

How do we set priorities to write the letter to Santa Claus?

Step 1: Needs analysis, Brainstorming and data collection
Passionate reading for weeks, intensive research from several sources… confrontation with friends at school. “Workshop collaboration” with parents at home and, finally, cutting potential gifts

Catalogs...

Catalogs...

Brainstorming

Brainstorming

Collaborative workshop with parents

Collaborative workshop with parents

Step 2: Backlog Initialization
Images are cut. Place one image by sticky note (pink ones for my daughter; yellow notes for my son). Question of maturity: this year my son was able to participate actively (he is now 3 ½ years old). The two backlogs are initiated.

One image by Sticky note

One image by Sticky note

Backlog item example

Backlog item example

Step 3: Backlog Prioritization
Notes are laid on the ground. My kids make their prioritization effort and rank them in order of preference. They place on the top toys they want most, the most important to them…

Prioritization effort

Prioritization effort

To set priorities: compare and use triangulation !

To set priorities: compare and use triangulation !

the list of items is prioritized

the list of items is prioritized

From the floor to the table

From the floor to the table

Step 4: Backlog Customization
Notes are now prioritized on the ground. We keep the principle of visual management but our product owner wish this year to customize their backlog.

Final Backlog - Girl version
Final Backlog - Girl version

Step 5 : Backlog display
Go to the room for an optimal visibility

Visula management... In situ !

Visual management... In situ !

Results

We really had a great time and the children enjoyed it. They’re very very happy. And you know what ? …  It was a pleasure to coach such good Product Owners :)

The prioritized backlog … and Santa Claus!

Posted by jc-Qualitystreet on 2009/11/13

Christmas is coming and kids know it. This is what happened to me last weekend …

My kids “Dad … Dad for Christmas … can we play the sticky notes game
Me: “Okay kids, but this time we’re going to change the rules”

In one year, I had the time to improve the process  :) even if the constraints are almost the same:

  • Santa Claus is very busy
  • His sledge is not expandable
  • The deadlines are tight
  • The delivery date cannot be moved

In addition, my kids as good Product Owners have understood two important things making them realize the importance of priorities:

  • You cannot have everything (even if you always want more),
  • Being good (or not) can potentially impact on what you’d receive

Scrum / XP from … Home!

Or how we set priorities to write the letter to Santa Claus :)

Step1 : Brainstorming, data collection and workshops
Passionate reading for weeks, intensive research from several sources, and interviews with the little brother to finally cut in the magazines the images of the toys they like

 

Step 2: Backlog Initialization
The images are cut. In case of several kids, ask them to place their images in an envelope. Use one envelope by child then one image by sticky note. The backlog is initiated.

 

Step 3: Backlog Prioritization
Notes are laid on the ground. Ask the kids to rank in order of preference by placing on the top toys they want most, the most important to them…

… ..

….

 

Step 4: Backlog Display
Notes are now prioritized on the ground. We had to find a wall or a door to display them vertically (visual management …).

My daughter’s wall (not very reasonable):

 

My son’s wall (moderate …)

 

Retrospective: We had a good time and kids were very happy !

My wife and I’ll take care of the estimation (points/ euros) :)