I’ve been playing with Google Wave for a couple of weeks now and am very impressed with the engineering feat they’ve delivered on. It is quite a rich application on a very extensible platform which will be interesting to watch grow. There are however some things I feel that need to happen before this can become truly mainstream.
At Melbourne Business School, we’ve started using Scrum to manage our software development projects. Over the last few months, we’ve used it very loosely on a project as a trial run. The elements we picked up were the very basics of scrum. I’m nervous to even say that we were “doing scrum”. Even so, the results were so much better than I expected, and we completed our project ahead of schedule.
In the beginning …
The daily stand-up meeting was the first “ceremony” we instigated. It’s quite simple, we meet every morning for 5 – 10 minutes, standing up and we each answer three questions: what did you do yesterday, what will you do today, what obstacles are you facing?
The idea is that people want to get it over with quicker if they’re forced to stand up during a meeting. It really does tend to keep us focused and to the point.
It took a little while for people to warm to the idea initially, but we soon developed a bit of a rhythm. People were keeping to their time limits, mentioned salient points only and our ability to actually get stuff done increased considerably.
Most interestingly to me, was the new opportunities this created for the team. The opportunity to share every day has made it easier for us to offer help to each other when obstacles come about. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that the 10 minutes invested in the stand-up has returned us numerous hours a week of muddling through things as individuals.
Lately however, things have started to become more like a status meeting. Going through the three questions just because that’s what we so. I realise now that keeping this meaningful and actionable is not a trivial task. It’s even more challenging for us as the team is constantly working on multiple projects. Sometimes what you’re working on really doesn’t effect anyone else in the team.
We may be headed for “Daily Standup Withdrawal.”
Stacia from the Scrum Alliance writes:
Many teams really, truly believe that the purpose of the daily standup is to â€œjust answer the three questions without exceeding fifteen minutes.â€ Maybe itâ€™s that the questions (what did you do yesterday, what will you do today, what obstacles are you facing) seem so simple. They are not. There is so much underneath the surface of the three little questions. Coach your team to think about these questions and come prepared to the daily standup [...]
In other words, think about the tasks, the accomplishments, how it may impact Johnâ€™s work or Maryâ€™s next task, and keep in mind who you are working with to complete the task. Go into the daily standup with answers to the three questions that are meaningful, insightful, and proactive.
Taking on some advice from that article, I intend to spend some time actively coaching and giving more feedback to the team members. I also need to ensure I don’t contract the same disease myself. A bit of team reflection may be in order too.
To date, I have avoided writing much about my work environment. Having thought about this quite a lot lately, I believe the net effect of writing about such things will be a positive one. So, it now needs to be stated that this clearly is a personal blog. The view and opinions I express here are my own and not those of the people, institutions, or organisations that I may be related with.