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From Startup to Administration - 5 Agile Projects

From Startup to Administration - 5 Agile Projects

Presented at Journée Agile 2017. Feedback on 5 Scrum projects in various environments, from the start-up to the tentacular administration. Some environments were amenable to agility, some were hostile.


Youri Ackx

June 02, 2017


  1. Five Agile Projects From startup to administration Youri Ackx

  2. TEST - TEST - TEST This presentation contains animated GIFs

  3. Preliminary remarks This talk assumes you have some knowledge of

    Scrum ...or that you intend to use it Not explaining what Scrum/Kanban is however BTW, do u Scrum or do u Kanban?
  4. Warmup

  5. Everybody is “Agile”

  6. At least according to many recruiters

  7. Recruiters... Dude, seriously?

  8. None
  9. True “agility”? Some clues cannot be mistaken

  10. Exhibit A Body shopper: “And we do Scrum and Agile.

    We train our people to work in an agile way, and not do waterfall.” Me: “Good.” (to the junior candidate) “What were you contacts with other teams?” Candidate: “I worked often with the stakeholders to write user stories.” Me: “And did you meet the development team frequently?” Candidate: “No, not that much”
  11. Mistakes and misconceptions ✗ Waterfall masquerading Agile/Scrum ✗ Distorting ceremonies

    and roles ✗ Ignoring agile values and Scrum practices ✗ Pretext to skip specifications and documentation ✗ Large and/or single function team ✗ Traditional project management in disguise
  12. CAUTION These confusions can have dire consequences on the project

  13. Real Scrum screening checklist ✓ Ceremonies (retro, review) ✓ Artefacts

    (visible PBL, SPL, burndown chart) ✓ Who does the estimates (team) ✓ Multi-functional team (seated together ideally)
  14. Youri Ackx Agile and Pragmatic Java/Grails Developer @YouriAckx Sugoi consulting

  15. 5 projects

  16. Organizational Paradigms Also referred to as “Level of consciousness”

  17. Organizational Paradigms

  18. 1. ‘The Administration’

  19. The Administration Scrum adherence Inexistant Agile environment Hostile Efficiency Less

    than 2% Paradigm Conformity (+ Impulsive) Outcome Poor
  20. When I was first introduced to Scrum, I shrugged.

  21. Sticking Post-Its on a wall makes no sense … if

    there are no purpose and no values attaches to them
  22. For example... ✓ Better respond to change ✓ Increased fitness

    of the developed features ✓ Self-organized team ➔ increased productivity ✓ ...
  23. Hire a coach Don’t expect to figure out everything on

    your own. Avoid demotivation and rejection.
  24. 2. ‘Feels Good Inc.’

  25. Feels Good Inc. Scrum adherence Very high Agile environment Very

    high Efficiency More than 90% Paradigm Teal Outcome Outstanding
  26. Context ✓ Very agile environment ✓ Fighting against bureaucracy during

    growth ✓ IT effort was part of a greater business intelligence effort
  27. None
  28. Collaboration ✓ Everything visual ✓ Storytelling with pictures and diagrams

    ✓ Empirically, DEV and BA (PO) roles were blurred - Henrik Kniberg would not approve
  29. Yes, it works It “only” takes motivated and competent people,

    in a tolerant environment. Trust the framework, the method and their values.
  30. The project was a complete success. The investment was quickly

    repaid, and the company did not have to settle for less adequate tools. That gave them a serious competitive advantage Outcome
  31. 3. ‘The Web Agency’

  32. The Web Agency Scrum adherence Marginal Agile environment Adequate Efficiency

    About 80% Paradigm Meritocracy Outcome Adequate
  33. Team ✓ 2 senior DEVs (back-end) + 2 web designers

    (front-end) ✗ But not in the same team, and with different agendas ➞ How do you make user stories?
  34. Team ✗ PM handling traditional PM metrics PM is fine,

    as long as it works outside the Scrum perimeter ✗ No PO PM is no substitute for PO! Lack of PO can leave the team hanging dry PO/PM confusion leads… well, to confusion
  35. Team ✗ Estimates done by tech-commercial, upfront A good recipe

    for frustration by budget overshooting Leads to team bullying by PM to stick to bogus estimates Usual consequences: ✗ Demotivation ✗ Overwork ✗ Quality decrease ✗ Work avoidance strategies
  36. The project stayed on track thanks to the senior staff

    members resisting to pressure, and keeping its cool. The Agency still lost money because of unrealistic estimates with fixed price. Outcome
  37. Scrum vs Kanban Kanban would have been better suited. Of

    course, a pluri-functional team would have been better regardless of the framework, but that ship had sailed.
  38. Kanban Did I hear someone say Kanban?

  39. Key Principles ✓ Start with what you do now ✓

    Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary change ✓ Respect the current process, roles, responsibilities & titles
  40. Core Properties ✓ Visualize work (but also blockers, bottlenecks and

    queues) ✓ Limit work in progress (WIP) to avoid task switching and limit reprioritization ✓ Focus on Flow and collect metrics about it ✓ Pull work ✓ Continuous improvement to avoid one-size-fits-all syndrome
  41. None
  42. Kanban vs Scrum ✓ More flexible (here, 2 teams back-end

    + front-end and PM) ✓ Avoid artificial sprint boxing ✓ Go around unmet Scrum prerequisites ✗ No ready-to-use framework ✗ Complex toolset
  43. No silver bullet Check the framework prerequisites + caveat emptor.

    Hire a coach, early!
  44. 4. ‘The CAS’

  45. The CAS Scrum adherence Good Agile environment Not at all

    but not hostile Efficiency ext. 20% int. 80% Paradigm Conformity Outcome Adequate
  46. None
  47. Insider illustration

  48. Insider illustration

  49. Material ✗ Tests are run by TEST team every 3-4

    weeks ✗ DEV team has close to 0 automated tests ✗ DEV team has limited business knowledge to write tests ✓ but TEST has thousands of test cases! ✗ FA vs DEV vs TEST vs business → silos → no one collaborates
  50. Failure cycle DEV painfully attempts to fix bugs After a

    few weeks, tests are run Most bugs are fixed… But many (re)-appeared ♼ Rince and repeat → Miss deadlines, make no actual progress
  51. Recipe ✓ Multi-functional team DEV + TEST + FA (convince

    managers) ✓ All your tests are belong to us (Not to the TEST team only) ✓ Automate everything ✓ Self-organized team ✓ PM outside the perimeter made not harm
  52. The initial budget was grossly overshot because the scope implicitly

    changed. There were no more regressions. Team was happy and motivated. We became empowered. Outcome
  53. Break silos

  54. 5. ‘Reward’

  55. None
  56. So far... ✓ Started with Scrum ✓ Happily moved to

    Kanban ✓ Strive for more LEAN, more Agile, always ✓ Lots of character, but no ego fights ✓ Don’t settle for half-baked solutions
  57. Trust We are individuals before being consultants or resources. Build

    a team with the right persons.
  58. Summing up

  59. Environment Adherence Efficiency Paradigm Outcome Administration Feels Good Web Agency

    CAS Reward
  60. Cross-projects

  61. First, learn to walk Later, you will learn to fly.

    But not yet.
  62. Old habits die hard Learn to let go

  63. The dark side of project management clouds everything.

  64. In difficult situations, you need more agility, not more command

    & control, not more management, not more papertrail, not more governance meetings, not more emails.
  65. Highlights ✓ Respect the framework (ceremonies, artefacts, roles) ✓ Leave

    your comfort zone (and improve) ✓ Break silos ✓ Build a team (multi-functional) ✓ Learn to let go
  66. None
  67. Youri Ackx Agile and Pragmatic Java/Grails Developer @YouriAckx Sugoi consulting

  68. Attributions For all the random images and memes found on

    internet with no authors mentioned… Thank you. Cette œuvre est mise à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Partage dans les Mêmes Conditions 4.0 International.
  69. Bonuses

  70. Fixed price

  71. Before rewriting the engine component, I estimated the amount of

    work to 70 md.
  72. The manager asked me: “Would you, as a contractor, do

    it for a fixed price based on 70 mandays?”
  73. I replied: “Of course not. I would charge at least

    3 times, plus preliminary analysis and scope document.”
  74. “Le malentendu entre contrat au forfait et agilité vient de

    l’idée que le périmètre fonctionnel semble être fixé à l’avance par le client.” Claude Aubry, “Scrum - Le guide pratique de la méthode agile la plus populaire”, p. 260
  75. Dans la réalité, le périmètre n’est pas défini strictement au

    début du projet, et évolue toujours Claude Aubry, “Scrum - Le guide pratique de la méthode agile la plus populaire”, p. 260
  76. Custom software development is not like buying a car. It’s

    more like asking a team of engineers to build a unique car from scratch, and changing the design while it’s being built.
  77. But I still want my fixed price ✓ Gratis change

    provision ✓ Win-win provision ✓ No charge termination provision ✗ Inflated fixed price How do you “welcome” change in that context? Feasible, but does it make sense?
  78. Exhibit B Customer: “We have daily standups. And we do

    Agile and Scrum.” Me: “That’s great. You guys do retrospectives, reviews, and measure your velocity?” Customer: (unfazed) “No, we don’t do that. But we have posts-its and meet daily.” Me: “And your does your team work? Do you have testers and analysts in the team?” Customer: (embarrassed) “No, the testers belong to another teams, and analysts are in a separate team as well.” Me: “I see.” (awkward moment follows)
  79. Exhibit C1 Someone: “I hate Agile. And I hate Scrum.

    I hate it.” Me: “How comes?” Him: “It’s such a waste of time. Those daily stand-ups last forever, sometimes 40 min.” Me: (frowning) “But that’s way too long for the intended purpose.” Him: “Some often go into endless details that only matter to 2 or 3 people. But the Scrum master does not intervene.” Me: ‘’Your team should stop doing that. How is the team composed anyway?” Him: “We’re 14.” Me: “Fourteen? That’s way too much for a Scrum team!”
  80. Exhibit C2 Him: “Yes I know. And only one or

    two developers actually.” Me: “Ouch. What does your Scrum master say about that?” Him: “He does not intervene. The Project manager needs these meetings for his reporting.” Me: “What? This is so wrong.” Him: “Yeah the worse are the black Thursdays, where we do only meetings, the whole day. And it serves no purpose, there is no actual decision, and people are unhappy.” Me: “Why are you doing it then?” Him: “It’s all politics. Doesn’t matter. We just ignore the whole thing, and do whatever is needed for the project.” Me: ‘’That’s absurd. But you know you’re not doing Scrum at all, right?” ...
  81. Blaming mode ON “Project ran late because of your Scrum

    method.” “There is no documentation, how do you want it to work?” “We’ve wasted too much time on reviews and discussions.” “There is no management. Everybody does what they want.” “There is no planning in your Scrum.” These are actual sentences I’ve heard. At least several times.
  82. None
  83. You must look professional. Hide your personality. Come as a

    consultant, not as a person. We’ve become disconnected with what makes us people. Today’s workplace