Tag Archives: Scrum

Scaling Agile @ Spotify with Tribes, Squads, Chapters & Guilds

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(UPDATE: see Spotify Engineering Culture, two short animated videos showing how we work)

Dealing with multiple teams in a product development organization is always a challenge!

One of the most impressive examples I’ve seen so far is Spotify. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Spotify on and off ever since the company was founded, and it’s one of the few companies I’ve seen with a truly agile culture. Spotify has grown a lot lately and now has hundreds of developers divided into 30 agile teams spread over 4 cities in 3 timezones. So how is this managed?

Check out the article: Scaling Agile @ Spotify with Tribes, Squads, Chapters and Guilds. I wrote it together with Anders Ivarsson, one of the agile coaches that I’m working with (Spotify has a truly awesome group of coaches!).


Lean from the Trenches @ Øredev

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Here are the slides for my talk “Lean from the Trenches” at Øredev, Malmö. And here is the book/ebook, in case you want more details. There may also be some copies left at the conference bookstore.

Thanks for attending!

Team LiftOff with Market of Skills and Competence Matrix

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I got into agile development during the late 90s when I read Kent Beck’s book about extreme programming (XP). It was mostly the technical aspects of XP that attracted me; I liked test driven development and continuous integration and I understood the benefit of continuously reviewing the code by doing pair programming. It took some time for me to turn my attention to what I mainly focus on today, and what I see is a cornerstone of agile, teamwork. Product development is in most cases a complex endeavor where you need a high level of collaboration and teamwork to reach required outcome. To succeed you have to make sure the participants build on each others strength and knowledge, and where they see differences as something valuable and important. But it is not certain that all working groups ends up as a true team. As a team coach you need to pay attention to building the team at the beginning. This post will describe a few tools that I have used in order to form teams.

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Agile Product Ownership in a nutshell

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This is basically a 1 day product ownership course compressed into a 15 minute animated presentation.

Some call it “The best 15 minutes on the Internet” 🙂

There’s obviously more to product ownership than this, so see this is a high level summary.

Special thanks to Alistair Cockburn, Tom & Mary Poppendieck, Jeff Patton, Ron Jeffries, Jeff Sutherland, and Michael Dubakov for providing many of the models, metaphors, and ideas that I use in this presentation.

Translations: (see also the translation guide by Cédric Chevalerias)

Below is a full transcript in english. But I recommend watching the video instead of reading the transcript. The video is 100% visual, the transcript is 0% visual…

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From Jira to Trello

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For the past couple of years I’ve had to work with Jira. Really, it’s mostly been dreading working with Jira. At both projects I’ve had Greenhopper available, and that hasn’t really made things better. My frustrations have had to do with the complexity of setting up the right fields, to creating a new sprint to creating a new project, down to mundane things like problems with ranking. I don’t particularly enjoy spending hours just tidying up my data. I want to quickly organize so I have time to actually work. I also want to easily see how much work we’ve done, and how much we have to do. Cards and a physical board are great for this, but I end up with stacks of cards everywhere, and after several sprints I don’t know what to do with them anymore. Enter Trello! read more »

Programmerarna visar vägen

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Lite i skymundan pågår något av en revolution inifrån i IT-branschen, och då särskilt i företag med många programmerare. På gräsrotskonferenser, i nätfora och i management-litteratur äger vår tids kanske mest avancerade och levande diskussion om hur man bäst organiserar arbete rum. Om det skriver jag i en längre essä om hur programmerarna visar vägen till ett bättre, roligare, effektivare och mer innovativt sätt att arbeta.

En första nedkortad version publicerades i februari i Aftonbladet. I somras publicerades en längre version i två delar i Dala-Demokraten (30 juli och 31 juli). Den finns också i sin helhet på antman.se.

Lean from the Trenches keynote @ AgileEE, Kiev

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Here are the slides for my keynote “Lean from the Trenches” at Agile Eastern Europe, Kiev. And here is the book/ebook, in case you want more details. Thanks for attending!

Everybody wants Change – but nobody likes to Be Changed

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Here are the slides from my Ale2012 keynote: Everybody wants Change – but nobody likes to Be Changed.

Thanks for coming!

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Lean from the Trenches @ Agile2012, Dallas

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Here are the slides for my talk “Lean from the Trenches” at Agile2012. And here is the book/ebook, in case you want more details (unfortunately sold out in the conference bookstore). Thanks for attending!

R3 – den agila formeln

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För ett halvt decennium sedan när jag skulle börja som utvecklingschef på Polopoly kände jag att jag behövde ett verktyg som hjälpte mig att sammanfatta andemeningen och de praktiska konsekvenserna av Agile, Scrum, XP och Lean. Var och en av dessa innehåller en rad – i viss mån överlappande – begrep, som är tydliga och om man kan dem inte så svåra att förklara – om man har många timmar på sig. Men hur minns man hela denna komplexa väv? Hur kan man uttrycka den enkelt, snabbt och koncist?

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Case Study of Mobile Team at Projectplace

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I am currently working as a Scrum Master for multiple teams at Projectplace in Stockholm, Sweden. One of those teams is the Mobile Team. They are developing Action Boards for both iOS (iPad) and Android platforms. These Action Boards are also available in the Customer Preview of the Projectplace web service. Both Web Team and Mobile Team share the same API’s. The iPad app is planned to be released in 2-3 Sprints from now.
This case study can be written from many perspectives, but in this article I am going to focus on how we are working with the challenges of having a distributed Scrum team.

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Great Retrospectives

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Great retrospectives are amazing, they have a way of really getting a team to work together and to energize them ahead of a new challenge. But even a great retrospective becomes boring and routine after a while. Luckily, there are a lot of us at Crisp working with different teams, so we got together this evening for a peer to peer exchange about retrospectives. We each got to pitch retrospective exercises and games that we’d like to try, or that we wanted to share. We ended up discussing and trying out 9 of them. Here’s a summary  in case you’d like to try some of them out at your next retrospective!

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Improving the Daily Scrum

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Doing the same thing every day for a long time can get boring. You might even forget why you started doing it in the first place; you just keep doing the same thing, and don’t reflect on what you are getting out of it. The scrum meeting at my current client had gotten into this rut, it had devolved into a status meeting. The participants routinely answered the three questions; what I did yesterday, what I’m going to do today and what impediments I have, but they didn’t really tell each other much about what they had actually done, or what they were planning to do today. They almost never reported any impediments either.

This team has been using Scrum for almost two years. It is a very well working team from a technical perspective; they produced an even amount of user stories each sprint with a high level of quality. But they had lost the energy in the scrum implementation. They felt that they could do more; that they could perform even better if they just could just somehow improve their scrum implementation.

We started working on the daily scrum meeting. Our goal was to use the meeting to give the team a good start to the day with energy and desire to start working on the tasks discussed during the meeting.  In order to do this we made a few changes, both large and small in how we perform the meeting.

  • The structure of the scrum board
  • The process of how we perform the scrum meeting
  • The location of the scrum board and the meeting
  • The metric that we uses to monitor how we are improving the meeting

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Tokyo Scrum Gathering keynote: Everybody wants Change, but nobody likes to Be Changed

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Here are the slides for my Tokyo Scrum Gathering keynote “Everybody wants Change, but nobody likes to be changed“. Thanks for attending!

Sample slides:

Properties of a good daily stand-up

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I had a conversation with some of my colleagues about what makes a good daily stand-up, here are some properties:

  • Time-boxed (15 minutes)
  • Everyone is engaged
  • Synchronization is taking place
  • Attention to problems
  • People ask for help
  • The conversation is about stuff that matters to most people, individual issues are postponed
  • Anyone can lead the meeting, not just the Scrum Master / Team Coach
  • The meeting is the starting point for the day, afterwards everyone feels energized and can start working right away
  • Ends with a punch that marks the end of the meeting and the start of the day*

* The team has dumbells by the scrum board. The rule is that if you feel the current speaker is monopolizing the meeting, you can hand the speaker a dumbell. Now the speaker can keep talking only as long as they can hold up the dumbbell with an outstretched arm.

The Product Owner team

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In my opinion, the Product Owner (PO) role is the most demanding one in Scrum, since the PO needs to have so many talents and you rarely find all of them in one single person.

You need to know

  • the business (what makes money for the company)
  • the end users (what makes them spend their money)
  • the stake holders (what drives them)
  • the development team (how software is made).

You also need to know how to translate all of the above into user stories. On top of that, many POs are also responsible for finding funding for their product and development team within the company.

It’s very difficult to find one single person that does all this well, so in my current team we formed a PO team instead.

Our Product Owner team consist of two people: a business analyst and a project manager. This has turned out to be a really good combination.

The business analyst specializes in turning customer and stake holder needs into requirements. In our case, requirements are expressed as user stories, usually in the popular form “As a <role> I want to <do something>, so that <explanation why>”. Writing   user stories doesn’t come naturally to everyone, it requires practice and skills, so it’s really good to have the business analyst working with the stake holders documenting requirements this way.

To be able to write consistent user stories, our business analyst, working with the stake holders,  has made a domain model explaining all the concepts used and their relations. This model is not a data model for implementation, it’s more of a dictionary defining what we mean when we discuss various aspects of the application. This has proven to be very useful.

In essence, in our PO team our business analyst is responsible for the content of the product backlog. Every time requirements are captured and put into user stories they are reviewed (or written) by him.

The project manager in the PO team also works with the stake holders, but discusses priorities, funding and external dependencies (such as roll out of new functionality in the organization). This requires a different set of skills compared to doing business analysis. This is about in which order and when things are done and delivered.

In essence, in our PO team, the project manager is responsible for the release plan in the product backlog as well as ensuring funding for the user stories. In this organization it’s the stake holders that have the budget and not the PO.

Our PO team works in pairs having two different types of backlog grooming meetings with the stake holders every week.

The first meeting is about the content of the product backlog. They go through all the user stories clarifying, adding and removing stories as new opportunities come up and other become obsolete.

The second meeting is about prioritizing the product backlog and making a release plan for the next three sprints. Market windows, campaigns and product launches are taken into account when creating an absolute priority for each user story (that will last at least until the next meeting).

As I have described in an earlier post, the product backlog is posted on a wall and stored electronically in a PowerPoint document.

Having the PO team working as a pair has proven to be very successful. Each member contributes with his skills and as we know from pair programming two heads think better than one.

Q: Who has the final word about the priorities?
A: The project manager, since he is responsible for the release plan and funding.

Q: Are the ever confilcts between the two?
A: Not more than usual when two people discuss.

Q: If the team receives a task/user story by someone outside the sprint, who do they talk to?
A: The project manager, since it’s a priority issue and it affects the current sprint and the release plan.


Agile Israel slides

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Here are the slides from my two presentations at Agile Israel 2011. Thanks for attending!

Upcoming Kanban & Lean & Agile events

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Here are some fun workshops that I will be co-teaching during the next few months. Join us! For more info see www.crisp.se.

Kanban Applied
co-teaching with Mattias Skarin, March 22-23.
Mattias is a colleague & lean/agile coach, he co-authored my book "Kanban and Scrum, making the most of both".
(details & registration here)

Certified ScrumMaster & Agile Fundamentals
co-teaching with Alistair Cockburn, April 6-8 (3 days).
Alistair is co-author of the Agile Manifesto and has written a number of books, including "Agile Software Development – the cooperative game".
(details & registration here)

Certified ScrumMaster
co-teaching with Jeff Sutherland, April 28-29.
Jeff created Scrum and co-authored the Agile Manifesto.
(details & registration here)

Leading Lean SW Development
co-teaching with Tom & Mary Poppendieck, May 19-20.
Tom & Mary coined the term "Lean Software Development" and have written 3 famous books on the topic.
(details & registration here)

Scrum and XP – Beyond the trenches

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Here are the slides from my presentation "Scrum and XP – Beyond the trenches" at JFokus. Thanks for coming!

To those of you that weren’t at the presentation, the purpose of the presentation was:

  • Many of the solutions in ”Scrum and XP from the Trenches” turned out to be pretty much universally applicable
  • However, I’ve learned a lot since 2006 and there some things that I would have done differently if I could go back in time.
  • Purpose of this presentation is to share these insights with you.

I came up with 15 concrete recommendations that I believed would be very widely applicable. Based on the polls that we did during this presentation, the hypothesis seemed correct! Every single recommendation got 90-100% Green votes from the audience. Or maybe you were just trying to be nice… Well, anyway, thanks for your feedback!

Sample slides:

Kanban and Scrum – making the most of both

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Here are the slides for my session "Kanban and Scrum – making the most of both" at Øredev. Also includes the "extra" topics that didn’t fit into the timebox. Enjoy!

There’s also a video recording of the whole session.

The Power of Visualization

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Here are the slides for my keynote at Øredev: "Software Development – an invisible proess (or The Power of Visualization)". Thanks for coming!

Russian version of ‘Kanban and Scrum – making the most of both’

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Here is the Russian translation of my book Kanban and Scrum – making the most of both.

Kanban and Scrum book - Russian Cover

Thanks Mariia Yevgrashyna, Tanya Kobzar, Sergiy Movchan, Artjom Serdyuk, Borys Lebeda, Aleksey Solntsev, Alina Marusyk, Alexander Zhovnuvaty, Aleksey Goncharenko, Lina Shishkina, Roman Kononov, Tim Yevgrashyn, Yaroslav Gnatyuk, and Andrey Bibichev.

If anyone else wants to make translations feel free to contact my editor diana <at> c4media.com

Vad är ett agilt projekt?

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Here are the slides from my seminar "Vad är ett agilt projekt" (What is an agile project) at PMI in Stockholm. I was happy to see so many participants, and impressed that you managed to stay awake & engaged despite the fact that it was an evening seminar with very comfortable chairs :o)

Here are links to some of the material that I mentioned:

Sample slide:
Less is more

Awesome Agile & Lean workshops coming up

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We got some really cool workshops coming up during the next couple of months together with some of the "founding fathers" of Lean and Agile software development :o)

David Anderson Kanban book
David Anderson is the pioneer of Kanban in software development and author of the book Kanban – Successful evolutionary change for your technology business.

  • Nov 8 – 9: Kanban Training with David Anderson
    Learn how to introduce Kanban in your organization
  • Nov 10 – 11: Kanban Coach Camp with David Anderson and Mattias Skarin
    Evolve your skills as Kanban practitioner and coach

 Don ReinertsenDon books
Don Reinertsen has been on our "people that we really have to bring to Stockholm" list for a long time! Don is author of one of my favorite books "Managing the Design Factory", and his teachings have been a key source of inspiration to many thought leaders such as Mary Poppendieck and David Anderson. Don focuses on quantification and economic justification for improvement actions, and provides practical methods rather than general philosophical principles.

Ron Jeffries
Ron Jeffries is one of 3 original founders of XP (eXtreme programming) and co-author of the Agile Manifesto. He helped create the new Certified Scrum Developer program and this is the first time the course runs in Sweden.

  • Dec 6 – 10: Certified Scrum Developer with Ron Jeffries & Chet Hendrickson
    Combines a 2 day Certified Scrum Master course with a 3 day hands-on workshop on XP engineering practices (TDD, continuous integration, etc).

I’ll be there with Don and Ron. Unfortunately I’ll miss David this time around, I’ll be doing a keynote at Öredev that week.

See you around!

The Essence of Agile

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Here are the slides from my keynote “The Essence of Agile” from AgileEE 2010 in Kiev. Thanks for a great conference!

Here’s a nice summary transcript of the session (thx Alexander Beletsky).

Here is a video recording (minus the first 10 minutes or so):

Sample slides:

Guided missile

Don't be dogmatic

The Thinking Tool called Agile

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Here are the slides from my keynote "The Thinking Tool Called Agile" from the Lean/Agile/Scrum conference in Zurich.

The slides from the value stream workshop with Mary Poppendieck and myself will be up on the LAS site soon.
Agile Lean toolkit
Portfolio Kanban board

What to do when Scrum doesn’t work

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Here are the slides from my keynote at the Scrum Gathering in Cape Town.

Positive atmosphere and lots of laughs, really enjoyed the audience! The whole topic felt a bit like poking a stick at a hornet’s nest, but it looks like I got away with it, at least so far :o)

Slide samples:
Scrum Zombies

Wrong tool vs Tool wrong

Kanban for Scrum practitioners

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Here are the slides from my deep-dive workshop at the Scrum Gathering, Cape Town:

Thanks for attending! Lots of interesting questions and insights came up during the workshop.

Sample slide:
Setting WIP limits

Kanban and Scrum – making the most of both

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Here are the slides for my session Kanban and Scrum – making the most of both at Agile 2010, Orlando. Thanks for participating!


For those who didn’t get a hold of the handouts, here is the Kanban Kick-Start Example and the Scrum Checklist.

I was a bit worried that the participants would be tired & unengaged since this was the last session of a week long conference. But I threw in some exercises and jokes to liven things up and was happy to see that everyone seemed highly engaged througout the whole session! The course feedback forms confirm this – the average rating of the session was 5.0 out of 5! Every one of the 85 feedback forms said 5. How to improve from here? :o)

Sorry for those of you who couldn’t get in (the room filled up quickly). These links may be of interest to you:

Slide excerpts:
Kanban Scrum estimation

Scrum sprints and Kanban cadences

The Essence of Agile

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Here are the slides from my keynote "The Essence of Agile" at Agile Spain 2010, Madrid. Basically a whole week’s course compressed into a one hour lecture, worked out even better than I had hoped :o)

Impressed by the turnup, 300 people is good for being the first agile conference in Spain!

What is all this stuff?