Tao of Scrum (II)

Posted on 31. Jan, 2010 by in Agile, Coaching, Edge, Reflections

This is the second of three posts, inspired by the Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing). The basic rules, in this Taoist-like format, are a kind of Ri (expert or master) version of Scrum. In this post are the second five rules, defining the events or ceremonies of Scrum.

The Tao of Events

Release Planning defines what users of the Way will find of value, and by when.

Release Planning may remind us of the old days, when management asked for dates (and commitments) that we could not give, or could not keep. It can be tempting to skip over Release Planning, especially for a new team. But having a view of where we are going gives us confidence, and helps us know when we have lost our way. Release Planning is not about dates (though everyone wants them), but about sequence and size. Release Planning might be best done during the first Sprint, after we have the chance to get our mind on straight as a team.

Sprints are the Way of the Team, and do not vary in length.

Sprints are the heartbeat of a Scrum Team. They provide the rhythm and backbone on which ritual can form, rituals that teams need as human systems. The Sprint cycle provides a beginning and an end, creating a familiar comfort against which to remember where we are, where we are going, and how we can do better the next time around. Over time, the Sprint may get shorter, but do not let it get longer.

Sprint Planning defines the Way for this week, and for next.

The Sprint Planning meeting begins the cycle. It says this is a new day, we can do anything, together. It lets the business customer tell their story and the team ask their questions. It gives the team their marching orders, and the Product Owner, hope for the immediate future. It is the project community’s central ritual, along with the Sprint Review. It should be adjusted to fit the community, whether with food, music or anything that connects people’s hearts.

The Daily Standup helps the team Adapt to the Way, for today.

The standup is the place where accountability within the team becomes real. Those embarasssed to ask for assistance will be stuck on the same task, day after day, while declaring ‘no impediments.’ Some will be vague when declaring what they will do today, unsure of themselves and of their support. For others, the standup is a celebration of how well they work together and how much they can conquer as a team. If everyone does not learn something during the standup, there is either a lack of real listening, or the team is talking from rote. Perhaps there is a lack of trust?

The Sprint Review helps the users of the Way Inspect what has been done in two weeks time.

We come back to inspection. The Sprint Review is for the project community–as many of them as possible–to come together and see what has been done. Real feedback is essential: the good, the bad and the controversial. Senior leaders are sometimes reluctant to attend. That is a shame. This is where the real work gets done. Perhaps they haven’t heard?

The Retrospective helps the team decide the Way forward, by Inspecting the Way that is past.

The Sprint Review is to the project community what the Retrospective is to the team: their inspection, and introspection, process for themselves. Did they get better this Sprint? Did they accomplish all they could as a team? Did they have fun and feel relaxed? Where is their cutting edge? And how can they get over it?

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