Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Scrum, Agile, and Modern Tools

Required Reading: https://www.pandastrike.com/posts/20150304-agile

My takeaway quote? "Scrum lags behind the modern toolchain enough that there can be a Potemkin village vibe to the whole thing."

I was clued into this from another takeaway quote someone seconded on Twitter: "Waterfall used too much written communication, but Agile doesn't use enough."

Also read this: http://caines.ca/blog/2014/12/02/i-dont-miss-the-sprint/

Is "sprint" misleading? What about "sprint commitment?"

I'm not sure I object to "sprint" per se.

But I have seen "sprint commitment" turned into an organizational problem, removing what could have been a helpful tool. Folks who start harping on sprint commitments in the sense of "we committed to this, will we meet the deadline?" tend to create a toxic environment. I think the people who hype commitment the most really liked the non-Agile environments: they try bend Agile to meet their Waterfall concepts.

The problem is the word. A "sprint commitment" shouldn't be used like a legally binding "do it or pay penalties" commitment. It should be a metric used to gauge progress. More like a "sprint outcome".

The commitment hype can lead to stories, epics and detailed technical tasks getting muddied up terribly. The story becomes an epic. Little tiny technical tasks get inflated into big important stories. A proper user story gets replaced with nonsense about prepping a database for production rollout, or resolving defects found in QA, or things that -- obviously -- aren't user stories, but are taking up a lot of time.

When it appears that a story is going nowhere, the scrum master breaks it down into things that have status which changes frequently. The sense of end-user meaning behind the actual story gets lost in a haze of technical considerations and tasks that show activity more than accomplishment more than value.

"As an actuary, I want to know that the developers have written syntactically correct DML for my database, so that the product owner don't have to wait as long for the DBA's to build the database."