During the first Sprint (or iteration), the project usually has enough in the budget for the Product Owner to actually tell the team they can have some food. As any geek knows, food can be a great motivator. The usual pattern for the first time a Scrum Team can actually order food is like receving manna from heaven to a six-year-old. Twizzlers abound. Milk-duds appear as often as a simple Costco run. Potato Chips — the good ones — Pringles — appear to prove that yes in fact, you cannot just eat one.
A great Product Owner funds food. Say it withe me now. Repeat this oftern. Past the first Sprint.
However, as the first Sprint is over, the Scrum Team realizes that — yikes — their belts are getting a little tighter. The six-year-old mentality then starts to turn back to adults around the end of Sprint 3. All of the sudden, instead of Twizzlers and Milk-duds, the team is asking for “healthier” stuff. Trips to the grocery store begin and all the sudden fruit appears, along with veggie trays (with lots of high-fat dips!) and the “low carb” crappy chocolate.
Now, usually by the third or fourth Sprint, the Product Owner starts to take budgetary heat from the outside noise. Man, stakeholders have short memories. Corporate cards have been known to disappear like Brittney and her marraiges. This means food becomes scarce for the team. Let the scrounging begin.
O Product Owners — who, by the way are on the outside of this strip egging on Chicken and Pig to eat — unfortunately show how incredibly cheap they can become when a team is actually producing. Bad things can happen here, as food is now expected by the Scrum Team but nothing shows up to provide for said team. If the food flow stops now, expect the Scrum Team to start seeing dead people. Really. It is that damn scary.
I have a question to you cheap-ass-Product-Owners. Have you ever seen the movie where the plane crashed and people were eaten? I am pretty damn sure those inconsciounable people who actually ate the others were those very tasty Product-Owners. And the rest of the team survived (OK, maybe with a toe missing, but c’mon!). Scary. Think about that.
I do work with teams that, during each Sprint Review and Sprint Planning Session, the Product Owner steps up and makes sure a celebration is had. This can be something as simple as bringing in burgers to something as cheesy as the CheeseCake factory. With Desserts. And know that the two “ss”‘s in Dessert is a huge difference than leaving your team out in the desert by not giving them jack.
Product Owners. Be responsible and stay alive. Otherwise Darwin will prove its existence. Comprende?
And guess what…. because I have personally seen this…. the Product Owners that keep their teams well fed see a performance increase many time what the actual “food” cost for the team.
What’s my closing message this week?
Product Owners…. talk to the team members and see what motivates them. Food is an easy kill and also easier to be pound-wise then penny-foolish. You make the call though, and, as Product Owner, hope you are not taking a plane trip across the Andes with them anytime soon. As others found out (in a tasty way from the team), your role as Product Owner can easily be replaced with another who brings food.
I want to thank Mark P. for the metric analogy this week… as well deserved as it was to start, I take responsibility to where it ended!
November 20, 2006
I will be arriving on Thursday afternoon (Nov. 16) in MN (will make it to the closing of the two days and then am attending the Trainers Gathering on Friday).
If anyone if interested in setting up a meeting with me (or buying me a beer or three!), please contact me.
For those of you who’d like an overview of what is happening on Wednesday and Thursday, read more here.
First, this is a conference billed as, “Open Space.” A term that can be over-used today on the conference circuit. Why can an “Open Space” conference be a hard sell to your boss and the accountants? Well, think about this… the philosophy behind this type of conference is something like, “Whoever attends are the right people. Whatever gets discussed is the right thing.”
Yikes. How artfully agile. I can see this term starting to get abused (as our intrepid Chicken above has shown!), just like the attempted “branding” of the word Agile, Agile 2.0, Web 2.0, or whatever (but that is for another day).
Go ahead and do some google searches on it… get educated. I will provide a Mike Vizdos short version for you below.
So why attend a conference run in an “Open Space” manner?
First, it is fun.
You have a great chance of networking — and more than just at a usual conference. You may even bump into our fearless-black-turtleneck-wearing-leader.
You will start the day by the people in attendance creating the sessions for the next few days. It is really cool to see. Emergent is a great description.
The good thing is anyone can contribute. The bad thing is anyone can contribute. Ahh… but here is the power of an Open Space… people “walk” with their feet from session to session. There are concepts of “butterflies” and “bees” (no bird and bee discussions allowed), where people can walk from one session to another and not feel guilty. And learn a lot. So, if someone is solely passionate around a topic, and nobody else gives a crap, people get the picture immediately (smile). Don’t worry, if you are headed to a good Open Space, all of this will be explained to you.
This type of conference runs in a very “zen like” fashion (to an outsider) — with those damn bells ringing for pavlov-session-changes — for a while and then everyone gets together at the end to discuss what should be done going forward (some may even call it a retrospective, another cool agile term). At the end of each day there are usually small groups that get together to discuss various topics — including the maturation of barely and hops at local pubs. Fun stuff. And, great if you are on an expense account. Even if you are paying for it out of your own pocket, life is usually grand.
Now…. like everything “agile” — this can be abused. Why do I continue to harp on this? Because, as this idea starts to take off, it will get abused. People will call stuff “Open Space” and run it very unstructured (which, if you get the point, “Open Space” is very disciplined). People will go to crappy ones and get a bad taste in their mouths, much like people do when they go into a Scrum team hacking away and calling themselves “agile”.
Will this week be worth it? I’d say yes. I am about to spend my own cash to go (if I can get a seat). It will be run… sorry…. facilitated… by some of the best in our industry. From what I can tell by the buzz around this coming week, it also seems like there will be a lot of great people to learn from (and with).
If you are going to the Scrum Gathering and would like to report in, please let me know and I will post an update later this week. Contact me and I can make that part happen if anyone is interested (you can become an implementingscrum.com roving reporter… wow… imagine the fame!). And if you are going… do me a favor and help get the word out about this site. I’d sincerely appreciate it. Finally, walk around humming a great tune (see “Strange Brew” — “CooooO uh o o uh oo uh ooooo”.)
November 13, 2006More:
December 13, 2006
Wow. What a world we live in.
[Full Disclosure ON]
I have worked with Ken in the past and he has personally given me the “Certified Scrum Trainer“ label. Any references to him in this posting will be in the name of fun, and I hope you (and ummmmm Ken) see the humor in it all. The example used in the cartoon above is one Ken uses in various training and presentation materials on a regular basis. Tony and I took some artistic license on the topic and produced what you see here.
[Ahh shoot… everything I say here is in full disclosure, so I cannot turn it OFF]
Have you ever really wondered how Scrum gets started in an organization? I mean reallllllllllllly….
It is usually one of two ways, and today I will write about one of them…
A Senior Chicken meets someone on a plane or hears about it at a conference.
There. That’s all. Strange?
It is that easy. Wow. The secret is out.
Darn. Kinda anti-climactic, huh?
Well, for those of you looking for more information about what happens after this initial introduction, please read on. For those of you who just want to send the comic strip to your friends, please go for it and thanks for reading this far (let me know who you are emailing about this, I’d love to hear)!
Still with me? Cool. I love the smart ones who stick around. Thanks by the way.
OK… so let’s assume a CxO (for “x” substitute E, I, T, or any other acronym that is used in your organization) gets off the plane after hearing about how this Silver Bullet can help save the organization. Upon return to the office (or maybe while surfing the net in their stretch limo), they google “Scrum Home Page”. The cool thing is now I am on the first page for that search, something the CxO types love (as I am also finding out). O… go back a few sentences… Scrum, as I hope you have learned, is not a Silver Bullet by the way.
After reading some great sound bites on Scrum, the CxO Chicken is now sufficiently buzzword compliant and able to bamboozle his or her peers with this newfound language. In addition to being able to bamboozle peers, the CxO Chicken then starts talking about it at staff meetings with direct reports. Finally, after sometimes eleven “levels” down, some line manager receives a corporate directive that “you will use this Scrum thing” on some projects. Now [some] Line Manager Chicken has done the same thing as CxO chicken (become buzzword compliant).
Usually by now a call goes out to other line manager peers (sometimes outside their own organizations) asking for people to give them leads on people to help. Calls to recruiters — who are most of the time not buzzword compliant and don’t care about even getting there — ensue and sometimes calls come directly to people like me. The different Recruiter Chickens (remember, their “stake” is now tied directly to placing a head, any head sometimes (don’t get me started sigh) look on the web for Scrum and usually finds the same list of “Certified ScrumMasters” online.
Mental note // golden nugget of information included here (this alone is worth the price of this posting!):
… having a label of “Certified ScrumMaster” does not make a person an “expert” at this.
This label means that a person has gone through a two day course (I call it a workshop) and has successfully not been booted out of it (by reading email, pissing people off, or whatever).
Now, of course, this course is important. I teach it and certify people pretty regularly, so I do believe it is a great first step in the journey.
But remember, look out for people preaching that this is a silver bullet or a total Scrum zealot.
Do your due diligence. Talk to people. Stay leery of people I affectionately call “Sales-Holes” (a story for another day).
Contact me for recommendations; I have worked with great and not-so-good ScrumMasters. It truly is a small world.
Now, assume that an experienced external Certified ScrumMaster has been found. Or, as more often happens, some poor schmoe (a PMI-Certified-Project-Manager-Newbie) is sent to a CSM Course. Either way (um, think about what way you’d like to do this!), assume that a Certified ScrumMaster is available to you.
Say this to yourself in your best Yoda voice: “Start not without one, young Jedi.” Do it. Really. In the Yoda voice. Now stop laughing and get back to reading this….
Ig, this is getting kind of long already, and there is so much more to write on this topic.
OK… for now… take a deep breat…. and LISTEN to me as I WRITE this and you READ this…. (did you yawn?)…
DO NOT start five, fifteen, or fifty projects at once. You will cause much pain and Scrum will die on the vine. Trust me.
“But Mike….” some people say to me, “WE are different.”
Of course you are different. Duh. But last I checked, we are all human (and if a non-human is reading this, let me know).
But, LISTEN to me… start with ONE project with your “A” players and start tasting success. The reason for the pilot, and the main reason for any pilot, is to work out the kinks in the process — ANY process.
This is where an experienced Certified ScrumMaster can help.
Because guess what… Scrum has a lot less to do with techno-bla-bla than it does dealing with people. Real people. On a daily basis.
More on that at another time.
November 6, 2006
December 12, 2006