Thursday, 6 May 2010

When agile goes bad

Now I’ve not posted much about agile/Scrum/lean even though I helped introduce Scrum to my previous employer.

When I first started at my new job when I arrived and I saw the board I knew something had gone very wrong.  There was no sign of any stories, the ‘cards’ on the board represented tasks, there was no visible definition of done, I could go on.

I had joined mid sprint so instead of trying to make any changes immediately I observed what was going on for the rest of the sprint.  The daily standup was taking place with people being told by the scrum master to answer the 3 questions but very quickly people started launching into discussions, the sprint review had no demo to any product owners or even the team and the retrospective seemed to simply have people list what they thought went well and what went badly with no actions to change anything.

Although the team thought that they were ‘doing agile’ it seemed very much that they were simply reacting to work that was being thrown at them and this included during the sprint.

The poor scrum master was pulling his hair out trying to protect the team from interruptions and work just being dropped on them but management frequently by passed him.

To try and help the first thing I did was to work with the scrum master to take everything back to basics.  We got stories defined for the next sprint, at sprint planning we worked out the hours that could be committed to and then decomposed the stories into tasks until we reached the umber of hours that the team felt they could commit to.

During the sprint some more work got thrown in but we used a luminous pink sticky to show all unplanned work to help give managers a simple visual indication of what was happening.  We also got hit with a massive support problem but because it ate into our hours the team along with the scrum master determined what stories should be dropped out to compensate.

At the end of the sprint the team hadn’t completed all the work but we had a better understanding of why and what we may be able to do about this.  In the review the work was demo’d and in the retrospective I did Start/Stop/Continue with actions to try to remove some of the problems.

I’ll cover what happened in another post.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Very interesting Nathan, I am looking forward to part 2.