Day 22 – Food Friday

We are two months away from our production release and, like always, I try to find a way to motivate the team to reach the finish line. So I have turned Friday’s into Food Friday. Three people each week will bring in food and share it with the rest of the team. Last Friday was a big hit as I brought in the famous Chad’s Hot and Sweet Salsa. Below is a picture of the setup.

Here is the recipe if you are interested in feeding your agile team:

  • Bunch of cilantro
  •  2 cans of crushed pineapple
  • 1 large can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 smaller size chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small white onions
  • 2-4 habaneras (hotter the better for our team)
  • 4 bell peppers
  • 4-7 jalapenos

Also, here is a picture of us at our daily scrum pointing at the board. As you can see we now have two boards. If we could only take down those cubical walls, things would be easier to see but we make due.

It makes me tingle now to here the team say things like, “maybe we should finish these before we start new stuff,” or “you test my changes and I’ll test yours so that we can get these cards done.”

Overall, things continue to improve and we will make changes as we start our next release.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Product Owner Kanban Board

This week we received our upstream whiteboard, also referred to as our Product Owner Kanban board. Here is a list of reasons why we decided to go with Product Owner Kanban board:

  1. Needed to provide development with a view of what was coming
  2. Needed to ensure that the Product Owner was completing certain activities before development started working on a feature (“Making work Ready”)
  3. Noticed that some features were too big to work on prior to giving them to development (Breaking work down)
  4. Didn’t have a standard way of handing work off
  5. Wanted to prevent piling work onto development
  6. Product Owner felt left out without his on board J

Almost all of these reasons were identified when the development team made their work visible and when we noticed that work was getting bottlenecked in testing.

Later this week I’ll post some status reports that I have created for stakeholders that show progress.

Here is our some of the pictures of our new Product Owner Kanban board as well as a link to some slides I created.

Always open to suggestions if you have any.

Kanban Board – Day 11 – 15

This last week had its highlights and challenges. I’d thought I’d go ahead and share what those moments were. Here were the highlights:

  • Documented what we thought our WIP’s were for each column. This is really tuff because more than half of our team is offsite. But I will figure out a way to fix this.
  • Prioritized and aligned our work with resources. This helped us make sure the most important things had the right number of people on it.
  • Started discussing where our bottleneck were.


  • We missed a critical milestone by 2 days that caused concern in our stakeholders and teams performance. This really makes me mad because the team is doing great, but this little miss creates big problems for me.
  • Having a hard time pulling metrics from our system (Jira/Greenhopper). Today it took me an hour to pull a cumulative flow diagram. Very disappointing.
  • Cards kept moving from done to testing because defects were found. Right now we only have 5-10% code coverage so things are really fragile.

The one thing that got me super pumped was the customer team is going to start an upstream kanban board because they see the value the downstream board has created. The board should be up by this week. Be prepared to see pictures of that.

Overall, the board has been great and there has been great conversations started and problems fixed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Waterfall into Scrum

Here is a presentation I made to management today about how scrum correlates into our current waterfall process. Overall, I thought the presentation went great, especially when they gave us approval to move forward. BIG WIN!

Paper Airplane Game

Today we did an exercise to see the benefits of setting Work In Progress Limits (WIP). The exercise is called The Airplane Factory Game.

Here were our takeaways:

1)      If a new request is added, it is easier to complete it if we have balance and WIP limits.

2)      Having everyone work as fast as they can doesn’t work.

3)      We also had a good discussion about adding requirements to something that is just about done. It’s better to file a requirements defect and fix it right away rather then moving that feature back to do. Right now our team struggles with requirements changing just as we are about to complete a feature.

Overall, it was a good team building experience and a lot of fun. Plus we learned something we can use in our work.

Kanban Board – Making Work Visible – Day 7

I continue to change things to make it feel better for the team and myself. This week I have added a few things to help:

1)      Bug avatars – I added bugs to cards that have open defects. So now you can look a card and visually see how many open defects there are.

2)      Policies – I also started adding “policies” to column. These are kind of like checklist to make sure we are doing the correct things prior to moving it to the next column.

3)      Road Blocks – I also made it visible if a card is blocked by something. You can see a big “roadblock” sticker. This helps to quickly identify what is preventing a card from moving forward.

4)      Snake on the Wall – I also started to make it visible if people are working on something other than the cards, this way we can reflect if we need to make a change in the department to address something.

Some of the things that we are struggling with now are:

  • WIP – I really need to crack down on how much work can be started at once. We didn’t have anything for testing to test so they just started testing all kinds of weird combinations that created a bunch of defects.
  • Done vs. Done/Done – There are some features that work and work fine, but since there are open defects, the Product Owner team thinks they are not done. I’d argue and say that it is working as expected, and we are chasing the 20% perfection that could go on forever. At some point you have to move on.
  • Metrics – Need to start keeping track of how long cards stay in a column. It is kind of tuff right now because most cards are in progress or testing because we are just finishing up a project. However, I think I should just start or I will continue to make excuses on not tracking it.

Overall the board is working great to make things visible and drive the right behaviors.