Kanban Experience Complete – Thank You LSSC10

So last week we wrapped up our final regression cycle prior to releasing so I decided to have a project retro with all team members (product owners included). What no one knew is that I took probable 20 pictures over the course of the last 4 months as memories. I put these memories into a PowerPoint and asked everyone to write down what memories they had about that picture. Each team member wrote down on one sticky note what their thoughts were. Based on the sticky notes, we captured the top things we wanted to change, continue to do, or stop doing going forward. Here are some of the results.

  1. Continue to use the “wall” as our visual control. Everyone thought it provided great visibility to what was going on. (Big thanks for Chris Schinkle for the presentation that inspired me)
  2. Continue to use WIP limits in each column. Most of the conversations were related to completing testing prior to starting a new card. Team members would say, “’let’s finish this card, prior to starting a new one.”
  3.  Let stick to 15 minutes during the standup. Sometime we started problem solving during this meeting.
  4.  Let’s implement Mercurial so that we don’t have headaches over branching and merging.

Overall, everyone learned a lot and had fun doing it. Bottom line is LSSC10 was well worth it. Now, off to Agile2010 to learn some more.


(Drum roll) The Results are in!

Last month we sent out a survey to employees that are currently following the scrum framework, and the results are awesome! I created a survey similar to Yahoo! rollout of agile because I wasn’t 100% sure what to measure or ask. Some of the people taking the survey have been doing Scrum for years while half of them have just transition over the last year.

Below are the results. My favorite question is the last one, “If you were king for the day, would you continue to use Scrum?” 100% said YES! I have never seen 100% of a group agree on anything. Simply awesome.


So what is next you as, now it is time to roll agile out to a larger group. Over the next month I’ll start to blog about the transition from small group to enterprise agility. Stay Tuned!

Marshmallow Challenge

Last week I played the Marshmallow Challenge with the Program Manager in my area. Each month we have a department meeting and I asked for 30 minutes to conduct the PM challenge. I did not tell anyone what the challenge was because I assume they would go and research to get a leg up.

My goal was to get them to think about doing things more like scrum rather than the traditional waterfall process that they are use to.

So what I did was put all of the pieces into a yellow folder and then described the rules to them. From there I set up a timer and told them that the highest structure would win a prize.

At the end, each team tried to put the marshmallow on the top with about 3 minutes remaining and all 3 of the teams had no standing structure.

If you are looking for a fun game to help the learning of Agile I would strongly suggest the Marshmallow Challenge!

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Day 36 – Time to Start Regression Testing

Here is what our board looks like today. DONE!!! Now the painful part happens; regression testing. Since we have maybe 10% code coverage we have to complete 100’s of manual test cases prior to shipping in July.

Each day a between tomorrow and July we will review what defects were found and make a decision whether we want to fix it or not. Ideally we will find nothing and ship this version, but most likely there will be a few defects found that will require us to fix.

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.

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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.

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