Introduction to Agile: Schedule and Agenda

I believe that agile games are the best way to create the conditions for soul shifting personal and organizational transformation. All of my agile courses are centered around games.

The agenda below shows the schedule of a typical one day Introduction to Agile course. The day features half a dozen games.

8:00am – 8:30am Daily Standup Exercise

All participants do a Daily Standup and a Not Daily Standup.

8:30am – 9:00am Meta Goals of Class with Glasses Illustration

What participants will and will not get out of this course.

9:00am – 10:00am Three Roles, Three Meetings, Three Artifacts Lecture

Introduce Scrum Roles (Scrum Master, Product Owner, Team Member), Meetings (Sprint Planning, Demo, Retrospective) and Artifacts (Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Burndown Chart)

10:00am – 10:30am House of Cards Exercise

To highlight the value of working in short iterations, participants will build a house of cards.

10:30am – 10:45am Update Class Blog

Participants will update the class blog with a summary of what they have learned.

10:45am – 11:00am Break

11:00am – 11:45am Paper Plane Exercise

To illustrate the importance of the ‘Inspect and Adapt’ Scrum principle, participants build paper planes, inspect their performance, and adapt the planes to improve the performance.

11:45am – 12:00pm Update Class Blog

Participants will update the class blog with a summary of what they have learned.

12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch

1:00pm – 1:30pm Poker Planning and Scrum Task Board Lecture

Introduce poker planning and the Scrum task board.

1:30pm – 2:00pm Puzzle Exercise

Participants use poker planning and update a task board as they work through a set of puzzles.

2:00pm – 2:45pm Agile Manifesto and Nokia Test Lecture and Exercise

Discussion of Agile Manifesto and Nokia Test.

2:45pm – 3:00pm Break

3:00pm – 4:00pm Marble Run Full Scrum Exercise

Participants use everything they have learned about Scrum to plan and create a marble run.

4:00pm – 4:45pm Scrum Crossfire Exercise

Participants split into teams and debate each other on the pros and cons of adopting Scrum at Intuit.

4:45pm – 5:00pm Update Scrum Blog

Each participant will update the class blog with answers to the following questions: (1) Do I understand Scrum? (2) Do I believe that Scrum is better than what we are doing now? (3) Do I believe that our organization can successfully transition to Scrum?

Why Don't I Floss My Teeth?

I’ve been going to the dentist for over thirty years. Whenever I visit the dentist, I’m told to floss twice a day. Flossing fights cavities, bad breath, and disease. Flossing is simple: it takes about two minutes and costs just a few cents. And yet I rarely floss my teeth. Why?

The problem is not at the knowledge level. I know why transitioning from not flossing to flossing is a good idea, full of wonderful benefits for me and my teeth. The problem is not at the behavior level. I know how to floss my teeth because my dentist enthusiastically practices on me everytime I visit her.

So if the problem is not at the knowledge level or the behavior level, what is the impediment that causes me not to floss?

Understanding the answer to this question is, I believe, key to understanding why Scrum adoption is so difficult. Understanding what Scrum is (knowledge) and what to do (behavior) is fairly simple. But there is another level, the emotional level, which I have found contains the key impediments to the successful adoption of Scrum.

Many Scrum coaches have transition plans which include garnering the support of senior executives, providing appropriate training and coaching, and creating a transition committee. While these are certainly important considerations, they do not address impediments at the emotional level. A person who has to transition from being in QA to being a member of a Scrum team and is worried, nervous, afraid, and anxious is not directly helped by knowing that the larger organization has a Scrum Transition Committee or has implemented a Scrum Pilot Project.

For ideas on how to address emotional impediments, I have found that studying Weight Watchers is instructive. Weight Watchers was started in 1961 when Jean Nidetch confessed to a group of friends that she was overweight because she could not stop eating cookies. In launching Weight Watchers, Nidetch explicitly said that while she knew how to eat right, she needed emotional support. Today, Weight Watchers provides weight loss information (knowledge) and teaches a point count system (behavior). But, most importantly, it provides emotional support for people who want to lose weight.

A successful Scrum transition effort will do the same. Not only will it bathe people in the knowledge and behavior needed to do Scrum, it will provide individuals, teams, and organizations with support at the emotional level as they transition to Scrum.

This article was originally published at the web site of the Scrum Alliance.

What Does An Agile Coach Do?

A man is walking down the street and falls into a manhole. He calls his priest on his cell phone. The priest tells him to do thirty rosaries and the Lord will lift him out. He does the rosaries and the Lord does not lift him out.

He then calls his therapist who writes him a prescription for Prozac. His therapist tells him that once he chills out he will be able to figure out how to get out of the manhole. He takes the Prozac but still finds himself stuck.

He then calls his life coach who sends him a motivational tape and tells him to visualize his way out. The man does so and nothing happens.

Finally, an agile coach walks by and the man once again cries out for help. The agile coach immediately jumps into the manhole.

The man exclaims, “What are you doing!? You are supposed to get me out of this manhole, not jump into it!”

The agile coach says, “I’ve been in this hole before and gotten out, and we will get out together.”

[This is adapted from a story told by Nicole Daedone of OneTaste.]