Agile Coaching: A guide for project managers stepping into a Scrum team – Health warnings!

This is first of a series of blogs to support traditional project managers I am coaching. To help get their bearings in deep and murky waters of Agile projects and Scrum teams.

Before the scrum purists amongst you vehemently shake your heads or berate me on the title, consider being pragmatic. In the Professional Services world there is always a project manager to manage complexity and facilitate the Scrum team(s). My remit is to facilitate and empower the role to help the team, business and customers succeed, rather than debate its applicability and existence. Continue reading

Pause, reflect – lets celebrate journey of a team #SocialTransformation #Heroes

Team

What better way to spend a Sunday in Karachi than reminiscing and sharing Peace Through Prosperity (BringPTP)’s success with y’all.

Let me set the scene real quick!

2014

  • Peace Through Prosperity (BringPTP) brings its social transformation programs to Karachi. See this if you’re not familiar with BringPTP’s work.
  • BringPTP set’s about building the delivery team for what is to be the largest engagement in what is and remains a very challenging engagement.
  • Attempt 1 fails fast, and the delivery team is down to three! that reflection is for another post but it’s worth stating; for this program BringPTP hired MBAs, Tech and Social sciences graduates, of the seven hires all but one made the cut in the field, it was a brutal sprint and bloody retrospective!… and yes there was a lot of drama!
  • Attempt 2 yields a team of 9 all potential (very rough) gems, all hired from within marginalized communities they are soon to engage. There are two team members  with Higher Education qualifications, some have secondary schooling but others are only literate. None have ever been through any formal professional training of any sort or undertaken anything like this. Overall the team is hired on their street smarts, courage and a hunger for socio-economic transformation in their communities.
  • The newly formed team’s training and coaching lasts for two weeks with key areas of focus being; BringPTP’s programs and Agility (Scrum), Majority of the training and coaching delivered was in the field itself.
  • The team takes a cautious start to the project. There are many failures along the way, the team inspects, learns, adapts and keeps moving forward whilst delivering phenomenal, phenomenal results!
  • The team isn’t quite self organizing yet, but they are well on their way!

Continue reading

Applying Agile beyond tech – key ingredients

Ingredient

This post started of as an email to Yashin Lin from Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Yashin reached out for advise on applying agile practices in non-technical teams in the social/international development sector.  This post is a guide I intend to keep building on, so do check back for updates or subscribe to be kept updated.

Introducing agility to teams, programs and organisations is less about selecting the appropriate agile framework and more about changing the culture, mindset of the teams and the organisation designing and delivering such programs of work.

Agile is a mindset, a worldview, not a set of how-to’s. However there are procedures and practices that teams in the development sector can borrow from Agile frameworks; Continue reading

A product owner’s guide to writing acceptance criteria for user stories

‘I want to create a practical guide for product owners to facilitate them in writing acceptance criteria for user stories so that their output is of value to the scrum team’

 

You’ll find pages after pages describing what an acceptance criteria is and how to write a good one, what it should include or not, however this post takes a practical approach for Product Owners to follow. You’ll find post after post describing how product owners ought to use Gherkin script to develop/write an acceptance criteria, which in my opinion is not a practical approach, there are a few things wrong with that approach, a few come to mind right now: Continue reading

Developing User Stories – Beyond the Basics

User stories when developed and utilised correctly are the most powerful agile technique to capture product functionality, though writing user stories may seem easy, writing good stories is hard. Furthermore most of us get fixated and seldom go beyond the basics, and end up with visibly complete but useless user stories!User Story anecdote Sept 2015

Components of a User Story evolve/grow both vertically (spawn more Epics) and horizontally (become more involved) – their state of completion changes during the product and sprint backlog’s lifecycle. In the deck below I explore individual components that make up a ‘complete’ and ‘ready for dev’ user story, it is based on personal successes and failures and is by its agile nature an incomplete deck! it will evolve and as it does I’ll keep you folks updated.


 

Lastly, If you got value from what I have shared please consider giving back by contributing to @BringPTP, you can follow, broadcast or donate: http://gofundme.com/bringptp.

Peace Through Prosperity (PTP) improves the local/domestic environment for peace by nurturing prosperity in conflict affected geographies. PTP alleviates poverty, prevents radicalisation through empowering micro-entrepreneurs with knowledge, skills, ability and increasing their access to income and opportunities. PTP supports small businesses, owned/managed by vulnerable and marginalised individuals/groups in society.

PTP is innovating program design and delivery by using Agile design and delivery frameworks to create and deliver low cost, immediate and lasting impact social development programs in ‘at risk’ communities.