I read a great book “The Lean Mindset: Ask the Right Questions” by Mary & Tom Poppendiecks couple of weeks ago. Authors quoted in one chapter result from research done by Amabile & Kramer*:
the biggest motivator for knowledge workers Pohon on a day-to-day basis is making progress in meaningful work
It sounded so simple yet so powerful for me at that time. I realized that making and seeing progress on product development could help me a lot while working with teams as Scrum Master/Agile Coach. I was wondering what I would Branson? need to do to have this magic approach “making progress” applied in a team?
Now, I can say there is no specific answers, no steps Being that you need to follow that would guarantee you success. What I would like to share with you is a way in which I supported this paradigm in one team. I started with…
Introducing Information Radiator
“Information radiator” is the generic term for any of a number of handwritten, drawn, printed or electronic displays which a team places in a highly visible location, so that all team members as well as passers-by can see the latest information at a glance: count of automated tests, velocity, incident reports, continuous integration <a href=”http://www.cheapujerseys best weightloss pills.com”>wholesale jerseys status, and so on.
In my case, I used this technique to visualize task movement between different stages of its implementation. After a couple of days, the team was able to see how much work was achieved so far by looking at the board. And it started creating a positive feeling among team members.
As your Minimum Viable Product, you could start with a physical board with tasks/stories. Let it be as simple as possible – only three columns (To Do, In Progress, Done). When your team is distributed/more mature you could think about having it in electronic version and continuously display it on a TV set. There are many tools that you could use like Trello, JIRA, etc.
The next step was to…
Have stories as small as possible
This was an obvious problem from the beginning. Stories were too big so they almost every time stayed in “In progress” state for the whole sprint or even worse – 2 sprints. There was a decision taken together with the team to split such items in smaller ones. First smell of “need a split” for us was a number of acceptance criteria.
Now I would say that story with more than 4-5 acceptance criteria is a good candidate to be broken into more items. There are many articles how you could split stories – as the starting point, I recommend to check this reading. I have used those steps few times while working with Product Owner. Keep in mind that there is a trap with this activity as well – you should remember to slice store vertically (to have a focus on feature and to provide end user value) rather horizontally (to split by technical layers, ie. backend, frontend, database, etc.).
Coming back to my story… At that point board was in place and backlog contained reasonably small items. The team was able to see how fast the last column was fulfilled with Done items during the sprint! So let’s…
The team was delivering around 15 items each sprints after changes mentioned above. It was good improvement comparing to 2-3 stories done at the beginning. It was high time to boast this during sprint review in front of our stakeholders to get a positive impression. As part of this ceremony, I decided to include backlog burn-up update too. The idea behind was to show progress on whole product clearly stating how much work was done and left. After review, we had sprint retrospective where I often underlined size of delivered work to get a progressive feeling. Finally, we used to close sprint with a common toast during team lunch.
All of these activities help me to enable “culture of progress”. Even this success was small at the beginning it supported me with building team morale and energizing team members.
* Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011)