Monday, 15 September 2014

What makes a team coach a truly happy man?

After a two months pause I joined one of my teams in their planning meeting. What I saw there made me a deeply self-fulfilled person and here I'd like to share my feelings with you. But don't be scared. I'm not going to depict what I felt precisely (I felt good, period) but instead you will hear how it looks, smells and feels like to see a professional agile team working.

One of the first things I analyze when I begin working with a new team is how the team deals with a relation between those who knows what should be build (mainly the business) and others who know how to build that (in most cases developers). In this case I went to leaders of the involved business department and told them about testing within an iteration and writing unambiguous tests for user stories. Last but not least I asked them to let their subordinates spend more time with developers so that common sense of the business will synchronize with that of developers. Once they heard my pitch their faces resembled ones of middle age scholars hearing that the world is not flat but actually forms a ball. During following 4 months we managed to flip over all entrenched ideas on how to "efficiently" manage software production and form a team which can deliver a tangible increment of working software every sprint. After that period I left them for the next two months. Joining them once again I was astonished to see the following:

  • business tests every user story in the middle of an iteration so that the demo is presentation of an accepted increment that suits company's needs
  • all user stories are quickly yet efficiently discussed with developer representatives and feedback is processed before a user story goes to the planning meeting  
  • if there are points which are hard to guess by business beforehand then the scope of how far developers may play a trail and error game with business during a sprint is clearly confined and thus some variability is allowed in a managed way
  • the ratio between committed story points and delivered ones is high meaning that there is a strong correlation between what developers claim they can do and what comes out of a sprint (improved predictability)
  • everyone feels responsible for quality and always seeks ways to improve it
  • business and developers sit regularly together to discuss advantages and disadvantages of their work-process. They conduct and evaluate experiments to smooth it out even more (continuos improvement where both parities are entitled to say what they think)  
  • there is no finger pointing   

We all have made this happen and that's a really great achievement! From that point I'd like to thank all of them for their passion, energy and patience that made this happen. They should be proud of themselves! And I wish to all of you to have a pleasure watching such a jewel in your career as often as possible!  

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