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Showing posts from May, 2013

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Stand-up: Party Meter

Party meter has many other names to it like Ice-cream meter, Sandwich meter, Snacks meter etc. It is a dashboard that displays the team members names in the first-column. And the number of times each member has defaulted or has broken the ground rules for stand-up, is logged as bars against their name in the second-column. This defaulting count is logged for a specific duration of time (say, a sprint or two), or for a specific total count of defaulting bars (say, 10,20,25, etc). Once the specific time duration or total count is reached, the team celebrates with a party - call it a team outing or get-together for snacks/ice-creams/beer/whatever. The resulting expenses is shared by the defaulters in proportion to the number of bars against their name. This is yet another gaming technique of bringing in discipline or order in the team. A sample of how the ground rules for Party-Meter looks like can be read below: Not being punctual to stand-up, invites a bar. Absenting on

Stand-up: Consensual Update-Template

   It is indeed an arduous task to listen to every team member giving status update in their own style or format. Practically, it is known that the attention span of an individual to listen is very less. Getting the most out of it is indeed important. For this reason, it would be a good practice for every team member to adopt a status update template that all agrees to. Now for different status update template/format, its pros and cons, can be read in inimitably lucid style at Martin Fowler's Bliki post .    In continuation to this topic, I wish to put forth my favorite template below: Yesterday I was pairing with ___________, playing the story ______________, in which we completed the tasks ____________. We intend to work on __________ today. We had a blocker issue which I'd discuss in the developer huddle, after the stand-up. In essence the above template answers the following three questions: What did we as pair accomplish yesterday? What we intend to work on

Stand-up: License to speak

It is a sight for the onlookers when more than one person speaks at a time or when a team engages in endless discussions. Outsiders (non-team members) would start labeling such teams with tags like "indisciplined", "very political", etc. Sure enough, it is not the subjected team's desire to end up in such a state and even worse that such state becomes more or less a routine thing during stand-up. In my experience and observation, it takes a lot of courage, discipline and mentoring to have one conversation at a time in a meeting. In order to restore this discipline of "one conversation at a time", play the license to speak game. Yes, you read it right, I called it GAME. It is more a fun to gamify the thing called DISCIPLINE. So what is this game all about? Well, this game is all about the eligibility of a person to speak in a meeting. One who holds the 'declared token', has the license to speak and after his/her turn, the token is passed to

How I started to enjoy the ceremonial daily stand-up?

NOTE: If you're to land in this post directly, without having read the post,  Why I hate the ceremonial daily stand-up? , please do read it before reading further. Its worth your time. This post details the golden advices that helped me and my team enjoy the ceremonial daily stand-up. Try it, and so should you. Always do stand-up meetings in open space even if the team is distributed. If it hurts your distributed team meetings badly and for genuine reasons, then you may think of considering to have stand-ups in a conference room. It is always a good practice for the stand-up meeting to happen near the physical card-wall. Stick to the stand-up time after having decided it on team consensus. For no reason can the stand-up time be shifted temporarily - it kicks in laxity. The speaker in the stand-up meeting should have the license to speak . Every team member should adopt the consensual update template . Introduce the party meter for the fun and energy it can magically brin

Why I hate the ceremonial daily stand-up?

Ceremonial : a system of ceremonies, rites, or formalities prescribed for or observed on any particular occasion; a rite. Ceremonies, in my humble observation, are mostly followed blindly and hence poorly - such is the order of the day. Whom do we blame for it? I would blame both the institution of practice for not thinking of methods to aid understanding the purpose of the ritual and the materialistic folks who take the easy route of not experimenting/practicising the ritual with an open mind and find/seek reasoning. This pattern is observed in the work places too. People take the convenient route to idleness, and devil's workshop. No matter what methodology of practice is prescribed, people always have the tendency to find fault rather than value in it; Agile is no exception to it. Take the case of every-day stand-ups, I have seen it becoming dysfunctional in teams, sooner or later. In this post, I'm intending to jotting down my observations that I made over the years, o