Category Archives: scrum

I have a GREAT idea!!!….

I was recently asked what to do when a stakeholder or client asks for a feature or user story that either doesn’t make sense or is based on flawed logic or on a lack of technology or domain knowledge. Sometimes stakeholders’ pet projects, wacky ideas and whims and fancies can be the nemesis of a product owner and her team. They waste valuable time and resources and in some cases they can affect team morale, as the team feels that they are on a fruitless errand.

I have two solutions to this problem: Nip it in the bud or meet them halfway.

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Filed under agile, customer participation, planning, scrum, story writing, Uncategorized

A 5th statement in the Agile Manfesto?

I’m going to make a bit of a radical proposal here. I propose that we add the following to the Agile Manifesto:

We value interpersonal skills over technical knowledge

I’m not really proposing that we change the manifesto. I’m also not stating that technical knowledge is not extremely important. Remember that the Agile Manifesto states that we value the things on the left more than the right, but we still value the things on the right. I’m just making a point that I think a lot of organizations miss that affects their ability to really get the most out of Agile and Scrum.

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Filed under agile, business analyst, collaboration, scrum, self-organizing

Brief Update

As it’s been a few weeks since my last post I thought that I’d write about what’s been keeping me busy lately.

A few weeks ago I did a webinar with IAG about the role of a business analyst in an agile environment. We discussed some of the common misconceptions about Agile,  why having an analyst on the team is critical in many organizations and then gave some tips and guidance for being successful as an analyst on an Agile team. I’m told over 600 people attended the webinar live.

On the topic of public events, 3 of my recent blog posts on user stories, use cases and requirements have been picked up by the Business Analyst Times. The first was posted on their blog section and was highlighted in their promotional material this week, and the remaining two will be published in the coming weeks.

The third area that has been keeping me occupied is improving my technical skills. I’ve been finishing up a few projects that I started to refresh my knowledge of Java and SQL, as well as learn new (to me) technologies like JQuery, App Engine, Python, Django etc. You can see the results of some of these projects on my site www.nunucat.com. I’ve also been spending a fair amount of time on udacity.com, a Massive Open Online Course site that has some excellent courses  in everything from Physics to Interactive Graphics to Psychology to Applied Cryptography to… Needless to say I’m addicted.

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Filed under agile, business analyst, scrum

Agile and the Analyst

I recently took the Scrum Master course and certification. If you work in software development in any capacity and you have the chance, I recommend you take this course, even if you aren’t a proponent of Scrum itself. Approach it with an open mind and you’ll come away thinking a little differently about managing people. I’m not saying you’ll be an Agile convert, but it will make you re-examine lot of the fundamental assumptions of traditional project management.

As a business requirement specialist, I was particularly interested to see how an experienced analyst might fit into Scrum. I had read a couple of books on Scrum, Kanban, and other Agile topics but I found them somewhat vague when it got to Continue reading

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Filed under agile, customer participation, requirements, scrum

Honey, Vinegar, and Customer Participation

Recently I participated in a series of instructor-led online courses on Scrum/Agile. During the section on Sprint Planning, the instructor mentioned that shorter iterations provide more agility, and organizations should aim to achieve weekly sprints. This prompted one student to ask:

“The business people I need won’t attend my monthly meetings. How can I get them to attend a weekly planning meeting?”

This is one of the most common complaints or questions I receive, so it was no surprise that a student asked it here. However, what did surprise me was the instructor’s response:

“Tell them that if they don’t participate they can expect the software to be buggy and not meet their needs.”

I have witnessed this sort of approach before, but I was shocked at this answer from someone who claimed to be an expert in Agile. It contradicts the fundamental principals described in the Agile Manifesto: Continue reading

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Filed under agile, collaboration, customer participation, requirements, scrum