Agile Team Facilitation

Look what I won!

I returned to work today after a wonderful two weeks off with my three amazingly fun and funny children.

Among the 180+ emails in my inbox (I got off likely, one of my colleagues returned to over 600 emails) was a link to download this colourful certificate for a two-day course I completed in late June.

Look! I’m now an ICAgile Certified Professional in Agile Team Facilitation (or ICP-ATF).

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New job

Last week, I finished my Scrum Master job at Sky Business Connect. I had been there for 36 weeks and 4 days. This morning I started a new Scrum Master job at Safeguard Global.

My Safeguard Global office looks suspiciously like my office at Sky. And my office at Cegedim Healthcare Solutions, too. Different laptop each time, though.

I spent much of today installing software, setting up accounts, saving bookmarks, and meeting people. Oh, and getting used to typing in my 45-character email address.

Using Zoom polls for planning poker in Agile teams

Planning poker cards
Planning Poker cards from Mountain Goat Software

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about using planning poker in Agile teams, for estimating user story size. But that was when we were all sitting in the same room and not shielding from Covid-19.

Things have changed now. Here are a few options that I’ve tried.

Continue reading Using Zoom polls for planning poker in Agile teams

What rules do you have for meetings at work?

A meeting room at work that I haven’t sat in now for over a year

Hands up if you love meetings… nobody?

It’s one of the most common complaints I hear from development teams: “Urgh! We have far too many meetings.” It’s not often true but that is their perception because the meetings felt boring and wasteful.

Meetings don’t have to be like that. I’ve just started reading a book called Meeting Design: For Managers, Makers and Everyone by Kevin M Hoffman (Two Waves Books, 2018) which I’m hoping will help me plan more productive, more meaningful gatherings in the future.

In this post, I offer a few simple rules to help meeting feel more manageable.

Continue reading What rules do you have for meetings at work?

Instead of focusing on better estimates…

This tweet from John Cutler has been challenging me recently:

Instead of focusing on making ‘better’ estimates, focus on:

  • working smaller
  • integrating frequently
  • exposing work to users/customers sooner
  • testing assumptions earlier
  • limiting dependencies
  • less fragile code
  • limiting handoffs

Your estimates will improve.


Why do we focus so much on estimates?

We focus so much on estimates because we want certainty, because we want to feel like we are in control and are directing progress.

Development teams want to know how much work they think can be done during a sprint. Management wants to know when new features will be finished, when deadlines will be met. Customers want to know when they can get this new functionality.

And so we develop systems that give us a sense of security even though they may be false.

But human beings are terrible at estimating. Just read this article on Wikipedia about the planning falacy to see just how much.

Psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky explained the planning fallacy by suggesting that planners focus on the most optimistic scenario for any task, rather than using their full experience of how much time similar tasks would take.

Curiously, when asked to estimate how long something will take, people will generally underestimate how long they would take and overestimate how long they think others would take to do the same task. In other words, people will consider the best case scenario for themselves and the worst case for others.

Originally posted on my work internal blog.