Some thoughts on backlogs

I was asked to join a team for a backlog grooming session. We went into the room and opened the backlog in JIRA. It was exactly 99 items long. Not too shabby, but still… 99!? Ninety-nine items of work we hadn’t done. Yet.

This of course triggered this jolly team to start singing and we soon where humming along:

In this post, I wanted to share how we cut the backlog in half in 45 minutes. And then share...

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Respecting slack time

As a consultant and coach, I find it very fascinating to see how the same topic has a tendency to arise in many different place and conversations I’m in. All of sudden everyone needs to chat about flow, or estimation or what-have-you.

I like telling stories, as a mean to teach and explain abstract concepts. Often when I’ve told a story once it has a way to surface back into conversations in the near future. I partly blame it on my limited imagination, but when it fits the conversation it’s interesting to notice how you tell the same thing several times a day.

The last couple of days people have been asking me about slack, and I’ve related a story about the pastor that married me and Elin. He was excellent in manage his own time and respected a good slack!

Slack, in this context, is the time...

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Create a dynamically updated chart in Google Sheets

When I started my blog, almost 12 years ago, I often wrote posts of things that I would need to look up again. Sure enough, I sometimes stumble into my own posts when searching for solutions to problems I have.

This post is one of those posts. I was asked to conduct a survey throughout our department and needed to do some slicing and dicing of the stats. I used Google Forms to collect the data and then did the analysis in Google Sheets.

It all came out pretty nice and allowed people throughout the department to drill down into the data in a quick and simple way.

I will not talk about the form since that was very easy to set up. Only know that Google Forms store its data in Google Sheets. This means that it’s pretty simple for us to continue...

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Viral Change and some thoughts about tools

The other day a co-worker (Anders - awesome guy!) pointed me to a change management tool/methodology called Viral Change. I read about it and got quite hooked I have to say, but I’m not yet ready to make a report on how it works or it’s merited.

However, in one of the documents I read they made a little remark that I found very interesting as it brushes on many of the problems that I often have when trying to “do” agile or change into agile.

This post is about that but I have to give a little backstory and my current understanding of Viral Change.

Viral change - my current interpretation

Viral Change is a change management methodology and way of viewing change management work. It focuses a lot of networking and peer-to-peer change. They got me right at the start by saying:

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Review of A seat at the table

I’ve just read a classic. Mark my words - we will mention, refer to and hear a lot about Mark Schwartz great book “A seat at the table”.

It’s an amazing book - you have to read it.

This book is written in a laid-back, funny and content-packed format and contains useful information for any leader in a modern IT-organisation. I have throughout the book been screaming out loud “YES!”, “Exactly that!” or “Where were you when I was in the meeting last week?!” from the well explained and laid our arguments that Mark presents.

The book talks a lot about how the CIO role changes as lean and agile practices are adopted. Practices like DevOps, autonomous squads or automated testing all comes with a change in mindset and culture and this of course needs to be adjusted for in how IT leaders lead their organsiations. I...

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Limiting WIP and some rules of thumb

Writing a book (psst - there’s another one on its way) has changed many things for me and opens so many doors in my career. But my favorite thing is when I get to talk to people that have read my book, learned something and is applying kanban in their everyday life. Sometimes I get some really insightful and interesting questions.

Massimiliano Spolverini, for example, presented me with one of those questions just the other days:

I have been reading your book the second time and I have found it brill. Though, there is a doubt playing on my mind which I cannot sort out.

The 2nd rule of thumb to find a WIP limit (page 111) explains that when the WIP is set too high, then the team can see some work items not being worked by anybody, which no one is responsible for.

On the other...

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Lean/flow simulation experiments

When I do workshops on kanban/lean I often always include a game, since I think that adds to the experience of the principles I try to teach. One of my favourite is the Number Counting game that I, one very boring day did an animation of in PowerPoint. You can flip through it here:

This game very clearly illustrates the benefits of limiting work in process as the lead time for all the projects goes way down, as well as the lead time for each individual project. While quality often improves.

However, every time I’ve done this exercise I have to resist the urge to throw in a couple...

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TDD for 9 year olds - an experiment in teaching my sons class

I had the opportunity to test my teaching skills to the max, as I got the question if I could come to my son Alberts class, to teach “some programming”. I have taught TDD to kids before, see this long video for the result. But those kids were 3-4 years old.

Adding to the challenge was that this was my own sons class and I felt that I had to make him proud as well as fight a bit for being heard.

I took on the challenge and it went well, but I thought I’d share some of my preparation and experiences. A few people have asked me privately and I realize that this is a request that many of us in the IT business might get. If you read this you can avoid my problems at least.

I’ve always thought that Test Driven Development suits...

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A post on the post on queue length

The good people at Kanbanize invited me to write a guest post on their blog. I accepted and wrote a post on tracking and learning from Queue Length, a topic I picked up from Donald Reinertsen excellent book Principles of Product Development Flow.

Go over there and read the post - I’m happy how it turned out.

The rest of this post will be very meta… because it will be about how I can write the post on short queue length fast, by having short queue length.

When I got the request to write the post I accepted and then Alexander kindly wrote back and gave me long (2 months!) time to write the post. It was at this point I decided to do it right away. I, maybe a bit rude, wrote this back:

Hehe - I cannot do that. It...

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My first all-remote retrospective

I agreed to do something a little bit scary, a couple of weeks back. And then it got even more interesting as new information unfolded.

My task was to facilitate a retrospective with 5-6 managers across our organization. That was a bit scary - but then I realized that they all were going to be remote. I had never done a remote retrospective before so that made it more interesting.

I didn’t do anything particularly revolutionary, but I was happy with the outcome and the format. You might find this useful too - so I thought I’d share it here.


The thing we were going to retrospect was a process of writing a vision document that spanned many departments and involved many people, during about 3-4 weeks. I was not at all involved in that process, and at first, I thought that it would be a...

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