Impacts or backlogs

The word backlog has a negative ring to me (and I think to Swedish people in general). A backlog is a list of tasks that and I’ve yet not completed, things that still is required from me or my team. Putting something on a backlog is a nice way of saying; we will look at it… eventually.

(Business) Impacts, on the other hand, has a much more positive, forward-leaning ring to it. Here a bunch of opportunities that we still haven’t tried, that potentially make us even better.

Now it’s a bit sad that backlog is a central word in agile because I think it misses the point, quite a bit, and sets us in a defensive mood from the start.

In this post, I wanted to explore some thoughts I have had in my head on why we should stop using backlogs and start using impacts. Not only the...

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A walking retrospective that only turns up the good

Today with my team I tried something new for our retrospective. There were a few reasons for me trying something new.

Although I think that retrospectives are a fundamental practice of any agile team and the foundation for a continuous improvements mindset … I still think that I suck at facilitating them. And I cannot get excited about doing so.

Most retrospectives become a wailing-fest of the bad things that happens and very seldom leads to actionable small (!) items that we can implement to improve.

Also … I forgot to book a room after moving the retrospective in time.

These things led me to be a little bit innovative and we ran the retrospective today as described below.

The post will be the description of how to run the retrospectives, a few lines of correct attributions and then a few thoughts about why this worked. Because it was really...

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The nervous stats checker oscillating syndrome

I had a colleague on one of my gigs many years ago, let’s call him Olle (since that was his name). Olle just got a blood pressure meter for Christmas. He was around 45, at the time, and in reasonably good health, according to himself. But he was one of those guys that “had everything” and someone got him this machine. Mostly for fun.

Now, as he as a gadget geek he loved this new toy and of course started to use it. And he kept records in Excel. A few weeks after he started to track his health, to his horror he saw that he was getting worse by the day he measured.

Now, at the time when he told me this, he just started to measure 3-4 times a day and the result were not promising; his blood pressure was through the roof.

He had a doctors appointment...

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Reading the Scrum Guide

Scrum was my first love in agile. I still remember the revolution and excitement I felt after the Scrum Master course and when I and my colleague Öystein started our first Scrum team. It was awesome!

Later I moved on to more flow based approaches when I ended up in environments where Scrum was not a great fit with it s iterations and locked down scope.

Scrum and I was far away from a time. There are no hard feelings but we just don’t hang around much anymore.

I saw someone tweet something like;

I feel like many people talking about Scrum doesn’t really know what it’s about. Really.

Something like that. I felt that it was about me. So I decided to read the official Scrum guide and take some notes. They are summarized in this post.

Structure of this post

Read More posts reposted

In 2013 I got invited to write blog posts for I was quite surprised and honoured, since that’s a place where I’ve read many great posts over the year.

I hopped to the challenge though (never regretted doing that) and ended up writing 6 posts, before I lost tempo.

I’m actually proud of all those posts and wanted to preserve them here on my site also. I noticed that has slowed down and went away completely the other week without anyone noticing. So I thought it would be better to save them somewhere else.

Here’s they are:

My first post was on mob programming and was the first post on the topic written by someone else than Woody Zuill. It’s even mentioned on the wikipedia page for mob programming and those facts makes me immensely proud

I wrote a few post on a...

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Repost - The time when we did Lean backwards


I noticed that CodeBetter is slowing down. Maybe dying. I’m preserving my post from there, here to my site.

Original post

A couple of months ago I was very fortunate to work alongside a great team. They had a not so envious task before them, namely to introduce a new main concept into an legacy code base. You know, the code has been around for at least 5 years and now you need to add a concept that was no-one ever thought we would have in there.

They did that. In just 3-4 months and delivered with flying colours. I didn’t have much to do with that, I merely observed their work.

When they were done I proudly introduced the team to a new senior in the company and told him about their feat and how they had gone about doing it. His...

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Comments on common board practices - Walk the board from right to left

When our board is lined up as our process it’s quite often an array of columns starting to the left when the idea first comes into mind (or in a backlog column) continuing down our workflow, adding more and more value until it reaches our customers where we can learn from the usage of our new feature.

Although it could be tempting to go through the columns from left to right in our morning meeting, I would suggest that you consider doing the opposite.

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Some kanban Q & A Feb 2017

My job is to help clients to use and adapt the principles of lean and agile to achieve a better flow of value. Sometimes I get questions from friends and old clients about how to do specific things. And sometimes I get questions from complete strangers.

Last Tuesday was such a day when Emily reached out via email and asked me three insightful questions.

I was happy to do that and my “fee” was that I can publish the questions and my answers here on the blog. So you’re reading my payment

When applying this process how did you educate your customers?

If you with customers mean the people downstream from us, receiving the value of our work, I often recommend transparency and small steps. One of the best things with kanban is the first principle of “Start where you are”. That means that for starters with...

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Comments on common board practices - Focus on the work - not the workers

Many daily stand up meetings follow the patterns originally from Scrum - that is we ask each individual what they did yesterday, what they are going to do today and if anything is blocking them.

This is a nice sentiment but misalign our focus.

Because making sure that people are busy is not important… at least not compared to making work flow.

There’s an easy way to change our focus, at least in our morning meetings.

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Comments on common board practices - It’s not a kanban board if you don’t have a WIP limit

When kanban first came into common use and practice it was often posed as an alternative to Scrum. Well, as Torbjörn Gyllebring told us many years ago, kanban is not your process. Kanban is a process improvement tool and works on whatever process you apply it to. It’s one of the powers of the tool and the reason I like kanban so much.

However, for many early adopters of kanban, removing the cermonies of Scrum sometimes went overboard and we removed everything that constrained us and made us make tradeoffs. Kanban - love it! No planning, no sprints, no constraints - it’s just our board and work flows as fast as it flows… Nice!

Well - it’s not really a kanban board if you don’t have a work in process limit. Let me explain a bit further.

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