Identifying Sprint Review Anti-patterns

We’re coming to the end of the year, which means a lot of us are attending various town halls and high profile meetings showcasing achievements of the year. Particularly for me working in a large organisation, I’m attending a few of them. It’s nice to reflect back on recent accomplishments. Less so to focus on any failures.

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It’s rather appropriate that recent issues with sprint reviews occurred towards the end of the year

A more regular Scrum ceremony focused on showcasing sprint achievements and contributions is the friendly sprint review. Recently we have faced considerable challenges with this ceremony which are slightly different to those I have reflected on before. …


Gamification of Scrum Learning Using Scrum Delegation Poker

Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches play a key part in the development and supporting of Agile practice within Scrum teams. Both hold key responsibilities to support and educate teams in the ways of the Scrum force. However, sometimes more than talking needs to be done to help squads. Occasionally, bad habits creep into practice that need to be addressed. At times, teams need stronger support to learn Scrum principles and ceremonies.

No matter how many times you try, it is my experience that you cannot force them to read The Scrum Guide. Not everyone can be an uber Agile enthusiast such as myself. For those who simply want to use Agile techniques to focus on their primary love of coding and building cool things. Irrespective of the number of pages, or the incentives you put forward to encourage them, they will only read it when they want to. …


Reflections on the Pitfalls of Story Points and Velocity Capture

Many don’t know this, but I studied mathematics for two years at university before specialising in Computer Science. One mandatory class specialized in teaching the fundamentals of mathematical proof. In a nutshell, we learned how to establish that a given hypothesis was correct, or identify the contradiction that disproves the theory. It was immensely satisfying when you reached the end of a proof. Furthermore, verifying that you had the correct answer was pretty straightforward.

If only all hypotheses were so easy to disprove. Lately there has been an unfolding obsession with story points across the squads. Managers, business stakeholders and even the PO are starting to raise questions on why this item is X points. …


Exploring Reluctance in Automation of Manual Development Practices

When building software for clients, a key driver is providing value and improvement to current manual user procedures. We should always look at ourselves in the same light. Without eliminating the manual processes in our own software engineering practice, how can we advocate the same lean focused benefits when automating client processes?

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In the digital age, all teams must embrace automation to eliminate waste

Maintaining manual elements of the software development cycle in fully remote situations such as the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown is rather difficult. Rather than trying to communicate more via informal channels to keep things going, teams resort to communicating less to “just get things done”.

Automated release and deployment mechanisms that could help reduce the amount of manual intervention are being ignored. Each dismissal often comes with mutters of “oh, I’ll do it next time”. Yet next time the recursive rejection cycle continues. …


Diagnosing and Addressing Remote Working Connectivity Issues

It’s week two of UK lockdown, and many of us are trying to adjust to stringent restrictions coupled with working remotely with pets and children. We’re silently celebrating the first week of being home with the kids. Successfully writing emails and code with a baby bouncing on knee is still a work in progress for me. Practice will hopefully make perfect. In the meantime, any tips others can provide are definitely appreciated!

One achievement I am proud of is that I finally have an isolated work setup and generally good remote connectivity. Having persistent connection freezing, pixellated video calls and disconnecting sessions leaves you feeling powerless and useless. …


Where is Our WFH Workspace Empathy?

Let’s be honest, we are already getting tired of hearing about COVID-19. It dominates our media headlines. It is leading to the cancellation of many events and conferences. Company policies are invading our mailboxes. The resulting panic is emptying our supermarket shelves. As much as we want to ignore it, this disease is having a significant impact on our lives as it moves throughout the world.

This week it has escalated in Europe to the point where many are beginning to work from home for significant periods of time. Suddenly, vast numbers of people used to the daily commute are stuck in the confines of their homes. Many will not have a comparable home setup to support a productive working day. Myself and colleagues are facing ongoing challenges in adjusting to self isolation. For those with no home setup such as myself, we are scrambling to invest in home workspaces to continue to be meet deadlines. …


The Adventures of a Newly Returning Coder Parent

Cue the fanfare. Coder Mummy is back! Following six months of bottles, nappies and home nursery rhyme karaoke, the time has come to return to work. It’s constantly been referred to as my transition. In a way that’s true. Frustratingly, my first week has definitely been more of a mental and emotional metamorphosis rather than the regimented algorithm I would expect as a software engineer.

Going into my first week back, I encountered a strange mixture of excitement and dread. Yet I found very few honest accounts of people’s experiences. Returning role models are happy to engage in discussion, but very few appear to have documented their experience. Furthermore search results captured using your favourite search engine focus on legal rights rather than personal experience. It’s almost as if talking parental return is a weakness. …


Planning Kanban Adoption for Home Task Management

New year. New decade. Cue the numerous social media posts outlining unachievable resolutions that people have absolutely no chance of keeping. The majority of my friends set typical goals such as new gym routines and healthier eating habits. However, the Richmond family have a more unconventional ambition in mind.

Throughout my eight years as a Software Engineer, I have grown to be strong Agile advocate. My experiences working in both Waterfall and Agile focused teams have fostered a strong preference for the latter model. To the extent that my status as an Agile evangelist is known far and wide. Furthermore, it is also a source of jest, as emphasised by the Scrum notebook I received as a baby present, illustrated below. …


Evaluating The Effectiveness of Different Learning Mediums on Long Term Leave

We spend a significant portion of our adult lives working. Eurostat estimates the expected working life duration of EU workers in 2018 to be 36.2 years. Given such a large window, it may come as no surprise that we all need a longer break than the occasional sick day. We may take time off for travel, long term sick or parental. Irrespective of motive, we will have breaks in our employment history.

Taking a long term sabbatical makes keeping up to date difficult. Regardless of your occupation, you will undoubtedly return to work in N months to a new cast of colleagues; a forgotten array of knowledge you need to claw back; and the need to adjust to a large set of procedural changes. …


Evaluating the Effects of Workspace Factors on Non-Permanent Stakeholders

Being on parental leave has a funny way of forcing you to look backwards rather than forwards. To reminisce about your old life. The one where you went to work everyday. The one where you got through one book per week on your commute. The one where going out was impulsive and required less supplies. Nowadays you would think I’m embarking on an expedition to scale the nearest summit every time I walk out of the door with all the stuff I take with me!

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The state of our workspace, and it’s problems, is yet again a focus of conversation

Lately I’ve been reflecting on prior entries. Coming across my old pieces on workspace agility and developer perks collided with a colleague’s recent thoughts on the state of our workspace. He correctly pointed out that the same issues that have plagued us for years persist. They still impact those trudging into the office every day. But some were surprised to hear that they also impact me. …

About

Carly Richmond

Lead software engineer with a strong interest in Agile and Usability. Lover of cooking, tea, photography and gin!

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