Going Agile Part 4 – Iteration 1: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Going Agile Part 4 – Iteration 1: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

on Jan 19, 10 • by Todd Landry • with 1 Comment

I just couldn’t resist using the classic spaghetti Western as the title for this installment of my Going Agile series because it a) it was an awesome movie, and b) it truly sums up that 1st iteration of ours. My last post was all about the 1st iteration planning meeting, and how it was such ...

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I just couldn’t resist using the classic spaghetti Western as the title for this installment of my Going Agile series because it a) it was an awesome movie, and b) it truly sums up that 1st iteration of ours. My last post was all about the 1st iteration planning meeting, and how it was such an exciting and productive time for our team. We came out of that meeting a little weary, but extremely motivated to get to work. We were also just a tad naive.

The next 2 weeks were a roller coaster as we cut our teeth with Scrum. First the good:

  • Communication: the interaction amongst the team members was definitely improved. If someone needed an answer to something, they immediately sought out help. The team realized that if they didn’t get timely answers, tasks wouldn’t get done. They really didn’t want to say those dreaded 2 words, “nothing finished”, in the daily scrum meeting.
  • Meetings: The daily Scrum meetings were kept short and  sweet as everyone said what tasks they had finished, what they were working on, and if there were any roadblocks in the way. If something required further discussion, a break out meeting with the appropriate people was held.
  • Energy: This was a high performing team to begin with, but there was now a newfound energy and buzz. This was a fun team to be around!

As the title suggests, there certainly was some bad in that first iteration.

  • Testing and documentation: These were the 2 areas that struggled the most in the first iteration (and the next couple as well). They felt that their work was too heavily back loaded, that is, they would receive their stuff too late in the iteration to either test or document properly. Many of the stories were not totally Done because they were either not tested properly or documented with the time they were given.
  • Defects and bugs: Because testing happened so late in the iteration, many of the bugs they found could not be addressed in that iteration. These bugs would have to be carried over to the next iteration, meaning the number of new stories would have to be reduced.

Now for the ugly.

  • After just a day or so into the iteration, a plethora of unplanned tasks starting showing up on the Scrum board for many of the stories. These stories now had many new hours of tasks added to them, and we fell behind very quickly. This leads into the next ugly…
  • The Burndown chart: Talk about a misnomer! We started to affectionately call our chart the burn-up chart, because there was very little down direction going on with it. Our chart would have looked great at a sales meeting, but in our Scrum meeting, not so much.

So as you can see our 1st iteration had its share of warts, and in fact, the next couple did as well. But we didn’t get frustrated. We learned from our mistakes and changed/added things based on those mistakes. The Retrospective meetings were incredibly useful because they made us all take a hard, honest look at what went well, and what didn’t. The next, and last entry in my Going Agile series will look at the Retrospective meeting.

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