22 Mar 2023
My favourite dad joke is ‘Elvis Presley is the first scrum master. A little less conversation, a little bit more action please. All this conversation ain ’t providing no satisfaction in me.’
This is the core concept of agile and scrum.
By producing a working product or feature, we open all the doors. We demonstrate to our stakeholders that we are capable of creating and delivering value. We show people that we are moving in the right direction.
To our senior stakeholders, the CEO and the CFO, we are demonstrating that we are great at managing risk. The way we manage risk is by building the product and putting it into the hands of customers for review.
Our goal is to delight customers, but it is also ensure that we are building the right thing, in the right way, at the right time. Consistently doing that demonstrates that we are managing risk effectively.
All agile frameworks have a requirement for the team to articulate, clearly and concisely, what a finished product looks like. In scrum, it is called a ‘definition of done’ whilst other frameworks will define it in their own way.
Every single work item has specific criteria that must be met for the work to pass from development into the hands of a customer. In other agile frameworks, it would be the criteria that must be met before that work item is handed over to another agile team.
If it’s a software product, chances are there will be a deployment team responsible for delivery of the product, so your team can talk to them about what they need for the product to enter the delivery phase.
If it’s a hardware product, it may be a regulator that signs off on quality control. Talk to them about what needs to be present for them to provide the green light.
As you can see, completing work items is incredibly important in agile. The singular focus of agile is to create products and features that delight customers, in short, sharp bursts of production known as sprints.
The goal, every time, is to produce a working piece of software or a working product that customers can integrate into their environment and begin to capture or create value because of what you have built.
Second to producing a usable, working, and releasable item of work, we are looking for feedback from customers, stakeholders, and end-users.
We want to stay focused on the most valuable work, and we need their reviews and feedback in order to adapt or pivot to where the most value lies.
That is one of the reasons why agile places such a strong emphasis on delivering working products, because without building something, there is no way we can receive feedback.
In some cases, customers may find that the product or feature isn’t 100% up to their requirements. Great, they provide the feedback and a clear idea of what the team need to produce, and within a short 2 to 4 week production cycle they have what they need.
Maybe we had 10 items lined up for the following 3 sprints, but after reviewing our product or feature, the customer decides that it meets 80% of their requirements and would like us to introduce a new work item that requires immediate attention.
We can put the other 9 items on ice and focus exclusively on the most valuable work they need done, and then resume with the product backlog after responding to their crisis.
Short feedback loops ensure that we are working with data, evidence, and reviews to make sure that the team are focused on solving the most compelling problem or building the most valuable solution.
So, the number one goal of Agile is to get things done. If you aren’t getting things done, come together as a team to identify what is preventing you from achieving your sprint goal, and make the necessary adjustments or changes to remove those impediments.
It is said that agile doesn’t solve problems, it reveals them, and you will find this to be true in your own experiences. It is a great way to identify what prevents the team from thriving, and provides you with a backlog of what needs doing to make the team more effective.
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