Tag Archives: transparency

An Evolution of the Scrum of Scrums

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This is the story of how the Scrum of Scrums has evolved for a large program I’m helping out with at one of our clients.

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Scaled Agile Framework: I Learned about ROAM

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The SAFe SPC training last week taught me quite a few interesting and useful new things. In reviewing my class materials, I noticed this little acronym: ROAM.  The way it is used in the SAFe training is that it is a mechanism for categorizing risks that teams identify as they are doing release planning.  ROAM stands for Resolved, Owned, Accepted, Mitigated.  The members of an Agile team or Agile Release Train identify risks and collaborate to decide how to handle them.  These risks are then place on a visible grid that has each of the four categories marked.  In this way, the whole Agile Release Train and their various stakeholders can have an open discussion and shared understanding about the risks to the Program Increment that they are planning.  Cool!

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The Rules of Scrum: I share my obstacles (technical, tools, process, teamwork, personal) every Daily Scrum

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The principles of openness and transparency include being able to be truthful about ways that you are struggling.  A Team Member must share their struggles with their Scrum Team and with the ScrumMaster so that the team, at least, knows your status.  Without that visibility, the Scrum Team may make decisions that are difficult or impossible to implement due to hidden obstacles.  At every Daily Scrum, each Team Member should think carefully about the challenges they are currently facing, and share those challenges.  The ScrumMaster cannot do a good job without that transparency since a core part of their work is to deal with obstacles.  If a Team Member fails to be open about obstacles, or fails to recognize something in their environment as an obstacle, this can slow the team in its progress towards becoming a high-performance team.  Obstacles that persist for a long period of time simply because they are not openly discussed can have a demoralizing effect on the team.  On the other hand, a team that creates full visibility into their obstacles can enlist the help of stakeholders, work together to overcome those obstacles, and systematically become better and better at doing their work.

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The Rules of Scrum: The Product Backlog is easily visible to every stakeholder (e.g. cards on a wall or an electronic tool with open access)

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The Product Backlog is a constantly changing artifact, owned by the Product Owner. Stakeholders need real-time visibility into the current state of the Product.  Stakeholders should be able to discuss the state of the Product Backlog with the Product Owner at any time, make recommendations and requests.  Any change resulting from the request of any stakeholder(s) must be visible in real-time to all other stakeholders.  One of the greatest benefits of a highly visible Product Backlog is that it becomes a conversational space for key stakeholders and many others that are connected to or interested in the work of the Scrum team.  Of course, a visible Product Backlog also upholds the Scrum value of transparency which is essential for long-term success with Scrum.  What if my Product Backlog is not easily visible to every stakeholder?  Stakeholders will become disengaged from the work of the Scrum Team, and will forget to give support and/or offer insights into the work.  If the Product Backlog is managed in an electronic tool that requires people to login and/or go into a special space that has restricted access then they are much less likely to view it regularly.

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Aspects of Truthfulness

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I had a fantastic discussion this weekend while on a road trip with my colleague David Parker.  We talked about the different aspects of Truthfulness.  This is what we came up with.


Are you perfectly honest?  Is every statement you make factually correct to the best of your knowledge?

Behaviors that are not honest include: hyperbole and exaggeration,  sarcasm, falsehoods, omissions.

Honesty is the quality most obviously associated with Truthfulness.


When you make a commitment, do you keep it?  Are your deeds an accurate reflection of your words and thoughts?

Behaviors that erode integrity include hypocrisy, unreliability, lateness.


When someone wants to know something can they find it out from you?  Can you provide simple proof of your words and deeds?

Behaviors that prevent transparency include stonewalling, passing the buck, verbal diarrhea, and the use of esoteric or inappropriate jargon.

Do you accept that the unexpected is natural?  Have you given up trying to control your environment?

Things that block serenity are anxiety and worry, reactionary anger, backstabbing, and manipulation.


Do you accept that others have wisdom, knowledge and experience that you don’t?  Can you admit both the possibility of being wrong, and the fact of being wrong?

There are many things that prevent the development of humility: taking offense from comments about yourself, your ideas or your actions, insisting on your way, vanity, boasting, and even ostentatious self-deprecation.

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8 Team Room Tips

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Here are eight tips for making a great team room.

Light, Air, Nature
An appropriate amount of natural light, air circulation and live plants are excellent ways to make a space suitable for human occupation. The lack of these things can subtly but surely slow down and demoralize a team.

People need to be able to face each other and work beside each other. They also need a semi-private space to have discussions or make phone calls. The walls of the space need to have large areas that can be used for whiteboards.

It’s just not worth it to have a high-performance team hampered by a poor workstation setup. Good chairs, tables at an appropriate height, and the flexibility to allow individual ergonomic needs to be accommodated all help.

Every member of the team needs to be able to get away for short amounts of time. Some organizations provide separate mini conference rooms or “hoteling” spaces. Others allow staff to keep a private cubicle away from the team room.

The area of space that a person occupies needs to be flexible and personalized. People need pictures, toys, plants, and other incidentals to help them make a space their own.  For this, elbow room is important!

Visibility to Outsiders
Other people in the organization need to be able to walk by to see and hear what is going on with the Agile Work team. Open doors, windows or a “bullpen” formation of cubicles all allow this.

The space must be located so that washrooms, coffee, printers and other common services are easily accessible. It should not be set off and isolated far away from everything else.

The team will be noisy. Make sure that other people outside the team room are far enough away or isolated in some way from the noise. It can be hard to balance this with convenience and visibility.

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