Big Room Planning / Nexus Sprint Planning

Consider this post as a first step in learning about Big Room Planning, or a refresher to those who know about it already or a toolkit for those who have it planned on the cards.

Complex, cross-team projects often pose challenges to Stakeholders as to who is going to do what, when and how. What is my dependency on others and how accountable I am for the dependencies faced by others? Over the years Agile has managed to ease the life of many involved. The concept of Big Room Planning / Nexus Sprint Planning or BRP helps break big goals into smaller manageable chunks, enables business and technology alignment and makes elephantine problems seem feasible to solve.

So what are the basics of BRP, advantages and how to do it effectively? I will walk you through the basics and how we conducted an effective BRP recently for a major tech organization at Bangalore. It was surreal, 15+ Scrum Teams working across geographies, building a complex software product.

What is BRP

When you have many teams working towards a common goal, we can bring all these together to one room towards one common goal. The goals are then broken down into various scrum teams to identify which team delivers what and how. This can also include teams from various geographies calling in from various locations to provide their valuable inputs or take stock of the situation.

The strategies and effectiveness of the BRP conducted by the Scrum masters, scrum coaches and stake holders helps decide:

  • The path from goals to integrated incremental deliverables.
  • Clear release goals for the next 2-3 months.
  • The release goals, stakeholders and clear understanding of final deliverables.
  • Whether to increase release frequency or the agreed deliverables during sprints.

What can BRP help achieve?

But why do BRP. Is the effort worth, so many people are going to share time and effort for two crucial days. Answer is yes. Two days of effort preceded by an effective Scrum coach can make a sea of difference to the project. Some of the top benefits you can achieve from BRP are:

  • Define the Release Cycle. Plan the work and effort for the next few weeks and months.
  • Identify and Visualize dependencies and integration points across various teams.
  • Improve Collaboration. Teams get to see a quick white-boarded view of what each team is doing.
  • Helps with quick decisions making promoting a feeling of one-unit, making everyone inclusive to the cause. ·
  • Diverse views help look at angles you never thought of before.
  • People own the goals since they have planned them together.

What are some insights from my BRP session

In this section, I will sprinkle my own wisdom dust on how you can execute successful and really effective BRPs. These are like ingredients and you can experiment with these but some are necessary to lead to convincing results for all.

  • Need a strong facilitator – The importance of this cannot be underlined more. Without a good captain, the ship can go astray. The Scrum masters play a pivotal role of clearly defining what the end goals are, what we are trying to achieve and how we are going to achieve it.
  • Agenda, crystal clear agenda – A clear Agenda and the outcome desired at the end of the sessions as well as BRP.
  • Objectives – Need clear and crisp objectives for teams to be aligned. Embed this in the planning, motive and efforts of the teams
  • Answers – Availability of Product Owner and SMEs to help with any clarifying questions the teams have in the BRP session.
  • Alignment – A clear alignment between Product Owners, SMEs, and the respective ScrumTeams.

Different Flavors, Equal Goals

Nexus Sprint Planning is also a flavor of the above that helps plan and coordinate work done by Scrum Teams in the current sprint. Attended by all Scrum teams and all stakeholders, it helps teams look at the Product backlog and prioritize work for the upcoming sprints. All team members equally participate to make adjustments of the work during refinement events, participation from all scrum members helps minimize communication issues. We will talk more about this in the posts to follow.

If you like this post, share it amongst your peers and friends. Have something to say? Drop in a note here or reach out to me if you need help in facilitating some good BRP sessions effective for your business. PracticeAgile.com has helped many Startups, Mid-size corporations and Enterprises by empowering them with the power of effective Big Room Planning!

5 Psychological Aspects for being an awesome Scrum Master

We all understand, every field has a skill quotient that you need to achieve to be able to qualify and deliver. It’s a Doctor of Medicine for someone who wants to practice medicine, be a Doctor, and save lives. An Arts degree for an Artist who wants to paint the town in their colors. Similarly, it’s educational degrees, some authentic time-tested certifications, and real world hands-on practical experiences that qualify us to become Scrum Coaches, Scrum Masters, Agile Consultants and so on.

A Doctor at work

What makes a better artist is the ability to see the world and empathize with the art it requires. Doctors can have a degree qualifying them to be the best in their profession, but would you visit them again if they don’t give you a listening ear? What if they don’t ask open-ended questions from their experience to seek first to understand, then to be understood?  What if they prescribe medicine without taking into account your allergies, immunity and actual health conditions?

An Artist engrossed in creation

Similarly, there are some psychological aspects, call it invisible forces, that are needed to be an awesome Scrum Master, Coach or Consultant that you just can’t ignore.

How do you ensure powerful collaborations?

I want to take this opportunity to share the top five values that have helped me to be a better Scrum professional in today’s ever evolving, beautiful, but at times chaotic world.

  1. Empathy: Spend time connecting with people to gain their trust and earn their respect. Respect cannot be demanded with titles.  Be positive, keep an open mind, and believe that everyone is doing the best job to his or her potential.

    Evaluate how you are practicing these values

  2. Humility: Serve people and teams to make a measurable positive difference in their lives. Don’t be judgmental. Use evidence, data and facts as a compass to help with your decisions.
  3. Compassionate: Be kind, down to earth and practice tolerance. Have faith in yourself and believe in your abilities. Make your own magic.
  4. Authentic: Be honest, be genuine and be real. Copying or imitating is easy, but that’s not you. Use your imagination and creativity and contribute something new and useful back to the community.
  5. Forgive:  Everyone makes mistakes. Let go, make peace with yourself, and learn the art of forgiveness and move on. Practice collaboration over competition.

I don’t claim to have mastered the above values and I honestly feel one lifetime is too short a time to master them. But, by being mindful and by practicing these values it has helped me be a better Agile Consultant and I sincerely hope it helps you too.

Collaborative and Happy Working Spaces

There are many more advances in corporate awareness, organizational development, Agile, and Scrum that are paving way for more values and psychological inputs. As PracticeAgile delivers more and more trainings, workshops, and consulting services, we will share more of our learnings as we walk on this journey together.

We would love to hear your thoughts about this article and what you would like us to cover in our upcoming posts. If you want to collaborate and learn more in our next workshop, check out our training calendar and sign up for the trainings that interest you. Share this with your fellow colleagues and friends to share the knowledge and spread the wisdom!

Scrum.org PSF – What, Why, and How?

Certifications and training courses help establish a fact that the participant knows about a subject and can be questioned to ascertain. The Scrum.org, Professional Scrum Foundation (PSF) is one such course that prepares you for the Scrum world.

Here is a straight-to-the-point short post about PSF. Like our course curriculum, trainings, and our consulting, we like to get straight to it than beat around the idea!

 What is PSF?

Professional Scrum Foundations or PSF helps master everyday Scrum duties and responsibilities. This covers the eligibility needed to appear for the prestigious Professional Scrum Master Credential examination.

 Why should I do PSF?

To lead better, function effectively as a Scrum-practitioner, and be a self-organized Scrum player. Without these, effective deliveries of project leave a lot desired. A Scrum master is someone who has to learn to be active and deliver effective value. The PSF foundation course will enable you to attempt the PSM I assessment and prove your mettle.

How do I do PSF?

We at PracticeAgile.com help train our students to learn and master PSF. The course comprises of expert instructions and team based exercises that help you gain mastery over Scrum nitty-gritties, lead teams to collaborate more. We will cover:

  • Fundamentals of Scrum
  • The Scrum Framework
  • Mastering Scrum
  • Planning with Scrum
  • Getting Started and keeping Scrum healthy

It’s a Hands-on workshop where we do scrum from the trenches. An example case study of an HTML based website is carried out, where we build the Website as a Scrum-project over duration of 4 sprints. It helps get first-hand experience on how to deal with dependencies and integration challenges in scaled environment.

Contact us through my linked in presence or drop us a note at Practiceagile.com. Happy to answer any queries you have about PSF. For folks based out of Mumbai, India and nearby areas, we have a training scheduled next week. Check the training calendar to know more and register.

How to manage unplanned work during the Sprint

As part of the Scrum Tapas video series, Professional Scrum Trainer Hiren Doshi discusses a model to assess and control unplanned work that may come up during a Sprint and reviewing its impact during the Sprint Review.

Raffle for PSM workshop, Mumbai (2 Tickets)

In 2007, Ken Schwaber allowed me to attend his Certified Scrum Master class in Boston for a mere $200 (for certification and meals) for a ticket that had a price of over $2000 then, because he probably saw the hunger in me to learn Scrum. Ken’s gesture of goodwill gave me a tremendous boost in my Agile journey.

Today while gearing up for the exciting PSM class, which I will be co-teaching with another mentor of mine Steve Porter, I want to happily contribute back to the community. I will raffle 2 heavily discounted tickets for the workshop on 16th – 17th March in Powai, Mumbai to anyone who shares the same passion to embark on this awesome journey. You will only pay INR 8500 (Regular ticket price of INR 24998+GST). The cost includes PSM I assessment fees, the premium Scrum.org training material and the cost for the food. I will also provide a hard copy of my book Scrum Insights for Practitioners, which will be co-signed by Steve Porter. I will pick 2 names randomly (you will have to trust me on this) on Monday, 12th March and names will be announced at 5:00pm. Please submit your names by 3:00pm March 12th. 

Registration Link: https://practiceagile.com/raffle-for-psm-workshop/

Scrum Chapter Mumbai – “Leading Agile adoption”

Goal to answer the question:

“As an aspiring Agile Coach, I want to learn how to lead Agile adoption for my 1st prospective client, so that I can deliver maximum value and improve their ROI for the investment they make in me”

We had some excellent discussions.

Scrum Chapter Mumbai - Feb 2018

1st Edition of Scrum Chapter - Mumbai, "Leading Agile Adoption" Goal to answer the question: "As an aspiring Agile Coach, I want to learn how to lead Agile adoption for my 1st prospective client, so that I can deliver maximum value and improve their ROI for the investment they make in me"

Some insights we gained from our discussion:

  1. Understanding ‘The why”: Why is the organization is trying to embrace Agile?
  2. Derive the baseline of where the organization stands before the Agile journey
  3. Facilitate retrospectives and interviews with the C-level executives, mid level managers and the foot soldiers to understand the culture of the organization as well as their Agile readiness.
  4. Educate the organization on the new ways of working and get a top-down and bottom-up buy-in. This can include trainings, brown bag sessions, etc.
  5. Define quantitative business metrics to measure the progress with the idea of continuous improvement and the understanding that all we need to do is try to be “better than yesterday”
  6. … and many more

The 2nd edition of Scrum Chapter Mumbai is planned on Saturday, March 24th from 4:30pm to 7:00pm.

Topic:  Moving from “ScrumBut” to “ScrumAnd

Goodbye, 2017

Goodbye, 2017

Here are the “3 important lessons learned” by me this year:

Overcome your fear of failure:  Be uncomfortable and do something different that you have been avoiding because of the fear of failure. There can only be 2 outcomes – either you will be successful or you have learnt something to be better the next time. And both the outcomes will help you overcome your fear of failure.

Change works better inside-out:  Be humble and accept that the people in this world are not perfect and neither are you. It might be difficult to change someone else, but easier to change yourself.

Health is your biggest wealth:  Working at a sustainable pace is the key to avoid burn out. It is absouletely essential to create a healthy balance in your calendar.

With great humility I also thank the Scrum enthusiasts for accepting my book, “Scrum Insights for Practitioners: The Scrum Guide Companion”. Your positive feedback has been overwhelming and I am glad I was of service to the Scrum community.

Thank you! I wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2018!

What are some lessons you have learnt this year?

Scrum.org training

Some feedback from my students for Scrum.org trainings (PSF / PSM)

Feedback on the Scrum.org training (PSF / PSM):

Highly Enthusiastic , with good interactive teaching style , making sure that everyone is active in the class, great way of answering questions with examples

Highly energetic with several anecdotes and practical learning shared during the session. I loved it!! All questions got answered, and plenty of insights shared. Extremely grateful to you for sharing your insights and making me unlearn & learn Scrum.

Full points for the effective teaching methods employed and your enthusiasm. The answers to the questions demonstrate your Scrum Knowledge and several examples you quote from the industry speak wide experience as a trainer.

Hiren has excellent hold on the subject and explains in such an effective manner that you get answer of further potential question.

Energy is awesome. Scrum knowledge is rated 10/10

Feedback on my book – Scrum Insights for Practitioners:

There are numerous books about Scrum – this begins where most writers stop … Here, not only the Scrum Guide Scrum Insights for Practitionersis reworded, but knowledge and experience are conveyed by one who has Scrum knowledge

Excellent. Lucid and interesting, EASY to READ and UNDERSTAND. Overall 101/100

Good List down of point and Ideas for beginners to start with . It acts as a support system for the baby who is trying and learning to walk.

Very insightful and practical. Helped me understand the spirit of scrum and how it can be practically applied.

Got 77/80 in PSM1 !!! Your book is an absolute Bible on Scrum!

3 Scrum Roles Promote Self-organization

How do the 3 Scrum Roles Promote Self-organization?

The Scrum Team consists of 3 distinct Scrum roles that promote Self-organization: the Scrum Master, the Product Owner, and the Development Team. The accountability of each role complements the accountability of the other roles. Hence, collaboration between these roles is the key to success:

  • The Scrum Master, through servant-leadership, coaches, facilitates, educates, and guides the team to solve its own problems by using the three pillars of empiricism. The Scrum Master understands that constructive disagreements are necessary to build high performing teams. The Scrum Master allows the team to learn from the cycle of failing, trying, and failing again. The Scrum Master also helps self-organization by proactively and uncompromisingly removing impediments that are beyond the team’s self-organization capability.
  • The Product Owner closely interacts with stakeholders and product management to identify the most valuable work. TheThe 3 Scrum Roles

    The 3 Scrum Roles

     

    Product Owner relies on the Development Team for the actual delivery of a potentially shippable software increment in every Sprint. At every Sprint Review, the stake- holders help the team in shaping the future product.

  • The Development Team members collaboratively select their own work from the Product Backlog ordered by the Product Owner. They collaboratively create actionable activities to realize their forecast as reflected in the Sprint Backlog. They replan their work on a daily basis within the time-boxed Sprint to optimize the team’s output. They deliver a potentially releasable increment (integrated with increments of other teams, if multiple teams are involved) of software at the end of each Sprint. This self-directedness, the ability for people to direct their own work, motivates them and reinforces self-organization.

One of the best examples of self-organization comes straight from Ken Schwaber’s blog post “Self-Organization and Our Belief That We Are in Charge.”

I pose the following question to Scrum Masters: What is the best way to organize 100 developers into Scrum Teams?

According to Ken, he would

let the developers self-organize themselves into Development Teams as per the recommendation in The Scrum Guide that has all the cross-functional skills to build an integrated done Increment every Sprint. The Scrum Master may remind them that all one hundred people must be engaged meaningfully and that mentoring is expected. The Scrum Master may have the lead developers lead a discus- sion about the software and architecture to be worked on, with the underlying dependencies. The Scrum Master may have the Product Owner discuss the intricacies of the Product Backlog. And, if they organize sub-optimally, they can correct and continually adjust team membership as they find out more. Promote a learning organization with Bottom-up intelligence. So the one-hundred-people group self-organizes and divides itself into teams.

This is one of the topics from my book – Scrum Insights For Practitioners: The Scrum Guide Companion“. Happy reading!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how the Scrum roles can further promote Self-organization.

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