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!