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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sequential and Collaborative Planning - "Oppa Sashimi Style"

Hi all:

My friend and sometimes colleague John Heintz asked me to play the straight man in his first experiment in professional video blogging.  John is a powerful advisor to many agile and lean software engineering teams, managers, and executives around the world and he described the collaborative planning concept as something that he's "drawn on a whiteboard over a hundred times."

Photo courtesy of rofi/flickr
His idea certainly resonates with me as I have discussed the concept of "sashimi" for software teams where the phases of development on a particular user story are focused less on strict hand-offs between separate teams and more on overlapping phases of development to collaboratively get work to done in priority order. The hand-offs and silos implicit in the waterfall model caused many problems, especially in getting work to done with high quality.  In many teams following Scrum, they have still maintained this model, although in shorter, iterative cycles, creating a "Scrumfall" environment.  I've asked Scrum teams that I've advised to consider a model where they attempt to reduce work-in-process by having a number of cross-functional team members "swarm" on each user story in priority order, focusing on architecture, design, development, testing, and documentation with overlapping phases.  This allows ample opportunity for real-time feedback to affect each of the now "fuzzy phases", cross-team education, and insight into the earlier phases by team members that may be able to build quality in, versus test (or worse, document) it out.

Protip:  when you're planning work around a user story, don't try to model dependencies, just assign a number of story points or hours in a bucket, and let the work flow naturally, allowing the work to be the focus as opposed to the plan or the team member allocation.  Monitor the work on a daily basis.

Protip:  if you're 40% through your sprint (e.g. the fourth day of a ten day sprint), and all or most stories are in progress and nothing is done yet, you're likely in "Scrumfall" and you are likely performing sequential versus collaborative planning.

Without further ado, here's our first experiment together in video blogging around the benefits of a collaborative planning model:

Here's his full blog post:

Does this concept resonate with you?  What has been your experience?