"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change!" - Charles Darwin

Thursday, 22 November 2012

How to build a big product in a collaborative way - 1

What happens when you have a product too big to be built by one team within the timeframe needed by your business?
You might answer: Well, I allocate more teams and then create an organization structure where each team is accountable for their part and with a project staff, headed by an expert project manager, to coordinate everything.

I do not want to judge this answer. However let’s have a look at the Agile principles:
  • Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  • Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done
  • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

What do I get out of this??
Well, first that SW development is a collaborative game by its nature: there’s no complex problem which can be solved by one person in a time which is compatible with modern business needs.
Secondly that self-organization and servant leadership are some how embedded in being Agile.

Furthermore, if you look at Scrum, you will find only 3 roles: Scrum Master, Product Owner and Development Team.
I'm sorry: no project manager whatsoever.
Beware! I’m not talking about people here: there are plenty of great project managers serving with passion and competence their organization. 
I’m rather referring to roles and their effectiveness in an Agile context, in terms of: What is the probability I might have success in an evolving reality?

Said that, what I would suggest to a Scrum organization is to setup a Product Owner Team.
Yes: a self-organized team formed by all development teams’ Product Owners collaboratively working together. And I’m suggesting that, because I’m currently coaching a PO Team and I would like to tell my experience through this and some other post I’m planning to write.

Of course a team does not make sense if they do not have a product to build: the PO Team’s job is to develop a unique Product Backlog to feed all development teams, so that the following is ensured:
  1. the whole organization is focusing at any point in time on the most important items
  2. the development teams are as much independent as possible so they can move fast with little need to coordinate each other
  3. the overall architecture of the system is preserved 
Like any other Scrum team, a PO Team might better have a Scrum Master or Team coach (it’s just me in our case) and a Product Owner, who is in charge to give a final word on the overall priority in case of conflicts.

To tell you our story I will start from the beginning and that’s the team setup.
In a recent post I described how it is important for a team’s success to set the stage to high performance and that’s just the same crucial if we’re talking about a group of normally quite senior people who need to learn how to collaborate for serving the entire organization at best, instead of only cultivating the silos they felt responsible for.

And we really started from the foundation by writing together our team vision and the ground values we wanted to build our team upon, as you see in the pictures below. After few months I really recognize that this exercise had proved to be tremendously effective.

So we set the first draft of our working agreements.
Since I wanted to introduce the Scrum values in the team in an organic way, I let them decide completely how to organize in the first place and here come our ceremonies:
  • Global Backlog grooming once a week
  • Global Release planning once a week
  • 15-min daily standup everyday
  • Review of work done at least by another team member according to our Definition of Ready
  • Team retrospective once a month
I will describe each of these ceremonies, make you see our awesome task board and tell you how we build our backlog starting from customer needs in a number of coming posts.
Talk to you soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment