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You know that retrospectives are at the heart of agile. They are those regular meetings where the team reflects on things and come up with ideas to improve them. And you probably have also attended some fair number of retros. I bet some were good. Some were bad. Most were “meh”. And Covid-19 only made things a bit more difficult. So, I wanted to share some tips into how to make an awesome remote retro.

Keep it fresh

Running the same retro activity every time is the worst. We all have been guilty of it. Mad, Sad, Glad? That’s a classic. …

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Every development team needs requirements to know what to build. Well written requirements are great — obviously. They bring clarity. They shorten feedback loops. And make teams more effective. But even the best teams struggle to write them from time to time.

How do you get better at it?

There are many ways. And it’s more art than science. To help with that, the agile scene has come up with a series of practices. Here I have distilled some of my favourites, from the mainstream to the exoteric (but still useful!).

User stories

I bet you heard this one before. User stories…

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You might have come across the type of character that just doesn’t get agile. They might argue in favour of detailed Gantt charts, endless requirements documentation, and dictating deadlines. In my experience there is often more than meets the eye. And you can deal with those characters a tad better when you use Theory X and Theory Y.

Theory X and Theory Y

This is a simple model of management and motivation in the workplace. It was proposed in the 50s by a chap called Douglas McGregor at the MIT. It argues that managers have two distinct mentalities towards their reports. One assumes a positive…

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Most projects will miss their original deadlines. You heard that before, right? And there is one particularly sticky type of project. The kind where you just cannot see what’s ahead of you. It could be more bugs than you can fix. Unforeseen technical issues. Or massive scope creep. In those situations it’s virtually impossible to estimate a delivery date. So I wanted to share a nice little trick with you.

Spoiler alert: it’s all about risk management

The sticky conversation

Manager: Can you deliver the project by the end of the quarter?

Devs: Maybe…?

Manager: OK. So what do you need to do…

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Bonuses! Promotions! Pay rise! Throw money at people and they will deliver their best work. Right? You would know better. These will at best keep them from leaving. To get the best out of people, they need to feel valued. And there is a great, cheap, easy way to do that. It involves learning how to make them feel appreciated.

The power of relationships

You might have heard about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It argues that one needs to fulfil the lower layers to achieve the higher ones. Take the workplace as an example. It is quite easy to fulfil physiological needs (e.g. water…

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Meetings. Meetings everywhere. It feels like we have been back to back since the start of the lockdown. What if there was a better way? There is, you can at least ditch project estimation meetings. And start using forecasting instead.

In many companies you are expected to give a delivery date to a project. And normally that involves a lot of work. A lot! You estimate requirements. Check people’s availability. Identify dependencies. Do maths. And BOOM! There is your delivery date.

This is often so time consuming that people even avoid re-estimation.

Forecasting is not only faster, and cheaper. It…

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So you are proud of your agile implementation within the team. The guys are predictable. They deliver good work. And they have fun. But now you are trying to develop something much bigger and more complex than before. And that got your head scratching. Should you scale your agile implementation?

Maybe you should try SAFe. Or LeSS. Maybe Nexus. What even happened to DAD?

Stop it!

Don’t scale. Not at first. Try to understand **why** you want to do it. What your pain points are. And consider whether you can solve those issues without scaling.

In my experience people look…

Filipe Albero Pomar

Developer / Scrum Master. I coach teams on strategies that make them more predictable, transparent, and engaged.

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