Thursday, April 17, 2008

Two cheers for the Nokia Test (2)

A comment by Kelly Waters and a discussion yesterday with Peter Smith prompts me to add another comment.

Some are attempted to come up with a long list of all the practices involved with Scrum (or Scrum plus other parts of Agile). And then score each team.

I don't think the long list replaces the simple short list. First, for many people, the simplicity is important and necessary. They need a quick, bright line to guide them back on to the road as they start to veer off. The short list does that better.

Regarding the long list...

I have done this (or was required to do it), and found one aspect of it very useless and another aspect very useful. And I just thought of another useful way to use the tool.

Useless: I think generally scoring each team is not very useful. Do I care that one team is 63 and another team is 72? You might do it, but I would not make too much of the number. Each practice is not equally important (and probably the importance varies by situation). I think it would be useful to tell the team "well, you answered 'yes' on 30 out of 40 of these items...what does that tell you?"

By the way, we found it useful for an external coach to walk through the long list with the team (ie, not the team's ScrumMaster/coach).

Useful: Asking the questions, some as yes/no and some with a sliding scale answer, is useful in generating great conversations with the team. The trick is to help them identify one weakness or root cause as the highest priority impediment, and to act on it. ("We need a half-day Scrum refresher course, with a focus on the principles" might be one example.)

Useful 2: I think it might be useful to pull data across many teams, and determine what are the practices that teams generally are doing least. That tells me the "Scrum Center" (if you have one) has done a poor job in communicating the value of the least used practices. Or at least that is a likely root cause. Then the Scrum Center can consider how to communicate why that practice is indeed valuable.

I hope these are actionable comments for you.

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