Connecting Agile Planning to Agile Action – 1

“Only connect!”

A quote from EM Forster.  And also our theme here.

We think that one of the most useful things to connect is Agile Planning to Agile Action.

If we connect these and ‘manage’ them well, we think that will lead to greater success.  Notably greater success.

***

Let’s explain briefly.

First, I just made a presentation on this theme to the PMI Greenville Symposium, on Tuesday.  See the slide deck: Plan-Win.

But here is the basic idea.

We need to get several groups of people seeing the connection between Agile Planning and Action action.

The action part is fairly well known.  It happens in the Sprints.  If the product is software, it is the real coding and testing.  And we (agile and Scrum) have a bunch of well-known suggestions for how to help them team do this ‘real work’ more effectively.

One simple way of looking at those suggestions is think of the Sprints, and the key meetings in each Spring: the Sprint Planning Meeting, the Daily Scrums, the Sprint Review, the Retrospective.  Those meetings make the Team more effective in taking action.

And one key element related to that is, without working any hard and by removing impediment after impediment, the Team soon has its Velocity doubled.  And more.

I am not saying that everyone is doing this well, and professionally, but at least the basic ideas are fairly well known.  I think one key element often missing is the Impediment List idea.  In this idea, we collect the impediments, prioritize them, evaluate whether fixing those things would double our productivity (often we find that the key things are not on the list yet), and then the SM leads the taking of action to fix the most important one, one at a time.

Agile Planning, I find, is less well known.  I agree that we have planning in many contexts, so exactly what to do may vary a lot depending on the context.  Nonetheless, we do have often fairly common situations, so I wrote a book to address what I found to be the most common situation: overly simply: one 7-person Team attacking 6 months of work (eg, a product that is mostly built after 6 months, at least the ‘initial’ product).

But I think a few things can be generalized about Agile Planning:

  • it’s not about the plan
  • build the initial plan very quickly (1 day for 6 months’ work)
  • revise the plan continuously
  • use basic agile methods to take the planning information and ‘land’ the project more successfully

That is, planning (one of several types of ‘thinking’) is closely connected to ‘acting’.

And everyone (the Team, managers, sponsors, even customers to some degree) needs to understand this better.

***

More soon.

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