Thursday, October 29, 2015

Everyone's Perspective Is Key In Retrospectives

#SridharPeddisetty #Agile #Scrum #Retrospection #Project #Retrospective #Management #BestPractices #ProcessImprovement  
In the early 20th century, an Architect and an Engineer entered a fancy hotel with a roll of blueprints to investigate how to add an elevator to the building. As they were measuring and planning where to knock holes in walls, the Janitor walked up and asked what they were doing. They told him that they would be installing a new elevator in the building. The Janitor quipped, "That's gonna make quite a mess."  Both the Architect and the Engineer assured the Janitor that he would get help cleaning up after they were finished. The Janitor scoffed: "I don't know why you want to go through all that trouble. If it were me I'd put the elevator on the outside of the building and save the fuss." The Engineer looked at the Architect and they were dumbstruck--and the elevator on the outside of a building was born.


People with a different perspective can come up with some incredible ideas. Above is an example of an incredible idea, which goes to show that everyone’s inputs are equally important. Even though most of us understand this well, sometimes during retrospective meetings, the Scrum Master or Facilitator fails to have all participants share their thoughts. Not everyone in the team is an extrovert or feels secure enough to share individual opinions in front of others. So the onus lies on the Facilitator of the retrospective meeting to ensure everyone’s perspective is taken. 

Tips on taking everyone’s perspective in retrospectives

Below are 5 tips on how to take everyone’s perspective in a retrospective meeting

Tip#1: Ensure a comfortable setup

Whether doing retrospective with co-located team or a remote team, it’s important to have a meeting setup, which instills comfort for the participants. Personally, I have seen retrospectives done over video conference where some participants are not visible on the screen, which makes it uncomfortable for some to speak while not being visible. Ideally, retrospectives should not include anyone who is not going to contribute. Some members could possibly feel uncomfortable speaking in front of an audience who are not part of the team or does not have anything to contribute in the meeting. 

Tip#2: Share all relevant data ahead of time

Provide an opportunity for participants to be prepared for the retrospective meeting. Normally the tool provides visibility of the goals for a sprint or a release and the actual deliveries. It helps to summarize what was planned, what was achieved and other relevant details in the agenda so that the participants can come prepared with their thoughts to share. It also helps to share the status on action items ahead of time and what has been accomplishment in terms of continuous improvement from the lessons learned from the past retrospective meetings. 

Tip#3: Encourage participants to share thoughts without interruption 

We understand that not all technically skilled resources have good soft skills and some struggle to take time to explain their view point. It’s important to time box but at the same time a good Facilitator understands how to encourage participants to share their perspective. A Facilitator can ensure that someone is actively taking notes for future reference as needed. The Facilitator can also help in ensuring that technical details are understood by the non-technical participants. 

Tip#4: Facilitator should be unbiased  

The Facilitator should direct the conversations to encourage participants remain focused on the objective of the retrospective and ensuring that thoughts are challenged as needed and not the people. No side conversations or comments should be encouraged while a participant is sharing thoughts. The Facilitator should ensure that participants’ thoughts are respected and people can disagree without being disagreeable. 

Tip#5: Encourage consensus on action items

The Facilitator should ensure that there is a consensus on actionable items and identify the owner of the respective action item before wrapping up the meeting. Having a consensus encourages participants to think for themselves as a team. The Facilitator should also summarize main points discussed in the meeting and later follow up with an email or publish in a tool including meeting minutes. 


The best teamwork comes from the team members who are working independently but toward one goal in unison and working in an environment where everyone’s perspective is encouraged, heard and respected. 

Previous posts you might be interested in

Friday, October 23, 2015

Minimum Marketable Features: An Agile Essential

#SridharPeddisetty #Agile #MMF #Strategy #Project #MinimumMarketableFeatures #Management #BestPractices #ProcessImprovement  

"Agile is all about adapting to change; it was built on the foundational principle that business drivers will change and the development teams must be ready to adapt"


Organizations no longer compete on product or service but they compete on experience of faster to market with quality results. It is an organization's ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly, which gives it the ultimate competitive advantage. More often than not, it’s seen that most organizations focus on delivering the software and not paying enough attention to the value the software brings to the business. 

What is a Minimum Marketable Feature (MMF)?

A Minimum Marketable Feature (MMF) is the smallest set of functionality that can be delivered, which has value to both the organization delivering it and the end customer using it. MMF is characterized by its three attributes: Minimum, Marketable and Feature.
  • Minimum attribute represents the smallest set whether a feature or feature set, which is key for faster time to market 
  • Marketable attribute represents the selling of the significant value to the end customer and to the delivering organization 
  • Feature attribute represents the perceived value by the end customer and delivering organization. Value may include brand recognition, competitive advantage, revenue generation, cost savings or enhanced customer loyalty.  

How MMF is essential for being Agile?

Agile is an iteratively incremental SDLC methodology in which requirements and solutions evolve through communication and collaboration between self-organizing and cross-functional teams. Agile promotes ‘building the right thing’ through 
  • Customer involvement, 
  • Adaptive planning, 
  • Evolutionary development, 
  • Early delivery, 
  • Continuous improvement and 
  • Encourages rapid & flexible response to change 

in delivering high quality product or service. MMF provides an essential tool to effectively decompose customer needs into finer grain features, which can be delivered more rapidly than waiting for large scale features to be complete. Using the concepts of MMF, decompose the epics into smaller sets of user stories that provide value to end users in shorter development cycles. In Agile SDLC, it’s during the product backlog grooming when the value of requirements or features can be quantified based on how these requirements contribute to the business objectives. During the grooming, using INVEST model to define a user story or MoSCoW for prioritization, various models or methods could be applied that helps to identify the most important features to implement or identifies the MMFs. A release could then be the collection of MMFs, which can be delivered together within the time frame.


Product innovation is tied to change and often the need for change appears midstream in a project so decomposing the requirements into Minimum Marketable Features (MMF) helps have the edge while improving the time to market. One essential advantage of MMF is the ability to make changes during development without being too disruptive. In other words, MMF helps in adjusting product requirements during development in response to customer feedback. Jim Shore in his Phase Releases article had shared how to use phased delivery to increase project value:
  • Group functionality into MMFs that can be released individually.
  • Create a release plan that deploys high-value features first.
  • Have the entire team focus on one releasable feature at a time.
  • Use continuous design to spread out investment in technical infrastructure.
  • Deploy releases as soon as possible.

Minimum Marketable Features: An Agile Essential was originally published under Prokarma blog on Oct 23rd 2015

5 Tips on Strategizing Your Key Project Resources

#SridharPeddisetty #Agile #PMO #Strategy #Project #Resources #Management #Tips #PMP #BestPractices #ProcessImprovement  

Once there was a company with a vast scrap yard that needed someone to guard it. So they created a night watchman position and hired a person for the job. Then someone thought, how would the watchman do the job without instructions? So the company decided to create a planning department and hired two people. One person was hired to write the instructions while the other person performed time studies. Later someone from the company thought, how would we know whether the night watchman is doing the tasks correctly…? So they created a quality control department and hired two people. One employee to do the studies and the other to write reports. After that, someone from the company thought, how are these people going to get paid…? So they created another set of positions, hiring two more people, a time keeper and a payroll officer. Again someone from the company said, who would be accountable for all of these people…? So they created an administrative section, hiring three more people, an administrative officer, an assistant administrative officer and a legal secretary. Finally, after one year, an executive in the company realized they were $18,000 over budget and must cut-back on overall costs. So the company laid off the night watchman.

Tip#1: Identify your key project resources

Firstly, it’s very important to identify who are the key resources for your project. Normally the key resources for a project are those with niche or advanced skills and knowledge or combination of skills and knowledge, which makes them indispensable. Once the key resources are identified, then it’s easier to follow the next tips in strategizing for them. 

Tip#2: Identify tasks for key project resources 

Identify tasks for key project resources and do resource leveling until no key resource is overloaded. In my earlier post Empower Your Team To Own Responsibilities, I had shared that the key to start empowering your team to own responsibilities is by making the list of tasks, which play to their strengths better and letting them own those tasks. Also in my earlier post Trust Your Team But Make Sure To Verify, I shared that it’s an important trait for the Scrum Master or Agile Project Manager to trust the self performing team to execute and deliver on business value but verifying the same with stage gates is essential.

Tip#3: Understand what motivates them

Robust communication, leadership and emotional intelligence are necessary to effectively communicate with key project resources in order to inspire and motivate them. It is important for the Project Manager to have the ability to strike a balance between knowing what motivates the key project resources and what they are working on. Work with the key resources to identify their goals and fitting them into the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Time bound) acronym.   

Tip#4: Encourage them to challenge status quo

Create a transparent, collaborative and productive environment in which project resources are encouraged to take calculative risks while challenging the status quo. If you want your key resources to take the risk of innovation then you have to give them freedom to fail. We understand that often your best people are the ones who make the worst mistakes, because your best people do the most complex work. In my earlier post 5 Reasons To Let Your Team Struggle Today, I had shared that in the face of adversity would emerge your next leaders, who emerge stronger and smarter.  

Tip#5: Plan a roadmap for their growth 

It’s important to invest in your key resources and train them in emerging skills or knowledge. Most organizations do not plan roadmaps for their key resources to grow, fearing the risk that they may leave. Experience teaches us that it’s better to train key resources and risk they leave, than not planning a growth roadmap and risk that they stay. 
If a drop of water falls in a lake, there is no identity. But if it falls on a leaf, it shines. So make sure to create an environment for your key project resources where their abilities and identity always shine.
Previous posts you might be interested in:

5 Tips on Strategizing Your Key Project Resources was originally published under Prokarma blog on Oct 23rd 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes - Buenos Aires, Argentina

#SridharPeddisetty, #Argentina, #BuenosAires, #MuseoNacionaldeBellasArtes, #Travel, #EuropeanArt, #PlacesToVisit, #PointsofInterest
Below are the pictures of taken in Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Monday, October 5, 2015

Value Stream Mapping As A Process Improvement Tool

#SridharPeddisetty #Agile #PMO #ValueStreamMapping #Lean #Kanban #Value #Stream #Mapping #BestPractices #ProcessImprovement  

“If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you are doing” 
― W. Edwards Deming

What is Value Stream Mapping?

Value Stream Mapping is a lean tool, which employs a flow diagram documenting in detail every step of a process. It is the fundamental tool to identify waste, reduce process cycle times, and implement process improvement.

Why use Value Stream Mapping?

Organizations no longer compete on product or service but they compete on experience of faster to market with quality results. In order to enable Organizations to achieve their strategic objectives, continuous improvement of the quality of products, services or processes must be ongoing. Value Stream Mappings help identify and eliminate source of waste in an Organization's development ecosystem. It is an invaluable technique to define the current state of a process and analyze it for opportunities to reduce time spent on non-value steps. 

How to use Value Stream Mapping?

Below is an example of how Value Stream Mapping was employed for identifying the wastes in current ‘As Is Process’ and then eliminating the wastes for improving the overall process in ’To Be Process’. 
In the Figure: ‘As Is’ Process, wastes in the process are marked by a triangle identifying where tasks are taking too long either by redundancy or following unecessary steps. Value Stream Mapping provides an opportunity to identify steps in the process, which provides value to the development process and those that do not. 

                                                        Figure: 'As Is’ Process
In the Figure: ‘To Be’ Process, wastes are eliminated and Value Stream Mapping is applied to create a future state process that reduces total cycle time

                                                      Figure: ‘To Be’ Process


Apply the method of Value Stream Mapping to an inefficient process within your organization and learn how to calculate the efficiency of a process from end-to-end. Learn to diagram the 'As Is' process to identify areas of waste and then develop the 'To Be' process that reduces total cycle time. An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage and Value Stream Mapping is the tool for providing that efficiency in process improvement. 
"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning"- Benjamin Franklin
Value Stream Mapping As A Process Improvement Tool was originally posted under Prokarma Blog on Oct 5th 2015

Why Sharing Lessons Learned Is Key For Matured PMO

#SridharPeddisetty #Agile #PMO #LessonsLearned #AgilePMO #ProjectManagementOffice #Project #PMI #BestPractices 

A farmer grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors.
“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.
“Why sir,” said the farmer, “didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.”
Farmer is very much aware of the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbor's corn also improves. So it is with our lives. Those who choose to succeed must help others to succeed. Those who want to live meaningfully and well must help enrich the lives of others, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all. If we are to grow good corn, we must help our neighbors grow good corn. Call it mutualism. Call it a principle of success. Call it a law of life. The fact is, none of us truly win until we all win.
Albert Einstein famously said, "The only source of knowledge is experience" and what better way to gain wisdom from the lessons that we learn while executing projects, programs, portfolios or managing operations. Sharing 'lessons learned' across teams is one of the key aspects of a matured PMO in an Organization. Many of us have not personally experienced the pain of slipping, by stepping on a banana peel, but have learned those lessons through someone elses experiences. 
This is applicable for a matured Organization to have a functional PMO and create an environment of sharing lessons learned across projects, programs or portfolios. Note that 'lessons learned' is not only for documenting failures but also the success stories. The more knowledge shared, the more we gain and lessons learned from successes or failures helps an Organization to leverage on the successes and not repeat failures. For a matured PMO, its an important aspect to share 'lessons learned' on what went well and what did not go well so that an Organization does not repeat past mistakes while following patterns that are proved successful in the past. One template of documenting 'lessons learned' include
  • Document the pre-condition(s) and condition(s) in which the negative (issue) or positive event (best practice) occurred 
  • Describe how the issue arose and define the problem or positive event encountered, and
  • Provide concrete, practical solutions or recommendations based on this experience.
and can be then tagged under 'Lessons Learned Knowledge Base’, which could be managed by PMO. 
"Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.” -Brian Tracy

Why Sharing Lessons Learned Is Key For Matured PMO was originally posted under Prokarma Blog on Oct 5th 2015