I recently had the pleasure to facilitate my third Coaches Clinic at an Agile conference. Here are some things that people asked about.

A Coaches Clinic is a service for conference attendees to get free help from experienced coaches. Volunteer coaches are recruited from the conference audience, a process is defined for attendees to sign up for short sessions with the coaches and a space is created for the coaching sessions. The service is then available for the duration of the conference, provided by matching coaches and attendees in the designated space. It is a great opportunity for people to meet and learn from each other, coaches as well as coaching clients.

Here are some pictures from the Clinic. Here are some more pictures from the Clinic, down below the Open Space pics.

If you are interested in knowing more about the format of the Clinic, stay tuned. I have a description in the works for people who would like to run their own coaching clinic. Oh yeah, here it is now. How to Run a Coaches Clinic.

To The Point

In this post I want to share some data from the clinic. Over the course of 3 days we had about 150 customer visits. Some were repeat customers, but it was still a respectable number given that there were 500 people at the Gathering. Customers were asked to write their topic of interest on a sticky note as part of the appointment process. I saved most of those stickies, 85 in total. Then I organized them into a two level hierarchy. I thought it might be interesting to see what people were curious about or were seeking help with in their Scrum implementations. So here there are. I draw no conclusions from these except for two that were obvious to me during the Clinic:

  • Many people take the ScrumMaster role seriously. This makes me happy because a lot of companies I visit do not appreciate the importance of that role.
  • Many people are interested in the Agile Coach profession. This also makes me happy because it has been a great experience for me.

What People Are Asking About Scrum

1. People

  • Coaching Profession
    • How to become a CSC (Certified Scrum Coach)
    • Coaching teams and the enterprise
    • Am I ready to be a coach
    • Can a senior leader also be a coach
    • Is coaching right for me
    •  How to be a better coach
  • ScrumMaster Role
    • How to coach a team that does not want coaching
    • What happens when the team wants to remove a member
    • How to be a better ScrumMaster
    • How to improve ScrumMaster skills in my organization
    •  How to get the team fully engaged
    • How to help the team become autonomous
    • How many teams can a ScrumMaster be part of
    • My team has plateaued, what is next
  • Development Team Role
    • How to leanly provide evidence of peer reviews
    • How to Scrum and prioritize when the team is in constant flux
    • How to do multiple projects in one Sprint
    • Sprint Zero
  • Product Owner Role
    • How to optimize product manager/product owner structure
    • How to help Product Owners be Agile instead of saying they are agile
    • How/When to split user stories
    • How to do Scrum without a Product Owner
  • Management
    •  How to convince execs to bring in an Agile Coach
    •  How to convince leaders to get training in Lean Thinking
    • How do I demonstrate the value of Scrum to a skeptical exec
    • How to shift all management levels from output to outcome (flow thinking)
    • What to do with managers
  • Business Analysts
    • Where to best use Bas in Scrum
    • How much business analysis needs to be written up prior to development
  • Agile Transition
    • How to grow Agile in a waterfall organization
    • How to covert a waterfall group to Scrum
    • When to use Kanban vs. Scrum or combine them
    • Engineering advocates Scrum but still wants detailed specs
    • How to convince an already successful team to switch to Scrum

2. Technology

  • Testing
    • QA vs. QC
    • When do we test
    • Is regression testing part of the Sprint
    • How does traditional QA fit with Scrum
    • How to balance internal and external testing processes
  • Operations
    • How to handle quick-response issues
    • What are Agile methods for operations
    • How to handle new product and operations on a single team
  • Infrastructure
    • How to track infrastructure work across multiple teams
    • How to handle cross-cutting infrastructure requirements in feature teams

3. Planning

  • Definition of Ready
    • Do you allow “not ready” stories into Sprint Planning
    • How does UX intersect with the team
    •  How does design integrate with development
    • How much Product Backlog should be ready prior to the Sprint
  • Long Term Planning
    • Enterprise roadmaps and forecasting
    • Predictability for roadmaps
    • Release planning across teams without comparing velocities
    • Dates for delivery when scaling Scrum
    • Good methods for creating release plans and roadmaps
  • User Stories
    • What are story points
    • How to use story points in contracting
    •  How to get the team to do true story-driven development
    • How to convince devs to break down stories
    • How to break stories down from a dev viewpoint
    • Count we stop estimating and just count stories
    • Story points vs. ideal days
    • How to point-estimate backend work

4. Process

  • Distributed Scrum
    • How to include one remote team member
    • How to improve communication and relationships between locations
    • Can Scrum work with distributed teams
  • Scaling Scrum
    • How to build with one product multiple teams
    • What does a Product Owner hierarchy look like
    • How to avoid extra overhead when scaling
    • How to set priorities across teams for a single product
  • Data Recording
    • How to report hours burned without tracking them
    • How to roll up the health of several teams for a PMO dashboard
    • As a ScrumMaster, what data will help me find process improvements
    • Does “big Data” change the game of Scrum
  • Non-software Scrum
    • How to do it
    • Is there a concept of Management Scrum Teams
    • Scrum for research projects
  • Other
    • Ratio of funding today vs. funding tomorrow
    • Are iterations useful when my users don’t want changes that fast
    • Traditional change control vs. Scrum
    • How to do Scrum when resources are limited
    • Separate development and rollout prep for a new product into separate Sprints
  • Contracting
    • Partner with my clients or not
    • In Scrum consulting, how to track billability, utilization and productivity
    • How to do Scrum with a vendor on my project

Many of these questions have fairly clear answers. Many have no single answer and a good answer would depend on the context. If you are curious about some of these topics, you may find articles about some of these topics in my reference library at Agile Crossing.


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What People Are Asking About Scrum

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