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David has enjoyed success using agile and lean techniques at several companies near Washington DC and San Francisco. He joined his first startup in 1999, and helped scale it to a 13 million dollar acquisition in 2006. He now brings entrepreneurial thinking into large organizations so that disruptive innovation can emerge. David is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 30 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

We’re Self Organizing Into… Kanban?

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What’s Kanban?

It isn’t a question you’d expect to hear from a team adopting work in progress limits and just in time tasking while only committing to small user stories.

One of my favorite aspects of being a ScrumMaster and Agile Coach is witnessing a team evolve by inspecting and adapting over time. Granted it isn’t a ride for the faint of heart, but it can be an extremely fascinating experience. This is especially true when the team feels empowered enough to mold themselves into a highly functioning unit.

From my experience, this becomes most apparent during iteration retrospectives.

Retrospective #39 Notes

  • Team decided tasking entire two week iteration in one day was burning them out.
  • Unable to focus for long periods of time & felt as though it was delaying coding efforts.
  • Tasks became obsolete half way through the iteration because of what we’ve learned by digging into the code.
  • Decided to break tasking down into two sessions per iteration.

Retrospective #40 Notes

  • Team still feels confined by the 2 tasking sessions.
  • Seems as though we’re spending too much time tasking at once & still have obsolete tasks.
  • We decided to task in smaller bunches, 2-3 stories at a time as needed throughout the iteration.

Retrospective #41 Notes

  • Tasking as we go is working much better, yet it does result in more interruptions.
  • Team wants to adopt work in progress limits for stories.
  • Limits will help us prioritize, ensure stories are in good shape before moving on.
  • We decided to set our work in progress limit to 3 open stories at a time.

Retrospective #42 Notes

  • Keeping our WIP of 3 open stories.
  • Tasking as we go interruptions are less of an issue now.
  • Medium & large stories are killing our flow.
  • Only commit to small & extra small stories to help with flow.
  • We decided to decompose anything above a medium down into smaller chunks.

Could you be witnessing a team inspect & adapt itself into Kanban?

Since this team is still running two week iterations, and keeping a good bit of the Scrum ceremony I’m not entirely sure. It seems to be more of a Scrum / Kanban mix for now (Scrumban?), and I don’t see them discarding the rest of the Scrum ceremony anytime soon.

It should continue to be an interesting ride, that is for certain!

Published at DZone with permission of David Bland, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)



Paul Russel replied on Sun, 2012/06/10 - 4:45am

I think this is awesome. Keep doing what makes sense – draw from what others are learning to handle challenges. I believe that there are many teams that have taken this same path. The coupling of Ready Queue replenishment to your iteration cadence was artificial and led to challenges for the team. Are there other cadences that might be good candidates for decoupling? In some cases it makes sense to do releases when releases make sense, rather than at the iteration boundary. If the Scrum Ceremonies make sense and work for your team – keep doing them.

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