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Team Practices

Team working in an office

Remote Work Tools

  • 1/3/1 Time Allocation

    • Reserve 1 day for the past (i.e. bugs), 3 days for the present (i.e. sprint backlog), 1 day for the future (i.e. backlog grooming).

    • If you don’t use all of your time allocation for the past or future, use the remaining hours to learn a new skill, fix technical debt, etc.

  • Rotating, Dedicated Bug Triage Support

  • Dummy “Bug Fixes” Stories

  • Kanban Swimlanes

Techniques

  • Reserve time to fix bugs, handle emergency issues, and resolve implementation debt during every sprint.

  • Reserve time for the whole team to be engaged in Definition of Ready activities for future work.

  • Allocate teams for 60% - 80% of their potential capacity for optimal output.

    • WARNING: Teams working at 100% capacity are slower!

  • It is OK for people to be idle for a little while. During times of lower demand, encourage teams to work on Individual Growth, Research Unknowns for future work, or work on Optimizing for Flow over staying “busy”.

Guidance

T3.2 - Time Allocation

Remote Work Tools

Techniques

  • Plan together as a whole team, junior and senior team members, leads and employees, implementation, design, and testing. 

    • CAUTION: It’s important for the growth and education of junior team members for them to hear, learn, and discuss how to plan for upcoming work.

  • Talk about the entire effort to be done, from beginning to end, as an entire team. 

    • CAUTION: It’s important that different team members understand the work of their teammates; there are often insights to be gleaned between tasks.

  • Check again for any remaining questions, and answer them during planning; if they cannot be answered, put the job aside until you can get the answers.

    • WARNING: Assumptions are the largest cause of rework; teams often waste more time during rework than during waiting for an answer; teams engaged in rework appear busier, but actually have lower output.

  • If you estimate, every team member needs to think about and estimate the entire job to be done.

    • WARNING: Do NOT estimate role-by-role and use the sum total.

    • TIP: If a team member doesn’t understand someone else’s job, have them guess; comparing guesses against reality promotes cross-learning and cross-awareness within a cross-functional team.

  • Encourage volunteering for work assignments to promote ownership and responsibility.

Guidance

T3.1 Collaborative Planning

Remote Work Tools

  • Sprints

  • Story Splitting

  • Work in Progress (WIP) Limits

Techniques

  • The velocity of end-to-end production is equal to the slowest step in the process. 

    • ​TIP: To identify the slowest part of the system, look for the biggest bottleneck, where work is ready but not being worked on.

    • TIP: To help identify the biggest bottlenecks it is important to “visualize the bottlenecks”. For example, add a column in a Kanban board specifically for blockers so that they can be quickly found and resolved.

  • To optimize the slowest part of the system, look for blockers and prioritize removing all impediments first

  • Smaller pieces flow through the system faster.

    • ​TIP: “Small” is relative for each team, but teams with the highest-measurable performance often achieve tasks of less than 1 day of effort. 

  • Tasks should be independent and verifiable.

    • ​TIP: “Verifiable” doesn’t have to involve a user or an interface; you only need to verify that the task is done. 

  • Batch related tasks together to save time on shared activities (e.g. prototyping and regression testing).

Guidance

T3.3 - Flow & The Theory of Constraints

Remote Work Tools

  • Definition of Ready

  • Definition of Done

    • ​CAUTION: Delivery to the customer is often outside team control and is traditionally NOT included in the Definition of Done. 

    • TIP: In the Scrum framework, the Definition of Done defines what is necessary to get sign-off from a Product Owner - the person responsible for deciding what the product will or will not contain.

  • Definition of "Done Done"

  • INVEST Criteria

  • Automated Subtasks

Techniques

  • Create a checklist of common activities and deliverables required to avoid rework at later stages of implementation.

    • TIP: Periodically revisit this checklist and remove items that no longer affect rework. 

  • Include items that result in task-switching, forcing people to stop working mid-stream, or put that item aside, until you have the missing item.

  • Not everything on the checklist will be applicable to every task, but you should check if each checklist item is necessary for every task.

    • TIP: The AMMI Design category of practices makes a great starter Definition of Ready.

Guidance

T3.6 - Checklists

  • Confusion

  • Defects (Bugs)

  • Disgruntled Employees

  • Impediments & Delays

  • Lack of Communication

  • Late-breaking Requirements

  • Low Output

  • Rework

  • Siloed “Not My Job” Thinking

  • Unhappy Stakeholders

Problems Experienced Without These Practices

Planning

Team

T3.

Remote Work Tools

  • “First Things First” by Stephen Covey (”7 Habits of Highly Effective People”)

  • “Stop Starting and Start Finishing”

  • Impediment Tracking

  • Sprint Planning

  • Big Room Planning

Techniques

  • Devote time regularly towards deciding the priority of tasks, then start at the top and work down the prioritized list.

    • WARNING: Priority is not absolute; it changes over time; reprioritize frequently.

  • Minimize multi-tasking - switching back and forth between multiple tasks; complete a task before moving on to the next task. 

    • TIP: You can work on multiple projects effectively; the key is to not have to think about a sub-task again after completion.

  • It’s not enough to plan time to work on items, you must plan how and when you will finish them.

    • ​TIP: When you don’t know how long a task will take, prioritize and research Unknowns First to enable serial delivery. 

  • Prioritize and resolve impediments as soon as possible, inside and outside your team.

  • Minimize teams (or teams of teams) working on multiple projects simultaneously.

    • TIP: If you have multiple teams, it’s sometimes better to divide the project between teams, when possible, to accelerate learning, completion, and delivery.​

Guidance

T3.4 Prioritized Serial Delivery

Remote Work Tools

  • Working Sessions

  • Pair Programming

  • Mob Programming

Techniques

  • Working sessions aim to complete an item of work by the end of the session. 

    • CAUTION: Meetings by definition need only discuss the work, leaving the work to be done outside of the meeting, which delays completion.

  • Establish a clear set of goals or an agenda for the working session before it begins.

  • Invite anyone who might be a hindrance to the completion of the work, with the goal to answer unknown questions that may arise.

    • CAUTION: When you encounter an unknown question that cannot be answered by those in the room, it is better to adjourn and seek the answers than to continue based on assumptions.

    • TIP: If a vital participant is not available, break the work down into sub-tasks that can be completed without that person, and return to the dependent sub-task when the person is available.

  • Use agendas to only require attendance of the people necessary to complete the work at the appropriate times.

    • CAUTION: While the goal is not exclusion, requiring attendance of people who are not involved may delay their ability to complete other necessary work.

Guidance

T3.5 Working Sessions, Not Meetings

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