In early 2015 Constant Contact transitioned from Kanban to Scrum. Each development team received three full days of training. Some things that sounded pretty straightforward ended up being hard when we put them into practice! I remember trying to groom our first item and spending a frustrating hour agonizing over whether it was a 3 or a 5.
I’m happy to say that we’ve gotten a LOT better at Scrum in the 2 years we’ve been practicing it!, During that time, I’ve had the good fortune of working with multiple excellent teams. By seeing how one team successfully solved a problem, I was able to suggest that solution to other teams. I also asked a few engineers to move from one team to another for several months and they were able to cross-pollinate good ideas as well.
Sharing our scrum experience
While it was great that these few teams benefited from each others’ experiences, I wondered how we could have a bigger impact, spreading best practices to more dev teams. We decided to present what we’d learned at an engineering All Hands meeting. A handful of people got busy brainstorming on a presentation. We divided and conquered, with one or two people taking responsibility for each section. We met several times to review content, give feedback, and practice presenting.
All of that preparation paid off as we had exactly 20 minutes to present in a jam-packed agenda for the all-hands. Each presenter did a great job sharing their tips and stories with the audience. The Technical Design Reviews topic really resonated with folks, as the presenter was getting pinged over chat even before the meeting ended! Since then, some of the presenters have been asked to present and discuss their topics in depth at individual team meetings.
Based on the success of that presentation, we’ve decided to share our ideas more broadly here on the blog. We realize that every team is different, some of our ideas may be helpful and others may fall flat. Feel free to take what works, and leave the rest. We would love to hear if you tried any of these ideas and what you thought, or if you have other points of view you want to share!
Michael Nir is a Transformation Inspiration Expert and Lean Agile Coach, and he has been our lean agile/scrum coach since August 2015; throughout this series he will provide insights on agile and scrum with a view on our transformation.
Michael: Soccer and football are big-team sports; a single star rarely impacts the overall team success. While some teams in the past did have amazing players, more often than not their ability to deliver consistent results hinged more on the team as a whole than the individual star. This is a recurring phenomena of teams’ ability to perform. Software teams are no different – high performance is based on the team as a whole rather than on individual ‘stardom’. This series of blog posts present a team’s journey and transformation to high performance. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, the blog posts are written by the team members, summarizing what they presented to the engineering community, which in turn is what they have implemented and owned. From an agile coach vantage point – this has been a delightful transformation to observe.
Scrum Hacks – Team Culture, by Raj Nayak
We start our blog series with the cultural aspects of making a team great – the building of enduring bonds between the members. It sets the stage for other teams to follow the practices of what is a remarkable journey….stay tuned.
Three Amigos, by Ramya Mallayan
Collaboration in the right dose can yield exceptional results!