Business Value Estimation

Most scrum teams create effort estimates, often using story points, for their user stories. Does your team also have an estimate for the business value of each story? Business value estimates help teams deliver more value, sooner, and they lead to a more rational approach to ordering the items in the backlog. All of this implies that someone has to figure out the business value of each item in the backlog. If that someone is you, we can help.

This workshop explores the art and science of business value. Participants will gain an understanding of the essence of business value, and why it is more complex than revenue or profit. We will then learn two surprisingly simple techniques to estimate and quantify business value. One technique works best with internal stakeholders, who have common skin in the game despite their differences. The other technique works with external stakeholders, who often have no interests in common.

Come discover the value of business value!

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Release Planning Game

Learn the dark art of agile release planning in this exciting fast-paced game. You will be trying to deliver the most business value possible, while dealing with dependencies, conflicting demands, variations in your team’s output, and changing market conditions. Oh my! This 100% experiential simulation takes you through an entire release. Your team-mates will work with you to make all of judgment calls and trade-off decisions that a product owner makes. Along the way, your instructor will facilitate the discussion in order to tease out the subtle and profound lessons.

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Retrospective Games

Retrospectives are an agile team’s most powerful tool for facilitating continuous improvement, unless they get stale and boring. “Let’s make a list of what went well and what didn’t go well…” Shoot me now! Don’t have the same old retrospective over and over again. Learn how to use games to keep your retrospectives fresh and engaging. Yes, there will be game play during this session. No, there won’t be any PowerPoint.

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Coaching Dojo

Want to build your coaching skills? Need answers to a tough problem that you or your team is facing? The coaching dojo is for you! We will form small groups where one ‘seeker’ will get five minutes of coaching from multiple coaches. Then the tables turn and the coaches get feedback. Here’s the formula:

  • We will break into groups of 6: 1 seeker, 3 coaches, 2 observers
  • The first coach works with the seeker for 5 minutes
  • The second coach works with the seeker for 5 minutes
  • The third coach works with the seeker for 5 minutes
  • The seeker and observers give the coaches feedback for 5 minutes
  • Form new groups and repeat!

Coaching Dojo

Many thanks to Jeremy Lightsmith & Skip Angel, for introducing us to this activity at Agile Open Northern California 2010.

Session Graphic by Elizabeth McClellan.

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Users stories describe units of valuable software that a team can deliver in a sprint. In order to implement a user story, the team needs to break it into tasks. Tasks are units of work that individuals and/or pairs complete. The act of breaking a user story into tasks is actually a team-based design activity, which leads to a shared understanding of how the story will be implemented and how it will fit into the rest of the system.

In this hands-on session we will break a user story into implementable tasks. Along the way, we will explore a variety of techniques for better team tasking.

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Us vs. Them

The problem isn’t us, it’s them!

How often have you heard this? How often have you said it? How often has ‘them’ been some other group within your own organization? Call it silos, rivalry, or politics; the dynamic of ‘Us vs Them’ is wasteful and potentially destructive. In this experiential session we will explore how these dynamics arise, and how we can move towards more productive ways of interacting.

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Backlog Grooming

An agile team’s backlog contains all of the user stories for the current product or project. The stories that will be implemented soon must be small and well defined. Those that are further out on the schedule can be bigger and fuzzier. So how do we evolve those big fuzzy stories into the well-defined ones we will need when it comes time to implement them? Backlog grooming! This experiential session will give you techniques to evolve and refine the stories in your backlog.

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Pair Programming TDD Demo

It is difficult to grok pair programming until you’ve actually experienced it. This is a live theatrical “performance” demo of this key extreme programming practice in action. Watch two developers actually build components of an application, illustrating the benefits and challenges of this high-productivity method of coding along the way. Seeing is believing.

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XP Technical Practices

This is a high-level overview of some of the technical practices that came out of Extreme Programming. We will look at the following practices from the point of view of increased productivity, cost-savings and increased accuracy (yes, that’s fewer bugs):

  • Pair Programming
  • Test Driven (Test First) Development
  • Behavior Driven Development
  • Research Spikes
  • Coding Standards
  • Continuous Integration
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Coaching Questions

Coaching is the process of providing feedback, insight, encouragement and guidance in order to enhance performance. Leaders who use coaching techniques:

  • Engender greater involvement
  • Create an environment conducive to high achievement and growth
  • Need to give explicit direction less often
  • Better tap the talents of their team

The right question, asked at the right time, is one of the most powerful tools in a coach’s toolbox. It can help the person being coached discover new information, options, and insights in a mode where they are more open and receptive to the information. This workshop combines interactive exercises and group discussion to lead participants to understand coaching questions, what they are, as well as how and when to use them.

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