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Essential Agile Principles & Practices
Overview

This highly-interactive 2-day course is for individuals and teams who want to explore, adopt, or improve an Agile development methodology. You will discover how to work together, as a team, to deliver the highest value early and often, while maintaining a very high standard of quality. Designed for everyone involved in (and around) a development team, this course has the ability to adapt to a variety of experience levels and functional areas. You will learn about the various Agile methods,and their values, principles, and practices. Rather than leave you with a giant list of to-do items and further stress, you will identify which techniques are essential for success, which are critical for your team’s current situation, and which are optional, customizable, or could be postponed in certain circumstances.

Details

This course reveals principles and practices necessary for a successful transition to Agile. You will explore what Agile will do for your organization, and your career. You will absorb the underlying concepts: Iterative development, predictable delivery of value, responsiveness to changing market conditions, rapid feedback, continuous process improvement, transparency, self-management, and transition models.

Much of the learning is provided as an Agile simulation folded into the course curriculum. This interactive team exercise allows you to plan a release, deliver a number of iterations, recalibrate based on velocity, and improve your team operation to enhance the flow of value to the customer. Other activities are used to bolster important lessons, such as writing, estimating, and testing user stories.


Objectives

You will leave with concrete practices and principles on how to increase the flow of real value in your organization, to deliver that value in a predictable manner, and to simultaneously improve the well-being, enthusiasm, and skills of the team.

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand your role on an Agile team.
  • Express important Lean and Agile principles.
  • Embody a deep understanding of Agile fundamentals.
  • Identify root causes and core constraints, and develop collaborative solutions to improve flow.
  • Know what common difficulties to look for, and how to encourage the team towards realistic resolutions.
  • Write good user stories.
  • Estimate user stories.
  • Subdivide user stories into tasks for various team roles.
  • Perform Agile Planning activities.
  • Communicate useful information to teammates during the daily stand-up/scrum meeting.
  • Hold Iteration Demos/Sprint Reviews.
  • Participate in Retrospectives.
Level

Beginner to experienced.

Prerequisites

None. Enthusiasm for ongoing career improvement is a plus,

Audience

This course is appropriate for audiences with little or no previous experience of Agile/Scrum processes. It is designed for people in all disciplines and at all levels of the organization. It is designed for those with an interest in working in, or with, an Agile team in some capacity.

Those who would benefit most are project managers, product managers, business analysts, system analysts, software engineering managers, QA managers, IT managers, software developers, testers, documentation writers, user-experience designers, technical managers, functional managers, scrum masters, product owners, and all other project stakeholders and leaders. In a word: Everyone. Guidance will be given on how to select attendees for your organization, upon request and based on your goals.

Course Setup

A spacious room with round tables or tables that can be put together into “pods” for 5 or 6 people. Plenty of whiteboard space and a number of stable flip-chart stations.

Course duration

2 days

Course outline

Costs and Benefits of Agile

    Picture Perfect activity: Explore the benefits of good communication, rapid feedback, and team-collaboration.

    Benefits of iterative development and Time-boxing.

    Transparency.

    Continuous improvement.

    Team-oriented self-management.

    Happy teams:
    • Clear expectations.
    • Time for quality.
    • Continuous Learning.
    Happy Stakeholders:
    • Predictable delivery of value and quality.
    • Responsiveness to changing market conditions.
    • Rapid feedback.
    Horror Stories Activity Part I: Participate in discussions identifying actual experiences you’re your favorite team experience, and your most painful team experience.
Foundations

    Ball-Toss Activity: Explore the notions of “Inspect and Adapt” and “Continuous Improvement.”
    What’s available:
    • Scrum
    • XP
    • Lean
    • Kanban
    The Agile Manifesto
    Agile Values: E.g., Communication, Simplicity, Feedback, Courage, Respect.
    The Dozen Agile Principles.
    The Seven Lean Principles
    • Eliminate waste.
    • Create knowledge.
    • Build quality in.
    • Defer commitment.
    • Optimize the whole.
    • Deliver fast.
    • Respect people.
    Horror Stories Activity Part II: Participate in discussions identifying the Lean or Agile principles that were exemplified or broken by the earlier Horror Stories activity. Examine any major impact the story had on your organization, or speculate on what other outcomes may have otherwise occurred.

Roles and Responsibilities

    Team Members:
    • Developers.
    • Testers.
    • Many others.
    Product Owner / Product Champion / Onsite Customer:
    • Product Visionary.
    • Customer Proxy.
    • Product Backlog Owner.
    ScrumMaster / Agile Coach:
    • Guide.
    • Obstacle Remover.
    • Guardian. Diplomat.
    Stakeholders
Planning

    Commitment-Based Planning.
    Velocity-Based Planning.
    Release Planning.
    Iteration/Sprint Planning and the Sprint Backlog.
    Agile Simulation: Review a backlog and build a release plan.
    Agile Simulation: Build an iteration plan and run the first iteration
Closing an Iteration

    Iteration Demos/Sprint Reviews.
    Retrospectives.
    Agile Simulation: Discuss opportunities for improvement, and demo completed work.
    Recalibrating the Release Plan based on Measured Velocity.
    Agile Simulation: Recalibrate your release plan.
    Day 1 retrospective.
Day 2:

    Agile Simulation: Build an iteration plan and run the second iteration.
    Agile Simulation: Discuss opportunities for improvement, and demo completed work.
    Agile Simulation: Recalibrate your release plan.
    Agile Simulation: Build an iteration plan and run the third iteration.
The Iteration

    Daily Stand-up/Scrum meetings.
    A day in the life of the
    • Team member (Developer, Tester,..)
    • ScrumMaster / Coach.
    • Product Owner / Customer.
    Task-boards.
Metrics and Tracking

    Measuring and Tracking Empirical Data (Burn Down, Risk-Adjusted Burn Up).
    Impediments / Cutting Scope / Stop the Presses.
    Velocity as Empirical Feedback.
User Stories

    What is a User Story? Basic elements and numerous valid definitions.
    Book Club Activity: As a team, write a handful of stories to improve a struggling online bookstore.
    Story pathologies and cures.
    Book Club Activity: Re-evaluate your team’s stories, and break down or rewrite those that need work.
    Estimating User Stories.
    Estimating Relative Complexity.
    Team-Estimation Game” Activity: Use the “Team Estimation Game” techniques to sort either Book Club Stories, or fruit.
    Planning Poker.
    Acceptance Criteria & Acceptance Testing.
    Task breakdown: Separating “What” from “How.”
    The Definition of Done.
    Other Working Agreements / Rules of Engagement.
Agile Testing

    Sharpening the chef’s knives: Quality precedes productivity.
    Testing in an iteration/sprint.
    Defects within an iteration/sprint.
    Prioritizing defects.
    The Agilist’s Dilemma and Technical Debt.
    Automated Testing, ATDD, and TDD.
    Cucumber Activity: Choose one Book Club story and write a few Given-When-Then test cases.
Transitions

    Transition Challenges, Team Needs, Duration.
    Mapping traditional roles to Agile roles.
Other Challenges and Opportunities

    Team symptoms:
    • The Task-Master.
    • The Pusher: Features over Quality.
    • Two Queues.
    • Putting Out Fires with Gasoline.
    • Agile by the Book.
    • Agile Zombies.
    • Talent Pump.
    • Hallway Management.
    • Lacking Lean Leadership.
    • Flatlining.
    Scaling for Multi-team Product Development:
    • Agile Program/Portfolio Management.
    • Dependencies.
    • Release-Plan Gallery Walk.
    • Scrum of Scrums.
    • Virtual Teams.
    Distributed Teams.
Optional Topics

    XP Technical Practices.
    Chartering.
    Story Mapping.
    Personas, User-Experience Design, Interaction Design.

 
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