Free Archive

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Free Agile PDU List

I was juggling some ideas on how I could list some free “Agile” PMI-ACP or PDUs for people. I think there is a crazy amount of free resources for PMP PDUs.  Because of that, I think there needs to be more giving for the Agile contact hours or PDUs.  So, without getting too spamming and self-promoting, please feel free to list some places you know of that have free PDUs or contact hours to offer.  Make sure you list which PMI PDU category it is applicable to.  I will add them as well.

 

I’m going to be a little self-promoting here.  If you would like some Category E (Volunteer Service) PDUs, come help the PMI Agile Community of Practice build and iterate the Community Guide of the ACP.  You can claim up to 45 PDUs for your efforts!

Image Source: Pictofigo

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Free Sprint Planning Guide and Agenda

As part of an Agile assessment, I sat in on a sprint planning meeting.  Though many out there are having sprint planning meetings at the beginning of every sprint, are they getting the most out of the time and effort?  As part of the services to my client, I will be providing a free cheat sheet for sprint planning.  It is both a guide and an agenda, to help keep them focused.  If you want a copy, just click the link at the bottom of the post.

What is Sprint Planning?
The purpose of the sprint planning meeting is for the team to agree to complete a set of the top-ordered product backlog items. This agreement defines the sprint backlog and is based on the team’s velocity or capacity and the length of the sprint timebox.

Who Does It?
Sprint planning is a collaborative effort involving:

  • ScrumMaster – facilitating the meeting
  • Product Owner – clarifying the details of the product backlog items and their acceptance criteria
  • Agile Team – defining the work and effort necessary to fulfill the forecasted completion of product backlog items

Before You Begin
Before getting started we need to ensure

  • The items in the product backlog have been sized by the team and assigned a relative story point value
  • The product backlog is top-ordered to reflect the greatest needs of the Product Owner
  • There is a general understanding of the acceptance criteria for these top-ordered backlog item

Backlogs
The product backlog can address both new functionality and fixes to existing functionality. For the purpose of sprint planning, product backlog items must be small enough to be completed during the sprint and can be verified that they were implemented correctly.

Right Sizing Backlog Items
Product backlog items too large to be completed in a sprint must be split into smaller pieces. The best way to split product backlog items is by value not by process.

Plan Based on Capacity
Mature teams may use a combination of team availability and velocity to forecast what product backlog items can be finished during the sprint.  New teams may not know their velocity or it may not be stable enough to use as a basis for sprint planning.  In those cases, new teams may need to make forecasts based solely on the team’s capacity.

Determining Capacity
The capacity of a team is derived from three simple measures for each team member:

  • Number of ideal hours in the work day
  • Days in the sprint that the person will be available
  • Percentage of time the person will dedicate to this team

The Planning Steps

  1. The Product Owner describes the highest ordered product backlog item(s)
  2. The team determines and prioritizes what is necessary to complete that product backlog item(s)
  3. Team members volunteer to own the work
  4. Work owners estimate the ideal hours they need to finish their work
  5. Planning continues while the team does not exceed determined capacity

Download the free 2-page Sprint Planning Guide and Agendadownload-flashcards

Drawings by Pictofigo

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Zero Cost Effect

I had dinner with a colleague the other night.  I inadvertently quoted something verbatim from Dan Pink’s book, Drive. My colleague said if I liked Dan Pink’s work, I should read something from Dan Ariely.  So, I started on Predictably Irrational:  The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. Wow, this book is crazy!  I’m not going to go into any more details in the post other than a comparison of an experiment detailed in the book and something I’ve seen in the real world.

In the book, the author described an experiment on 34 Halloween trick-or-treaters. As soon as the children knocked on the door, they received 3 Hershey’s (each weighing about 0.16 oz.) and were asked to hold the Hershey’s they had just received in their open hand in front of them. Each child was then offered a choice between a small (1 oz.) and a large (2 oz.) Snickers bar, under a Cost Condition and under a Free Condition.  In the Free Condition, they could simply get the small 1 oz. Snickers bar (for free) without giving up anything or they could exchange 1 of their 3 Hershey’s for the 1 large Snickers bar.  In the Cost Condition, the children could exchange 1 of their .16 oz. Hershey’s for the small (1 oz.) Snickers bar or exchange 2 Hersheys for the large (2 oz.) Snickers bar.  They could also choose to do nothing but all of the kids chose to make an exchange.

Experiment Results

In the Free Condition, in which the small Snickers bar is free, demand for it increases substantially (relative to the Cost Condition).  The results demonstrate the attractiveness of zero cost.  People gravitate more toward options that do not require giving up anything.

Example of this on a project

At work, I’ve had a Product Owner (PO) who wanted to add items from the Backlog to the Sprint.  During sprint planning, the team basically added a buffer, to account for unforeseen events.  I know people are going to crucify me for this, but basically, the Product Owner always seemed to want to shift priorities of work mid-Sprint.  Rather than killing the Sprint, we added a buffer.  This would allow new work to be entertained without totally derailing the work already being completed.  Yes, we could have used Kanban and all of this could have been avoided.  But, Kanban wasn’t an option.

So, what happened?  I offered the PO a deal.  I could allow him to add a certain amount of work to the Sprint for free. When I did this, he usually asked for smaller deliverables (relative to other items on the backlog that were ready to work).  But, when I said some work would have to come off the table to pay for the new work, he always went big.  He would choose larger deliverables relative to other items on the backlog that were ready to work.

All I can say is we truly are predictably irrational.


Yes, the links to the books are affiliate links.

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Pictofigo Promotion

I’ve been working with Pictofigo for a few months now.  I give them ideas for drawings I think others would find helpful.  In turn, I get access to some pretty cool (and original) stuff.  It’s quid pro quo at its best. There are currently over 900 drawings available for free on the Standard Pictofigo site.  In addition to those, there are 13 Premium items.  These items range from a few free desktop wallpapers to Scrum posters and traditional project management posters.  What’s the difference and why pay for stuff?  The standard site has drawings at 72 dpi resolution, perfect for a blog, website or presentation.  The Premium site has drawings at 300 dpi resolution, suitable for print or products.  Yes, I do offer links from my site to CafePress, if you want printed posters.  But, the actual high resolution drawings are available if you want to print out a few posters at a lower overall cost.  I got a notice today that Pictofigo is going to run a half off promotion on their premium content.  Because I like to encourage and support entrepreneurs, I wanted to write this quick post.  If you’re in the market for some original drawings, look them up.  They are constantly iterating on the site so check back often.  If you have an idea for a drawing or poster, give them a shout.  If you want, you can send me the request and I’ll forward it along.  To be clear, I am not Pictofigo.  I merely love what they do and want to see them succeed.

HT: Pictofigo

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Meetings: Get To The Point

Upon a brief review of my site analytics, I noticed something striking. For the month of February, almost nine percent (9%) of my page views are for one thing:  Free Meeting Minutes Template

Back in March 2009, I wrote a post about helpful tips for running a meeting.  With it was a free copy of my meeting minutes template.  So, I think it’s time for a brief refresher with a few updates.

Free Meeting Minutes Template Trend Data

When Hosting a Meeting:

[1] Write out the purpose of the meeting with actionable events in mind.
e.g. “Provide an updated status, identifying risks and opportunities, and identify new action items.”

[2] Identify your attendee list but only keep those you can map to the actionable events listed in step 1.  There is a difference between an attendee list and a communications distribution list.

[3] Create an agenda.  Never schedule a meeting without a written agenda.
A meeting without an agenda is inefficient and a waste of time.

[4] Identify who will run the meeting and who will take notes.
It should not be the same person.  Both people should know their roles before the meeting begins.

[5] Ensure discussion points align to the agenda.
If the conversation drifts off topic, recommend taking the discussion to another forum.

[6] End the meeting by having the note taker read back discussion points and the action items.
Make sure there is a consensus before the meeting ends.

[7] Send out the meeting minutes within one to two days.
Consult your distribution list to ensure all necessary people get a copy.

As a disclaimer, I hate meetings.  Many are unnecessary.  But, when meetings are necessary, get them done as quickly as possible.  Get in, get to the point, get out, get back to work.

Bonus Recommendations:

[1] Start on time.
If you don’t start on time, you can’t finish on time.

[2] Do not schedule your meeting to end at the top or bottom of the hour.
I’m a fan of the 22 minute meeting.  Have meetings end a little early.  Some people need to get to other meeting and this will help prevent them from being late.