Testing your Organization (#agileTD 2011)

Andreas Schliep (@andreasschliep) talked about how to test your organization, he started by telling about his experience about playing the ballpoint exercise, which is a kind of scrum-simulation, where the team has to do an exercise, then do a retrospective, and starts to iterate (and hopefully improve).

Here are his observations:

  • some teams don’t understand the task
  • some teams are more experimental
  • many teams fail completely in one round
  • inspect & adopt always starts chaotically
  • all teams improve over time
  • facilitation emerges out of chaos
  • bosses become members and stop blocking the team
  • ability to reflect improves with a little help
  • some teams take very long time to deliver quite a little
  • it’s fun until the team gets to eager

Indicators for failure that he noticed:

  • micro-management attempts by managers
  • no communication etiquette & efficiency
  • bad listening, few clarification questions (making assumptions instead)
  • circumstances are rather accepted than rules
  • tendency to local optimization
  • who is talking?

He stated that we have the need for early adatpion, therefor a scrum implementation always starts with a retrospective.
Asking the question what retrospectives are rarely telling us (openly), he came up with following answers:

  • personal annimosities/ personal alliances
  • group communication structures & efficiency
  • leadership issues
  • the elephant in the room

By using sociographs (which is a methodology originally used in primate research) and analyzing seating patterns we can observe group behaviour patterns. Furthermore he mentioned that you could analyze the happiness index of your team.

Finally Andreas talked about the idea to „test drive“ your organization. He raised following questions and discussed possible answers with the audience:

  • What are the stories?
  • How do acceptance tests look like?
  • How can organizational acceptance tests be automated?
  • How do other concepts map?
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