Shaping a company in one week – intense workshop in the middle of nowhere...
Our 5-day workshop was designed to cover 4 topics: Agile Development and Scrum, Self-Organization and Management 3.0, Software Architecture and Development, Design Thinking and Video Prototyping. In addition, we aimed at finding common goals for us as a team and a company throughout the week. We introduced three types of goals: company, team and learning goals. Each type was represented by one flipchart. Those being available throughout the week, got filled with more and more sticky notes and at the end we found many common goals and agreed on our five team virtues: commitment, cooperation, creativity, humor and respect.
AGILITY & SCRUM
Some of us have already worked with scrum, but to be honest never really understood the reasons behind it. Therefore, going in detail through the history, background and challenges coming along with it helped our team a lot in defining how we would like to organize our work. Also reviewing agile principles and presenting some of the “false implementations” of scrum such as Cowboy Coding and AgileFall was helpful for a common understanding.
One of the sessions within this topic was the Slicing Workshop that we adapted from Alex Schwartz ("User Stories schneiden" at Frankfurter Entwicklertag 2016).
Two important outcomes of our session are:
- The Usage of Patterns for Splitting User Stories in combination with the Hamburger Method worked great for us. Although, it seems that we spent a lot of time planning and discussing the stories, their implementation afterwards is amazingly fast. It’s also not always easy to slice the stories in the manner that they are independent. But in the majority of cases it works. As a consequence, you can develop features independently and the product owner has more flexibility in prioritization of the features.
- A great way of explaining something is to be concise and use visual metaphors. We used the “skateboard” metaphor by Henrik Kniberg for feature development in the Slicing workshop. It helps you to make fast decisions and bring features in the short periods of time. Check our blog soon for more details on “How the skateboard became the role model for our minimal viable product?” …
SELF-ORGANIZATION & MANAGEMENT 3.0
Talking about self-organization in a company, one important question arises: How can we support the “good” self-organization? Inspired by the idea of Management 3.0, we have experimented with several approaches proposed by Jurgen Appelo. For example, we played the Delegation Poker game to define the decision roles of the team in different situations, for example:
- hiring new staff
- decision, which software tools to be used
- vacation planning
We experienced this as as a good way to find decisions on responsibilities and also to document them on our corresponding Delegation Board.
Another approach we applied was the Happiness Door – a great and easy possibility to see how people feel at the moment and get immediate feedback about the workshop. At the end of the workshop, we created Personal Mindmaps that gave us a picture of each person, his/her goals, motivations, hobbies, etc. Check out those and other methods on the official Management 3.0 website. We also recommend to watch this video of the great and funny talk from Jurgen Appelo.
EFFICIENT SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
As software developers we want to deliver fast good quality products. In order to do so, several aspects have to be taken into consideration. So what we discussed and planned were two topics:
First, the architectural design is not really covered by the stories and development of features. So how can we handle this in the Scrum Framework?
Second, between writing the code and make it available in production there is often a lot of time spent for integration, testing, fixing bugs and problems with dependencies, and so on. How can we make our life simpler? In this session, we discussed and started creating our development pipeline covering the following topics: Test-Driven development, Continuous Integration, delivery and deployment.
The outcomes of this session built the base of our current both architectural and development processes.
The goal of the Design Thinking Workshop was bringing people to be creative, think out of the box and collaboratively design a product. To be honest, the team didn’t expect that 4 hours would be enough to create product ideas, choose one of them, design the product and create a film explaining the idea of the product. But it worked! Oh, and you can’t imagine how many creative (and most of them also crazy) ideas the team had.
Many thanks to Alexander Krause for introducing this approach and giving us the inspiration to try this out.
This sounds like a lot of stuff for one week. To achieve such an output, two things are crucial: first, you need a prepared agenda for the whole week with clearly defined goals and, second, each session or workshop needs to be time boxed and to have it's own clearly goals defined.
It was great to get outside the office and spend time as a team. We have designed our droxIT roadmap, which we follow and implement step by step. We also regularly review our decisions or actions and make necessary adjustments. We experiment, reflect and learn. And the most important thing: we enjoy our work and have fun!
Check back soon for a more detailed view on the mentioned topics, e.g. how we created our first skateboard, in what interesting ideas design thinking can result or how we integrate architectural matters into our scrum process.