Food for Thought #11 – Checking In With The Kids

Bed
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The first time I read about the Core Protocols was about one year ago. Yves Hanoulle and a bunch of other people wrote an awesome article, describing the Core Protocol using a conversation between Yves and a fictional character. Simply said, the Core Protocols consist of a set of commitments and communication protocols, that can help to create high performance teams.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to try these protocols with one of my teams, yet. But I’m already looking forward to try it out. In the meantime I’m using my family as guinea pigs.

A few weeks ago I had the idea to use the “Check In” protocol with my kids, when I bring them to bed. Bringing my kids to bed is quite a ceremony. We start with reading two books, then I’m telling them a home made story and last but not least I sing a song. Now we added the “Check In” at the beginning at the ceremony. The “Check In” consists of 4 steps:

    1. Speaker says “I’m checking in”
    2. Speaker says “I feel [one or more of MAD, SAD, GLAD, AFRAID].” Speaker may provide a brief explanation.
    3. Speaker says “I’m in”.
    4. Listeners respond, “Welcome.”

We found out, that this is a great way to close the day. Additionally, we as the parents get to know, what is really on the mind of our kids. Sometimes, it is really hard to keep your mouth shut, when one of the kids is checking in and telling something interesting. But most of the time we’re able to leave the check in uncommented. I think this is also something our kids really like about checking in. They can speak free without explaining oneself. On the other hand, this is also a tool for us as parents, to tell the kids what really got on our nerves that day.

After starting the “Check In” by myself on the first days, my kids took over and started to explicitly ask for checking in. Even my youngest, who is 2 years old, participates. We’re using the “Check In” now for three weeks and everybody loves it. It’s a great way to start our bed time ceremony and helps everybody to come down and get to sleep mode.

I encourage you to try this with your kids, too. I’m really looking forward to your experiences, so please leave a comment.

5 Signs That Your User Stories Suck

Stop Sign
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About one a half years ago, I wrote an article about how to mess up your user stories. In the meantime I saw other “User Stories” that gave me creeps. That’s why I decided to write this article. So here is my new list of signs, that your user stories suck…

1- Your user Stories Are Only a Wrapper

If your user stories only consist of one task, this is a sign that you just using them as a wrapper. I don’t know why, but it seems that some people believe, that they have to use the user story format for everything. A user story is “a promise for a conversation”. If there is nothing to discuss and it is a simple task, than write it down like this. Don’t wrap a pseudo user story around it. In most cases this is also a sign that your user stories are too small.

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11 Hints to Improve Your Scrum Meetings

I saw a lot of Scrum meetings out there, that are not more than a skeleton. Everybody is attending but nobody is participating. To improve such situations I collected 11 hints to improve your Scrum Meetings.

Daily Scrum

1 – Walk the Board

Instead of answering the “three questions”, which leads in most teams to answering only the first two questions, walk the board. This means, use your Sprint Backlog to talk about what is currently in progress and what is planned for today. That way you’re concentrating on the really important things, instead of talking about the past.

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A Checklist for a Distributed Retrospective

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More and more agile teams have the problem, that they are not collocated. If you work in a distributed team, you know how difficult it is to stay in contact. It gets even worse, when you have a big time shift between the teams. But in such situations it is even more important to do a team wide retrospective. That’s why I created a checklist for retrospectives in distributed teams. I believe that most of the points also apply to other meetings, like e.g the Sprint Review in Scrum. To facilitate a successful distributed retrospective you need the following:

 

 

A Co-Facilitator
It is very difficult to facilitate two teams, if one of the teams is located 1000km away. It don’t has to be a experienced coach, just somebody who prepares everything off-site and helps facilitating the retrospective.

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