How to mess up your user stories

User Stories are more or less the standard format for managing your product backlog in agile projects. So this is my trigger to let you know how to completely mess them up 😉 I collected a short list of my favorites, let’s start.

Missing Roles

Don’t define any roles! It is much more fun to write a user story from the view of a generic user. Don’t waste your time to define all these useless roles. If I write a story about the possibility to delete any user from the database it should be clear for anyone that I was talking about some kind of admin.

Continue reading How to mess up your user stories

Open Session: Tai Chi/Zen & Team

The first OpenSpace session for me today was about Thai Chi and the influence on the team. Christine Neidhardt did some interesting and simple Tai Chi exercises with us and a discussion afterwards what we felt. We started to stand in a circle and focus on ourselves. When we were ready to start we went into the circle and bow to let everybody know that we appreciate that they are also participating. After this introduction we did the first exercise. We took each others hands and started a “La Ola” wave. The challenge was to get a real smooth “La Ola” wave through going round the whole circle. The next and for me more interesting exercise was the following: Clap your hands one after another around the circle and find the rhythm of the team. We got a smooth rhythm with some disturbances in between but after some practice we were able to overcome these and continue with our rhythm. In the last exercise we stood in a line without seeing each other. Christine was starting a movement with her arms which went through the line and back. The first movements were quite easy even if I were the blocker in the first round but it should have been easy because you were able to see the arms of the people in the corner of your eyes but the last movement was really difficult to recognize. You had to try to feel when it’s time to continue the movement without seeing it. Really interesting experience. After the exercises we sat together discussing what we felt during out Tai Chi exercises. You can see the results on the flip chart.

7 things to sabotage an AgileCoachCamp

I’m currently participating at the Agile Coach Camp Germany 2010 in Rückersbach near Frankfurt. As some of you already know I’m a lightning talk addict and so I couldn’t resist to do a one this eveAgileCoachCampning. After a bunch of great talks I did my talk on the topic “7 things to sabotage an AgileCoachCamp”. Here is my list:

  1. Don‘t propose any topics for the open space sessions.
  2. Ignore the facilitator
  3. Disturb any sessions by continuously asking questions that are not related to the session topic.
  4. Don‘t participate on any games. You‘re not a child anymore.
  5. Talk on your mobile as loud and often as possible.
  6. Leave, now!
  7. Don’t talk at all.

I didn’t use slides but if you need some, here you are:

Here is the video of the talk. Have fun :-) :


ACE 2010 – Confession of a lightning talk addict

ACEYes, it’s true I’m a lightning talk addict. How that happened? Well, that’s how the story goes:

Day 1

Two weeks ago I attended the Agile Central Europe in Cracow, Poland. I arrived in the late evening the day before the conference and wanted to met Pierluigi Pugliese for dinner. As Pierluigi already started dinner with the other speakers he invited me to join them. Besides that I nearly sat on the brand new iPad of Paul Klipp (sorry for that ;)) I had the pleasure to sit between Thomas Sundberg and Robert Dempsey and had some great conversations. After dinner we went back to the hotel sat in the lobby and talked till midnight.

Day 2

This day I met for breakfast with Robert. And that’s where it happened, where everything began. It started with a tiny little question Robert asked: “When is your talk?”. “Hmmm” I mumbled, “I do not talk at all.”. “I thought you are also a speaker as you sat together with us for dinner yesterday evening.” Robert said (hope he will pardon me for not using the exact words…). And that was the time when the idea was born to do a lightning talk. As I didn’t prepare anything I decided to do a talk based on one of my blog post: “10 things to drive a ScrumMaster crazy”. I went up to the lightning talk flip chart and added my talk. Then I registered for the conference at the registration desk which went really fast. Thanks to the guys of Ekobilet no waiting line at all. The conference started with a great keynote of Rachel C. Davies about retrospectives. As this is my confession I won’t dive into the details 😉 The next talks I attended were “An an intro to Software Craftsmanship movement” by Maria Diaconu and Alexandru Bolboacă (were I get some great new ideas to resolve our current development problems), “Clean Code” by Thomas Sundberg, “The Invisible Coach” by Mack Adams (I still wait for the *poof* at the end of his presentation ;)) and last but not least “Making Scrum Stick: Sustainable Scrum Transitions” by Simon Roberts which for me was the best talk of the first day. In between I prepared 12 slides for my first lightning talk ever.

My first lightning talkmy first lightning talk

Then it was time for my lightning talk. As the first entry on the flip chart was skipped I had the one and only lightning talk of day 1. I was quite nervous when I connected my laptop with the beamer and just curious if the audience would like it. After the stage-fright went away I started to enjoy talking. After about 2 minutes I started to love talking and at the end I got addicted to it. Some people who know me for a bit longer may say I was addicted to talk even decades before but who cares 😉 Thanks to the audience for positive feedback in personal and twitter! As soon as the video of the talk is available I’ll post it here.

Day 2 ended with a great dinner, a lot of deep conversations and of course the idea to do another lightning talk…

Day 3

Day 3 started with the preparation of my next lightning talk. Robert Dempsey and I thought that the ScrumMaster has to be able to pay pack what the team did to him. So the topic “10 things a ScrumMaster can do to drive the team crazy” was born. I did a fast brain storming put 12 slides together and went to bed. After some hours of sleep I went down for breakfast together with Paul Klipp and Robert, added my next lightning talk to the flip chart and dove into the new conference day. I attended “Solution Focused Agile Coaching” by Pierluigi Pugliese were I got some great new insights (Thanks, Pierluigie), “Beyond Agility” by Andrea Provaglio, “Distributed Agile in a Multicultural World” by Robert Dempsey and last but not least my favorite talk “The Sword And Other Tales” by Gwyn Morfey and Laurie Young. Besides the great content and new ideas the talk performance which was some kind of impro theater was awesome!

My second lightning talk

As the first entry on the lightning talk flip chart was skipped again it was my turn to start with the lightning talks. There was it again: the stage-fright. I breathed deeply and started with my talk and before I was aware that I was already talking the 5 minutes were over and the talk ended. It was so much fun to talk to such a big audience. Unfortunately I had to leave the conference immediately after the second lightning talk to catch my plane back to Germany (at this point in time no volcano ash in the air ;))

The Agile Central Europe was my first agile conference and I enjoyed every single minute. I’m already looking forward to Agile Eastern Europe in Kiev and of course to the lightning talks. See you there…

How to kick off your new Scrum team

Kick offI’m currently working on a recipe on how to kick off a new Scrum team that is completely new to agile practices and Scrum. After some iterations I came up with the following recipe. The ingredients:

  • 1 team
  • 1 team charter
  • 1 team room
  • 1 experienced Scrum coach
  • 1 Scrum training
  • at least 1 whiteboard or pinboard
  • at least 1 flip chart or flip chart paper
  • a lot of post-its and din a6 cards

Continue reading How to kick off your new Scrum team

agile, scrum, coaching, lean