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Stuff Bad Product Owners Say

Global Scrum Gathering Pheonix – May 6, 2015

Open Space “Stuff (SH*T) Bad Products Owners Say”

Convener: Bob Galen

List of Participants: yes, lots

Discussion and recommendations:

Format: 3×5 cards – write:

a)    some bad statement a P.O. has said

b)   some context

c)    what would be a better way to have said it, or what would you say to the P.O.

Cards submitted:

(Did not capture “Better options” for each and every card – perhaps those that attended could send additional inputs to ?)

Said:                      “I told the customer we could pull this into the sprint now.  That’s cool, right?”
Better options:     Don’t!  Let’s trade x for this.  Let’s trade 2x points for this.  Is this a real emergency?


Said:                      “Go faster”
Better options:     Ask: How can I help us go faster? What can we trade?…


Said:                      “I don’t care [about the things we have already committed to]”
Better options:     Why didn’t this come up 2 weeks ago?  The team needs to finish something to stay motivated.  Let’s get this ready for next sprint.  Blue pill/Red pill challenge.


Said:                      “We can’t have all engineers talking with the stakeholders; we may as well get rid of the product team”
Context:                Said to prioritization team on getting better feedback loops
Better options:     


Said:                      “We can’t have engineers talking with the stakeholders.”
Context:                P.O. feeling out of the loop or defending his position
Better options:     Include the P.O. in the engineer/stakeholder conversations.  There’s a demo for that (those discussions)!


Said:                      “Build it like this ….” (suggesting a technical solution)
Said:                      “Implement this using … “
Context:                P.O. is also the Subject Matter Expert.  Trying to tell the “how”
Better options:     Here’s a suggestion.  Here are some options. Lets do an experiment first.


Said:                      “I don’t know why we are doing this” and/or “I don’t agree with this story but we have to do it anyway”
Context:                During grooming
Better options:     Then this is not “ready” to be scheduled – we don’t know its business value.  How does this add value to the customer?  How does this add value to cleaner code or infrastructure?


Said:                      “I will not pay for technical debt stories”
Better options:     If I care about business outcomes help me understand the value of doing stories for tech debt.


Said:                      “Teams should get zero points for defects”
Context:                P.O. doesn’t understand what points are for.  Using points for performance credit rather than capacity and flow.
Better options:     Have a discussion to explain how the team uses points to estimate


Said:                      “Teams should not be allowed to change points once the release started”
Better options:     What are you trying to baseline – features or delivery date?  Have a discussion around who owns the estimates and what they are for.


Said:                      “I don’t want external customers on the sprint review because teams didn’t know how to talk to them”
Context:                Developers are lacking social interchange skills
Better options:     Teach mediation skills.  Teach impact feedback skills.  Teach asking questions.  Teach listening skills.


Said:                      Complaining about team performance
Context:                Talking to others outside the team e.g. other P.O.s or management
Better options:     


Said:                      “I just wrote this story before sprint planning and we must do it now”
Better options:     Wee need the team time to refine this first.  This will set a bad precedent – please only make changes at the beginning of a sprint.  Lets move this to the next sprint.  This story isn’t ready – they team hasn’t had time to review it and muse on it.


Said:                      “We have to give an estimate without having all the requirements”
Context:                Demanded by the P.O.’s boss
Better options:     Brake down into tasks leaving question marks on what is ill-defined.  Throw the boss a bone to get more details.


Said:                      “I want the UI to sparkle like a Tiffany Diamond!”
Context:                (Actual user story)
Better options:     Do a spike to create a sample and see if it sparkles.  Investigate what “sparkle…” means.  Field trip to Tiffany’s.  Discuss – how will we know we are done?  Or how will we test this?
Said:                      “Why do I have to write the user stories, isn’t that the teams responsibility?”
Better options:     Remind the P.O. that the “O” in “P.O.” means owning the product.


Said:                      “I estimated it and it doesn’t match your estimate – you are way to high”
Said:                      “That should be 3 points and not 8!”
Better options:     Why do you think so?  Remind the P.O. who owns the estimates.


Said:                      “I want all of these stories, so I’m not going to prioritize them”
Better options:     


Recap – what a bad P.O. should do more of in order to become a better P.O.:

Allow experimentation

Be available as a P.O. the team

Ask questions instead of tell or demand

Get P.O. education on Scrum

Support the team and remember you are a key part of the team.

Support the team by giving the team time.  Rem that introverts (most developers) need time to process and think alone before contributing to the group

Manage the stakeholders

Don’t bully the team

Use “the board” to show real readiness (show the story not being ready and what needs to be done)

Say Thank You to the team – often

(Respect, Trust, … etc.)




Deep Dive into Kanban

Convener: Sriram Natesan

List of Participants: 15 – 20 people, attendee names not captured

Discussion & Recommendations:

Books Recommendation:

***Special thanks to Fred Mello & Sue Johnson for capturing essence of the session with the pictures!!

How to help disorganized people self organize

Convener: Bill Ambrosini
Participants: There were 6, didn’t write down their names ???
Discussion: & reccomendations:
  • Architect level person starting on taks not in the sprint or related to any committed stories

Strategies to help
  • Micro manage the person when they are off track
  • If it’s outside of the sprint the team member has to ask permission
  • Make it a topic in the retro
  • Post it’s for personal tasks
  • Keeping email box clean, what’s in there requires action
  • Ask them if they might want to try personal kan ban, look up link to this
  • During sprint planning stress taking on only one thing at a time
  • Make sure the sprint backlog is prioritized so they can follow what they should be doing next

Management asks developer to help with something else. He doesn’t communicate this.

  • Tell the dev that they must let the team know
  • Lack of respect for the rest of the team can be a cause
  • May need to talk to his manager so he can motivate him to do this scrum thing
  • Lack of training of team members can lead to this the symptom of looking disorganized

The dev that is a people pleaser and helps the rest of the team

  • Set up a time where the dev’s can exchange ideas 
  • Mid sprint check point
  • Daily scrum will show the symptoms 
  • Look at the burn down every day and be honest about if we are tracking, if not be honest on why
  • Does the team understand why getting to a done and successful iteration is important?

Link to notes: Evernote Link

The Agile Coaching Profession

Convener: Roger Brown, CSC

Participants: ~25, no names collected

Roger gave an abbreviated version of a prior presentation with interactive Q&A. He covered the following topics:


The enclosed photos are reminders of the presentation. A more extensive treatment is available at:


Additional References mentioned in the presentation:


For more information, contact


Certified Scrum Coach Program Update

Convener: Roger Brown, CSC

Participants: About 35, no names collected



Roger gave an overview of the current program as extensively revised for 2015. He also announced the formation of a Scrum Alliance Working Group to create a certification at the multi-team level for coaches who are not currently working at the enterprise level required by the CSC Program. Q & A followed.


The enclosed pictures have minimal information and are provided just for attendees to help trigger memories of the discussion. A more extensive treatment can be found in this prior presentation:


Further details on the current program are at


Additional references for Agile Coaching are in the presentation. Two of these mentioned in the session are:


For information on the new certification, contact for now. We are just now chartering the team and do not have a public news channel set up yet.

Internal Corporate Coaches/Trainers

Internal Corporate Coaches/Trainers


This session was aimed at getting together people who are coaching/training Scrum teams as an internal company employee, not as an external consultant or otherwise Certified Scrum Coach or Trainer.  The aim was to find out the range of teams and organizational issues of concern and then see who would be interested in some sort of ongoing contact.


This chart shows the range of teams, general distribution of them, and main topics of interest for those who attended, at least at the beginning when we were doing introductions:






2 US

Leadership training; SMs on multiple teams



Where do you sit organizationally and what influence do you have?


Multiple US

How to get better as a coach






Why conversations with 50 sales and marketing personnel



Remove “doing” frustration (as opposed to “being”)


US & India

Overall communication and direction


5 US and 5 not

Influence without any authority



Moved to feature teams issues

40 (5 Kanban)

CA, NJ, India

Release planning; internal change of teams


Argentina, Ukraine, … (9 locations overall)

Scrum -> lean, Kanban

9 -> 6

Mostly collocated

Consolidation transition


US and India

Variety of maturity levels across teams


US (3), Canada, India, Israel, Germany (2), France, UK (2), Korea, Vietnam

Sustaining the transformation and growth in “experimentation”


Email addresses were collected.  Those interested who were not able to attend or did not get their email noted can contact Scott Duncan at

Outcome Driven Organizations: A framework for change


Skip Angel, @skipangel

Richard Watt, @richardjwatt

We had a small group of people and had a discussion of how Agile transformations have gone and introduced the framework.

Walkthrough of the framework:

1) Understand the PURPOSE through visioning, guiding values, and finding your organization’s “voice”
2) Drive towards OUTCOMES that achieve your purpose through achievements, artifacts and actions 
3) Execute the IMPROVEMENTS needed against Tools, Process, Policies and People through small and incremental experiments
4) Create and mature in CAPABILITIES needed for continuous discovery, development and delivery for greater performance
5) Establish and improve in BEHAVIORS needed to adapt to change, align across organization, and hold each other accountable towards becoming a resilient organization

Outcome Driven Organizations: A framework for change


Skip Angel, @skipangel

Richard Watt, @richardjwatt

We had a small group of people and had a discussion of how Agile transformations have gone and introduced the framework.

Walkthrough of the framework:

1) Understand the PURPOSE through visioning, guiding values, and finding your organization’s “voice”
2) Drive towards OUTCOMES that achieve your purpose through achievements, artifacts and actions 
3) Execute the IMPROVEMENTS needed against Tools, Process, Policies and People through small and incremental experiments
4) Create and mature in CAPABILITIES needed for continuous discovery, development and delivery for greater performance
5) Establish and improve in BEHAVIORS needed to adapt to change, align across organization, and hold each other accountable towards becoming a resilient organization

Outcome Driven Organizations: A framework for change


Skip Angel, @skipangel

Richard Watt, @richardjwatt

We had a small group of people and had a discussion of how Agile transformations have gone and introduced the framework.

Walkthrough of the framework:

1) Understand the PURPOSE through visioning, guiding values, and finding your organization’s “voice”
2) Drive towards OUTCOMES that achieve your purpose through achievements, artifacts and actions 
3) Execute the IMPROVEMENTS needed against Tools, Process, Policies and People through small and incremental experiments
4) Create and mature in CAPABILITIES needed for continuous discovery, development and delivery for greater performance
5) Establish and improve in BEHAVIORS needed to adapt to change, align across organization, and hold each other accountable towards becoming a resilient organization

Team Building Game

Convener: Adele Maynes
Very Short Description:
Purpose: Give the team an own Identity
  1. Selection of 40+ pictures (Cars; Architectural; TV-Shows; Heroes; etc)
  2. Let the team Dot-Vote (5 red 5 Green) the picture they most addressed to.
    • Group the pictures in Like, Dislike and the disagreed ones. (get rit of the non voted pictures)
  3. Let the team add Sticky with words (nouns and adjectives)
  4. Debate the pictures and words.
  5. Let the Team come up with a Team Name; Slogan and Logo.

Agile in the Real World

These people (photos attached) got together and had a passionate discussion about Agile in the Real World.  We brainstormed a list of problems (photo attached), prioritized the list, and had discussions around the top several items.
The top item was “Waterfall is not the enemy / culture is”.  People shared ideas about this and the other top items including integrating the PMO with Scrum, and Management dictating time frames, deadlines and making commitments.
There was lots of great discussion and sharing of ideas.  No real conclusions other than we need to keep fighting the good fights.
Organized and facilitated by:
Harvey Lindauer, CSP

How to scrum outside IT

How to Scrum outside IT?

1. How to scrum in a process-driven environment where the goal is not a release?
■ What is the deliverable? 
still delivering something
■ Use completion of team goal as “deliverable”
■ Define something incremental or iterable– call that the solution or product
■ Consider that scrum is not the answer – try Kanban, Scrumban
■ Latest ScrumGuide is no longer software-specific
■ If lots of changes and interrups with changing requirements might consider Kanban



2. How to plan when research is involved?
■ Spike story –no deliverable at end – can have acceptance criteria defined –  Non-pointed user-story
■ Time box story for research
■ Operational task on a non-operational story
■ End of story may require another story for next sprint



3. Kanban vs scrum in non-IT
■ Kanban  good if you have high degree of change or can’t plan ahead



4. How do you handle planning activities that require long lead times? (like supplies/delivery in construction)?
■ Can you have parts/suppliers in inventory?
■ Can delivery time be shortened? 
■ Find supplier who can deliver more quickly
■ Groom backlog to bring long-lead time (high risk) stories up to top
■ Change procurement model to be more modular


Sent from my iPhone

Tech Talk Tuesday

by Ben Carnes

This forum has facilitated developing and sharing of great ideas at my company.

The format:
- free lunch
- broadcast invite to team, management, and other buiz units.
- Topic open to anything (tech, process, vision, …)
- attendance not obligatory. People come because they like the great topics
This forum can facilitate connecting separate teams and business units that may have similar needs but no way of sharing ideas or collaborating.
This form levels the playing field. The developer can become a thought leader. In our experience good thought leaders have emerged from the ranks of the developers.
- book "Fearless Change" — describes the "brown bag lunch" practice.
- book "Community of Practice" — observations of Silicon Valley's culture

User stories suck

Convener: Brian Holt
Participants: some folks
Discussion: user stories are way better than requirements docs, but they still suck and people still anchor to 'I want'. We should focus more on the problem we're solving and what makes it done. Conclusion, we don't like user stories, there needs to be something better, but we're now to sure what yet. We need to have teams focus on the problem statement.

Impediments for Fun and Profit

Convener: Tom Perry

1) Use a “Reward Board”
- Associates money and impediments
- Massage
- Day off
-Team Event preferred (keep the focus on team level activity)
- Not necessarily monetary reward
2) Post it on the bosses door!
3) Gamify it
- Badges
- Stickers/Kill List
- Issue a challenge
- Program or SoS
- Redeemable “impediment points”
4) “Most wanted” board
- Prioritized
- Update once a week
- Business champion
5) Acknowledgement
- Executive Visit
- Quarterly Meeting
- Ice cream Social
- take Team out
- Coffee time
6) Play the “Fearless Journey” game

Tom Perry
Author of The Little Book of Impediments
twitter: @tlperry

Sorry for the delay, additional comments/outcome from workshop at GSGP

Session 15, 10:00am


Host: helene de Saint

Theme: How to add meaning and positive impact
using scrum and Open Space?



Nancy mayer

Dennis johansson

Marc vuillemot

Yannis tarer




Ideas/main inputs:

How to improve meaning and create a positive
work environment?

work more fun

the workplace, have positive impact

games, including serious gaming

about purpose

work in context

people and talking about their passion, trying to support them to get more from
their passion


How to build a community at work?

3.0: making your company a community (1.0: machine, 2.0 sports team, 3.0 agile
philosophy, motivation)

bottom up, more autonomy, teams are community and family

approach, with Scrum master protecting the team and its members

to start with Agile community you don’t have to be a star to express yourself,
everyone has a role

shared issues to create a common goal to join the community, something people can
want to share, to complain about, and want to do something about



Problems: when we
break the teams at end of the project: how to keep this feeling of belonging?



How to get control freak managers to change?


step: understand his purpose to better address it

he can be a  conductor of an orchestra,
with no need to micromanage

him understand how he communicates


Problem: Managers in
France don’t give meaning or fun because they are afraid they will lose control


How to get managers to turn to Scrum?

some training on Scrum

a pilot with a manager willing to turn to scrum, then it contaminates other

him to trust people will meet his expectations, scrum board is very reinsuring
for this



How to make sure Scrum is effective for people
to give their best and fulfill themselves at work?

manager, be a role model

people around you to develop, to express themselves

to learn to fail

little task and celebrating every small victory

them laugh before the daily scrum meeting


How to create collective fun and helping
others' achieve their goals?

team objective and team reward => Scrum: each squad has its own mission

people to be more specific about their mission and goal

more transparency


How to have fun at work/in scrum projects?

the differences between fun and lack of commitment: Exemple of french
perception of fun vs work: Post-it war between buildings in la Defense, comments
showed perception that people werenot working while they were just having a
little fun to release stress

defined within team: fun is coming up more and more often

people need to be creative, and fun is creative

by example, no tie, colourful shirts for facilitator, scrum master etc

a name for the team, with a story, take a collective picture, find symbols,
play with metaphors, even internally


How to help people learn and develop?

is education of people: manager’s role is key

people out for lunch as on boarding, get to know them personally: You need to
know how people learn

Bootcamp to get people up to speed when they join the team

everything on the wall, visual thinking, transparency helps learning



How to increase efficiency in scrum and in meetings?


master is essential for this. Minimize mall pieces of time between meetings that
take a lot of efforts and frustration=> Idea: Core hours, between 11 to 2,
or all afternoon, when nobody can disturb people for meetings.

a good flow,  give people more positive

give the people the possibility to control their day to day activity

people know better all the line of the project, what they are doing it for,
know all the people involved in the project

impact when manager comes regularly to check the project

put in some games or exercises, see Tasteacupcake website for agile tests.

can be powerful and useful. For instance: decide on fun Create punishment like
sing and dance when people are late, and on fun rewards if people all perform

the meeting with a song people like.

people a limited amount of time to talk in meetings and add a little jingle
when time is over for each person

of two feets, try to implement it in all meetings

UX & Agile

Problems faced:

-          UX designers tend to well polish.

-          “When we ship MVP it’s not usable.”

-          Big up front design vs. agile approach.

-          Difficult to describe UX with stories. (maybe Acceptance criteria, BDD definitions?)

-          Changes in UI requested during sprint.


Possible acting points:

-          Developers involved in early UX work. To verify implementation possibility.

-          Challenge UX specialists to accept changes during project.

-          User testing sessions during development.

-          Explain possibilities of changes during development: When an usability problem is found, you’re able to change it during development.


Hypothetical team setup:

Multiple teams with 1 usability specialist  “UX-Champion” each. He has the main focus to support team to define and implement user interface during sprint.

1 UX team with usability specialists focused on usability of product, definition of a style guide, user tests and so on. Per development team there is 1 “UX-Partner” defined to act as communication partner between development teams and usability team.


Hypothetical process (thanks to Mikkel Hansen):



Mikkel Hansen; Edvard Garcia; Magnus Dahlgren; Silvana Wasitova …



Marco Ravicini

Open Space Paris 2013 on Incentivisation and Performance Management

Open space session on Incentivisation and performance management (last open space session at Paris 25/9/2013)


Delivered within a week of having it, I suspect I won’t be the last….


Convener – Phil Thompson – embedded Agile support at Kuoni


List of Participants – and a big thanks to all of you for making this an engaging session – although some people’s handwriting has left their names a little open to interpretation:

Vincent Lassalle

Helene de Sant Front

Irwin Marmorat

Ruxawdra Banici

Martin Teljeby

Paul Whelan

Leon Cosmin Lupu

Steff Lang

Alan Shelmose

Adam Polczyk

Arne Ahlander

Maunicia de Caster Nanannete

Christopher Hogden

Peter Downer


The discussion started around objectives. There was some consensus that these should not link directly to reward, and if there is any element of reward then the team should be involved in its allocation / distribution.

Where the objectives come from was raised, should they come from the team, from the individual, from a line manager? and we agreed that it depends on the work and the company – although the closer it got to the person was preferred. Sensible comment was that the objectives should be the job description contextualised for the immediate future. One good point was that the objectives could be linked to retrospectives and by making the objectives very short then when looking back you can build up a record of achievement.  

There was discussion about what the point of the objectives were, surely the only realistic objective would be to deliver working software as a sustainable quality, which is great for a team (as long as the project has a MVP small enough) but the individual element was raised – how can you ensure that all individuals are contributing. It was felt that it would be unlikely for someone to be poor / lazy without the other team members / mgmt being aware (this might not the be case in a dysfunctional team). The daily scrum should identify those members not pulling their weight and there needs to be some opportunity to raise these issues (maybe retrospective) but some formalised 360 feedback sessions would be beneficial.  There was acceptance that performance against a defined objective makes HR’s job easier to manage people out of the organisation.

There was a wider debate about motivation in general, making note of the many references already made about Dan Pink’s work. There was also some good points made about giving objectives being seen as disempowerment – because the individual is being told what to do, can they opt out of the objective?


Actions – no real take away actions but there appeared to be agreement on the following points:


·         Objectives should be personal to the individual and relate to the same drivers of motivation, being empowered, being good at it, and wanting to be part of something.

·         Objectives work best when assessed by the team and have a short timeline

·         Objectives should be about learning and development not about reward

·         The best objective is to be part of a team that delivers VALUE, which is usually related to delivering working scalable software.


Maybe I’ll see you all in New Orleans …




Phil Thompson
Lead Agile Practitioner
Kuoni Global Travel Services

skype: Philthompson01

Phone: +447940 495987



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