Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Give it a name, and they will follow ....

Ok, well, my idea of going chronologically is blown ... I have to say, I learned the most from my recent trip to STAREast, and I think that those are the most valuable lessons I can share.

Part of my problem with this agile transition has always been that I am a "details girl" (that's what they say here). I can read LOTS of Schwaber and Cohn and get lots of concepts and ideas, but I really need the details ... exactly *how* do I follow the procedures outlined therein?

I got LOTS of those ideas at STAREast, so I will talk about one of them now.

This one came from Janet Gregory's track talk, called "Perils and Pitfalls of the New Agile Tester". The concept was called "The Power of 3". I brought this idea back to work ...

Here is the problem it solved for me, and helped the team with: lack of everyone being on the same page. The problem plays out in many ways, and I know it happens whether you do waterfall or agile or whatever. There exists some requirement/user story/work piece, and over time, someone comes up with a question and asks someone else. Perhaps it's the tester who asks the developer, and they make a decision and move on ... to the surprise of the product owner, who then looks at it and says "That's not what I wanted it to do!"

For me, the frustration has been when a developer asks product owner questions and they hash out some details, but I don't know about them. Then when it comes time to test, I feel like I start over from the beginning. I ask questions, and someone says "Oh yeah, I talked to Joe about that and we decided x" (for privacy reason, names of coworkers have been changed :) ).

GRR.

I have suggested many ways to try to alleviate this ... and as I think about it now, I don't think my suggestions hit the problem early enough (the Power of 3 does!). I had asked for a group email list, and we required that all questions were sent out to the list, so that everyone would know the answer. Several people complained that this filled their inbox with too many emails. I made it worse by suggesting that verbal conversations (since they were bound to happen), be followed up with an email to the list with the info discussed in the conversation. Do you think anyone followed through with this? Of course not (I don't think I even did that one!).

How the Power of 3 works for us: The basic idea is that for any discussion on a user story card, all 3 stakeholders must be involved. The 3 stakeholders on our cards are the product owner, the developer, and the tester. All of these are assigned (if not obvious, like product owner), during the planning meeting. So, if the developer wants to ask a question of the product owner, one of them just needs to remember to grab the tester as well.

To my surprise,the team took to this really well!!! We all still forget once in a while, but if I just poke with a little "power of 3", they realize it should have included someone else, and then laugh at me :) I love this concept, and since I had not yet come up with it on my own, was *so happy* to hear it at the conference.

I have been totally excited to see little meeting requests go out that say "power of 3 discussion about x group of cards" .... (we have MANY meetings, so I cannot escape that yet). It seems, that if you just put a catchy phrase on a concept, it's more fun to implement.

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