Agile 2019 Experience Reports

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Presented by Ryan Latta & Allison Pollard/Skylar Watson

Retrospectives: 548 Days To Fix 1 Line of Code (Ryan Latta)
We kept having retrospectives, but nothing changed. A year-and-a-half of retrospectives gone by. Each one about the same problem that never gets fixed. Dates are missed, morale is low, and we’re ready to throw in the towel.

I was a software engineer fed up with all my hard work amounting to work that wasn’t shipping. I was at a conference when a lightbulb went off. The talk was about lean manufacturing and put me on a path of learning about work-in-progress limits and experimental learning. At the heart of this inspiration was a phrase I had read, “If you understand the problem well enough, the solution is obvious.”
I wanted to change our retrospectives. I wanted us to focus on only one problem until it was fixed. I wanted our retrospectives to focus on learning and experimentation instead of doing action items. I wanted us to focus on fixing our problem for real instead of guessing.

I brought these ideas to the scrum master. Eventually, the ideas took hold and our retrospectives changed. As they did we began to learn about the root of our problem.
After three months we found the source of our problem. We found the one line of code that had crippled the team’s ability to ship safely or on time.

Through this story, I’ll teach you how I influenced our team and scrum master to change how they used retrospectives. I’ll tell you about the retrospectives that we used to focus on one problem and how we came up with experiments instead of action items.

Ryan Latta is a coach who is interested in working with people who want to use software to reach their customers. He's deeply fascinated about creating teams that are relentless and accomplished in having real impact. He brings years of agile and lean experience to help coach teams and companies on how they can best get the results they want. Most teams tell him that working together has been the most rewarding professional experience they've ever had. Ryan enjoys engaging with industry and community professionals on the challenges of leveraging software in business.

Downfalls of Coaching in a Hierarchical Model (Allison Pollard, Skylar Watson)
Companies of size require more than one coach for support. How does an organization know if coaching is worth the investment or not? During transformations, it’s common to structure coaches to focus on different parts of the organization based on their specialties (e.g., technical, executive, business/program), resulting in a hierarchical coaching model. Having a tiered coaching structure reduces visibility between the products’ outcomes and how things are implemented on the shop floor. With specialized coaches touching various parts of the organization, localized improvements may be achieved but a holistic view is lacking. Skylar and Allison found themselves frustrated and feeling minimized as agile coaches working where specialized and hierarchical coaching was the model being pushed.

Allison Pollard helps people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. A In her experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. Allison is also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Skylar Watson is a software consultant and owner of SkyNet software solutions where he implements high value software to satisfy customers needs. Skylar works with companies both domestically and internationally providing assistance on adopting agile software practices.