Unlike most of my blog posts, this one is not an opinion or some deeper insight or analysis.
It is a description of the result of an evolution of a workshop Ilan Kirschenbaum and i developed that is called a "Retrospective retreat"
The Retrospective retreat is a workshop that is very similar to code\coach retreat in which it is targeted at creating deliberate learning through repetitive practicing  of the Retrospective.

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Fun Effective Meetings

We all love them. Those hours of pure fun, creativity and innovation. Meetings.

How come that we love them so much? Is it the coffee? Is it the the comfortable chairs and large tables? Is it the fact that we have time to break another world record in candy crush?

Now seriously, why is it so common for people to hate meetings? Why do many of us continuously complain about the fact that there are too many of them?

Probably because in many cases our meetings suck (This is a technical term BTW).

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Not_SAFe

Yes. As the name of the post suggests, we at Practical Agile have chosen not to be involved in SAFe adoptions.

Some may ask: But you are practical Agile and your subtitle is “Agile in your context” isn't this kind of statement in conflict with your own brand? We think not, and this post will try to explain why.

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manage_product_backlog

Disclaimer: If you haven't read my “Managing the product backlog for 8 teams“ post - I highly recommend you read it before continuing to read this blog

First thing is first: What the hell were you thinking when you decided that you need 50 teams for your product?! I hope you had a really good reason for it. 9 out of 10 times you have made a bad decision…

 

But here we are, having a product that has 50 teams, which means dealing with ~600 fine grained Product Backlog items at any given moment, i think we can all agree that this is definitely too much for one person to deal with (Disagree with that? Please do not stay silent and comment). So how would we go about and deal with such a big PBL?

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Five Important points to mange PBL for 8 teams

The product backlog (PBL) is probably the second most important artifact in any LeSS (Large Scale Scrum) \ Scrum implementation, the only artifact I find more important is the product itself.

In a on-team scrum the Product Backlog is pretty much simple (though not easy) to manage, if you follow the recommendation of having each team take 3-4 PBIs (product backlog items) per sprint, this means that the product owner needs to deal with about 12 fine-grained product backlog items at any given time, not all require full attention.

Why 12 you ask?

  • It is recommended that we have product backlog items refined & ready (AKA groomed) for the next two sprints or so.. Given that we have 4 items in progress, 4 for the next sprint and 4 being refined for the next-next sprint. Total is 12.

Got it? Good :) If not, please feel free to contact in the comments or contact me personally

 

  • So far so good, now let’s scale it to 8 teams. (8 teams) x (12 items) = ~100 items, which is what the LeSS Framework suggests to be the limit of items that one Product Owner can deal with simultaneously. I know it sounds like a lot of items to deal with, but it is totally doable when performing the Product Owner  role as described in the LeSS framework.

 

  • The Large Scale Scrum framework is designed (just like Scrum, mind you) in a way that the Product Owner deals mostly with prioritization and less with clarification, with this description most people agree that 100 Product Backlog Items sounds like a reasonable number.

 

  • Assuming that you work properly, at any given moment there are ~33 items in work which require low to no attention, 33 items ready for the next sprint that requires low attention as well, so most of the work is spent on the remaining 33 items, now what should the PO do with these items?

 

  • Mainly: Prioritize. Given that you have a 40 hour work week and a two week sprint, that gives more than enough time to prioritize 33 items and even get some more stuff done. Capish?

 

For more, follow me on twitter @eladsof    

 

May the force be with you,

Elad Sofer.

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