Dear Director / VP / CEO,Everything counts

This is an open letter to you, especially if you are involved in Program Management, R&D, Product Management or otherwise delivering products.

In this blogpost I want to share with you what it feels like to be working on a large, intensive, feature-rich program. Of course, most of you reading this blog-post, like myself, have been there before. Just that we tend to forget what it is like being a programmer or a tester or a teammate in general (much like that as parent we sometimes forget what it is like being a child).

I am doing this by referring to a popular song that describes similar feelings very vividly.

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It seems that these days everyone is talking (and writing) about scaling agile.

I guess what happened is that most companies now realize that agility is not a passing trend or just a set of values and principles, agility is a skill that most organization need to develop in order to survive in the stormy waters of today's market.

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Consider the following situation. What has just happened there? What would you advise Jeff to do? What tools can you use to turn such a situation around?

The team, all members of it,are attending the planning session of the last iteration of the release. It has been a rather stressful release, and Jeff, the Scrum Master, is trying to reflect to the team that your average velocity is 7 stories per sprint, and that committing to 12 stories will put the team in more stress and increased risk of getting enough scope done.
It is a painful experience for Jeff. On one hand he cannot tell the team what to do. He is expected to manage without authority. And it doesn't work. He feels frustrated.

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(Or is agile just another way of hiding it away?)

Imagine the following scenario

Fred is a senior developer. The team is doing Scrum for about 10 sprints now, and the ceremonies are kind-of getting into a routine. The team is committing for work to do, and delivering more-or-less what they promised. And yet, Fred is not a happy chappy.

The team is coming to their third release, and there are talks that regression period must be on time, on track this time.

In his frustration, Fred talks to his Scrum Master, expressing his concern that developers must do regression testing yet again in the upcoming regression period. Clearly developers should do coding, and testers should do the testing.

Joe, the Scrum Master reminds Fred that regression is for the entire team, not just for testers, and that they are all in the same boat, and that by coding away during regression they are merely adding more technical debt to an already potentially unstable release.

Fred walks back to his desk, muttering "right; and my testing skills are so good, that all bugs will be uncovered. Such a good tester I am".

What just happened here?

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