Scrum Team

Switch context game

How many times have you seen a team spread their focus on multiple stories?

How many times have your tried explaining the benefits of FOCUS (Scrum value) and Work in Progress (Kanban metric)?

But sometimes more than explanations, a simple game can explain the need for focus and importance of limiting work in progress.

Here is the online version. For the live version just replace Excel with a Whiteboard or piece of paper.

  1. Create an Excel sheet with the above template
  2. Ask the team member to fill the first part row first (Note that is difficult for the team member to switch context from Alphabets to Numbers and to Roman numerals) from A to J, 1 to 10 and I to X and use a stopwatch to measure the time taken in seconds
  3. Ask the same team member to fill the second part column first (Note that the team member finds it easy to fill with no context switches)

We tried the exercise with three members and all of them had an efficiency gain of around 50%.

If you are still not convinced after the game, then watch the videos below

Useful video links:

  • Focus
  • Work in progess
Scrum Team

Stagnant flow

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

What happens when the flow of water in a river goes stagnant?

Algae builds up, Mosquitoes start breeding and it starts to smell bad!

Likewise in our teams what happens when the flow goes stagnant?

Waste builds up, Technical debt starts breeding and it starts to smell bad!

Three things we use in our teams to keep the flow going!

  • Stop starting and start finishing – We often believe that being busy is the sign of an intelligent team member. But to the contrary a focused team member who starts and finishes a task at hand is much more valuable to the team goals.
  • Limit work in progress – A lot of us believe that we are great at multitasking but we are not. If you want to test yourself try this experiment: Multitasking is Evil
  • Satisfy reasonable Work Item Aging – Something like 1/3rd of 1/4th of your Sprint length is a reasonable WIA metric to follow. If a task needs more that 1/3rd of the Sprint length the team member is struggling to complete it and needs help.

How do keep the flow in your teams?