Having a Ball – Variant 2 : Management Interruptions

V2 – Management Interruptions

Sometime after the start of the second or third iteration, have someone walk up behind a member of the team with a visually distinctive Requirement, and ask them to “get this done too”. It helps if this person is in the middle of the workflow (not at the beginning). Some folks will grab the new ‘ball’ and just toss it to their normal partner. Some will recognize that this is unauthorized work and ignore your request.

Origin: This is Jack’s second variant. On that day, we used a crumpled-up piece of paper to represent the goldilocks task. With almost no drama, the team member snatched the crumpled paper, and tossed it to his partner, who in turn passed it on to their partner. The paper got to the product owner, who simply shrugged and set it in the ‘Done’ pile with the other requirements.  The genius of the ploy became apparent at the retrospective when the team tried to claim credit for the task. Jack asked them if every member of the team had touched the Requirement (remember, he gave it to someone in the middle of the pattern). When the team said that it had not, Jack declared the requirement ‘incomplete’, as it had failed to meet the definition of done.

Crumpled paper creates a different challenge that is better served in a different variation (see V7 below). Therefore in more recent running of the ball game, I’ve started using visually distinctive tennis balls to represent these manager tasks.

Reality Check: At first the team might get angry about losing the credit for the requirement. But it really serves to illustrate two points. 1. Only your Product Owner should be giving work to the Team, 2. Incomplete work is incomplete work. It took time from the team’s capacity, impacting performance

Author: Michael Marchi

Michael Marchi CSM, CSPO, SA4 Co-Founder and Board Member @ APLN Chicago (michael.marchi@aplnchicago.org) Manager, Management Consulting / Chicago Agile Practice Lead / Agile Coach & Trainer @ Strive Consulting (mmarchi@striveconsulting.com)