Author Archives: markkilby

Lean Coffee Orlando Dec06

What a great time and conversations at Lean Coffee!  Again, some old friends and new faces appeared.  Here’s what we discussed:

  • How do you plan your sprints over the holidays (and associated vacations)?  Tis the season for holidays and vacations.  What do you do?  Many great ideas.  Overall, you can still keep a sprint going with holidays (and vacations), but this might be a time to consider more research-oriented work that helps explore innovation.  How can you set some innovation goals for the holidays and and how can you set up individuals for success in exploring innovation ideas if they are not taking vacation around the holidays?
  • How do I keep a remote part-time team motivated?  Some of us still struggle with part-time team members and it makes it difficult to make iteration commitments every 2 weeks.  One of the most useful tools I’ve found is Christopher Avery’s Team Orientation approach.  If you can understand what motivates each individual (whether part-time or full-time), you can help them align the work to their motivation.  Also, we found there was more to this question as the “team” was a group of independent contractors who are trying to develop some new products while consulting with their regular clients.  One of the best tools I know to help focus such a group is the Business Model Canvas.
  • What should Agile Orlando do in 2014?  Many fantastic ideas.  Stay tuned in the coming days as we share some of those ideas.

Lean Coffee Orlando notes Nov01

Great discussions and some new faces joined us today.  Topics we discussed:

  • Scaled Agile Framework – What is it?  When to use it? How does it help with multiple teams?  Information is available at
  • Creative ways to get a Scrum team to take more ownership of their work – We discussed how the Product Owner and ScrumMaster interact with the team.  We also talked about using retrospectives and specifically the ORID approach (Mark Kilby highly recommends the book on this technique “The Art of Focused Conversation“).  We also discussed using powerful questions (see Lyssa Adkin’s book).  Mark Kilby also recommends the new book Scrummastery: From Good to Great Servant Leadership by Geoff Watts.
  • Culture shock (team merger restart) – What happens when you are asked to “merge” two teams?  What happens when you have “factions” that don’t want to merge?  We discussed retrospectives to explore this.  We also talked about using an “ambassador model” where one team member shares ideas and conversations between the groups.

Lean Coffee notes Sept06

Some topics and summaries from this week:

  • What is the “best” of the Agile Lifecycle Management (ALM) Tools – short answer “it depends on your team and your product”.  Forrester just came out with their report on ALM tools and includes tools like Rally, IBM, Atlassian (Greenhopper, now called Jira Agile) and others.  Those are all great tools, but may not always be best for you.  Some great tools for small teams that we discussed (and some of us are using) where LeanKit and Scrumy.  Keep in mind, that if you are going to scale, Rally and VersionOne have free 10-user versions.  For Jira Agile, you can get a 30-day free trial (first for Jira and then adding the Jira Agile plug-in).  Best to figure out your agile process first before you jump into a tool unless you have immediate needs to keep distributed team members or stakeholders in sync.
  • When Does GUI Design Get Accomplished? short answer – all the time.  We talked about rolling wave planning, progressive elaboration, visioning, epics and user stories.  Much of this is covered in Mike Cohn’s books and website
  • How to estimate requirements design effort?  Again, see Mike Cohn’s work.
  • What was your agile “aha” moment?  This was a great way to get to know more about the folks who gathered with us this morning.  It was funny that it was voted a low priority, but folks wanted to finish with this rather than take on another topic that tied with it.

Topics we didn’t get to or talked about briefly:

  • Starter Studio – awesome new startup incubator in Orlando started by Gregg Pollack of Envy Labs.  Mark is an agile mentor there.
  • Agile outside of software development – folks might be interested in the Agile for non-software LinkedIn group
  • What is hot in Agile?  See Mark’s post on Agile2013
  • What is Agile Orlando doing next? See Events and Discussions
  • How does an independent get started in Agile (job placement?)?

Lean Coffee notes Aug23

Today we discussed:

  • Enterprise Kanban – this was a conversation on how you flatten an organization structure as it grows (or is it even possible).  It reminded me of Mike Cottmeyer’s post from a few years ago on “What do you value?”
  • BA-QA big picture – We discussed the interaction between business analyst (BA) and quality assurance (QA) and how you must keep the product vision (“the big picture”) within both roles to deliver the product the customer wanted.  We even discussed how some of the folks around the table have seen this “big picture BA/QA role” as one single role.  I particularly liked the label of “Functional Product Specialist”.  Some might just call them a Product Owner.
  • How to involve Formal QA – How do you get a formal QA group involved when there are regulatory issues?  We discussed different strategies such as getting some QA team members on the agile team while setting up others to audit the process (chinese firewall) so there is no conflict of interest.  We almost touched on the topic of “is it a regulation or a policy?”.
  • Agile2013 update – 2 of us had attended (and spoke) at Agile2013.  So we spent 7 minutes giving an update on the conference.  So much more can be said there.  I decided to write a blog post of my own on Agile2013

Lean Coffee notes July12

Some great discussions on moving from 4-week to 2-week iterations, ways to improve backlog management, how to grow a scrummaster (so you can move on), and a bit about Hackathons (…) and Lego Serious Play (

For those first 2 discussions, some other great ideas are in this blog post on how to use Kanban for Scrum improvements…

I’m thinking I might even do a Scrumban lightning talk now. 😉