Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Definition of Ready

What's a Definition of Ready? 

Before we agree to take on new work, it's critical that we understand our customer's goal. A Definition of Ready is a check-list that reminds us what kinds of things to ask as we clarify the customer's expectations.  As noted by Roman Pichler, the Definition of Ready is not a new concept in the Agile space. It has been further popularized and generalized by Kanban under the name of Explicit Policies. These policies can be used before we begin the work (Definition of Ready/Entrance Policy), as we move the work from one state to another or from one team to another, or when we consider the work done (Definition of Done / Exit Policy).  These policies are often written at multiple levels; at varying levels of scope we have: Story, Iteration, Release. From a continuous improvement perspective, we have the policy we apply today, and the policy we aspire to reach some day. This may be represented as follows:

What's in a Definition of Ready?

We need a living document--something that is continuously updated as we learn better about our perimeter, that will prevent rework and unnecessary delays. While the list below is overkill for most teams, you may consider any of the following for your Definition of Ready:
  • Is the story INVEST-worthy (independent, negotiable, valuable, estimable, small, testable)?
  • Have we seen a demonstration of working code that proves any external components are complete and of high quality?
  • Are there any external files, media, recordings, images needed to complete this work?
  • Has the customer committed to time with us to explain the context and goals of the work?
  • Have relevant external teams committed time to support this work? (e.g., database staff, developers of external components)
  • Are we willing to defer elaboration of non-functional requirements, or do we have a clear idea of what they should be? (system load, multi-threading, permissions, robustness, etc.)
  • Do we know: who requested the work? when is it needed? what's a barely sufficient implementation?
  • Do we have the right skills to do this work?
  • Who can we ask for help if something goes wrong?
  • Are the acceptance criteria defined?
  • Do we have an estimate for this work?
  • Does the estimate match the customer's budget? Have we discussed the business value?
  • Has this been ranked in comparison to other backlog items, in terms of urgency, priority, effort, and value?
  • Do we have everything we'll need to meet the Definition of Done for this story if we complete it now?
  • Have we considered the downstream effects of releasing or testing this story?
  • Have we communicated about any ripple effects to other component teams?
  • Have we informed marketing/sales/business folk we're about to start this work?
  • Can we make these changes safely without breaking the current system? What if we have to abort this story early?
  • Do we know how this work fits in the larger context of the release plan or future product versions?
See also Ken Power's excellent blog entry on the Definition of Ready.

CULTUREcon favorite Tweets

The way I took notes during #CULTUREcon was with Twitter. Here are the bullet points I'd like to remember forever:

olaflewitz Olaf Lewitz A mindset of fear leads to a culture of control.” @tracifenton at #CultureCon
olaflewitz Olaf Lewitz “Organisational agility is a natural act. We have just to let it happen.” Harrison Owen opening #CultureCon in Philly. Couldn’t agree more.
venessamiemis Venessa Miemis all systems, including human systems, are open. controlling them is impossible and illusion. - Harrison Owen #CultureCon
venessamiemis Venessa Miemis cultures are held together by stories. - Eric Raymond #CultureCon - stories help us make sense of our technologies & ourselves
jaycollier Jay Collier Margolis: Key to change: Shifting your emotions. More effective than changing your mind (i.e., change management processes).#culturecon
drewcm Andrew Marshall Rally Software has a mission that focuses on empowered people who actually want to come to work. (Novel!) #culturecon
stephenshapiro Stephen Shapiro "our work is just a stage for our own inner turmoil". Profound. Michael Margolis #culturecon
venessamiemis Venessa Miemis requirements for happiness: a sense of belonging, a sense of control, a sense of progress - @DanMezick referencing Tony Hsieh#CultureCon
floydmarinescu floydmarinescu Cultures that require constant permissions checks are not ones where learning flourishes - Eric Raymond in an #infoq interview at#culturecon
ckollm Carol Kollm Culture change is about de-hypnotizing. #culturecon The Culture Blueprint... Robert Richman
getstoried Michael Margolis "Coaches remind people who they are when they forget" - Tom Landry @davelogan1 #CultureCon
olaflewitz Olaf Lewitz Everybody enjoyed the part I didn’t create: Coffee breaks.” Harrison Owen telling the story of Open Space. #CultureCon
trevmex Trevor Lalish_Menagh #culturecon "Thinking is sort of this new thing. It isn't even habitual yet." -Jim McCarthy
sebpaquet Seb Paquet Jim McCarthy: "The Ancient Greeks tell us a well-designed culture can produce many more geniuses than the default cultures"#culturecon
danmezick Dan Mezick Any observed "org structure" is a 1-time, moment-in-time picture of a moving, adapting, living system: Harrison Owen#culturecon keynote
culturalmaven Ozioma Egwuonwu Culture hacking is one of the most important conversations of our time. #culturecon #RAPPCulture
jeffchausse Jeff Chausse "When you give names to things that didn't have names before, that's power - that's creating culture" -esr #culturecon
petervan Peter Vander Auwera #culturecon > Robert Richman > Focussing exclusively on results is like looking at the scoreboard and forgetting about playing the game
jaycollier Jay Collier Margolis: "Anthropologists contend that 70% of everything we learn is through stories." What stories are held sacred?#culturecon
hackerchick Abby Fichtner Culture is something that's always on & it's something you can hack @danmezick #culturecon
trevmex Trevor Lalish_Menagh #culturecon "Structures are simply figments of our imaginations." -Harrison Owen (I love it!)
petervan Peter Vander Auwera #culturecon > saying that change can't happen is probably the best thing you can say to a corporate rebel to motivate him/her :-)
trevmex Trevor Lalish_Menagh #culturecon you take the design of any organization in America or anywhere else and I'll show you a system that demotivates. ~H. Owen
getstoried Michael Margolis "culture is a feeling." - @robertrichman #CultureCon
bobgower Bob Gower Culture is as much about what's outside the circle as it is about what's inside @getstoried #culturecon
fullcontactdave fullcontactdave #culturecon "What would your work look like if all meetings are optional?"
trevmex Trevor Lalish_Menagh #culturecon " realized I wanted something more complex [than working with machines], so I got into management." -@adhondt Truth.
trevmex Trevor Lalish_Menagh #culturecon was the most HUMAN conference I have ever been to.
drewcm Andrew Marshall Cutlure is about setting the boundaries between what is inside, outside or beneath the construct of org. - @getstoried#culturecon
getstoried Michael Margolis Emotions are contagious. They shape or shift the culture. #CultureCon
jaycollier Jay Collier Kennan Salinero of recommends "Organizing #HigherEd for Collaboration"
venessamiemis Venessa Miemis How to Hack Culture #1: assert control over its linguistic map (ie "curation") - language shapes a culture #CultureCon - Eric Raymond
crdant Chuck D'Antonio "The organization isn't real…the only reality is people." (@SelfMgmtInst) #culturecon
culturalmaven Ozioma Egwuonwu Harrison Owen, founder of Open Space. We've become an answer society, but questions are the critical thing" #RAPPCulture#culturecon
getstoried Michael Margolis "good" is getting what u want" - Jim McCarthy #culturecon
michaelsahota Michael Sahota Unleash potential by designing organizations based on freedom - @tracifenton #CultureCon
venessamiemis Venessa Miemis 4 properties of a good game: 1. well-defined goal. 2. clear rules 3. a way to track progress. 4. opt-in participation #CultureCon
ethicalimpact Ethical Impact L3C Your story is what draws people in WHY do you do what you do? Michael Margolis #culturecon
ethicalimpact Ethical Impact L3C Goals, deadlines = well intentioned fear. Traci Fenton #culturecon
hackerchick Abby Fichtner And @esrtweet just switched from talking about hackers to talking about evangelism. Clearly I am in the right room #culturecon
jaycollier Jay Collier Michael Margolis: Today, for the first time, "we have the DNA code for widespread cultural innovation." #culturecon
jaycollier Jay Collier LeFebvre/Buck: Consent-based decision-making is more effective than consensus or command-and-control - #culturecon
olaflewitz Olaf Lewitz Culture is held together by stories. Stories are a way to make sense of technology.@esrtweet #CultureCon
hackerchick Abby Fichtner True prophets don't create themselves, they rise up out of the aspirations & values of the community around them @esrtweet#culturecon
hackerchick Abby Fichtner Language is powerful. The naming of things is powerful. When you change the language, you shape the culture. @esrtweet#culturecon
petervan Peter Vander Auwera #culturecon afterparty > Corporate Rebels Manifesto > with @mathiasnyc for sharing open space session
ckollm Carol Kollm The law of two feet. You are free to move. #culturecon
jaycollier Jay CollierOverheard: You can't impose a better culture/mindset by bringing in new VPs from above. [Tribal Leadership is worth a look.]#culturecon
joshroman Josh Roman Genius cultures vs default cultures: the Greeks vs everyone else. #culturecon
dlefebvre1701 Dan LeFebvre Storytelling starts with why? Leads to connection. #culturecon @getstoried
trevmex Trevor Lalish_Menagh #culturecon A tribe is a shared story and a venue. A good agile team acts like a tribe. - @adhondt
trevmex Trevor Lalish_Menagh #culturecon when the culture is in trouble, it calls back the outsiders.
michaelsahota Michael SahotaPeople always get mad about things in others that they see in themselves. Not usually. - @mccarthyjim1 #CultureCon
olaflewitz Olaf Lewitz Love this: “I didn’t need to ask for permission. I just decided to speed up the process.@esrtweet at #CultureCon

olaflewitz Olaf Lewitz ++ “@rickwargo: Heard from Harrison Owen at #CultureCon: Our hard work actually creates most of the problems we seek to solve.
jaycollier Jay Collier Margolis: Change the story, change the culture. However, we don't like stories about change. #culturecon

karalafleur Kara LaFleur "Cultures are defined by the languages they share, the jokes they tell about themselves & their collective history" Eric Raymond#culturecon
olaflewitz Olaf Lewitz +++ “@rickwargo: Opt-in participation is the essential element of any good game - Dan Mezick #culturecon#checkout #pass#CoreProtocols :-)
jaycollier Jay Collier LeFebvre/Buck: Conways's law: organizational systems reflect their communication structures. Poor communication, poor system.#culturecon
paul_boos Paul Boos No management, colleague to colleague responsibility at Morning Star; formed via a Constitution. #CultureCon#selfmanagement
jaycollier Jay Collier RT @ethicalimpact: Story telling reveals invisible lines of connection Michael Margolis #culturecon
culturalmaven Ozioma Egwuonwu Agile is transforming our world. The Agile Culture Conf. opened a container for powerful ideas to be explored. #culturecon#RAPPCulture
danmezick Dan Mezick #CultureCon Everyone gets the culture they want. We get what we tolerate. What are we willing to settle for?
adhondt D. André Dhondt #CULTUREcon I am not bound by the laws of rational thought. Creativity and inspiration come from the rich mind (limbic)
culturalmaven Ozioma Egwuonwu Good business practices are in place to boost morale. With high morale we get high work quality." Trevor. #RAPPCulture#culturecon
riczwest Richard West More SciAm: Creativity Predicts a Longer Life The trait of _openness_ improves health through creativity#CultureCon
rickwargo Rick Wargo "The trick to changing a habit is to Insert the same habit in between the trigger and the reward" - Bob Gower #culturecon
culturalmaven Ozioma Egwuonwu Art is going down at Agile Culture conference. The shift of our time spoken into existence by Jim McCarthy #culturecon#RAPPCulture
hackerchick Abby Fichtner Now listening to Eric S Ramond (@esrtweet) on Practical Prophecy 101 #BadAss #culturecon#hackersruletheworld
olaflewitz Olaf Lewitz @jochenkrebs link to the #CultureCon picas album: Lots of pics of you and Harrison… :-)

petervan Peter Vander Auwera #culturecon afterparty > Corporate Rebels Manifesto > with @mathiasnyc for sharing open space session
angel_m Ángel Medinilla I'm going to do this in Spain - or maybe in Europe? I just NEED to #CultureCon
hackreduce hack/reduce Abby (@HackerChick) & Eric S Raymond (@esrtweet) discussing hacker culture at #culturecon #kindofabigdeal
innotribe Here is a sneak preview of the #CultureCon Lexicon - @JohnSBaxter @tobiasmayer
riczwest Richard West MT @DanMezick: Assembling for the epic closing of #culturecon in #bostonhttp | Look fwd 2#culturecon #london next yr
jlindenthal Jim Lindenthal The Culture Game by @DanMezick is number 39 on the annual 2012 Top 100 Agile Books #culturecon#triballeadership
danmezick Dan Mezick #culturecon folk giving @davelogan1 a new experience, if that is possible
selfmgmtinst SelfMgmtInst Organization of the Agile Philly Culture Conference is first class...thanks for inviting SMI! #culturecon
ethicalimpact Ethical Impact L3C What would you do if you were not afraid? Traci Fenton #culturecon
adhondt D. André Dhondt #CULTUREcon the future is now, it's just not widely distributed

Thursday, September 20, 2012

let us take what we have been given...

 At the CULTUREcon Philly reception, my intention was to use music to reinforce what we'd learned throughout the day--so I took my first stab at being a DJ. I started the playlist with John Lennon's Imagine, followed by Black Eyed Peas' One Tribe. Later I played this one by Anne Hill:
The Give Away Song
Let us take what we have been given,Let us take what we have been given,
Let us take what we have been given,
Let us take it and give it away.

The Gift Economy
Today's Culture Tech must be about the gift economy.  An insatiable quest for more, more, more gives us power grabs, hoarding and scarcity. We need to shift perspectives--we need to declare we've got enough stuff, and redirect our focus to arenas of infinite depth--love, intelligence, creativity. Only in this way can we become satiated, can we happy.

Let us take what we have been given, and let us give it away!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

CULTUREcon Philly

What I thought was going to be an event about making something new, about connecting dozens of leaders on the topic of Culture in the Workplace, turned out to be a journey for my own personal growth. It's not that this was entirely unanticipated... I started the day in Philly's CULTUREcon by stating: "Let's start from the only place we can: ourselves". The only thing I didn't realize, is that included me.

This was an event I poured my heart and soul into. I gave my time, my dollars, and everything I could. What did I learn?

All I'm supposed to do, is what I want to do.

It seems like I should write more, but this is all I want to write now, so forget the "should".

Michael Margolis, Dan Mezick, Floyd Marinescu, Venessa Miemis.  See the ease in which they smile for the photo? It's because this journey of doing only what we want to do builds true connection, deep friendships, and joy. That's where I'm at, or where I'm going anyway.  Joy at work! Photo credit Olaf Lewitz.

See also Eric Raymond's blog on CULTUREcon.