Challenging the Sprint - An Interview with John Cutler

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How to Stop Treating People as Resources w/ Mika Trottier

Becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer w/ Anderson Hummel

Challenging the Sprint - An Interview with John Cutler

Giora Morein - The State of Agile and Post-SAFeism

Why Digital Transformation is More Important than Agile Transformation w/ Devin Hedge



John Cutler describes himself as a Product Development Nut. He’s deeply focused on Product Development with a Lean /Agile approach and finding ways to improve how we work. He posts his thoughts in Medium, and although he says he is not a professional blogger, he generates new content about twice a week. I really enjoy reading his posts because they always challenge me and push me into seeing things through a different perspective. 

 

A few weeks ago John posted an article called “Flow, Decoupling Cadences and Fixed Sprint Lengths” in which he challenged the idea of Sprint time boxes.  (There is a video version if you’d rather watch that). The article was thought provoking and left me with a number of questions. So I reached out to John and he was kind enough to let me pester him with my questions in a podcast.

 

 

Show Notes

  • 00:08 Interview Begins
  • 00:50 Some background on John
  • 04:31 Lessons John learned as a touring musician that help him work with teams and build new products
  • 07:46 Intentionally disrupting your flow in order to grow and learn
  • 08:47 Introduction of the main topic - Flow, Decoupling Cadences and Fixed Length Sprints
  • 11:48 Understand they why behind the practices you are applying and figuring out how to make them work for you
  • 13:30 What job do we hire the Sprint for? If you don’t know why you are using these time boxes, they may not be helping
  • 19:47 If you are failing Sprints, is it about the length of the Sprint or the size of the work? Get ridiculously uncomfortable.
  • 22:09 When you can’t get through it, go slower and do less. Blazing away at tempo is not going to help anyone
  • 23:29 Why brand new teams should start by going slower and doing less
  • 25:17 Is it that Scrum doesn’t work, or that people aren’t doing it right?
  • 30:02 Be intentional and understand why you are employing practices, and then figure out how you’ll know if they work
  • 32:27 What is your company hiring Agile to do?
  • 33:42 Know your audience
  • 38:00 Filling your Product Backlog with goals instead of features
  • 41:18 Visualizing dependencies in your backlog - WITH STRING!
  • 51:55 How to reach John
  • 52:36 John’s upcoming events and deliverables
  • 54:31 John’s writing process
  • 55:40 Podcast Ends

 

Links from the Podcast

 

Contacting John

Posted on: January 18, 2018 12:42 PM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Both the Modern Agile movement & Scrumban provide alternatives to using sprints or iterations so there definitely are viable alternatives for agile delivery. However, for large organizations which are getting started with agile, sprints do remove some of the decision making a team would have to go through otherwise which can be challenging if they don't have a good understanding of their workflow, when they have sufficient capacity to pull the next work item, and when the "right" time is to do a demo, retrospective or stand-up.

As with everything else in agile and project management, there are no absolute best practices.

Kiron

Great stuff! Thanks, Dave - and John

Informative, thanks for sharing

Great podcast and getting better all the time.

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