1. Read the transcript of, “Agile Communication Tools and Techniques” below. Suggest at least two (2) strategies that an agile facilitator can use to coach his / her team during standard agile meetings. Suggest two (2) actions that an agile facilitator should exhibit and two (2) actions that an agile facilitator should not exhibit during the meetings. Provide a rationale for your response.
Communication plays a key part on an Agile project. There are a couple different elements of communication. One of them is written communication, and we saw there that we want to try to be minimalistic in terms of our written communication, but we’re going to talk in a second about some of the ways that we can communicate using written forms on an Agile project. But given that we know that we’re going to be a little more minimalistic in terms of our written communication, it requires us to be a lot more proactive in terms of our verbal communication. And it’s one of the things about Agile that makes it relatively successful is that you’re doing a lot more communication, and a lot of the communication that you might have been doing on paper, now you’re going to be doing face-to-face, you’re going to be doing over the phone. So, there’s a heavy reliance in Agile on communication. This is good because a lot of the work of a project requires you to do a lot of communication.
So, for instance, on a normal project, let’s say a normal non-Agile project, we might do a weekly status review or status update meeting–very common. On some projects maybe every other week, but let’s just say it was a weekly meeting. Well, the thing with an Agile project is, is that is not nearly going to be enough. So with Agile we typically have daily meetings. We have daily meetings with the project team, and if we need our customer involved or our product owners, they’re going to also be at the meeting. When we have questions for our product owner or questions for our customer we’re going to have to be able to give those questions immediately to the product owner, and we’re going to rely on them to give us feedback in a fairly expedited manner. We’re not going to be able to have an Agile project that’s going to have a two-week iteration if we have to ask a question of our product owner and it takes them a week and a half to get back to us like on a traditional project. So the whole model around short iterative development requires us to have very crisp and very quick communications. So it’s actually one of the strengths of an Agile project to be able to communicate effectively.
Now, on the written side, there are some neat areas of communication there as well. One of the things that a lot of Agile projects do is they create an information radiator. And what the radiator means is that we have one place where we have most all of the basic information that’s going on with the Agile project. This could just be a whiteboard, or it could be a set of flip charts, and on that flip chart we might have some kind of a burndown chart that tells us how many of the use cases that we’ve completed in this iteration and all of the prior iterations and how many are left, we may have a sense for the errors we’re getting–they may actually be written up on the board. We may have overall status in terms of the project as of today could be written on that information radiator and other things that are interesting and that are going on at any given time. So if you’re part of the Agile team, you don’t always have to rely on going around and talking with everybody to see what’s going on. You have the daily status meeting or the daily Scrum meeting, that they call it in the Scrum methodology, or you have some kind of information radiator that basically is a snapshot of what’s going on with the project at any given time.
Another thing that most Agile teams have is some kind of team space which is also fairly important. If the team is co-located, that is if they tend to all be in the same area, you can actually have a physical team space that you can use–actually for people to work in if not to meet in, they could actually be working in there–but if not at least you’ve got a place that you can always count on to meet. You can meet informally in there, or formally, at any given time. You can put information up on the walls; you can put flow charts up on the walls. Basically, it’s a whole room dedicated to communication, being able to walk in and see what’s going on with a project at any given time. Now, if your team is virtual, what we’re going to try to do is create a virtual team room, with some kind of a technology, maybe a team room software package that we can use so that at any given time, we can go to a certain area and see what’s going on in terms of status, in terms of progress, in terms of the end of the iteration–you know, problems that we’re facing, etc.
One of the other things that the team room does for us, if we’re able to be co-located–this is not something that you can take advantage of with a virtual team–but if we have a team room where people can actually visit and actually can meet together, then we have something that we can take advantage of called osmotic communication. And what osmotic communication is is it’s communication that you hear on the periphery. In other words, you may be talking to somebody on the Agile team in the team room, and somebody else might come in and have a discussion on some Agile requirement or maybe some kind of problem that they’re facing, and even though you’re not part of that particular problem or that particular requirement, you can’t help but hear because you’re co-located in that team room, and there may be something that will come up that’ll just catch your ear, and you’ll be able to contribute something to that other area, that other problem, or that other requirement. That ability to do that is called osmotic communication. Now you can’t do that if you’re in a team room and you have headphones on all day listening to music, but assuming that you have a place that you’re all located together, that’s another thing that we can take advantage of on an Agile project.
2. Recommend two (2) ways that one can use powerful observations, powerful questions, and powerful challenges to help a team’s communication. Include two (2) examples of the recommended actions to support your response.