Top 10 Agile Lessons Learned from an Actual Practicing Scrum Master and Product Owner

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Those looking to introduce Agile practices to their team, department or organization can learn a lot from the rich, real-world experience that comes from being a veteran Agile professional. We recently asked Learning Tree Scrum Master Tim Vatne and Learning Tree Web Product Owner Wendy Figueroa to delve into their combined 24 years of Agile experience to offer their Top 10 Agile Lessons Learned - straight from Learning Tree's Agile frontlines:

Top 10 Agile Lessoned Learned - by Tim Vatne, CSM, and Wendy Figueroa, CSPO, PMP

  1. Engage Your Stakeholders in the Priority Process: Hold meetings with Stakeholders before each sprint planning. It helps them understand the business needs and value of the entire organization, (not just their own projects), and fosters collaboration and transparency between all parties. This is also a great way to keep Stakeholders, including Senior Management, informed of project objectives and delivery.
  2. Agile means a Faster Time-to-Market Delivery: At first, it took time to adopt this method, but it is crucial to staying ahead of the competition. There is always time to refine features in later iterations.
  3. Time Boxing is Key: Having a fixed schedule with a given team size allows the team to analyze carefully and focus on the defined requirements set for that time period. Toward the end of the sprint, a Sprint Review meeting is a great way to demonstrate the product to all stakeholders to see the project come to life.
  4. Focus on the User: Creating User stories with acceptance criteria to define the project is an incredibly quick and efficient way for team members to develop, test for quality assurance and user acceptance.
  5. Quality Improvement: By breaking projects down in smaller, more manageable units, the team can focus solely on the defined tasks without the distraction of scope creep. This frees them to ensure what they are delivering is thoroughly vetted to be a high-quality product or service.
  6. Agile is Agile: Priorities change often, and the waterfall methodology may be too rigid to adjust to an ever-changing market. The pandemic has forced us all to reevaluate our business model. Projects that were a considered a high priority before the outbreak may no longer be relevant. As we navigate through this difficult time, we must proactively find solutions to meet our customer's needs.
  7. Management Buy-In is Crucial: It is difficult for the Agile team to navigate in a landscape where some Stakeholders are not on board with the Agile model. Adapting to this model may take time for them until they are comfortable with the advantages of Agile, but it is essential for supporting the team to provide timely and successful product delivery. AgileSHIFT Certification Training: Agile for Everyone
  8. Teams can Modify the Agile Guidelines: It may awhile for a team to find a cadence that works for them. Sprint length, meeting length, any Agile principle may adapt with each iteration. As the teams expand or decrease over time may warrant analysis of their current standards.
  9. Daily Stand-Up Meetings are Just the Right Size: 15 Minutes a day, first thing in the morning, is perfect for each team member to discuss their progress and their roadblocks. This provides the Scrum Master and the Product Owner immediate action items to address should the team members be blocked from completing their tasks.
  10. Sprint Retrospectives are Invaluable: Meetings at the end of a Sprint to review the good, the bad and the ugly has proven to be an extremely productive exercise for continuous improvement. Over time, a team can build a library of best practices. We regard this as an excellent team building benefit of the Agile methodology.
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