Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The 10 Commandments of Brainstorming

Josh Linkner put out some rules on brainstorming:

1. Thou shall not judge: Keep the ideas flowing. You can evaluate or rank them later.

2. Thou shall not comment: There are no silly, stupid, nor outrageous ideas during brainstorming.

3. Thou shall not edit: Keep the ideas coming even if they are sloppy. You can clear them up later.

4. Thou shall not execute: Do not jump to implementation.

5. Thou shall not worry: Every idea matters. Don't be fearful to throw them out there.

6. Thou shall not look backwards: Don't hold back because previous ideas where not adopted.

7. Thou shall not loose focus: Stay on track and move unrelated topics for later discussion.

8. Thou shall not sap energy: Stay engaged and energized.

9. Thou shall not compare: Even if ideas appear similar to others, write them down and keep moving.

10. Thou shall not make funny at others' expense: Do not laugh at ideas that come out.

    The full article is available on Forbes.com at http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/20/brainstorming-ideation-ideas-leadership-managing-innovation.html

    Sunday, April 4, 2010

    Determing Velocity

    Agile Estimating and PlanningIn his book Agile Estimating and Planning, Mike Cohn explains that there are 3 ways to determine a team’s velocity:

    1. Observation: Run a couple of iterations and observe the team’s actual velocity.

    2. Historical data: Use historical data from previously run similar projects with the same team.

    3. Forecasting: Estimate the team’s velocity by following these steps:
    • a. Determine total hours available per iteration. Assuming a 2 week iteration then there are 80 hours per iteration (8 hours/day * 10 calendar days = 80 hours). For a 6 member team this becomes 6*80=480 ideal man hours.
    • b. Assume a focus factor of 50%. This takes into account time spent in meetings, sending emails, answering phone calls, preparing for presentations or demos, etc... 480/2=240 hours.
    • c. From the product backlog, pick stories of various sizes (2, 3, 5, 8) and expand them into tasks. In this case it is not necessary to pick stories based on priority. Instead try to find a representative set of stories (different complexity and varied topics.)
    • d. Estimate the tasks and repeat until you have enough tasks to fill the team’s capacity of 240 hours.
    • e. The team’s forecast velocity is the sum of the selected story points.

    Your 1st option should always be to use observation. However, if you do not have the time to run a couple of iterations, then choose historical or forecast velocity but remember to always switch to the actual observed velocity after completing a couple of iterations.