Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coolban: Part 3 – Welcome to Coolban

The first rule of Coolban is "you do not talk about Kanban". The second rule of Coolban is "you do not talk about Coolban". We are not about labels and fashions. We are not about process fondness an methodology zealotry. We want to be highly profitable for the enterprise, professionally accomplished as individuals and harmonically gelled as a group.

Blindly following anything is a recipe for disaster. Every agile methodology warns about adapting principles and practices to your context. We are lucky to have a mix of experienced agilists with energetic journeymen. That's why having a custom process was a no-brainer. We are taking any idea that seems to help us achieve our goals, experimenting, reflecting and adapting it accordingly.

Coolban is an experiment inspired on Kanban and bounded by Enterprise Scrum rules. Lean is meant to reach the whole enterprise but it's also common to have Scrumban as a transitional step. Our biggest impedance with the system so far has been on the strategy/business side. It could be due to the inherent lack of time to build trust by a newborn team along with human resistance to changes.

These impedances provide context and opportunity for adaptations. For instance, we plan and estimate biweekly. During these sessions we also write high level acceptance tests. The POs are not actively involved in the generation of the tests or in the pull mechanics of Coolban. They just want to see the story follow the workflow in Jira like every other team does.

We put the sprint stories on the story cloud on top of the Coolban with the estimate on them. Once a slot becomes available on the Ready stage the story can enter the stream. After all the planned stories are pulled from the cloud we request to bring a story into the sprint. However the PO might consider we have too much WIP and not feel comfortable with a safe sprint completion. At that point we simply pull from the prioritized backlog without officially being committed by Scrum rules.

The flow rules are also synchronized with Jira's workflow. We set the story to In Process before it's moved into Code, to In Build before the Build stage and to the done spike after is Closed in Jira. The tasks for dependencies are tracked with stickers. And we are also planning on attaching a picture of the team member Assigned To the story.

Secretly yes, we want to influence the enterprise. We are set to propagate and participate on initiatives to continuously improve the system as a whole. We invite you to do the same within your bounded context while keeping the harmony in the system. Welcome to Coolban, if you are not content with the status quo, you have to fight.

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