March 7th, 2014

Normalise Value Not Velocity

There has been a big discussion recently on the advocation within SAFe of story-point normalisation across development teams. For my part, my natural gag-reflex is somewhat tempered by the fact that I can see an innocent desire to see where to focus work and budget within a larger organisation. Regardless of whether normalising of story-point estimates across teams is good, bad, helpful or harmful, I think there is a much better factor to focus on normalising - and that is the definition of value.

I regularly teach Scrum to teams and organisations. Scrum is agnostic in how items are valued, it merely requires stack ranking of priorities so that the team know what they next highest priority item is for them to work on. I have found that product owners get a lot of value from relatively valuing their product backlog items - putting a currency value on them so that something with $1000 is worth twice as much to them, and their users, as something that is valued at $500. This isn't absolute dollars we are talking about here but relative dollars - or Geoff Dollars as I often call them. This has proven valuable in terms of identifying how much value each sprint is returning and helps the development teams know where the value is coming from. I even see a lot of proactive collaboration where development teams identify ways to maximise Geoff Dollars.

Another benefit of Geoff Dollars - or any relative valuing approach - is that, unless the Product Owner continually re-stocks their product backlog with high value items, the value delivered by later sprints will naturally decrease. It will therefore become very visible when we should consider stopping the project as the cost of each sprint will remain the same but the value delivered will be reducing.

This is a great way of focussing effort on the highest value-creating items within a project. But why stop there? If we, as an organisation can define a consistent method of valuation then we can work out which projects deserve our sponsoring. This, in my opinion, is less dysfunctional than normalising velocity across teams and actually encourages positive behaviours.


Geoff Dollars / Normalisation / Product Owner / Safe / Standardisation / Story Points / Value / Velocity

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September 12th, 2011

The One Where Someone Keeps Being Late

Overview The Sonics were a team about half way through their first sprint and having their first experiences with Scrum. At the same time this was their first project together as a team and, as such, were just getting used to each other and establishing a working rhythm. The ScrumMaster, Darryl, was also new to Scrum but was chosen to be the ScrumMaster because of his “people skills”. His history showed he had the ability to bring people together to work effectively as a team. Sprint planning went relatively well and everyone was relatively comfortable that what the team had committed to was achievable and the team seemed motivated by the project. During the sprint Darryl noted that people were focussing on the tasks that they s... read more



Daily Scrum / Retrospective / Scrummaster / Story / Team / Teamwork / The One With

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August 18th, 2011

Story Spines: An exercise in emergence

Gaining faith in emergence is a major part of agile: our designs, architectures, requirements and solutions emerge over the course of an agile project. Teams and teamwork also emerge over the course of time and this is often one of the most scary parts of agile for the teams I work with. Tamm & luyet also state in "Radical Collaboration" that 'faith in emergence' is one of the behaviours in collaborative teams. Collaboration in a team, as you are undoubtedly aware if you have seen it, is so much more powerful than just co-operation. At the Scrum Gathering in Amsterdam last year, Simon Bennett introduced me to a game he plays that helps teams get used to the idea of emergence. This is how it goes: 1. Set up a row of 6 chairs (the actual ... read more



Emergence / Game / Story

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