07/05/2011

Socialising Scrum with New Media

Social Media has found it's way into the workplace, and its capacity to facilitate interactions makes it a perfect tool for supporting an agile (and lean) framework like Scrum. I'll talk through my experiences on how Social Media enhances and supports Scrum in a large organisation.

Wiki Tools

Business wide wiki tools are a great way for a Product Owner to publish articles such as a product Vision; not only does a wiki enable a good readership but it also facilitates discussion/collaboration to evolve artefacts into shared artefacts that galvanise colleagues' efforts. For products such as the vision, this is key to ensure the Product Owner has represented the business correctly and that the product will fulfil a real need.

Wikis provide a benchmarking mechanism, a lightweight means to record team documentation and can be found in open source projects (see here).

Social Networking

Social Networking tools are also available through open source projects (see here) and businesses should form strong networks (both internally and externally) to support collaboration and knowledge sharing.

I have found that by having networks for processes e.g. Scrum, roles e.g. Product Owner hierarchies, products e.g. groups who trial beta releases, and disciplines e.g. Agile testing, unique discussions can be created across large organisations that fill in the methodology gaps that Scrum doesn't provide (capturing backlog requirements, estimating etc...) and lessons learnt in one team can be readily shared with another (when the situation fits). I like to call this ambient coaching, and it's a great way to support organisations on their path to both lean and agile. Scrum teams can also view their product's discussions, allowing them to support the Product Owner in developing the backlog.

Micro Blogging

Last but not least, I have recently utilised micro-blogging to facilitate several Scrum teams' interactions. As long as the tools used within Agile teams facilitate interactions between people, they are in line with the Agile mindset e.g. planning tools should not hide away information that then doesn't get discussed by the team.

Micro blogging provides a daily conversation about the living product, improved value to users of released products by reducing support times/interactions, and encourages innovation when new and diverse areas become aware of and discuss your product.

Items submitted are typically published across the organisation (which forms their true value for collaboration), and although the micro-blogs themselves don't carry much information they typically refer to other material and/or lead to follow on meetings and discussions

Inter-team communications can also be improved, especially when teams are not co-located. Micro-blogs create an awareness of what is happening in the team beyond the standup meeting. Microblogs constantly remind colleagues (in an optional manner, the micro-blogs can be ignored) that they are part of a wider team, producing something new as a result of the combined knowledge in that group, I have seen a positive effect on motivation due to this awareness, knowledge that people are not working on tasks that do not affect the wider team. The reduction in waste between handoffs also helps teams meet their sprint commitments e.g. "feature X ready for testing now, get to the gui at this link".

Social Participation

The power of Social Media tools is only realised if both the publishing and retrieval of communications is achieved. It is therefore essential that a means of finding this information is created to enable participation across the organisation e.g. a federation tool that can pull back information based on content and tag information.

Social Media participation also requires that it is accepted by your area/department so that enough time can be devoted to participating in discussions to build on or re-enforce what a colleague has said.

If you don't already utilise (scrum) social media in your organisation I encourage you to experiment, maybe bring it up in your next retrospective?

1 comment:

  1. Arran, really glad you wrote this up. I am convinced that, used the right way, social media can make a big difference to the effectiveness of agile methods. I would emphasis the value of being able to engage, meaningfully and in real time, a much wider group of users. This will inspire users and developers alike, bring genuine diversity of thought and ultimately deliver better software faster.

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