Home » Author Archives: Johanna Rothman

Author Archives: Johanna Rothman

Johanna consults, speaks, and writes about managing product development. She helps managers and leaders do reasonable things that work. You can read more of her writings at jrothman.com.

Pushing vs. Pulling Work in Your Agile Project

If you’re thinking about agile or trying to use it, you probably started with iterations in some form. You tried (and might be still trying) to estimate what you can fit into an iteration. That’s called “pushing” work, where you commit to some number of items of work in advance. And, if you have to service interruptions, such as support ...

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Iterations and Increments

Agile is iterative and incremental development and frequent delivery with cultural change for transparency. What do the words iterative and incremental mean? Iterative means we take a one-piece-at-a-time for creating an entire feature. Iterative approaches manage the technical risk. We learn about the risk as we iterate through the entire feature set. Incremental means we deliver those pieces of value. Incremental approaches ...

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Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 3

I started this series writing about the need for coaches in Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 1. I continued in Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 2, talking about the changed role of managers in agile. In this part, let me address the role of senior managers in agile and how coaches might help. For years, we have organized our people ...

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Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 2

In Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 1, I wrote about circumstances under which a team might want a coach. It wasn’t an exhaustive list. It had several questions defining when coaches might help the team to become agile, not be cargo cult agile. One of the reasons we might need coaches for a team is because of the changed manager role ...

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Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 1

There was a fascinating Twitter conversation last week when I was busy writing other things. (I also find Twitter to be a difficult-for-me arena to have a conversation. I need more than 140 characters.) The conversation started when Neil Killick tweeted this: orgs need coaches not because “agile is unintuitive”, but because effective sw delivery is a team game requiring ...

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What Agile Project Managers Do Not Do, Part 2

In What Agile Project Managers Do, Part 1, I spoke about what agile project managers might do. Here’s what agile project managers do not do: The agile project manager does not assign work. The agile project manager does not estimate work on behalf of the team. The agile project manager does not commit to features, stories, or tasks on behalf ...

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What Agile Project Managers Do, Part 1

One of the questions I hear all the time with people transitioning to using agile is this: How do we organize the project if we don’t have a project manager? If you read Manage It!, you know I don’t buy the idea of a controlling project manager. But a facilitative project manager? Oh my. That is a horse of a ...

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Three Tips for Sizing Defect Fixes

As I’m teaching my Practical Product Owner workshop, some POs are having trouble understanding how big a defect is. Sure, they want to have small(er) stories, but a defect isn’t done until it’s all fixed, and the team has decided if they need automated regression tests added to the smoke tests. So, here are three possibilities for sizing defects: Ask ...

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Making Release Frictionless, a Business Decision, Part 2

In Part 1, I talked about small stories/chunks of work, checking in all the time so you could build often and see progress. That assumes you know what done means. Project “done” means release criteria. Here are some stories about how I started using release criteria. Back in the 70s, I worked in a small development group. We had 5 or 6 ...

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