Author Archive | Mike Cohn

My Top 11 Posts of 2017

Last year I began a new year-end tradition intended to help you catch up on any of my blogs you might have missed: a countdown of my most popular posts. So without further ado, here is my second annual list: My Top 11 Posts of 2017! (If you’re curious about how we arrived at this […]

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The Importance of Overlapping Work in Agile

A central tenet of agile is to avoid working in phases. On an agile project, There is no analysis phase followed by a design phase followed by a coding phase and ultimately a testing stage. Instead work overlaps in what is commonly called concurrent engineering. For example, as a user interface is being designed by […]

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Do Scrum Teams Meet Too Much?

One of the most frequent criticisms I hear of Scrum when teaching Certified Scrum Master courses is “Scrum teams have too many meetings.” With daily scrums, sprint planning meetings, sprint reviews, retrospectives and possibly even product backlog refinement meetings, it’s easy to understand the basis for this concern. But let’s see if it’s true. An […]

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Five Lessons I’m Thankful I Learned in my Agile Career

Since it’s Thanksgiving week here in the United States, I took some time out of my schedule to reflect on some lessons I’m very thankful to have learned through my career. While these lessons are not unique to Scrum or even agile, each has been a big part of my success with agile. For each […]

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The Four Reasons to Have a Consistent Sprint Length

An agile team should maintain a consistent sprint length. Unfortunately, when I first began doing iterative and incremental development (even a bit before doing what today we’d call agile development), I made the mistake of not having all of our sprints be the same length. We would meet at the start of a sprint to […]

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Schedule vs. Cost: The Tradeoff in Agile

To a large extent, agile is about making tradeoffs. Product owners learn they can trade scope for schedule: get more later or less sooner. Agile projects need to strike a balance between no upfront thinking and too much upfront thinking, a subject I’ve written about before. I want to write now about a tradeoff that […]

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Six Times Two Plus One Equals a Good Project Cadence

In last month's newsletter I wrote about the idea that everything happens within a sprint. There is no “outside a sprint” during which team members might do things like design, bug fixing, or anything else. In this newsletter I want to share one possible exception to that.  Something I've been doing for years is called […]

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Only Show Finished Work During a Sprint Review—Maybe

I was at dinner years ago with my wife, a friend and his girlfriend. After the main course, our waiter brought around a dessert tray. As he pointed out each dessert option, the waiter made a show of flicking his finger into the item he was discussing. Fortunately, the items were all plastic and his […]

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Placing Rules on Self-Organizing Teams

Many of the challenges in agile and Scrum stem from the idea of the self-organizing team. Of course, many (perhaps most) of the benefits are also the result of self-organizing teams. One of the questions I get from many leaders is whether it's OK to mandate the team do something like use a particular tool, […]

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Don’t Take Partial Credit for Semi-Finished Stories

Coming close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. That pretty much sums up my view on whether teams should take partial credit on nearly finished stories when calculating velocity. In this newsletter, though, I do want to address some of the reasons why. Typically, a team wants partial credit when they're reached the end […]

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