Author Archive | Mike Cohn

How to Add the Right Amount of Detail to User Stories

Today’s post introduces the third installment in a free series of training videos all about user stories. Available for a limited time only, you can watch all released videos by signing up to the Better User Stories Mini-Course. Already signed up? Check your inbox for a link to the latest video, or continue reading to […]

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Five Simple but Powerful Ways to Split User Stories

Today’s post introduces the second installment in a free series of training videos all about user stories. Available for a limited time only, you can watch all released videos by signing up to the Better User Stories Mini-Course. Already signed up? Check your inbox for a link to the latest video, or continue reading to […]

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Cross Functional Doesn’t Mean Everyone Can Do Everything

Perhaps the most prevalent and persistent myth in agile is that a cross-functional team is one on which each person possesses every skill necessary to complete the work. This is simply not true. A cross-functional team has members with a variety of skills, but that does not mean each member has all of the skills. […]

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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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