Author Archive | Mike Cohn

Why the Whole Team Should Participate When Estimating

A well-established best practice is that those who will do the work, should estimate the work, rather than having an entirely separate group estimate the work. But when an agile team estimates product backlog items, the team doesn’t yet know who will work on each item. Teams will usually make that determination either during iteration […]

Continue Reading

Six Books for Your Summer Reading List

Most weeks I try to read at least one nonfiction book. It can be hard some weeks because of travel, work, family, or any other reasons. One of the many nice things about summer is that I usually get a bit more reading time. I’d like share with you six books I’ve either read recently […]

Continue Reading

Four Things to Do Before the Scrum Master Goes on Vacation

Ahhh, summer. Warm weather. Beaches. Barbecues. And vacations. Vacations are great, but what happens when a team’s Scrum Master goes on vacation? Should someone fill in? Should the team refactor code and fix bugs rather than try to work in a sprint while the Scrum Master is away? To a large extent, answers depend on […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

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, […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading