Author Archive | Mike Cohn

The Two Ways to Add Detail to User Stories

If you’re interested in adding detail to user stories, you’ll want to sign up for the series of four free videos I’ll release starting September 26. These videos will cover important topics related to user stories, such as story-writing workshops, story mapping, the five techniques you need to split any story, and getting the right […]

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Better User Stories Will Re-Open for Enrollment Soon

Good news! The Better User Stories FREE video course will return on September 26 when for two weeks only, you can access four sample lessons that address some of the toughest challenges teams face with user stories. Registration for the FULL Better User Stories course will be open for one week starting October the 4th […]

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Two Types of Authority Leaders Must Give to Self-Organizing Teams

What does it mean to say an agile team is self-organizing? And is that even the right term? Some people say teams are self-managing. To understand which of those terms might be better, let’s consider four levels of authority teams can assume. Four Ways of Distributing Authority Richard Hackman, a Harvard University professor, described four […]

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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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