Mike Lowery

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Articles by Mike

Are your votes going to waste?

Jun 23, 2014

It's common among Agile teams to use some form of voting to make decisions, and that's especially true for retrospectives where the team as a whole decides what to fix next. Over the years I have facilitated many retrospectives and had the opportunity to vote for many things, over that time some pat... continue reading

Stand by your values!

Nov 06, 2013

I recently ran a “get to know your team” session to help a team with lots of new members to better understand each other’s history, motivations, likes and dislikes. We did a number of exercises including journey lines, what do you value and team flags and we wrapped it up with postcards (insert ref... continue reading

Sometimes average is good.

Sept 26, 2013

The Big Estimation Debate There have always been, and no doubt always will be debate over estimation; the pros and cons, behaviour anti-patterns and the how and why of it all. In this post I am not going get into that debate but I want to share with you some experiences I have had with estimation th... continue reading

Sprint planning - turning the what into how

May 01, 2013

What does your sprint planning meeting look like? Are you the "do it as fast as you can" efficiency hounds or the "sit and listen while the tech lead drones on" type, or are you a "real team" who fight for great designs and customer experiences? Having watched and attended a few hundred of these mee... continue reading

It's all about demand

Nov 05, 2012

When you are coaching / mentoring there are times when you just get stuck, no matter what you try the message does not get through. You speak to your peers and you come up blank there too. This happened to me when I was coaching a development team manager, they had sort of adopted some Agile practic... continue reading

Chart your happiness

Oct 22, 2012

We all know or at least we should know that retrospectives are one of the Agile recipe's 11 secret herbs and spices. It performs a valuable role in the improvement of the team and its practices, as well as throwing up a whole host organisational issues. One step / practice when you are setting the s... continue reading

Evolving the Story map

Sept 04, 2012

I can't say enough about how useful story maps are and how essential they are on any Agile project. Jeff Pattonis the undisputed (certainly in my mind) master of the story map and it's well worth looking at the materials on his site. Jeff summarises a story map as, "A prioritized user story backlog... continue reading

It's a game of two halves

Aug 06, 2012

Does development process for the stories you build in the first half of the sprint flow nicely, do you have few defects? How about the second half of the sprint? Do you miss things, are there more defects? The team I am currently working for rocks our current Scrum practices are well embedded and un... continue reading

It might look like rapids, but it's still a waterfall

Jul 02, 2012

This is my second post in my Scrum coaching patterns series. In my last post I asked for some help with a pattern format that I could follow and at least one person must have read my blog as I now have a shiny new format to follow thanks to Gareth Evans for this. This is based on Linda Rising and Li... continue reading

The non challenging Scrum Master

Apr 09, 2012

Earlier this year I was invited to join the Scrum plop, to help write some patterns for the Scrum community, unfortunately the stars were not right and I was not able to attend. It did however help me answer a question that a great friend and fellow Agilist Sandy Mamoli put to me, which was "how do... continue reading

Exploring servant leadership

Oct 13, 2011

A few weeks ago I was sitting next to a log fire, sharing a glass of wine with a few like minded individuals chatting about all things Agile, one of the things we discussed was a time when one of the party was a Scrum Master and that they had a team admin who used to collect all the story data and d... continue reading

Kanban is not for the Idle or Newbies

Jul 27, 2011

For four of my six and a half Agile years I was solidly in the Scrum camp, Lean, in my opinion, was already part of Scrum and its influence made Scrum even better. I don't think that any Agile practice is for the work shy and there is a lot of personal courage needed to get any practice working well... continue reading

Even done is never done

Jul 21, 2011

A “done” definition in an Agile project is a statement that the team use to measure whether they’ve met all of the requirements for completing a userstory / feature (and in some cases completing an iteration or release). Done is one of the major shifts from doing Agile to being Agile. So, what is “d... continue reading

The Wall of Pain

Jul 20, 2011

Software projects experience a problem called technical debt. In short, technical debt is the result of making a quick and dirty work around (often for valid reasons such as deadlines) which creates rework later. I recently visited an organisation that had a wall of pain which I thought was an excel... continue reading

The document dilemma

Jul 20, 2011

The Agile manifesto states “Working software over comprehensive documentation” – this seems to be one of the biggest mindset shifts that organisations need to make when adopting any Agile framework. For some people that simple statement brings up visions of chaos, lack of control, and the worst fear... continue reading