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In James Clear’s book Atomic Habits he refers to the practice of “environment design” for helping you change your habits. The idea being that your environment plays a big role in whether you succeed or fail in adopting a new habit e.g. if you want to start running then put your running shoes where they are easier to find, if you want to stop smoking then probably you shouldn’t hang out with your smoker-buddies…

Similarly when we introduce Scrum to an organization that doesn’t support it, we must “redesign” the environment where possible, otherwise your team’s noble attempts to develop…

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Firstly, this post is a massive shoutout to all single parents, parents with multiple kids, parents working multiple jobs, working in places with less-than-satisfactory employee rights, living as expats with little or no support network — and generally anyone who needs to look after a dependent while also holding down and succeeding at their job(s).

I love my daughter and I love spending time with her, but parenting is hard. When you throw work into the mix it becomes next-level hard. In today’s hustle society, being a good parent and a good professional sometimes feels like an impossible juggling act…

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I’ve not come across many teams that use, let alone know that much about throughput. For the most part, velocity rules the roost when it comes to capacity planning, however, throughput can be just as useful (and you don’t need to estimate with story points… or at all… if that’s your thing.)

Velocity vs Throughput

Similar to how Fahrenheit and Celsius both measure temperature, throughput and velocity are different measures for a team’s capacity.

Velocity tells us capacity via the amount of completed effort (as estimated in story points). Throughput tells us capacity via the amount of completed tasks.

Both are used in…

If you’ve read my article “Scrum Master’s don’t own the process”, you might then ask what exactly are we held to account for?

Our profession is sometimes thought of as not having any “skin in the game”. If we are not directly affected by outcomes, then doesn’t that mean we can just do whatever we want, can avoid delivering on business goals, can just blame someone else for problems and not have to explain our actions? What’s more, why should anyone even include us in discussions?

Authority and accountability

First I think it’s safe to say that in order to be accountable, you…

Shouldn’t we estimate spikes and bugs? What about “ghost work” like time spent on professional growth? Maybe we should re-estimate tasks that we partially completed? What if we associate story points with hours worked? That would make it easier for us to know how many story points to remove when Bob goes on holiday, and therefore more accurately plan. Or maybe let’s just add the number of points we think Bob usually completes in order to maintain our velocity.

These are all questions I hear quite frequently. …

Despite what many job descriptions say these days, as scrum masters or agile coaches, we are not enforcers. We do not own or overtly control the process that our teams use. We are coaches.

A revision of the scrum guide in fact now even better reflects this. It went from:

The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring Scrum is understood and enacted. Scrum Masters do this by ensuring that the Scrum Team adheres to Scrum theory, practices, and rules.


The Scrum Master is responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. …

This is the second part of a two-part series on our love/ hate relationship with hierarchies. You can read part I here.

A #nomanagement movement seems to have taken root because of the failings of hierarchies, and the management style associated with them, in complex environments (see Part I). Now, even the word ‘manager’ often has a certain stigma associated with it. Somewhat consequentially, flat organizations, or organizations that drastically cut out middle management, have gained notable popularity usually with admirable intentions to create better conditions for surviving a complex environment.

In particular, concepts such as self-organization and networking are…

While story points are a common method for estimating in software development, the problem is that they are a seemingly difficult concept to grasp. Yet, ironically, because they have become somewhat of a best practice, teams can often be a bit reluctant to try anything else; as if story pointing is just what agile teams do; as if abandoning story points will somehow make them less agile. The line of thinking is usually something similar to: “If we’re an agile team, then shouldn’t we be estimating in story points (because it’s a best practice)?”

Best practices aren’t always the best

Best practices are contextual. They become…

As an Agile Coach, I often ponder organizational structure. In particular, I find hierarchies intriguing. I work in one, yet because of my profession am sometimes considered part of a community that is seen to overtly reject them. But what is a hierarchy really? And if they are as bad as we think they are, why are they still around, and why have we not all shifted to flatter, more networked structures?



a system in which members of an organization or society are ranked according to relative status or authority.

Hierarchy is a natural phenomenon. That is, it…

Photographic Collection from Australia [CC BY 2.0 (]

I’m going to talk about something briefly that isn’t revolutionary. It’s not new. It’s not mind-blowing. But it is, I feel, one of those things that when said “out loud” makes you nod your head in guilty silence.

More often then not, the product backlogs that I see are enormous and rather unruly like an eighty-year-old apple tree on the side of some winding backroad. Not surprisingly, the longer the team has been around for, the longer the backlog and the more ‘dead weight’ it has accrued.

Unintentionally, it frequently becomes a ‘dumping ground’ of sorts for anything and everything…

Austin Mackesy-Buckley

An Agile Coach who writes from time to time about his thoughts and experiences.

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