ScrumTalks - Rachel Martz

In January, we hosted Rachel, an Agile Delivery Leader at GoodLeap as a part of her personal mission to help people overcome the common fears of working with data. We talked about the importance of being data-informed, how to get started, and more.


Noa: So I think I will introduce you again in like two minutes. How about to anyone that already has joined us then I'm very excited to have Rachel Martz with me here today. We're gonna be talking about Scrum, basically, and we're going to focus on data. And I'm gonna say that again and very soon.

But once while we're waiting for people to start, I wanna get started with an icebreaker. Like I always love to. To do that, I'm gonna take you to the feature request board. I'm not sure, Rachel, if you've seen it already. Have you seen it?

Rachel: I think I saw it briefly.

Noa: Cool. So you haven't had a chance to add anything here yet?

No. Okay. So if anyone's not familiar with it, basically this is a public board and anyone can add their feature requests to go retro right. Or just vote on existing requests. We try to move everything that was already done to the done column, of course. And it's another way for you to get updates.

But today I'm gonna be using this for an icebreaker. Are you ready, Rachel? Sure. Cool. Okay, so our question is teleportation or flying. Would you like to start?

Sure. I, I have my answer, but that's very clear to me.

Rachel: Oh, sure. You know I think I would pick teleportation for sure. I like the idea of the efficiency, but I also think it would be pretty interesting to be able to kind of like pop in and out of like different sensor.


Noa: the, I'm imagining you teleporting inside into different teams, retrospectives or planning meetings, . And suddenly disappearing? Yeah. Yeah. For me it's a hundred percent ta teleportation as well, first because I get motion sickness very easily. So, so I'm sure I'm not gonna enjoy flying. But also I've always said like teleportation is just my dream.

Like being able to travel just like that to anywhere definitely would be a dream. For me. Cool. Yeah. I see. We also have comments. I think everyone is on our side for teleport team. Cool. Yeah. So I think that would be enough for now. Okay. So I think we are ready to start. Sorry, skip that one.

So what we are going to talk about today we are going to do a, I'm going to do a really quick intro of acumen. Then we are going to introduce again, Rachel, our guest star today. And then we're gonna talk we're gonna talk about Scrum and we're going to be focused on data, and we're gonna talk about that a lot.

And then at the end, we will have some time for questions and answers as well. If you have any questions, please feel free to just start add your questions whenever they pop to your mind. If we can, we'll stop to ask to answer your questions. And if not, worst case, we'll just leave them to the end.

That that's. So a bit about acumen. Basically Gora is a tool by Acumen. And what we've done is we've created the first sprint and delivery management tool. We are offering a one-stop shop for all agile processes. And the goal, of course is to increase delivery and, and efficiency.

So today we're already supporting your planning processes, the implementation of the sprint with the sprint monitoring and of course the review and retrospective itself. Of course, you have to take care of the deployment. Well, sorry, it's very loud here. Okay, so we are officially ready to start.

So again, I'm happy to introduce Rachel. Rachel, you wanna say hi?

Rachel: Hi.

Noa: I'm gonna read this about you and then I'm gonna let you give you a chance to introduce yourself a bit more if you would like. So Rachel performed almost every product development role imaginable. I love this. Accidentally fell into agile space in 2008.

Became data obsessed after establishing an agile. And analytics division in 2017. I think that's what something we have in common, being data obsessed. And that's why we decided the focus of today will be data and now on a personal mission to help people overcome the common fears of working with data.

Another reason why we'll be focusing on data today, I think you know, you've said this to me and I think it resonates so well because I talk to people all day and I see how. Would like to work with data, but yeah, the fear is definitely there. The fear of the unknown or something like that. Anything else you'd like to add? Rachel.

Rachel: You know, it's like, no, I think that that kind of bullet points me for the most part. Just one thing to know, it's like I do live in Chicago. I do live in Chicago, Illinois. You know, at this point it's like I've probably you know, I've probably worked with over 200 teams, maybe even more.

I've worked with too many organizations to even keep counters. You know, but really it's just like the last, what, 15 years, you know, it's like I've really been focused on just basically, Different types of agile transformations and digital transformations, you know, as well as agile delivery management.

So basically

Noa: you're focusing on all the hard parts, focusing on transformation yeah. And leaving the easy parts to other

Rachel: people. . It's the fun parts, right? Yeah, I agree. I

Noa: definitely agree. Cool. So I think people don't have questions on what we've talked about so far, so we can uh, start right.

I think I'm going to start with the question. I hear a lot, you know, all day I hear people talking about today's economy, the environment, right? Recession or economic slowdown. And I think this makes people lean more towards data. Do you feel like like that makes sense. Do you, do you understand why people are starting to talk more and more about

Rachel: You know, it's, it's like I do you know, honestly, if I think back, you know, it's like I remember hearing the term big data, you know, starting to this big, you know, threatening word, big data probably cropped up maybe like 20 years ago.

And so it's kind of interesting to have heard this for so long and really, you know, for whatever reason, you know, it's like, it really seems 2022 is really when I, it's like I personally recognize, I mean, a real shift. You know, at scale to, you know, you know, needing to be, you know, just way more data informed.

You know, and it's like, the way I'm kind of thinking about things right now is, you know, I think it, it, you know, it just being 2023 is what makes it crucial to, you know, having to start getting, you know, working with data. You know, it's just like you know, I would even say maybe. 20, like following Covid is really when I saw expectations grow, especially with executive leadership, you know, demanding to qualify claims of optimization, value delivery, you know, et cetera.

It's like with data versus just kind of accepting them, you know? It's like, I would say it's like, you know, having coached in, you know, for so long and done transformations, you know, it. We were able to get a really far away with credibility, you know, just talking about guts and off instinct, you know?

And so right now, you know, it's a, it's really exciting to finally actually test myself to really be able to put that quantification around those things that, you know, but how do you actually prove it? Yeah, I think

Noa: it, it makes so much sense. You just said Covid, and I was like, wow, you know, maybe it's really the thing that, like, you meant the credibility, like when people were working from the office.

So management thought, okay, we have it covered, right? We were, we know what they're doing. We, we don't really need data. But now that people are away from us and they're working and we can't actually see them at their desk, we need to know what they're actually doing. We need to actually look at real data which is funny because it doesn't, it's, you know, You don't, you don't have data from people being at the office.

Right. You still need the data. But maybe that's kinda like what triggered it. You can, you

Rachel: can, but that's not the type of data I, I even wanna get into . That's, yeah.

Noa: That's not what I meant when talking, focusing

Rachel: on data. Right. But, but you know, really it's like everything just really seems to be hyper-focused on outcome, outcome based really.

Yeah. I, I think,

Noa: I think we can definitely all agree with that. Jumping to the main, like a big question already. What, what would you say are the main challenges today in Agile delivery? And, you know, kind Yeah. Looking at data,

Rachel: Over there there's a You know, I think the, kind of the two, I think the two kind of major challenges that impact me and that I'm really kind of focused on is one, is the unfortunate reality that, you know, traditional agile delivery approaches, they just do not support the personal life, you know, schedules needed by globally distributed fully remote team members.

You know, that's kind of a mouth word, you know, but you know, it's like just picking on Scrum. Right. Especially, you know, scrum unfortunately, you know, is still dependent upon numerous synchronous ceremonies and the scheduling needed to get everyone into those meetings, you know, means that members of like an eeu eeu.

E u u s team, you know, it's like they have to make personal sacrifices, you know, to work either very late or extremely early in order to get, you know, to that expected overlapping FaceTime. You know, it's like a lot of what I've been doing over the past couple years is, you know, with established teams, right?

Cause there's always gonna be boundaries. It's like, of who, who, who is appropriate to try things with. But you know, I've really started to try to experiment on ways to overcome. You know, overcome this by using data as an oversight to support teams having more autonomous, more self-organizing, and more asynchronous ser it's like ceremonies.

Noa: Yeah. I, I think I agree. To the people here that don't know you are actually working with people from five different timezones. So you def you're definitely familiar. With, with this challenge, . Oh, sorry, . Yeah. So I think you, when you talk about this sacrifice, you, you really know what you.

Rachel: Yes. Oh yeah.

And when you work in the middle of all of them, right, well then you just work a lot. Yeah.

Noa: Yeah, it definitely challenge. I see. We have a comment here. Yeah. I'll, I'll come, I'll put definitely a slippery slope when it comes to collecting data on delivery, right. With, with marks it's very easy to lose trust and have people like feel like they're tr being micromanaged.


Rachel: Gosh. It's like absolutely. You know, and I think just data, you know, I think that there's a lot of kind of like social consciousness just overall when we're dealing with data, you know? And I think one thing you know, I'm kind of a stickler on is, you know, data, you know, data needs to be used with consent.

You know, it's like, it is not fair. You know, it's like, or productive, right? To be doing things to the side and then spring things on people. You know, I think that's, you know, from a culture perspective, right? I mean, data with consent is, is a really important thing to adopt. You know, I think the other, you know, the other kind of main challenge that I'm focused on is you know, the fact that it, it's a big problem, not, you know, it.

At the point that you start, you know, start one team that's the time to really start. Thinking about sustainability, scalability, and measuring of, of delivery of your delivery approach. You know, it's like, and the reason why I say start with the first team, because you know, very soon you're gonna have that second team and you know, it's like in, it just seems like it's soon as you start rolling out teams, right?

It's like just they can just explode exponentially. And it's really, really difficult to reverse engineer all of those factors. You know, at the time that you finally find, you know, you find yourself with like 10. You know, it's like, and so just being strategic and just thinking about these things, you know, it's like from the very beginning.

We'll do you a great service.

Noa: Yeah, this is, I, I think it's so right and, but it's so difficult for companies to, to actually do, I talk, we talk to so many, you know, with, like, with the acumen activity. We talk to so many companies who come to us after they are at the, the stage where there are 10 teams and they've lost.

They like, you know, they lost the ability to control what's happening and understand what's happening and how can they optimize that. Yeah. We used to have a few teams. You know, we knew everyone. We were working together, you know, side by side. We knew how, what was working and how to, to make sure everything is working.

And suddenly now, you know, we see all, all the output and everything like going down, but we don't know how, what data to collect. We don't know how to collect it. We don't know what to look at. We don't know what to change. And you know, now they need help. And it's so true that it's so much more effective if you start.

Rachel: At the beginning, . Well, you know, it's just, it's just like building an application, right? I mean, it's like you ha you have to design for data, you know, it's like data. You can't, again, it's like trying to reverse engineer. It's like data, it's like into an already existing system application or people system, right?

I mean, it's, it's just, it's really, really difficult, if not impossible. You know, and it's like, where do you get started? You know, it, you know, there's a really sneaky, easy way to start. And, you know, that really is about just really, really understanding how, just like, how the approach that you're using, if it's a framework, you know, again, we'll pick on Scrum.

Right. You know, I mean, the beautiful thing about Scrum and even Kanban, you know, it's like, and. Those, those basic, you know, tho those basic approaches is that if you really understand them, then you'll really understand. It's just like all of the data points, right? It's like the, you know, the interesting thing about when you use those methods and their in, in their native form, is that, I mean, they are those frameworks.

It's like, are designed for optimization and so where do you get started? You know, it's like become an expert in how that framework that you're using, in the first place because it's, you know, I think a lot of people are surprised, you know, it's, you know, to learn. It's like, it's just not steps, you know, it's just not instructions to be following.

Right? It's like, I mean, there is truly, it's like there, these, these things are so well thought out. It's like, and spend the time to really understand how they work. And as you, it's like, as you understand that, you'll organically understand the data points and all of the things that will really give you a good baseline of where to start from a, you know, from a measurement perspective.

Noa: Yeah, I, I agree. I think that I, I see a lot of companies that just say, okay, yeah, we, of course, we, we, we, we do scrum. And when we try to understand what that means, then it means that they're running retrospectives, for example. And that's it. Or, you know, or, or they're just like, you know, just like I like to say, okay, we we're doing it.

Can check. Right. But then they're not really getting what they need out of it. Right,

Rachel: right. Well, it's just, it's just a bunch of meetings, you know? And you know, again, it's just, you know, it's Scrum. It's we're, this stuff is decades old at this point, you know, and again, it's, it's every, every year I will continue just to be shocked at how.

Little or mis, you know, misunderstood. It's just like these, you know, these concepts are that have been around for so long. But if you're, it's like if you're using Scrum and you're recognizing, hey, well maybe I don't really understand Scrum, read the Scrum guide. It's like 20 pages. It will explain everything that you need to get you started.


Noa: Yeah. Cuz what happens is you start adopting it, you run retrospective, you're not getting anything out of it. People say, okay, it's just a waste of time. You start dropping retrospectives as well. Right. Or, or whatever it is that you're trying to do. And basically you're just losing out of from, from every

Rachel: angle, I think.

Great. Well, you know, it's like, again, scrum, it's very, very simple. But you know, the reality is it's just that there's all of these pieces and, you know, it's like all of these pieces are designed to work. Very specifically together. And the reality is, you know, it's like it is not, you know, you can, but it's just like, it's, it's not, it's, it's not a good idea to approach Scrum as if it is a menu of options that you pick and choose what you do and do not want to do.

Can you do that? Sure, you can. It's like, but at the point that you do that you know, then you have to consciously accept that you are introducing. A lot of dysfunction into your organization, and I think that, you know, that it's like, that's why it's like, you know, just so many, you know, new scrum implementations or adoptions, it's like failed because they're not even started off with the, with the complete foundation.

It's like in place. Yeah.

Noa: Yeah, I think I remember that. One of the times we spoke about this, you've mentioned, you started talking about like hybrid frameworks. . Yeah. I'll let you talk what you, what, what, what are your thoughts on

Rachel: that? So well is, you know, it's a. You know, it's like I, I absolutely am all for doing anything that is going to get you results.

You know, again, I think what folks don't understand is that, again, each of these different frameworks, it's like they are designed to work very specific ways. Can they be blended? Sure, they can be, you know, it's like, but the word of caution you know, that. You know, want to give people is that you know, again, if you want to have some, if you wanna have a coherent delivery system, you know, you need to understand, you need to understand the foundations of the frameworks and things that you're actually blending because each of the f each of the frameworks has been designed in a manner, it's like we're the optimize in very specific ways.

And so one of the things that I see, you know, folks running into at, at the point, They blend two systems. Well, it's like if they have not consciously really thought out how these two systems are going to work together, well then they run into the situation where they have no idea how to optimize, because when you've blended this, plus this, you know, it's again, it's just, it really just starts to erode.

It's like the effectiveness, it's like of the, of the. Of the, the frameworks. That's the word. Mm-hmm. .

Noa: Yeah. Yeah. I agree. So like my next question is what, basically, what do you think is stopping teams from really like, sprinting as fast as you can? So I'm wondering if it, it's that or do you see other stuff that are standing in their way?

Rachel: Gosh. There can be a lot. You know, it's like one of the, and this is just something that, that's just on the front of my mind right now, just cuz of some stuff that I'm involved with. But I honestly think that the number one thing that keeps teams from not being able to sprint, you know, as quickly as possible is, Planning you know, that planning, you know, the, the, the planning planning sessions that don't result in setting up the teams to be able to start work day one of the sprint is a really big problem.

Okay. And it's like, and you know, it's like when you think about Scrum, you know, again, if you, if you, if you do it by the guide, right? I mean it's one of the most important steps there is. Part of planning is literally the team sitting down together and literally hammering out. How to actually do things.

You know, I would say that that's, that part of planning is almost, it's, it's, it's. invisible. You know, it's like I just, I'm, I don't see that anymore. And it's like, I'm gonna blame, it's like I'm, I'm gonna blame the, the concept of, what is it Scrumban, right? Where they, they, they do those two. And so what I'm seeing is that you know, with Scrumban, right?

It's like that there's use, there, there is the use of, of all the ceremonies, but the objective, right? The. The native objective. It's like of those ceremonies as dict, you know, as dictated by Scrum, they aren't being met. And so what I see with some scrum bond teams, again, they have a planning session, the planning session, re results in, maybe assignment, you know, some good conversations, some understanding of goals.

. But what I see is the, the actual planning, the actual deciding what to do, it actually is happening maybe the first one to two days of the sprint. So technically they're not really getting that start, that strong start until maybe like day three, sometimes even day four. And so when you think about that, if you've got a 10 day cycle and you lose the first, you.

Even two, two to three days to figuring out what to do. You know, again, I mean, it's like just the, the delivery performance of that is, is gonna take a really big hit. And I don't think people, you know, people don't think that, they're not thinking that deeply into the impact of that delay.

Noa: Yeah, I, I think I agree.

I was just sitting at, at retrospective today, and I heard the team one of the team members saying that, like the team complained that the, the, the planning maybe wasn't done as well as it should. And then one person was saying that, You know, there's a price for planning. If you wanna plan better, then it, it takes a lot of time and that also has a price.

But I think we both agree that the, the price is a lot higher if you don't plan correctly.

Rachel: Right? Absolutely. And well, it's second. What, what is the, what is the outcome of planning? , it's supposed to be a sprint plan, right? something else. That's something else that you very rarely see. You know, but, you know, but it's, you know, any, it's like any of these events that, that can take a lot of time, you know, like planning what is, what is the rule?

Something like eight hours or, you know, it's like who, who in the world wants to sit in a planning session for an entire day? I've done it right with really big teams. Years ago, right? When it's like, until we learned that, it's like, Hey, this isn't a good idea. You know? But any, it's like any of these events, right?

That that seem to take a long time. There's always ways to, it's like there's always ways to kind of. Divvy up some of this stuff, kind of, you know, it's like ahead of it so that you're, you know, the, it's possible to make some progress towards those planning goals kind of along the way versus, you know, not doing anything.

And then just showing up in a, in a planning session cold and then having to do all this stuff, you know be flexible. You know, I think that that's the number one thing that really holds people back from, you know, really doing things in a manner that makes the most sense, that are, that's gonna be the most effective.

Same thing, it's just like, or even, you know, playing with data, right? You know, it's like, I think people just have this, this serious, you know mis, you know, misinformation that you know that there's only right and wrong ways to do things. You know, there's only one way to do things, and if you vary from that, then all of a sudden it's wrong.

It's like, it's not, you know, it's just like focus on the outcomes. And again, if you're not really clear, it's just like of what all of these steps and things are supposed to accomplish. Learn, learn those. Right? Because the importance is it's about meeting the outcomes. Right. You know, it's like, and when you meet the outcomes, right, it's like there's, there's much less focus or concern about how you get there.

And I think at that point, right, then that's, you know, that that will start, you know, kind of opening up, you know, minds to being more receptive of really trying to do things differently. You know, again, meet the outcomes, but do things in a manner that feel, you know, that just works best for. Yeah.

Noa: Yeah, I definitely agree.

And I think that again, data comes here to play as well in, in a few ways. I think, I think that one thing that is really important is that first of all, what kind of data we wanna look at when we wanna, you know, plan and look at what we're planning. But I think the first interesting thing that people are here, even for example, I don't know if people here are familiar with our capacity calculator.

And we have the ability to extract the capacity per developer, right, to help you actually plan a predictable sprint and something that makes sense, not plan three times more than the, what the team can actually do. But the thing that they, the first thing that they see is, oh, you're, you're able to fetch this, but because we are not really putting estimates on all of our issues, then you don't really know.

Rachel: So the

Noa: real capacity. So the first thing that they see is they actually, they'll, how the lack of data is affecting, even though when they do come to see the, the data to look at the.

Rachel: Right. Oh, it's like, absolutely. Well, you know, it's like, you know, when just the topic of planning Right. You know, I mean there, it's like you have to be ready for planning and you know, I think, you know, I think you, you hit upon, it's like a really valuable way to kind of monitor, right?

It's like, it's like across teams. Is that really, it's about readiness. And so, you know, it's just, you know, it's like a lot of it, it's like a lot of my career, it's like I've been responsible for, I've had to like, manage, manage across 2050 teams from like an agile maturity perspective as well as like a delivery perspective.

And people are like, well, how, how in the world do you know what in the world is going on with 50 teams at a time? And I'm like, it's really simple. You know, data tells a story. And so, you know, it's like, so when you're looking at, you know, when it's like, when you're monitoring that many teams, right? Just for really basic things like, you know like readiness, you know, readiness for planning.

You know, it's like how it's like, you know, it's like how are the teams doing? You know, there's nothing easier than to just literally just pull a data set, you know, if you've got Jira, it's like, or I think version one does the same, or, but you can literally just pull a data set. It's just like, of that, it's like of a team's backlog.

And I mean, and at a glance, right? I mean, you can just scan, you can, you can scan. It's like. . It's like if that story point field is populated or not, you know, and so what I, it's like, so what I would do, again, it's like I had a lot of teams, it's like planning on on, it's like on the same cadence, but a couple days before, you know, I would just start pulling data sets, just do that scan and if I was like seeing big gaps and things like that, it was really easy for me just to kind of follow up and touch base and you know, eventually, Train like Chief Scrum Masters and, you know, people that did have that oversight.

But, you know, that's how I've coached all, you know, it's like all, you know, roles that need to be able to manage across. It's like on a how to use data. You know, again, take it, just take a look at it. You know, nothing's gonna happen. You know, but again, it's, you know, it's like, I think that's the, the first step.

It's like in just starting just to get comfortable with using data, just start pulling it. Just start looking at it. You know, just start, you know, again, data tells a story. When you know what you're looking at. You know, if you know how Scrum teams work, you know, I would challenge you to take a look at the data and see what you, it's like, what can you tell that's going on or that's not going?

You know, and it's just like, and being able to monitor like that is really what gives, you know, gives the ability to help enable teams. You know, it's like to start doing things more autonomously, you know, to be more self organizing. You know, it's like, I, you know, I love the idea, it's like, of, of development teams running their own planning sessions, you know, it's like they, they need some inputs, right?

They need the goals, they need readiness and things, but you know, but again, it's like, You know, being able to, to ensure that teams have those types of things at scale. If you take a data approach, it's really, really simple and it's not time consuming either.

Noa: Yeah. Yeah. I, I definitely agree. Do you, do you have, like we, we've touched the, the estimation part, but do you have any other data points you think are like, for you, are the most crucial to look at when starting with new teams?

Rachel: Well, gosh,

Noa: , I, it's, it's a hard question. Well,

Rachel: no, it's like, no, it's, it's just funny cuz it's like I've, I've actually been kind of, it's like kind of heads down. And just thinking through just some like new agile team, like benchmarking and ochre and things like, That you know, it's like when, when I am de because I've done a lot of formation, right?

It's like, and so when I am thinking about literally brand new teams, I've just unst stood up. You know, it's like I look, you know, it's like, I think it's like, I think of team, it's like kind of of team formation. It. Oh, it's almost binary, right? So it's like if you've got a brand new scrum team, you know, it's like the first stage of, of maturity in my mind.

It's like I, I call it formation. And so in my mind, you know, it's like a, a, you know, it's like a, a brand new scrum team that, that has been set up, right? It's binary because in order to qualify, hey, it's just like, does this team have what they need to. To, to potentially be successful, right? I mean, it really is about the presence, the presence of things, right?

Do they have, where it's like, do they have a cross-functional team, yes or no? Right? It's like, do they have a dedicated product donor, yes or no? Do they have a scrum master? Yes or no? You know, again, it's like if you just really think about just that, that really basic formation, , do they have things?

Okay. And at the point that everyone has what they need. Excellent. Right? That's stage one. You know, that's like they, they've met for, they're, well, you know, really, I think about that as that's stage zero, you know? But then, you know, it's like, but then maybe the next step, you know, again, for kind of judging the maturity.

It's like, are they, you know, how are they moving forward? I usually then think about, like scrum discipline, you know, it's like are they displaying the most basic Scrum discipline? And how basic, I think is, you know, it's like our sprints starting and stopping on, it's like on time. You know, again, just the really, really basic things because I don't think people understand that these really foundational things.

Are really key to having a strong foundation for them to really move forward. And it's like, and to really manifest into, to those eventually, you know, highly optimized teams, you know, but it's, it's, it's just, I think it's really easy to overlook or almost kind of even dismiss, you know, just those really basic foundational things.

Noa: Yeah, I, I can't agree with you more. I can't, like, even reme say how many times I've heard, you know, people just saying like, yeah, ah, yeah, yeah, no, we, we do two weeks sprint, but ah, but this sprint, we, we didn't really start the sprint, or we didn't finish this sprint yet. Or I, I think that a lot of times, you know, for for development teams, sometimes they're so far away from like the business goals or you know, the customers that for them, they, it's, it's very easy to.

That the sprint is a commitment, right? And you have things that you, you, you should deliver at the end of the sprint. Then it's a commitment to deliver at the end of the sprint. And because I hear a lot in, in retrospectives and with different teams, they say, yeah, know, you know, we only did like 50% of what we committed in the sprint, but we have like 20 more story points here that are in review.

It's almost, it's almost there, right? So it's like we, it's like we're, we're, we got to 80%

Rachel: right. You know, but it's like, but I, what you just described, you know, I think is one of the unfortunate, you know, realities again is like, I've just kind of misunderstanding of what that is. You know, it's like, what is it?

It's a time box, right. You know, but, but it's clearly been made out to be way more than it should be. When people are afraid to, for whatever reason, they're afraid to start the. , right? They're afraid to end this, the sprint, you know? And so again, you know, it's like, I think, you know, just like, just like a lot of practices and stuff, you know what I mean?

I think it's, you know, sometimes a, you know, process can be turned into a form of punishment, you know, and again, I think, you know, it's like if, if you, if you've got that type of thinking in your environment, you know, it's one of the first things that you need to address. You know, take that stuff away. You know, one of my favorite things to say to people that, that, that are struggling with these things you know, it's like, I love to ask like, what's the worst thing that's gonna happen?

You know, what's the worst thing that's gonna happen if we start the sprint today and Okay, something's gonna come in at tomorrow. Right. You know, again, that's, that's getting that, it's, it's accepting that, that, you know, just that basic discipline and then all these other things. Yeah. It's, it does matter.

Right. It's like, no, you don't wanna have a bunch of late work, but, but that's like level four discipline in my. , right? Because it's like when you can, when you get folks where they need to be each step of the way, then again, it's just like all of these, all of these outcomes that people are trying to avoid, just actually just organically, they just go away.

Noa: Yeah, I think I agree. Oh, we have like a few more minutes. We we're still gonna continue talking, but if anyone has additional questions you wanna ask Rachel then please do so you can type them down already. And while I'm saying that, I'm gonna continue too many as you know what Rachel? We, since we don't have a lot of them and we do have a lot of questions that we wanna cover, do you have a favorite question that you wanna talk about?

Rachel: You know what? I will let you pick. Okay.

Noa: Hmm. So let me see what, what I would like to do I think I would like to kind of like talk about it's hard for me to decide I think I wanna try to break down a bit the process and kind of like see what, what, how do you look at data in different parts of the, you know, like the, the sprint or the agile process?


Rachel: Okay. That's, that's a big one. It's a big one. Of course. That's the big one. So let me, let me think for just a second. Because I'm trying to think, it's like, do I wanna talk about, do the, do I want to talk like, like through the different steps or do I wanna kind of to talk kind of across?

Can we, let's, let's talk, let's talk about from, from like the delivery perspective. Okay. If, does that make sense? From a delivery manager, it makes a lot of sense. . Yes. Okay. So It's kind of the key, kind of the key areas is like, of data. It's just like that I try to monitor, right? It's like the, they're kind of different buckets.

Number one, you know, anything that has to do with teams regardless of how much we love our, it's like we love our efficiency and our processes and things. Number one is, is like you, it's like people, you know, you've gotta have some people metrics, you know, it's like really understanding. It's like where your people are at, I think is, you know, is is the most important thing because that's one thing.

Scrum delivery frameworks, right? It's like there's no pe people are completely excluded. It's like from all this. And so one of the things it's like, that I've really started kind of working with is I, I call it a, like a squad health monitor. Okay. And so the basic things that I'm looking at there right, is and these are, a lot of this stuff is just self-reported.

You know, I'm interested in Pace. You know, again, if we, you know, it's like these are gonna be the really simple, you know, very agilely type things, but you know, but once, once a sprint, you know, it's like I pull, it's just like, Hey, how'd the pace feel? Was it too fast? Was it too slow? Was it just right?

You know, I think the other thing. From a, it's like from a squad health it's like that I monitor for is, it's the depth of backlog, you know you know, because it's like depth of backlog really does feel, it really is a predictor. It's just like of how well planning is. Right. And it's. Like in other things.

And how I qualify that is the score is zero, one or two. So the score is z. Depth of the backlog is zero. It's like if we are working sprint to sprint, so if only current sprint is, is, is there, it's a zero. If there's one sprint ahead of a backlog ride, it's one. If there's two, there's two. And that's usually what the goal.

Okay. You know, from a delivery perspective I do, I, I kind of don't like it, but I think that there's relevancy again. It's like when we're, it's really about monitoring for, like, discipline. And so you know, basic things like comp, you know, committed versus completion, . You know, it's like at the end of spread, it's at the end of spread.

And again, this isn't about judging to, it's not really about judging team outcomes so much, but I mean, it really is just, you know, looking at hey, you know, it's like, again, it's like from that discipline perspective, right? And at the point it's, it, it's, it's a good thing to monitor because if, if. If it's pretty close, right, well then, hey, it's like it doesn't have to be perfect.

It's good enough. It's like, but if you start to get skew, you know, it's like if you start, you know, suddenly have a jump of, you know, it's like a lot of commitment but not a lot of completion. Well that, that in itself doesn't, I don't feel that that actually tells you anything, but it's a diagnostic, you know, I think, think of it more as a diagnostic.

So when you kind of see these things kind of starting to, to shift, Well, it's just an indicator right to go and inspect. You know, you need to be going and inspecting because there's something there that you need to figure out. Does that

Noa: Yeah, agree. I think that you, you don't, sometimes people don't understand you don't need to be at a hundred percent, right.

If you're always at a hundred percent it, it also means that you're probably doing something wrong, right? Because,

Rachel: That's Well, it's, and, and that's it. Yeah. It's like a hundred, right? It's like a hundred percent. It's never about perfection. You know, but no, it's like if, if, if there's a team that is always a hundred percent committed versus completed you know, again, it's just like a, that would be a good, it, you know, would be a good you know, diagnostic to have, because I would see that, and, you know, the question in my mind would be, it's like, well, have they plateaued?

It's just like, have they plateaued and is it, would it be appropriate to try to challenge you? It's like she'll be challenging, you know, ourselves to do a little bit more. Exactly. You know? And then, you know, so things like that.

Noa: Yeah, exactly. I I think that that's, that's exactly what was my point? That I, if you're always able to complete everything, I guess you're not planning you're not taking in enough or as much as you actually can handle.

Rachel: Well, you don't know. You don't, you don't know until you try. Right. But yeah, you seem fact challenge it. You know, it's like just by doing that one challenge you're gonna find, it's like, okay, hey, are we, it's like, oh my gosh, are we now trending? Increasing? Well then challenge again, trending, increasing challenge again, right?

It's like, and then at the point that you plateau, well then at that point it's just accept it, right? Yeah. So it's,

Noa: I think there's always like you know, we have these graphs of like over time the plant versus actual and I always say that I like to see like a healthy gap between. When there's, when there's no gap at all, then maybe you're not again, you're not challenging yourself enough.

And if it's too big, then it's really, really demotivating. And there's no point in committing so much if your team cannot handle this. So I always try to look at, like, see like the, a healthy , what I call it. Cool. Anything else you'd like to add on?

Rachel: I don't think so. Did you wanna talk a little bit about retros?

Noa: Yeah. Why not? I think I, I've neglected retrospectives a bit. What is I don't know, gimme your favorite thing to do

Rachel: at retrospectives? Well, it's like my, my favorite part about retrospectives is actually designing 'em. You know you know, it's like once, you know, it's like, I think the, the, the, I think the, the, the biggest learning experience that I had with retros when I first started them was that I finally got to the point that I realized is like, oh my gosh, I can literally do anything that I want.

And unfortunately this was way after, it's like I, I literally abused one of my, like my first couple teams with the, what is it? The start, stop, continue board. That's, that, that's all that I knew. And I mean, I used that to a point that I had. Just the, the fact that the fact that people just kept. They just kept participating, as, you know, as, as long as I, I, I beat them, I beat them with that item.

But you know, but it, you know, I think the number one thing that I, that I have learned, right, is that participation right, is a privilege. It's not a right. You know, and it's like, and because I think that, you know, I actually put, I put a lot of effort into designing retros to keep things interesting and engaging and, you know, I like to switch things up, you know you know, one thing using data that I've really started to do a lot is, you know, oscillate between between synchronous and asynchronous retrospectives.

You know, again, just to give people some, you know, Give people a little bit of a break, right? From just having so many ceremonies and stuff and what it's like, you know, when I do the, when I do the asynchronous ones I always do polls. I do surveys you know, and it's not just, oh, you know, smiley face stuff, though I do.

I use those things. I think, you know, there's a time and place for those as well, but I, I really do. You know, spend some time looking at the data, looking at outcomes, you know, really, you know, kind of surveying as like, kind of what's going on with the team to see if I see symptoms of things. And then I, you know, I really do put some effort into designing questions specifically to.

Dig down, you know, if there's things that I wanna know, it's like, or I, you know, I noticed some things with the teams. You know, I have found doing anonymous polls, you know, can be a way to get a little bit deeper, a little bit more personal insights from folks. Yeah, I

Noa: think I, I definitely agree.

We've recently added polls to our retro boards and I think. Amazing because it's a great way to get more engagement and more feedback from the team. But my favorite thing about it is that it helps you focus the discussion on what you wanna talk about. Because a lot of times there's always something that you want to talk about, right?

In the ritual, but you don't want to be the one bringing it up. You don't want to be the one writing a card about, oh, we did this badly. You don't want to be the one bringing up, but you can't always count on the team to bring it up. I'll bring it. So it, it kinda like depends I think on the environment and the team and app poll is a great way to get the team to ta start talking about this subject or get their, you know, opinion on it.

And yeah, it has to be anonymous. I think. I, I think I agree

Rachel: with that. Yes. Yeah. Yep. I always do anonymous, but it will also always allow, it's like always allow a field for people to self-identify if they want to. Cuz some people do, you know, some people do wanna identify so they can be followed up with person.


Noa: I, I agree with that. Wow. We are out of time we have like one more minute. I think we don't have additional questions, so that is cool. So Rachel, I would like to take the time to thank you for taking the time to talk to us today and share uh, from your amazing experience.

It's been a pleasure. It's always a pleasure talking to you. I always enjoy your conversation too, but I'm, I'm, I'm really happy that other people got a. As well to hear from. And I will upload this like I always do to our channel and share it with with the, the people as well. Last things you wanna share with us.

Rachel: Oh gosh, thank you so much. It's like, this has been just like all of our other conversations that we've ever had, and this has been great. It's like, I just would encourage anybody you know, if anyone's interested in, you know, having any further conversations about, it's like any of this stuff for data.

Any agile in general, you know, please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. You know, just send me a and connect request. I'm happy to do that. And in a couple months, it's like I actually have, it's like I actually have a session planned to actually literally do some hands on uh, ochre. It's like ochre and KPI development that it's just gonna be an open session for folks to come in and just get some help on some of these topics that I know a lot of people are struggling.

Noa: Amazing. So first of all, I'll also share if you'd like, I'll also share your LinkedIn page with everyone. And I think I'm interested in getting an invite to, to this session as well. .

Rachel: Yeah, bring your problems. You know, it's like, I, I love to do working sessions and, and solve real wor like actual real world problems.

So yeah.

Noa: Cool. Cool. So thank you very much Rachel, and thank you everyone for joining us today and hope everyone has a great day. Thank you. Thank you. Bye.

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