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"Keep calm and just do it"

almost 3 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

“Keep calm and just do it” - Nirmalism

"Good is enemy of Perfect, Perfect is enemy of Done then Good must be friends with Done"

almost 3 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

“Good is enemy of Perfect, Perfect is enemy of Done then Good must be friends with Done” - Nirmalism for my fellow BAs, PMs and developers learning Agile

Making huddles more effective!

almost 3 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

Having coached 40+ teams, I often find Scrum Masters runs into a situation where their teams finds the huddles extremely boring and a waste of time.  Often the symptoms are the same: The Scrum Masters call each team members name one by one as they give their status. The team members address the three routine questions (What I did yesterday, what I am doing today and if I have any impediments) without sharing anything other than “I was working on fixing Bug X which is resolved, I am working on task Y and no impediments” In some situations I have run into teams where a number of team members just say “I’ve done nothing yesterday, I have nothing to do today and no impediments”. The team members are often reporting to the Scrum Master or to the team member leading the huddle in case the facilitation is being rotated. In other teams, the members share information not related to the story or their work – e.g., baby sitter didn’t arrive on time, had to fix bathroom leak, was called into another meeting.  (There are merits to having team members share this information however, there are better ways to facilitate this than as part of the status). In almost all situations, I have found such teams to benefit from using a virtual task board or a physical Kanban board to anchor and structure their conversation.  The reason why I think this has worked so often is that in Agile the team swarms around a story/task and tries to get it “Done”.  The team is self organizing but it does so around a goal/objective which tactically is a story in progress.  I suggest that the Scrum Master simply assemble the team around such a task board and set the expectation that team members involved in the specific story will provide their status and report any impediments and that the Scrum Master will not call our their names or dictate the order in which they provide their status but will be taking note of the impediments.  This has worked remarkably well.  It puts team members in a narrower context and makes it easy for them to start a conversation.  They don’t have to think too hard about what they were working on as it relates to the specific story/task before them.  I encourage other team members to inquire details if needed for their own tasks or if they anticipate impact on their stories.  Overall, it remains a much lively conversation, there is active collaboration, things get solved and everyone is on the same page. I have read a number of posts on user groups and on blogs of Agile purists that think this way of conducting huddles is falling back on “command and control” style.  My experiments and observations tell me otherwise.  The Scrum Master is simply setting a norm and setting expectations on the agenda.  The team then makes the agenda their own and achieves the desired objectives.  I often insist that the Scrum Master not ask questions that are specific to a story.  If there is an aspect of the story that should have been discussed but has not, I encourage Scrum Masters to ask very broad questions to provoke thinking.  (e.g., Have we covered all aspects of this story or is there more to discuss?).  If the team still does not bring it up, I suggest that the Scrum Master save that for an offline feedback or a 1-on-1 conversation with the concerned team member. If this hasn’t worked for you, I would love to hear from you about your experience and understand your context and details.

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almost 3 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

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almost 3 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

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Love this song…..

about 5 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

Love this song…..

How to make Quinoa soft and fluffy

about 5 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

Rinse, rinse, rinse your quinoa before boiling it. Quinoa to water ratio for boiling should be between 1.5 to 2. Bring the pot to rapidly boil on high heat and then turn the heat down to a low simmer for around 12 minutes. Turn the heat off and let quinoa sit to soak the rest of the water and cool down. My first attempt was a crunchy, clumpy mess.  Not only did I not rise the quinoa (which seems to make the most difference) I also let it boil on high heat all the way through.  I tried adding more water but that didn’t help. I had been wanting to incorporate quinoa into my diet because of all I heard about its low glycemic index and protein richness.  I was inspired by Kevin’s delicious quinoa salad which was simply delicious.  Preparing the salad in bulk is a bad idea because the whole thing becomes mushy as the tomatoes, onions and cucumbers loose their water.  Instead, I have settled for dicing all the vegetables beforehand and saving them in separate containers.   When I need to make my salad, I just prepare the quinoa and then throw in the already diced ingredients and top it with some mint and cilantro leaves.  Tastes fresh and yummy.

One slide I wouldn’t mind preparing. Within two flights I...

over 5 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

One slide I wouldn’t mind preparing. Within two flights I knew I like more rich and brooding wings a opposed to light and bright.

I love this section in my newspaper..

over 5 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

I love this section in my newspaper..

Lol…the fun in being married..

over 5 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

Lol…the fun in being married..

"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind..."

almost 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind not with it” - ~Henry Ford

Giving two presentations at Agile 2012!

almost 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

I am thrilled that two of my submissions got accepted for presenting at Agile 2012.  I am giving two experience reports: The Story of Sitting Together (co-presenting with my colleague Zainab Alikhan) Applying Agile to Off the Shelf Product Implementations Bengaluru.. here I come.

"Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun."

almost 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

“Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun.” - ~George Scialabba

Got interviewed by Jochen Krebs in the latest Agile NYC Podcast

about 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

My colleague Zainab and I will be presenting in the Pecha Kucha sessions at Agile Day 2011 Conference on 27th September, 2011.  Hear our thoughts and experiences with Agile as we share them in a conversation with Jochen Krebs - Founder of Agile NYC in the latest Agile NYC podcast. Also check out the very impressive lineup of speakers for the conference (Amy Goodman and Linda Rising are key-note speakers).  There are limited seats available, so register soon if you are interested in attending the conference.

All you need is an egg and some imagination

about 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

All you need is an egg and some imagination: Julia child is so cute in this video. Got the perfect recipe for binge day..check out 24:02 in the video. Omlette with sauteed mushrooms, topped with cheese sauce, topped with cheese and then melted butter. Yummy.

Dil Tera deewana hai sanam, jaante ho tum, kuch na kahenge hum..

about 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

Dil Tera deewana hai sanam, jaante ho tum, kuch na kahenge hum..

Jalta hai jiya mera bheegi bheegi raaton mein, aaja gori chori...

about 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

Jalta hai jiya mera bheegi bheegi raaton mein, aaja gori chori chori abto rahan nahin jaye re, uhum hai re hai re hai re…

Bheegi bheegi raaton mein, meethi meethi baaton mein, aisi...

about 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

Bheegi bheegi raaton mein, meethi meethi baaton mein, aisi bursaaton mein, kaisa lagta hai..

"To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe."

about 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” -   - Marilyn vos Savant (Shared by Yanwing Wong)

At Globe in San Fransisco. Nice inky and medium body not too...

about 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

At Globe in San Fransisco. Nice inky and medium body not too fruity or earthy.  Enjoyed it with a roast chicken with grilled asparagus, pickled beets and steamed corn.

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the..."

about 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” - Mark Twain  (Reblogged from Praful Baweja)

"I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone."

about 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.” - Bill Cosby

Prior to Agile, our Sponsors were in the habit of committing a...

about 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

Prior to Agile, our Sponsors were in the habit of committing a drop dead production release date and aggressively heightening the sense of urgency by asking the team if the product features are going to get delivered by that time.  When they got introduced to Agile.. they readily adopted the liberty to add/change the stories in the backlog but continued to hold us to the original deadline.  On one such project, my team and I used the Scope Burn Down chart to demonstrate to the sponsors that we are not only completing what was originally in the scope but also completing stories that have been added later on.  It also helped them visualize how much the scope changed at what point in the project.   Using the Release Burn Down chart we were able to demonstrate that if they removed stories, we could deliver the project sooner.  This enabled the sponsors to take a hard look at the stories and remove the “nice to have” features (so called “bells and whistles” shown below the x-axis).  When they could no longer remove stories, we convinced them to split the delivery into two releases instead of one.  The first release had the features the users would want to see on day 1.  The second release had features that users would not use before the end of the year or early next year.

Making smaller circles.

about 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

This is the second installment in the series - Bringing it all together - Philosophy, Agile, Lean and Learning How does one eat an elephant? One bite at a time! In The Art of Learning, Josh recommends breaking down an activity into smaller steps and repeating each of the steps enough number of times to appreciate the nuances and make it second nature.  Once each step is internalized, he practices different permutations of the steps until he has mastered the entire activity.  This is the core discipline one needs as one moves from Apprentice - Journey Man - Master.  A common misunderstanding is that if you know more about something you can move up this ladder.  The truth is that you cannot be a Journey Man until you have practiced the activity enough number of times to have learned the essence of that activity.  As Josh says: We have to be able to do something slowly before we can have any hope of doing it correctly with speed. When I reflect on my own prior efforts at learning something new, dancing stands out as the one area where I have practiced such tenacity.  I am not a master dancer yet, but I know that certain aspects of dancing have been internalized to the level of a reflex action or response.  Both Agile and Lean Startups recommend expediting the learning moments by shortening the feedback loop. In Agile, we practice this by breakdown business requirements into stories small enough that about 5 to 7 of them can be constructed, tested and deployed into production in the smallest possible sprint (one or two week long sprints are recommended).  As the team practices this discipline again & again, it inspects & adapts and gets better at software development.  As a result, its velocity begins to improve. Lean Startups conduct incremental experiments that follow the Build-Measure-Learn loop to discover valuable truths about a Startup’s present and future business prospects.  In other words, they conduct a series of small, low risk experiments to ascertain that their hypothesis on the next product feature that needs to be built, the price the customer is willing to pay and the customer that they are targeting are actually correct. Both Agile and Lean Startups practice the principle of Making smaller circles to expedite learning and avoid or reduce waste.

"The part of life we really live is small."

about 6 years ago | Nirmal Merchant: Urban Gypsy

“The part of life we really live is small.” - Seneca