3 Sets of Agile Questions

January 13, 2012

With Scrum, there are three questions that each team member answers in the daily standup meeting:
  1. What did I do yesterday?
  2. What am I planning to do today?
  3. Do I have any impediments?
These questions target the day-to-day work, but are there questions that can and should be asked as teams conduct a sprint review or a retrospective? Yes. And the right questions are a different set of questions that should explore the value that teams provide their company and the customer.

In a post, What have we LEARNED? by David :^{)} Koontz (this is two posts in a row that I’ve referenced his Agile Complexification Inverter blog!), David quoted a suggestion from Richard Cheng on what this set of questions should be:
"Let me tell you a true story. I was working with a Scrum team at a financial website. About once a month, there was a company meeting where they presented what they did to the other departments and executives. Their initial presentation contained information such story points completed, hours spent on stories/spikes/firefighting, and what they implemented. As the team really started to understand the goals of the company and the project and their place in achieving these goals, the team presented the following:
  1. What have we done this month to help make our company profitable?
  2. How have we excited our customers?
  3. What we have learned?
"This is a fundamental shift from thinking about task based, to do list work to actually achieving goals and providing value. Helping your organization shift from getting value from the first set of presentations to the second set of presentations is a big part of what the Agile transformation is about."

-- Richard K Cheng, PMP, CSP
But wait, there’s more!

What about management? If we all agree with Steve Denning that delighting the customer is paramount because, “By focusing on delighting the customer, the firm makes a lot more money than they would if they set out to make money,” then we have our next set of three questions for management to be routinely asking:
  1. What are we doing now to delight our customers?
  2. What are we doing to help our employees profitably delight our customers?
  3. What new or different things should we start doing—and what should we stop doing—in order to profitably delight our customers even more tomorrow?