Agile Transformation at an Entertainment Company: Based on a True Story | Part Three
19 March 2019 by Scott M. Graffius ☕️ 4 minute read
Agile Transformation at an Entertainment Company: Based on a True Story
Scott M. Graffius, CEO of Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™, helps companies achieve their strategic objectives and business initiatives through project management leadership. A fantastic agile transformation outcome with a client organization in the entertainment industry was the inspiration for Scott's award-winning book, Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions. This is the story behind the book—told by Scott. Identifying details have been changed and certain elements are not included.
This article is the third installment of the eight-part story. If you haven't already read the earlier parts, you can find them here:
Part Three: The Environment
Highlights on the environment including roles and practices—primarily focused on the Scrum Team—follow.
I learned that the Scrum Team was composed of 16 people: one Scrum Master, one Product Owner, and 14 Development Team members. Both the Scrum Master and the Product Owner explained that they were familiar with agile, but that they had no prior work experience with agile/Scrum and no related training—except for what was provided by the value-added reseller (VAR). The Development Team consisted of 14 people: a technical architect, a UI designer, a business analyst, seven developers, three testers, and a technical writer. Eleven of the 14 members of the Development Team had no prior work experience with agile/Scrum and no related training—except for what was provided by the VAR. Of the 16 people on the Scrum Team, 15 were local (at an office in the greater Los Angeles area), and one—the Product Owner—was based out of her office in Paris, France.
Of the 16 people on the Scrum Team, two—the Scrum Master and the Product Owner—were full time on the project. All of the others were allocated about 50% on the project.
I was given a copy of the training binder left by the VAR. I was told that the contents—about 500 pages—reflected the totality of the training and reference material. The training session, led by the VAR, was attended by the Scrum Master and the all of the Development Team members. The executive vice president (EVP) attended portions. The Product Owner attended portions, listening by phone. The first page in the binder covered the Agile Manifesto, the second page was a two-column table which compared and contrasted waterfall and Scrum (e.g., waterfall freezes scope, Scrum freezes schedule), and the third page showed success rates of waterfall vs. Scrum (e.g., 29% of waterfall projects fail vs. 9% of agile projects). The remaining pages provided information about the VAR company and detailed instructions on how to use their software product. That constituted the training.
The Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Development Team reported that they followed the training and instructions provided by the VAR. I won't delineate the then-current roles further or describe all of the events and artifacts. However, some examples follow.
The Product Owner created a product vision statement and stored it in the software, but nobody else remembered seeing it.
The Product Owner created a product backlog in the software, but nobody else claimed to have seen it.
The Scrum Master facilitated a Sprint Planning event where the Development Team estimated work in terms of complexity, and the results were recorded in the software tool. It was reported that—due to the time difference—the Product Owner did not attend Sprint Planning meetings.
It was communicated that during Sprint execution, the Scrum Master would ask the Development Team if they had any notable progress; and only if the answer was yes, there was a Daily Scrum. As a result, the Daily Scrum event occurred around once or twice a week. When the meeting took place, the Scrum Master did a quick interview with each member of the Development Team and noted the results in the software tool.
I was told that the team followed the recommendation of the VAR for the sprint duration of four weeks.
The Sprint Reviews were attended by the Scrum Master, the Product Owner (remotely), all of the Development Team members, and the EVP. However, the other stakeholders did not attend the events. On average, about half of the work planned and committed to the sprint was "done." Both "done" and not-"done" items were demonstrated at the Sprint Review.
The Scrum Master reported that the team did conduct a Retrospective event at the end of each sprint and that the results were saved in the software tool. When I reviewed the information, I saw comments such as "we worked very hard" under the what went well category. Everything under the "what didn't go so well/opportunities for improvements" category were ideas for enhancement requests for the software tool. I was informed that the VAR instructed staff to convert everything that didn't go well into a suggestion for a future general release of the software or a request for a custom enhancement of the software.
None of the work from any of the sprints was released.
Agile Transformation at an Entertainment Company: Based on a True Story continues with Part Four: The Options.
A fantastic agile transformation experience and result with a client organization in the entertainment industry was the inspiration for Scott M. Graffius’ book, Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions. It helps technical and non-technical teams develop and deliver products in short cycles with rapid adaptation to change, fast time-to-market, and continuous improvement—which supports innovation and drives competitive advantage. The book has garnered 17 first place awards from national and international competitions. Credit is shared with Chris Hare and Colin Giffen, the technical editors on the publication. Scott and Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions have been featured in Yahoo Finance, the Boston Herald, NBC WRAL, the Dallas Business Journal, the PM World Journal, Learning Solutions, Innovation Management, and additional media publications. A trailer, high-resolution images, reviews, a detailed list of awards, and more are in the digital media kit at https://AgileScrumGuide.com. The book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Strand Books, Harvard Book Store, Books-a-Million, The Booksmith, Hudson Booksellers, Savoy Bookshop & Café, Compass Books at SFO/Books Inc., Books & Books - Miami, University Press Books – Berkeley, and other retailers, distributors, and partners.
You're invited to review Scott's bio, find out about his speaking engagements, and read additional articles in the blog.
You're also invited to connect with Scott on social. Like his page on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, and connect with him on LinkedIn.
The website for his business—Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™—is http://Exceptional-PMO.com. The digital media kit for his award-winning book—Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions—is located at https://AgileScrumGuide.com.