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Agile Coach in Toronto, Canada (; founder of Toronto PhotoWalks (; Formula One (F1) and rugby fan

Teams collaborate to create high-quality products, and in order to collaborate they need many discussions… but how much discussion is too much?

If you want to grow, whether as a team or individually, you need a healthy environment that allows you to thrive. There are so many things that could contribute to a healthy environment, so I am going to pick just a few as examples. (I’ll skip development environments other than to say I use vi when I write code or websites.)

The most tangible components include your desk, or wherever you work most days. I was lucky enough to have my study set up well before we had to work from home due to COVID. An adjustable sit-stand desk and…

When we talk about “forecasting using yesterday’s weather”, we mean that the most reliable prediction comes from using recent data, i.e. if you want to know how much a team can complete next sprint, look at how much they completed in the past few sprints.

The recent weather in Toronto reminded me of a discussion I had with a Product Owner: “how can we use yesterday’s weather when what happened was unexpected and unlikely to happen again?” In the past week, the temperature here peaked at 31°C and three days later we had hail and snow. …

Most of Canada has May 24th off work — Quebec calls it “National Patriotes Day” but everyone else knows it as Victoria Day. But what do you do if it falls during your sprint? I’ve heard some teams move the sprint end date to compensate, so their sprint is still the same number of working days. (I’ll use 2-week sprints for simplicity but YMMV — I’ve worked with teams using 1-week, 3-week or 4-week sprints, but I’ve never seen a non-integer week duration; have you?)

I can understand the thinking behind moving the sprint end date because that gives them…

Onstage with Marillion after everyone sung Happy Birthday to me!
Onstage with Marillion after everyone sung Happy Birthday to me!

I’ve been accused of seeing examples of agile everywhere, which I think is probably true, but I was just watching a video by my favourite band about their progress on the latest album and I couldn’t help but see agile parallels. In this video they talk about how they have been jamming together, which to me feels like small experiments — they try something new and get feedback on whether it’s worth pursuing or putting aside.

I’m starting with an assumption: that we believe there is always the need for improvement (in what you produce and/or how you make it). If your product/team/system is perfect then you can stop reading now and go feed your unicorns instead. 😉

The next group I’ll invite to stop reading are those who believe it’s everyone else who needs to change but not themselves. I have worked for organisations where senior/middle managers want the coaches to “fix” the teams. …

One of the agile principles is that the team have a supportive environment; Modern Agile explicitly says “Make safety a prerequisite”. It’s essential that the team can say “no” when asked to take on extra work, for example, otherwise saying “yes” has no meaning. We expect the team to commit to a sprint plan but if they cannot decide that a story is not ready (e.g. too many unknowns) or that taking “just one more story” will mean they cannot deliver them all, then any apparent commitment is just lip service.

Firstly I have to mention the inspiration for this post is a recent(ish) episode of The Agile Pubcast where Geoff Watts and Paul Goddard (both in the UK) were joined by Chris Williams from Canada, so this one matched many of my interests 🙂

Your product backlog is probably too long. A quick way to tell is to look at the items at the bottom of your backlog and consider two questions: do you know their origin (who requested them and why), and assuming the team works through the backlog and eventually completes those items will they still be valuable? There’s a good chance that the answer to at least one of those questions is no, and that’s an indication that your backlog needs attention.

I keep seeing similarly titled “articles” in my recommended reading feeds, so I thought it’s time for me to write my own list of “Must-Have macOS Apps” post 🙂

Having just set up a new MacBook Pro, I can tell you exactly which handful of apps I felt were essential:

  1. Dropbox
    We have corporate-approved tools (Confluence, Google Drive) for file storage, but I have all sorts of handy bits and bobs* in Dropbox so it’s the first thing I install after I’ve checked macOS is up to date.
    *My definition of handy bits and bobs includes Bash scripts I’ve written…

Paul Henman

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