Real-time Product Ownership | Sprint 7: Focus on focusing

We had good reasons for not deploying our developed features at the end of our last sprint… But I believed and hoped that we would focus on the necessary items in this sprint to go live asap. Unfortunately this did not happen. I don’t know why, but instead of focusing on one item out of our backlog and moving it to done — incl. test — we worked on 4 items in parallel.

As a Product Owner focus the team on focusing!

After three days I was really mad — not at the team, but at the fact that we had not delivered any value to our customers yet. When I got home that day I thought a lot about what I could do. Of course, I could address this point in the next daily standup and ask the team why they had not delivered anything by now. I could also mandate the team to work on one specific item. I decided to don’t to either but instead reach out to our ScrumMaster and tell her what I had observed and why I was not happy with the results so far. I believed there was a lack of focus but did not want to address the team directly — I wanted them to figure this out themselves. Ultimately, we want to have a self-organized team.

If you see something it is harder to ignore

Together with the ScrumMaster we decided to make the lack of focus more visible. Until now the team had 3 columns for “Doing”

  1. Development
  2. Code Review
  3. PO Review

Everything that was developed and already code reviewed went automatically to the PO Review column — which indicated that I needed to do something. But when I asked the team whether I could review the items in that column the answer was “we still need to test the items”. So when the team looked at our Scrum Board it looked good because the bottle neck seemed to be the Product Owner, yet in reality the team had not delivered the items to the state where they could be reviewed. Once the ScrumMaster lead the team to this conclusion they immediately divided the remaining work to get the items to “done” within the team and executed really fast. 3 hours later we deployed all the items and basically were done with our sprint goal.

The issues we faced were mentioned by several team members in our retrospective — which I consider as a good sign. This shows me that the team really wants to deliver but sometimes loses focus. We adapted our Scrum Board to show our bottlenecks better and the team is (fortunately) committed to do whatever necessary to push an item to done. Compared to many other teams I have seen programmers have no problem to also do testing.

This week we added the ability to sign in and edit existing jobs in both English and Farsi. With these feature we could also deploy the registration of companies in both languages. Next up: Creating professional company profiles incl. text elements, logos and header photos. I will keep you posted.

Have a great weekend!