Friday, 2 August 2013

Disconnect the tool from the mindset shift

The team I am working with is new to Agile. They are fully aware of being for a long time on Waterfall environment and moving to Agile is something they are struggling with.
One the things they are struggling a lot is the tracking of the project.
Working with MS Project, tracking activities, tracking the time spent to the project to the minute, is so deep on their way of thinking, planning, doing and behaving that over and over I find myself pulling them up a level to get them to track stories, value and deliverables.
On the same time that they are asked to shift the thinking and what they track, they are presented with a new tool. It can be any tool but everyone know about Jira, Rally, VersionOne, etc. So I'm not gonna say what is the tool here, let's just call it StoryTtacker.
What I constantly hear is the blame about this tool. How will we enter the stories to StoryTracker? How will we break the stories to StoryTracker? How will we track in StoryTracker the big stories that we can't break into smaller chunks that fit in one sprint? I need to create a story in StoryTracker about the meeting I have next week with another group. Testing should be a story in StoryTracker because is really big.
I have heard the same complains before on another place where instead of the StoryTracker we used just stickies on the board. Exactly the same issues.

So today I got an AHA!! moment. It's not the tool to blame, it's the story tracking thinking.
They are struggling with working with stories, with giving value to a story, with understanding what the story is for a user, with understanding who the user is for the work that is being done, with understanding what the GOAL is for the story that will be done on the next sprint.

I'm thinking that I might suggest to them to use MSProject as story tracker if they think they will do a better job with that. The conditions will be that we will not track activities and meeting. Continue to track stories, but let's see if the problem is the tool or the mind set.
First thing I'm gonna challenge them when I get back to work after the Agile 2013 conference in Nashville.

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