As far as learning goes…I’m all over the place lately. Yesterday I dove deep into git concepts, before that I was expoloring ruby/rails…and today I predictably have more notes to share on yet another (albeit certainly related) topic.

I don’t have a completely clear answer as to why I’m going down all of these avenues…other than to say that I am enjoying each of them. I’m certainly a lifelong learner and infinitely curious about multiple topics…and don’t see any problem with that. I’ve always wanted to learn more about this process and (agile development in general). In the past I worked within a number of modified waterfall approaches (due primarily to the nature of client services work) but can see how agile would be preferable in most product-based business models.

So, below is a collection of notes gathered after sweeping through the Scrum Training Series. I’m most certainly talking to myself alone when I say…enjoy!

Scrum Notes

Module 1 : Intro


Scrum is a framework for learning about products and the processes we use to build them.

Frequently demonstrating working products is needed to accelerate understanding of user’s real needs.


  • Product Owner (responsible for vision and ROI)
  • Development team (ideally 4-9 people collaborating)
  • ScrumMaster (facilitator)
    • No actual management authority
    • Keeps from distractions
    • Facilitates process
    • Promotes improved engineering practices
    • Teaches people how to use scrum
    • Enforces timeboxes
    • By definition not the project manager
    • Checklist
  • “Project management” is intentionally left out of scrum…and is shared by product team and dev team

Four values of agile:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan


  • Product Backlog
    • Customer-centric features prioritized by Product Owner
    • If it’s not in backlog it doesn’t exist
    • Anyone can add items; scrummaster has to make them visible
    • PBI (items) user stories or use case scenarios
    • Force ranked
  • Spring Backlog
    • Backlog items committed to finish right now (has end date)
      • Tasks Not started
      • Tasks In progress


  1. Sprint Planning (start ~x hrs)
    • Team & Produt owner negotiate which items will be committed on the sprint
    • Team pulls top=priority items and puts them in sprint log
    • Team break items into smaller tasks (typically)
    • Team plans 1 sprint and determines clarity of execution, time
  2. Daily Scrum (15 mins)
    • Team reports to each other
    • What did I accomplish, what are my blockers
  3. Sprint Review
    • Demonstrate potentially shippable product increment to owner and any potential stakeholders
    • Product owner will declare which are done and which did not meet their acceptance criteria
    • Measure velocity and look at feedback from stakeholders
  4. Sprint Retrospective
    • Team can inspect and adapt their own process for better iterations
    • What went well, what could be improved, feedback to each other
    • Team eventually takes ownership of their own process
  5. Backlog Refinement/Grooming
    • Team and PM look ahead at next few items/candidates for upcoming sprints
    • Clarify itemss and break larger items (epics) into smaller items (user stories) to imagine doing a few of them in one sprint
    • Consider dependencies
    • Get input about prioritization

Module 2 : Backlog Refinement Meeting

  • Purpose
    • Help get the product owner to get the top of the product backlong ready for the next sprint planning
      • If first then you’ll need more time for this during sprint planning
    • Estimation of effort
    • Clarification of requirements
    • Decomposition of epics into smaller PBIs (as with user stories)
  • ~2 hrs, a couple work days before the next meetings
  • Create PBIs that INVEST:
    • Independent: product owner gains ability to prioritize by business value rather than technical efficienies
    • Negotiable: business people and engineering must work together daily
    • Valuable: PBI is customer-centric, so the business value is clear
    • Estimable: if we can’t agree on an estimate for a PBI then it’s a clue that we don’t yet understand it
    • Small: should be no bigger than a quarter of the team effort for one sprint. Ideally ~1-2 team days.
    • Testable: should have a clear finish line agreed between the team andn PO
  • Dev team and PO should refine requirements together; working collaboratively on a daily basis throughout the project
  • Often useful to identify who, what, and why in a PBI.
    • As a [who] I can [what] so that [why].
  • Include Acceptance Criteria (performed on IE8+, etc)
  • Anticipated Effort (S/M/L/WTF)
  • aka “Product Backlog Grooming”
  • aka “Backlog Estimation”
  • aka “Story time”

Module 3 : Sprint Planning Meeting

  • Purpose: [1]for Product Owner and development team agree to sprint goals and which items from PB will be committed to the sprint backlog; [2] identify tasks necessary to complete the committed PBIs
  • Two weeks recommended…no longer than 30 days
  • What is ‘done’?
    • properly tested
    • refactored
    • potentially shippable
  • Limit Work in Progress
  • PO can attend daily meetings to help clarify requirements, etc

Module 4: Daily Scrum Meeting (in middle of sprint execution)

  • Same time/day/place standing up for 15 minutes
    • What did I do yesterday (or since prev meeting)?
    • What will I do today (or before next meeting)?
    • What impedes me?
  • Sidebar topics that fall outside of this meeting (immediately after if necessary with only those needed)
  • PO can attend or not attend
  • Team is responsible for everyone’s input

Module 5: Sprint Review Meeting

  1. Product Demonstration
  2. Product Owner declares what’s done according to acceptance criteria
  3. Measure velocity (optional)
  4. Stakeholder feedback

Avoid praise/applause. Keep things neutral.

ScrumMaster tracks candidates of potential PBIs for future sprints

Tally of small/medium/large tasks done to forecast velocity.

Module 6: Sprint Retrospective Meeting

  • Chance to inspect and review their process
  • Not adhere to stale processes…but rather define them
  • ScrumMasters goal is to create an environment for a learning team
    • Does not intervene directly in content
    • Sometimes use status leveling techniques
    • Safety Check : if someone feels safe…they usually think others feel safe when that may not be the case.
  • ‘Pluses’ (what went well?) and ‘Deltas’ (what could be improved?)
    • What did we learn? // What still puzzles us?
  • Members often begin solving problems by suggesting solutions before agreeing on the problem or its causes. ScrumMasters can help by:
    • Objective questions (what happened?)
    • Reflective questions (how do we feel about it?)
    • Interpretive questions (what does it mean?)
    • Decision questions (what are we going to do about it?)
    • Focus on interests rather than positions (or outcomes)
    • Write observations on previous sprint on post it notes (not categorized…and can be good/bad/neutral)
      • Can then categorize them
      • Write down agreeable actions between each other
      • Can also introduce timeline retrospectives (between planning meeting and now / retro meeting) – could be done for sprints, release, or team history.

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