Once the refactoring time was over, the participants discussed their choices. From this phase, a glossary emerged and now it can be generally adopted for the merge request or for the mob programming sessions.
- Phase two: the second phase was harder. The refactoring gains more value when the code must evolve and, therefore. The group faced some evolutive features. Each teammate was able to evaluate the quality of their own refactoring based on the evolutionary requests and discussed them with others. Then, everyone uploaded their version on GitLab.
The tools used for the kata were:
- Miro: to record the refactoring activities, organize ideas, and facilitate the discussion;
- Google Meet: to virtually meet;
- Google Chat: to share comments without disturbing the group call.
For Scrum Masters
Scrum Masters meet for continuous improvement activities as well: two meetings per month and each of them lasts one hour.
Scrum Masters usually meet the following week of the individual team retrospective to discuss what emerged from the meetings, evaluate the most relevant points, and find solutions to any problems that arose.
This also becomes an opportunity to discuss how the retrospective itself is managed: a retrospective of the retrospectives.
Moreover, regarding the continuous improvement of Scrum Masters, the individual meetings are focused on a specific theme, namely one of the moments of the Scrum: sprint opening, standup, backlog refinement, etc.
For each meeting, there is a different owner who is responsible for making a theoretical study on the topic and bringing points of attention that can start the discussion. Then, the practical plan of how certain moments are managed within each team is combined with the theoretical study.
The output sought is not to define the same guidelines for all teams. But to be all aligned on a theoretical level to better manage different needs that may emerge in each team. Each team, which varies in number, type of project, and skills, may have different needs that deserve flexibility which, however, must be accompanied by solid theoretical knowledge.
How do you remotely manage the continuous improvement activities for the Scrum Masters?
At Mia‑Platform, to be honest, we were in the process of starting these series of meetings just when the quarantine began. We have decided to start the continuous improvement activity even remotely, with the support of the tools we have available.
Shared files, e.g. Google Sheet, are proving to be valuable allies for managing meetings, together with video communication tools such as Hangouts.
For Product Owners
Even Product Owners periodically meet for continuous improvement activities. Let’s see how it works for them.
Mia‑Platform Product Owners meet once a month for a moment of horizontal training. As we have seen for the others, for each meeting there is a moderator who, by turn, gets ready with some material to share and gives ideas for a moment of discussion and debate.
Some of the topics that are addressed during these meetings are: improving the writing of user stories, how to make meetings more effective, new models and management frameworks, and much more.
One of the last meetings, which was managed remotely, was about writing user stories. The owner of the meeting shared a short presentation for the team, which was followed by a moment of discussion about how to write user stories, what would be the best method to adopt and how this can be declined to team and project needs.
How do you remotely manage the continuous improvement activities for the PO?
In this period, we are experimenting with new ways of managing our training activities.
There are some very important points of attention that emerged from the meeting among our Product Owners. And they are as follow:
- The length of the meeting can be reduced to get to the point as soon as possible, where everyone is involved and can participate;
- Write the feedback on a shared document: this makes it easier to follow the discussion and make your own contribution.
POs and Tech Leaders: efficient meetings for the continuous improvement activities of the product
A final short chapter needs to be dedicated not only to the continuous improvement of people and teams but also to the activity of continuous improvement of the product.
This activity is very structured, more than the others because it is more recurring and shorter.
The Tech Leaders of all the teams meet the Product Owner and the Tech Leaders of the R&D team once a week. During the week before the meeting, the Tech Leaders collect feedback, requests, and points to consider. The meeting lasts 30 minutes and each Tech Leader has a moment to present. The R&D team concludes with an update on product advancements.
It becomes of fundamental importance, for this meeting, that everyone arrives well prepared so that everyone has the necessary time to express themselves and to go out with outputs.
In a remote work context, it may be even more useful to share the material before the meeting and carry out the meeting with the video on. The latter aspect, if there are not too many to participate, can greatly facilitate communication and involvement.
In conclusion, the activities of continuous improvement, if actually carried out with a structure and periodically, allow you to make those small changes that in the long run bring great innovation both to the product and to the corporate culture – as a workplace environment and effective processes.
We are aware that a face‑to‑face modality facilitates any training moment. At the same time, finding the right balance to remotely carry out some activities can bring many benefits both for individual training and team cohesion.
Our suggestion is to try to experiment with a calendar of continuous training – starting from small groups – and then expand your training activities offer.