Daniel Alves / Development / September 25th, 2014

A Guide to Guerilla Scrum and Getting Things Done – 352 Noodles & Doodles

We like to tinker with our processes to ensure they fit the needs of each team and each project. I’ve talked before about how we stripped down our Scrum methodology to achieve a great result on a short timeframe, but I wanted to talk more about how teams can apply a lean version of guerilla Scrum to their own projects. A casual approach isn’t appropriate for every situation, but you can safely apply guerilla Scrum to anything from finishing a home improvement project to helping your kids with homework. Enjoy!

Transcript below.

[Daniel Alves:] Hi, everybody. My name is Daniel Alves; I’m a designer here at 352. Today I’m going to be talking to you about guerilla Scrum and getting things done. Scrum is a process we use at work to get things done and complete our projects. It’s a pretty formal process, but this talk is more about the casual process – the guiding principles and a loose understanding of what Scrum means. Hopefully you can use this in any of your domains, from raising a family to, you know, working on a craft project for example.
 
Ok, the first thing I’m going to talk about it is getting organized, getting to work and some then guiding principles. So, organized: this is a Scrum board. If you’ve never seen one before, it’s pretty straightforward. There are three sections: To Do, In Progress and Done. You can always use a To-Do app, or a similar way of keeping track of tasks, but this is what works for us.
 
So, these little Post-It notes here – there are three tasks. Really general stuff for doing a user test, and I’m going to go ahead and put them in the to-do section. Stick them up anywhere. 
 
The first thing you want to do when you have your tasks in the to-do section is to determine the priority of those tasks. You want to focus on value and you want to think about the order of the steps. In this case, there’s not really a hierarchy in terms of priority, it’s more about the order of steps. Either way, you want to identify that. 
 
So first thing I’ll do is set up my user test – put a 1 on that. Then I’m going to analyze the results: 2, and then 3, I’ll report back to the team. 
 
So let’s get started. It’s really simple, just grab your task and move it to the In Progress section. The benefit of having a board like this is that everyone can see what’s going on, and you’ll note that I have my name written there. So if multiple people are using a board, you can see who’s doing what.
 
We’ve gotten to work, and I just want to touch over some three basic ideas. The first one is to Touch Base Frequently. That’s really important to not only communicate with your team constantly, but also touch base with the board; always check in with the board. Make sure know what you’re doing; make sure you know what everyone else is doing. That way, you can come together as a group and maybe you need to collaborate on certain tasks, but having it visual allows you to all be in sync. 
 
The next thing is to work on one thing at a time. It’s really important for focus to pick one task and work on it until it’s done before you move onto another task. This allows you to get it done and get it done right.
 
The last thing is No Distractions. It’s really important to not have any outside noise come into your work area, or distractions like Facebook or checking your email for example. It’s important to set notifications appropriately so you don’t get interrupted while you’re doing your important task.
 
So, when you’re done with the tasks you’re working on, you just move to Done and get started on the next task. OK, once you’re done with this entire story, you’re going to have all your tasks down at the bottom, and you also get the gratification of having all of your tasks in the last section, in the Done area.
 
Some guiding principles: the first one is to focus on value. Whenever you have to make a decision about the priority of a task, or if you’re going to be nitpicky about something, always think about value. What is the user going to most appreciate? What are they going to be most able to use. If you’re focusing on value, you’re going to make educated decisions, and you won’t get distracted into things that don’t end up improving your final product. 
 
The next thing is to be a good listener. When you’re on a team, and you’re working with many people – and how I’ve illustrated it here, everyone is able to see who is doing what. It’s really important to listen to your teammates when they’re going through their standups or when they’re talking to the group about what’s going on and what their roadblocks are. You never know when the attention might get shifted to you and you need to give feedback, or you need to provide some kind of help for your teammates.
 
So always be a good listener; communication is important, and listening is a very important part of communication.
 
Lastly, have fun. Having fun lets us get to know our teammates; it also lets us celebrate our wins. Maybe go out and have a drink with your friends or coworkers (or friends), and just celebrate. It’s always good to have all your tasks at the bottom of the pile. That’s it for me. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Thanks and have a good day.
  • Christopher Burns

    I’d like to add that I think the biggest reason to stop distractions and to just work on one thing at a time is that time gets lost everything you switch between tasks. If you’re in the middle of flow when someone asks you a 15 second question, it can be 30 minutes to get it back. That’s some serious efficiency that gets lost. If your goal is to really knock some things out, you’ve got to keep the momentum going.

  • David Taylor

    I am so impressed with article. You’ve captured the fundamentals of Scrum, plus roles and practice and variations of the key ceremonies, and kept it brief enough to be a fast read. Well done! I would recommend you to walk through
    this link http://www.scrumstudy.com/scrum-principles.asp it’s helps you to cover more topics on Scrum Methodology.