Guerrilla Grooming a Different Approach to Backlog Refinement
Guerrilla Grooming was originally started due to impediments in the workplace. The Guerrilla in the name Guerrilla Grooming comes from the concept of Guerrilla Warfare.
Guerrilla Warfare is fought by irregulars in fast-moving, small-scale actions against orthodox military and police forces and, on occasion, against rival insurgent forces. This can be either independently or in conjunction with a larger political-military strategy. Ironically, it also describe my scrum team at the time really well.
We could rarely find a conference room to do grooming(backlog refinement). The large corporation that I was at, they saw little value in working to create an Agile workplace or open additional conference rooms to support these new meetings. In frustrations, I asked the team if we could just find an out-of-the-way place in the building and do our grooming. They agreed to give it a try. So I loaded up the Agile tool kit and we set out to find a spot. We ended up in a back hallway with a 30-foot open space. We threw a story map on the wall and started working to build out the backlog. The session went on for two hours and the team actually wanted to do more. It was awesome to see the team energized about doing backlog refinement. These sessions were normally a dreaded activity. On a good day, we would be productive for 45 minutes tops—before the team would lose focus.
This got me thinking: what changed? Based on the outcome of the retrospective came these realizations.
- Change in scenery form the conference room or squatting in the cafeteria was freeing and people felt more creative.
- Laptop usage was at a minimum because it was too cumbersome to use.
- Increased interaction through the of writing stickies’ and index cards instead of focusing on a tool or multi-tasking
Based on these results I started researching creative meeting space and it impacts on productivity. Turns out a lot of large tech companies and modern organization use creative space and specially designed floor plans to foster collaboration and personal interaction. There are several articles from the Harvard Business Review, INC, Fast Company and many other sources. This is fantastic if you work for one of these companies but for use stuck in the monolithic companies who are more concerned with seats on a floor that collaborative environments give this a try.
I have carried concept with me from team to team and many engagements over the years. It has work with many teams. We had grooming in restaurants, outside on company campus, and even at the park. Call head and ask if it cool with the restaurant though.