Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The "Not My Job" Game

Expanding on last week's post...

The NPR news quiz show "Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me" always includes a segment called the "Not My Job Game". A celebrity has to answer questions about something completely unrelated to their own profession. Sometimes, through logical thinking, intuition or both, they're able to guess the correct answers.

Agile team members play this game every day. OK, maybe the questions or tasks aren't completely unrelated to our normal job, but we don't worry much about whether something is really our job or not. If it needs doing, we do it.

My team is about to embark on a theme to rewrite the code that produces account statements we send out for every 401(k) plan participant. We have several outstanding issues about the statements, and I wasn't sure if they are bugs or stories, as we are going to rewrite the statements anyway.

I asked the product owner and the head of plan administration for a quick meeting. We discussed each issue, and decided that the product owner would write new stories to ensure they are addressed. We'll probably need an engineering meeting to talk about potential solutions for one or two of them. Then we'll estimate the stories and we'll have a better idea when we'd better start on this theme, because it has to be done in time for the 3rd quarter statements.

Was it my job to worry about writing stories and organizing this meeting? Some people might say that was the job of the ScrumMaster, product owner, coach or manager. I didn't want these issues to fall through the cracks. Nobody here thinks it's weird when a team member takes on a task such as this.

This is one thing I love about agile development. Each of us is empowered to take the action needed to make sure we can deliver the most business value.

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