Fifty Quick Ideas To Improve Your Retrospectives

retrospectives-coverFifty Quick Ideas To Improve Your Retrospectives by Ben Williams and Tom Roden is now available. The Kindle version is on a special promo price of 99p on, and 99c on, this week only.

This is the third book in the Fifty Quick Ideas series, and contains tips and techniques to help teams enhance and energise their continuous improvement efforts. The ideas are grouped into five sections: preparing for retrospectives, providing a clear focus, adapting the environment, facilitating sessions and re-energising retrospectives (for more info, see the table of contents). The book is mostly aimed at teams that already know the basics of retrospectives, and want to take the next step, but Ben and Tom made sure that there are plenty of tips for various levels of knowledge and experience.

If you don’t have a Kindle account, there are other versions of the book available from Leanpub (though not at the fabulous Kindle discount), and the paper version should appear in most online stores this week.

Is your team getting the most out of user stories?

Have you struggled to split user stories into small but valuable chunks? Do you have problems prioritising stories or getting commitment from business stakeholders on what they want to achieve? Do you have issues deciding when a story is done or how many other stories you really need to achieve a business objective? Are you managing large amounts of stories that are problematic to estimate, prioritise or plan for?

If any of these problems affect your team, join me for a two day hands-on workshop in London, bring your product owners and business sponsors to learn how to get the most out of user stories. The participants will learn how to ensure that things coming into their work stream are defined well, split to be small enough but valuable, and achieve the big benefits of adaptive planning and that you can expect from great user stories.

The workshop happening on October 21-22 in central London. If you book before September 20th, use the promo code earlybird to save 200 GBP. Click here more info and to register.

Announcing DaSpec — awesome executable specifications in Markdown

It’s my great pleasure to announce the immediate availability of DaSpec v1.0, the first stable version ready for production use. DaSpec is an automation framework for Executable Specifications in Markdown. It can help you:

  • Share information about planned features with non-technical stakeholders easily, and get actionable unambiguous feedback from them
  • Ensure and document shared understanding of the planned software, making the definition of done stronger and more objective
  • Document software features and APIs in a way that is easy to understand and maintain, so you can reduce the bus factor of your team and onboard new team members easily
  • Make any kind of automated tests readable to non-technical team members and stakeholders

DaSpec helps teams achieve those benefits by validating human-readable documents against a piece of software, similar to tools such as FitNesse, Cucumber or Concordion. The major difference is that DaSpec works with Markdown, a great, intuitive format that is well supported by a large ecosystem of conversion, editing and processing tools. Run and play with the key examples in your browser now, without installing any software, to see what DaSpec could do for you.

DaSpec’s primary target are teams practising Behaviour Driven Development, Specification by Example, ATDD and generally running short, frequent delivery cycles with a heavy dependency on test automation. It can, however, be useful to anyone looking to reduce the cost of discovering outdated information in documentation and tests.

For more information on what’s new in version 1.0, check out the release notes.

The first version of DaSpec supports automation using JavaScript only. We plan to port it to other platforms depending on the community feedback. Get in touch and let us know what you’d like to see next.

What is your #1 software delivery challenge?

I’d love to reboot my blog and monthly newsletter with inspiring and educational information, to help you get better outcomes with your teams. I finally have some time to write again, but I’d like to try something a bit different – and ask people what they wanted to learn about.

If you could take just five minutes and tell me what is the single biggest challenge that you’re struggling with at the moment, I’d appreciate it very much, and more importantly I will be able to use that information to cover the topics that you specifically want to know about.

I’m collecting the information using SurveyGizmo. Please fill in this quick survey to help steer me!