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Assessing skills and top questions

Roman Burdakov
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 20, 2011
Posts: 10

Hi Sean,

Questions about Agile:
1. How you can measure productivity? (it helps to understand difference between agile and non-agile projects)
2. Mike Cohn, defined ADAPT as an example of how you can translate your project into Agile. (ADAPT - Awareness, Desire, Ability, Promote, Transfer), how I can help my project (and later company) to move from state of Awareness to Desire? How I can affect on my team members?

Questions about your book:
1. Can you share you top N questions for agile interview?
2. What would you pay special attention on, while you interviewing person who is applying for roles such as Scrum Master(probably Certified), Agile couch?

Thanks.
Sean Landis
author
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 11, 2011
Posts: 29
Roman Burdakov wrote:Hi Sean,

Questions about Agile:
1. How you can measure productivity? (it helps to understand difference between agile and non-agile projects)
2. Mike Cohn, defined ADAPT as an example of how you can translate your project into Agile. (ADAPT - Awareness, Desire, Ability, Promote, Transfer), how I can help my project (and later company) to move from state of Awareness to Desire? How I can affect on my team members?

Questions about your book:
1. Can you share you top N questions for agile interview?
2. What would you pay special attention on, while you interviewing person who is applying for roles such as Scrum Master(probably Certified), Agile couch?

Thanks.


Hi Roman,
My book isn't about Agile software development. Nor is it about hiring agile teams (although I've used these ideas to help build very good agile teams). It's about hiring great people, specifically targeted at software professionals. I've found that much of the conventional hiring wisdom is not effective and so I wrote a book about my ideas. As the book developed, it became obvious that many of my ideas were deeply influenced by my experience in agile software development. Thus the name.

To your questions about agile.
1. I have pretty strong feelings about measuring productivity and I can't directly answer your question without context. My mantra about measurement is "Be careful what you measure because you just might get it." I'm reminded about the Dilbert cartoon when Wally says: "I'm gonna write me a minivan!" This is a huge topic and really is off-topic. Maybe I can reply if you can narrow it a bit.
2. Pretty off topic but I think at least three preconditions help a lot when trying to move a team to a more agile way of working. The first is a work environment (culture) that can receive or accept agile approaches. The second is a team that desires to work better and is willing to give agile a serious try. The third is guidance from someone or ones that really understand agile. I interview many people who list agile on their resume. Probably less than 5% understand, or have even worked in, an agile environment. Since people are at the center of agile, that takes us back to hiring.

Top N questions for agile interviews? Although I work in a very competent agile shop, I have to say we don't focus on agile questions per se. I'm more focused on competence, craftsmanship, adaptability, communication, collaboration, accountability, the ability to succeed, and the ability to learn. These are the raw materials required to succeed in an agile environment. We often ask a candidate to describe the agile environment(s) they listed on their resume. We don't put much context around it because we want to hear what they think are the important aspects of how they worked. Additionally, I don't believe in canned questions. I do believe in having general lines of questioning that are intended to incrementally reveal the depth of the candidate's competence in a certain area. I devote quite a few pages to this in the book.

Scrum Master. Certification are not good indicators of competence (or incompetence). That said, as a minimum, I would expect certification. I was able to stay awake during my Scrum Master training though, so that's not a very high bar to jump over. Scrum Masters often have little, if any formal authority. They lead by influence. Therefore, communication and collaboration are huge. They need to be able to listen, understand, and act in constructive ways within their power to influence. They should be able to understand technical discussions although they don't need to be technical. They need to be concise in their communication else no one will listen to them. They need to demonstrate initiative. They need to be good at building relationships. They need to have a solid understanding of the roots of agile development as well as the mechanics. They must be adaptable. Scrum is nothing but an skeleton and teams are expected to flesh it out according to their context; hire Scrum Masters who have the ability to assist in this fleshing out.
Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Roman Burdakov wrote:Agile couch?


In the last team I worked for as a developer, we had one in our team room. Proved to be very useful for afternoon naps. (Nice typo, couldn't resist... ;) )


The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 39390
    
  28
I have added a link to the Dilbert website to your post. that reminds me of the story I heard about the Guardian. The proofreaders were paid a bonus for each mistprint they found, so the comppositors made srue there werre lots and lots of sppelling errrors for them to find. They never found all of them, which is why the Guardian is known for its egregious misspellings
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
 
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