Vacation: Much needed. Much appreciated. But when you work on an Agile team, how do you prepare for your Product Owner (the person who sets priority and clarifies the parameters of the work) to be gone for a week?
Clarity like you've never had before.
We set aside time the week before to do what we really should whenever we enter a new release or when we are just feeling like we need more clarity: groom that backlog! Grooming the backlog consists of:
- removing user stories that no longer appear relevant
- creating new user stories in response to newly discovered needs
- re-assessing the relative priority of stories
- assigning estimates to stories which have yet to receive one
- correcting estimates in light of newly discovered information
- splitting user stories which are high priority but too coarse grained to fit in an upcoming iteration
The purpose of a "grooming" meeting is to ensure that the backlog contains cards that are relevant, detailed, estimated, and prioritized. We shined up that old backlog, brainstormed new ideas, identified areas we needed more organization/documentation and created solutions for those issues.
We also made time for a retrospective. There is always opportunity to improve and there is usually something that at least one teammate is waiting for a retrospective to talk about. We were proud to see that we've moved away from the Gap Inc. norm of focusing on the positive and pushing down the controversial. We're a high-performing, full trust, transparent team and that has made it safe to talk about things that aren't working.