Team Agility Master: Iteration Planning Meeting – Facilitate

Iteration planning determines the work that the team commits to be completed in the iteration by adjusting the predicted velocity and managing the number and priority of assigned, deferred, and/or new stories.

Successful planning requires someone, usually the Team Agility Master, to facilitate the planning event.

Why to do this practice

Planning an iteration involves a conversation between the Product Owner and the team and, possibly, other stakeholders. Early on, these parties will have perspectives and agendas. The do not think in the same ways. They bring their own sets of feelings, fears, and needs. And, especially early on, they do not understand the planning process.

The job of the facilitator is to help these people successfully talk with each other about the iteration, requirements, and agree on next steps. The facilitator is responsible for helping to realize the goals and objectives of the meeting owner or sponsor.

Facilitation is a skill. Facilitation is activity of helping a team of people to improve their effectiveness, addressing impediments and conflicts, creating a safe environment to identify and address issues as a group, and assisting with decision making processes.

The facilitator’s job is to do things like:

  • Drawing out ideas and opinions
  • Writing and communicating on behalf of the team
  • Acting as an occasional referee
  • Helping the team to keep to its process and helping them to revise it when needed
  • Helping to achieve consensus

Who does this practice

Here are roles involved in this practice:, who is the facilitator of the Iteration 0 meeting

  • The Product Owner is the usual sponsor of the demonstration.
  • The Team Agility Master is the usual facilitator for the Iteration Planning Meeting. Usually, the Team Agility Master is the one to arrange the logistics of the meeting. The Team Agility Master is probably the one to document the guidance and insights gained in the meeting on behalf of the team.
  • Team Leads who act on behalf of the team

What to do

Inputs

Inputs to retrospectives include:

  • The Product Owner’s goals and objectives for the demonstration
  • Concerns and impediments

Approach

At the end of each iteration, the whole team conducts a retrospection, facilitated by the Team Agility Master. The key question is, “If we could do it again, what would we keep doing and what would we improve?

The approach to facilitation requires

  1. Understand the goals and objectives of the sponsor.
  2. Be familiar with the approaches and objectives of the Iteration Planning Meeting and the Iteration Planning Checklist in Checklists.
  3. Handle the logistics for room and materials. Schedule participants.
  4. Identify possible problems. Develop a good facilitation plan and review the facilitation tools that will be used.
  5. Gather and make visible in handouts or charts the data needed for the meeting (described in Inputs for the meeting).
  6. Keep the meeting running and focused. Manage the clock.
  7. Capture notes and insights and distribute to members after the meeting.

Outputs

The primary output of Iteration Planning facilitation is the facilitation plan including:

  • Agenda
  • Approaches to handling potential problems
  • Charts to be made
  • Meeting logistics

When to do this practice

Planning for facilitation should be done at least a few days before the iteration planning meeting.

Facilitation is done during the meeting itself.

Outcomes

Here are some of the compelling reasons for this practice:

  • Effective communication between all parties
  • Good relationship with stakeholders
  • Clear understanding of the next steps
  • Establishing baseline expectations for future improvement