Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Test Driving a Scoda

Jessica Bane presented her Scope Discovery and Alignment meeting format at last week's Cambridge Tester Meetup. As the name suggests, its function is for a team to develop a shared understanding of the reason that work is being requested, what is expected to be included, and what is not expected to be included.

The structure involves collaboration on a statement that represents the mission and a breakdown of project factors (such as risks, questions, in/out of scope, resources) using tools familiar to many teams these days, a Kanban-like board and post-its. But the format is flexible and intended to service the key thing: making space for a productive conversation about the why and what, leaving the team free to go away and get on with the how.

After the talk, a brief workshop gave us a chance to kick the tyres of the approach. The group I was in were asked to organise a baby shower for our product owner's wife and, after aligning ourselves first on what a baby shower even was, we were able to  generate proposals, questions, and ideas that were quickly distributed on our board for the PO to begin addressing.

There's clear overlap with other planning processes, and several people noted similarities to Scrum ceremonies and the sprint goal. As with all such things, getting the right people together, at a time when they are in a mood to engage, and keeping discussion at a high-enough level are likely to be limiting factors on the utility of Scoda. Jessica and her colleagues from Displaylink were very positive on that point, saying that careful meeting scheduling, the structure, and the familiarity of the tools really helps.

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