Within the context of helping teams get started with Agile and Scrum, I have sometimes employed a construct that many practitioners know as the Scrum 3–5–3, where the first “3” references three Scrum roles, the “5” references five Scrum events, and the final “3” references 3 Scrum artifacts, as articulated in the Scrum Guide. I’m extending that concept to include two additional areas: another “5” to represent the Scrum values, and another “3” to represent commitments which were formally articulated in last year’s update to the Scrum Guide. …

Emotional Word Wheel by Geoffrey Roberts, inspired by Dr. Gloria Willcox’s Feelings Wheel

There are numerous examples of “Feelings Wheels,” one of which is the Emotional Word Wheel, created by Geoffrey Roberts, as shown above. This particular version first came to my attention via some volunteering that I do as a crisis counselor. Not only are visual representations such as this a powerful vehicle for having conversations with people in crisis, they can also serve as a springboard for other types or conversations. In this blog post, let’s explore a couple of potential applications of this visual technique.

Note: For the sake of simplicity, I will use the term Feelings Wheel for the…

One of the dynamics that I have observed while working in a great many organizations over the years is this: when leaders say that they care about employee engagement and satisfaction, there is often ample evidence to the contrary. One of the most obvious signs of this gap between words and deeds is apparent when it comes to what benchmarks organizations choose to measure themselves against.

Team Health Checks are an example of a technique that can help provide insight into a wide range of topics that can have a material impact on employee happiness and satisfaction, and they can…

In her book Making Work Visible: Exposing Time Theft to Optimize Work and Flow, Dominica DeGrandis describes numerous ways in which teams can help each other stay in a state of flow. As the name of the book implies, she is paying homage to a key tenet of Kanban, where teams use boards of various kinds to make sure they all have the same understanding of what work is most important to do, in what order, while being sure to keep the amount of simultaneous Work In Progress (WIP) as small as possible.

One of the common themes that I…

A Team Canvas is a visual technique that helps team members align on what is most important to them. There are four areas of focus, where each one is represented by a quadrant on the Team Canvas: Goals (upper left); Roles & Skills (upper right); Values (lower left); and Rules & Activities (lower right).

Note that this blog post is based on the “Team Canvas Basic.” There is an additional Team Canvas, which includes additional fields.

When to Use

There are many situations when using a Team Canvas can be helpful, such as:

1. When starting up a new team

2. When a…

Following up on earlier success with a couple of other “under 200 words” blog posts (about impact mapping and story mapping, respectively), here is one about an improv technique called PowerPoint Karaoke (aka Battledecks) that seems to still be relatively unknown, is a lot of fun, and can readily be done virtually or in person. And, it is also important to point out, this type of karaoke does not require singing (but bonus points to anyone who chooses to break into song ; ). So start those word counters, and away we go!


  • Put together slide decks in advance, where…

Pyramid Backlog, from Jimmy Janlén’s book Visualization Examples: Toolbox for the Agile Coach


The Pyramid Backlog is a visual prioritization tool that helps force hard decisions on the most important things to work on, at the Product Backlog level. Agile Coach Jimmy Janlén describes the technique in his book Visualization Examples: Toolbox for the Agile Coach.

When To Use It

When A Product Owner/a team are having difficulty narrowing the focus down to a reasonably small number of items to work on.

In an ideal world, Agile teams are set up to minimize the number of external dependencies, and if possible, remove external dependencies altogether. This post describes the impact of dependencies, and techniques related to dependency management.

The Impact of Dependencies

Agile practitioner Troy Magennis has written and spoken extensively about dependencies and their impact. Let’s take a look at some highlights from this document that is available from the Focused Objective GitHub repo.

The potential impacts from dependencies vary; here are some of the most common impacts:

  • Reduced ordering options. Suppose the highest-priority thing in the backlog has a dependency on something else before…

As a fitting means of commemorating 25 years of Scrum, an update to the Scrum Guide was released today, November 18, 2020, via a launch event, hosted by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber (of course!), joined by numerous other people who care a lot about Scrum.

Note: I would like to thank everybody who was involved in the collaboration and conversations that ultimately led to this updated version of the Guide. I would also like to thank the many Agile practitioners from whom I have learned a great deal over the years. …

I was nine years old when Roberto Clemente died. His tragic death, under the most heroic of circumstances, made a lasting impression on me then, and it continues to do so to this day.

I often ponder what it is about this particular man’s life that has left such an indelible mark on mine. The most obvious answer is that I’ve loved baseball ever since I can remember, and Clemente was certainly among the greatest players who took the field during my younger years. There must be more to it than that, though, and I think it comes down to…

Philip Rogers

I’m an Agile Coach at Excella — I love to work with Agile teams to help them collaborate and deliver, and have fun while doing it.

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