Short Motivational Stories: An Interview with Jovan Jakovljević, Scrum Master at Wireless Media
In today’s short motivational story, we’ll be speaking to Jovan Jakovljević, Scrum Master at Wireless Media, a valuable Nave customer and a passionate agile practitioner who always strives to keep improving.
Sonya: Welcome, Jovan! It’s always a great pleasure to spend time with you! When you first heard about us, what were you struggling with? What was your pain point at that time, and why did you decide to adopt Nave?
Jovan: Oh, that takes me down memory lane… I worked in a Scrum team, and I was solely focused on team velocity, rather than flow metrics that I didn’t understand at the time. The struggle I faced was that our teams were not focused on the flow of work, and we were really slow. We also had an idea of where the bottlenecks were, but we didn’t have the data to back it up.
I was first introduced to the Actionable Agile plugin for Jira, which was created by Daniel Vacanti. However, the tool’s UX was not very user-friendly at that time, so I wanted to find something similar, providing the same approach but in a more intuitive way, and then I discovered Nave.
Sonya: So you wanted to achieve faster delivery speed?
Jovan: I would say so. I wanted us to be able to deliver more frequently. And I wanted to see why we were not getting there.
Sonya: Did you guys deliver once every two weeks, or straight away as soon as you finished something?
In the beginning, we were lucky if we delivered at all.
After some time, we agreed to deliver per sprint, and now we are trying to deliver multiple times during the sprint.
Sonya: And do you deliver directly to your customers or another department in the company?
Jovan: We deliver directly to our customers.
Sonya: What was your role back then?
Jovan: I was a Scrum Master. At the time, I was starting to discover more about Kanban. I’ve learned about Scrumban, and my attention was being brought towards process management and how to optimize the flow of work.
Sonya: To make that clear, you wanted to deliver faster, not really to deliver more work in a sprint, for example. The focus was on your delivery times rather than the amount of work you can finish in 2 weeks.
Jovan: Yes, we wanted to become more effective and contribute our maximum efforts towards achieving a ”clean” flow. We wanted to avoid bottlenecks, easily identify them, and find ways to solve them. And, last but not least, we wanted to track whether we were getting better or not.
Sonya: What were the challenges when you started this initiative?
Jovan: There were a lot of challenges, and some of them are still present. Initially, the idea was not very well accepted and teams felt like we were tracking them all the time. It was difficult to explain our reasoning behind this.
Sonya: What was the trigger that made you look for a transformation in the first place? Was it your customers who complained about slow delivery times or the management who wanted more from you?
Jovan: Well, I know this will sound funny, but neither. The trigger was me.
I’ve been looking at our teams, and I realized that we could do it better! I saw that they have the potential to achieve more.
Then, I started my management campaign, promoting the benefits of adopting a data-driven approach to be able to get approval.
Sonya: When you decided to adopt Nave, did you have any obstacles holding you back?
Jovan: My main concern was that our teams would feel micromanaged, which would make it tough to promote the idea (still an issue, I can say).
As time passed by, our management adopted a new way of data-driven decision making, too. They started realizing what Nave can give them, why it’s a better approach to decision making, and how they can use it. They’re still embracing the idea and trying to best utilize Monte Carlo Simulations to make forecasts.
Sonya: For Monte Carlo to work, you need to establish a predictable delivery process in the first place. How did this journey go for you?
Jovan: It’s still going really. For some teams, it’s better, for others, it’s still not. We are now trying to have fixed, stable teams working together for a longer period. My biggest concern is that our teams are still very defensive when it comes to using data to make decisions. I think the problem lies in understanding the data, and I am still figuring out how to involve them without making them feel micromanaged.
Sonya: Could you briefly summarise the changes you’ve made that had positive results on your delivery speed, based on the visibility you gained using Nave?
Jovan: I’ve introduced WIP limits, and started tracking the Aging Chart – we got a huge performance boost in cycle time once we began to manage our work in progress. Also, by checking the Cycle Time Scatterplot, I’ve been able to see some tasks that hindered our performance retroactively, and I was able to investigate further.
Sonya: Are there any changes you’ve made that didn’t work, and you reverted back?
Jovan: Yes, I’ve added a blocked column to track how the blockers in our system affected our flow and cycle times, but now I am reverting that back. We’re about to use the Flag feature in Jira to track our blocked work.
Sonya: Good decision! What do you personally want more of by adopting a data-driven approach in your company? Are you looking for more confidence when making decisions? More personal time? Perhaps being able to be present at the table in the evenings?
Jovan: I really believe that this is one side of the coin. The other one is the benefits it brings to the team, the team culture and the relationships within the team. Having data, knowing how to understand it, and having the right tools to track it can make your life easier and, most importantly – bring more transparency.
I want to prove that it’s not just about having a great team, it’s really important to do the right thing, the right way.
Sonya: That’s amazing! What specific results do you expect to achieve now?
Jovan: My main goal now is to help our teams strive for better performance by eliminating any pressure regarding time-boxed estimations. I hope to have our organization understand that we are more than just a Scrum team; we are a Scrum team that uses Kanban practices, and we use them well!
Continuous improvement is a never-ending journey. Adopting a data-driven approach to forecasting eliminates guesswork and provides as good, or even better results with a lot less time and effort. It enables you to spend your time on what matters the most – delivering customer value.
Meet the Author
Sonya Siderova is a passionate product manager and a driving force behind Nave, a Kanban analytics suite that helps teams improve their delivery speed through data-driven decision making. When she's not catering to her two little ones, you might find Sonya absorbed in a good heavyweight boxing match or behind a screen crafting a new blog post.
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