leanpizza.net - tasty Agile… one slice at a time – by Olivier Lafontan

Large Organisations,Retrospective,Uncategorized

April 19, 2011

Forget the bus factor. Here come Gummy Bears!

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“Bus Factor”, term used to describe an unforeseen event impacting your team, usually in the form of the disappearance of one or more of your team members (Q:”What would happen if John was hit by a bus??” A: He wouldn’t be able to come to work). Some people don’t like the negativity of the analogy and instead use the term “Lotto Factor” (Q: “what would happen if John won the lottery tomorrow??” A: He probably wouldn’t come back to work).

On a recent project, we got nearly half the team hit by the same illness / cold / bug (whatever it was, it went through the team like wildfire…) in the same sprint.

During our sprint retrospective, we highlighted the effect this had on the team’s ability to deliver the sprint objective. And although this was said as a joke, someone mentioned that we should make sure we avoid being ill going forward, which in turn prompted an equally great answer that Scrum, because of the co-location aspect is actually a factor of the team catching the same illness at the same time and that because of that, if we wanted to ensure that we didn’t have the same issue next sprint, the team should stop being co-located 🙂 People around the table found that suggestion funny, and I could spot a couple of people who actually hoped we would implement this recommendation…

At this point, someone mentioned that there might be a particular area in our open project space that was optimum for exchanging our bugs… following that idea, someone else proposed that this area might be the “snack and sweets” counter.

The fruits there are washed, and often people would come and just pick a fruit from the basket, hopefully without touching all of them first, so transfer is probably limited. However, we also had an always open bag of gummy bears, and to get to one, people definitely have to get their hands in there and rummage to get to the priceless trophy: this looked like the perfect suspect!

So, from then on, the only gummy bears you will see for the team are those mini packets… more expensive, but did it work?

Don’t know if there really ever was some sort of cause and effect, however, we haven’t suffered from the Gummy Bear factor since.

I call this result since we could have gone for the “stop co-location” improvement instead!

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  1. You call this result…fascinating? Incredible? Good?

    And by the way: We can be happy that they obviously didn’t kill the easter bunny. Can destroy sprints, I heard. Little bro’ of good old Santa. And the church! Think about the church with all those nasty bank holidays! Stop the royal wedding!

    Comment by Dennis — April 20, 2011 @ 8:26 pm
  2. Yeah, maybe not result, but hey! no more mass epidemic in the team 🙂

    Royal wedding was also unpredictable, maybe another name for the Bus Factor???

    Comment by Oli — April 23, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

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