We recently joined the NZTE Capability voucher scheme as a service provider. The voucher scheme helps businesses to build their management capabilities with the overall aim of enabling the growth of the business. Working in conjunction with Regional Business Partners (in our region: Grow Wellington), businesses may be eligible for up to 50% subsidy on the cost of training services.
Businesses can find our services on the Accelerate Success site. We’re currently offering Agile training and coaching, our services include:
Introduction to Scrum
Certified Scrum Master course
Writing great Agile user stories
Scrum services starter park
Introduction to Scrum full day
To be eligible for the vouchers your business needs to:
have fewer than 50 employees
be registered for GST in New Zealand
operating in a commercial environment
privately owned or a Maori Trust
demonstrate a desire to innovate and grow.
Once you’ve selected the service you’re interested in, get in touch with Grow Wellington who will assess your business and subsequently advise what level of subsidy you can obtain. Grow Wellington will then get in touch with us so that we can set up a specific event on the Accelerate Success site for the training you have selected. You should then book the event via the Accelerate Success website.
At the conclusion of your training we’ll invoice you for the percentage of the course you are paying for, we deal with NZTE directly to claim the rest of the cost of your course.
We’re happy to help with the process, so if you would like further information on our services or the process of obtaining a voucher, email us at [email protected], or just give us a call on 04 939 0062.
In an ever more competitive world, Agile and Scrum are fast becoming necessities. We’re started a new company in Shanghai, China to support Chinese organisations as they adopt Scrum and work towards being Agile.
We’ve been on the ground in Shanghai for just four months now. This is my third trip and the city is as vibrant and exciting as always. The thing that strikes me most about Shanghai is the energy, this vibrant, bustling community where anything is possible.
My commute just got longer.
When I am talking to people about our new office in Shanghai they, invariably, have one question: “Why China?”. It’s an easy question to answer, but not as easy to understand without having visited China in the last few years. When we were considering a move into the Chinese market we considered the pros and cons, looked at the risks and opportunities and, as much as we could, undertook due diligence. None of this prepared me for our exploratory trip in October last year. As soon as we hit the ground the opportunity became real. The entreprenurial spirit in China is palpable.
We are currently working with two startups in Shanghai, providing them with the support to become Agile and to experience the improved focus, transparency and productivity that Scrum delivers. Last week we attended the Shanghai Scrum gathering and met a host of new Agilistas. It was an interesting and exciting time and we came away with new friends and new ideas.
If you are interested in what we are doing in China, or would just like to chat about the opportunities and challenges in this burgeoning new market, get in touch for a coffee and a chat.
In the meantime here is a slideshow of images, mostly from around our office in Xintiandi.
We’re very pleased to announce that Boost New Media has been named as one of only 48 companies who are now WorldBlu certified as a democratic workplace.
“People want freedom rather than fear in the workplace,” comments WorldBlu Founder and CEO, Traci Fenton. “WorldBlu-certified organizations model how democracy in the workplace unleashes human potential and builds highly successful organizations that change the world for the better.”
Nathan Donaldson, our Managing Director and founding owner is a big believer in the principles of a democratic workplace. Nathan believes that the more employees are asked to input on the strategic direction of the company the more engaged they become. As a result Boost has happier employees which in turn has resulted in a low staff turnover rate.
Some of the steps we’ve taken to become a democratic workplace:
Yearly strategic planning meetings
Quarterly planning retrospectives
An ideas and questions board
Boost strategy scrum
Group interviews of prospective employees
Once a year we devote half a day to strategic planning. The entire company sits in a meeting room and workshop ideas for goals for the coming year. Everyone contributes and we all get to vote on the ideas we’d most like to commit to. We then decide who should drive the tasks associated with each goal and when they should be done by. We all agree on our shared goals as a company.
To ensure we’re on track with our goals and to capture any concerns we hold a planning retrospective quarterly. This allows us to track progress and address any concerns arising.
Our ideas and questions board is located in our kitchen, giving everyone easy access and opportunity to make suggestions about any aspects of the company. The current categories are tools, processes and goals. We’re encouraged to contribute any ideas we might have for improvements or changes by post it note.
Although not everyone is involved in the day to day tasks associated with Boost’s strategic direction, we do run this work by scrum. This means that all tasks are displayed on a scrum board so that everyone can see the status of tasks (not started, in progress and completed). Essentially all strategic work is transparently displayed to anyone who is interested. We find that the underlying principles of Agile work well with the aspiration to be a democratic company.
Our hiring process is another area where employees are invited to get involved. The candidate is initially interviewed by the Managing Director and the General Manager and if they feel they would like the candidate to progress further the team are asked to come to a meeting room and meet the candidate. We’re all encouraged to ask the candidate questions and then once the interview is over we’re asked for our thoughts on the candidate. This means that every new employee is someone the whole team have met and agreed will be a good fit for our company.
We’re delighted to be recognized by WorldBlu as New Zealand’s first certified democratic workplace. We’ve found that using democratic principles results in happier and more productive employees who feel more engaged and motivated.
The Boost office was buzzing yesterday when we got a call from Rich Chetwynd and Nicole Fougere from Litmos.com to let us know they’d chosen our entry for IntuitionHQ (our online usability testing tool) as the winner of their Booster Seat 2011 competition.
As a result, two people from Boost will be winging their way to San Francisco in November and spending a month working out of The Landing Pad in the SOMA district. You can read more about this on the IntuitionHQ blog and this Idealog story, but we’d just really like to say a huge thank you to Rich and Nicole for their amazing generosity towards New Zealand businesses, and this incredible opportunity.
All of this is really useful, really interesting information, and we hope that you are all getting value from it. From these posts, and through our Twitter stream one of the questions we’ve been getting most frequently is about the history of Scrum – where did it come from and why did it turn out the way it did?
To answer this question we’ve got a video straight from the source with one of the founders of Scrum, Jeff Sutherland.
Check out the video below to learn about the history and reasoning behind Scrum.
Where did Scrum come from?
The logic behind Scrum as a development methodology is really very interesting, and Jeff Sutherland does a great job of explaining it. There are a few key points I find particularly interesting, and that are reflected in Scrum processes as we see them today:
Why other systems don’t work:
Specialised silos of activity leads to slower communication and add lengths to the development process – this makes sense as there is not enough communication between people with different roles so it makes it hard to achieve the goals or development milestones that they have committed to
They found that the needed someone who truly understood the requirements of a project as well as representing the users, and so they came up with the role of Product Owner. This way every development cycle would add value for users and the business, and the team would have someone on hand who understood the requirements of each piece of functionality and could explain the reasoning each part of the project
The meetings of Scrum
Experience shows (and anyone who works in a large organisation can testify) that too many meetings slow down the development process; in order to speed up the process, the needed to reduce the number of meetings to a minimum amount
They found development should be done in short cycles of 2 to 4 weeks (aka sprints) – essentially so there is good communication, and each development cycle can be well estimated
You need a meeting at the beginning of a sprint to define what you are going to pull from the product backlog (as managed by the Product Owner), how you are going to implement and track each item from the backlog
Research from Bell Labs showed that teams were driven by daily meetings, but they wanted it to be a very short meeting of no more than 15 minutes, so all members of the team knew what was going on, what they were going to achieve and how they could help other team members
At the end of a sprint, you would demo real, working software to get feedback from the product owners and stakeholders of the project, so you know what’s working well and what’s not – that feedback cycle (aka a Retrospective) is what helps teams to improve and help development go faster
Reporting in Scrum
They needed to do a rethink of how reporting would occur in software development as the traditional method of using Gantt charts simply didn’t work as too many changes occur. They came up with the concept of a Burndown Chart so you could see a glance how fast the team was going, how much work was remaining and how much time was left to do it
They left the Burndown Chart up on the wall as a method of self reporting. Everyone could see the state of the Scrum at any time, and immediately know how much work was left to do.
They used a visual workspace (again, up on a wall) so you could see what needed to be done, what work was in progress, and what was done and tested at any moment in time
Scrum in a nutshell
So that’s more or less how Scrum came about – quite an interesting story really. Jeff Sutherland is evidently a very interesting character, and the thought that has gone into making Scrum as efficient is really very apparent.
Does this match up with your own experiences of Scrum? How does Scrum work for you? Did you enjoy your history lesson? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.
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As far as civil defence goes, we have always maintained a high level of preparedness, our bright yellow plastic water containers shine out from under out pods. recently however, the devastating earthquake in Christchurch has made us re-evaluate our own readiness for a natural disaster.
Previously we had enough food and water for each person for 3 days, packed into lidded buckets that could be used for containing water or becoming toilets. These buckets were placed into our cvil defense cabinet along with cooker, pot, fuel, and a water purifier. As the company has grown we were overdue for a re-stock. And since the February 22nd quake we have had a re-think what is needed and how best to prepare.
We had simply followed the NZ civil defence guidelines to have enough food and supplies to last three days. It has now become clear to us that if we were hit with a earthquake on the scale of the Canterbury ones it would be unlikely that we would all be trapped in an intact office bidding time for 3 days – although if might be possible if we were struck by a tsunami or floods.
Our preparedness objectives are no longer to simply survive in one place. Our priorities are now:
Ensuring everyone in the office is as safe as possible at the time of an earthquake
Accessibility to first aid equipment
Movement through rubble and broken glass
Survival if trapped
Escape from the building if normal exits are blocked
Getting back home to family members
We realised that there were a few things missing in our kits. and added the following:
Gardening gloves for moving objects covered in broken glass
Overalls, face masks and gumboots to deal with rubble
Abseiling gear with a 50 metre rope to descend from the 8th floor to the ground
We have stocked up on even more water, several water containers in our civil defence cabinet and a further 15 litres under each pod. Coats that were destined for a charity shop have been stocked away we now have two transistor radios, one of which can be powered by a hand crank. Our latest additions are whistles, and I’m sure we’ll be continuously adding and upgrading as we think of new items.
After having a look at current earthquakes and the weeks after we have had an opportunity to understand better some things we can do now to make things easier for the future. If the big one does hit Wellington there will be huge variables that we have not accounted for. But we are in a better position now than we were a week ago.