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This week I was particularly impressed with a method used by a Scrum Master to help his team understand which stories on the backlog were “ready” and which were not. It’s amazing how such a simple technique can bring the transparency needed to help a team prepare for a successful sprint. His technique is to use colored stickers as markers on the ordered product backlog hanging on the wall next to the team’s scrum board to indicate the state of the story. If the story is not ready it gets a red sticker.
When the team begins refining the story and has made pretty good progress but isn’t all the way in line with the definition of ready yet, he changes the sticker to yellow. Once the team has completed refining the story and it meets the definition of ready, it gets a green sticker. This green sticker is an indication to the team that the story is fully refined and ready to be pulled into a sprint.
Prior to sprint planning, he works with his product owner to ensure that any stories she has ordered towards the top of the backlog that are potential candidates for the next sprint are in ready state. If a story is not in ready state the team does not pull it into a sprint regardless of where it is on the product backlog.
This scrum master is inspiring those around him with simple yet profound ideas and ways of creating growth in the team and product owner.