Archives For GreenHopper

One challenge we faced at Twitter was understanding how much time it took to complete an epic. Our hypothesis was that across 300+ teams we could discern a pattern and understand how long a chunk of work took to complete on average.

Understanding Epic Cycle Time in JIRA for Agile Success

Of course each team chunked work differently and epics may represent experiments, projects, or even part of a customer journey as is the case with an agile user story map. We hoped that understanding the cycle time better would enable us to improve the effectiveness of the organisation.

Unfortunately JIRA Agile/Software decoupled the status of an epic from the actual workflow using a custom field called “Epic Status”. This meant we could not check cycle time for epics on a kanban board as the epic was never moved to the In Progress or Resolved state.

In this whitepaper I detail how we synced the epic status field with the workflow and understood the cycle time of epics in our organisation.

Get the whitepaper

Several years back we added a story to the GreenHopper backlog:

As a Kanban PO I would like the Plan mode so that I may order and groom a large backlog

A Kanban board in JIRA today includes the actual board plus some very handy reports – cycle time on the control chart and cumulative flow diagram to assess WIP. However one aspect that’s been missing was the ability to groom a backlog and replenish the To Do column on a teams board.

The wait is nearly over!

Atlassian Status as at 16 February 2016

The first iteration of the Kanban Backlog feature is now available in JIRA Software Labs for JIRA Software Cloud.

If you’re using JIRA Software Cloud, you now have the option to enable the Kanban Backlog Labs feature in your instance. You can enable this via the JIRA Software Labs section of JIRA administration. You need to enable the Kanban Backlog Labs feature first, so you can enable the Backlog for your Kanban board. See this page for more information on enabling the Kanban Backlog Labs feature.

If you’re using JIRA Software Server, the Kanban Backlog feature isn’t available for your instance just yet. However, once the feature graduates from Labs, it will be available in the following major release of JIRA Software Server.

We look forward to your feedback as we iterate on this feature.

Kind regards,
JIRA Software

Below are a few initial thoughts on our usage along with screenshots.

Background: in my role at Twitter we had over one hundred kanban teams. These teams were focused on the flow of work rather than splitting work into chunks of a week or two. Kanban and flow made sense for them as they had the confidence to release on an ongoing basis, and they had the ability to release features to users gently so that it wasn’t a jarring and constantly evolving experience (a thoughtful experience in fact).

To enable these teams to create and groom the backlog I would always advise that they have a Scrum board (called “Team Name – Planning”) and a Kanban board (“Team Name – Work”). It meant that for our 300+ teams we had over 500 boards just for the teams to manage their work. It was a bit messy and a little confusing on occasion, so this change is welcome.

Once you enable the Kanban Backlog in Labs you’ll see a very neat on-boarding experience. Here is what the column management now looks like:

Kanban Plan Mode - Labs - Feb 2016 - For grooming backlogs in JIRA Kanban

Note the backlog column on the left hand side. This, along with the second column, called To Do on the board above, couple to make the plan mode:

Backlog for Kanban teams in JIRA

All you have to do is drag an issue from the backlog to the To Do to replenish the board. And typically the team would have a minimum WIP on that To Do column to turn it yellow and notify them it is time to replenish.

Pretty neat. Early days.

Next things I’ll look forward to are the ability to group issues by Epic and Version as you can today on a Scrum board. And once that is in place I would call that user story DONE.

Thanks to the JIRA Agile / Software / GreenHopper team for making this happen. Lots of happy Kanban teams around the world once complete!

Journey to Australia 2015

October 21, 2015

After 3.5 years in San Francisco, Elizabeth and I decided to move to Australia. It was time to get Orla close to the grandparents.

Happy and sad to be moving back. We leave an amazing community in San Francisco, we’ve met wonderful people we already miss. We leave behind fantastic organic produce at cheap cheap cheap prices. And so much more. On the plus side, Liz finally got a KitchenAid, we’re a ten minute walk to the beach, and we no longer need to step over poo or homeless folks on the way out the front door.

Below I share my experience on our time in San Francisco and the decision to move back in the hope it is valuable for other Aussies thinking of returning to Australia. Here goes…

charlie-rgb-cyan-largeProduct Manager, Cammeray, w/ Partner

In 2011 my then missus, Elizabeth, suggested we head overseas and live somewhere different.

At the time I was happily working away with the GreenHopper team in Sydney (subsequently JIRA Agile, and now JIRA Software). I was in a role that was so demanding, due in large part of GHS-1800. I loved the role and the team so much. This was my first product management gig and after a couple of years I was starting to feel comfortable in the role. I was also hosting meetups and enjoying the community around them.

We were living in Cammeray, a lovely spot just north of the Sydney CDB. We went to the markets on the weekends.

Liz suggested that San Francisco would be a nice spot to move. I was travelling to San Francisco anywhere from 4 to 6 times a year and there was an easy relocation path as Atlassian has a San Francisco office. The move would mean changing roles and learning something new. We knew there were farmers markets in San Francisco and organic food.

Ken Olofsen and Daniel Freeman (leading JIRA Marketing and Atlassian Product Marketing) decided to take a chance and had me join the JIRA Product Marketing team, focused on the Agile space. It was a space I knew well as I was responsible for Atlassian’s agile product. It was not a role I was familiar with.

Okay, let’s do this!

Product Marketing Manager, San Francisco, w/ Fiancée

Liz and I quickly sold the bulk of our stuff and put the rest in storage. We were on a flight in no time and over to San Francisco on E3 visas. The first few weeks were the regular moving headache – find a place, get furniture, buy appliances, etc. Liz owned this and made us feel at home super quick.

Once we got settled I got to work understanding the product marketing role and the landscape for agile products. To boost my understanding I took part in SprintZero – Agile Marketing and learned how to fuse the traditional product marketing role with the agile mindset that I was familiar with. Heavy on the experimentation and data.

After SprintZero I set to work growing a community of like-minded folks with Austin Walne. Today that community is San Francisco Agile Marketing and it has over 3,500 members. What a wild ride that was.

Towards the end of the year I got plugged into a customer of ours, Twitter, that was growing fast. I had met with tons of companies over the course of the year and often found that when they said they were agile they were nothing of the sort. Twitter was no different, except that they recognised this and asked me to come help them fix it.

Hard to say goodbye to Atlassian after 5.5 years. Such a brilliant ride and one that will be very difficult to beat.


Agile Coach, San Francisco, w/ Wife

Liz and I returned to Australia, got married, and then promptly returned to San Francisco so that I could take on this new role at Twitter. Honeymoon would have to wait.

Talk about fast growth. My intake had 40 people in it. In the first year Product and Engineering added over a thousand people. Wild wild ride.

Talk about Silicon Valley excess. I’d never experienced anything like it. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. As many guests as you want. Meeting all these new exciting people. An IPO.

IPO! Wow. Look at that stock price. Look at everyone focus on it, weirdos. Oh damn, now I’m looking at it. Riding the financial wave. Weird experience.


Agile Coach, San Francisco, w/ Mother

Scaling this company was hard work. Constant re-orgs meant there was no stability at the group or team level. These re-orgs were largely a results of the CEO not knowing which way to direct the company. He wanted everything and wanted it now. Which caused thrashing at the team level and meant nothing got done.

I learned a lot about these challenges and how others were addressing them from the wonderful participants at the Agile Industry Consortium. Amazing opportunity to learn from those folks, so grateful.

In May 2014 Liz and I welcomed Orla to The McDoons. This was a pleasant distraction from the constant re-orgs at Twitter and bloody hard work in its own right. Talk about not knowing what you’re doing! Probably took about six months to get into the groove of being a dad.

Of course, it was all happening too fast at Twitter for the company to effectively scale. The CEO was a micromanager, not a leader.

Based on my experience at Twitter I would say when the problem is at the top you can do little except wait for that person to change. Otherwise you just frustrate yourself at the lack of progress. I worked with some of the most amazing smart people at Twitter and for the most part they couldn’t get shit done because of the environment they were in. Such a waste.

Anyways, Jack appeared in a temporary CEO capacity in July to great relief. However with Orla getting older and no end in sight for the rubbish at Twitter it was time to move on.

Unemployed, Homeless, w/ The McDoons

So, after 3.5 years in San Francisco and handing in my badge we had 10 days to get packed and get out (E3 visa restrictions, even with an American daughter). Such a beautiful country with so much potential. So many internationals coming to Silicon Valley to try and make a break for the big time. So much we can learn from this place.

Deciding to come home was a pretty easy choice in the end. We leave behind financial security and a scale I’ll never see in Australia. We just had to accept that. On the other hand Australia is also a beautiful country, and it also has tremendous potential.

We took off, eventually, from America and landed in Sydney. From there it was two months on the road visiting family and figuring out where we would settle and what we would do.

Founder, East Corrimal, w/ The McDoons

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 11.15.00 AMWe arrived at creating a company that satisfied customers and employed a few people. We settled on East Corrimal as it is just south of Sydney where friends and family are, it is comparatively affordable, it is on the beach, and it is close to iAccelerate on the UoW Innovation Campus.

It is day four at iAccelerate and this week Arijea launched a product – Instant Websites for Confluence – which I hope will resonate. I’ll be honest, there hasn’t been a tremendous amount of customer validation on this idea. It was more of a “let’s do it!” mentality as Atlassian is running their yearly Codegesit competition and there was a deadline. If you’ve got this far, I would love you to vote for it and help me win the Peoples Choice – thanks!


I’ve learned quite a few over the years. If you’re interested reach out and we’ll chat.