Collaboration Explained: Facilitation Skills for Software Project Leaders

Jean Tabaka  
Total pages
January 2006
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  • Apart of the Agile Software Development Series, this title targets all agile methodologies.
  • Provides guidance to project managers on how to be good facilitators.
  • Cuts out the noise and the fluff associated with the 'softness' of collaboration and explains straightforward techniques from facilitation experts.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  xix

About the Author  xxi

Foreword  xxiii

Preface  xxv

Overview  xxix


Section I: Setting the Collaborative Context  1

Chapter 1: What Is Collaboration?  3

Chapter 2: What Are Collaborative Cultures?  7

Chapter 3: Who Are Collaborative Leaders?  13

Chapter 4: What Are Collaborative Teams?  23


Section II: Applying Collaboration  45

Chapter 5: Defining Project Collaboration Events  47

Chapter 6: Preparing Yourself as the Process Owner  71

Chapter 7: Preparing Participants for Collaboration  85

Chapter 8: Setting the Collaborative Agenda  97

Chapter 9: The Organizing Tools  109

Chapter 10: Starting the Collaborative Meeting  137

Chapter 11: Defining the Steps  147

Chapter 12: Gathering the Information–Brainstorming and Listing  155

Chapter 13: Dialogues, Small Groups, and Expert Input Approaches  167

Chapter 14: Team Estimating Approaches  185

Chapter 15: Processing the Information  193

Chapter 16: Visioning, Retrospection and Other Approaches  213

Chapter 17: Managing the Meeting Participants  227

Chapter 18: Managing Conflict  253

Chapter 19: Guerilla Collaboration  263

Chapter 20: Closing the Collaborative Meeting  269



Section III: Extending Collaboration  277

Chapter 21: Collaboration Practices for Small Teams  279

Chapter 22: Collaboration Practices for Distributed Teams  285

Chapter 23: Collaboration for Organizations  297


Section IV: Collaborative Facilitation Guides  301

Chapter 24: Generic Project Meetings  305

Chapter 25: Crystal Clear  325

Chapter 26: Scrum  341

Chapter 27: XP and Industrial XP  357


Bibliography  387

Index  391


Back Cover

<>“ Collaboration Explained is a deeply pragmatic book that helps agile practitioners understand and manage complex organizational and team dynamics. As an agile coach, I’ve found the combination of straightforward advice and colorful anecdotes to be invaluable in guiding and focusing interactions with my teams. Jean’s wealth of experience is conveyed in a carefully struck balance of reference guides and prose, facilitating just-in-time learning in the agile spirit. All in all, a superb resource for building stronger teams that’s fit for agile veterans and neophytes alike.”

–Arlen Bankston, Lean Agile Practice Manager, CC Pace


“If Agile is the new ‘what,’ then surely Collaboration is the new ‘how.’ There are many things I really like about Jean’s new book. Right at the top of the list is that I don’t have to make lists of ideas for collaboration and facilitation anymore. Jean has it all. Not only does she have those great ideas for meetings, retrospectives, and team decision-making that I need to remember, but the startling new and thought-provoking ideas are there too. And the stories, the stories, the stories! The best way to transfer wisdom. Thanks, Jean!”

–Linda Rising, Independent Consultant


The Hands-On Guide to Effective Collaboration in Agile Projects


To succeed, an agile project demands outstanding collaboration among all its stakeholders. But great collaboration doesn’t happen by itself; it must be carefully planned and facilitated throughout the entire project lifecycle. Collaboration Explained is the first book to bring together proven, start-to-finish techniques for ensuring effective collaboration in any agile software project.


Since the early days of the agile movement, Jean Tabaka has been studying and promoting collaboration in agile environments. Drawing on her unsurpassed experience, she offers clear guidelines and easy-to-use collaboration templates for every significant project event: from iteration and release planning, through project chartering, all the way through post-project retrospectives.


Tabaka’s hands-on techniques are applicable to every leading agile methodology, from Extreme Programming and Scrum to Crystal Clear. Above all, they are practical: grounded in a powerful understanding of the technical, business, and human challenges you face as a project manager or development team member.


  • Build collaborative software development cultures, leaders, and teams
  • Prepare yourself to collaborate–and prepare your team
  • Define clear roles for each participant in promoting collaboration
  • Set your collaborative agenda
  • Master tools for organizing collaboration more efficiently
  • Run effective collaborative meetings–including brainstorming sessions
  • Promote better small-group and pair-programming collaboration
  • Get better information, and use it to make better decisions
  • Use non-abusive conflict to drive positive outcomes
  • Collaborate to estimate projects and schedules more accurately
  • Strengthen collaboration across distributed, virtual teams
  • Extend collaboration from individual projects to the entire development organization

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Jean Tabaka is an Agile Coach with Rally Software Development, specializing in creating, coaching, and mentoring collaborative, agile software teams. Jean brings over 25 years of experience in software development to the agile plate in a variety of organizational contexts including internal IT departments, ISVs, government agencies, and consulting organizations. Having implemented both plan-driven and agile development approaches for Sybase, Siebel Systems, and Qwest, as well as a variety of smaller ventures, her work has spanned industries and continents. As an agile mentor, Jean coaches software teams through training and facilitation to adopt agile principles and practices using a hybrid of the leading agile methods. With a passion for collaboration practices through facilitation techniques, she guides organizations in creating high-performance teams. She is the co-author of Physical Database Design for Sybase SQL Server (Prentice Hall, 1995) and is a frequent lecturer and contributor on the topic of collaboration practices in agile teams. A Certified ScrumMaster, as well as Certified ScrumMaster Trainer, and Certified Professional Facilitator, she holds a Master of Arts from Michigan State University and a Master of Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University.


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.