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Christmas AGILE – in the era of globalization (part 3)

How Santa Clause tries to align his Christmas organization with agile principles, you could read in Part 1 and Part 2 last week. It´s not the end of the story yet – find out how the tale of “Christmas AGILE” continues:

WeihnachtsmannMonday, November 3rd: Christmas 51 days off

03:00 p.m.
This Friday was horrible! When First Witch came back from Santa Claus, she was so angry, that still small thunderstorm clouds oozed out of her ears. Until late afternoon, she was not approachable. But we didn’t know, what to do – should I really take care of the Asian wishes? The other elves went simply on with their wishes. The engineers occupied themselves with the next wish and the testers had a lot of rainbows above their desks. I saw indecisively to Santa Claus’ files. Should I really screen them? How would First Witch react? I didn’t really want to risk a thunderstorm cloud above my head. So I left them laying on my desk – but I couldn’t concentrate on the wishes of the next sprint either. The days ends without a decision making.

Today’s morning, I remembered on the words of Santa Claus as he explained us the principles of the agile methodology – it is not so long ago: “Plans are not dictated from above this year. This year each team is self-responsible for the fulfilling of wishes!” Yes sure – that we saw on Friday.

I went to the office without any vigor. First Witch greets me already at the door: “We must indeed implement the Asian wishes. I couldn’t do nothing about it. Santa Claus can be heavily convincing sometimes. So the engineers and testers will finish the started Gift Stories. Afterwards we will abort the sprint and start with the implementation of the Asian wishes. Therefore you will categorize, structure, and hmm et cetera the wishes. You know what to do right now.”

OK, I’m sitting at my desk and categorize, structure, and archive. The wishes are not crazily different at the first glance from those we already had. But if one looks more carefully into it, one detects differences however. And I simply know too few things about Indian, Chinese, and Japanese culture to know, what is to do. I try to get fresh knowledge from research, but to do that thoroughly, I have not enough time.

Ohhhm“I wish me to reach the first source of happiness. Therefore I wish me a chess partner, because I feel happy when I play chess.”

So I put it as a Gift Story:

“I as a Buddhist from Northern India wish me a chess partner to get happy at chess playing so that I can reach the first source of happiness.”

I am not quite sure. Should it be better?

“I as a Buddhist from Northern India wish to reach the first source of happiness, so that I am able to feel happiness during chess playing with a partner.”

All of that does not feel right. I need much more time for a Gift Story than before. It’s impossible for me to screen all five files until tomorrow. But tomorrow the engineers and testers will finish the started Gift Stories and we will abort the sprint. Then I have to present the new Stories.

Fortunately the Santa Claus’ files are sorted regionally. So I take a wish from each file and work with them. After that the next five are in the line.

Tuesday, November 4th: Christmas 50 days off

where-to-start10:05 a.m.
Again requirements workshop. I present the Asian wishes. Surprisingly there are only few discussions. All of it is accepted, how I’ve presented it and the planning poker is performed halfheartedly.

12:45 p.m.
I am talking to Maromar in our Christmas Lunch Area after lunch. He explains me that he is scared about the upcoming sprint. He has to take care as wrapping elf that the wishes arrives at the correct place at the correct time. And the magic behind shouldn’t be detected by the humans immediately. He read a lot about Buddhist and Hindu cultures during the night. He is quite unsure if he will be capable to wrap the gifts that they will arrive at the gift receivers on the right way. I try to encourage him – but I was not really sure about it either.

03:23 p.m.
The guys finished the task breakdown. All Gift Stories are estimated. All things seem to be normal. Still I have bad feelings about it.

Thursday, November 6th: Christmas 48 days off

07:03 p.m. weihnachtself
The guys do their best. But they take much longer than thought originally. Especially the testers find always conditions where the wish fulfilling doesn’t work. There are a lot of arguments because the engineers state their opinion that the conditions don’t exist and are therefore the tests are not valid. The testers then come up with holly texts, which should prove that those conditions exist. I would prefer to stay at home tomorrow – above all the pilots of the public flying carpets have announced a strike. First Witch was on a business trip the last two days. She were substituted by Tooth Fairy as Christmas Master. But she was not really interested in our problems.

Monday, November 10th: Christmas 44 days off

8:35 a.m.
Stand up! All look at the floor. First Witch is back and tries with a rainbow above Tiramo. He hems and haws, but says what he did on Friday and what is going to do today. “Hmm, I will look into the next Gift Story. It is the Om-Story…” First Witch glances at him, but he doesn’t want to say more.

It is going on the same way the whole time. I am the last in the row. I don’t want to say anything. But before the rainbow appear above me, First Witch takes over. She points at our burn down chart, which she placed prominently in our office as every day.


In our last sprint we learned that a team lies above the forecast at the beginning of a sprint. But at the end one becomes better and better and is able to catch up the lost time.

But this time First Witch make it clear to us that we won’t be able to catch up the lost time. “Hmm, we haven’t had any chance.” Surely I get a thunderstorm cloud above my head this time. But I don’t care anymore. “We simply don’t know enough about these cultures to create meaningful gifts. We simply need too much time, to find a feasible solution.” All look at me frightened. I duck my head and lay my hands over my ears. Flashes in one’s ears are really aggravating. But when I open my eyes again, neither I don’t have a thunderstorm cloud above my head nor First Witch looks really angry. That alone is really surprisingly, because usual she looks always angry.

“I understand you. I tried last week already to make it clear to Santa Claus that even such famous mythical creatures like us are regional bounded though. Santa Claus first appeared in the Protestant Northern Europe. He spread into Northern America through emigrants too. But in Asia he never was at home really. Even through globalization and Hollywood movies, he won’t be – and even me – at home there.”

“Yes, and what are we doing now?” Even though he asks this question, Plix looks not as helplessly as before. First Witch tries to give us hope, but at the end of the day, she don’t have an idea as well. “Christmas is only 44 days off and when we proceed like that, we cannot fulfill the wishes of our original regions. Not to speak of the wishes from Asia.” The other look at me frightened again. Now the outburst comes after all. Surprisingly it doesn’t come still. “Yes, that’s right. We have to do something.” I never thought that First Witch would agree with me. But there it was.

“So we do the following. We finish this sprint, even though we cannot fulfill all planned wishes. Afterwards we will take care of the wishes out of our regions.” Again I let me carry on and contradict First Witch. “We would lose one week again and couldn’t manage the wishes out of our original regions as well.”

Today it is a strange day. Tiramo contradicts First Witch too. “Jara is right. We have to concentrate on our real tasks. I think, we should abort the sprint and get back to the original planning. We expect that especially end of November a lot of wishes will come in.” “Concentrating on the wishes out of our original regions doesn’t mean that we forget the Asians totally, we could take them optionally in our planning.” Plix tries to find a compromise, but in the end he contradicts as well 🙂 .

First Witch looks into the round. All nod and agree with Plix. “OK. We abort the sprint. Jara,” she glances at me, “you will rework the planning again. Add the newly incoming wishes at the same way. Plan for each spring an optional wish out of the Asian files. We start the new sprint tomorrow. Tiramo, Plix, and Somersault, you will check what we can get out of the aborted sprint yet. First thing tomorrow we have a requirements workshop and the task break down for the upcoming sprint. To the work, all of us have a lot to do.”

Well, we are satisfied. We had never managed that. But First Witch acted as a team lead. Should she not only be a coach? The decisions should be made by the team though. In such a situation it was right. I don’t think that we brought up the courage to abort the sprint and setup newly. In the end you need someone who supports you, when you have to decide something – even if it is First Witch.

03:05 p.m.
I am sitting on the new planning and get new hope. I try to plan the sprints. We lost one week though, but it is still manageable.

I tried to plan the rest of the time in sprints. We only have time for three sprints left, but we could manage. The sprints are not fully filled with wishes, so we can fulfill the wishes which will come in in the next days.


The sprints are not fully planned. In such a way, I can put the incoming wishes into the second and third sprint. What is still not clear: What will we do with the wishes which will come in after the 9th December? We couldn’t simply handle them as leftovers. But when the sprint is started, it is saved and the planning cannot be changed. I can’t throw new wishes in a running sprint.

With the original plan we had Christmas one week off and I thought at that time that we can manage somehow. But with that planning we only have two days. And in two days someone can’t do many things as is known. Can someone shorten the sprint and after that handle the wishes in a waterfall model again?

05:03 p.m.
I am going to go home, when First Witch appears in our office again. She beckons me over and whispers in my ear. Seemingly, the others shouldn’t notice that she orders me to accompany her to Santa Claus. My heart sinks into my boots. But what should I do? I cannot refuse when First Witch calls me.

05:05 p.m.
We are standing before the office of Santa Claus. First Witch ushers me in and states to Santa Claus that the team has decided a changing of the plan. Aha – now it was the team. Really interesting! Meanwhile I don’t care anymore and I explain Santa Claus, why we cannot proceed with the current sprint. I explain him as well that we cannot fulfill all Asian wishes by all means. I even don’t leave out the inescapable consequence that we cannot produce evidence for the existence of Santa Claus for the Asian market.

Fortunately Santa Claus doesn’t have thunderstorm clouds. But what is coming we haven’t expected at all.

Santa Claus collapses completely and cries as a small girl who is taken away her Christmas gifts. As bad I haven’t imagined. He really likes the idea that all humans should believe in him. He is convinced that in such a way the world becomes better. Well probably we manage sometimes that the world becomes better. But we cannot throw our imagination of a better world onto the humans on Earth. They have to find a way for themselves – we can only few a little help. We are only mythical creature in the end.

I try to explain that fact to him and that he is really important to the children – even when the usual gifts are not coming from us but from parents and family. They are coming in his sense in every case. He doesn’t have to bring gifts to the children who don’t celebrate Christmas – or something like that.

He is really desperate and I cannot do anything about it. Even though he nods to our suggestion. First Witch wants to leave the office relived. But I am staying with Santa Claus a little bit and tell him Christmas fairies – e.g. from the teddy bear who moves out to be loved…

10:20 p.m.
I am lying in bed awake and still thinking about the events of this day. What is important at Christmas? What can we Elves do about it? We probably forget what we really want and our meaning for the humans with all this planning agile and waterfall, conquering Asian market etc.

We are efficient and fulfill wishes with our magic. But what is Christmas and how can we bring love to humans? However how – I try to help to fulfill all wishes – as every year. And like every year it won’t be easy.

Enough with those philosophic emissions – now sleep.

Find out next Friday, how the story about “Christmas AGILE” ends.

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