Improving with the POPCORN flow by Claudio Peronne

At the Agile Testing days I spoke with Claudio Peronne about his keynote on the POPCORN FLOW method. Claudio developed a workflow and team improvement method that is based upon a few principles. High-over it combines the identification of Problems, the brainstorm for what options the team has to reduce the problem with a Kanban board to track progress of the experiments.

The board he uses to support the method is built around the POPCORN acronym.

The first three columns cover the translation from problems to solutions

P: The prioritised problems that the team identifies. Where Claudio states that when multiple team members experience a problem, it’s a truth. I think that that is a good attitude to avoid endless discussion on whether an observation is leading to a real problem or not. If it bothers a few team members, it worth considering to tackle it.
O: options of experiments you can do to learn, reduce or eliminate the problem. Claudio states that it good to define multiple options, so you are triggered to give it a good thought and to enable you to choose the best option.
P: the Possible Experiments column holds the options that you select to do and these items will be more elicitated than the raw ideas of the option column. If you want to do refinement, I think this is the time to do it, to ensure the whole team understands what we are going to do and what makes it successful.

The rest of the board handle the flow of the committed stories.

C: defines the experiments that the team commits to.
O: Holds the ongoing experiments.
R:  the review triggers the team to assess the results that have (or not) been accomplished with a finished experiment.
N: Gives room to identify the next steps the team would like to take.

I am experimenting with the board in one of my teams, and use it in a SCRUM-OF-SCRUM setting. On team level I like to make improvements small so they fit in the two-week sprint. On a higher level I like to identify more serious bottlenecks and understand that it might take more than two weeks to conquer them. That’s why I really enthusiastic about the Kanban flow in this approach. It leaves room to pick-up bigger experiments, but since we use WIP limits the team is forced to prioritize and chose what items they want to work with.

Above all I notice that the approach feels quite intuitive and has a direct link with the problems that the team members feel they are struggling with. That helps to keep it alive and top of mind.

I think Claudio Peronne did a great job in creating this method. If you want more info, I advise to watch the video below or browse through his slide deck. Both are a nice introduction of the board and it’s underlying ideas. Check it out! Although I am still experimenting and learning, I think it’s is a valuable approach. Furthermore, a lot of information can be found on his website. There you can even buy stickers (if you like) to make a nice POPCORN board yourself.

Note: I share this blog, since I like the idea. I do not have any involvement in the method. All credits go to Claudio Peronne.

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