Why Spike the Poodle?

My first blog was called Spike the Poodle. I’ve recently imported a lot of my old posts from my early agile experiences with Scrum, which made me smile and sigh :)

Here’s the original story of why it was called Spike the Poodle.

“Poodles come in different sizes. It’s not something I’d really given much thought to before. I’m not really much of a doggy person, but when I was younger, one of my friends had a miniature poodle, and so I always kind of assumed that all poodles came in about that size. No.

I attended a Scrum training course in March 2006. It was during this course that, for the first time, I felt that I really wanted to be able to blog and share my experiences of trying to implement what I’d learned back home, and to hear back from others who might be doing similar things.

In learning about estimating the size of project requirements, we undertook an exercise working in pairs to assign scores to different breeds of dog … Great Dane, German shepherd, Pekinese, Labrador, and … you’ve guessed it … Poodle. Without guidance as to what criteria to use, a group of eleven people will come up with some pretty imaginative ways to score different types of dog :) In our case, we decided to use the easy option (we were only given three minutes! And plus, we weren’t the only ones) and estimate based on size.

For most of the breeds it was fairly straightforward, but we disagreed on poodles. I had a picture in my head of a small fluffy thing about the size of two shoeboxes but my partner argued that poodles were more like the size of a Labrador.

So to put this back in the context of project requirements … we both understood different things by what had been described to us. Scrum offers a technique known called Spiking when there are unknown elements in the user requirements, and in the group discussion that followed the exercise, our trainer’s advice was that in this type of situation, we could Spike the Poodle in order to learn more about the requirement … and so the phrase was coined.

It was a funny moment in the course and made me smile to see it in the follow up email. Since the course was the inspiration for creating a site, I stole the phrase to use as a tribute to the newbie ScrumMasters who graduated with me in Manchester, and those who trained us.”

One thought on “Why Spike the Poodle?

  • November 10, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Hi Jo,

    Hope you’re enjoying Oz. That’s funny to see that scrum people were actually recommending an XP practice, Spike.

    Nice story about learning about assumptions though.


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