Archive for the 'Agile' category

A map of ideas, concepts and skills that help when guiding Agile teams

May 14, 2018 9:28 am

[This is a re-post from LinkedIn]

What does it take to become a guide for Agile teams? My own experience leads me to believe that exposure to a lot of different thinking helps, as well as learning some specific skills. This is an attempt at starting a kind of map or atlas to the world of useful skills for Agile guides. If you’ve seen other guides similar to this, I’d appreciate a comment on this post with pointers to your source.

Tactical

Teams and people

  • “Hands-on” experience with teams
  • Team formation and dynamics (Tuckman model, Satir change curve)
  • People management and engagement (Weinberg, Lichty/Mantle)
  • What motivates people (Pink)
  • Personality type models (Myers-Briggs, DISC)
  • How to launch teams well (Larsen/Nies, III)
  • Participatory decision making theory and skills (Kaner)
  • Collaboration theory and skills, meeting management (Tabaka)
  • Facilitation techniques and skills (Kerth)
  • Congruence in interactions (Weinberg)
  • Open Space Technology (Owen)

Leadership

  • Coaching skills (Adkins)
  • Teaching methods and skills (Presentation, workshops, games, simulations)
  • Learning modes (Auditory, Visual, Kinesthetic, etc.)
  • “Sales” skills (Pink)
  • Communication models and skills (Rianoshek/Connelly)
  • Non-violent communication theory and skills (Rosenberg)

Thinking and problem solving

  • Systems thinking (Deming, Meadows)
  • Complexity theory and models (Snowden)
  • Human Systems Dynamics (Holladay/Eoyang)

Integration

  • Innovation context conditions (Denning)
  • Organization models and theory
  • Psychology and process of change knowledge (Satir)

Each of the above is of course a deep and wide subject. No one person can ever cover all of them at any significant depth. But maybe that’s not necessary. Maybe just having been exposed to all of the above ideas, if even by reading a single book on each will expand your appreciation for how miraculous it is that people can accomplish work together in difficult situations, under pressure, uncertainty, changing circumstances and unclear focus. Just being aware of all this should help in becoming a good guide for the team you serve.

Agile may be the single idea (perhaps exemplifying “when all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail” or “an idea is a most dangerous thing, if you only have one”) that you start with, but it will quickly lead you to discover a rich ocean of other “stuff” you can immerse yourself in.

One hard part in this is finding time to dip your toes in. A little weekend reading will do wonders. So will attending free webinars, if you can find them. Also, following the right people on Twitter to point you to summary blog posts, YouTube videos or book reviews. Taking good notes along the way is important. Or re-reading / re-watching to cement what you learned.

The hardest part is to keep all of the above in mind when you’re in the “heat of the moment”. How do you arrive at some “simple rules” for yourself in light of all this complex and rich material? How do you “integrate” all this information into your mode of being and operating?

Optimistic Agile

March 28, 2018 8:40 am

[This is a re-post from LinkedIn]

Are you seeing pessimism and seeming division in the Agile community? I’m seeing some of that lately, expressed on LinkedIn.

I get that it can be hard to keep a positive attitude in the face of reports that tell us that a lot of Agile journeys seem to not bring the desired results. And I also firmly believe that Agile CAN bring about positive change. I’ve seen it first-hand in the work I’ve done. Of course, there have been times when the prevailing currents have made it difficult, but on the whole, I’ve seen that change IS possible.

I wonder what a sort of declaration of Agile optimism might look like? Maybe something like this:

  • I believe that people have the capacity to change – when supported with caring, courage and openness.
  • I believe that organizations have the capacity to change – when the people in it spend enough time listening well to each other.
  • I believe that Agile values and principles can help with change – when really internalized and lived out.
  • I believe that learning from others’ experience is possible – when keeping an open mind and taking a good look at context.

That is, change is possible – and we realize that we need to help each other in making it happen. Do you think about Agile optimistically?

P.S.: If you are interested in reading about what might help and hinder Agile journeys, check out the book Susan DiFabio, George Dinwiddie, Rich Valde, Dan Neumann and I wrote together on that very topic: http://leanpub.com/agilejourneys

Slack is to your organization as sleep is to your body

October 17, 2013 12:48 am

This is just to collect a few thoughts I had on June 28, 2013 to make them easier to find and refer to. This tweet started it: https://twitter.com/GeekTieGuy/statuses/350639064703176705

Here is what the next few tweets summarized:

Slack is to your organization as sleep is to your body: time to regenerate and be inspired by dreams and wake with new energy.

What happens when we deprive the body of sleep? We become manic, disoriented. We diminish our capability to be creative, we go insane.

What happens when we deprive the organization of slack? It becomes reactive, haphazard, brittle, overloaded, unable to think.

I recently led a session at Agile Open California with this same title. It was interesting to a few people, and I was sure I’d blogged my expanding tweets, but I apparently hadn’t. Fixed that now…

A surprise in the 2013 Scrum Guide?

August 4, 2013 10:45 pm

I was looking at the updated 2013 Scrum Guide, and because of some questions that have come up at work, I looked at how much time the guide suggests as the upper limit for various Scrum meetings.

The four larger meetings look like this in the scrum guide:

Planning: 8 hours per month
Review: 4 hours per month
Retrospective: 3 hours per month
Refinement: no more than 10% of available capacity

That last one was a bit of a puzzler to me. How much would that be if expressed in hours, like the other meetings?

If we call “a month” 30 days, and each day 8 hours, we end up with 240 hours per month. Translating to percent of time we arrive at:

Planning: 3.33%
Review: 1.67%
Retrospective: 1.25%
Refinement: no more than 10% of available capacity

Turn that back into hours on a two week sprint (80 hours) and you get:

Planning: 2.67 hours
Review: 1.33 hours
Retrospective: 1 hour

And the kicker (after subtracting the three meetings above from 80 hours, leaving 75 hours):

Refinement: no more than 7.5 hours, assuming “ideal capacity”

This was a HUGE surprise to me. Actually a happy surprise! I’ve heard over and over from scrum teams I work with that clarity on what to build is the biggest problem they need to work on. So the good news is that the official Scrum Guide recognizes that it’s okay to spend up to 7.5 hours or so (in a two week “ideal” sprint) on refinement activities, which to me include improving clarity on what to build. I only wish it hadn’t been expressed in %-of-time.