coaching and training for adopting agile and scrum
Posted in Uncategorized

Servant Leadership as I understand it

There seems to be a perception that a "servant leader" equates closely to the classic image of Jeeves, the british gentleman servant, or something alike.

My perception is quite different.

Servant

I'm going to start with the first word first. This may be a little badly chosen word, at least in English (I don't know about the translations to other languages). A better word might be "service", "serving", or "host" (as suggested by some).

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Posted in Agile, Agile Success

Writing perfect user stories

To write perfect user stories, the do this:

Step 1: Ask users what they need from the software and why.

Step 2: Look at the most common answers and try to express them in the form “<someone> can <do something they need>, in order to <main benefit>”. At this point, only write a small number of stories, like 20–50, so that each story is “an epic”, big and unclear, but captures an essential need for some user or group of users. In some way, validate with users that you’ve understood them.

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Posted in Agile Success, General

Times are not a-changing…

First of all, welcome to my new website!

Or more precisely, the same website, but with a new appearance. So it just looks new. But anyways, welcome!

Thanks all the people who actually made it happen - you know who you are.

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Posted in Project Management, Scrum

From Project Manager to Scrum Roles

“How does the PM role translate to Scrum?” is one of the more typical questions in my Scrum courses. Here’s the results of one such exercise that we did with the participants to find an answer. 

IMG_0602 2

As can be seen, a large chunk of typical project manager responsibilities become things Product Owners (green in the picture) are supposed to own, and another big chunk is for the Development Team (red). There’s a few splashes of blue (for ScrumMaster) and a sizeable number of items that Scrum is silent on (yellow). 

What is/was project manager anyways?

“Project” is an execution management structure. Projects are set up to deliver some target outcome, usually within specified timeline and budget. 

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Posted in Agile

The Essence of Agile Thinking

When you start to use Scrum (or any other Agile framework), it will suck. So you try to fix it. Your mindset will define which way you will go – either back to Waterfall or to actual Agile.

To understand what I mean, please imagine a project that seeks to deliver a customer a system they request for. At the end of the project, we find out that the customer doesn’t like the outcome, despite the fact that it matches their original request. 

Why did that happen?

Our brain seeks to understand why things happen around us they way they do. These explanations, for the scenario above, tend to fall into two primary beliefs for the cause:

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Posted in Agile

Fundaments of Agile

Agile is a mindset. It is more important how you think than what you do, because your thinking drives your actions and behaviors. Repeating motions without understanding is not very useful, and tends to lead to disappointment.

That said, there are also certain behaviors that support the beliefs we have, so ultimately there should be an alignment between the way we think and the way we behave.

There are different ways in which the mindset (and some of the behaviors) have been captured, in the hopes of making the ideas more easy to understand and express. We do, of course, have the Agile manifesto. We also have Lean Software Development with its principles. Two more recent takes are the Modern Agile and Heart of Agile, both of which try to recapture the essence in four main ideas.

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Posted in Agile, Organisations

Organization Structure in 3D?

The traditional way to show the hierarchy of a traditional organization is with the CEO at the top and the workgroups/teams at the bottom. The Toyota way (as far as I know) is to reverse it, with the CEO at the bottom. I don’t think either shows the diagram as I’d really like, although the reversed model feels much better to me.

The reason is, the CEO role is a dual role of support and showing direction. In the support role, the role is certainly “at the bottom”, providing support for everyone else in their jobs. In the showing direction role, it is at the tip of the organization.

I have often wondered how I could show that duality effectively, both at the same time. Tonight, as I was going to sleep, an image came to me. I had to get up and do it (and then blog it) so that I don’t forget it.

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Posted in Agile Success

Coaching a Team to Get Started

In those times when I have had more time to work with a team to get them started, I have used the following general outline and found it working. By working I mean, it has struck a good balance between effort invested and value delivered. Investing more time could make things even faster, but not proportionally. Investing less time would reduce value and impact disproportionately. You know.

The Plan for Team’s First Sprints

* Pre-game *

1) Kick-off meeting on first day, to get started (this is more
facilitation than training), including

  • What are the things we don’t know? How critical are they to know before we start Sprint 1?
  • How do we learn together?

2) High level conversations – concept, requirements, UX, design, architecture, technologies, …

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