Agile for All Team – The BEST in the Biz #agile2016

agile-for-all-2016-atlanta-conference-agilescout copy

My heart is filled. I absolutely love working with these guys. They are easily some of the best in the business.

It’s a wonderful feeling watching my fellow colleagues speaking at Agile 2016 in Atlanta, GA. Smiling as I watch them, soaking up the knowledge, and watching some of the small banter between all of us during sessions in front of hundreds of people.

I liken it to watching my kids do amazing things, all with a smile on my face. I’m proud. Very proud, of my team.

<3 AFA

Leadership and Data – A Filtered Experience

“As organizations (and societies) grow larger and more complex, the people at the top (whether managers or analysts) depend less and less on firsthand experience, more and more on heavily “processed” data. Before reaching them, the raw data – what actually goes on “out there” – have been sampled, screened, condensed, compiled, coded, expressed in statistical form, spun into generalizations and crystallized into recommendations.” – John W. Gardner in Self Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society

It is a characteristic of the information processing system that it systematically filters out certain kinds of data so that these never reach the ones who depend on the system…

Agile is all about transparency. I would, and we constantly suggest to our clients, that we do our very utmost to give unfiltered views of how things are going with development, all facets of development.

This way, leadership can make the best informed decisions they can about what is really happening!

Consider what “filtered” information you’re giving to leadership. Consider how that could be doing more harm than good.

Data is only as valuable as it is “real.”

The Queen of Terrible Robots (She’s Agile)

I think what makes her so fascinating is that she’s “not an engineer” by trade, however, her love for experimenting is infectious.

This is what I tell my clients all the time: The heart of agile is experimentation.

We must continue to experiment and continue to inspect and (change) when we find things can be improved or need to be changed.

Keep on experimenting!

Office Hours and Conformity – No. Delivery is King!

donald-duck-office-hours-agilescout

Why is this still a thing? (Unless you actually have a meeting at 9AM… which changes the context)

I find it fascinating that in many corporate contexts that: conformity equates to productiveness (in terms of perception).

This is not true.

In Agile, our most powerful evidence of effort is delivery.

Don’t miss this point. Almost nothing else matters.

  • Progress
  • Status
  • Sign Offs
  • Productivity metrics
  • Performance metrics
  • Trends
  • Graphs
  • Pie charts
  • Reports

I could go on and on… but none of that matters.

Ask yourself a powerful question.

Would you rather tell your leadership/CEO/executive/manager that:

“We are working hard.”

OR

“We have delivered something, would you like to review it?”

Delivery is everything. Progress means nothing. Deliver fast. Validate your assumptions fast.

Solving the Challenge of Overworked Staff

A Gallup poll cited that work stress is the number one reason for employee dissatisfaction. To be honest I’m not sure why this had to be ever polled; I mean, was there ever any doubt?

When working conditions are unsuitable and the job gets overwhelming it challenges not just work satisfaction but also productivity, morale, and eventually profitability if it goes on long enough.

Like all pieces of information these days someone had to go and make an infographic of it all – but this one showcased a few thoughts from the perspective of how a manager and/or organization can spot an over-worked employee.

Take a look and see for yourself (click to enlarge):

Continue reading “Solving the Challenge of Overworked Staff”

Agile Coaches Must Understand Culture!

Here’s the hard truth: You are not as effective as you possibly could be.

Let’s be even more honest for a moment, shall we? As an organizational coach and Agile coach I know first-hand what it’s like going into a company and not having the faintest clue as to what they are really like. Yes, I got the “brief,” I’ve had the meetings, I even had a few 1-on-1’s, but I really haven’t gotten the whole story. Often, it’s 100% my fault too, as I had not set up the engagement to allow me greater time to sit down and more fully understand the culture…

I would venture that you may have experienced something like this as well… You and I both know that it’s really difficult to get a solid pulse on the cultural and team dynamics at play – sometimes we’re simply flying blind.

Agile Coaches are all about helping businesses and teams thrive. The top impediments to doing this are often: Continue reading “Agile Coaches Must Understand Culture!”

ScrumMaster Value

When considering the “value” of a ScrumMaster, there is a clear evidence of the overall value of an effective ScrumMaster.

Here are some extra things to read if you’re considering investing in a great ScrumMaster or Product Owner:

Here are some data points (rounded) from Joe Little:

Team Cost per Year $1,000,000
Ratio of Bus. Value to Cost 3
Curr Bus. Value produced per Year $3,000,000
Cost of Curr ScrumMaster (annual) $125,000
Cost of Better SM $150,000
Net Investment in new SM $25,000
Inc in Bus. Value in first Year 100.00%   beg yr to end-of-year
Assume: This issolely from increase in Team velocity due to removing impediments
Rate of increase in first year steady
Net Increase in First Year $1,500,000
Cost of First Yr Impediment Removal $200,000
TOTAL INVESTMENT $225,000
TOTAL RETURN (First Yr) $1,500,000
Return %  (Return to Investment) 667% First year

Agile Can Be Difficult to Adopt [Guest Post]

Agile has been all the rage in software development for many years now. Its popularity exists mostly among smaller teams that iterate quickly and release frequently. Agile software development promotes an environment of rapid feedback and continuous improvement. At its core, it helps teams ship fewer high quality features instead of shipping a bunch of features that don’t quite work. In general, agile is highly regarded in the software development word.

But in some larger organizations, agile is often the subject of much criticism and can be found difficult to adopt. After all, how do you get a big, complicated company to adopt a small, simple philosophy? Larger organizations often struggle to make the agile methodology work for a variety of reasons. Here are some of them:

Agile is a Cultural Shift

Moving away from established rules and procedures can be difficult for large organizations. A big change like this might even require a rigorous change management program. Management needs to get comfortable with their teams organizing their own work. Developers, testers, and designers need to get comfortable working side-by-side rather than simply throwing their work “over the wall”. Everyone needs to share responsibility for the quality of the software.

Communication Breakdowns Across Departments

We’ve all heard of the “silo effect”. In larger organizations where silos exist, failure in communication across those silos leads to an organization that is out of sync. With agile, communication is more important than ever. If your teams are out of sync, your company is out of sync and you’re not functioning as effectively or efficiently as you could be. Focus on communication and you’ll have an easier time implementing agile.

Documentation Gets Left Behind

Continue reading “Agile Can Be Difficult to Adopt [Guest Post]”

Become a Coding Pro [Lists]

LEARNING TO CODE

CODING HOME PAGES

Continue reading “Become a Coding Pro [Lists]”

What Keeps You in Your Career?

“Thank you, again, for a great class.  Definitely the best seminar I’ve ever taken;  your energy is contagious, and you engaged us well.  The interaction, role play (I really enjoyed being the interrupting PM!) and activities made me think and helped to drive your message home.” – D. Cohn

If you’re not enjoying what you do, then why are you doing it?

Consider the thought, of how short life is. Life is precious, short, and hopefully sweet. A student of mine reminded me this last week of this when he said: “I need to change my career. Thanks for helping me see this. Life is too short to do something I hate!”

I resonate with this 110%.

People will say: “Find something you love to do.” – Easier said than done. I’m proud that we’re part of the journey of self-discovery for many… that’s what we’re all about. Our desire is to help you find your passion. That drives us. Wakes us up every day.

Thank you for the opportunity!

Investing in the Local Small Business Community with Dell

We had the neat opportunity yesterday to spend some time with some other local small business owners as well as an eclectic group of entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds.

Sponsored by Dell and led by Ingrid Vanderveldt, their Entrepreneur in Residence, it was an opportunity for us to come together and think strategically about our local economy, what can be done to stimulate growth, as well as suggest opportunities for Dell to partner with these opportunities to make them happen.

I was pleasantly surprised at how open and available Dell was to hear our thoughts (and our struggles) of being entrepreneurs in Atlanta and the Southeast at large and they were able to take back with them some very realistic and actionable items to help improve Georgia’s SMB outlook.

In addition, Dell sponsored a survey and white paper detailing some findings about the local Atlanta and SMB economy. Here’s what they found:

Continue reading “Investing in the Local Small Business Community with Dell”

Listen, Listening, Listened

We’ve posted in the past about effective communication and about the damage that silence creates but we haven’t spent a lot of time on what can really make or break an organizations ability to communicate.

The ability to listen effectively.

One area in which I have a lot of experience with teaching people how to listen is when I have the opportunity to share our process with a married couple. Yes, we are primarily a business focused organization who’s very passionate about team optimization, but we also recognize that some of the most powerful teams around, are the two people who make up a marriage.

Marriages, like the various corporations out there, rely on healthy and constructive communication but they also live and die by their ability to listen. Continue reading “Listen, Listening, Listened”

Leading with your Heart

I lead from the heart, not from the brain. Which according to a recent Fastcompany article, which includes some great research conducted by the Institute of HeartMath, is exactly where leadership needs to be headed.

We now know that the heart and the brain are in a constant two-way communication and that the heart sends more information to the brain than vice versa. The signals the heart sends affect the brain centers involved in our decision-making and in our ability to perceive. In other words, each beat reflects our current emotional state. If we’re angry, irritated or frustrated, the heart beats out a very chaotic message. Conversely, more positive emotions create harmony in our nervous system and the heart rhythm pattern we have when we’re in our most optimal state.

Fascinating and yet there is so much logic in this it’s a wonder we haven’t thought about this before.

Coincidentally, a Towers Watson study recently showed that the greatest driver of employee engagement worldwide is whether or not people feel their managers and organizations have genuine concern for their well-being. Heartmath’s corresponding insight: More caring leaders set off the neural machinery that produces optimal workplace performance.

Continue reading “Leading with your Heart”