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”

Pablo Picasso was Wrong

Pablo Picasso once said the following:

I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it.

And although it’s a very inspiring saying and one that many would stand back and agree with I believe it to be incomplete and limited – you see, we believe that it’s totally legitimate and ok to try something new, experiment, and experience alternative ways of doing things and activities but a wise person will stop short of investing too much energy into a particular area, especially if it’s outside their expertise.

The plain and simple truth is that we can’t do anything that we want, regardless of what your parents once told you! As hard as  I might try I will never become an incredible basketball player – I’m short, I can’t jump high, and my ability to put a ball through a hoop is close to function random().

Add the fact that I don’t want to ever become proficient in that sport at any competitive level and you’ve got an area that I simply won’t dedicate much time to. But I will join a pickup game of hoops and I do enjoy that!

Continue reading “Pablo Picasso was Wrong”

Learn to Code – Learn Online with 6 Websites

which-programming-language-to-use

[Click to Enlarge]

6 Websites to Help you Get Coding

UDACITY

Udacity is one of the best-known MOOCs (or Massive Online Open Courses) available on the Web, and the content it contains can tutor you on everything from Android apps to social network analysis. Short videos a few minutes in length are punctuated by quizzes and exercises, and once you’ve signed up for a particular course it can last from a few weeks to a few months (check the information page for each individual course). You can think of Udacity as attending college over the Web, just without the fancy diploma at the end. Much of the material on the site (described as “courseware”) is available free of charge, but you do have the option to pay if you want to get one-on-one tuition or take on the interactive projects that come with the course. Some courses are funded by corporate sponsors; Google has built the Android app development one, for example. The Udacity model won’t suit everyone but it offers a broad range of useful content that you can fit around your existing lifestyle, particularly when you take the mobile apps (for Android and iOS) into consideration. Source: https://www.udacity.com/

CODE ACADEMY

If you want to begin right at the start, then Codecademy is a great place to dive into coding. The site is intuitive, accessible, and covers HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQuery, Python, Ruby and PHP. Each course is split up into easily digestible sections. You can see the titles of these sections, as well as the estimated time commitment required to complete them, before you get started. You won’t come out the other end as a programming master but the appeal of Codecademy lies in its accessibility rather than its depth. At the heart of the Codecademy site is the interactive portal that enables you to take lessons and exercises right within your browser, with feedback and instruction appearing alongside in an instant as you type. As you’re doing rather than simply reading or watching, you can pick up the basics very quickly, and because Codecademy is free it’s a great way of working out whether this coding lark is for you or not before you go deeper somewhere else. Source: http://www.codecademy.com/

TREEHOUSE

Treehouse is like a paid-for, more complex upgrade to Codecademy and would be the natural next step if you pass the Codecademy courses with flying colors. There are two subscription models—a basic $25/month one and a pro $49/month upgrade—but if you want to test the waters for free then there’s a 14-day trial available that you can sign up for without any obligation. As you would expect for $25 and above each month, the materials and content provided by Treehouse is consistently top notch. Videos, interactive exercises, quizzes, forums, expert speakers and other resources are all combined with Treehouse, though you’ll need to upgrade to the top subscription level to take advantage of some of the more exclusive workshops and interviews. The step-by-step, guided approach is useful for tackling areas that you’re not familiar with, and the available tracks cover HTML, CSS, WordPress, Ruby, PHP, Android, iOS, JavaScript and more. The site is slick and simple to navigate around too. Source: http://teamtreehouse.com/

CODE SCHOOL

“Learn by doing” is the mantra of Code School, though it’s an approach adopted by many of the resources we’ve mentioned on this list. This isn’t for beginners, though: you’re going to need some level of coding know-how to make sense of the material that Code School places in front of you. You could consider moving on to Code School after Udacity, Codecademy or even Treehouse, for example, though it depends on your existing level of knowledge and the type of code you’re working with. There are four main paths to choose from—Ruby, HTML/CSS, iOS and JavaScript—but other courses outside of these main paths touch on Git, Objective-C, JQuery and other more detailed coding standards. Some of the material on the site is free, though there’s a flat monthly fee of $29 to get access to everything. Like Treehouse, there’s a mixture of screencasts, video tutorials and interactive challenges to help you get on top of your chosen topic as quickly as possible. Source: https://www.codeschool.com/

DASH

Dash is a project from educational institution General Assembly that focuses on building websites, specifically HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Like Codecademy, the courses are designed to be easy to get started with and very interactive right from the beginning—if you want to be able to jump straight in with as little preamble as possible then Dash could be for you. One of the spin-offs created by Dash lets you build your own custom Tumblr theme, which gives you some idea of where this resource is pitched. You might not be able to launch a career as a freelance Web designer on the back of Dash alone, but it’s free to use and friendly for beginners, and by the time you come out the other end you’ll certainly have a solid foundation in browser coding skills. The step-by-step guidance and rigid structure of the course may feel a bit limiting at times, but if you want to be guided very carefully through the fundamentals of the Web then it’s perfect. Source: https://dash.generalassemb.ly/

CODE AVENGERS

Like Dash, the Code Avengers site focuses on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, though after a helpful introductory lesson you’ll need to pay to carry on with your coding education. HTML and CSS modules cost $29 each while the JavaScript ones will set you back $39 a pop—a lifetime access option is also available for $125. Use the free lessons to gauge whether the level that Code Avengers is pitched at fits in with where you are and what you want to learn. Code Avengers makes what can be a daunting and inaccessible topic very easy to get into. The way that repetition and reinforcement is used over each of the 12-hour courses means that you come away with some good programming habits as well as a good grounding in the ins and outs of Web development. The interface is clear and clean as well, and there’s a good mix of coding challenges, step-by-step instructions and practical projects to help you make progress with your Web development skills. If you’ve had any personal experiences with one of the resources we’ve mentioned—or you think there’s another site that deserves some attention—then let us know in the discussion below. Meantime, happy coding! Source: http://www.codeavengers.com/

Change the World by Doing

Change-Paulo-Coelho-Portuguese-Author

I always tell me class… the short answer to many issues is one thing: Execute.

At the end of the day no analysis can ever come close to learning-by-doing. Don’t get stuck in analysis-paralysis, it never helped anyone.

– You don’t know the future.

– You can’t know all the risks.

– You cannot analyze your way to perfection.

– You cannot truly know until you execute.

Forget SMART Goals, Go VAGUE

Valuable In everything we undertake we must have a sense of the value it will provide to self, others or the world. We need purpose to make our work meaningful.

Anarchic Stop playing safe. Challenge, confront, undermine the current status quo. Strive to discover the undiscoverable.

Genuine Be true to yourself—abandon agreement in favor of passion, and then seek alignment. Don’t compromise.

Unbounded Embrace not-knowing. Avoid forcing your ideas into someone else’s box. Let your possibilities grow wings, and soar.

Engaging Keep your dreams vital, avoid repetition, continuously challenge yourself and those around you. Walk the edge.

[Big props to Tobias Mayer for the key ingredients here. Love it]

Are RFP Systems for Agile Contracts, Agile?

supplier-rfp-system-agile-sow

Gawd. There are things I dislike… and there are things that I just severely dislike.

RFP supplier systems are one of them. Not only are they convoluted, but complicated, and arduous.

Isn’t Agile all about collaboration and negotiation with people?

If you’d like our help, please, let’s work person-to-person. RFP systems cheapen the opportunity to really understand your needs.

#OKthanksBYE

VMEdu Inc [ScrumStudy] – Spamtastic!

scrum-study-spam-scam
These guys don’t quit. This is like the 5th time I’ve received emails from them telling me I can make a shit-ton if I use them…

 

Hello Peter,

I represent VMEdu Inc (US based company), a leading learning platform dealing with professional training and certifications. We are funded by Sequoia Capital – the leading PE fund in the Silicon Valley, which has also funded companies such as Apple, Google, Cisco, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, AirBnB etc. *REALLY?*HHMM

The VMEdu platform is a one-stop shop for training providers where they can assign coursework to students, buy courses, schedule exams and even order the study materials they need. Another unique feature of the VMEdu platform is its simple pay-as-you-go model that enables partners to join and use the courses when and where they want, taking advantage of the great flexibility VMEdu offers.

How does it benefit you………. blah blah blah.

[Consumer Alert] – If you want half-ass training. You got it. Apparently, anyone can be a trainer with these guys. Go get’em!

If you want best-in-class training. Go with the big dawgs. Find your (legitimate) course at ScrumAlliance.org

8 Ways in Which Geniuses Think and How You Can Apply This to Your Team

I love reading articles from the people that are really, really, smart – the people that are spending the time doing incredible amount of documentation and research about how we interact and the whys and hows of what we do.

Michael Michalko, the author of Creative Tinkering, has done an incredible amount of work studying creatives and geniuses and how they engage problem solving. His book is definitely one to pick up if you have time but I wanted to distill a few key points that he lays out about how strategically geniuses encounter problems, as opposed to normal thinkers.

Here they are, which his key point and some of his thoughts, as well as my additional thoughts on how it can be applied to your team and organization:

Continue reading “8 Ways in Which Geniuses Think and How You Can Apply This to Your Team”