Achievements: An Agile Whitepaper

An Agile Whitepaper: Achievements

By, Renee Troughton


Abstract: Agile Achievements can be used to track and celebrate both individual and team behaviors in adopting Agile values, principles and practices.

Gaddie Pitch: You know how most teams find it difficult to know what they have to do when developing in an Agile environment?

Well what Achievements does is help to give clear goals about the expected behaviors for teams and individuals.

In fact Achievements can be fun and re-direct the focus away from the Scrum Master or Agile Coach to enable the team to encourage better Agile behaviors.

What is an Achievement?

Continue reading “Achievements: An Agile Whitepaper”

Retrospective 82 – Agile Product Marketing Series & SEO

Weekly Commenters:

The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization – Book Review

The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization –  Book Review

The Art of SEO is a comprehensive overview of the search engine optimization field. The topic areas include content building, link building, site architecture and many of the technical areas such as redirects, duplicate content. This is a basic guide that covers many areas of SEO in great detail, so it is a handy reference to keep in your book shelf if you’re an experienced SEO practitioner. It’s also a great training resource. I’ve used selected parts of this guide to train new SEO technicians at my last ad agency, and also to share with people who want to become more familiar with SEO.

If you need to do the SEO for your own blog or small/medium size business, I’ll recommend this book as a comprehensive resource. To give some idea of the vast scope of the book, let’s list some of the topics covered:

  • How search engines index your web site
  • How people search and use search engines
  • Optimizing for vertical search such as image or video search
  • SEO tools
  • Keyword campaigns and keyword research
  • Web servers, domain and sub domain factors
  • Site architecture
  • On page optimization
  • Tags and internal linking
  • Optimizing URL structures
  • Understanding search engine algorithms and how search engines handle user search intent
  • Using search engine advanced operators as research tools
  • Content strategy and optimization
  • Search engine campaign strategy
  • Link building techniques and strategy
  • Code issues that hinder search engine indexing
  • Web Analytics
  • Site maps and XML site maps

It’s helpful if you have some basic knowledge of HTML and javascript code, however there are plenty of code examples, illustrations and charts to help you through the technical concepts. While there are many areas that are affected by search optimization, the writing team of Rand Fishkin, Stephan Spencer and Eric Enge, does a solid job of discussing how each aspect appears to the search engines. The options of white hat versus grey hat areas and handling search engine penalties are also discussed. The only flaw in an otherwise superb book, is that the index is not detailed enough.

Why would you pay a fortune for an SEO training course when most of the answers are gathered in one useful book?

If you must deal with SEO issues, buy this book form Amazon or Barnes and Noble for your Kindle, Nook or other e-reader tablet.

It’s Not Small Change (Series 4 of 4)

Part 4 of Agile Product Marketing Series:

  1. Product Marketing Becomes Agile
  2. What’s a Product Marketer Doing with a Roadmap?
  3. The Launch Queen Speaks
  4. It’s Not Small Change

This is the last of a series written to help Agile and B2B Marketing teams understand each other’s conversations and methods.  Previously, we discussed how Agile practices can integrate within traditional product launch management and commercialization.


It’s the people- the human element– that we’re talking about.   Continue reading “It’s Not Small Change (Series 4 of 4)”

The Launch Queen Speaks (Series 3 of 4)

Part 3 of Agile Product Marketing Series:

  1. Product Marketing Becomes Agile
  2. What’s a Product Marketer Doing with a Roadmap?
  3. The Launch Queen Speaks
  4. It’s Not Small Change

A series written to help Agile and B2B Marketing teams understand each other’s conversations and methods. Previously we discussed how real-time dialog between Agile and Marketing teams drive Business Value by creating need-to-have features. This time we’re in a product launch.

Like adventure?

Try running a global product launch. I’ve described it as building a rope bridge while crossing a raging river filled with hungry alligators and sharp rocks.  Don’t look down and failure is not an option.  Not much time to recover from a botched job.

“Product commercialization and product launch requires a rigorous program strategy and execution.” – Found scribbled in my study notes, author is unknown.

Sounds Like We Need to Get Agile

No matter how you dice it, product launches are complex.  It’s all about teams, communication and performance… and successful transition. A launch isn’t a success until the product steps out into the cold, new world of Life Cycle.

Let’s back up to launch. Do all the teams:

  • Know the goals
  • Know the roles
  • Know the priorities
  • Commit and collaborate

In a traditional launch, stakeholders proceed within their own swim lanes. When done with their piece, over the wall! #FAIL

I Feel a Strong Need for Agile Advice

Marketing will take care of setting the market’s/analysts’/customers’ expectations of the product. Seeking Agile advice on continuous delivery, keeping teams collaborating and with how to integrate all the moving parts.

Keep on keeping on!

On the Tee:  It’s Not Small Change (Series 4 of 4)



What’s a Product Marketer Doing with the Roadmap? (Series 2 of 4)

Part 2 of Agile Product Marketing Series:

  1. Product Marketing Becomes Agile
  2. What’s a Product Marketer Doing with a Roadmap?
  3. The Launch Queen Speaks
  4. It’s Not Small Change

A series designed to help Agile and B2B Marketing teams understand each other’s conversations and methods.  Previously, we discussed how marketing teams gain insight about current product features before release by being part of the “Agile dialog.” Marketers generate user benefits from these features and need time to do this well.

“Incremental Improvement” Impacts Marketing Process

Agile development produces new product features often and incrementally, which is important in a changing marketplace. Marketers don’t want Agile Teams to slow down, lose the rhythm, or delay incremental improvements but we urgently need to know where you’re heading.

Being included real-time in Agile planning and reviews is pretty critical for us. A great deal of what marketing does is communicating the product strategy to different audiences, both internal and external. We are always being asked, “When’s the new XYZ being launched?”  and “What’s in it?” We’ve have to see the bigger picture, the roadmap, or BIG #Fail.

Agile Teams Can Provide Real-Time GPS

Share the Product Backlog with the Marketing Team. Show us in which Sprints features will release; offer timelines, priorities and updates.  We will use this information for product messaging/positioning and to update our marketing plan. We also need to build our own “roadmap” for marketing. We could use your help in designing this. Continue reading “What’s a Product Marketer Doing with the Roadmap? (Series 2 of 4)”

Product Marketing Becomes Agile (Series 1 of 4)

Part 1 of Agile Product Marketing Series:

  1. Product Marketing Becomes Agile
  2. What’s a Product Marketer Doing with a Roadmap?
  3. The Launch Queen Speaks
  4. It’s Not Small Change

This post is the first in a series designed to help Agile and B2B Marketing teams understand each other’s conversations and methods.

Attention Scrum Master or Product Owner!

Are you working with a Marketing Team and hoping they don’t think Agile practices mean another form for Yoga? Actually, we marketers know about Agile and are cautiously curious and optimistic.

You can be absolutely sure that marketers working with Agile development teams wonder how they’ll be able to Sprint faster, while shaping, communicating and testing the product’s market message, value prop – in time for successful commercialization.

Provide a Bridge

Invite your PMM to join in the Stand-up. Share your Backlogs. Collaborate.  Marketers must be plugged into product information as real-time as possible in order to understand the product as it is now defined. With your help, we’ll do a much better job working our magic. Continue reading “Product Marketing Becomes Agile (Series 1 of 4)”

Retrospective 81 – Publishing an Agile Book and CSI

Weekly Commenters:

  • Karol McCloskeyKarol McCloskey (3)
  • Paul BoosPaul Boos (3)
  • Ken 'classmaker' RitchieKen ‘classmaker’ Ritchie (2)
  • LindaLinda (1)
  • Mark KennaleyMark Kennaley (1)

Why Google Plus is Important to Search Engine Optimization for Blogs

Google Plus is more than just a competitor for Facebook. Google Plus represents a major shift in the way that search engines rank web pages and your blog.

From Google’s beginnings Larry Page and Sergey Brin indexed and mapped the millions of anonymous, unmapped web pages based on the links and keywords that pointed to each page. Google rode the profitable search engines trail to become the tollgate of web commerce. The Google brand came to embody fast results to any question.

The only problem was that you couldn’t be sure if the Google results you clicked on would drop you on a page with the information content you wanted or on a web page with a sales pitch. When Facebook came along with the Like button, this was the solution to the query result quality problem. With hundreds of millions of Facebook users, and now Google Plus users, bestowing Likes and Plus Ones to the brands and information pages that they favored, the Google highway of links suddenly had personalized reviews of most of the content you might be looking to find.
Another Google Plus profile page
Now, with many knowledgeable people in your Google Plus Circles,  Google can include personalized Plus One recommendations for anything you search. Even if the people in your Google circles are few or if people in your Google circles are ape-like, the search results will still include Plus One recommendations from other people that you don’t know. Robert Scoble wrongly predicted that Google Plus One meant the end of Search Engine Optimization. He was only partly right.The old way of doing SEO with just links and keywords will disappear to be replaced with a more complex way of SEO that includes optimizing keyword, links and social media.

So what happens to your blog’s rankings in Google if few people give it a Plus One? What can you do to help your blog survive in the changing world of Google Search Plus? We will find out together. What questions would you like to tackle about your blog and search engines?

[Addition – See the Google+ For Business Infographic Below – Click for larger view]

AgileScout Expands Agile Development News Writers and Topics

[Yes, he looks like he ate his tongue…] -ps 🙂

Peter Saddington explains why he’s expanding the writers and the topics that AgileScout will cover.


What’s next for AgileScout?

Peter Saddington: There have been a couple people that have noticed the changes for AgileScout. I’ve been transparent about the new direction for AgileScout. Agile Scout started as an independent brand for myself. My tagline was “an independent voice, democratizing agile software development, opening up the doors so anyone can get information about best practices in software development or lean software development.”

It was a personal branding site for me, but I came to realize that I could never scale myself. I could never replicate myself and say start blogging on this topic or start blogging on that topic. Continue reading “AgileScout Expands Agile Development News Writers and Topics”

Management Skills Replaces Kanban – Is Kanban Failing Japan?

“The essence of capitalism is that competition is the source of progress.”

This was said by Akihiko Nakauchi, Chairman Colombo Dockyard plc, delivering a lecture on “A Journey beyond Lean-A Japanese Overview,” in Colombo in March, 2012.

The lecture was organized by the Japanese Graduates Alumni Association of Sri Lanka. The majority shareholder of Colombo Dockyard is Onomichi Dockyard, Japan. He said that one of the significant causes for the decline in Japanese industries is that “lean management/The Japanese way” or Kanban is no longer the only one, most efficient, strongest and productive management skill anymore.

The Kanban supported automobile and electronics industries have been the backbone of the Japanese economy for a long time.

Management Skills Replace Kanban?

A Japanese newspaper recently quoting a Korean executive of having had said that the Japanese Kanban was no longer a threat to them. By taking advantage of the most advanced IT technologies, some companies have created the new concept called “management skills” which are superior to Kanban by taking advantage of the most advanced IT technologies, said Nakauchi.

Only the person or company who could create and establish new concepts of management skills by using endlessly progressing technology and business models/ strategies and integrating soft and hard skills will survive, said Nakauchi. Continue reading “Management Skills Replaces Kanban – Is Kanban Failing Japan?”

Forensics of a Technical Project with Agile Solutions

Great blog post from Knowledge BLOG:  “What’s wrong with the project approach to software development?” It got me thinking and comparing project management vs. Agile practices.


Projects are work defined as activities and tasks. There’s a start and an identified end.

OK – but factor in complexity, time to do it, size of the team and available (estimated) budget and the wheels come off.

  • Project stalls or overruns.
  • Agile methods fix this (Strategy Meeting).

ProjMgt Best Practice

Do not begin a project until all goals are well defined and agreed upon. Seriously, who has a crystal ball to share? Let’s break this thing up.

  • Success measures, length of time for “agreed upon?”  – further out, the less agreement.
  • Agile methods fix this (Release Planning, Iteration Planning, Iteration Review).

Scope Creep

In a recent straw poll, 40% of product professionals selected “Managing scope /requirements change” as the most important topic for their career. Seems serious…

  • Agile methods fix this (Iteration Review, Daily Stand-up, Continuous Adaptive Planning).

Managing Expectations Both Sides of the Aisle

Clear communication between development teams and the business suits (I’m a suit), big #FAIL!

  • Mention: Culture clash between “stakeholders’ involvement” and “productive collaboration to build product.”
  • Agile methods fix this (Product Owner, Scrum Team).

Continuity, Lessons Learned

Projects are temporary in nature. Teams who work projects are assigned and then reassigned as the projects live/die.

  • What about continuity, flow, innovation? I think missing.  You lose what you’ve learned.
  • Agile methods fix this (Scrum Team, Retrospective Meeting).

Knock It Out

Why are the honest endeavours of software developers often so disconnected from the delivery of customer and stakeholder value?” –  pg_rule, Knowledge BLOG, January 11, 2011.

I think it’s about covered – using any Agile method provides the foundation for collaboration between product visionaries (sometimes suits), development teams and stakeholders to build products that customers want and buy.

Wiley Partners with Peter Saddington to Publish Agile Pocket Guide

Excited to announce that Wiley, the #1 Business Book Publisher has accepted partnership with Peter Saddington to publish his Agile Pocket Guide – A Quick Start Guide to Agile Software Development.


The company was founded in 1807, during the Jefferson presidency. In the early years, Wiley was best known for the works of Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and other 19th century American literary giants. By the turn of the century, Wiley was established as a leading publisher of scientific and technical information. (A more detailed history is available.)

I have to give props to Michael Hyatt for his eBook on Writing a Winning Book Proposal. Even though I didn’t partner with Wiley because they accepted my book proposal… it was the process of going through creating a kick-butt proposal that allowed me to better understand how to market and design a book that is worth reading. To that end, thank you Michael! 

2 Big Wins for Me… 1 For You (Now)

  1. Super excited about this. I’m glad all my blogging and writing is paying off… considering I got rejected by over 20 publishers previously
  2. Another great thing about this opportunity? We’re taking an Agile approach to writing and publishing the final content!
  3. I can no longer sell it as a self-published work… Get a copy NOW before it’s too late… 🙂

Boom goes the dynamite.

Retrospective 80 – SFAgile2012, Conflict Resolution, and Multitasking

Weekly Commenters:

San Francisco Agile 2012 (SFAgile2012)




As a consumer, there are good things and bad things.

Good: there are lots of products, services in today’s world to choose from. So many that we may not be even aware of.

Bad: WE have to make the choice.
Being a typical Libran, it’s a difficult one for me.

Since my introduction to agile, there have been multiple conferences that I have been hearing about. I’ve been fortunate to attend some large conferences and some small ones. One such conference that caught my eye was SFAgile Conference. This is the 2nd year SFAgile will be held and got great reviews from 2011 attendees.

SFAgile 2012 is a 3-day “unconference” that brings together practitioners from Lean software development, the LeanStartup movement, and Agile software development. 

It’s a refreshingly different conference format: a mix of crowd-sourced content that include workshops, talks, dojos, and open-space-inspired spontaneous sessions. There will be many ways to learn new things, share your ideas, and get your questions answered. Continue reading “San Francisco Agile 2012 (SFAgile2012)”

What Project Managers Say and What They Really Mean


“I’ll check with the team to see if we can squeeze that change into the current release.”


“I’ll check to see whether the lead developer will say “no” or “hell no.”



“I think it would be beneficial to streamline the requirements and redefine the user stories.”


“These user stories strung together read like the plot of “The Hangover II.”



“This delivery schedule appears to be very aggressive.”


“We can meet your timeline if HR will sign off on letting us chain the development staff to their desks and beat them with sticks until the 15th of the month.”

Continue reading “What Project Managers Say and What They Really Mean”

On Conflict Resolution – The Cost of Conflict

A review of an article (for my Masters program back in 2008). This stuff never gets old:

  • Grazier, Peter B., “Conflict”, El Network (December 1, 1997), URL (cited on 2008.04.15)

This article is about the shifting understanding of conflict resolution from the old paradigm to the newer paradigm. Conflict is defined as a struggle to resist or overcome; a contest of opposing forces. This conflict seems to be ever-present in our lives, and the possibility of conflict looms anytime two or more people convene.

Conflict arises from a multitude of sources that reflect our differences: personality, values, ideologies, religion, culture, race, and behavior. It also arises from simple misunderstandings. As the workplaces have expanded, the community in which people work has dramatically increased the number of human interactions where one’s opinions can be heard.

Grazier says that the reason that he thinks most people struggle with conflict resolution is that a persons past and present models of resolution are rooted in battles. He states this as the ‘current model.’ These battles result in a winner and a loser and the current society seems to place a high value on winning. Therefore, Grazier points out that we as people staunchly defend our position, no matter how shaky.

The Cost of Conflict

Continue reading “On Conflict Resolution – The Cost of Conflict”

Multitasking = Time Sink? – Take an Agile Approach

I came across a favorite blogger’s post previously.  Tony Schwartz’s “The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time” offers so many good points, I suggest the read.  BTW: He sounds pretty “Agile” to me.

I admit it. I was a dyed in the wool multitasking manager. “Was” until I figured out that rather than make me more productive, it did the opposite. I was not paying close attention to my team, nor could I incorporate all those distractions and keep forward momentum.  Being mindful is now my manner.

Maintain Focus 

Tony writes we need more focus and be more engaged to be productive. Let’s deal with meetings.  He suggests scheduling shorter meetings, to start them on time with a defined end and no distractions of the digital kind.

Sounds pretty Agile to me:

  • Do the most important thing, first thing every day – Daily Scrum?
  • Carve out enough time in the day to “reflect” on the discussions. A Sprint Review?
  • We need time to “recover” and maintain Rhythm?

Ignore the Tyranny of Urgent

Big lesson, still learning (note to me). Tony stresses planning regular and scheduled times to think long term. Prioritization, assigning Business Value – Agile teams do these naturally, it’s what we do.

Got me thinking about  innovation….best practices suggest unplugging is the best way to be more creative. It has something to do with how our brains are hardwired. I know we work in busy places and competition is tough, but “not right now” can be the appropriate answer.

Disconnect and Renew

Take a vacation day, eat lunch away from your desk, join with colleagues at the favorite watering hole…take time to do something different, or nothing at all. It’s important. Even my computer and phone tell me it’s time to turn them off.  Interesting…our devices are reminding US to be in the present.


Retrospective 79 – #Agile University and Guaranteed Success

Weekly Commenters:

Agile Project Management and Your Search Marketing Cycle

How can you make progress with online marketing for your consulting business? If you’re marketing your blog or your agile services as a trainer, consultant or developer, all the marketing things you need to do can seem overwhelming. The more you learn about online marketing, the greater the burden grows. Blog marketing, search engine optimization – SEO and social media are only part of the marketing story.

Here’s where your knowledge of agile project management can reduce the complexity. If you think of marketing yourself as a set of iterative marketing tasks, you can make great progress over the course of a year. For each part of your marketing, whether blog marketing, SEO  or social media, break down your marketing work into one or two stories that you work on each month. Let’s look at some examples of things you can do on a regular cycle for each category.

SEO and Content cycle

  • Read social media, forums and blogs in your specialty area to see what people are concerned about this month. From this reading you can choose keywords that match with the blog or services you’re offering.
  • Build new web pages or blog posts that match these new keywords.
  • Interview some one who knows your business or services and write this up as a testimonial on your web site or blog. Optimize this testimonial for keywords related to your services or blog.
  • Link from an existing web page to your new blog post or web page to help search engines find your new web content.

Social Media

  • Find social media, forums or blogs that matter in your area of work. Share or link to their best content on a regular basis. As you do this, you will attract readers and followers who share your interests.
  • Seek out other posters who write about topics that interest you and reflect your area of specialty. Add these writers to your social networks.
  • As you create new web pages or blog posts, use your social media and forums to link back to your new content.

The most crucial part of this is learning which of your marketing tactics seem to produce the most readers of your blog and web site. When you find a tactic or a topic that provokes a reaction or brings more readers, you know you’re on the right track. Learn from your successes and failures, so you can repeat the things that work for you and your audience.

These are just a few examples of tasks you can do every month to promote your services or your blog. The key thing here is to do all these small steps on a regular basis. Repeat these small steps on a regular cycle and you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish.

Fictitious Characters in Agile Development?

I recently attended an interesting and interactive NPD learning event about using “Personas” to define product features.  Very much like User Stories but made using ethnographic (field research) methods.  Personas tell their story in terms of goals, the “why” and “how” of what they do.  It’s not at all easy to be good at defining unique and evidence based personas, but the outcome is worth the effort.

The speakers introduced our personas by name, provided us Post-it notes, Sharpies and paper iPads. We broke into teams of 6-7.  Our goal: to create a wireframe of a Tablet App front page appealing to the travel requirements of our assigned persona.  In about 20 minutes, we were ready to showcase our work.

Here’s the interesting point>>throughout the designing,  the teams remained focused on the person in the persona.  Features, elements, text, flow were all designed with the persona’s needs top of mind. It was as if the persona was there with the team. There was a shared understanding of needs within the context of the persona’s world, and the outcomes were all awesome (and quite different).

I am a believer!  By including personalities and behaviors of  the buyer, early and often, into product decisions, teams will make great product design decisions.

Priority is to Satisfy the Customer.


100% Agile Project Success. Guaranteed.

execBench Pitch

execBench is a suite of cloud based applications that allows all organisations
on planet earth to setup and run high performance projects to time and to budget, every time.” – From Website

You’ve got my interest. Now show me the money!!!

What I find so interesting about these types of statements are that it completely misses the human element in regards to project teams. No tool can completely compensate for a good/terrible team.

Give me a crappy team, equip them with a tool. If they can succeed in delivering the project successfully, then I’ll invest in your company.

Virtual Scrum – Scrum Wing 3D – Open Source Agile Tool

Scrum Wing 3D (SW3D) is an open-source Scrum project management tool, implemented using the Open Cobalt platform, a virtual space browser and toolkit. The idea of using Open Cobalt to develop SW3D comes from the author’s vision of combining the immersive training concept along with the Scrum framework.

The SW3D User Experience

Every day, the Scrum team members start Open Cobalt and join the Scrum Master‘s virtual space to hold the stand-up daily meeting, in order to review the sprint progress, what is done, what is the plan for the day and address open impediments.

Instead of being physically together, every team member sends her-his avatar to the shared virtual space to collectively manage user stories, plan a new sprint or update the sprint backlog. This is not a game: your avatar becomes your deputy into a highly-collaborative, 3D, sound-enabled, server-less workplace.

What SW3D is not?

SW3D is not a web application: SW3D installs software components on your machine and as such, administrator privileges should be granted to users if they are not computer’s owner where you want SW3D to run. There is no need for any server. Artifacts are stored on binary files, so no database is needed. Everything goes into a single folder, so it is very easy to setup and remove.

Which Scrum artifacts are delivered with Scrum Wing 3D alpha edition?

  • The capacity planner: including team member name, role, email and time availability.
  • The product backlog.
  • The sprint backlog: used for tasking estimates and daily sprint meetings.
  • The sprint summary and burn-down chart.
  • No taskboard is yet delivered. All artifacts are loaded with dummy data sets so you can browse a fictional project without spending time with manual input while evaluating this tool for the first time.

Sounds pretty tight to me. I covered some other ideas around using virtual reality for Scrum.


[VIA: ScrumWing]

University of Agile Launched – New Certification – Certified Agile Blogger

Agile Blogger Certification - University of Agile
Click for Larger View

University of Agile – Certified Agile Blogger is announcing their new premier certification program from the University of Agile.

Atlanta, GA – April 1, 2012 – AGILESCOUT Inc. [NYSE: AGILE] announces their new certification through the University of Agile, established through accredited university partners Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Demand Is Growing for Certified Agile Bloggers
Many project professionals are seeing the demand for Agile bloggers to talk more and blog more about Agile related stuff. Thus we are eager to announce that you can now become a Certified Agile Blogger.

Organizations Are Embracing Agile 

Like a shotgun approach, organizations who use Agile techniques in managing projects have documented the value they see from its practice: