Retrospective 91 – Agile Coach Salary + Team Science

iDoneThis – Lightweight Updates and Status Reporting for Scrum Teams

[We review Agile and Scrum Tools. Have you seen our Agile and Scrum Tools List?

iDoneThis is a tool that promises to bring lightweight status reporting to every company.  Its secret sauce is that it makes the process incredibly simple.  It’s the easiest way that I’ve found to run a stripped down daily standup… maybe even for dispersed teams.

If anyone you know has been too intimidated to try Agile because of what appears to be complicated rules and protocols, just turn them on to iDoneThis.  It attempts to capture the essence of scrum — daily iterative progress and improvement — without much of the overhead.

With iDoneThis, you aren’t going to get a product that’s loaded with features and configurability options.  If you’re looking for a very specific agile product and process, iDoneThis isn’t the tool for you.  iDoneThis’s is mantra is to keep it simple, and you might be surprised how powerful that is.

iDoneThis is so easy to use that after you sign up, you can keep using iDoneThis without ever having to go to their website again.

Here’s how it works. Continue reading “iDoneThis – Lightweight Updates and Status Reporting for Scrum Teams”

Getting Paid as an Agile Coach

An actual check I received for coaching! 🙂

Some questions come at the perfect time. I was asked in an email by an AgileScout reader how much Agile Coaches get paid. The context of the email and content was pretty focused on the potential for lots of $$$ that he could make.

I simply responded:

“If you want to coach because the money is good… look somewhere else. Coaching is an artform. It takes not only personal involvement, but also emotional involvement to do it well. Anyone can ‘consult.’ It takes more out of you to coach, and coach well. For me, I coach because I believe it’s a calling. I coach because I seriously love helping people reach their potential. I love seeing organizations flourish, not because they deliver more product faster (with quality)… but because I see the culture change to a more positive and productive environment.

Coach because you love it. If not. Move on.”

Coaching is a calling. What do you think?

The Inclusion Factor

I now work within an Agile software product development organization.  This isn’t my first position working within software companies, but it is the first time in an Agile environment.

I’ve noticed one special thing – the inclusion factor.

In the other positions marketing was invited late, or we just crashed the party, but not here. Instead, the product marketing manager is part of the team and expected to participate, collaborate, add value and answer these questions:

1) what have I done?

2) what am I doing?

3) what roadblocks do I have?

4) how can we help?

 Way cool!

More to come…

SprintZero Update -Agile Marketing Movement

“Agile Marketing is a Movement”

An intrepid group of marketing professionals organized SprintZero earlier this month to pave a path to Marketing the Agile way. SprintZero participants met to discuss Agile Marketing values and principles. The outcome will be the Agile Marketing Manifesto.

On the highway, speed kills, but in business, it is slowness that kills. – Jim Ewel,

Agile Marketing Moves Forward

Social marketing hasn’t dispatched old marketing practices but put the first fork in it.  Global marketing professionals need to be nimble, confirm business value & bottom-line impact, be spot-on aligned with company strategy and not forget to listen to markets – done with rapidly moving targets and more and more channels. What the C-Suite wants to know about Agile Marketing:

  • Increased flexibility and speed
  • Strategic alignment
  • Customer engagement

It was a great start. #Sprint1 is planned for later this year.  The site to provide feedback on the work-in-progress Agile Marketing Manifesto will go live soon. I’ll keep you posted. We’ll need your advice.

Keep on, keeping on!

The Hindsight Bias – Be Agile – Learn and Re-Learn

Ever wonder why there’s the saying “hindsight is 20/20”- it’s because psychologists have proven our bias towards thinking outcomes must have turned out the way they did and we are convinced we knew it all along .

So what’s the problem?

Because of this bias we may not be learning from our fumbles and that’s a shame.  See here:

The hindsight bias is our tendency towards thinking that things must have turned out the way they actually have. The hindsight bias can be a problem when it stops us learning from our mistakes. If the entrepreneurs knew how biased their estimates of success were, would they have done things differently? … how will they learn to consider alternatives? – Jeremy Dean, @PsyBlog

What’s the solution?

Honestly look at our judgements and provide/think of alternative ways things could have turned out. I think Daily Scrums and Retrospectives help Agile teams see how differently things could done  if teams were not wrapped up in hindsight BLINDness.

What do you think?  Is hindsight always 20/20 as the saying goes?

Do you think hindsight bias is always unproductive and negative? How do Agile teams guard against bias? Is it just “per unusual” in creating product and we who design and create just have to get on with it?


Scrum Plus: Agile Heresy No More!


Old habits die hard.  Useful habits die harder.  

Six years ago, I earned my CSM from the ScrumAlliance. Another six years before then, I had already been baptized as an evangelical apostle of FDD (Feature Driven Development), christened by Jeff De Luca and Peter Coad. Yet another six years before, I was already teaching the “Baseball Model” of agile, concurrent development processes…but that’s another story. (Yikes! A “6-6-6” pattern? Naw, probably just intervals in my learning curves.)

Agility and FDD were woven into our collective DNA at TogetherSoft. Our business cards were tagged with our mission statement:

Improving the ways people work together TM

My card displayed a “Senior Coad Certified Mentor” title. Mentor to our customers. Mentor to other mentors. Helping others learn FDD was part of my job. That was a remarkable privilege. I got to share the love!

So, as a newly minted Scrum Master in 2006 did I renounce my faith in FDD?

Continue reading “Scrum Plus: Agile Heresy No More!”

An Agile Coach Dinner

I recently had a dinner after a long day with a client. I let the steakhouse I was dining at know that I would be ‘shacking’ up for a while. They said “Ok… … …” And so I did.

What was most amazing during this time was that halfway through my lobster and steak dinner a random woman came up to me and asked:

“Hey, are you a ScrumMaster???”

Woah. I was super impressed! Then we had a great conversation. She knew I was doing SOMETHING agile… because of the sticky notes. Duh.

Retrospective 89 – Productive Agile Customers

Know Who Your Customers Are

I recently received a note in the mail from Oliver Peoples, a high-end sunglasses manufacturer. This shop, in [Costa Mesa, California] sent me a note [I live in Atlanta, Georgia] to let me know they are now rolling out an “ASIAN FIT COLLECTION.”

Some notables:

  • I’ve never been to Costa Mesa, CA
  • I don’t wear Oliver Peoples (I’m a Maui Jim guy)
  • How the heck did they know I’m asian?
  • How the heck did they know that I struggle with sunglasses because I lack a prominent caucasian nose-bridge and need extra support?
  • #SCARY

What is even more interesting is that…

  • Yes. I will now look at their sunglass line
  • Yes. They targeted me just right as a potential customer
  • Yes. I’m actually super impressed at their marketing

What can we learn from this? – Know who your customers are. Go the extra mile… maybe that might even mean doing some reconnoissance of some sort. It takes time and effort to really know who your real customers are and target/market them correctly. In Agile, we have a Product Owner for that role… but you can go beyond that. You can have other members of your team know your end customer as well.

Is it worth the work? I would say so.

3 Secrets of the Most Productive People

I fly every week. I get good reading done. I particularly enjoyed a good read from Inc. Magazine on the 3 secrets of productive people. What I found most encouraging… is that I do all 3. Boy, I’m productive!

Productive people don’t work more hours than you do. Productive people just have a knack for making the most of their time. In a recent column on, serial entrepreneur and author Margaret Heffernan discussed the traits shared by the truly productive.

They take breaks

It’s easy to think you will get more done if you never stop. But what’s clear from neuroscience is that we can easily get resource depleted (that is, tired) and quickly get stuck. Taking a break refreshes your mind, allowing you to see new solutions.

They are great collaborators

Highly productive people tend to have wide networks. They get more done by bouncing ideas off colleagues, clients, and other contacts.

They have lives outside of work

Far from being maniacally focused, highly productive people have rich private lives. Interests outside of work hone different skills and let you think in different ways.


Agile Coaching is About Being Available To Help Others

Often, I receive emails just like this.

I find it odd that when some of the “top” coaches in the world (or well known coaches) turn out to have egos that prohibit them from engaging and trifling with others.

Yes, in this business… in some sense you have to have an ego. It’ll often push you to where you want to be. I get that. It’s interesting though… that over time… one can get sucked into the mentality that they’re just too ‘good’ or too ‘awesome’ to help others. Where did the whole servant leadership aspect go?

Want to know a true test of whether you’ve been sucked up into the “I’m-too-good-for-you” mentality? Consider your engagement patterns:

  • Are you “pushing” information to others more than listening?
  • Are you not open to co-training or co-coaching with peers?
  • Are you unwilling to engage and grow the community you’re a part of?
  • What are your social media habits? *This one’s a tickler for me… as I follow and track a lot of what’s going on in our Agile community. Our biggest offenders have the biggest mouths… and often they’re pontificating rather than engaging in meaningful idea/knowledge sharing.
  • Go to conferences? All about you? Or all about learning?

I could go on, but you get it. Make it a point to take time to invest in others. Who knows, you might just learn something. My hope is I never get that ego. If I do, I give you permission to punch me in the face.

Retrospective 88 – #Agile #Scrum Tool Launches – Catalyst + More

Weekly Commenters:

How to Promote your Blog Posts for More Traffic

How can you steadily build traffic and readership for your blog?

You wish you could get here! 🙂

If you are a devoted blogger, who posts on a regular (weekly or daily) basis, then you’ve already taken the first step to promote your blog posts for more traffic. Posting regularly is a crucial step in getting your readers to return. How can you expose your posts to a large circle of new readers and grow your audience?

Focus on topics your audience will want to share based on the social media and keyword research that we’ve discussed previously. Next use a variety of proven blog post formats that attract people who like to share links on the interenet. Here are some blog post types that people like to share:

  • List articles such as the Ten Best or the Ten Worst of anything
  • Video demonstrations of how things work or how to make things
  • Video interviews
  • How to do it articles
  • Photos of people and activities from club events, seminars or presentations
  • Interviews with experts in your field
  • Infographics that share fascinating or little known facts Continue reading “How to Promote your Blog Posts for More Traffic”

[Agile Tool Review] – Timebox – Eliminate the Confusion and Get Productive

[We review Agile Tools – Have you seen our Agile Scrum Tools list?]

Have you gotten to a point where you realize there is no tool (whether it be for agile development, project management, etc) that directly fits your company needs? As most companies rely strongly on continuous innovation and iterative process, having a tool that fits their needs (not the other way around) is imperative to building great products.

That’s how Timebox came to be.

Many agile tools on the market offer plenty of benefits. Whether it’s an assortment of graphs and charts or ways to track and manage time, you’re bound to find a wide variety of numbers and equations that ‘supposedly’ make your job easier. The problem? They don’t. Most of these tools are large, confusing and often difficult to use (and ultimately train others on). With Timebox the goal is to eliminate confusion and allow anyone to start using the tool instantly! And the best part? It’s FREE.

List of benefits: Continue reading “[Agile Tool Review] – Timebox – Eliminate the Confusion and Get Productive”

[Agile Scrum Tool] – VersionOne Catalyst Edition

VersionOne Introduces Catalyst Edition

New Edition Delivers Automated Project Planning, Tracking and Reporting for Ramping Up Agile Adoption Beyond the Development Team

VersionOne Catalyst Edition is an all-in-one agile management tool built from the ground up to support and reinforce agile development processes. Catalyst Edition delivers improved visibility across projects, automated reporting and an easy path for teams ramping up their agile adoption to start small and scale with VersionOne as their needs evolve.

Built with the same rich UI as VersionOne’s Enterprise and Ultimate Editions, Catalyst Edition allows organizations to adopt a right-sized solution and then easily upgrade to more feature-rich editions at a natural pace as their agile adoption matures. Catalyst is designed for agile development teams with up to 20 users who have outgrown starter agile management methods – such as spreadsheets, whiteboards and sticky notes or agile plug-ins – and need to extend visibility beyond the team to include project stakeholders through real-time, shared project views.

What is Catalyst Edition?

All-in-one agile project management tool built from the ground up to support and reinforce agile development processes, improve visibility across projects, automate reporting and allow teams who are ramping up their agile adoption to start small and scale to a comprehensive tool (with same UI) as their needs evolve. Continue reading “[Agile Scrum Tool] – VersionOne Catalyst Edition”

Agile Marketing is On Fire!

It’s only the beginning of summer and Agile Marketing is getting hotter!  It made sense to me “marketer” to use Agile techniques and it’s making sense to a good many others in the industry.

Not unlike Agile Development and Product teams, marketing professionals use Agile methods to increase speed and gain the flexibility required in today’s fast-fast global economy.

…two of the key features of Agile Marketing borrowed from Agile Development: fast iteration and objective testing. – Jason Cohen of SmartBear Software

SprintZero, the first gathering of Agile Marketing Professionals is planned for 11 Jun 2012 in San Francisco. I have been following their blog posts and it sounds positively great. I’ll be sure to share the Agile Marketing Manifesto with you once it’s done.

Here’s to marketing the Agile way! So looking forward to the ride.


Retrospective 87 – Scrum Tool Evolution & Testing Code & Culture