Just a little respect – It’s about Being Agile

Everyday we get up, get ready, ride our car/public transportation, go to work, to matter, to make someone’s day and after a hard day return home. At every single step there are  various elements that are a part of our life and interaction. One very important one – Humans.

Be it family, friends, co-workers, travelers on the road/public transport – Humans. Yeah, different race, religion etc. – but humans. Every one of us is unique.

We all are marching together to accomplish something – To work. That work – believe it or NOT, affects humans – mostly in a positive way. We as a community are engaged in solving problems for each other, trying to make this journey called life a little simpler. So, if I am supposed to work on something that benefits others, I would myself like to be in a positive frame of mind. When I am feeling good, I have seen it influence positive vibe with others whom I interact.

I am not here to lecture on world peace. Most of the people reading this article and blog, I assume, are adults. Some leaders, agile enthusiasts and great human beings. I just wanted to share a simple message – before we honk at someone, before we shout at a colleague, team member or anyone, before cutting in the line while driving, before showing that finger because someone is not driving the way WE want them to drive – let’s take a moment: breathe, think and then react.

AgileScout blog is not just about agile, but it is about that scout in everyone of us. I’ve been one. I always will be. As a scout, I was taught to respect people and I always will. How about you?

Munch over this thought, while I cook something else for us.


[#Giveaway #Winner] – A Guide to Execution

Giveaway Winner Alert!

We had many tweet it and a couple post.

Here is our random winner!


Send us an email @ info@agilescout.com with address so I can ship out your book!


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Becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer – CST

[I was recently asked what my journey to become a CST was like. So like an Agile blogger, I told them to wait for it to post on AgileScout.com 🙂 ]

The path to becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) is one of the most arduous yet rewarding experiences I have ever gone through (and I spent 7 years in Master’s programs!). It has not only stretched me, but brought about a greater understanding of “mastery” of a craft, that, no matter how good you ‘think’ you become at something, you can always improve, become better, learn more, and grow as a person.

The day you stop learning is day you become ineffective in your work.

My CST Journey

I began my journey to becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer back in early 2009 when I began my investigation into the process and started collaborating with other CST’s about co-training opportunities. This was a time when the CST application process was evolving (and still is) and the requirements and application process wasn’t fully fleshed out. I, at the time, had been in my 8th year as an independent Enterprise Agile Coach and felt like the CST was the right way to go. I had completed my Certified ScrumMaster designation and my Certified Scrum Professional designation previously.

In early 2009 I had my first co-training opportunity with a fellow Agile coach. They went very well. I was stoked. I was excited. I had gotten a great review and was given priceless advice on how to become better. I felt like the CST was fast becoming a reality. I flew out to meet my 2nd co-trainer and we trained together. Another great workshop. I felt great… Then:

  • Client work picked up.
  • Timing just wasn’t working out.
  • Work-life balance just wasn’t what it used to be.

A full year later, I still had yet to co-train with other coaches and trainers. My client list was full, my schedule was so tight that it became apparent to me that I may not be able to finish this race due to scheduling conflicts and overall timing not to mention funding from the CFO of my house (wife). I was burnt out, tired, and a bit frustrated.

It was all about the timing. It just didn’t seem to work. So what did I do? I made the tough choice to lighten my client load (OUCH! SCARY!) so I could open up opportunities to co-train. I made the time available, I reached out to friends and fellow Agile coaches for time slots, and I invited Agile coaches to come train with me at my client sites. I patiently prayed that the opportunities would come… and they did.

After a full 3.5 years I completed it… The road to becoming an official CST was complete… but the journey forward has just begun. YES!

[Peter Saddington Training on ScrumMaster Roles]

On Co-Training Continue reading “Becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer – CST”

Why Indie Software Developers Need to Embrace Agile

[Guest Post] – Jimmy Wentz is a budding freelance tech writer, gadget and gaming enthusiast, and social media junkie. He writes regularly about O2 and the latest news in the tech, gaming, and social media world.

The Agile approach to development is a series of processes that enables software developers to complete a variety of tasks, or to simply do them more efficiently. People come around to the Agile way of thinking because it’s a process that allows for rapid release, for better and more immediate ROI, and for a larger user base when completed. So why should indies consider Agile?

Working Examples of Software Potential

There are a lot of paid alpha and beta approaches that indie developers often use to make sure they can get crowd-sourced feedback, but also that there’s money on the table during the development process – and not just at the end of it. Guidance – taken with a pinch of salt – from users during development minimises the risk of surprise disappointment upon release. Agile focuses on collaboration with customers, and this is an ideal model of how that approach can be implemented into the development process.

This ties in neatly to the Agile approach, and if anything proves that the model works. Taking a look at the Agile creed, producing working software for someone over simply handing them a written description and mock-ups is a powerful tool when it comes to gaining investment and demonstrating potential. Indie developers often have potential in their ideas and prototypes, and a working concept that can be played with gives a better idea of that potential – mock-ups can be faked or overly ambitious, after all.

Greater Flexibility

Development schedules are the bane of some developers’ existences. It’s not that they’re not useful, but some of them are so rigid that the developer is doomed to be unable to adapt to anything going wrong or any major changes to the software.

As an indie developer, things are going to fluctuate all the time – you’re probably a sole individual or a small team, and while you need to be even more organized than you would in a large company, it also means that roles can switch and shift rapidly with a minimum of disruption.

Agile embraces this approach. While there is an overall goal – the delivery date – everything else is fluid, and there are less hindrances as a result. This is vital, if you’re a small team and don’t have a secondary team to deal with any obstructions.

Keeping Your Spirits High

Working as an independent developer is going to be hard on you, both as an individual or as a member of a team. Working independently carries with it a high level of risk, and with that, pressure. Some developers put their financial stability, careers and sanity on the line for a chance to release successful software.

Agile focuses on maintaining developer morale. It’s about working smarter, not harder – about building a business model that can be sustained, that becomes more profitable over time. Minimizing risk and bringing more structure to a business is going to make developers feel more secure, and happier as a result.

Final Thoughts

If you’re considering the Agile approach as an indie, you could do no better. It’s a system designed to work well for any software developer, and the above examples show how adaptable the processes within Agile development are – always suitable to your set-up and personal methods. Do better – use Agile.


Wearing the Pink*

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Just said goodbye to Heidi.

Welcome back to Meg.

Keeping watch with Alison.

Learned Taekwondo with Joyce.

Laughing with my FBFF Charlene.


Putting friends’ names to a statistic is to honor their battle, their strength.

Many are in this fight, either as practicioner or patient or family or friend or colleague at work.

All should be applauded as we defeat this disease once and for all.


*Football players wear pink shoes in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

An Hypothesis is Really a Prototype [Series 4/5]

Agile as the Innovator

Thought bytes

Don’t think research is a phase, it is really ongoing. Prototyping is the way you learn. You learn so much by watching how people learn. It’s OK if the prototype is really rough.

Rapid prototyping your guesses* is an iterative process. You learn just enough to feed into building a better prototype. Then you go out and learn more, build again.

Launching is validating how much more solving is needed. If not solving the problem, re-calibrate.

Service design seems similar to product design – but it is harder to prototype an “experience.”

Product design creates an experience. ID the real issues.

Key is have a clear objective of what you are trying to find out.

Think about the smallest thing you need to do to get the most learning – throughout the entire life-cycle.

Storyboards! Stories describe a type of interaction.

Always design for people.


* My note:  a simple word for hypothesis?


Next up:   Outside in Perspective


Are You Making These ScrumMaster Mistakes?

Scrum asks for a cultural change.  The traditional management style doesn’t work well in a Scrum Team. Scrum calls for servant leadership instead of command and control.

Some Scrum Masters stick to their servant leader role. Especially when the goings get tough, they tend to go back on what they know best – traditional management. Knowingly, or unknowingly, Scrum Masters keep falling into this trap. They start to behave more as project managers than as Scrum Masters.

Several symptoms indicate that the Scrum  Master is struggling to let the Team self-organize.

  • Scrum Master – the task master
  • Scrum Master – the decision Maker
  • Scrum Master – the communication barrier

Scrum Master – the task master  Continue reading “Are You Making These ScrumMaster Mistakes?”

Innovation by Immersion [Series 3/5]

 Experience is the Message

People have experiences about product, products don’t have experiences.  – Marcelo Marer, Chief Creative Director, Intel Media

What sells well in the U.S. many not be a benefit to anyone elsewhere. If you sell globally, it’s critical to design products for the new markets you plan to enter. Doing so requires research and an honest/thorough analysis of the information you have collected.

User Stories and User Personas

In the previous blog, the product teams hypothesized their customers and prospects need to collaborate – on demand, from anywhere – with their partners and other growers, in order to be more productive and to reduce risk. Continue reading “Innovation by Immersion [Series 3/5]”

How Do You Convert Social Media Data Into Marketing Insights?

The most challenging aspect of social media data is making the connection from the data you have to actionable insights that will move the needle on your marketing results. Use these questions to find the seeds of marketing performance improvement in your social data:

The purpose of your social campaigns should guide you in the type of social data you want to track. It’s important to think this through carefully, BEFORE you launch your social campaign. Do you need to go beyond the basic metrics such as user counts and user sentiment? You need to gather baseline data before your campaign, so that you can compare the changes in data caused once your social campaign launches. You need to identify the metrics that really matter when gauging if your campaign is producing social user reactions or responses. You can also anticipate what you will change if your social campaign is ignored by users.

The first question is: What are your goals for your social marketing?

  • Branding
  • Building Awareness
  • Building the audience count for your social content
  • Increasing the sharing of your social content
  • Increasing links and traffic to your main web site
  • Countering negative messages from social users who are waging a jihad against your brand
  • Monitoring consumer sentiment about existing and new products
  • Monitoring consumer needs and problems to guide new product creation
  • New product launch
  • Building more responsive customer service

What does the data mean and what do the relationships represent? One of the major benefits of real-time social data and search analytics data is that you can rapidly adapt as consumers react to your social messages, products or content.

Think of each social product launch, or attempt to gain social user reactions or new social content calendar as a real time experiment. You can use the iterative social user data points to react to user needs and adapt your operational strategies. The ideal result would be operations practices that respond to the data and to have engagement with the data built into your processes.

Comparing the baseline social metrics data to the changes during your campaign can reveal sometimes surprising insights into what customers really care about. Don’t ignore data that shows that social users priorities are radically different from what you expected. This is exactly why social media is so valuable. The social users’ needs are more important than some predefined expectations. If the answers require dramatic changes to current business practices, how can you use the data to build the business case for your proposed changes? Is there any correlation between your social data insights and trends in your search traffic analytics data?

Use these questions as a framework for building social data that will guide you to actionable marketing insights.

[Giveaway] – Execution – The Discipline of Getting Things Done


Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done – By Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

This great book was a real eye-opener for me. Here’s an extra copy. Love it!


Disciplines like strategy, leadership development, and innovation are the sexier aspects of being at the helm of a successful business; actually getting things done never seems quite as glamorous. But as Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan demonstrate in Execution, the ultimate difference between a company and its competitor is, in fact, the ability to execute.

Execution is “the missing link between aspirations and results,” and as such, making it happen is the business leader’s most important job. While failure in today’s business environment is often attributed to other causes, Bossidy and Charan argue that the biggest obstacle to success is the absence of execution. They point out that without execution, breakthrough thinking on managing change breaks down, and they emphasize the fact that execution is a discipline to learn, not merely the tactical side of business. Supporting this with stories of the “execution difference” being won (EDS) and lost (Xerox and Lucent), the authors describe the building blocks–leaders with the right behaviors, a culture that rewards execution, and a reliable system for having the right people in the right jobs–that need to be in place to manage the three core business processes of people, strategy, and operations. Both Bossidy, CEO of Honeywell International, Inc., and Charan, advisor to corporate executives and author of such books as What the CEO Wants You to Know and Boards That Work, present experience-tested insight into how the smooth linking of these three processes can differentiate one company from the rest. Developing the discipline of execution isn’t made out to be simple, nor is this book a quick, easy read. Bossidy and Charan do, however, offer good advice on a neglected topic, making Execution a smart business leader’s guide to enacting success rather than permitting demise. –S. Ketchum

How Do I Get My Hands on This?

  1. Tweet out a link to this page
  2. Comment on this page

Two opportunities full of WIN!

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From Iron to Cloud – Customer Driven Innovation [Series 2/5]

Customer Driven Innovation: A Global Perspective

Changing iron by using the cloud

Growers (Matt rarely called his customers “farmers”) are a uniquely tenacious and optimistic group. They have to be risk takers too, so many out-of-their-control environmental factors impact outcomes.  You might never guess that this group is well set to innovate/change how they farm.

The head of  Product Management explained that today’s growers, in order to feed the many billion of us, must find ways to limit their risk and increase their yield. They’ve already teased out most of their farming costs from fuel (which impacts feed, fertilizer and other necessary items on the farm). More was needed to be done – there are hungry people to feed.

Continue reading “From Iron to Cloud – Customer Driven Innovation [Series 2/5]”

Going Global – PDMA Georgia [Series 1/5]

Something innovative happened again at KO HQ this Thursday

The PDMA| Georgia chapter held it’s 9th annual Summit – topics were global in scope but personal in focus. Much shared learning and best practices offered. A very good reason to step away from desks/deliverables and come together with like-minded product professionals.

Innovators may already be intuitively using Agile

Top-line takeaways from the Round Table

  • Get a handle on things that bite in your planning stage, not during execution (import laws, regulations)
  • RESONATE! – don’t just BE in the chosen markets (do provide consistency, quality, awesome user experience)
  • Create RELEVANCY- use everything around your product to do this
  • LISTEN, partner with a local  –  help your prospects ARTICULATE their unique drivers Continue reading “Going Global – PDMA Georgia [Series 1/5]”

Preventing Search Marketing Campaign Bottlenecks

If you manage marketing for your blog or marketing for your company as part of a team, there are outside factors that affect your marketing. A solid and effective relationship with other members of your team is crucial. Sure, you can create great search marketing plans, but if they are not implemented quickly and correctly, your marketing will fizzle. I’ve seen these same stumbling blocks impede small companies with $15 million yearly sales and corporate giants with revenue in the billions. These stumbling blocks are not the quality of your SEO or your blogging. If you create a powerful blog post or effective landing page and then it never gets implemented on your web site, then no one will see it. Let’s consider some of these real world factors, within your own organization.

– Blogs may lack enough contributors to build sufficient weekly content
– Programmers or web designers may not implement your SEO changes quickly
– Executives in your organization may not allocate budget or resources for SEO or search marketing projects
– Project managers may delay SEO changes in the current development cycle, in favor of other web site programming

Implement search marketing campaigns

The best case will be having direct access to the website or blog to make content changes without burdening a developer or designer. For simply adding text content, direct access to a content management system (CMS), is the most consistent solution. Being able to directly implement SEO or content changes yourself should be a top priority. Use whatever negotiations are needed to get this type of direct control.In larger organizations, you may have no choice but to rely on developers or designers to implement your marketing changes or content.

I recently spoke with Atlanta search marketer Joe Woods, on marketing bottlenecks and how to overcome these obstacles. In some cases you are depending on a web designer or programmer to implement your SEO changes. If the programmers or designers are already loaded with other tasks, they may not have time to implement SEO work in the current production cycle.

Joe Woods sees a clear solution for these impediments. Joe says,”It’s not that your SEO recommendations are bad, it’s just that they’re not getting implemented. You’ve gotta get buy-in. When you actually go through development cycles, SEO stories get pushed back or not implemented. You’ve got to start getting buy-in on the developer level or web designer level. If you’re in an agile shop, the developers and designers have some bandwidth and some say in choosing to do SEO development stories”.

The regular iteration cycles in agile development may allow you to include developers or designers in your agile stories. This can be effective if you deliver your materials to the developers and designers early in each iteration.

Joe believes that this can be solved where the rubber meets the road, “If you can, get the project manager to see the value and the benefit of the traffic resulting from implementing the SEO story in this release cycle. Sometimes you’ve got to be a sales guy and develop a good relationship with the developers or designers. This may involve buying people lunch or using some informal setting or meeting to teach the value of SEO to the organization.”

The biggest bottleneck can be getting department heads or other executives to allocate budget money or to allocate developer, content writer or web designer hours to implement your SEO marketing changes. This problem can be resolved by presenting a case study or business case that sells the expected benefits of your SEO or search marketing changes. Joe says that sometimes the problem originates at the top of your department,  “As an SEO, I shouldn’t have to spend 80 percent of my time getting buy-in. Maybe  I should only spend 20 percent of my time, getting buy-in, getting external resources to build links or resources to write blog posts.”

All these problems can be resolved by negotiating specific commitments for developer or designer resources at the beginning of the search marketing project. This requires that your department will allocate specific resource hours that are needed to implement SEO web or blog changes during every production cycle. Negotiating these commitments, up front, with department heads, project managers and designers will guarantee that your search marketing strategies are consistently implemented to build search rankings, web traffic and conversions.


AgileScout.com Welcomes Faisal Mahmood as Newest Executive Contributor!

AgileScout.com is happy to announce that we’ve grown +1.

Faisal Mahmood is the author of the book Agile Adoption Mistakes You Must Avoid and several articles on Agile and Scrum. Faisal is a Certified Professional Scrum Trainer based in London, UK. Faisal trains, mentors and coaches individuals, teams and organizations during their Agile and Scrum adoption journey in London and around the world.

Faisal started using Scrum in 2005, while working for F-Secure Corporation. Since 2007, he has been helping various companies in their transition to Scrum and Agile in Finland and the UK including Telefonica O2 UK, British Gas, Elisa and Itella Information.

We’re excited to have Faisal join us! We’re looking forward to his expertise and experience!

Agile2012 Dallas Agile Survey Results

In a recent survey at the Agile2012 conference in Dallas, Texas, conference attendees shared their thoughts on the latest state of agile software development – what’s working, the extent of agile adoption, their biggest challenges and much more. The Agile2012 survey shows that development teams have coalesced on key agile practices, but lack of communication with customers, operations and other development teams is the biggest threat to agile success.

The folks over at Serena put it together with about 100 participants.

Getting back online: Agile, PMI, Volunteering and Me

*** Disclaimer: I am an active volunteer with PMI’s Agile Community of Practice as one of the 5 official leads. Views expressed here (and related future posts) are my own and not an endorsement by Project Management Institute ® (PMI) or Agile Community of Practice (CoP) leadership team.***

If you know me, I have been pretty active (as a volunteer, lead and contributor) in PMI + Agile space. I volunteer as:

  • PMBOK® Guide 5th edition – contributor (engagement just wrapped up)
  • PMI Atlanta Agile Interest group – Program Manager for Agile Interest Group
  • PMI Agile CoP – Knowledge Management lead

These opportunities have allowed me to connect with lots of people – amazingly talented, some famous agilists, practitioners and gurus. There’s a common thing we all share – desire to learn coupled with the passion to share!

I have learnt a lot, have actually got hands on experience (tools, technology, principles, practices etc.),  mentored a lot of people and I am still enjoying the journey!

What do we share? Knowledge. Of course about Agile, primarily.

I have seen a lot of questions that follow an agile presentation or discussion, ranging from:

  • What is Agile?
  • Where do I start? (There are so many places to start with)
  • What is different at Agile CoP? (from other valuable sites, groups and resources)
  • What does a Project Manager do in Agile projects?
  • What is PMI’s – Agile Certified Professional (PMI-ACP®)  certification? Is it for me?
  • Whom do we trust as good training companies?
  • What are good books, blogs, sites to start/continue building my knowledge about agile?

and many such questions. Continue reading “Getting back online: Agile, PMI, Volunteering and Me”