Agile Role: Product Manager

Note: if you are interested in this role, please reach out directly by using the form at the bottom of this page. I will put you in direct touch with the hiring entity. I dont’ play the role of a middle-man.


A talented Product Manager is wanted – to join the Product team. In this highly visible role, a person will be spearheading the development of the company’s RMS platform. The ideal candidate will have a combination of product development and product marketing experience, ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment and consistently drive for results in Agile software development environment.

Primary Responsibilities:
  • Develop the vision for your product and collaborate with key stakeholders
  • Own the roadmap and set achievable release goals which deliver value
  • Define and groom product backlog; create and prioritize user stories that align with product roadmap and release goals, and get internal agreement with key stakeholders; refine and revise priorities as necessary
  • Work directly with clients to understand their needs, and collaborate with your multi-functional teams to develop the best possible solution
  • Develop and lead go to market strategies for new products and services, including: creating product strategy, competitive analysis and product marketing materials
  • Refine and optimize the positioning/value propositions of existing products to help drive increased adoption and ROI
    Work closely with our business development and sales teams to develop and manage relationships with 3rd party partners, vendors and customers
Skills & Knowledge:
  • 5+ years of software product development and product
  • arketing experience with a focus in retail management systems
  • Experience in Agile Software Development Methodology
  • Excellent people and management skills to interact with colleagues, cross-functional teams, and third parties
  • A product maven, on top of the best practices, trends, and innovation in retail space
  • Smart, a quick learner and a creative problem solver
  • A self-starter with a strong sense of accountability and ownership
  • Excited about startup culture
  • Vision to connect product features to business results
  • Ability to work on multiple projects with varying deadlines
Education/Degree(s):
  • Bachelor’s degree or Higher
Other Job-Related Requirements:
  • Willing to travel
  • Experience working in an offshore development model

Agile Flyer – 12-24-2016

 

This week’s Large Scale Scrum in NYC: CLP Training and Meet-up.

December 19-21. This week, there was a mind-blowing 3-day experience of system thinking and organizational design modeling with Craig Larman.
Having been at wide array of Craig’s training and public presentations in the past, I was still overwhelmed with volumen of education that this class offered.   One of the main distinctions ( imo – improvements) of this LeSS training from the previous, was the emphasis on hands-on system modeling by class participants,  with the use of Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs).  Personally, being a huge fan and frequent user of CLDs,  I was able to graphically reinforce, once again, postulates of LeSS,
while modeling organizational design and inter-connecting system variables, as well as identifying which relationships are
Causation and which ones are Correlation.

Below, are some visuals that illustrate the course dynamics and working artifacts that were produced.

Class Kodak Moments:


Course Artifacts:


Course Highlights (personal):

  • If we go back to history and recall how Agile Manifesto was originally created and naming chosen, “Agile” was never meant to describe ‘speed’, ‘efficiency’ and ‘cost effectiveness’. It was always meant to describe Adaptive-ness.
  • To main goals of LeSS: to maximize Customer Value and ensure continuous learning
  • Organizational Structure is the most important, 1st Order Factor that influences System Dynamics
  • Many junior/unseasoned agile coaches give their clients a distorted coaching advice about agility, by advising to focus only on 2nd Order Factor (system variables) and omitting 1st Order Factor (Organizational Structure)
  • Young, ambitious, career-seeking senior leaders that are in active pursuit of promotion are not the best supporters of agile transformations from within a company. Most likely, they will view agile as a way to fast-track their career and after 3-5 years of supporting the “movement” they will leave their role and move on.  There is a high chance that someone, who takes over will “undo” what was done.
  • While using Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs) it is important to distinguish between Correlation and Causation relationships that connect Variables
  • Team structure sub-optimization has multiple “dimensions”, e.g. too narrow-defined Products or teams built around Components
  • As per TPS, Kaizen does not mean “small”
  • Budgeting is rarely an issue in product companies. However, it is a BIG issue in internal development companies (e.g. banks)
  • John Kotter (The Heart of Change): <paraphrasing>”… get skeptics and resistors out of the way…. there is a low chance they will support changes…
  • While delivering agile/scrum education, strive to focus on an entire team, not of separate roles (e.g. SM, Team, PO).

LeSS Meetup Kodak Moments:

More upcoming Agile Events in NYC: 

Dec 19-21, 2016. LeSS in New York: CLP Class & Meetup

December 19-21. This week, there was a mind-blowing 3-day experience of system thinking and organizational design modeling with Craig Larman.  Having been at wide array of Craig’s training and public presentations in the past, I was still overwhelmed with volume of education that this class offered.  One of the main distinctions ( imo – improvements) of this LeSS training from the previous, was the emphasis on hands-on system modeling by class participants,  with the use of Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs). Personally, being a huge fan and frequent user of CLDs,

I was able to graphically reinforce, once again, postulates of LeSS,
while modeling organizational design and inter-connecting system variables, as well as identifying which relationships are
Causation and which ones are Correlation.

Below, are some visuals that illustrate the course dynamics and working artifacts that were produced.

Class Kodak Moments:

Course Artifacts:

Course Highlights (personal):
  • If we go back to history and recall how Agile Manifesto was originally created and naming chosen, “Agile” was never meant to describe ‘speed’, ‘efficiency’ and ‘cost effectiveness’. It was always meant to describe Adaptive-ness.
  • To main goals of LeSS: to maximize Customer Value and ensure continuous learning
  • Organizational Structure is one of the most important, 1st Order Factor that influences System Dynamics.  (Some other 1st Order Factors are # of sites, group structures, organizational roles and hierarchies.)
  • Many junior/unseasoned agile coaches give their clients a distorted coaching advice about agility, by recommending to focus only on 2nd and 3rd Order Factors (e.g. values, norms, culture)  and omitting 1st Order Factors.  By doing so, they (coaches) misguide clients to go after local manifested/superficial problems, while leaving real underlying, systemic issues unchallenged.
  • Young, ambitious, career-seeking senior leaders that are in active pursuit of promotion are not the best supporters of agile transformations from within a company. Most likely, they will view agile as a way to fast-track their career and after 3-5 years of supporting the “movement” they will leave their role and move on.  There is a high chance that someone, who takes over will “undo” what was done.
  • While using Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs) it is important to distinguish between Correlation and Causation relationships that connect Variables
  • Team structure sub-optimization has multiple “dimensions”, e.g. too narrow-defined Products or teams built around Components
  • As per TPS, Kaizen does not mean “small”
  • Budgeting is rarely an issue in product companies. However, it is a BIG issue in internal development companies (e.g. banks)
  • John Kotter (The Heart of Change): <paraphrasing>”… get skeptics and resistors out of the way…. there is a low chance they will support changes…
  • While delivering agile/scrum education, strive to focus on an entire team, not of separate roles (e.g. SM, Team, PO).
LeSS Meetup Kodak Moments:

 

Coaching Roles: Agile & Technical Coach

Coaching Requirement Example

 

 Agile Coaching

  • Ability to offer guide-level expertise and ability to influence individuals, teams  and organizations by a variety coaching tools and techniques
  • Ability demonstrate agile coaching experience, of sufficient depth and breadth
  • Ability demonstrate elements of formal and informal coaching education and learning that was developed over years
  • Ability to describe personal mentor-ship journey (being mentored by other coaches).
  • Track record of agile community engagement and participation (attending, organizing, participating agile events)
  • Ability to demonstrate good knowledge of coaching tools and techniques
  • In depth understanding of basic agile frameworks, such as Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, Spotify model, and alike
  • Knowledge of scaling frameworks, such as: Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), Scrum@Scale (S@S) or Nexus. Ability to clearly articulate uniqueness of all (ideally) and but have practical experience of implementing, at least one, in complex organizational environments, with multiple teams involved.
  • Ability to work with business stakeholders and customers to help defining business value streams and customer journeys (being able to demonstrate a variety of facilitation techniques)
  • Ability/willingness to identify and call out anti-patterns and dysfunctions at all levels of the system.
  • Ability to communicate with management and leadership at various levels.
  • Strong understanding of system dynamics at team and enterprise level.  Lean and system thinking.  
  • Ability to collaborate with other organizational coaches.

 

Training

  • If required, ability to deliver quality, structured, classroom-style training to groups and teams, on a variety of agile-related topics.
  • Ability demonstrate good teaching and facilitation techniques.
  • Ability to run training sessions, workshops, seminars, webinars

 

Agile Software Engineering Skills

As a technical coach, you will bring your strong, multi-year, technological experience in Lean and Agile software development environment to our organization.  You will be expected to enable our teams, middle- and senior management to develop appreciation for best-proven agile engineering practices and techniques: such as TDD, ATTD, Refactoring, CI, Unit Testing, Use Case Diagrams, System Sequence Diagrams, UML/Interaction/Class diagrams, Domain Modelling, Architectural Analysis, pair programming, mob programming.   Tooling: Fitnesse, Jenkins, Cucumber.  Conversant with best practices of DevOps, CI/CD pipeline.  

Certifications
  • One or more from Scrum Alliance (CSM, CSPO, CSD) or  from Scrum.org (PSM, PSPO)
  • Guide level-certifications from Scrum Alliance (CTC, CEC) from from Scrum.org (PST) is a big plus
  • International Coaching Federation (ICF)
  • Accredited Kanban Trainer (ACT)
General
  • Bachelor’s Degree  from college or university.
  • Minimum 10 years of professional career development, with 5 years in a coaching capacity.
  • Have exceptional communication (verbal and written), facilitation, organization, conflict resolution and management skills
  • Have strong analytical and problem solving skills

Agile Flyer – 12-04-2016

Key Steps To Success

Agile Flyer

Reminder: Few seats remaining in Certified Large Scale Scrum

NYC | (December 19-21)


This week’s Certified Agile Leaderhip Workshop in Orlando


orlando_cal-40

This was an amazing two and a half-day working session, with participation of organizational leaders and enterprise coaches coming together from different parts of the world: Sweden, Costa Rica and USA.

One of the co-creators of Certified Agile Leadership (CAL) course – Pete Behrens took the mixed group of managers and coaches through a very engaging training experience. CAL curriculum was geared towards improving theoretical expertise and practical skills of people that operate in various agile leadership capacities.  The mix of managers and coaches in the same room throughout the entire training ensured that many real-life scenarios were simulated and explored in-depth.

There were a few Enterprise Coaches in the room who assisted the instructor with facilitating the course: Rick Regueira,  David Barnholdt and me (Gene Gendel).

Note: It is worth noting that with exception of a short Case Study presentation, where the use of .ppt slides was inevitable, the entire course was based on very direct interaction, facilitation and the use of very effective graphic visualization techniques (see below).

 

Stage Setting: Learning Objectives

CAL’s learning objectives included the following (top themes):

  • Governance policies that enhance organizational agility
  • Organizational Structures that support agility
  • Factors that influence organizational culture
  • Alignment of leadership development framework with agile
  • Alignment of organizational metrics with agile behaviors
  • Management trends and their historical fit with business
  • Economic/market factors that led to the rise of agile approaches
  • Relationship of complexity/uncertainty to agile approaches
  • Organizational challenges with understanding agile
  • Coaching approaches that integrate multiple perspectives
  • Benefits of becoming Agile Leader
  • and more…

orlando_cal-24

Case Study Review

The goal of this session was to deconstruct two types of case studies, to better understand how two different companies use the agile approach.
The two companies presented were: Consulting Company (name obfuscated) , with its “Create” culture and SalesForce with its “Compete” culture.

Both companies were analyzed along the following three dimensions:

  • Organizational Structure
  • Organizational Policies
  • Organizational Metrics

orlando_cal-25a

It was interesting to see how agile works differently in the environments of Creation vs. Competition.

Types of Organizational Culture

Deconstruction of the use cases (above), was followed by a conceptual discussion of “Agile Culture Compass”, where the following four types of Organizational Culture were plotted on the dial:

  • Collaborate Culture
  • Create Culture
  • Control Culture
  • Compete Culture

Then, some additional additional dimensions, were added to the ‘dial’, as illustrated below:

orlando_cal-10

 Exercise: Graphic Visualization

In the practical exercise that followed, the class was tasked with graphic visualization of the four types of Organizational Culture (click on the thumbnails below to enlarge):

orlando_cal-4 orlando_cal-3
orlando_cal-2 orlando_cal-5

 

Exercise: “In or Out” Canvas

In the next session, the class was presented with the four “poles” of Agile Culture Compass (four different culture types) and a variety of attributes that were ad-hoc mapped to the cultures. Attributes used were: values, principles, norms, companies’ names, organizational goals/vision, etc. The class was tasked with properly re-mapping the attributes to the most suitable cultures: some attributes remained “In'”, some had to be moved “Out”.

What is shown below is the final state: after all available attributes were properly mapped to the respective culture  (click on the thumbnails below to enlarge).

orlando_cal-6 orlando_cal-9
orlando_cal-7 orlando_cal-8

 

Types of Leadership

orlando_cal-1

In this discussion the group took a deep dive into leadership types.  The following three types of leaders were identified:

  • Expert Leader – a person who gets things “done” by actually doing work.
    Such leader thinks of himself as a “jack of all trades”, a hero, a super-performer, commander-controller, who wants to be a primary channel of information flow, in all directions.
    Such person wants to control all communications in 1-on-1 relationships, with his personal presence.

  • Achiever Leader –a person who gets things “done” by delegating work to others, while retaining tight control of everything that takes place.
    Such leader, while he micro-manages others, is very competitive and strives to outperform his peers but he knows how to do so by manipulating his subordinates, to do work for him, “his way”.
    A leader like this, usually has a good grasp of organizational strategy and is focused on others, pushing them to upper limits their performance.
    His main message to subordinates is “are you with me or not?”.
  • Catalyst Leader – a person who gets things “done” by empowering others and stepping back.
    Such leader prefers de-centralized decision making matrix over centralized control, and creates an environment of safety and trust.
    In his vocabulary, the word “we” supersedes the word “I”.  He acts as a coach-enabler and views other people as valuable assets, not as mechanical executioners.
    A leader like this has a great vision and is focused on high-level goals.

orlando_cal-12

(click on the thumbnails below to enlarge):

orlando_cal-14 orlando_cal-39 orlando_cal-38

 

Discovering more System Variables

In this exercise, the group explored additional factors (system variables) that influence organizational agility.
This was done in the form of graphics (click on the thumbnails below to enlarge):

orlando_cal-15 orlando_cal-16 orlando_cal-18

 

 Reconstructing It back:

This was one of the key-“aha” moments in the workshop.  After identifying and thoroughly discussing the three types of leadership (Expert, Achiever and Catalyst) the following important discovery was made:

  • Both, Experts and Achievers mostly operate under conditions of Duality: black OR white/right OR wrong
  • Catalysts, for the most part, operate under conditions of Multiplicity:
    shades of gray, options, while using (AND) clause, instead of OR.

orlando_cal-19

 

 Exercise: More System Variables

In this exercise, more factors (system variables) were discovered and related to organizational agility:

  • Economics
  • Complexity vs. Uncertainty
  • Management Trends

orlando_cal-35

orlando_cal-20

 

 Organizational Challenges: Statistics

In this session, every manager and organizational coach was asked to share some of the most common organizational challenges with agile adoption that they
have experienced at work or while serving their clients.

Then, the group reviewed and further discussed industry research statistics on organizational challenges (below):

orlando_cal-22

 

Exercise: What Leaders Need to Understand

In this exercise the class was divided in a few groups, with each group working on graphic representation of the following three areas,
where organizational leadership must have expertise, in order to succeed with agile:

  • Organizational Structure
  • Organizational Policies
  • Organizational Metrics

Then, the class discussed why so many organizational attempts to become more agile fail.
Success rates of agile efforts coming from inside vs. outside were discussed (click on the thumbnails below to enlarge):

orlando_cal-23 orlando_cal-28 orlando_cal-29 orlando_cal-30

 

Change vs. Transition & What’s In-Between?

orlando_cal-26

The group made a very interesting distinction between two frequently overloaded terms: Change vs. Transition.

  • Change = EVENT –  was defined as a more abrupt, binary process that could be metaphorically described as“Lets Go”, coming from very strong and passionate leaders
  • Transition = JOURNEY was defined as a more gradual process, where things happen much slower

orlando_cal-31

The group also identified a number of reasons why organizational changes often fail and how improving values of organizational leaders could bring  more sustainable changes.

orlando_cal-34

 

 What Should Leaders Focus On?

The class discussed the most important areas of focus for organizational leaders who want to implement agile changes and for organizational coaches who want
to be successful in assisting their clients in agile transformation journeys.
Two main focus areas were identified:

orlando_cal-32

 Exercise: Causal Loop Diagram (CLD) to explore System Dynamics

orlando_cal-36

Causal Loop Diagrams (CLD) the graphic visualization tool that is widely used in Large Scaled Scrum (LeSS) to illustrate system dynamics, was used in this practical exercise (facilitated by me) to discuss the relationship between high levels of  employee engagement and its downstream benefits to an organization.  The use of this light visualization “tool” sparked a lot of interest in class and was used in the following exercise to discover organizational impediments, bottlenecks & friction (see below).

 

Exercise: Organizational Impediments, Bottlenecks & Friction

This practical session, lead by David Barnholdt, revealed a number of already known system variables, whose relationship and cross-dependencies, however, were not immediately clear.
By using CLDs, many of such relationships were discovered.
Also, in the course of the discussion, people came to agree that bottlenecks (“soft” obstacles) and impediments (“hard” obstacles) are best not to be split as separate groups, as they,
effectively, mean the same thing.
A more effective way of distinguishing between “soft” and “hard” obstacles, could be – by ranking them (click on the thumbnails below to enlarge):

orlando_cal-42 orlando_cal-43 orlando_cal-44

 

Agile Leadership Benefits

By the end of the workshop, the class came up with the list of benefits of agile leadership style.
They were also graphically illustrated by using a flavor of CLD approach:

orlando_cal-41

 

Workshop Feedback (Incremental)

Throughout the workshop, feedback was provided incrementally, and the format used closely resembled a sprint retrospective.
Questions, suggestions and comments were addressed continuously, in the order of arrival.

orlando_cal-13

 

Summary

This training workshop was a great mind-shaping exercise for everyone who attended.
The sequence and style of content delivery tremendously helped with information absorption and its retention.
Small group break-outs and role-playing helped experimenting with new coaching and facilitation techniques.
For everyone in the room, it was a great opportunity to share every-day challenges and “domestic problems” but in a very safe and uninhibited way.

For me personally, as an organizational coach, this course helped tremendously to systematize my existing knowledge as well as grasp additional concepts that I will be putting to use in a near future.


This course is strongly recommended for managers, senior organizational leaders and organizational coaches that want to learn system dynamics and better understand implications of
organizational design and culture on overall system agility.

green_plain_thin

green_plain_thin



…Some information on LeSS…

If yo would lile to read more about the agenda of this course and register,
please follow this link.
You may use the following discount code: hrte416 get a cheaper price.

 


More upcoming Agile Events in NYC:

 

Agile Flyer – 12-04-2016

 


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To subscribe to this distribution, please email to: info@keystepstosuccess.com.



 


Reminder:
Few seats remaining in Certified Large Scale Scrum (December 19-21)



This week’s Certified Agile Leaderhip Workshop in Orlando

orlando_cal-40

This was an amazing two and a half-day working session, with participation of organizational leaders and enterprise coaches coming together from different parts of the world: Sweden, Costa Rica and USA.

One of the co-creators of Certified Agile Leadership (CAL) course – Pete Behrens took the mixed group of managers and coaches through a very engaging training experience. CAL curriculum was geared towards improving theoretical expertise and practical skills of people that operate in various agile leadership capacities.  The mix of managers and coaches in the same room throughout the entire training ensured that many real-life scenarios were simulated and explored in-depth.

There were a few Enterprise Coaches in the room who assisted the instructor with facilitating the course: Rick Regueira,  David Barnholdt and me (Gene Gendel).

Note: It is worth noting that with exception of a short Case Study presentation, where the use of .ppt slides was inevitable, the entire course was based on very direct interaction, facilitation and the use of very effective graphic visualization techniques (see below).

 

Stage Setting: Learning Objectives

CAL’s learning objectives included the following (top themes):

  • Governance policies that enhance organizational agility
  • Organizational Structures that support agility
  • Factors that influence organizational culture
  • Alignment of leadership development framework with agile
  • Alignment of organizational metrics with agile behaviors
  • Management trends and their historical fit with business
  • Economic/market factors that led to the rise of agile approaches
  • Relationship of complexity/uncertainty to agile approaches
  • Organizational challenges with understanding agile
  • Coaching approaches that integrate multiple perspectives
  • Benefits of becoming Agile Leader
  • and more…

orlando_cal-24

Case Study Review

The goal of this session was to deconstruct two types of case studies, to better understand how two different companies use the agile approach, respectively. The two companies presented were: McKinsey, with its “Create” culture and SalesForce with its “Compete” culture.

Both companies were analyzed along the following three dimensions:

  • Organizational Structure
  • Organizational Policies
  • Organizational Metrics

orlando_cal-25

It was interesting to see how agile works differently in the environments of Creation vs. Competition.

Types of Organizational Culture

Deconstruction of the use cases (above), was followed by a conceptual discussion of “Agile Culture Compass”, where the following four types of Organizational Culture were plotted on the dial:

  • Collaborate Culture
  • Create Culture
  • Control Culture
  • Compete Culture

The four types of culture where plotted on X/Y axis with respect to each other, based on some additional dimensions, as illustrated below:

orlando_cal-10

 

Exercise: Graphic Visualization

In the practical exercise that followed, the class was tasked with graphic visualization of the four types of Organizational Culture (click on the thumbnails below to enlarge):

orlando_cal-4 orlando_cal-3
orlando_cal-2 orlando_cal-5

 

Exercise: “In or Out” Canvas

In the next session, the class was presented with the four “poles” of Agile Culture Compass (four different culture types) and a variety of attributes that were ad-hoc mapped to the cultures. Attributes used were: values, principles, norms, companies’ names, organizational goals/vision, etc. The class was tasked with properly re-mapping the attributes to the most suitable cultures: some attributes remained “In'”, some had to be moved “Out”.

What is shown below is the final state: after all available attributes were properly mapped to the respective culture  (click on thumbnails below to enlarge).

orlando_cal-6 orlando_cal-9
orlando_cal-7 orlando_cal-8

 

Types of Leadership

orlando_cal-1

In this discussion the group took a deep dive into leadership types.  The following three types of leaders were identified:

  • Expert Leader – a person who gets things “done” by actually doing work.
    Such leader thinks of himself as a “jack of all trades”, a hero, a super-performer, commander-controller, who wants to be a primary channel of information flow, in all directions.
    Such person wants to control all communications in 1-on-1 relationships, with his personal presence.

  • Achiever Leader –a person who gets things “done” by delegating work to others, while retaining tight control of everything that takes place.
    Such leader, while he micro-manages others, is very competitive and strives to outperform his peers but he knows how to do so by manipulating his subordinates, to do work for him, “his way”.
    A leader like this, usually has a good grasp of organizational strategy and is focused on others, pushing them to upper limits their performance.
    His main message to subordinates is “are you with me or not?”.
  • Catalyst Leader – a person who gets things “done” by empowering others and stepping back.
    Such leader prefers de-centralized decision making matrix over centralized control, and creates an environment of safety and trust.
    In his vocabulary, the word “we” supersedes the word “I”.  He acts as a coach-enabler and views other people as valuable assets, not as mechanical executioners.
    A leader like this has a great vision and is focused on high-level goals.

orlando_cal-12

(click on the thumbnails below to enlarge):

orlando_cal-14 orlando_cal-39 orlando_cal-38

 

Discovering more System Variables

In this exercise, the group explored additional factors (system variables) that influence organizational agility.  This was done in the form of graphics (click on thumbnails below to enlarge):

orlando_cal-15 orlando_cal-16 orlando_cal-18

 

 Reconstructing It back:

This was one of the key “aha” moments in the workshop.  After identifying and thoroughly discussing the three types of leadership (Expert, Achiever and Catalyst) the following important discovery was made:

  • Both, Experts and Achievers mostly operate under conditions of Duality: black OR white/right OR wrong
  • Catalysts, for the most part, operate under conditions of Multiplicity: shades of gray, options (AND). They are also much more collaborative

orlando_cal-19

 

 Exercise: More System Variables

In this exercise, more factors (system variables) were discovered and related to organizational agility:

  • Economics
  • Complexity vs. Uncertainty
  • Management Trends

orlando_cal-35

orlando_cal-20

 

 Organizational Challenges: Statistics

In this session, every manager and organizational coach was asked to share some of the most common organizational challenges with agile adoption that they have experienced at work or while serving their clients.

Then, the group reviewed and further discussed industry research statistics on organizational challenges (below):

orlando_cal-22

 

Exercise: What Leaders Need to Understand

In this exercise the class was divided in a few groups, with each group working on graphic representation of the following three areas, where organizational leadership must have expertise, in order to succeed with agile:

  • Organizational Structure
  • Organizational Policies
  • Organizational Metrics

Then, the class discussed why so many organizational attempts to become more agile fail.  Success rates of agile efforts coming from inside vs. outside were discussed (click on thumbnails below to enlarge):

orlando_cal-23 orlando_cal-28 orlando_cal-29 orlando_cal-30

 

Change vs. Transition & What’s In-Between?

orlando_cal-26

The group made a very interesting distinction between two frequently overloaded terms: Change vs. Transition.

  • Change = EVENT –  was defined as a more abrupt, binary process that could be metaphorically described as“Lets Go”, coming from very strong and passionate leaders
  • Transition = JOURNEY was defined as a more gradual process, where things happen much slower

orlando_cal-31

The group also identified a number of reasons why organizational changes often fail and how improving values of organizational leaders could bring  more sustainable changes.

orlando_cal-34

 

 What Should Leaders Focus On?

The class discussed the most important areas of focus for organizational leaders who want to implement agile changes and for organizational coaches who want
to be successful in assisting their clients in agile transformation journeys.
Two main focus areas were identified:

orlando_cal-32

 Exercise: Causal Loop Diagram (CLD) to explore System Dynamics

orlando_cal-36

Causal Loop Diagrams (CLD) the graphic visualization tool that is widely used in Large Scaled Scrum (LeSS) to illustrate system dynamics, was used in this practical exercise (facilitated by me) to discuss the relationship between high levels of  employee engagement and its downstream benefits to an organization.  The use of this light visualization “tool” sparked a lot of interest in class and was used in the following exercise to discover organizational impediments, bottlenecks & friction (see below).

 

Exercise: Organizational Impediments, Bottlenecks & Friction

This practical session revealed a number of already known system variables, whose relationship and cross-dependencies, however, were not immediately clear.
By using CLDs, many of such relationships were discovered. Also, in the course of the discussion, people came to agree that bottlenecks (“soft” obstacles) and impediments (“hard” obstacles) are best not to be split as separate groups, as they, effectively, mean the same thing.
A more effective way of distinguishing between “soft” and “hard” obstacles, could be – by ranking them (click on the thumbnails below to enlarge):

orlando_cal-42 orlando_cal-43 orlando_cal-44

 

Agile Leadership Benefits

By the end of the workshop, the class came up with the list of benefits of agile leadership style.
They were also graphically illustrated by using a flavor of CLD approach:

orlando_cal-41

 

Workshop Feedback (Incremental)

Throughout the workshop, feedback was provided incrementally, and the format used closely resembled a sprint retrospective.
Questions, suggestions and comments were addressed continuously, in the order of arrival.

orlando_cal-13

 

Summary

This training workshop was a great mind-shaping exercise for everyone who attended.
The sequence and style of content delivery tremendously helped with information absorption and its retention.
Small group break-outs and role-playing helped experimenting with new coaching and facilitation techniques.
For everyone in the room, it was a great opportunity to share every-day challenges and “domestic problems” but in a very safe and uninhibited way.

For me personally, as an organizational coach, this course helped tremendously to systematize my existing knowledge as well as grasp additional concepts that I will be putting to use in a near future.


This course is strongly recommended for managers, senior organizational leaders and organizational coaches that want to learn system dynamics and better understand implications of
organizational design and culture on overall system agility.

 

…Some information on LeSS…

If yo would lile to read more about the agenda of this course and register,
please follow this link.
You may use the following discount code: hrte416 get a cheaper price.

 

More upcoming Agile Events in NYC:

 


 

11/30-12/2 – Certified Agile Leadership (CAL) Class in Orlando

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This was an amazing two and a half-day working session, with participation of organizational leaders and enterprise coaches coming together from different parts of the world: Sweden, Costa Rica and USA.

One of the co-creators of Certified Agile Leadership (CAL) course – Pete Behrens took the mixed group, consisting of managers and coaches through a very engaging training experience. CAL curriculum was geared towards improving theoretical expertise and practical skills of people that operate in various agile leadership capacities.  Presence of both, managers and coaches in the same room throughout the entire training, ensured that many real-life scenarios  were simulated and explored in-depth.

There were a few Enterprise Coaches in the room who assisted the instructor with facilitating the course: Rick Regueira,  David Barnholdt and me (Gene Gendel).

Note: It is worth noting that with exception of a short Case Study presentation, where the use of .ppt slides was inevitable, the entire course was based on very direct interaction, facilitation and the use of very effective graphic visualization techniques (see below).

Stage Setting: Learning Objectives

CAL’s learning objectives included the following (top themes):

  • Governance policies that enhance organizational agility
  • Organizational Structures that support agility
  • Factors that influence organizational culture
  • Alignment of leadership development framework with agile
  • Alignment of organizational metrics with agile behaviors
  • Management trends and their historical fit with business
  • Economic/market factors that lead to rise of agile approaches
  • Relationship of complexity/uncertainty to agile approaches
  • Organizational challenges with understanding agile
  • Benefits of becoming Agile Leader
  • and more…

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Case Study Review

The goal of this session was to deconstruct two types of case studies presented, to better understand how two different companies try to be more agile, respectively. The two companies presented were: Consulting Company (name obfuscated), with its “Create” culture and SalesForce with its “Compete” culture.

Both companies were analyzed along the following three dimensions:

  • Organizational Structure
  • Organizational Policies
  • Organizational Metrics

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It was interesting to see how agile works differently in the environments of Creation vs. Competition.

Types of Organizational Culture

Deconstruction of the use cases (above), was followed by a conceptual discussion of “Agile Culture Compass”, where the following four types of Organizational Culture were plotted on the dial:

  • Collaborate Culture
  • Create Culture
  • Control Culture
  • Compete Culture

Then, some additional additional dimensions, were added to the ‘dial’, as illustrated below:orlando_cal-10

Exercise: Graphic Visualization

In the practical exercise that followed, the class was tasked with graphic visualization of the four types of Organizational Culture (click on the thumbnails below to enlarge):

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Exercise: “In or Out” Canvas

In the next session, the class was presented with the four “poles” of Agile Culture Compass (four different culture types) and a variety of attributes, that were ad-hoc mapped to the cultures. Attributes used were: values, principles, norms, companies’ names, organizational goals/vision, etc. The class was tasked with properly re-mapping the attributes to the most suitable cultures: some attributes remained “In'”, some had to be moved “Out”.

What is shown below is the final state: after all available attributes were properly mapped to the respective culture  (click on  the thumbnails below to enlarge).

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Types of Leadership

orlando_cal-1In this discussion the group took a deep dive into leadership types.  The following three types of leaders were identified:

  • Expert Leader – a person who gets things “done” by actually doing work.  Such leader thinks of himself as a “jack of all trades”, a hero, a super-performer, commander-controller, who wants to be a primary channel of information flow, in all directions. Such person wants to control all communications in 1-on-1 relationships, with his personal presence.

  • Achiever Leader –a person who gets things “done” by delegating work to others, while retaining tight control of everything that takes place.  Such leader, while he micro-manages others, is very competitive and strives to outperform his peers but he knows how to do so by manipulating his subordinates, to do work for him, “his way”. A leader like this, usually has a good grasp of organizational strategy and is focused on others, pushing them to the their performance.  His main message to subordinates is “are you with me or not?”.

  • Catalyst Leader – a person who gets things “done” by empowering others and stepping back.  Such leader prefers de-centralized decision making matrix over centralized control, and creates an environment of safety and trust.  In his vocabulary, the word “we” supersedes the word “I”.  He acts as a coach-enabler and views other people as valuable assets, not as mechanical executioners.  A leader like this has a great vision and is focused on high-level goals.

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(click on the thumbnails below to enlarge):

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Discovering more System Variables

In this exercise, the group explored additional factors (system variables) that influence organizational agility.  This was done in the form of graphics (click on the thumbnails below to enlarge):

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 Reconstructing It back:

This was one of the key “aha” moments in the workshop.  After identifying and thoroughly discussing the three types of leadership (Expert, Achiever and Catalyst) the following important discovery was made:

  • Both, Experts and Achievers mostly operate under conditions of Duality: black OR white/right OR wrong
  • Catalysts, for the most part, operate under conditions of Multiplicity: shades of gray, options (AND). They are also much more collaborative

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 Exercise: More System Variables

In this exercise, more factors (system variables) were discovered and related to organizational agility:

  • Economics
  • Complexity vs. Uncertainty
  • Management Trends

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 Organizational Challenges: Statistics

In this session, every manager and organizational coach was asked to share some of the most common organizational challenges with agile adoption that they have experienced at work or while serving their clients.

Then, the group reviewed and further discussed industry research statistics on organizational challenges (below):orlando_cal-22

Exercise: What Leaders Need to Understand

In this exercise the class was divided in a few groups, with each group working on graphic representation of the following three areas, where organizational leadership must have expertise, in order to succeed with agile:

  • Organizational Structure
  • Organizational Policies
  • Organizational Metrics

Then, the class discussed why so many organizational attempts to become more agile fail.  Success rates of agile efforts coming from inside vs. outside were discussed (click on thumbnails the below to enlarge):

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Change vs. Transition & What’s In-Between?

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The group made a very interesting distinction between two frequently overloaded terms: Change vs. Transition.

  • Change = EVENT –  was defined as a more abrupt, binary process that could be metaphorically described as“Lets Go”, coming from very strong and passionate leaders
  • Transition = JOURNEY was defined as a more gradual process, where things happen much slower

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The group also identified a number of reasons why organizational changes often fail and how improving values of organizational leaders could bring  more sustainable changes.

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 What Should Leaders Focus On?

The class discussed the most important areas of focus for organizational leaders who want to implement agile changes and organizational coaches who want to be successful in assisting their clients in agile transformation journeys. Two main focus areas were identified:

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 Exercise: Causal Loop Diagram (CLD) to explore System Dynamics

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Causal Loop Diagrams (CLD) the graphic visualization tool that is widely used in Large Scaled Scrum (LeSS) to illustrate system dynamics, was used in this practical exercise (facilitated by me) to discuss the relationship between high levels of  employee engagement and its downstream benefits to an organization.  The use of this light visualization “tool” sparked a lot of interest in class and was used in the following exercise to discover organizational impediments, bottlenecks & friction (see below).

Exercise: Organizational Impediments, Bottlenecks & Friction

This practical session revealed a number of already known system variables, whose relationship and cross-dependencies, however, were not immediately clear. By using CLDs, many of such relationships were discovered. Also, in the course of the discussion, people came to agree that bottlenecks (“soft” obstacles) and impediments (“hard” obstacles) are best not to be split as separate groups, as they, effectively, mean the same thing. A more effective way of distinguishing between “soft” and “hard” obstacles, could be – by ranking them (click on the thumbnails below to enlarge):

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Agile Leadership Benefits

By the end of the workshop, the class came up with the list of benefits of agile leadership style. They were also graphically illustrated by using a flavor of CLD approach:

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Workshop Feedback (Incremental)

Throughout the workshop, feedback was provided incrementally, and the format used, closely resembled a sprint retrospective.   Questions, suggestions and comments were addressed continuously, in the order of arrival.

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Summary

This training workshop was a great mind-shaping exercise for everyone.  The sequence and style of content delivery tremendously helped with information absorption and its retention.  Small group break-outs and role-playing helped experimenting with new coaching and facilitation techniques.  For everyone in the room, it was a great opportunity to share every-day challenges and “domestic problems” but in a very safe and uninhibited way.

For me personally, as an organizational coach, this course helped tremendously to systematize my existing knowledge as well as grasp additional concepts that I will be putting to use in a near future.

This course is strongly recommended for managers, senior organizational leaders and organizational coaches that want to learn system dynamics and better understand implications of organizational design and culture on overall system agility.