Category Archives: Metrics & Reporting

April 15-17: Certified LeSS Basics (CLB) Course | Virtual

Another engaging and highly interactive Certified LeSS Basics (CLB) virtual class is complete.   People attended from many corners of the map: NY, NJ, FL, MO, IL, NC, Peru, Bangladesh.  The students engaged in a highly interactive collaboration, with questions and exercises, using Causal Loop Diagram (CLD) technique, exploring the following topics: Agile Big-Bangs, Internal Contracts, Local Optimization, Product Definition, Fake Projects/Programs/Portfolios, Scrum Master Role, Fooling with Tooling.
Note: the below graphics are not conclusive decisions or ‘best practices’. They are just an example of brainstorming, based on each teams members’ experience.
System Modelling: Agile Big-Bangs
System Modelling: Local Optimization
System Modelling: Internal Contracts
System Modelling: Product Definition
System Modelling: Fake Pro-jects/grams
System Modelling: Scrum Master Role

04/07 – LESS TALKS: Irony With Fake LeSS (is_Scrum) Adoption, with Dr. Wolfgang Richter, CLT

Dr. Wolfgang Richter is the founder and CEO of JIPP.IT GmbH (https://www.jipp.it/), an Agile Change Agency. He is a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), Certified LeSS Trainer (CLT) and Coach and works with Scrum and Agile Methods since 1998. He and his team specializes in improving processes and structures by using agile methods and principles. Agile Transformations is one of the main activities. Scrum and LeSS are his preferred approaches for internal and customer driven projects.


This is going to be a fun story. Lots of IRONY.
When an organization hits Large-Scale Scrum, it is most likely to begin with a fake adoption. Scaling per sé is not easy. And it is not recommended. However, large enterprises rarely have a choice. So what can be done to handle the burden of scaling? Which pitfalls can be observed regularly? What is against all odds likely to succeed?


April 02-03: Certified LeSS Basics (CLB) Course | Virtual

Another engaging and highly interactive Certified LeSS Basics (CLB) virtual class is complete.   People attended from many corners of the map: London, NYC, Chicago, Sarajevo, Dayton, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Atlanta, Phoenix and Florida


 

03/31 – LESS TALKS: An introduction to Beyond Budgeting – Business Agility in practice, with Bjarte Bogsness

Bjarte Bogsnes has a long international career, both in Finance and HR. He is a pioneer in the Beyond Budgeting movement, and has been heading up the implementation of Beyond Budgeting at Equinor (formerly Statoil), Scandinavia’s largest company. He led a similar initiative in Borealis in the mid-nineties, one of the companies that inspired the Beyond Budgeting model.
Part 1 Part 2

The level of VUCA; volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity in our business environments is at a record high. People also expect more from work than just a paycheck. How can we enable performance in these new business and people realities? How can we create more VUCA-robust management models, which also works with and not against human nature? How can we create a more engaging work environment, where people perform at their best because they want to, not because they are told to?This workshop will address how key principles in the Agile manifesto can work in running an entire organisation, where people and interactions are more valued than processes and tools, and where responding to change is more important than following a plan. You will get unique insights into Business Agility in practice, both from a managerial, financial and human perspective. You will benefit from Bjarte Bogsnes’ extensive experience. He has helped companies all over the world getting started on a Beyond Budgeting journey, including his employer Equinor (formerly Statoil) – where the budget (and much more) was kicked out in 2005. This and many other great case stories and practical examples will be shared.

Learn how to trust and empower without losing control, and how to redefine performance – with dynamic and relative targets (or no targets at all) and a holistic performance evaluation.

Understand how dynamic forecasting and resource allocation works, and also other examples of self-regulating management mechanisms, including transparency. Bjarte will also share insights into KPI pitfalls and bonus problems.

Learn from the fringes! Understand how management innovation can provide just as much competitive advantage as technology– and product innovation!


03/30 – LESS TALKS: Virtual Collaboration & Facilitation Lab – Part 2

One of the most powerful techniques to understand organizational design and dynamics is to model them, with your colleagues, in front of a white board. Not according to ‘best practices and cook books 😉 but based deep system thinking and shared understanding, by all participants.

But what if you cannot get together in front of a white board???

Miro Board In combination with Zoom (shared session & team rooms), will give you an opportunity to collaborate on-line – together by diverging into teams and converging in a large group. Lets try this together!

Since Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) is NOT a ‘methodology’ or ‘set of tools’ but an organizational design framework, system modelling is its critical part. But even if it was not for LeSS, understanding the way your system (e.g. enterprise) behaves could be very powerful.

Please, note, once you learn this stuff, you will not be able to ‘unlearn’ it and your knowledge could be viewed by others, as dangerous 😉 (and frustrating to you).

In this session, we will try bringing real life system modelling conversations (please, see examples of images from past LeSS training below to gain understanding) into a virtual session.

Examples of real-life CLDs:


03/03 – LESS TALKS: Meet Ron Jeffries & Chet Hendrickson @ LeSS NYC (‘Dark Scrum’ and more…)



First and most importantly: Ron Jeffries and Chet Hendrickson are long time friends and colleagues who both had a huge impact on what defines AGILITY.
About Ron:

Ron Jeffries is author of Extreme Programming Adventures in C#, the senior author of Extreme Programming Installed, and was the on-site XP coach for the original Extreme Programming project. Ron has been involved with Scrum, Extreme Programming, and Agile for over ten years, presenting numerous talks and publishing papers on the topic.

Ron is the proprietor of www.XProgramming.com, a highly-ranked source of Agile Software Development information. He was one of the creators, and a featured instructor in Object Mentor’s popular XP Immersion course. Ron is a well-known independent consultant in Scrum, XP and Agile methods, recently specializing in helping Scrum teams get Done-Done.  Ron is one of the original authors of the Agile Manifesto.  Read Ron’s post on ‘Dark Scrum’ at: https://ronjeffries.com/articles/016-09ff/defense/

About Chet:

Chet Hendrickson has been involved with Agile Software Development since 1996, when as a member of Chrysler’s C3 project he helped develop Extreme Programming. In 2000, Ron Jeffries, Ann Anderson, and Chet wrote Extreme Programming Installed. It detailed XP’s core practices, how to do them, and how they work together to help teams be successful.

Chet is the first signatory to the Agile Manifesto.

Since 2002, Chet has been an independent consultant, coach, and trainer. In 2009, he was asked by the Scrum Alliance to help develop the Certified Scrum Developer program. Chet and Ron Jeffries taught the first CSD course and continue to offer them in the United States and Europe. He has been a Certified Scrum Trainer since 2009.

Ron and Chet were the curators of the Scrum Alliance’s Agile Atlas website and in that function created the Alliance’s official Scrum description, Core Scrum.

Chet and Ron Jeffries often work together and are popular conference speakers, bringing an interesting mix of humor and deep knowledge, and the odd cat picture. The are a fixture at the Agile Alliance’s annual conference, Agile 20xx, as presenters in the Stalwarts track.
Last year, Chet attended Craig Larman’s LeSS class in NYC and this is what he had to say:
https://www.keystepstosuccess.com/2018/06/may-30th-june-1st-certified-less-practitioner-course-with-craig-larman-nyc/


02/18 – LESS TALKS: Tsvi Gal, CIO/CTO @ multiple Fin-Techs: sharing experiences about organizational agility



Tsvi Gal is an accomplished technology business leader, the winner of the Einstein Award for technology excellence.  Tsvi had served as CTO and CIO at a number of large enterprises: Morgan Stanley, Bridgewater Associates, Deutsche Bank Investment Banking, Time Warner Music Group and other companies.  Tsvi has extensive experience in technology and operations, mostly in financial services, media and telecom.
In his recent career, Tsvi led the divisional Agile & DevOps transformation and the changes to the ways of work in technology, workforce strategy and front-to-back initiative.

Some questions presented & answered:
  • When someone wants to transform, it implies that there is a need to transform (change). What were some of the most pressing needs, in your experience, to go through changes? Something did not work? Was not efficient? Other?
  • How many people were involved in the transformation? How long did it take? Who was spear-heading this effort: internal coaches, external coaches, mix of both, PMO, etc?
  • How did you address HR related issues that frequently arise when agile teams are being stood up: individual performance appraisals, bonuses, promotions, career path?
  • Who provided guidance to technical excellence during the transformation? Technical coaches (internal, external)? Were teams using TDD, CI/CD?
  • Did you use any known agile frameworks ro scaling approaches? Or was it all internally defined?
  • DevOps vs. DevSecOps? Any difference? Is it dev practice or org. silo?
  • HR is years behind, when it comes to agility. Why? Do not blindly copy & paste (e.g. Spotify model)

02/11 – LESS TALKS: Nicolas M. Chaillan, US Air Force Chief Software Officer On Technology Agility, Scaling and More

On February 11, 2020, NYC Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) meetup was honored to host the event for a special guest-speaker Nicolas Chaillan – the first Air Force Chief Software Officer.  Nicolas is also the co-lead for the Department of Defense Enterprise DevSecOps Initiative with the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer. His full bio is available here.

Presentation Slides

CSO Memo on Agile – and SAFe, by Nicolas M. Chaillan (US Air Force Chief Software Officer)


Run This Method Through Organizational Compiler



Running this method through an “organizational compiler” may improve health of your organization: (variables are “globally declared” and clickable hyperlinks. You can pass any arguments to this method, as long as they are valid arguments 🙂 )
public class LegacyOrganizationalEcosystem { 
public static void main(String[] args){
if((agile_framework == this_framework{ 
System.out.println ("Simplify your organisation.
Try scaling agility by de-scaling complexity")
} 
else if (transformation_approach == this_approach){ System.out.println ("Avoid relying on big expensive consultancies, their cook books and best practices") 
}
else if (professional_community == this_community){ System.out.println ("Your are, most likely, flipping existing power structures on their side") 
}
else if (agile_maturity_goal == this_goal){
System.out.println ("Stop chasing numbers. Self-assess, systemically")
}
else if (agility_measurement == this_measurement){
System.out.println ("Stop internal competition. Recognize command & control behaviors through system modelling.")
}
else if (coaching_model == this_model-left_side){
System.out.println ("Avoid locally optimized for coaching ivory towers and Agile CoEs.")
} 
else if (agile_coach == this_coach-right_side){
System.out.println ("Beware of 'quasi-coaches'.")
}
else if (agile_coach_career_path == this path){
System.out.println ("Get REAL, experienced coaches with effective coaching approaches")
}
else if (hr_improvement == this improvement){ System.out.println ("Consider educating your HR and avoid delegating key roles to left-over people") 
}
else if (agile_knowledge_basis == this_certification){
System.out.println ("Avoid certification collectors. Be cyber-vigilant.")
} 
else if (talent_acquisition_model ==  this_model){
System.out.println (" By-pass staffing agencies. Select vendors diligently and responsibly.")
}
else if (architecture_expert == this_architect){
System.out.println ("Avoid 'power-point' architects.")
}
else if (prod_owner_team_communication == this_comm){ 
System.out.println ("Remove translation layers. Learn about benefits of feature teams through gaming.")
}

else if (role_definition == this_definition) { System.out.println ("You need to clean your terminology and stop abusing the word 'agile'")
}
else if (prod_owner_sm_relationship == this_relation)
{
System.out.println ("Avoid faking Scrum roles. Understand Scrum roles through system modelling.")
} 
else if  (scrum_pattern == this_pattern)
{
System.out.println ("Recognize Scrum anti-patterns.")
} 
else if (sprint_naming == this_convention){
System.out.println ("Avoid Sprints without PSPI. Understand and expand product definition.")
}
else if (customer_request == agile_requirement){
System.out.println ("Avoid 'agile' BAs and BRDs.")
}
System.out.println (“Overall, your organization may need a refresher on what agility truly means :). You may enjoy sharing this” + anecdote + “ with your colleagues and play this”+ game +” at your next town-hall meeting.”)
}
 }

 

Thoughts by Rick Waters, CST

Rick Waters is a Business Agility Coach and Trainer, from Chicago, with more than 15 years of technical software development experience, and almost 10 years of Agile leadership experience.  Rick primarily trains Scrum, Enterprise Scrum Business Agility, and Kanban.
This is what Rick wrote, in support of the recently released book by Gene Gendel (Adaptive Ecosystems: The Green Book: Collection of Independent Essays About Agility):

Nearly every time we talked, my dear friend, Mike Beedle (RIP), would challenge me to think deeper about less conventional concepts that I wouldn’t normally consider having an impact on the subject matter we were discussing.  Often, Mike would come back to Employee Experience.

“Employee Experience,” he would say “is the where we need to focus in order to truly give our customers the amazing experience that we want them to have with us, as a company, and our products.”

Recently, the well-meaning practices of installing ping-pong and foosball tables, or game rooms, or a kegerator in the lunchroom, have come under fire.  Though these ‘perks’ to working in a space where at least someone is focusing on an aspect of Employee Experience (EX) seem great on the surface (mainly to new employees during the interview process), they don’t speak to the long-term EX.  They speak, mostly, to something I like to call Short-term Employee Gratification.

I want to reiterate, the people responsible for work-place ‘improvements’ like those already mentioned, are well-meaning.  But, like many good deeds, they don’t go unpunished.  Here, mostly because these Short-term Employee Gratification efforts are just that – short-term.

Long-term EX is about sustainability.  We see, in the Principles behind the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, that there has always been someone concerned with sustainability.

“Agile processes promote sustainable development.
The sponsors, developers, and users should be able
to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.”

So, why do even the best of us not understand that our actions are not having the intended effects?  Because we are HUMAN BEINGS, and we have this natural tendency to believe that when we ‘fix’ something, that it stays ‘fixed’.  In this case, when we make our employees happy, they should stay happy.

So, why don’t employees stay happy?  Because they are HUMAN BEINGS, and trying to get a human being to stay happy when nothing around them is improving, the morale suffers.

We talk a lot, in the Agile world, about the concept of Continual Improvement.  We also warn those whom we mentor, to only take on as much change as they can handle at any given time.  Trying to change too many things at once and realize which of those changes actually had a positive effect can be darn near impossible at times.

So, in this example, maybe just provide one perk at a time.  But, in all fairness, slowly rolling out toys for employees to play with at work … that’s still just a stop-gap measure to gratification, not a solution to improving the Employee Experience.

I now invite you to take a trip down memory lane with me.  The year was 2004.  I was working at a young company in Chicago, still relatively small at 100-125 employees.  We had a culture of freedom, not fear.  That would come later.  Our products were platforms and API’s for electronic traders (of stocks, bonds, future, options, etc.) to make trades quickly, setup their own custom automatic trading rules, and develop custom trade strategies.

Life was great!  For a while.  There were monthly bonuses for everyone, when the Sales department hit their quota.  There were free donuts and bagels once a week.  I believe that, for a time, there were even free soft drinks from the vending machines.  Our team even had full autonomy over who we interviewed, and who we hired.

As the company grew, and we grew quickly, these perks slowly disappeared.  Every one of them.  Until if we asked around, “Hey, do you remember when we used to have <perk>?”  The general answer was likely “That was before my time.”  But, in reality, it likely wasn’t before their time, they just didn’t remember it.

Let’s fast forward a bit through the ugly parts – fast growth in head count, demanding deadlines and the resulting loss in quality, stolen/lost autonomy, creation of a command and control environment, increasing number of periodic performance evaluations, and finally periodic layoffs.

The changes did not take long.  Two years at most.  But they, and their resulting culture, lasted for much longer.

I eventually left the company.  I knew I was a valuable part of my team, but I was extremely frustrated with many of the negative turns the company had made, as well as some of the decisions my immediate co-workers had made.  I needed to get out to preserve my sanity.  Or so I thought.

I let my manager know I had another job offer, and I had already accepted it.  I gave my two-week notice.  He begged me to stay.  I asked him “If the company values me so much, why doesn’t anyone feel this way?”

Two hours later I got a meeting request from the CTO.  I was to bring all of my improvement suggestions to him, for discussion, first thing the next morning.  Improvement suggestions?  The CTO!?!

I went home and immediately started writing down everything I thought was wrong with the company and how they could improve the working relationships with their employees.  From problems with retention of talent, to employee happiness, to wage inequality, etc.  It ended up being a 3 page long handwritten bulletized list.  I was proud and scared at the same time.

The next morning I handed the papers across the CTO’s desk, and we had a 3 hour long conversation about why I was leaving, the devolution of morale at the company, my unwillingness to stay, his failure (his words not mine) to his employees, and much more.  This is saying a lot about a man who repeatedly would blow off scheduled meetings and short people on their time to talk with him.  Our meeting was only scheduled for 30 minutes.

I left that meeting feeling extremely valued.  Exactly what I wanted all along.  I was shocked, because nowhere in those three handwritten pages had I even come close to mentioning that a deep face-to-face conversation, with the CTO focused on me as an important employee, was enough to restore my hope in the company.  But that did the trick!

Out of foolish pride, I left anyway.  I wasn’t always as enlightened as I am today.  I’m still not as enlightened as I wish to be.  So I made mistakes.  And I will make mistakes.  Leaving the company at that point was probably a mistake.

After I left the company, it took me six weeks to meet with the CTO again and ask to come back.  He agreed.  He wanted me to see the changes that he was making.

I returned to the office (with a raise and promotion) after 10 weeks of absence.  I found a foosball table and a conference room had been transformed into a game room (the newest Nintendo® and XBOX® game systems installed with many games for each).  These were suggestions I had made.

But during those 10 weeks of absence, I realized I was wrong three different ways.  #1 for leaving.  #2 my suggestions were based on short-term gratification. #3 I never brought up any of my suggestions at the times they occurred to me over the last several years.

Just as you might guess, these improvements, and a few more over a short period of time, had an immediate positive effect on employee morale.  But, long-term systemic change had not been addressed.  Frequent performance evaluations still remained.  Deadlines were a constant source of stress.  Development was not focused on building Quality into the product, so it had to be tested out of the product afterwards.  Layoffs became more frequent, and the culture of fear quickly resumed, after the shine of the foosball table dimmed.

The EX had only gotten better for a short period of time.  Eaten alive by the terrible system that was still in place.  Like painting and waxing a rusty automobile, without grinding away the rusty bits first.

Agility is defined slightly differently by almost everyone in our industry.  To me it speaks of a company culture that I would love to work in.  During my entire career, I can think of only a few years when I worked in an environment that I can confidently describe as Agile.  All other environments were either deviating further and further from Agility, or trying everything they could think of to get closer to Agility (with varying levels of short-term success).

While hearing Mike Beedle’s words about Employee Experience echoing in my head, I blend them with Craig Larman’s.  Craig saying that cultural change follows only if there is systemic change, makes clear sense to me these days.

Today, when large organizations want me to help them change their culture, I try to refocus them on their system and how they are providing a long-term gratifying Employee Experience.  Cultural change will follow, and thus Customer Experience.