Category Archives: Newsletter-Communication

05/12 – LESS TALKS: Meet Diana Larsen: “How do limits empower your Agility?”

On 05/12, a visionary pragmatist, Diana Larsen is co-founder, Chief Connector and a principal coach, consultant, and mentor at the Agile Fluency® Project spoke to Large Scale Scrum Meetup of NYC.  Diana co-authored the books Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great; Liftoff: Start and Sustain Successful Agile Teams; Five Rules for Accelerated Learning.   She co-originated the Agile Fluency® model and co-authored the eBook, The Agile Fluency Model: A Brief Guide to Success with Agile.

Diana’s Presentation:

Exercise on Types of Limits (Audience)

  • Limit: Definition of Done
  • Commit to just a small task (that contributes to a larger goal)
  • Sprint duration
  • WIP limits
  • Limits on what behavior is acceptable
  • Single-task until it hurts
  • Time-boxed scrum events
  • Limits to help teams: Only permit a story that has value directly to a customer
  • WIP, CONWIP, personal WIP, portfolio WIP, just Whip it
  • Brainstorm better, Focus your content, Give yourself deadlines
  • Limit to a number of organizational layers and managers
  • Sprint goals /product areas to reduce context switching and increase focus
  • Limits of emphasis on individual performance (in favor of team performance)

How to Identify “Agile Masquerades”? What Alternatives Could We Offer Instead?

My (Gene is here) great opportunity to present at Agile Coaching and Beyond meetup, of Bucharest, Romania on April 21st, 2020.  Many thanks to Amir Peled for having me on the podium. Great crowd and questions.

Presentation Materials

Some of the most salient points in the presentation:

  • Are you relying on quality talent to assist you with your agile transformations?: a quick (~10 min) recap of Gene’s presentation in Phoenix, AZ about the most classic dysfunctions related to the coaching profession
  • Misunderstanding of agile coaching role – Why organizations get this part mostly wrong?
  • Talent dilution, industry-wide – Why are there so many inexperienced agile coaches in the market?
  • “Bad business“ – Why reliance on staffing firms and head-hunting agencies for agile talent procurement causes more harm than good?
  • Fallacies of big solutions – Why Big Bangs and ‘all–at-once’ transformation attempts are ineffective?
  • Centralized coaching towers – Why creating ‘Centers of Excellence’ and enforcing ‘best practices’ and ‘operational models’ leads to local optimization? Why placing such ‘org constructs’ inside ‘standard’ power structures (e.g. Architecture tower, PMO) further worsens the situation, while jeopardizing individual safety?
  • Rebuilding vertical organizational towers horizontally – Why ‘flipping’ conventional functional areas of control (e.g. QA department, BA group, PMO) on their side and calling them ‘Communities of Practice (CoP)”/chapters/guilds, while preserving reporting lines and other conventional dynamics (e.g. still doing individual performance appraisals by community/chapter/guild, leads to negative outcomes) is the same, as “rearranging deck seats on Titanic”?

 

Next virtual LeSS Training:

April 09-10: 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: UK, USA, Canada, Argentina, Spain, Kuwait, Australia.  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:  Internal Contracts
System Modelling: Local Optimization
System Modelling:  Product Definition
System Modelling: Scrum Master Role
System Modelling: Fooling With Tooling
System Modelling: Fake Projects, Programs, Portfolios

More Kodak Moments

Next Training Series:

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 (http://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?


Common Misconceptions About Agile Multi-team Software Development

Michael Jamesis a software process mentor, team coach, and Scrum trainer with skills in Product Ownership (business), Scrum Mastery (facilitation), and the development team engineering practices (TDD, refactoring, continuous integration, pair programming) that allow Scrum to work. MJ has been involved with LeSS (Large Scale Scrum) longer than anyone else on the US West Coast. He is a recovering “software architect” with programming experience back to the late 1970s, and including control systems for aircraft and spacecraft

Edited Version (about 32 minutes)


Original Version (about 60 minutes)


We often hear that the Agile approach to multi-team development is to pre-divide products into small independent pieces for different teams to work on, perhaps using implementation approaches such as microservices and coordination approaches such as “Scrum of Scrums.” This advice illustrates widespread blind spots in the Agile coaching and training community. We will challenge those in this online discussion.

To get the most out of this session, we suggest reading the comic book that went viral Why “Scrum” Isn’t Making Your Company Very Agile, How Misconceptions About The Product Owner Role Harm Your Organization, And What To Do About It.

Related artifacts:


Upcoming LeSS Training On-Line

03/03 – LESS TALKS: “What is Your Product?”, with Ellen Gottesdiener

To be product-aligned and customer-focused, everyone in your product development ecosystem needs to agree on the answer to the question, “What is Your Product?” Many organizations don’t have clarity on what their product or products are. Ambiguity and disagreement on the answer contribute to slow response to changing customer and market needs and less than satisfying product outcomes. It thwarts your efforts to scale agile product development and causes a plethora of organizational and communication woes.Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) rightly states that this question—and the imperative to answer it—is one of your most important decisions for successful product development. A clear answer to “What is Your Product” powers all aspects of product development, including product management roles, team organization, and product activities. The implications are vast and deep, especially in large enterprises. Product definition is one of the paramount steps in LeSS adoption. Depending on how a product is defined (how widely) an organization may consider simple LeSS or LeSS Huge. Based on the ladder, team structure and alignment is defined, product owner team is created, etc. Product definition has a significant impact on LeSS organisational design.Based on ongoing work with a variety of organizations, Ellen shares techniques for enabling product development leaders and communities to define their product using a cohesive set of product definition principles. In this keynote, Ellen will share why this question is so vital to your product success and ways she’s helped organizations co-discover the answer to the question, “What is Your Product?”

Whether your organization’s product or products are a primary source of revenue or are essential for your business operations, you will learn techniques that help instill product-thinking and shared understanding.

Ellen Gottesdiener’s Bio

Ellen is a Product Coach and CEO of EBG Consulting focused on helping product and development communities produce valuable outcomes through product agility. Ellen is known in the agile community as an instigator and innovator for collaborative practices for agile product discovery and using skilled facilitation to enable healthy teamwork and strong organizations. She is the author of three books on product discovery and requirements, frequent speaker, and works with clients globally. In her spare time, she is Producer of Boston’s Agile Product Open community and Director of Agile Alliance’s Agile Product Management initiative. You can connect digitally via:
http://ebgconsulting.com/blog/
https://twitter.com/ellengott
http://ebgconsulting.com/newsletter.php
http://www.linkedin.com/in/ellengottesdiener


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:
http://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)

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.”)
}
 }

 

May 19-22: Global Scrum Alliance Gathering | AUS-TX

An amazing 2019 Global Scrum Alliance Gathering (May 19-22), organized by SA staff that brought together a record-high number of professionals from around the globe and had countless amazing events – too many to describe them all in one newsletter. 🙂
Here, I would like to  recap what committed to my memory the most:
  • Keynote presentation by Daniel Pink
  • My personal experience from servicing the ‘Fans of LeSS’ booth, attended by hundreds of people
  • Highlights of my own presentation that draw more than 100 people: “How to Stop Deterioration of Coaching Quality: Industrially and Organizationally” and feedback from the room
  • Coaches Clinic and Coaches/Trainers Retreat highlights 

Keynote Presentation by Daniel H. Pink

During his keynote presentation, Daniel H. Pink (the best-selling author, contributing editor and co-executive producer, known world-wide) shared the highlights of his new book: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

Pink’s Synopsis: “We all know that timing is everything. Trouble is, we don’t know much about timing itself. Our business and professional lives present a never-ending stream of ‘when’ decisions. But we make them based on intuition and guesswork. Timing, we believe, is an art.  But timing is a really a science – one we can use to make smarter decisions, enhance our productivity, and boost the performance of our organizations.

Some highlights from Pink’s talk:

Scientifically and statistically, both humans and apes, have the lowest well-being at mid-life.

Therefore, D.Pink’s recommendation on how to deal with such unpleasant mid-points, are as follows:

  • Beware [of such mid-points]
  • Use midpoints to wake up rather than roll over
  • Imagine you’re a little behind

Then, D. Pink also stressed that there are hidden patterns of how time-of-day affects our analytic and creative capabilities – and how simple work rearrangements can improve our effectiveness. For example, when a person makes an appointment to a physician, it is best to ask for a morning time slot, instead of afternoon slot, since physicians tend to have more analytical capabilities before lunch.

D. Pink’s next point was that as individuals get older, at the end of each decade, they are more prone to take certain actions that psychologically make them feel younger. As an example, he used statistical data of marathon runners: people are most likely to run their first marathon at the ages that are just at the brink of next decade: e.g. 29 or 49 years old.

“Because the approach of a new decade… functions as a marker of progress through the life span…people are more apt to evaluate their lives as a chronological decade ends, than they are at other times.”- Daniel H. Pink
How about psychological reaction to the fact that something will be GONE and the time when it will happen is coming up shortly?

In one case study (left image), when a person was given one chocolate candy at a time, and was asked to give feedback about its taste, a response was usually consistent, for each subsequent candy. However, as soon as a person was told that it was the last candy to taste, feedback about how a candy tasted became significantly more positive.

In another case study (right image), when a group of people was asked to fill out a survey, in order to receive a certificate, before it expired, responses were different, when conditions were set as “will expire in 3 weeks” vs. “will expire in two months”.  Apparently, proximity of expiration date made people much more responsive to the request to fill out a survey.

D.Pink’s next point was about how half-time checks can shape our behavior and impact final results. According to D. Pink, scientists and researchers really like statistical data from sports because it is ‘clean’.  Here, using an example of basketball teams, when teams play a game, the following can be observed, depending on half-time results:

  • Being significantly behind – usually results in a loss
  • Being significantly ahead – usually results in a victory
  • Being slightly behind – motivates people to step up and put an extra effort, which results ultimate victory
  • Being slightly ahead – makes people relaxed, less focused and less persuasive, which results in ultimate loss

As such, there is a conclusion:

“Being slightly behind (at half-time) significantly increases a team’s chance of winning” –D.Pink

Fans of LeSS Corner
A small group of Certified Scrum Trainers and Certified Enterprise-Team Coaches, supported the Large Scale Scrum (LeSS booth):  Fans of LeSS.

At least a few hundred people has come by the booth, asking for information about LeSS.
The booth servants received the following three biggest take-away points:

  • Unfortunately, still not too many people are aware of LeSS.  This is not to be confused with attempts or successes of adoption.  Rather, this is about general knowledge of what LeSS is. Ironically, the booth was labeled “Area 51” – the world’s best kept secret :).
  • Once being explained what LeSS is, how simple and common-sense it is, for many people, it has become an ‘AHA’ moment. The most awakening moment was understanding the difference between ‘global and local optimization’, ‘deep and narrow, as opposed to broad and shallow’, ‘owning vs. renting’.
  • Amazingly, how many people shared the same, almost standard complain/pain-point: “… we are currently using a very complicated, monolithic and cumbersome process (usually referring to some widely marketed XYZe framework), with multiple organizational layers involved,… and it creates lots of overhead, waste and friction,… practically nothing has changed in our workplace since the time we adopted it…same people, same duties and responsibilities (practically) BUT different terms, labels and roles … We really don’t like what we have to deal with now and our senior management is also frustrated but it seems that there is really nothing we can do to fix it at the moment…“.

“How to Stop Deterioration of Agile Coaching Quality: Organizationally, Industrially?” (my own presentation)

The goal of my presentation (Gene is here) was to discuss with the audience:

  • What is the problems’ origin [as it is derived from the title]?
  • Examples of the problem’s manifestation?
  • How can we solve the problem?

Throughout the course of my presentation I:

  • Exposed some classic systemic dysfunctions that sit upstream to the problem in scope.
  • Gave some examples of the problem, by using cartoons and satire
  • Delineated between the problem aspects, coming from outside organizations vs. siting on inside
  • Described types of internal (organizational) coaching structures that are to be avoided vs. tried
  • Gave some suggestions on what to avoid vs. what to look for in a good coach
  • Gave additional recommendations to companies, coaching-opportunity seekers and companies’ internal recruiters

“Download Presentation as PDF”


…and a some additional highlights from the gathering….
The Coaches Clinic – for 3 days
This traditional ‘free service’ by Scrum Alliance Enterprise and Team coaches and trainers what at the highest ever: 300 people were served in total,  over  course  of  3 consecutive days.


Certified Enterprise & Team Coaches and Scrum Trainers Retreat – Day 0:

This year brought together the biggest ever number of CECs-CTCs and CSTs.  One of the most important themes that was elaborated: how important it is for guide-level agile experts (CECs, CTCs, CSTs) to unite together in a joint effort to change the world of work.

Note: Thanks to Daniel Gullo (CST-CEC), who generously created for each attending Certified Enterprise Coach – colleague a memorable gift: Coach’s Coin with The Coach’s Creed:

  • CARITAS: Charity, giving back, helping others
  • COMMUNITAS: Fostering community and interaction
  • CONSILIARIUM: Counseling, consulting, The art of coaching
2020 Global Scrum Alliance Gathering is in NEW YORK(registration is not open yet)