Category Archives: Norms & Principles

May 12-14: Certified LeSS Basics (CLB) Courses | Virtual

Class May 12-14

System modeling work in class.

Note: the below graphics are not conclusive decisions or ‘best practices’. They are just an example of brainstorming, based on each teams members’ experience.

 

Next virtual LeSS Training:

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)

05/05 – LESS TALKS: Dave Snowden: Answering Tough Questions (Q&A)

A great talk today (this is round 2), with Dave Snowden (round 1  was on 04/20), who took on some provocative and pretty powerful questions.  All points that Dave made were strong.
Here is one that resonated really strong (the quote in blue below is semi-transcribed/paraphrased, starting from about 4 min 20 sec in the video recording below):
…SAFe is perfect for big consultancy firms…
With big consultancies, when the ratio between a principal and a doer (partner and consultant)  is up to about  from 1:5 to 1:10 – apprentice model.
With ratio of above 1:15 – it becomes an industrial model (you have to “feed” a lot of people), when you get more structured processes and recipes.
This is why big consultancies want high utilization and long-term projects, [using] Six Sigma, BPR, SAP…etc.
What they like is a massive roll out, with lots of people, over a long period of time.
What they DONT like, are small improvements in the present.
…So you [if you are a client company] are better off working with small consultancies, not big consultancies….“.
Author’s note: This is how a client-company can become a subject to “triple taxation“. Avoid this.

Questions submitted prior the webinar (The list does not include questions that were asked on air, real-time)


Dave’s Bio:
David Snowden divides his time between two roles: founder Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge and the founder and Director of the Centre for Applied Complexity at the University of Wales. His work is international in nature and covers government and industry looking at complex issues relating to strategy, organisational decision making and decision making. He has pioneered a science based approach to organisations drawing on anthropology, neuroscience and complex adaptive systems theory. He is a popular and passionate keynote speaker on a range of subjects, and is well known for his pragmatic cynicism and iconoclastic style.

 

April 20-22 & 22-24: Certified LeSS Basics (CLB) Courses | Virtual

Class April 20-22

System modeling work in class.

Note: the below graphics are not conclusive decisions or ‘best practices’. They are just an example of brainstorming, based on each teams members’ experience.




 



Class April 22-24

System modeling work in class.

Note: the below graphics are not conclusive decisions or ‘best practices’. They are just an example of brainstorming, based on each teams members’ experience.

Next virtual LeSS Training:

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:

04/14 – LESS TALKS: CTO of JPMorgan – Sharing His Views About LeSS Experiments

An accomplished senior technology leader in the financial services industry, Al Youssef shares his views on some LeSS experiments.

Play Recording below:

Questions raised (copied verbatim from Zoom chat script):
  • For enterprise projects, compare and contract LeSS vs SaFE 5.0 -Were the automated tests all functional? or did you also have performance testing? Did you create these as part of your development process or as a separate project?
  • 1n the Machine Learning Data Science Space, are there any unique ways needed manage these projects? -Since their change to LeSS where are they in your adoption? Also how many IY Mangers do they have in his organization. Why I ask? because Craig Larman states 1 IT Manger to 100 scrum team members.
  • What did you do to change structure to support a culture focused on technical practices and provide safety for craftsmanship. (i.e. How did you avoid the contract game? How did you ensure any functional managers were focused on serving those they had the privilege to lead? What did you do about the force ranked performance management system? How flat did you make the development organization? Did you modify the outsourcing arrangements, if so how? What have you done to ensure the technical design authority members on the various feature teams are not counterproductive to self-organization within each feature team?)
  • With only one backlog…how do you deal with situation where the tasks do not match with technical capabilities of the available teams? -One common code base: does it mean you practice a trunk based development?
  • How do you handle the integration testing – is there any coordination done from outside of the teams or is it somehow responsibility of the feature teams to raise their hands when they feel that some testing is not covering some of their features? -Could you describe the scope of the platform a bit more? What are broadly its capabilities? Did the team also have to build the IaC layer?
  • What do you do to prepare your developers to interact effectively with your design authorities and architects? -How did you bring your business stakeholders on the journey to identify and train their team members to bring them in to the role? Do they report to a manager in technology or the business?
  • How do you measure the business value of what is produced as a data team? Do you observe the end to end value?
  • Are your teams all full-stack developers, or do you still have specialized technical roles within the pods? -How does the line organization look like (resource pools?) and how do you shape the mid- / long-term skill profile of the IT department? – are the agile team members part of some resource pool organizations or is the agile team also their home from line perspective?

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:


Some Best Coaches May Face Some Biggest Challenges. Why?

Have you ever found yourself in a situation, where you feel that you have so much great value to bring to your potential client, that you are so much better than anyone else they may have considered for the role so far …. yet, a client is hesitant to bring you in. Why?

 First, You Must Self-Assess:
  • Are you a professional trainer, coach and organizational design consultant who had  spent many years honing his/her craft and investing in self-development? Do you consider yourself a life-long learner who openly speaks about it?
  • Over years, have you earned some highest industry-recognized accreditation that represent your professional journey? Do you make it explicit and visible publicly (e.g. LinkedIn, your web site)?
  • Have you, not only read dozens of books and case studies, but also authored or co-authored some on your own? Do you blog, write articles about your experiences and beliefs?
  • Do you speak publicly (webinars, conferences), have your own web site, where you offer free educational information to communities? Do you have tens of thousands followers in the industry, attending to your events, reading your newsletters and benefiting from your expertise?
  • Are you a one-person entity that you have relentlessly built over years?   Are your responsible for your own networking and business development, along with providing community service (this usually, always keeps you busy at nights and on weekends), ON TOP of your paid work?

If you answered ‘yes’ to most of the above, you are actually might be facing against some potential challenges.

What Are Some of Your Potential Challenges?
  • When trying to engage with a client, if you sound very knowledgeable (even if it comes so natural to you), you might be creating an inflated impression about what your aspirations and intentions are. Without any intention, you could be perceived as someone who wants to come in, take over, set your own tone, and run a show.
  • If you attempt to impress others with your knowledge too soon, the effect could be the opposite to what you expect: you  might be putting in an uncomfortable position people that you interact with, some of which could be much less experienced than you, unable to speak at your level, and perhaps even aiming at your future role, because their old roles had been being downsized (Larman’s Law #4). This is not so much a problem with senior management but quite common with first-second level manages and single-function roles (e.g. BAs, manual testers) that are sometimes asked to validate/interview you initially.
  • You might be competing against a very large population of external candidates-consultants that are usually procured through staffing agencies/traditional preferred vendors, and presented as “coaches” (today, coaching is a highly commoditized and heavily overloaded term). In reality, such candidates are coaches in name-only (a.k.a. coaches-centaurs). They are willing to engage at a deeply discounted rate and are easily augment-able into an existing reporting structure (seamlessly fit an existing staffing model) just like any other, traditional “human resource”. Once in, they typically become individual performers (e.g. tool administrators, backlog stewards, or metrics collectors) – a classic coaching anti-pattern.
  • You might be trying to enter into a client company’s domain that is tightly controlled by a large consultancy that already brought in their own, very expensive resources, installed their own, home-baked ‘best practices’ that are presented in the form of heavy power point decks and cook books. Even if you have a lot of experience with such best practices, unless you explicitly express your strong support for them, at the time of initial contact with a client, you might be perceived as a challenger and corporate unfit.
  • Although the most generous rate of a highly experienced independent professional (we assume, you are reading this now) is just a fraction of what a large consultancy would be charging a client for each placed consultant, if you cost more than a coach-centaur (described above), you may put yourself out of range.
What Can You Do to Mitigate These Challenges?

First and foremost, remember: there is only one chance when you can make your first impression!!! You are lucky if you will have a second chance.

  • Try to understand, really well, what a client’s real goals and aspirations are. When you meet a client, even for the first time (first interview or just an informal lunch meeting), listen to THEIR concerns and feel for THEIR pains.  Keep your strong views to yourself and tone down what you  may know: do not overwhelm a client.  At times, a client will not be explicit with you about their real problems, so you may need to read between the lines, ask probing questions. But be careful, how deep you probe.  Don’t become too obvious.
  • Do not up-sell yourself. Do not speak about your own qualifications, credentials or past successes (unless it is absolutely necessary or you are being asked).  Of course, it would be amazing is someone paved a road for you and spoke about you highly, so that you have a fair representation😊.  If you have to refer to your past experiences, present them as circumstantial and based on past conditions (try not sound absolute and categorical).
  • Always remember that when you meet a client, you are on THEIR territory, and eventually, you will leave and they will own everything you have done for them.  You may not even have a chance to claim a credit for your work, because its results will be seen only after you are gone.  Therefore, be very explicit about your intentions upfront, of NOT wanting to ‘take over, become a hero, challenge everyone and change everything’.   This could be a tough one, because at times, against your own will, you could be viewed as a leader-challenger, due of your perceived seasoning and expertise. You must make a client comfortable that you will respect their territory and their decisions and you are there to serve THEM.
  • During your initial interaction with a potential client, even if you discover something that makes you feel that an immediate course correction is required, refrain from stating this too soon (unless you are explicitly asked to provide your own view). It would be wiser to offer assurance to a client that you are seeing a lot of potential of working together and ready to support them in any of their efforts. Then, only after you fully engage and dig in, you should start gently steering a client in a right direction by, reflecting on what you see, and offering alternatives, as needed.

In summary, being a highly qualified and experienced professional does not automatically quality you as, as the best candidate to be selected.  There are many situational conditions that must be considered while interacting with a potential client.  Often times, not all your assets and resources should be revealed at once and to everyone.  You may have to be strategically smart in your pursuit and goals, even if your intentions are most genuine and it feels that you just have to be yourself and hold nothing back.

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/