Category Archives: Team Dynamics

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?

Engaging and Being Engaged as a Professional Coach – Candid Advice for Coaches & Clients

Key Takeaways

  • There are things that coaches need to do prior to engaging with a client company
  • Coaches need to know about challenges they might be facing while trying to engage with a company
  • There are some practical things coaches and companies can do to set up the engagement for success
  • Things that hiring companies need to know about a coaching profession
  • Advice for hiring companies to not shut doors (intentionally or unintentionally) in front of experienced coaches, without opening up flood gates for charlatans, cheer-leaders, and ‘best-practices” experts

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?…

Read more on InfoQ

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 (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:


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:
https://ebgconsulting.com/blog/
https://twitter.com/ellengott
https://ebgconsulting.com/newsletter.php
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ellengottesdiener


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.