Saturday, May 02, 2015

We are Creating Agile Orphans

This is a draft, but I wanted to share it with others before the Scrum Gathering. 

It is my premise that the invisible hand of self-interest is undermining our work in the marketplace.

While that statement may be true in a Capitalistic economy in general (Enron, Pharmaceutical sales, Big Tobacco, oil spills), it should not be acceptable in the agile community.

We are values driven.

The full value stream for agile adoptions is not just CSM training. It is the successful transformation of the companies in our world.

Those who only train and/or staff, leave agile orphans - those who don’t know enough, have no support, no community and no covering.

We are obligated to act on the full value stream if we want to change the world of work.

As a profession, our entry level number of Certified ScrumMasters moving to the next level of growth and maturity (the CSP) drops over 99%.... 99%!

Those making it to becoming a coach (CSC) - 0.02%

Yet we incentivize this. Trainers, for the most part, make money per student. So, more students = more money. We don't limit the number of classes. We don't even limit the class size, though most agree that 20 is the limit, and the most credible study of class size found the ideal to be 13 - 17. Even if not, we are smart enough to know that self-interest doesn’t give good, long-term results. And shouldn’t we, as management consultants, know and expect that?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Scrum - Three Strikes and You're Out!

My rule for adopting Scrum at your organization is three strikes and you're out.

That is, if you say you're doing Scrum, but not following one of the core assumptions, you can get by, and you'll probably get very good results that help gain support to address and fix the comprimises.

If you're breaking two core rules of Scrum, that's definitely not good, but perhaps you can still get some value for the compromises that you are making. And with some value and time, maybe you'll get support to address these shortcomings.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Career Kaizen #7 - The Scrum Values

This week we'll explore the Scrum values a bit.

Monday - Courage

I share a story in my classes about courage. Some years ago, I and my family were visiting Yellowstone National Park. There are bears in Yellowstone, and when we first saw them, I was a bit nervous. I checked to make sure the car doors were securely locked and all windows were up. We were safe. But, just a few weeks later, an old couple came across a bear while on a hike in Yellowstone. It was a mother bear, and in between the couple and the bear was the cub. From 100 yards away, the bear charged. Now, some say that courage is the absence of fear, but I think you should be fearful of a charging bear. It's the appropriate response. I heard another definition of courage from Erwin McManus that resonated much more deeply - "courage is the absence of self for the sake of others". In that moment when the bear was charging, the man turned to his wife and said "Run!", but he stayed put. The husband was killed by the bear, but the wife had enough time to hide behind a log and play dead. The bear still found her. Actually picked her up by her backpack, but then dropped her, and walked off. The husband, in my opinion, was the perfect example of courage - absence of self for the sake of others.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

The One Thing I'd Add to the Agile Manifesto

In class yesterday, someone asked if the Agile Manifesto was still considered enough. This was an unusually advanced group of Scrum Product Owners, so we spent some time on it.

My first answer was "No," and that I haven't seen anything needed to do excellent work that wasn't a part of it.

But then, I made the mistake of continuing to think about it over lunch. Thinking...such a bad idea. :-)

I recalled how I had written my Work Manifesto many years earlier. Why?

I thought of how my Scrum Master classes often watches Daniel Pink's TED talk on what motivates employees. Why? Partly to say that Scrum takes care of two of the three things Pink says are needed, but that not this one thing.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Career Kaizen #6 - 5 Agile Sayings to Empower Your Team's Success

This week we'll walk through some common sayings in agile and explore their meaning a bit.

Monday - The Wisdom of And

Even if you are an expert, you'll benefit from hearing
and getting input from others.
When I worked at BigVisible, one of their coach's conference themes was "The Wisdom of And." This is drawn from Jim Collins work when he talks about the wisdom of "and" and the tyranny of the "or". The point is that there are often more choices available to just either/or choices, sometimes called "sucker's choices" or "false polarity," if neither option in its entirety or alone gives everyone what they're wanting. For example, "Well, we can either go over budget to build X, or we can lose all our best customers to the competition." That's a fool's choice. There's something in the middle.

If a group is sitting around a table, the best option doesn't lie with one person. It more likely lies somewhere in the middle of the table. Even if you are an expert, you'll benefit from hearing and getting input from others.

To get more input from a quiet group, ask questions such as "Anything else on this to consider?" "Are there other options?" "Any unanswered questions?" "What are we overlooking?" "What assumptions does this depend on?" "Is there another approach?" "How could this fail?" "Let's get at least two options on the board for this issue."

And you can control difficult people by replying to their solution with, "I'm sure that's a great option, I just want to hear what others have to say." or "Yes, and I'd like to just gather additional information and input."

Homework: Practice replying to positions and opinions with "Yes, and…" instead of "Yes, but…"


Tuesday - Art of the Possible

We often think things are impossible, but in actuality are possible and likely take a lot of hard work and a long time.

For example, for many of you, running a marathon might seem impossible. It might be if it were this weekend, but if it were six months away, and you started getting up in the morning and lacing up the shoes...given enough time and effort, you could do it. And if you did, what a sesnse of accomplishment that would be. It's a big deal. That's why people put the sticker on the back of their cars with 26.2. They don't put stickers that say "I walked around the block today." That's no big deal.

Most anything important, that's of value, takes some investment of time and effort. And that journey is actually part of what changes you, grows your character, and gives you a story worth telling, a story that others want to hear.

Homework: Watch the amazing transformation of a man who commits to running the Boston marathon:



Wednesday - No one of us is as smart as all of us.

Scrum depends on team. If the team isn't all in, if they're not involved in estimating the work, collaborating with the Product Owner on what, why and options in the requirements, and if they're not committing to the work, then we are missing a lot of the magic. When it comes to ideas, options on approaches, the architecture and more, no one person has all the answers. No one person is as smart as everyone else put together. One person might have more knowledge in a particular area, but others can learn that, too.  I've been amazed at how many times the new person on the team has had the best idea.

The same is true for us. On our own personal journey, on our own goals or challenges, we'll always benefit from hearing ideas from others, getting feedback, hearing their stories. We're built for community. Help yourself by getting connected in the local or online agile communities or coaching circles.

Homework: Do a quick search for local meetings or meet-ups for agile, Scrum, project or product managers, lean start-up or business sector you're in, and do the same for groups on LinkedIn, Yahoo, Facebook and other social sites. See anything interesting?


Thursday - Create your own Reality

We need to empower our teams, our team members, and
ourselves that we can create the reality we want
When I worked at Rally, this was one of their core values and sayings. And they lived it. If you felt that you needed something to do your job, if you wanted to grow into another role, they supported you in creating that reality.

I see my wife doing something similar with our two younger kids. When they say, "I'm thirsty," she replies, "So what are you going to do about that?" When they say they can't get ready because they don't have their shoes, she answers with "You can solve that problem."

We need to empower our teams, team members and ourselves that we can create the reality we want, we can solve our problems. I'm often met with the opposite in companies, a response of "Management won't let us do ____," but when I ask if they have actually asked for it, it's usually "No, but they know this is a problem." A particular training exercise I do highlights this. I do the ball point game, and the vast majority of the time, the participants don't move around to where the spacing works best for them. They just accept the circumstances or constraints without even asking me.

Homework - Think of the team, a team member, or yourself, and ask "What if..." and see what comes.


Video Fridays - What's the simplest thing that will work?


Breaking down life into what moves it forward today, not what's the best, comprehensive solution. A little like the debt snowball or weighted short job first.

To look at the entirety of the mountain to be climbed may seem overwhelming, but there is truth both in the saying that the journey of a 1,000 miles begins with one step and that the joy is in the journey.

About the big challenge or goal in front of you, what's one part of it that you can do today? Even better, what's something on it that you can do before noon? You might say that that one thing isn't the most important or highest priority. True, but also perhaps not true. It is a priority in the sense that you getting a "less important" task done actually gets the motivation and confidence going to tackle, and succeed, at the big thing.

Often our risk aversion, all the unknowns, take us out of the game of tackling big and challenging goals. But the very fact that the goals are big and scary are what make them worth doing, noble even. And through that challenge of tackling what is too much for us, we are transformed from someone who could not, before, into someone who can, afterwards.

Homework: Watch the amazing transformation of a man with a broken neck learning to walk again.




Weekend Warrior
Check out the story at the beginning of Habit. Read up on Jim Collins "Big Hairy Audacious Goals" and Dave Ramsey's Debt Snowball.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Career Kaizen #5 - 5 Days of Leadership

Monday - Level 5 Leadership


Leaders help team members
solve their own problems.
Most agree leadership is important, but there are many definitions out there. Are you a leader? Do you have leadership in you? The ScrumMaster role is often described as a servant leader, so it's worth some focused time on it.

One of the classic business books is Good to Great. In the book, Jim Collins talks about Level 5 Leadership, the highest of all and a level few CEO's attain. There are good metaphors that describe that type of leader.

First, these leaders look out the window to assign credit, and look in the mirror to assign blame. Always try to deflect to the team when someone looks at the results and says "You've done a great job leading the team," especially if it's in a public situation, like a meeting. There are many ways to do this, for example, "It's not me. It's the team. Anyone could have done it if they had a team like this," or "Thank you, but really, the team is the one responsible. They have really put in a lot of time, effort and heart into this, " or even just point to some specific positive aspect of the team (perhaps from one of their retros), "The team really feels that _______ has been the key ingredient to the success we've had."

Second, these leaders want to make clock-builders, not be time-tellers. Rather than always have the answer, or be quick to solve someone's problem, Level 5 Leaders help team members solve their own problems or find their own answers. This builds their own abilities, ownership of the solution, empowers self-organization and makes teams faster. Many times making a clock-builder can be started by responding to a question with "What do you think?" I've been surprised how many times they already have an idea, they're just looking for feedback, support, or political covering. You can answer with, "Well, try that out and let me know how it goes," and watch as the team begins to solve more and more of their own problems.

Homework: Ask yourself: Does it feel good to solve people's problems? To be needed? Or to be able to help? Is your value based in part on how critical you are for things to get done? Are you okay with them figuring out everything by themselves?


Tuesday, Common Team Needs

Marcus Buckingham said that the difference between management and leadership is that management looks at what is unique among people, and capitalizes on it, while leadership looks at what is common among people and capitalizes on that.

Knowing what the common concerns are, or addressing a common need, is important. Vision, a key leadership trait, is pointing to a common goal or destination that enables a group to rally around and towards that - a common goal or challenge as they struggle, fail, win and journey together.

Homework: Look at the common felt needs of employees compared to what management thinks they need. What do you think the top three for your team members are? List them in the next retro and have the team dot vote them.


Wednesday - Positional or Influential Leadership

The challenge, and the blessing, of leadership in the ScrumMaster role is that you do not have authority over the team. You can't tell them or force them to do anything. Yet, traditional, authoritative leadership is actually the lowest form of leadership. People aren't as likely to truly be following you as a positional leader (for example, a manager). They are doing what you say, whether they like it or not, because they have to. In those situations, they're not giving the positional leader their best, but only the minimum required. Just enough to not get in trouble or fired or noticed.

Having people listen to you, follow you, as a servant leader means you must learn and grow in the powerful area of influential leadership. Forming relationships, understanding their needs and concerns, fighting on their behalf, protecting them, taking hits for them.

Homework: Looking back over history, who do you admire? Any heroes or people that you respect the work they did, the impact they had, or the challenges that they overcame? If so, in what ways can you apply lessons from them for your life and work now? What would they tell you?


Thursday - People Development Wins Championships

You must develop team members to win championships
John Maxwell wrote a very popular book on leadership. A few quotes from him:
"You can't lead people without liking them."
"At one level, you focus on becoming a change agent - focusing on productivity."
"Productivity wins games. People development wins championships."
"Besides the obvious competence, effort and skill, leadership also depends on intentionality."
"To succeed as a leader, you must help others move forward."

Homework: Pick one of the quotes you like (or another quote from the web page), print it out large to post on your wall at work, and small to put on your bathroom mirror or car dashboard. Keep it in front of you for a week. Don't start your computer or end your day without looking at it (even better to say it to yourself) or start your car or brush your teeth without the same.


Video Fridays

Stanton Complex - face the brutal facts, but don't let go of hope. In 1965, Captain Stanton was shot down and in a POW camp in Vietnam. While others kept believing any day that they'd be released, the reality was they weren't. These people ended up giving up, or worse. Stanton was hopeful, but not unrealistically so, and faced the reality that, also, they may never be released.

On your team, in your company, it may look grim. It doesn't help to believe things will magically change based on nothing other than your wishful thinking. And yet, we have to hope and believe that there is a chance, a chance worth fighting for, that they someday could.

Always respond positively. Don't join others in their complaining. Focus on solutions - what can you change, what experiment, what can you ask for, that might help. If you're not sure, ask yourself, "Is this noble or excellent?"

Homework: Watch the video of Jim Collins (or listen to his audio clips), or Patrick Lencioni.


Weekend Warrior: Review all of Jim Collins Hedgehog Concept items. List out the five levels of leadership.




Saturday, April 12, 2014

Career Kaizen #4 - 5 Ways to Make Real Change Happen

Monday, It wasn't easy - I had to change a LOT

The challenges you face are what make you better
Difficult days are rewarding. The challenges you face are what make you better, more than what you were last week or last year.

Imagine that you are observing some amazing team, better than any you've ever been around. You ask the ScrumMaster, "Wow - how did you help them get to this place?". He replies, "Nothing, they were like this when I showed up." What kind of inspiration is that?

Yet, when you feel challenged, maybe even too much at times, these are exactly the points that push you into responding in new ways, trying things you haven't before, becoming someone, perhaps, that you weren't before. So when someone asks, "Wow - how did you help them get to this place?" you smile, laugh and say, "It wasn't easy - I had to change a LOT. This is where it started…" and they will be all ears.

Homework: Do your own speedboat exercise. Draw a boat on a sheet of paper (yes, really - drawing connects with a different part of your brain). Now, draw three or so anchors off the boat that are slowing you down. For each anchor, write three actions that might help with each area. Now, choose three, and either add them to your personal kanban board, or calendar them.


Tuesday, If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes

Yes, you really can change. I've wanted to learn to play guitar for years. In fact, I have one. I've had it for 16 years. Up until several weeks ago, I hadn't played more than a song within any given season for at least 8 years. Maybe picked it up once in a month or two.

But now I've played it every day for weeks. I've caught up to where I was a decade ago and passed it. I've learned new songs and notes. I have callouses on my fingertips again. Not only am I playing, but my family is often joining in singing as they walk in and out of the room. Wonderful repercussions.

Why the change? It's something that I really wanted for a long time, so not a lack of desire. Well, it's habit. I added it to one of several daily check-off items on an app I use. Just wanting to flip it to green - done - has made me stop and do it. And now that I've gotten used to just finding a moment to do so, I'm finding more moments and connecting that decision with the reward of the feeling while I'm playing.

It may or may not work for you. It actually took me a couple of weeks, and some tweaking (I had to set a goal of having at least one day where I did ALL items on the check list). But, do something, and inspect and adapt. Because, if nothing changes, nothing changes.

Homework: If you have a smart phone, check out some of the habit-building apps. Start with one positive habit you'd like to build. If you don't have a smart phone, try an online version, or try adding it to your calendar or daily to-do's via Outlook or even good old paper.


Wednesday, Help the Elephant

What specifically needs to happen to turn the elephant?
What is an intermediate achievable turn for the elephant?
The elephant and the rider. You may already be familiar with the story. Elephants can be guided by a rider down a path, but if the elephant really wants to go somewhere, it's going to go there. Same with us and our desires and goals. We may want to go somewhere, but we're often taken somewhere else by the elephant - our emotions. I may want to lose weight, but on a stressful day, I'm much more likely to eat chocolate (true). Or I can want to go running in the morning, and so set the alarm, but once it goes off at 5:30 AM, I don't feel like getting up very much. It could be the same for wanting to speak, get into training, go back to school or a certification program.

Help turn one of your goals into a reality by helping the rider. Look for bright spots - times or situations that things did go well, or you did have some progress. What was happening in that? Script the critical moves - don't inundate yourself with too many choices. What, specifically, needs to happen? Point to the destination - is there an end goal that the habit lines up with or supports?

And help the elephant, too. Shrink the change by lowering the bar so that you can get some success. One habit I had was popping my knuckles. Rather than trying to go all day, my first goal was just not to do it before 10 AM. Then it was 1 PM. Now it is all day. Studies were done that showed that people were 40% more likely to return to a car wash if they were given a 10 punch card with two punches already done, versus an 8 punch card with none.

Homework: How can you help the rider? What are the critical moves to successfully achieve the task? How can you help the elephant? What is a small starter goal to incrementally move toward success?
Share your ideas in the comments below...


Thursday, The Growth Mindset, or the Fixed Mindset

People generally fall into one of those two categories. The fixed mindset believes that we have a certain amount of abilities and that if we do or don't do well at things - subjects, jobs, life, it's because we don't have what others have. If we did, we'd do well, naturally. The growth mindset believes that we can learn, grow and change in these.

Homework: Answer the questions:
1. People are born with a certain intelligence that stays fixed throughout life. True or False?
2. Choose one: Do you demonstrate your ability or increase your ability?
3. When you fail, what does it tell you?


Video Friday:

Watch the TEDx video The Power of Belief


Weekend Warrior:
Check out Linda Risings YouTube videos on the Agile Mindset


Watch Carol Dweck's Mindset video or check out the book or audio book.