Attract the right customers with another #ExtremeContracts principle: Customer Channel

This is a guest blog post by Jacopo Romei. Author of the Italian version of the book Extreme Contracts, and author of an upcoming book on the same topic in English.

We all know how easy it is to leave Netflix after having subscribed to their service.

Whenever you want to cancel the subscription, you just click a button and you are free, no questions, no tricks, no cheating.

You are free to use the service until the date you had paid for and you will be free to rejoin again, whenever you want. This feeling of freedom is a crucial part of Netflix branding, and was a key attractor for their first users. You read it on their homepage, clear and bold: “Watch anywhere. Cancel anytime.” It is a promise, second only to the one about the chance to see your favorite movies in full mobility on any device.

Now, imagine for a minute, what would happen if Netflix were to not keep their promises. Imagine that Netflix would ask for extra documentation before the user was allowed to leave, perhaps even setting a mandatory notice period, preventing users from quitting when too close to the subscription expiry date.

Imagine what would happen if Netflix wouldn’t actually allow you to “cancel anytime.” If this nightmare scenario was a reality, tons of disappointed friends would tell you that Netflix is not up to expectations, they would abandon the service with no intention to return, and they would actively discourage other people from subscribing in the first place! In the end, Netflix would see fewer users and less engagement.

The Anti-Netflix contract

The plot thickens…

Continue reading Attract the right customers with another #ExtremeContracts principle: Customer Channel

BONUS: Does Agile play well in Leadership teams in organizations? – Diana Larsen and Jutta Eckstein

Diana and I were kicking around a few topics for this episode, and we ended up selecting “Agile and Leadership, friends or foes?” The idea is to talk about how Agile and Leadership play together (or not)

In this episode, we talk with Diana Larsen and Jutta Eckstein about what problems Leaders try to fix with Agile, what challenges they have when they try to adopt Agile, and we will do this with the focus on the Scrum Master role, and what they can do by working with the leaders of the organizations they work within.

Let’s start by defining some of the major challenges we see happening out there.

The 3 biggest challenges on how Agile plays (or not) with Leadership

Some of the challenges we mention in this episode are not new. You are probably familiar with many of them. We talk about how Agile requires us to think about leadership as a distributed responsibility that team members need to take on, which is itself a major challenge for Scrum Masters as they help their teams understand what that means in practice. 

We also discuss how important it is to understand that leadership is not simply a “role”, but also something we need to earn, including Scrum Masters.

Finally, we talk about the important role that leaders play for the teams they work with. Specifically in setting the direction that helps the teams adopt quicker processes like Hypothesis-Driven-Development, for example.

How Scrum Masters can cope with these challenges

We then discuss how Scrum Masters can understand, and learn to cope with these challenges. Not surprisingly, Agile Retrospectives come up as a critical tool for Scrum Masters to use when working with teams and their leaders. 

Regarding collaboration with leaders, we discuss how Scrum Masters can help teams focus on the right goals, which need to be defined in cooperation with leaders in the organization.

But there’s a second tool we discuss that complements perfectly the work we do with the retrospectives and helps the teams and leaders understand where they can contribute the most: visualization as a way to establish a shared context.

Do Scrum Masters really need to protect the team from their leaders? 

Stop me if you have heard this one before. Way back when I was taught that Scrum Masters need to protect the team from interference. Although it made sense to me at the time, with the passing of time, and after collecting more than a decade of experience, I have come to value a different approach. 

In this segment, we talk about the need (or not) to protect the team from Leadership interference. 

The goal, of course, is to generate a real collaboration between the team and the leaders in the organization.

The key resources on leadership and Scrum by Diana Larsen, Jutta Eckstein and Vasco Duarte

Given that leadership, and the collaboration between teams and leaders is a critical topic for Scrum Masters, we discuss some of the resources (books, podcasts, articles) we’ve found useful and informative on how to tackle that collaboration. 

Here are the resources we mention: 

 

How about you? What have been your major challenges when working with leaders in your organization? Leave a comment below and share the tools/books/podcasts you’ve found useful. 

About Diana Larsen and Jutta Eckstein

Diana Larsen co-founded and collaborates in leadership of Agile Fluency™ Project. Diana co-authored the books Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great; Liftoff: Start and Sustain Successful Agile Teams; Five Rules for Accelerated Learning; and the seminal “Agile Fluency Model: A Brief Guide to Success with Agile” article.

You can link with Diana Larsen on LinkedIn and connect with Diana Larsen on Twitter

 

Jutta Eckstein works as an independent coach & consultant. 

As a developer, she started with XP in 97/98, started scaling agile in 2001 (and published about that in 2004), and am now Jutta focuses on company-wide agility.

You can link with Jutta Eckstein on LinkedIn and connect with Jutta Eckstein on Twitter

You can learn more at Jutta Eckstein’s website, and check out Jutta’s books on Amazon and LeanPub.

Jutta’s Agile Bossanova book is available here.

Nick Stewart: The Inexperienced PO and what to do to help them

From an inexperienced PO to a PO with a clear Vision, in this episode, we explore two totally different types of Product Owners, and we learn from Nick what worked in those cases.

The Great Product Owner: The Clear Vision PO

This Product Owner behaved like a great PO from the start of the project. The PO had a clear vision for the end result and was able to filter all the requests and requirements. From the team’s perspective, the process felt seamless. 

If it was only like this for all teams we work with. Listen in to learn what made this PO so productive and his approach motivating for the team

The Bad Product Owner: The Inexperienced PO

At one point Nick was working with a new and inexperienced Product Owner. This did not make things easy, and the anti-patterns quickly started to surface. 

It was a coaching challenge for Nick. In this segment, we explore the techniques and approaches that Nick used to try and help this inexperienced PO.

Are you having trouble helping the team working well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at: bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

 

About Nick Stewart

Nick has worked in the “Projects Space” for the last 5 years, initially working with business change, then in IT using Prince 2, Waterfall and ultimately found Agile organically through pain of delivering projects using the other methodologies. More recently he has taken on a Delivery Lead role which allows him to continue to learn whilst helping teams deliver continuous value.

You can link with Nick Stewart on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Stewart on Twitter

Nick Stewart: Focus on people to define and measure success as a Scrum Master

When asking his own success questions, Nick prefers to focus on the people in the team and the team’s direct environment. He asks questions about how those people feel or act, and from that, he derives his own self-evaluation for the role of Scrum Master.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Sailboat Retrospective

There are many reasons why we prefer one or the other Retrospective format. And Nick’s perspective is no different. He has many reasons to like the sailboat retrospective format, and explains why in this episode.

Follow this link, if you want to explore how a previous guest used this specific sailboat agile retrospective format.

About Nick Stewart

Nick has worked in the “Projects Space” for the last 5 years, initially working with business change, then in IT using Prince 2, Waterfall and ultimately found Agile organically through pain of delivering projects using the other methodologies. More recently he has taken on a Delivery Lead role which allows him to continue to learn whilst helping teams deliver continuous value.

You can link with Nick Stewart on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Stewart on Twitter.

Nick Stewart: 3 steps to help you improve your process

Nick shares the process a team went through to move from Scrum to Kanban. Their initial goal was not to move to Kanban, but through small steps and focusing on improving they found themselves using Kanban even without trying. 

Do you wish all change process would be this simple? Listen in to learn what steps Nick went through with the team.

About Nick Stewart

Nick has worked in the “Projects Space” for the last 5 years, initially working with business change, then in IT using Prince 2, Waterfall and ultimately found Agile organically through pain of delivering projects using the other methodologies. More recently he has taken on a Delivery Lead role which allows him to continue to learn whilst helping teams deliver continuous value.

You can link with Nick Stewart on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Stewart on Twitter.

Nick Stewart: Why the Definition of Done is critical for Scrum teams wanting to be more predictable

This team that Nick was working with had trouble delivering on time. When Nick looked into it, he discovered that the team did not take into account all the work necessary to adhere to the Definition of Done. Once he found that, however, he had to work with the team to help them realize what was going on, and how they could become more predictable by simply taking into account what they had committed to: the Definition of Done criteria.

Featured Book of the Week: The Goal by Elyahu Goldratt

When reading The Goal by Goldratt, Nick had a lightbulb moment. In that book, the author describes the impact that one single aspect of work can have: throughput. 

The book describes how not paying attention to that aspect may destroy the ability to deliver value. 

In this episode, we also discuss The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim et al

About Nick Stewart

Nick has worked in the “Projects Space” for the last 5 years, initially working with business change, then in IT using Prince 2, Waterfall and ultimately found Agile organically through pain of delivering projects using the other methodologies. More recently he has taken on a Delivery Lead role which allows him to continue to learn whilst helping teams deliver continuous value.

You can link with Nick Stewart on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Stewart on Twitter

Nick Stewart: What to do about the Product Owner that was changing priorities mid-sprint?

Nick was working with a team that had just lost their Product Owner. The new Product Owner had a conflict of interest and was changing priorities mid-sprint. This is a common anti-pattern that many teams face. 

In this episode, we talk through Nick’s efforts to help the Product Owner understand the consequences of his behavior. It’s never an easy situation to be in, but we must be ready. 

Are you having trouble helping the team working well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at: bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Nick Stewart

Nick has worked in the “Projects Space” for the last 5 years, initially working with business change, then in IT using Prince 2, Waterfall and ultimately found Agile organically through the pain of delivering projects using the other methodologies. More recently he has taken on a Delivery Lead role which allows him to continue to learn whilst helping teams deliver continuous value.

You can link with Nick Stewart on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Stewart on Twitter.

Sebastian Reverso: The PO who as able to be the Voice of the Customer

In this episode, we discuss two very different Product Owner patterns. We talk about a PO that felt their role was to be the voice of the customer, and the PO who felt the team was merely a “service provider” and they were the “outsider” who would demand service.

The Great Product Owner: The voice of the customer

This Product Owner had faced real customers. The PO worked previously in customer services and had to face the customer regularly. As she started working with the team, she was able to convey her ideas clearly, and from the customer’s point of view. At the same time, she did not interfere with the team’s technical discussion, letting them decide how the team would implement those ideas in practice.

The Bad Product Owner: The “outsider” PO

This particular Product Owner was stuck with the idea that the PO is not part of the team. That led to several problems. For example, the team would end up reporting “status” to the PO in the dailies and ended up trying to push more stories into the sprints. In this segment, we discuss how we can help PO’s that have that “outsider” perspective and how to get to a point when the PO feels like they are part of the team.

 

Are you having trouble helping the team working well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at: bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

 

About Sebastian Reverso

Sebastian is from Tucuman, Argentina. He has been working as a software developer since 2012 and as a Scrum Master since 2017. 

Among his favorite activities are mountain biking and football (soccer).

You can link with Sebastian Reverso on LinkedIn and connect with Sebastian Reverso on Twitter.

Sebastian Reverso: Liquid Organizations and how they help shape your Agile Retrospectives

Are you a Scrum mom? When assessing our own success as Scrum Masters, we must look not only at how the team performs but also how we get there. How we contribute to that team’s success. 

In this episode, we talk about some of the questions you can ask to learn if you are transitioning from that initial Scrum Mom role to an approach that allows the team to grow and continue on their own when you are not available.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Liquid organizations, and how to adapt

When we reflect on our success or actions, we often focus on the task, and its success (or not). However, the way people contribute to the team may often be ignored. For example, a team member that is focused on helping others succeed may feel they are “not contributing”. In this episode, we discuss a different approach to retrospectives. An approach inspired by the concept of Liquid Organizations by Stelio Verzera, and that focuses on recognizing the contribution of each team member to the common success. Team members evaluate their peers’ contribution, so that the person who was focused on helping, may feel they contribute, even if they don’t work on many stories.

About Sebastian Reverso

Sebastian is from Tucuman, Argentina. He has been working as a software developer since 2012 and as a Scrum Master since 2017. 

Among his favorite activities are mountain biking and football (soccer).

You can link with Sebastian Reverso on LinkedIn and connect with Sebastian Reverso on Twitter.

Sebastian Reverso: Drawing people to change, instead of pushing change onto them

When introducing change to an organization, the way we present ideas and involve people become key aspects to our success. In this episode, we talk about how introducing ideas in different ways may have radically different results. We identify some approaches that have worked well, and we talk about the concept of “baby steps”, or relentless movement towards a direction. Finally, we discuss how to involve the team members directly in that process. As Scrum Masters we don’t need to tell the team what to do, they know. If they understand why the change is necessary, they can come up with the right steps.

About Sebastian Reverso

Sebastian is from Tucuman, Argentina. He has been working as a software developer since 2012 and as a Scrum Master since 2017. 

Among his favorite activities are mountain biking and football (soccer).

You can link with Sebastian Reverso on LinkedIn and connect with Sebastian Reverso on Twitter.

Sebastian Reverso: The Treasure Island Retrospective as a way to help team members empathize

As Sebastian started to work with multiple teams, he started to note some patterns of behavior that might cause problems. In this episode, we focus on the “professional jealousy” that some team members showed towards each other. We discuss how to detect it, and what the possible consequences of that behavior might be. Learn to detect it, and listen in to learn how Sebastian helped the team move forward.

In this episode, we refer to the Agile retrospective format: The Treasure Island, and to Solution Focused Coaching

Featured Book for the Week: Por Un Scrum Popular: Notas para una Revolución Ágile (Spanish Edition)

Por Un Scrum Popular by Mayer and Cyment is the Spanish edition of the popular: The People’s Scrum by Tobias Mayer

Sebastian found especially informative the aspects of the day-to-day Scrum that the authors go through, and how they compare what work looks like when using Scrum and when not using Scrum. 

In this segment, we also refer to the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast episode with Claudia Toscano where the book “Por un Scrum Popular” is discussed in more depth.

About Sebastian Reverso

Sebastian is from Tucuman, Argentina. He has been working as a software developer since 2012 and as a Scrum Master since 2017. 

Among his favorite activities are mountain biking and football (soccer).

You can link with Sebastian Reverso on LinkedIn and connect with Sebastian Reverso on Twitter.