The value that Agile coaching and Scrum Masters bring to your organization – Q&A with Jeff Campbell

Jeff is the author of Actionable Agile tools (available on Amazon, and direct from the author at bit.ly/aatbook). He joins us on this series of Q&A shows to answer questions you’ve submitted. You can submit your questions via our survey (short, about 2 min to fill-in) or by tweeting us @scrumpodcast with #agilejeff.

In this episode, we talk about the importance of technical excellence and how to help teams adopt that mindset.

How to explain the need for Agile coaching and Scrum Masters

Continue reading The value that Agile coaching and Scrum Masters bring to your organization – Q&A with Jeff Campbell

BONUS: Lean and Agile Financial planning with Maarit Laanti and Rami Sirkiä

The financial processes of companies can defeat their own efforts to become more agile. It’s simply impossible for an organization to be adaptable if their project processes require all projects to be specified up-front and funded months ahead of their starting date.

Tackling the financial process changes in our organizations is one of the make-or-break aspects of helping organizations become Agile and adaptable.

In this episode, we talk about Lean and Agile Financial Planning (PDF article download), an approach that tries to adopt Agile and Lean thinking in the funding and financial processes of an organization.

The reason why Lean and Agile Financial planning is a core aspect of Agile transformation in enterprises

Continue reading BONUS: Lean and Agile Financial planning with Maarit Laanti and Rami Sirkiä

How do we help Scrum teams focus on technical excellence? – Q&A with Jeff Campbell

Jeff is the author of Actionable Agile tools (available on Amazon, and direct from the author at bit.ly/aatbook). He joins us on this series of Q&A shows to answer questions you’ve submitted. You can submit your questions via our survey (short, about 2 min to fill-in) or by tweeting us @scrumpodcast with #agilejeff.

In this episode, we talk about the importance of technical excellence and how to help teams adopt that mindset.

How do we help teams focus on technical excellence?

Continue reading How do we help Scrum teams focus on technical excellence? – Q&A with Jeff Campbell

How to help Self-organization get started in the team – Q&A with Jeff Campbell

Jeff is the author of Actionable Agile tools (available on Amazon, and direct from the author at bit.ly/aatbook). He joins us on this series of Q&A shows to answer questions you’ve submitted. You can submit your questions via our survey (short, about 2 min to fill-in) or by tweeting us @scrumpodcast with #agilejeff.

In this episode, we talk about getting management to understand and learn how to support and promote self-organization by the team.

Helping teams and managers adopt self-organization as a way to improve the team’s impact

Continue reading How to help Self-organization get started in the team – Q&A with Jeff Campbell

How to help Self-organization get started in the team – Q&A with Jeff Campbell

Jeff is the author of Actionable Agile tools (available on Amazon, and direct from the author at bit.ly/aatbook). He joins us on this series of Q&A shows to answer questions you’ve submitted. You can submit your questions via our survey (short, about 2 min to fill-in) or by tweeting us @scrumpodcast with #agilejeff.

In this episode, we talk about getting management to be involved and buy-in to the agile transformation.

Helping teams and managers adopt self-organization as a way to improve the team’s impact

Continue reading How to help Self-organization get started in the team – Q&A with Jeff Campbell

BONUS: Ryan Jacoby on the 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader

Innovation is a topic that gets a lot of attention. There are innovation processes, specific creative games for teams to work with to seek innovative ideas. There’s the Lean Startup movement that tries to codify innovation-friendly processes, and there’s also the UX community pushing the argument that we need more innovation in software companies.

You’ve probably heard the same argument at work. We need to be more innovative to be competitive. Great! But how?

In this episode, we explore how leaders can set up their organizations for innovation. Ryan Jacoby helps us explore the how of that critical question: how can we be more innovative?

Ryan has written a book titled Making Progress – The 7 Responsibilities of an Innovation Leader to describe how organizations can focus on enabling innovation in practice.

The first action you, and your organization need to take

Ryan describes an approach that aims to focus on the team and organization on the customer needs. His approach is simple and immediately actionable. First start by jotting down in plain language and from the point-of-view of the user/customer: what problems are you trying to solve for that customer? Select the top 3.

The other dimension of innovation is your organization’s goals. Define what it means to meaningfully grow the impact of the organization over 6 to 18 months. This growth could be in the number of customers, revenue growth, profit, etc.

Now you have the start of a growth strategy that is centered on customer needs and also directly linked to the company’s/organization’s growth. Next, we talk about innovation in practice.

The 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader

When it comes to putting innovation in practice, Ryan argues that there are 7 areas to take into account.

  1. Define progress for your organization, in other words: what is the impact you seek and the growth in that impact factor
  2. Set an innovation agenda by prioritizing the innovation problems to solve, user and customer groups you want to serve, nature type of innovation to pursue.
  3. Create support teams that build the product
  4. Cultivate the ingredients for success for innovation
  5. Giving great feedback to teams: prepare and setup the feedback moments so that teams can learn quickly.
  6. Inspire progress
  7. Reward progress (as defined in #1)

Ryan explains how he came to value these 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader by telling us his own story when he was responsible to help the New York Times grow their impact through innovative solutions.

Ryan’s book: lessons learned about each of the 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader

You can read more about Ryan’s work and find his detailed explanation of the 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader in his book: Making Progress – the 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader.

 

About Ryan Jacoby

Ryan Jacoby, is the founder of MACHINE, a strategy, and innovation company that helps its clients Think Big and Act Small.

MACHINE clients over the years have included people responsible for growth and innovation at The New York Times, Marriott, Viacom, Etsy, Google, Nike, The Washington Post, Feeding America, Fresh Direct, NBC Universal, and The Knight Foundation.

Prior to founding MACHINE, Ryan led teams and relationships at the design and innovation firm IDEO. He was a founding member and location head of the IDEO New York office and built the Business Design discipline at the firm.

Ryan is also the author of the book named “Making Progress” with Sense and Respond press. A book he describes as “a tactical guide for you, the person charged with leading innovation”

You can link with Ryan Jacoby on LinkedIn and connect with Ryan Jacoby on Twitter.

For more on Ryan Jacoby’s work, visit his company’s site at Machine.io.

Breaking the skill silos: how to help teams become cross-functional – Q&A with Jeff Campbell

Jeff is the author of Actionable Agile tools (available on Amazon, and direct from the author at bit.ly/aatbook). He joins us on this series of Q&A shows to answer questions you’ve submitted. You can submit your questions via our survey (short, about 2 min to fill-in) or by tweeting us @scrumpodcast with #agilejeff.

In this episode, we talk about getting management to be involved and buy-in to the agile transformation.

How to help teams share knowledge and become cross-functional teams

Continue reading Breaking the skill silos: how to help teams become cross-functional – Q&A with Jeff Campbell

Slicing work for Value, the lost art of #Agile that can transform your team’s productivity and predictability.

Agile is about adapting to change. Change is a reality, we can’t avoid it. How we react to change is what will make or break our product development efforts.

For us to be Agile and adaptable, however, we must be able to change direction quickly. Adjust the deliverables after we collect market/customer feedback. Many teams I’ve worked with were doing exactly the opposite!

Teams often get stuck in the “this story can’t be broken down any further” anti-pattern. They push themselves to deliver enormous User Stories, and therefore end up having to do a lot of upfront planning and estimation (both are needed when the work items are very large).

If teams were able to slice work down to very small increments – say, one day or less – then they would not need to spend so much time planning and estimating. They might even be able to adapt during a Sprint, instead of waiting for the end of the Sprint.

Continue reading Slicing work for Value, the lost art of #Agile that can transform your team’s productivity and predictability.

Why Agile frameworks fail and what to do about it: #ToolsOverFrameworks, the context-aware solution

4 minutes read

I have worked at many organizations that were trying to adopt Agile using a framework as the starting point. SAFe, LeSS, or even Scrum were the frameworks of choice.
Scrum, for example, is a very simple framework. It stands to reason that it would be easy to adopt and therefore benefit from the value that Agile brings. Or is it?
If we look deeper, Scrum is a collection of patterns or thinking tools. The daily meeting pattern, the time box pattern, the single owner of the requirements pattern, etc. There are many patterns that were considered when creating Scrum, and together they form what we know as the Scrum framework.
As the Agile community, the problem we face is that Scrum (and other frameworks) did not make Agile adoption easy. The Scrum Theatre many teams play attests to that fact. Using a framework is a problematic approach for Agile adoption because it assumes a prescriptive solution would help us tackle agile adoption. However, Agile adoption is a problem that requires constant evolution and changes.
As the Agile community, the problem we face is that Scrum (and other frameworks) did not make Agile adoption easy.
We need a different approach. One that builds on what we’ve learned from others (books, podcasts, conferences), but also that adapts to our context and the specific reality we live in.

The patterns we’ve seen working before, fail later on

When we work with different teams, we start to get a “feel” for what works, and what doesn’t. We try to apply the same ideas to another team, and then start to understand what consultants mean when they say “it depends…”

When we work with different teams, we start to get a “feel” for what works, and what doesn’t.

For example, the star-fish retrospective may work great for one team, but it just bombs when we use it with another team. That’s ok. Nothing works all of the time. The good thing though, is that there’s always something that works, we just need to know what it is.

The solution is not a process or a framework, it’s a toolbox!

Having worked with many teams, I’ve come to value a few tools that I try to use often. Some retrospective formats are one example of that. But not every retrospective format will work, so I’ve collected over time a large set of “thinking tools” or retrospective formats that I use depending on the context.
As a Product Owner, I’ve successfully used Backlogs. But in some teams Backlogs get abused and create the “slave to the backlog” anti-pattern. With those teams, I’ve been using Impact Mapping and Story Mapping instead. Different situations require different tools. The challenge is collecting a good and large enough toolbox, and the stories to go with it.
Stories, when attached to a tool, help us define where the tool will work, and when it might not. Stories are our “labels” for tools.

Collect tools, not frameworks

No doubt you will be part of teams using different frameworks: Kanban, Scrum, Extreme Programming or Scaled Agile (SAFe), Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), etc.
Don’t fight the framework! Instead, use concrete tools that help you progress and achieve your goals.
As Agile Coaches, Scrum Masters, Product Owners and Team Members, we should be collecting tools, not frameworks. Our goal is to deliver something valuable to our customers/users, not be good at SAFe, Scrum or some other framework.

How we collect tools

We collect tools and stories by sharing our experiences, and listening to those that have solved the problems we are facing now.
For a while I’ve been collecting challenges and tools that product developers use to solve their most important challenges. I’ve collected those in the form of workshops that tackle specific types of problems.
In the #NoEstimates workshops, I share tools and techniques that have helped me and many others deliver on time. Sometimes you can’t fight the deadline. If the product must be out for Christmas, you just deliver. Period. How? That’s what we tackle in the NoEstimates workshop: tools, techniques and thinking models that help deliver on time. These tools are context specific, they come with stories and we practice those in the workshop. Click here to find out more and join the next #NoEstimates workshop.
In the Product Owner Success Toolbox workshop, we review, and practice tools that have helped teams deliver products and services that have a market impact. Impact for the users, customers and also the companies we work with. The biggest waste is that of human potential, with these tools we build our Product Ownership toolbox, and tackle the biggest challenges people have faced when trying to define and deliver products with market impact. Click here to find out more and join the next Product Owner Success Toolbox workshop.
In the Agile Strategy workshop (still in alpha, contact me to know more), we tackle the biggest challenges that companies have faced aligning the teams, and focusing larger number of teams on concrete value for the customers and the organisation. The Agile Strategy workshop collects tools related to funding of work, strategy definition, product strategy, strategy deployment, and progress follow-up at the organizational level. Email me to know more about the Agile Strategy Workshop.

Join the conversation

Have an opinion on the use of Tools vs. Frameworks? Join the conversation on Twitter/LinkedIn with the hashtag #ToolsOverFrameworks

2 major challenges I faced as a product developer

When I started developing software as a team member, and later as a project manager, I started to face some of the challenges that you are probably familiar with.

With the little experience I had, these challenges proved to be difficult to solve. During part of my journey, they even felt impossible to solve. I know better now…

The first and most important challenge for me was the need to meet a strict deadline.

We ended up calling it the Christmas problem.
Continue reading 2 major challenges I faced as a product developer