Making Agile Retrospectives Impactful – A Visualization Tool by Jeff Campbell

This is a guest post by Jeff Campbell, author of Actionable Agile tools (available on Amazon, and direct from the author at bit.ly/aatbook)

Visualizing Continuous Improvement

I am a big believer in continuous improvement, weather that be in the form of Retrospectives, a Kaizen approach, or something else that helps the team reflect regularly. But for the earlier years of my career as a Scrum Master I found myself frustrated by a lack of improvement despite all this reflection (retrospectives that have no impact…).

Often,what I was seeing was that we talked about the problems the team was facing, and then didn’t follow-through with the actions we agreed to take.

When we tried to change our behavior. We might have succeeded for a day or two and then would forget about it. This isn’t continuous improvement this is just continuous discussion!

We need a good way to make sure we are actually making the change we set out to make!

Continue reading Making Agile Retrospectives Impactful – A Visualization Tool by Jeff Campbell

Selling Agile – How to get Buy-In from Management? – 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 do you get management to buy-in to the Agile transformation

You, as I have for sure, have seen companies where Agile starts with a dictate from management, it is pushed top-down by management. They say: We all need to get more agile!

But when I go it and ask, why do you want Agile? They usually lack the business reasons. It’s all a bit fuzzy.

Even if the team is on-board, management is not. Management change is outside of the span of control of the team, and then their resistance keeps coming back in the retrospectives but end up being considered not actionable and thus simply create frustration

How have you been able to break through that gate of IT and start talking about the wider Agile adoption?

Resources and tools

During this episode, we refer to the book Lean Change Management by Jason Little.

About Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is the author of Actionable Agile Tools, a book with practical tools and practices to help you amplify your impact as a coach and Scrum Master

Jeff is an Agile Coach who considers the discovery of Agile and Lean to be one of the most defining moments of his life and considers helping others to improve their working life not to simply be a job, but a social responsibility. As an Agile Coach, he has worked with driving Agile transformations in organizations both small and large.

Jeff is also involved in the Agile community and is one of the founding members of Gothenburg Sweden’s largest agile community at 1500+ members www.scrumbeers.com, and he also organizes the yearly conference www.brewingagile.org.

You can link with Jeff Campbell on LinkedIn and connect with Jeff Campbell on Twitter.

Agile Practices Retrospective – How to help teams get unstuck!

This is a guest post by Jeff Campbell, author of Actionable Agile tools (available on Amazon, and direct from the author at bit.ly/aatbook)

Keeping retrospectives impactful and fresh

We like to keep our retrospectives fresh. We find it helps to reveal things we might not otherwise have found if we alter the format frequently. With this goal in mind, we follow a simple system:

Once a month we use our ”normal” retro format. Everyone in the team is familiar with this, and we can perform them quite quickly, with minimal prep work and explanation required. Basically, effective with very little admin.

Once a month we have our ”experimental” retrospective. A little more set-up time required, but a good opportunity for experimentation and explorations.

This is the story of one such retrospective.

Agile Practices

Obviously, you can perform many Agile practices, but not be Agile. However, there are a lot of practices out there and sometimes teams can become focused solely on those that they are currently using, rather than looking at other tools they might bring to bear. This is where the Agile Practices Retrospective comes in.

Prep Work

In preparation for the retrospective, we created cards with various Agile practices as headlines, and a brief explanation of each listed on it. I also color coded them under various categories so they could be more easily identified from afar. Then we simply taped all these cards to a wall in their respective categories. There were about 50 cards in all.

Special thanks to Jurgen Appelo for providing the initial list I worked from:
http://www.noop.nl/2009/04/the-big-list-of-agile-practices.html

Here is a link to a google doc with the prep work I have done, to save you some time:
https://tinyurl.com/l8loec6

Reducing the complexity

With over 50 cards, there was a lot of information. We split into groups and started categorizing the cards under a new set of headings, it was made clear to all that they were not expected to read all the cards.

Headings:

  • Doing (Working Well): Things we are currently doing, and quite happy with the way they currently work.
  • Doing (Could be better): Things we are currently practicing but could use improvement.
  • Not doing (By choice): Things we are not currently practicing, but have made a choice not to use in our context.
  • Not doing (Not tried): Things we are not doing, and have never really tried.
  • WTF!?!: We have no idea what this is, or what it means.

Deciding what to focus on

We obviously cannot talk about all these things. So, we used dot voting to decide what topics to focus on. Each team member was given 3 ”dots” for each of these types of vote:

  • We should start and or alter this practice in some way. (Indicated by a dot)
  • We would like to learn more about this practice. (Indicated by a +)

I also printed out simple list versions of the same information, as I knew it would be hard for everyone to gather around the board when deciding how to use their votes. Despite this, this was still not as successful as we would have hoped. Part of this is because we are actually two teams and our 3 customer representatives, so the whiteboard was too crowded. I feel this would go better with a single team.

Discussions and action points

We had open discussions and tried to create action points/experiments around the topics we had discussed. I will just give a very brief of what we arrived at:

Root Cause Analysis/ 5 Why’s

Discussion:
We even arrived at the fact that without formal tools, we are still quite good at root cause analysis. But perhaps a formal tool might reveal something we would have otherwise been unaware of.

Experiments:
1)Focus on using our discussion time during retrospectives (Generate Insight) to use more formal tools like 5 why’s.
2) When events are added to our timeline at daily stand-ups, then we should also consider doing a more in-depth analysis of those items.

Product Vision

Discussion:
We felt that we very likely do have a product vision, and even a fair amount of impact mapping done for that, but this is not communicated to the entire team at a frequent enough rate. Also, we need to get better at following up these things.

Experiments:
1)Make the product vision more concrete and communicate it at a regular interval.
2)Follow the vision and impact map up at a regular interval.

Behaviour Driven Development (BDD):

Discussion:
This is a discussion point we wanted to learn more about. So, the discussion was brief. We basically arrived at the fact that it was intriguing and we want to know more.

Experiments:
1)The two team members who know something on the subject will provide some links and a quick intro for everyone else.
2) Some of the team will experiment with these concepts in our ”Brain Day” next week.

Conclusions:

The Good:

This retrospective was reviewed well by the team, everyone generally liked it.

It was a fairly active retrospective, because of all the moving things around and working in teams, so the energy level remained high throughout.

Probably the best aspect of this retrospective was the addition of fresh concepts into the team, the idea to focus on things we wanted to learn more about was a good one. In the future, we would probably recommend only focusing on these things.

The Bad:

There was a fair amount of prep work involved in this one, although I consider it worth the investment, it wasn’t free. Hopefully, a bit cheaper for you, as we have provided the work we have done. Once again: https://tinyurl.com/l8loec6

It was too hard to get an overview with so many items, this may have been due to team size, and might have been possible to mitigate by having the team read the list beforehand.

Despite there being so many items, the list was not even close to exhaustive, and it was hard to leave off some practices that really should have been included.



About Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is the author of Actionable Agile Tools, a book with practical tools and practices to help you amplify your impact as a coach and Scrum Master

Jeff is an Agile Coach who considers the discovery of Agile and Lean to be one of the most defining moments of his life and considers helping others to improve their working life not to simply be a job, but a social responsibility. As an Agile Coach, he has worked with driving Agile transformations in organizations both small and large.

Jeff is also involved in the Agile community and is one of the founding members of Gothenburg Sweden’s largest agile community at 1500+ members , and he also organizes the yearly conference www.brewingagile.org.

You can link with Jeff Campbell on LinkedIn and connect with Jeff Campbell on Twitter.

BONUS: Jeff Campbell shares his favorite Actionable Agile Tools for Scrum Masters

Scrum Masters understand the importance of having many tools for different situations. The quality of our work is often related to the quality of the tools we have in our toolbox and the context in which they work.

In this episode, we review some of Jeff’s favorite Actionable Agile Tools, a book that collects 19 tools and is now available on Amazon in black and white as well as full color. Not to mention Kindle!

A short, practical and inspiring book

Continue reading BONUS: Jeff Campbell shares his favorite Actionable Agile Tools for Scrum Masters

How to amplify Agile Enterprise collaboration: The Internal Unconference how-to guide

  • Are you having trouble getting inter-team cooperation going?
  • Is it difficult to attack issues that require people from all over the organisation?
  • Do you find decision making to be difficult and slow?
  • Do you find it hard to just knuckle down and get things done?
  • Do you want to remind people in your organisation how many brilliant people they work with?

In that case, you might consider running an “Internal Unconference”.

Internal Unconference is an exclusive blog post by Jeff Campbell, author of Actionable Agile Tools, a book that includes 19 practical tools with step-by-step guides for Scrum Masters. Actionable Agile Tools is now available on Amazon.

Continue reading How to amplify Agile Enterprise collaboration: The Internal Unconference how-to guide

Top 5 of 2015: Two Transformative Lessons in One Project | Jeff Campbell

There are many learnings we collect along our journey as Scrum Masters. However, transformative lessons are not that common, except for Jeff in this particular job. Listen how he learned 2 lessons that totally changed how he looks at his job as a Scrum Master.

About Jeff Campbell

Jeff is an Agile Coach who considers the discovery of Agile and Lean to be one of the most defining moments of his life, and considers helping others to improve their working life not to simply be a job, but a social responsibility. As an Agile Coach, he has worked with driving Agile transformations in organisations both small and large. He is one of the founding members of www.scrumbeers.com and an organiser of www.brewingagile.org in his spare time. He is also the author of an open source book called Actionable Agile Tools, where he explains how he uses 15 of the tools he uses in his daily work as a scrum master and agile coach.

You can link with Jeff Campbell on LinkedIn, and connect with Jeff Campbell on Twitter.

Jeff Campbell describes one key Systems Thinking tool

We observe the system we work on every day. We even have many ideas on how the system could or should change for work to flow better, for people to feel better. However, without a form of visualizing the system we work with those are just fuzzy speculative ideas that may or may not matter in the end. Jeff walks us through his version of a Value Stream Map for knowledge work, and how that helps visualize and understand the system we work with. It is only then that we can start changing the system.

About Jeff Campbell

Jeff is an Agile Coach who considers the discovery of Agile and Lean to be one of the most defining moments of his life, and considers helping others to improve their working life not to simply be a job, but a social responsibility. As an Agile Coach, he has worked with driving Agile transformations in organisations both small and large. He is one of the founding members of www.scrumbeers.com and an organiser of www.brewingagile.org in his spare time. He is also the author of an open source book called Actionable Agile Tools, where he explains how he uses 15 of the tools he uses in his daily work as a scrum master and agile coach.
You can link with Jeff Campbell on LinkedIn, and connect with Jeff Campbell on Twitter.

Jeff Campbell on the Mathematical Proof of Value for Scrum Masters

How can we prove the value we bring to organizations? He discuss the value metrics for Scrum Masters and how you can look at your work from the organization’s point of view. We also discuss the effectiveness of meetings and how that affects our own performance. We mention a research paper that explores the differences between stand-up and sit-down meetings, a must read for all Scrum Masters. Read the paper to know when each meeting format is the most appropriate (PDF link): The effects of stand-up and sit-down meeting formats on meeting outcomes.

About Jeff Campbell

Jeff is an Agile Coach who considers the discovery of Agile and Lean to be one of the most defining moments of his life, and considers helping others to improve their working life not to simply be a job, but a social responsibility. As an Agile Coach, he has worked with driving Agile transformations in organisations both small and large. He is one of the founding members of www.scrumbeers.com and an organiser of www.brewingagile.org in his spare time. He is also the author of an open source book called Actionable Agile Tools, where he explains how he uses 15 of the tools he uses in his daily work as a scrum master and agile coach.
You can link with Jeff Campbell on LinkedIn, and connect with Jeff Campbell on Twitter.

Jeff Campbell on how you should prepare for the recruiting interview

We very often talk about recruiting the best Scrum Masters, but in this episode we take the opposite point of view. How do you make sure you get hired as a Scrum Master? Jeff shares with us his learning of when he was not hired, and what he learned from that experience.

About Jeff Campbell

Jeff is an Agile Coach who considers the discovery of Agile and Lean to be one of the most defining moments of his life, and considers helping others to improve their working life not to simply be a job, but a social responsibility. As an Agile Coach, he has worked with driving Agile transformations in organisations both small and large. He is one of the founding members of www.scrumbeers.com and an organiser of www.brewingagile.org in his spare time. He is also the author of an open source book called Actionable Agile Tools, where he explains how he uses 15 of the tools he uses in his daily work as a scrum master and agile coach.
You can link with Jeff Campbell on LinkedIn, and connect with Jeff Campbell on Twitter.

Jeff Campbell on the Coffee Room Whining Anti-Pattern

We’ve all done it in one way or another. We spend time in a retrospective criticizing what is wrong, and assigning blame to others. Jeff Campbell has been there as well, and in this episode he explains how you can get teams to stop spending their valuable time whining, and start taking action.

About Jeff Campbell

Jeff is an Agile Coach who considers the discovery of Agile and Lean to be one of the most defining moments of his life, and considers helping others to improve their working life not to simply be a job, but a social responsibility. As an Agile Coach, he has worked with driving Agile transformations in organisations both small and large. He is one of the founding members of www.scrumbeers.com and an organiser of www.brewingagile.org in his spare time. He is also the author of an open source book called Actionable Agile Tools, where he explains how he uses 15 of the tools he uses in his daily work as a scrum master and agile coach.
You can link with Jeff Campbell on LinkedIn, and connect with Jeff Campbell on Twitter.