Leading to Real Agility – Leader Responsibilities

Leading an organization to Real Agility is a complex and difficult task.  However, the core responsibilities of leaders attempting this are simple to describe.  This video introduces the three core responsibilities of the senior leadership team as they lead their organization to Real Agility.

The video presents three core responsibilities:

  1. Communicating the vision for change
  2. Leading by example
  3. Changing the organization

Future videos in the series will elaborate on these three core responsibilities.

Real Agility References

Here are some additional references about how leaders can help their organizations move towards Real Agility:

Please subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notifications when each new video is published! (There are 15 more videos coming in this series, and more beyond that on other topics!)  You can also find the summary article that helps you find all the videos and additional references here: Leading to Real Agility – Introduction.

Mishkin Berteig presents the concepts in this video series.  Mishkin has worked with leaders for over fifteen years to help them create better businesses.  Mishkin is a certified Leadership Circle Profile practitioner and a Certified Scrum Trainer.  Mishkin is co-founder of BERTEIG.  The Real Agility program includes assessment, and support for delivery teams, managers and leaders.

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Are You Getting What You Need From Conferences?

(Originally posted in June 2015 – Updated October 2016)

Photo Credit: BERTEIG’s Valerie Senyk facilitated a group session on “What Do We Mean by Transformation?” in Orlando 2016.

Professional Development opportunities are everywhere and they are easy to find at any price-point on any topic at any location. The hard part is deciding how to spend your time.

It is important to think about why you attend conferences. Most importantly, why do you choose some conferences over others? Do you want to learn from peers in your field? Do you want exposure to the latest industry trends? Are you looking for a new job? Or do you just want to be blown away by great people?

I attended the Agile Coach Camp Canada last weekend in Cornwall, Ontario, and that incredible experience has caused me to reflect on the variety of conferences I have enjoyed in recent years…and why I choose some over others.

Like any great product, successful conferences have clear and focused goals which create specific opportunities for their participants. Conference organizers choose location, venue, date, duration, registration cost, format, theme, etc. The best conference organizers are courageous and willing to make difficult decisions in order to compose their events with utmost respect to the collective vision and goals of the attendees, sponsors, and founders. The organizers of Agile Coach Camp Canada, for example, are dedicated to creating an event in which the agile coaching community can “share in an energizing and supportive environment”. That’s it! A clear and compelling vision. This clarity of vision guides decisions like whether to host the event in a metropolis (which may result in larger numbers and more sponsorship opportunities) or away from large cities (think overnight “camp”) — this is one formative decision of many that make Agile Coach Camp Canada so intense and unique year after year.

Some background: This was the 6th annual Agile Coach Camp Canada and the 2nd time that I have attended; the event generally starts on Friday evening and includes supper followed by lightning talks, Saturday uses Open Space Technology to produce an agenda followed by supper and socializing (late into the night!), then Sunday morning wraps-up with retrospection then everybody leaves in early afternoon; the cost per person is between $300-$500 for the entire weekend including meals, travel, hotel room; the event is often held in small-ish towns like Guelph or Cornwall which are a few hours from a major airport. Having been there twice — both times just blown away by the community, their expertise, their emotional intelligence, their openness — I understand very clearly the responsibility of conference organizers and I have gained new respect for the difficult decisions they must make.

Upon reflection, I know that I attend the Agile Coach Camp Canada because (a) I learn a lot and (b) I have bonded deeply with my colleagues. Those are the two reasons that I will return next year and the next. I do not attend that event with an expectation to develop new business, or attract new leads, or stay on top of industry trends — instead, I will look to other conferences for those opportunities.

What/where/when is your next professional excursion? Do you know what you want to get out of it? Here’s a tip: choose one objective from the list below and find a conference that delivers exactly that!

  • Business development: Find new or reconnect with existing business contacts.
  • Professional development: Find or explore opportunities for career enhancement.
  • Learning: Listen/watch/share with others who practice in your areas of interest.
  • Community building: Connect and communicate with people with interests or qualities that you appreciate.
  • Market exposure: Evangelize a product or service for a captive audience.
  • Other?

Life is short…make it amazing!

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Announcement: New Leadership Training – First in Canada!

Certified Agile Leadership (CAL 1) Training

Michael Sahota - Profile Picture (2016)Introduction:

Advanced training for leaders, executives and change agents working in Agile environments.

Your success as a leader in an Agile organization requires looking beyond Agile itself. It requires a deep understanding of your organization and your own leadership path. To equip you for this journey, you will gain a strong foundation in understanding organizational culture. From there, you will learn key organization and leadership models that will allow you to understand how your organizational culture really works.

Now you are ready to start the journey! You will learn about organizational growth – how you may foster lasting change in your organization. Key is understanding how it invite change in a complex system. You will also learn about leadership – how you may show up more effectively. And how to help others.

Learning Objective(s):

Though each Certified Agile Leadership course varies depending on the instructor, all Certified Agile Leadership courses intend to create awareness of, and begin the journey toward, Agile Leadership.

Graduates will receive the Certified Agile Leadership (CAL 1) designation.

See Scrum Alliance Website for further details.


Agenda (Training Details)

We create a highly interactive dynamic training environment. Each of you are unique – and so is each training. Although the essentials will be covered in every class, you will be involved in shaping the depth and focus of our time together. Each learning module is treated as a User Story (see photo) and we will co-create a unique learning journey that supports everyone’s needs.

The training will draw from the learning areas identified in the overview diagram.

Organizational Culture

“If you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening.” – Edgar Schein

  • Why Culture? Clarify why culture is critical for Organizational Success.
  • Laloux Culture Model: Discuss the Laloux culture model that will help us clarify current state and how to understand other organizations/models.
  • Agile Culture: Explore how Agile can be seen as a Culture System.
  • Agile Adoption & Transformation: Highlight differences between Agile Adoption and Transformation.
  • Dimensions of Culture: Look at key aspects of culture from “Reinventing Organizations”. Where are we and where might we go?
  • Culture Case Studies: Organizational Design: Explore how leading companies use innovative options to drive cultural operating systems.

Leadership & Organizational Models

  • Theory X – Theory Y: Models of human behaviour that are implicit in various types of management systems.
  • Management Paradigms: Contrast of Traditional “Modern” Management practices with Knowledge worker paradigm.
  • The Virtuous Cycle: Key drivers of success emergent across different high-performance organizational systems.
  • Engagement (Gallup): Gallup has 12 proven questions linked to employee engagement. How can we move the needle?
  • Advice Process: More effective decision-making using Advice Process. Build leaders. Practice with advice cards.
  • Teal Organizations: Explore what Teal Organizations are like.

Leadership Development

  • Leading Through Culture: How to lead through culture so that innovation and engagement can emerge.
  • VAST – Showing up as Leaders: VAST (Vulnerability, Authentic connection, Safety, & Trust) guides us in showing up as more effective leaders.
  • Temenos Trust Workshop: Build trust and charter your learning journey. Intro version of 2 day retreat.
  • Compassion Workshop: How to Use Compassion to Transform your Effectiveness.
  • Transformational Leadership: See how we may “be the change we want to see” in our organizations.
  • Leading Through Context: How to lead through context so that innovation and engagement can emerge.
  • Leadership in Hierarchy: Hierarchy impedes innovation. Listening and language tips to improve your leadership.

Organizational Growth

  • Working With Culture: Given a Culture Gap. What moves can we make? Work with Culture or Transformation.
  • Complex Systems Thinking: Effective change is possible when we use a Complex Systems model. Cynefin. Attractors. Emergent Change.
  • Healthy “Agile” Initiatives: How to get to a healthy initiative. How to focus on the real goals of Agile and clarify WHY.
  • People-Centric Change: The methods we use to change must be aligned with the culture we hope to foster. How we may change in a way that values people.
  • Transformation Case Study: Walkthrough of how a transformation unfolded with a 100 person internal IT group.

There are two main audiences that are addressed by this training: organizational leaders and organizational coaches. The principles and practices of organizational culture and leadership are the same regardless of your role. Organizational leaders include executives, vice presidents, directors, managers and program leads. Organizational coaches include Agile coaches, HR professionals, management consultants and internal change leaders. “The only thing of real substance that leaders do is to create and manage culture.” – Edgar Schein

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Building New Capacity

One concept that is integral to BERTEIG’s vision is for the company to grow organically through systematic capacity-building of its team…Which is one reason why I attended Coach’s Camp in Cornwall, Ontario last June. However, I discovered that my understanding of coaching in an Agile environment was totally out to lunch, a universe away from my previous experiences of being an acting and voice coach.

Doing a simulation exercise in a workshop at Coach’s Camp, I took the role of coach and humiliated myself by suggesting lines of action to a beleaguered Scrum Master. I was offering advice and trying to solve his problems – which is, I learned, a big no-no. But I couldn’t quite grasp, then, what a coach actually does.

Despite that less-than-stellar attempt, I was curious to sign up for Scrum Alliance’s webinar called “First Virtual Coaching Clinic,” September 13, 2016. They had gathered a panel of three Certified Enterprise Coaches (CEC’s): Michael de la Maza, Bob Galen, and Jim York.

The panel’s focus was on two particular themes: 1) how to define and measure coaching impact, and, 2) how to deal with command and control in an organization.

The following are some of the ideas I absorbed, which gave me a clearer understanding of the Agile coaching role.

Often, a client is asking a coach for a prescription, i.e. “Just tell me/ us what to do!” All three panel members spoke about the need for a coach to avoid being prescriptive and instead be situationally aware. A coach must help a customer identify his/her own difficulties and outcomes correctly, and work with them to see that achieved. It’s helpful to share stories with the client that may contain two or three options. Be as broad as possible about what you’ve seen in the past. A team should ultimately come up with their own solutions.

However, if a team is heading for a cliff, it may be necessary to be prescriptive.

Often people want boundaries because Agile practices are so broad. Menlo’s innovations (http://menloinnovations.com/our-method/) was suggested as a way to help leaders and teams play. Providing people with new experiences can lead to answers. What ultimately matters is that teams use inspection and adaptation to find practices that work for them.

A good coach, then, helps a client or team find answers to their own situation. It is essential that a coach not create unhealthy dependancies on herself.

It follows that coaching impact can be measured by the degree of empowerment and courage that a team develops – which should put the coach out of a job. An example mentioned was a case study in 2007 out of Yahoo which suggested metrics such as ROI, as well as asking, “Does the organization have the ability to coach itself?”

Other indicators that can be used for successful coaching have to do with psychological safety, for example: a) on this team it is easy to admit mistakes, and, b) on this team, it is easy to speak about interpersonal issues.

When it comes to ‘command and control’ (often practiced by organizational leaders, but sometimes by a team member), the coaches offered several approaches. Many individuals are not aware of their own behaviors. A coach needs to be a partner to that client, and go where the ‘commander’ is to help him/her identify where they want to get to. Learn with them. Share your own journeys with clients and self-organizing teams.

A coach needs to realize that change is a journey, and there are steps in between one point and another. Avoid binary thinking: be without judgement, without a definition of what is right and wrong.

The idea of Shu Ha Ri was suggested, which is a Japanese martial arts term for the stages of learning to mastery, a way of thinking about how you learn a technique. You can find a full explanation of it on Wikipedia.

Coaching is a delicate process requiring awareness of an entire organization’s ecosystem. It requires patience and time, and its outcome ultimately means independence from the coach.

Have I built capacity as a potential Agile coach? Not in a tactical sense; I won’t be hanging out a shingle anytime soon. But at least I‘ve developed the capacity to recognize some do’s and don’t’s...

That’s right: capacity-building IS about taking those steps…

Watch Mishkin Berteig’s video series “Real Agility for Managers” using this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBZPCl3-W1xpZ-FVr8wLGgA?feature=em-share_playlist_user

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The Scrum Team Assessment – Official Launch

Hi Everyone,  I don’t do announcements on here too often, but I wanted to let everyone know about the official launch of our new product: the Scrum Team Assessment – an online tool for your team to get a report on how well they are using the Scrum framework… and most importantly, helpful recommendations on how to improve!  This is a fully automated Scrum maturity assessment tool!

The Scrum Team Assessment is based on the years that I and two other coaches (Paul Heidema and Travis Birch) have been working with Scrum and Agile teams to improve business and technical results.  The Scrum Team Assessment is a joint effort that has resulted in a fully automated virtual coach for your team.

The analysis is both statistical and expert-system based.  This means that the report has basic information about how the team is following Scrum, and, more importantly, clear how-to advice to get your team to make improvements.  There are “quick wins” which are easy but will have a significant impact as well as long-term recommendations that are often harder, but will drive your team to a high-performance state.

The Scrum Team Assessment includes a survey of about 100 questions that focus on seven broad categories:

  • The team’s environment
  • The basic Scrum process
  • The Product Backlog
  • Team Membership
  • ScrumMastering
  • Product Ownership
  • and Agile best practices

Every team member fills in the survey to help us generate a valid set of recommendations.

The Scrum Team Assessment is $496/team/use (that’s Canadian dollars).  If you have several teams or wish to obtain an enterprise license, please contact us at sales@berteigconsulting.com or +1-905-868-9995.

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Leading to Real Agility – Introduction

Leading an organization to Real Agility is a complex and difficult task.

Leading to Real Agility is about how leaders including executives and senior managers help their organization achieve great business results and a great corporate culture. This video introduces the topics of our next series of videos.

This is the first video in a series on Leading to Real Agility.

Leading to Real Agility

The following topics will be covered in the video series.  A new video will be posted every two weeks.

  1. Leadership Responsibilities – what must leaders do to inspire change.
  2. Communicate the Vision for Change – how leaders can craft a compelling vision for change.
  3. Lead by Example – the actions of leaders matter.
  4. Change the Organization – the primary work of leaders.
  5. Environment for Change – hindering and helping change.
  6. Real Agility Practices – how do leaders and their staff work?
  7. Choosing a Change Approach – options for changing your enterprise.
  8. Leadership and Culture – what do you need to know to change culture?
  9. Change Adoption Curve – when do people adopt change?
  10. Leadership Time Allocation – a major benefit of improvement.
  11. Handling Resistance and Laggards – leading sometimes means pushing.
  12. Choosing a Pilot Project – some projects are better than others when you’re starting out.
  13. Real Agility at Scale – if you have a big organization.
  14. Organizational Agility – having wholeness and integrity throughout.
  15. Individual Leadership Development – a leader’s personal journey.
  16. Assessing Your Organization – where are you right now?

Please subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notifications when each new video is published!

Mishkin Berteig presents the concepts in this video series.  Mishkin has worked with leaders for over fifteen years to help them create better businesses.  Mishkin is a certified Leadership Circle Profile practitioner and a Certified Scrum Trainer.  Mishkin is co-founder of BERTEIG.  The Real Agility program includes assessment, and support for delivery teams, managers and leaders.

BESTEIG Real Agility logo


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Link: Automation Testing for Agile Development

Many times, participants in Certified ScrumMaster or Certified Scrum Product Owner courses ask about automation testing for agile development.

The article which follows provides an excellent answer to one of the most popular questions. After reading it, please consider leaving a comment below.

Automation Testing For Agile Development

By Agile Zone

Agile automation testing is particularly important in the Agile development lifecycle. Agile software development involves a constant feedback loop among team members. This is in contrast to the Waterfall model of development, where software testing only begins once the development phase has been completed.

In Agile development, software testing activities are conducted from the beginning of the project. Software testing is done incrementally and iteratively. Automation testing is an extremely important part of Agile testing. After each change in the system, it is important to run a battery of automated functional and regression tests to ensure that no new defects have been introduced. Without this automation testing harness, Agile testing can become very time-consuming. This can result in insufficient test coverage. This will, in turn, affect software quality. Automation testing is necessary for the project to maintain agility. As a matter of fact, introducing automation processes such as automation builds and automation smoke tests is important in all aspects of agile development. As budgets shrink, time spent on repeatable automation testing becomes more and more necessary.

Continue reading here. 

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Link: Transitioning from Waterfall to Agile

I have yet to find a better article than this one on transitioning from Waterfall to Agile.

Transitioning From Waterfall to Agile

By Sanjay Zalavadia

Agile is designed to promote positive and functioning relationships among team members, enabling self-administered teams and team processes that address the continual consumer demand for updates and the fluctuating levels of software consumption. Teams integrate multi-talented resources into cross-functional process to boost production and inspire innovation.

Agile methodologies allow assessment of project direction throughout the entire software lifecycle. The strategy of regular iterations incentivize teams to produce potentially shippable output at the end of each incremental build, providing immediate opportunities to redirect objectives for quicker and more continuous delivery. In this way, software development can happen while requirements and analysis are occurring. Development is integrated into fact-finding through the build activity rather than strictly defined as stages of production.


Continue reading here.

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Link: The Solution That Fits Our Team

I recently came across an excellent article on how teams are taking the best of several Agile methods and combining them together into a solution which works in their specific environment.

The overview and description of the essence of Agile, Scrum and  Kanban is really helpful.

After you have a chance to read it please share your reflections in the comment section below.

Scrumban: The Solution That Fits My Team

by Serghei Rusu

Image title

If you have any issues with the methodology approach you have in your company, then you have probably heard these words already. That is our case as well. At a certain point in time, we felt like we were no longer facing the rapidly changing requirements that come from modern world business and that the software development methodology we had was pulling us back….

Continue reading the article here.

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Announcement: REAL agility newsletter released today!

rachelheadshot“Each week there are more and more exciting items to share with our ever-increasing newsletter subscriber list of leaders who, like you, are creating positive change in organizations across Canada.”

Rachel Perry, Content & Community Coordinator

Recently we sent out a newsletter with some really great announcements! Here is a snippet from the weekly REALagility newsletter.

“Not only do BERTEIG coaches have fantastic insights to contribute to the advancement of the Agile industry, but also our Learning Events – for CSM, CSPO, CSD, SAFe, or Leadership – in both Toronto and Vancouver – continue to expand. In addition, multiple avenues for offering encouragement and support in a variety of ways are opening up all the time.

If our weekly newsletter were to include all the news, it would be 100 pages!

Sure, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but, truth-be-told, instead of putting EVERYTHING in the newsletter we share just key highlights, along with a warm invitation to hop on over to the Agile Advice blog where more knowledge, announcements and entertaining posts can give you plenty more details than what can be expressed in a weekly communication to your inbox.

We are excited to share that last month Agile Advice was viewed 18,000 times. Not only will you find more articles posted than ever before, but you will also discover a new development on the World Mindware page on Agile Advice; detailed accounts of hundreds of positive statements about BERTEIG’s coaches who are some of the leading Agile coaches in the world.

This week we featured Agile Leadership coach, Michael Sahota, onMichael Sahota - Profile Picture (2016) Agile Advice. In September, he will be presenting training for the Certified Agile Leadership (CAL1) training in Toronto. He was the second person to receive the designation to teach this class and the first to offer the training world-wide. He will also be offering a webinar this Wednesday, 24th Aug – register here.”

If you haven’t signed up for our weekly newsletter yet, I encourage you to consider giving it a try.

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Announcement: BERTEIG is offering 80% of SAFe classes

Did you know that according to the Scaled Agile events page (http://www.scaledagile.com/event-list/) BERTEIG is offering over 80% (17/21) of SAFe classes in Canada between now and the end of 2016?  And did you know they will be offered in seven different locations?

These SAFe classes are offered in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Waterloo, Mississauga and Markham!

Scaled Agile Framework - SAFe Agiilist Logo

You can register here for upcoming course offerings.


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David Sabine: What Real Agility Means To Me


“Real Agility to me means being aware of and accepting of the present, in order to respond and chart new courses for the future,” David Sabine

My name is David Sabine. I’m a Real Agility Coach and have been thinking about what Real Agility means to me.

My introduction to Real Agility began in 2007 when the CTO of the college I was working at in Fort McMurray, Alberta brought in Mishkin Berteig as a third party consultant. Back then, I was a software developer and what I experienced then is still true today. The value of bringing in a third party to solve business challenges is immeasurable.

Time and time again, as I have been involved with companies, either in a training or a consulting capacity, I have found that a third party presence provides or creates a break-through. The purpose is not that I go to a company as a consultant and I bring my new ideas, as though I am the only one with new ideas.  What happens instead is that I visit a company and my presence, as a coach, opens the door for the internal staff to explore their own new thoughts, or concepts or possible solutions. So the ideas that are already in the company are just allowed to blossom a little bit in the presence of a third party,because this third party allows or creates a sense of permission, a sense of autonomy for those staff. They’ve been invited to explore concepts and they’ve been invited to think through their business problems from a different perspective and I am there just to reflect what they already have or what they already know.

That occurred when Mishkin Berteig visited the college in 2007, and that occurs every time I go and visit a company for training or consulting.

To really understand what Real Agility means to me, I’d like to tell you about how I came to software development in the first place beginning back in 1993 when I was starting university and was a freelance musician.

I had two passions at the time: the pursuit of music and the logic of programming. My computer tended to pay the bills, more so than being a freelance musician, so as a career path I guess I was drawn to software development and started to build my own products early on in 1996-1997. I was writing software for small business clients with the aim to eventually build a product on my own and release it for sale worldwide.

In 2000, I started to develop a product with a friend of mine. In 2001 we released it to other developers in the world. Our first sale of that product was in Belgium and for the next few years it sold worldwide. We had about 2000 websites that were using our product and it was translated into seven different languages by the community of users. It provided my friend and I with a reasonable income and a great opportunity. It was fun!

In 2006, I realized that my own growth as a computer scientist required working with others beyond this friend, to work in a team, in fact. I moved to Northern Alberta and worked in IT department for a college. As I mentioned, in 2007, the CTO, brought in Mishkin Berteig to provide us with a 3-day training course on Scrum. Quite immediately I loved it because I could see how it would provide us with a lot of opportunity to solve problems we were facing in an IT department and, secondly, it just seemed like a more human way to work. I was reflecting on all of these periods I had had as a musician, working with other musicians, and it just seemed like a better way to approach the creative endeavor than other project management methods that were in play at the time.

Since that time, I’ve been practicing them in a variety of settings and I’m more convinced now than ever that the Agile Manifesto provides us with a great solution space as we respond to business challenges. Recently I’ve decided not to be a developer or product owner but have decided to join Berteig full time and train and coach other teams.

So that’s the story of my personal evolution. My personal journey.

Looking back on that training I can see how I felt immediately that Real Agility was an alternative way of doing things.

I studied music since I was a child and music has always been a huge part of my life,and as a musician, one becomes aware of or familiar with continuous improvement. This is the same concept found in Real Agility. But with music it’s incremental, tiny, tiny increments of improvement over time. We respond to an audience. We respond in real time to our fellow musicians. We are always taking in input and that informs our performance of the music. As musicians, we spend a lot of personal time developing our craft. We spend significant time in performance so we can receive the audience feedback.

What I mean to say is that musicians are excellent examples of high performance teams and are excellent examples of creative excellence, who understand tactical excellence and what it means to get there.

When I joined Software development in a large, bureaucratic institution – the college – it was anything but natural for me. At that time, I was more than just a software developer. I was systems analyst, database admin and a variety of positions or roles. It just felt like an industrialized, mechanical environment where people were expected to behave as interchangeable units of skill. Work was expected to get done in the prescribed procedure. And decisions were expected only to be made by the smartest or the highest paid few and if you weren’t of that ilk, you were not expected to behave autonomously. You were expected to be just part of the machine and it felt very inhuman, as most people feel as a part of a large hierarchical bureaucracy.

When Mishkin facilitated the Certified Scrum Master training course in 2007, it just blew all those doors open. It reminded me that we can approach our work the way I had naturally approached it, as a creative individual who is capable of learning and wants to receive immediate feedback from audience or user, and who can make autonomous decisions about how to apply that feedback into the continuous development of software and systems and large infrastructure.

These business challenges are pretty common. They are delayed projects or projects that that blow the budget, or where a group of people are assigned to the project and they can’t possibly complete the scope of work in the time given. Or staff are demoralized, and how that expands through enterprises. There are many examples. The college where I was working suffered all of the most common issues and the one that hurt me the most or I felt the most was attrition. Dis-engaged staff. The reason for it was simple. The college had not presented with them a purpose or opportunity to be masterful. The extrinsic motivators, salaries and such, were just enough to keep people for a little while and then they would leave. And so the college at the time was experiencing attrition of 35-40% per year and that’s what I meant by inhuman.

“These Real Agility methods presented a change. In fact, people become centric to the purpose!”

When I read the Agile Manifesto I think that it provides us with solutions, and so if our current business problem or business circumstance is that we have disengaged staff who aren’t very productive and aren’t getting along well, then the Agile Manifesto reminds us that perhaps business people and developers can work daily throughout the project together. They can have continual interaction, and then individuals and their interactions become more valuable than the process and the organizational tools that have been put in their way. It reminds us that people should be allowed to work at a sustainable pace. We should build projects around motivated individuals. And that poses questions about how to do those things. What does it mean to be motivated, and how do we build projects around motivated people?

So Agile Manifesto presents us with some challenges, as a mental process, and then when we work through that we understand how it can inform good decisions about how to solve business problems.

Real Agility to me means being aware of and accepting of the present, in order to respond and chart new courses for the future.”

In other words, Agility means being nimble, the ability to adapt to current circumstance, but more than that, Real Agility means that we should approach our work with the intention that we stay light-weight so that when our circumstances change we can adapt without a lot of inertial resistance. So there’s two components there. One is being able to adapt quickly, and being aware of present circumstance but the other is that we don’t want to take on weight and institutional mass, because that’s inertia, the status quo.

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Scrum Product Owner Training: Reflecting on Agile in Community Settings


rachelheadshotThe Certified Product Owner training I attended recently has me reflecting on when I first heard about Agile.

My introduction was in 2012 on one of those really cold, dark wintery nights in the now-famous Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Garry Bertieg had invited me to consult about a challenge we were facing in a community development initiative. I remember it being so cold and dark I didn’t want to leave the house. But I was curious about what innovative team-building technique he wanted to share so I went to check it out.

We weren’t dealing with a business issue. And it wasn’t tech-related. But it was complex and it dealt with many groups, many individuals, and many Institutions. He felt Agile methods could help.

He presented some basic concepts from OpenAgile. He had a large poster board, sticky-notes and Kanban-style columns showing how items can move across the board while in progress on the way to        “done”.Learning Circle - cropped He also presented the Learning Circle Model. I just made so much sense to me instantly. He remarked that he was surprised to see me so receptive to the material so quickly. It just made so much sense. This Learning Circle has formed the foundation of how I work ever since.

It was as though it combined the best of everything I had experienced in teacher’s college, in community development and in serving in community-level leadership roles for a decade.

I started applying what I learned from that 3-hour session immediately and I saw the results instantly.


At the time, I was operating independently, so I didn’t have a manager to run anything through, and I was running a neighbourhood children’s class, responsible for supporting more than a dozen volunteers, teachers, and other coordinators. The OpenAgile model was a perfect fit and I attribute a lot of the success of that neighbourhood class to the framework within OpenAgile.

At the time, I knew nothing of Scrum, Kanban or even the way Agile first evolved from IT software development. I didn’t know any of that. But I started working with Agile methods then and continued until now.

Certified Product Owner Training Took My Understanding To a New Level

Last week I had another agile-style life-changing experience in the Certified Scrum Product Owner training lead by Mishkin Berteig & Jerry Doucett.

I entered the class with an open mind, willing to learn, and eager to apply the learning in whatever ways are applicable in my current circumstances.

At a very foundational level I gained a new understanding and appreciation for the role of the Product Owner in creating the product backlog. I understand that is key.

I also enjoyed the simulation exercise of creating a product. The team I worked with at the table was excellent and worked so well together. At one point, we made this Product Box which demonstrated our vision for our product.Product Owner Simulation - Product Box Example

It was extremely valuable to also understand the way the Product Owner collaborates with  the Scrum Master for the best possible results.

Since I am not currently working with a Scrum team, there are some parts of this learning which are not immediately applicable.

However, the training was exceptional and I came away with a much more thorough understanding of the Product Owner’s role as a whole.

It was a phenomenal experience with an excellent facilitator team.

I’m enjoying the opportunity to learn more and more about positive ways organizations are changing every day, both inside and outside of corporate environments.




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