About David Parker

David's focus at Berteig Consulting is growing the business in a sustainable way. In addition to his experience in marketing and community relations at McDonald's Restaurants of Canada, he helped Corporate Knights magazine launch "The Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World." He has a Bachelor's degree in International Studies with a Peace Studies certificate from the University of North Texas.

Case Study: Agile Process and a Twist on “20 Percent Time” for a Self-Organizing Volunteer Team

Cross-posted from the personal blog of David D. Parker: A Changemaker in the Making

I am engaged in a learning process with a charity that has undertaken to implement a new model of volunteer coordination based on OpenAgile, an open source agile method.  We recently held an orientation with our new volunteers.  In the hopes that this information will be useful to others who are trying to innovate on their  model of volunteer coordination, here are the instructions I shared with the volunteers.  In summary, they cover our process for sharing tasks, the tools we use to communicate with each other, and our use of what we are calling “60/40 time” a twist on Google’s “20 percent time“.

ORIENTATION INSTRUCTIONS:

I. Agile Volunteer Team Process

We are all here to support the charity. We are inspired by its mission and goals, and we want to help in a way that draws on all of our abilities, knowledge, skills, and creativity.
Our team uses a specific system for producing valuable results. We work in Cycles of 5 weeks. The charity’s staff talk with the stakeholders and decide what steps are necessary for accomplishing the organization’s goals. Each one of these steps, called Value Drivers, add up to providing value for the stakeholders once they’re delivered. The staff also decide the priority order for completing the Value Drivers.
In week 1 of the Cycle, there is a planning meeting with all the volunteers who are committed to doing work during the 5 week Cycle. All volunteers are urged to attend and participate.
  1. The meeting begins with reflecting on the results of the previous Cycle. These observations and lessons are an important part of the planning process.
  2. Next, the team of volunteers works together to create a Cycle Plan by taking the highest priority Value Driver and breaking it down into tasks. Tasks are represented by sticky notes on the wall.
  3. Third, the volunteer team counts the number of tasks needed to complete the highest priority Value Driver. If the past Cycle showed that the team can complete more tasks, then the team takes the next Value Driver in the list and breaks it down into tasks. This process continues until the team makes a unified decision that it has taken on the amount of work it can actually accomplish.
  4. The last part of the meeting is commitment. Everyone shares the responsibility for completing the Value Driver (represented by multiple tasks) by the end of the Cycle of work. Therefore each volunteer must truthfully commit to completing the work. If a volunteer is not comfortable committing to all the work on the task wall, then some tasks must be removed until everyone is able to commit.
In week 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the Cycle, the team of volunteers complete the tasks in the Cycle Plan (aka “doing work”).
  1. Volunteers are free to take whatever task is of interest to them. If they need more information about the task, they ask the other volunteers or the staff for details.
  2. When a volunteer begins a task, they sign their name on the bottom of the sticky and move the task into the “in progress” column.
  3. When a volunteer completes a task, they move the task into the “done” column.
  4. There are weekly conference calls where all the volunteers check in. They answer 4 simple questions
    1. What did I do last week?
    2. What will I do this week?
    3. What did I learn/observe?
    4. What obstacles, if any, are affecting my ability to do work?
  5. New tasks can be added to the wall based on any of the volunteers’ observations, obstacles, clarifications, questions, urgent new tasks, etc. If you add a new task to the wall, add your name to the bottom of the task, so that other volunteers can know who to go to for questions. Note that these new tasks must also be completed by the end of the 5 week Cycle.
At the end of the 5 week Cycle, the team presents the valuable results it has produced to the charity staff/stakeholders. Any insights, observations, corrections, etc. are factored into the next Cycle Plan.

II. Communication Tools

Over the time we have worked together, the volunteer team has decided to use a few tools to help us communicate. The main tool is the task wall and sticky notes. The secondary tool is a shared Gmail account.
NOTE: This list of instructions is a working, evolving document; it is not set in stone. Volunteers are encouraged to work together and adapt the way we do things to create a system that works well for all of us.
ACCOUNT INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Login and read new messages
  2. Emails in the Inbox means there is work to be done (if the task is complete, archive the email to remove from the Inbox aka the To Do List)
  3. Apply Labels – Gmail doesn’t use folders; it uses labels instead. Apply labels to emails to assist other volunteers with how to treat the content of that message.
  4. Write up volunteer tasks for the task wall (Note: Label as “Task Written & Posted”)
  5. Get work done:
  6. Move the task on the wall to in progress
  7. If the task came from an email, label the task with your name
  8. When the task is complete, label as “Task Complete” and archive the email so it doesn’t appear in the Inbox
CURRENT LABELS:
  • ??? – this means more information or context is required to understand the request –> ASK QUESTIONS, or get help, to complete the task
  • By Volunteer Name –> This means the task/email is in progress; A volunteer labels the email with their name when they accept responsibility for a particular task
  • FYI (For Your Information) – these are emails that contain information that is relevant to volunteers, but does not necessarily require action be taken. If action is required, write up a task and post it on the wall)
  • Task Complete – Use this to label When a task is complete; archive the email so it doesn’t appear in the Inbox
  • Task Written & Posted – apply this label after you write up the task and post it on the wall
  • Social Media – these are emails that apply specifically to social media like Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Website – these emails are relevant to website updates

III. What is 60/40 Time?

There are many reasons why people volunteer.  Here is a short list that comes from Molly Schar’s article Making the Most of Nonprofit Volunteers:
  • Belief in the mission of the charity
  • Desire to “give back”
  • Meet new people
  • Make new business contacts
  • Invited or inspired by another volunteer or staff member
  • Improve resume
  • Learn new skills
  • Benefits such as free events
We want all of our volunteers to get the most out of their experience here. Rather than insisting that every moment of a volunteer’s time be spent on completing tasks on the wall, we ask you to split your time 60/40. We want to give our volunteers freedom to spend a large portion of time doing things that satisfy their motivations while still providing value to the organization. For example, if someone has an interest in building skills in using social media, but there aren’t currently any tasks on the wall related to social media, the volunteer would be encouraged to use 40% of their time using social media to benefit the charity. The remaining 60% of the time is essential for delivering other important results to the organization. We aspire to having a trusting environment, so it is up to you to monitor how you’re spending your time. During progress updates, all volunteers are encouraged to share what they’ve accomplished during their 40% time. This will help other volunteers to learn what motivates their teammates and will give the team information that can be integrated into future Cycle Plans.
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More Agile Practices for Social Innovation, Non-Profits, Charities and Volunteer Organizations

I have started composing a series of articles on my blog A Changemaker in the Making that are intended to briefly explain how to apply different agile practices to the work of social innovators, non-profits, charities and volunteer organizations.

The first article covers Self-Organizing Teams an important consideration for organizations that want to use their people resources more efficiently and to create a culture of empowerment.

The second article explores The Agile Workspace and ways to create an environment that is conducive to fruitful interaction.

Enjoy!

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Case Study: OpenAgile for Charity Volunteer Management

Cross-posted from my personal blog: A Changemaker in the Making

For the past several weeks, I have been helping a small charity solve a dilemma. Because the charity is well-recognized for their good work, they regularly attract volunteers who want to help. Unfortunately, the two overworked staff members are too busy to recruit, train, and manage them. My approach has been to use OpenAgile, an open source system for delivering value to stakeholders, to implement a few simple techniques to help them.

There are several aspects of OpenAgile that fit very well for managing volunteers:

1. Self-Organizing Behavior

This means people “volunteer” for tasks instead of doing them based on a tightly defined role or having someone tell them what to do. This frees the staff from having to assign work. Instead, they identify priorities and rely on the volunteer’s creativity and personal motivation to do the task in their own way.

2. Shared Responsibility for the Workload

When there is more than one volunteer, they work in a team and share the responsibility for the workload. The team of volunteers discuss the priorities of the organization, and decide among themselves what tasks need to be completed. Then, they create and commit to a 1-2 week short-term plan that will deliver those results. Finally, they come back after the 1-2 week period and reflect on what they accomplished.  This pattern of action, reflection, learning, and planning is one of the Foundations of OpenAgile.

3. Visible Tasks

This means that all people doing the work should be able to see what tasks needs to get done, what is in progress, and what tasks are done. One technique that co-located teams often use is simply posting tasks on a wall using sticky notes. (Check out my OpenAgile Task Wall Prezi) Another cool idea is Card Meeting which works on the same principle, but it can be useful for distributed teams.

4. Learning Manifesto

The emphasis on learning is perhaps the most important aspect of OpenAgile that aligns with the needs of volunteer management.  The Learning Manifesto states that “Learning is the key that unlocks human capacity.”  Volunteers are drawn to an organization because of its vision but can get pushed away when they feel they’re underutilized or not able to contribute in a meaningful way.  By making it explicit that the volunteer is primarily accountable for learning, the organization creates a safe space for experimentation and innovation.

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New Certified Scrum Product Owner training in Toronto added to calendar

Due to popular demand, we have added another Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) training to our listing of courses.  There is an overwhelming need for well trained Product Owners, and we’re happy to take up the challenge. The next CSPO will happen on January 14 & 15 at our office in Newmarket, just north of Toronto.

During this seminar, our Certified Scrum Trainer will teach participants how to do the fundamental tasks of the Product Owner in the Scrum environment.  The attendees will learn:

  • how to develop a comprehensive Product Backlog
  • competently add value to the Scrum team during the Sprint
  • fully understand how Scrum works and their role within the agile environment

With a maximum class size of five people, this seminar is designed to allow participants to dig deep into the role of the Certified Scrum Product Owner. After completing this course, attendees of this seminar will be able to create and manage a Product Backlog, work with a Scrum Team to create high-quality software, and use the Scrum framework to build and deliver the right software.  Please refer to our website for a course description and to reserve space for yourself or others on your team. http://www.berteigconsulting.com/CSPOCourseDescription

We look forward to adding value to your team!

If you would like more information contact us at sales@berteigconsulting.com

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Infonium using OpenAgile to transform Canadian healthcare

This summer, Berteig Consulting delivered an intensive OpenAgile training to Infonium, developers of enterprise application software for the Canadian healthcare industry.  Based in Ottawa, Infonium collaborates with Canadian healthcare practitioners to develop innovative software solutions that solve issues that are specific to the healthcare industry. 

http://www.infonium.ca/about-infonium/news/96-news-berteig

Berteig Consulting is proud to be helping Infonium achieve their vision of transforming healthcare across Canada.

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Half-price Certified ScrumMaster Training ends Sept 21

The summer is quickly coming to an end, and with it will end our summer special of 50% off Certified ScrumMaster training or only $995.00 CAD.  Our special offer is still available for the next 25 people to register and pay, but that offer ends on September 21.  Check out our course listing page – every CSM course we have scheduled in Canada is available at this fantastic price (Toronto, Edmonton, Ottawa).

Even without the discount, our course is a better value than many out there.  It’s a three day course instead of the normal two.  This gives you a chance to really dig into the concepts and practices of Scrum and Agile Project Management.  Our course is especially designed for project managers, team leads and aspiring leaders.  This course is a perfect way to help you expand your knowledge and skills in a practical and effective way.

Our list of scheduled courses is here.  Do not miss this great deal.

We’ve been asked, why don’t we bounce around offering courses in other cities like other Scrum Trainers? The simple answer is because we live here in Canada, and we offer courses in locations where we can support you and your organization after the training course is over. Trainers who parachute in from south of the border don’t do that. We are committed to helping you get the most out of Agile in your organization. Give Berteig Consulting a call and let us show you the quality consulting and coaching services we provide.

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Scrum Study Guide updated with tools for new ScrumMasters

We’ve updated the Scrum Study Guide and lowered the price!  The Scrum Study Guide is an editable tool for helping ScrumMasters do their jobs.  It is like a personal assistant that helps you:

  • Keep track of the rules of Scrum
  • Find tons of concise how-to guides for common steps and activities in doing Scrum
  • Keep structured notes or a journal on your job as the ScrumMaster
  • Maintain a list of online reference material
  • Assess the progress of your team
  • Organize the obstacles you are working on
  • Modify and update the Scrum reference material based on how you are actually doing Scrum
  • Look up answers to the problems you’re having with your organization
  • Plus, every time we update content, pictures, tools, and best practices, you get the updates for free for the rest of your life!

    www.scrumstudyguide.com

    Are you one of the many satisfied Scrum Study Guide customers?  Tell us how it is working for you.

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    Agile career development

    Now is a great time to be honing your Agile skills and abilities to further your career.  Why?  Two reasons – there are actually a lot of jobs out there, and we have a great deal on Certified ScrumMaster training.

    For example, we know through our professional network of an impressive company called Point2 Technologies that uses Agile methods and is now hiring.  Check out the Job Postings section http://www.point2.com/career.asp   And there are dozens of jobs on Workopolis for people with experience working in an Agile/Scrum/XP environment.

    The other reason now is a great time to upgrade your skills is the 50% discount off our Certified ScrumMaster courses in Canada.  For the first 100 people to sign up for one of our
    scheduled courses, the price is only $995 Canadian.  You can learn more about the course and sign up online at http://www.berteigconsulting.com/CSMCourseDescription

    If you’re looking for work, keep a stiff upper lip.  There are job opportunities out there.

    In Agility,

    David

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    Growth Facilitator role on an OpenAgile team

    This is my first post on the Agile Advice blog.  In fact, it’s my first blog post ever.  Before joining the Berteig Consulting team, I had never even heard the words Agile, Scrum, Lean, or OpenAgile.  After all, my background is marketing, community relations, and sustainability!  Needless to say, I’ve gone through some intense learning about the role of the Growth Facilitator.

    The responsibility of the Growth Facilitator is about more than simply prioritizing New Work goals and tasks. I see the role as contributing to the organizational culture, and helping to build the business in a sustainable way. “Sustainability” is an important concept at BCI. It means that we are committed to conducting business in a way that is respectful of the environment, society, and the economy. At the same time, it means that the BCI team operates at a sustainable pace, finding ways to balance our work and life so that we don’t burn out.

    As Growth Facilitator, I am also responsible for guiding the team toward delivering greater value for our stakeholders. At Berteig Consulting, our stakeholders don’t just include the company’s owners. Our stakeholders include a wide range of groups, including customers, suppliers, employees, and our families, all without whose support nothing we do would be possible. Delivering value to our stakeholders requires that we keep them in mind when we commit to our tasks each week.

    One of the important lessons I learned was to give the team S.M.A.R.T. – Simple, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound – goals and give them space to come up with the tasks to meet the goal. When I first started, I made goals that were broad, saying for example “to take care of our clients” or “to work at a sustainable pace.” Rather than stating goals, I realized that I was making statements of the team’s shared values. And while the team integrated these thoughts into our behavior, it was nonetheless challenging to spin off specific tasks that we could work on. Now, I try to ensure the goals I create conform to a user story format and meet S.M.A.R.T. criteria. For example “Berteig Consulting can update the Certified ScrumMaster course content so that all CSM course participants receive the best value in the market.” As soon as I made the direction clear, the team self-organized and generated tasks required to achieve each goal.

    Another key lesson of developing the direction for the team was allowing the Team Members time to review the next Cycle’s goals in advance of the Cycle Planning Meeting so that they could provide feedback and seek clarification. This became particularly important when one team member jumped on a business opportunity that created a significant amount of New Work. We simply could not overlook this great opportunity, and we moved it to the top of the New Work priority list and put it in the next Cycle Plan.

    Last, I learned that the Growth Facilitator and Process Facilitator have a complimentary relationship that requires frequent consultation. As the Process Facilitator goes about helping the team overcome obstacles, it can become clear that the team needs to address a systemic challenge during one of the upcoming Cycles. The Growth Facilitator then states the need as a Cycle goal in a S.M.A.R.T. format, allows the team time to give feedback, and prioritizes the goal in the New Work list. When the goal is brought to a future Cycle Planning Meeting, the team breaks the goal into tasks and solves the systemic obstacle that the Process Facilitator identified.

    These lessons have helped me understand how the Growth Facilitator role extends beyond prioritizing New Work and guiding the team’s value delivery. The role also fosters the culture in which the work gets done – working at a sustainable pace, taking care of our customers, and maintaining unity of vision.

    I would love to hear your thoughts about anything I’ve expressed here. Berteig Consulting is a deep-learning environment, and your feedback is invaluable.

    David D. Parker
    VP Marketing and Sustainability
    Growth Facilitator

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