Category Archives: Article Reviews

Link: Transitioning from Waterfall to Agile

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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 Mythical Product Owner

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“When product managers weren’t looking, developers went agile.”

This quote from Barbara Nelson gave me a chuckle. I found it when reading The Mythical Product Owner, by Andre Kaminsky and discovered that this article gives excellent insight into the role of the product owner.

Andre speaks to the change happening in an organization when they adopt agile and breaks it down into bite-sized bits which really helps conceptualize the shifting happening across the industry.

He describes two key levels of change, mainly that:

Change must happen on two levels across the organization:

  • Technical – Roles and responsibilities must be understood, accepted, and adopted.
  • Cultural – Attitudes, expectations, political ambitions, and how we collaborate must change.

He writes that agile should not come in with a “big bang” approach but by introducing it in a gradual manner, allowing confidence and capacity to build, then the results can be more profound and long-lasting.

 


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Announcement: Scrum Alliance newsletter lists Mishkin’s article

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In a recent newsletter from the Scrum Alliance, Mishkin’s article about enterprise leadership is listed as a resource.

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REAL AGILITY – SELF-ORGANIZING TEAM CREATION EVENT FOR LARGE-SCALE AGILE ENTERPRISES

Posted By Meghan Robinson, Tuesday, August 16, 2016

 AUTHOR: MISHKIN BERTEIG

In 2005 I had the privilege to participate in the first occurrence of this fantastic technique for organizing large numbers of people into Agile teams.  It happened at Capital One in Richmond Virginia and my colleague of the time, Kara Silva, led this successful experiment.  The problem was that the “teams” that management had set up didn’t make much sense from an Agile perspective.  They were functional teams (e.g. a team of testers).  But to do Agile well, they needed cross-functional, multi-skilled teams that could work well together to deliver great results each iteration.  So Kara and a few other senior people got together all the staff in the department into a big room with a big whiteboard and facilitated a 3 hour meeting to sort out who would be on which team.  Everyone was involved – all the people who would be on the teams were in the room.  Those teams stayed together with the same membership long after that meeting.

The rest of the article can be read here.


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Article Review: Obstacles to Enterprise Agility

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Michael James, Certified Scrum Trainer, shares an article listing his understanding of the key obstacles to Enterprise Agility which can be found in the link on this site. He lists seven obstacles and the most meaningful seems to be number seven, staying committed to the transformation. Each individual on the team must be committed to the transformation, to be willing to endure the “storming period” which a team goes through when they are learning to work together in an agile way.

When they stay committed, as Michael James describes, then they are well on their way to adapting the agile methodologies which will allow for high-performing teams.

Experts in the field will be well aware of this concept by now, but for beginners it is worth breaking down into bits. Every conversation about agility in an organization ultimately involves a whole team changing – and not just one or two members by the way — so that an entirely new and more productive environment can allow for more efficient delivery of product.

Have you seen an agile team go through storming? What was it like? Did you see positives come out of it? Please describe your experiences here.

 


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Link: Scrum Vs. Kanban

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Vandana Roy writes a most succinct and clear description of Scrum and Kanban in this exceptional article.

Although I was first introduced to OpenAgile in 2013, Scrum and Kanban are relatively new to me this year. While not working in a tech-based department which uses these methods, I am interested in learning as much as possible about each system. I found her explanation and chart very helpful.

Here is a quote and chart she features in the article:

“Both Scrum and Kanban are unique and emphasize on more productivity with quality and efficiency for business. The table below shows advantages of both Scrum and Kanban and the commonality in both is  to keep delivering quality product.”

 

Advantages of Scrum

Advantages of Kanban

Transparency

Flexibility

Improved credibility with clients

Focus on Continuous Delivery

High Product Quality

Increased productivity and quality

Product Stability

Increased efficiency

Team members reach sustainable pace

Team members ability to focus

Allows client to change priorities and requirements quickly

Reduction of wasted work/wasted time


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What Do We Mean By Welcoming Complexity?

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05 All of Scrum Diagram - Branded

A few weeks ago, Agile Advice featured an article called Face-To-Face Value highlighting the first of the Agile principles which is that face-to-face interaction is valued above technology-supported contact such as email, text or even Skype.

Recently, I came across another fantastic article written by Peter Green on his blog Agile For All. In the post, “What Do We Mean By Welcoming Complexity,” he reminds readers of the second Agile principle, namely,  that we “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.”

His description of the concept of welcoming complexity is so inspiring that I was moved to sign up to the newsletter. No, I’m not a sponsor but I just wanted to share this enlightening reminder of one of the reasons Agile-thinking is so profound.

In the quick-fix, easy-is-better world we live in, it sure is refreshing to be reminded that welcoming complexity is worth it! When we welcome complexity we grow, we change, we become better people and the teams we work with advance because of it!

 

 


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Link: Mommy Dojo Kanban – First Month Review

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martialartsscrummaster

Right from the beginning of being introduced to Agile concepts in 2013, I appreciated the word “agile” because of its easy cross-over to sports and athletics.

Last year, around the same time that I started Taekwondo classes I also started working with an agile coach on an introductory e-course for agile beginners. As I was newly developing physical and mental agility in training while simultaneously deeply reflecting on and learning new agile concepts, the metaphor of a Scrum Master being like a Black Belt really stuck a cord for me.

Recently I came across another agile-enthusiast who is also a mother, a martial arts practitioner, and a strong advocate for personal Kanban. She authored a blog called  “Scrum Family” from 2008 until 2015. I find her posts light-hearted but strong, engaging and intelligent.

Here is a link to one of my favourite of her posts where she summarizes a successful month-long “Mommy Dojo Kanban” initiative.

She wrote that, “The Mommy Dojo Kanban really works for me. It’s simple, practical and easy to maintain. The horizon is the next seven days only. When that’s done, I simply reset without sweating major analysis or statistics.”

I was encouraged by her enthusiasm, organization and perseverance and am excited to try out a few of her Kanban tips myself.


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High-Performance Teams: Where Does Trust Fit In?

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Mobbing TeamAt a recent Agile Coach Camp I attended in June, a fellow participant said it best when he commented that as a software developer who had not really had an interest in people or relationships before, agile changed everything for him. He said Agile methods gave him a way to communicate with others, to trust them, and to understand how to work together to deliver excellent products.

What this gentleman was referring to, perhaps unknowingly, is one of the stages of team development. When an individual moves through stages of not trusting to trusting they are participating in an evolutionary process with a positive end result.

Daniela Moinau writes about this process in her article entitled, “High-performance Teams: Understanding Team Cohesiveness.”

She writes, “Once the storming stage is overcome the team is ready to establish open communications, stable positions and norms – the norming phase. Trust is finally gained, and “when the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.” These are the first steps towards cohesiveness. Once cohesiveness is achieved, teams will move from norming to performing and subsequently to highly performing. ”

So while it may appear somewhat obvious that teams would trust one another, its not obvious to everyone. Each person carries their own unique history and their life experiences are of value. These experiences shaped who they are and what they have become. These experiences, whether pleasant or traumatic, shape a person’s ability to trust.

Agile methods to challenge teams to trust on a more profound level because of the nature of the values and principles which insist on it.

When a person, such as the software developer I mentioned in the first paragraph, overcomes his own internal patterns and learns to trust in a new way it leads to cohesiveness for him and his team. And this cohesiveness leads to high-performance.

As it turns out, trust is essential.


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Are Agile Teams Just More Comfortable Being Uncomfortable?

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Stretch Goals - failure can be disasterous

Lately I’ve been appreciating the Top 100 Agile Websites compiled by Oikosofy.

Just out of curiosity, I thought I’d check out Number 100, just to see who was the lucky guy who wasn’t listed as number 101.

What I found was a delightfully surprising and pleasantly entertaining blog by a coach named Yves Hanoulle. One article which particularly caught my attention is called “Getting out of your comfort zone.”

8 key points for coaches creating safety for their teams
  1. Getting out of your comfort zone is important for personal improvement  
  2. When you do experiements as a coach to learn people about this, people might see things differently, because of their earlier experiences.  
  3. Give people a safe environment so they can learn to push their boundaries.  
  4. People need to feel safe to move out of their comfort zone.  
  5. The Safety Zone is bigger then Comfort Zone.
  6.  Stepping out of your Comfort zone increases the size of Safety Zone.
  7.  Staying to long in your Comfort Zone decreases your safe zone.
  8. Safety zone is perceived.

His reflections after a training seminar on the topic really made a lot of sense to me.

Basically, an agile team is striving to create a Safe Zone for themselves and their team-mates so people will take risks and move out of their comfort zone. In order to do this, they are or become really comfortable with that uneasy state of being uncomfortable.

It’s as though it is no longer uncomfortable to be uncomfortable.

When an agile team moves out of its Comfort Zone together and everyone feels safe and supported, the end result is the type of team described in the Agile Manifesto. It’s the type of team companies really get excited about. It’s the type of team people love to work with and in doing so they may find they love their work more than ever.


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Article Review: Agile Teams Bend But They Don’t Break

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In an out-dated model of work environments, there are clear “rights” and clear “wrongs.” Usually, the management or leadership determines this and they call it “Policies and Procedures” or “Mandates” or simple “Rules.” There are usually severe consequences for not following these, intentionally or accidentally.

In the new and emerging agile model, where team members focus their attention on taking action with little planning, reflecting, learning and planning frequently work environments are very different.

Instead of looking for people to blame when challenges emerge, an agile team looks for ways to learn and develop. The team can collectively embrace new ways to adapt to change together.

This is one of the things I am learning about in high-functioning agile teams.

I like the way Brian Milner addresses this in his article “6 Ways to Bring  Humility to your Agile Leadership Style.”


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Review: Switching to the Agile Mindset

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Recently, I discovered a well-written article on Scrum Alliance posted from a member entitled “Switching to the Agile Mindset.” In this article, the author lists six key components of the transformation individuals and teams go through as they adapt more agile mindsets and approaches to their work. I found this article ideal for new coaches and also useful for people on the team who may feel challenged by the switch.

The part which stands out for me the most is the phrase, “Change acceptance develops agility in a team.”

This concept is enshrined in the Agile Manifesto itself. Being able to adapt well to change is the cornerstone of the new mindset and a high-functioning agile team.


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Article Review: Thinking About the Agile Manifesto

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Often times, as I’ve been researching about agile methods and how to apply these to create real and sustainable change in an organization, I come across reference to the Agile Manifesto. I list it here today for those who are new to the field or who are getting back to the roots after trying a few things with different-than-expected results. It is an instrumental document. The values and principles listed here truly do shape the way agilists think and operate and to some degree or another the results appear to be better than before this founding document was introduced. So here is my “hats off” to this remarkable item which plays a pivotal role in cultural transformation.

The four key values are:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

Personally, I find the first one the most meaningful of all. When we value individuals and interactions over process and tools we are truly improving in leaps and bounds in creating collaborative environments which are continuously improving.


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Article Review: Beyond the agility: Lean

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BERTEIG’s expert in Kanban, Travis Birch, introduced me to Kanban through this link. It may be one of the most reputable sources for Lean/Kanban content online. One article I find particularly appealing is Beyond the agility: Lean. I’ll admit that one of the reasons I became hooked is because the phrase “Anybody who thinks we can overcome an emotional resistance with logic was probably never married. We can only overcome emotion with a stronger emotion.” Having been married, this peaked my interest. The rest of the article goes on to give a fantastic introduction into the agility, Lean, Kanban relationship and it served to deepen my understanding of all three. Great read!

 


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Article Review: Sometimes Waterfall is Needed to Become Agile, Scott Granieri

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I like reading success stories. In fact, I wish there were more of them in the agile literature because a success story is “evidence” of doing something that works and it is not just an abstract idea or concept with potential. That’s one of the reasons I like Scott Granieri’s article featured on scrumalliance.org entitled, “Sometimes it just may take a waterfall to go agile.” In this article, Granieri describes a situation occurring at a corporate level to create software for a federal customer. He presents the background, the problem, the solution, the results and the lessons learned. I find this article to be well-written, thorough and engaging.

Here is an excerpt from his conclusion:

“The solution for creating a successful environment for Agile adoption lies within one of the principal tenets of the methodology itself: Inspect and adapt.” He also quotes Ken Schwaber, co-founder of Scrum, who Mishkin Berteig trained with more than a decade ago. But that can be something for you to discover when you read the article.

 


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