Category Archives: How-To Apply Agile

Practical or step-by-step advice and descriptions on how to do various agile practices.

Quotable Quote: The Greater the dispersion, the greater the challenges

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Jerry Doucett 201601 white background - head - 275 square

Co-located teams are more effective communicators and can sometimes experience increased productivity by up to 60% if situated together in the same room.  More simply stated, the greater the dispersion factor, the greater the challenge of collaboration.  Note that time zones are often considered the largest dispersion factor and can have a greater impact than geography.

Although it is strongly recommended that teams be co-located, it is not mandatory to success.  In fact, certain Agile practices have factors, tools and techniques inherent to them to help bridge some of the shortcomings of increased dispersion, such as a higher reliance on frequent collaboration and communication.  But to be clear, they do not replace the value of face-to-face conversation, they are merely a crutch to not having it. (Senior Agile Coach Jerry Doucett)


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Quotable Quotes: Leadership is the key to driving change

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Jerry Doucett 201601 white background - head - 275 square“Leadership is the key to driving change and progress.  Executives and managers of Scrum teams need to nurture the environment, let go of the “how”, allow the team to learn from mistakes, and encourage and coach the growth of the collective team knowledge and overall experience.

Understanding the dramatic impact leadership has on a transitioning team is also very critical, as a single word or direction from the executive level can single-handedly affect (either positively or negatively) the team’s future behaviours and resulting successes or failures.  And without a true environment of trust built by the leadership, team members will often shy away from taking a risk to try something new or unknown.” (By Senior Agile Coach Jerry Doucett)


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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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Quotable Quote: Scrum Master has authority over the process but not over the team

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Jerry Doucett 201601 white background - head - 275 squareHaving a good process is only part of the equation.  A good Scrum Master will champion and enforce that process, protect the team, encourage collaboration, highlight (escalate when necessary) and encourage the removal of obstacles, facilitate discussions, provide fair and constructive feedback, cultivate a culture of continuous improvement and learning, and work to help the team live the Agile values.

Remember that the Scrum Master has authority over the process but not over the team.  As the process champion the Scrum Master may sometimes even find themselves in a conflict between maintaining the Scrum rules and guiding the team as they discover the need to adapt practices to better align with their own needs and ways of working.  In that regard a Scrum Master should understand and embrace the servant leader role.  In the end, a Scrum Master needs to be the person that helps the team make decisions, but not the person that makes decisions for them. (By Senior Agile Coach Jerry Doucett)


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Quotable Quote: Without empowerment, knowledge and vision in a Product Owner the team will struggle

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Jerry Doucett 201601 white background - head - 275 squareYour Product Owner needs to be informed, available, business-savvy, knowledgeable, collaborative, and empowered to make decisions about what to build and what order to do it in.  They also need to be a strong negotiator and very capable at conducting business driven trade-offs.  In the end, a Product Owner needs to effectively communicate, convey and deliver on a clear vision to the Team and Stakeholders to ensure a useful solution is created.  Without empowerment, knowledge, and vision in a Product Owner the team will struggle. (By Senior Agile Coach Jerry Doucett)


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Quotable Quotes: Limit Work-In-Progress As Much As Possible!

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Jerry Doucett 201601 white background - head - 275 squareScrum team members should be allocated to as few different initiatives as realistically possible.  The more projects you are allocated to, the more task switching you may have to perform, the longer it will take to complete any one item, the thinner you will be spread and the less effective you will be.  In other words, people (and teams) should limit their work in progress as much as possible and focus on completing those things that truly matter most.  This is true for any framework, but it is particularly emphasized with Agile ones.  Note there is a slight but fundamental difference between being allocatedto a team and being dedicated to a team – that is a topic for a future article.

(By Senior Agile Coach Jerry Doucett)

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Jerry is leading a series of SAFe training classes in Toronto, Ontario from September through to December 2016. See here for more details.


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Quotable Quotes: Leverage Technology When Possible!

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Jerry Doucett 201601 white background - head - 275 square“For increased chances of success, a Scrum team should leverage technology and engineering practices whenever possible.  Techniques, skills and tools that facilitate Agile approaches such as Continuous Integration, Automated Testing and Test Driven Development all make technical excellence, continuous improvement and truly being “Done” every Sprint a possible reality for a Scrum team.”

(By Senior Agile CoachJerry Doucett)

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Jerry is leading a series of SAFe trainings from September to December. More details are here.

 

 


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Link: How To Manage the “I’m the bestest” persons in Agile

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therules

Can you believe there is an actual disorder which prevents people from seeing their own limits? It makes them over-cofindent to do things and yet under-skilled to achieve them. If you have a person with a disorder like this on your team, it can lead to disaster.

But you likely are not aware of what exactly is going on. Not until it’s too late.

You can read for yourself the nature of this condition and how a Scrum Master can help a person who perpetually under-estimates or over-estimates their capacities.

It’s called The Dunning-Kruger effect and here is the article entitled, “How to manage the “I’m the bestest” persons in Agile – The Dunning-Kruger effect.

What I like so much about this article is that despite the challenges of working with someone who is largely unaware of what they don’t know, is that the author offers encouragement to Scrum Masters.

Basically, a scrum team turns no one away. We are all capable of some degree of contributing. This article shows that the more a Scrum Master knows the individual team members and the collective capacity of the whole team, the better everyone can be!


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Announcement: BERTEIG is launching the first course of its kind in Canada!

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The Certified Agile Leadership training is a new course. At the Orlando Scrum gathering the program was announced and shortly after, CSTs and CECs with strong leadership coaching background and formal education in this field were invited to apply to teach the class.
Michael Sahota - Profile Picture (2016)
Michael Sahota was one of these selected coaches.
The course is an acknowledgement that Agile transformation can only go so far if it is driven from the grassroots level, or without the full support of the leadership.
As a leader, they are driving a culture change in the organisation to get better results. This goes far beyond corporate mantras and motivational speeches. Participants can expext to learn the intracacies required of a leader to bring about lasting change.
The target audience is C-level executives, VPs and Senior Directors with decision making capability. The training is also for Change Agents who are catalysts in an organisation, who have the drive and willingness to make a difference.
Michael is known by the Scrum Alliance and since he has had taken formal non-Agile related Leadership training, his application was accepted making him the second global trainer to be approved after Pete Behrens (who is part of the creation committee of CAL) and another chap.
BERTEIG is honoured to be a part of this global launch of a brand new training and we look forward to the positive feedback from many more participants!
CAL1

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Four Awesome Agile Links

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Agile_Axioms

What is agile exactly? How do we practice it? What does it look like to be an agile product owner? What is an agile team?

One of the qualities I’ve come to admire the most about agile teams and agile ambassadors is this continuous state of learning which everyone agrees to be in.

It seems as though “being agile” gives us permission to sometimes know an answer and sometimes not to. It gives us permission to sometimes understand a situation and have a solution and sometimes not to. Agile methods have a built-in “Reality Check” which is so refreshing.

By openly communicating often in retrospectives and by making work and backlog visible the process is taken out of the abstract and into the concrete. Agile seems to put everyone on the same page ~ even if people are coming at agile from very different angles.

Recently I posted a question to the 2500+ members of the Facebook Scrum group, asking for good recommendations for meaningful resources.

Here are the TOP Four Responses:

  1. The Stacey Matrix

2. 9 Things Every Product Manager Should Know

3. How Agile Are You?

4. Think Purpose

I’m interested to read your comments about any of these four articles or sites. What do you agree with? What do you disagree with?

What has been your biggest challenge and greatest success with implementing agile methods in your work environment?


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Link: How Will a Product Vision Help You Succeed?

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Dozens of individuals receive training to become Certified Scrum Product Owners at our public learning events in Toronto, Ontario.

What is a Product Owner? And how do they create a product vision in alignment with the team they work with? Xi Zeng, over at 3 Agile Guys blog, has some ideas worth sharing.

Here is an excerpt from his article on product vision.

How can a product vision help you?

A project always has a predefined scope and goals, therefore defining a vision for a project is in most of the cases not really necessary. A product has usually a much bigger scope and a longer life cycle, so it’s important to create a product vision in advance in order to:

  • help the business define requirements
  • be able to evaluate the value of the project
  • simplify the communication among the organisation (or with clients)
  • act as project’s compass
  • support the prioritization and decision-making in projects

The vision should consider the long term life cycle of the product and should not be easily reachable. Define even a vision that is almost impossible to reach. All short term goals should be clear defined and measurable, e.g. what is the next step in the project, next valuable goal, how to prioritize work items in backlog, etc. But the vision represents the long term future, it should stay ambitious. Just like when you’re hiking on the mountains, you can see the rocks under your feet, you know their size and form, you can touch them and even pick them up. But you can only see roughly where is the top of the mountain. While hiking, reaching the top of the mountain is our vision.

I think there is a lot of value in what Xi writes and it is worth exploring in greater depth.


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Link: The Human Side of Agile

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Scrum of Scrum photo

On the blog “Fragile” the author writes about the human side of Agile.  The author, who does not name themself anywhere on the blog, criticizes the agile movement for not giving more time to the issue around management.

Here are some of the key arguments:

  • not enough care is taken over the distinction between project and line management
  • almost all agile implementation failures could be traced back to management’s reluctance or failure to engage
  • practical guidance is needed for an agile team leader to describe how they might incorporate these ideas into their role.

The author also notes that an anecdote they wrote was included in a recent book. It basically describes a way to make the most of an environment even if management is not providing funding or space to support agile implementation.

Here is the antidote:

It may not always be possible to create the perfect working environment, however it is important to make the most of what is available. My team were looking to map their work flow using a white board and sticky notes. Unfortunately we were situated in the middle of an open plan office without access to walls, nor did we have the necessary space for a for a free standing white board. In the end we bought a roll of white board sheeting and applied it to a nearby structural pillar. Work items flowed from top to bottom and space was tight, but it served our purpose and is still in use years later.


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Mishkin Berteig’s 13 Myths of Scrum

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Mishkin Berteig dispels myths in some of the most challenging aspects of Scrum.

Have you been in a team where the ScrumMaster was also a Project Manager? Did you know that’s not really the role of a Scrum Master?

Or have you been participating in retrospectives which were public? Did you know they are not supposed to be?

The thirteen concepts addressed here bringing clarity and insight to Scrum Masters, Product Owners and team members.

These key principles of Scrum, when practiced regularly, improve the effectiveness of any team.

Learning a new way takes time but when the principles are clear it is easier to adopt them and implement them with focus and success.


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Link: Use Scrum Planning Meetings for Agile Delivery

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Dozens of new Certified Scrum Masters complete their training weekly and head back to work on Monday geared up and ready to implement what they’ve learned.

Sometimes it goes without a hitch, depending on the work environment and support from the rest of the team and management. But sometimes Scrum Masters hit road blocks and barriers and find themselves searching for creative ways to apply Scrum to create or enhance and agile environment.

This article on Storm Consulting’s website offers an excellent way to use scrum planning for agile delivery. The approach looks worth a try.


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