Category Archives: Professional Development

Why we SCRUM: Achieving Hyper-productivity. Presented by Myplanet Digital and Berteig Consulting

On Friday, October 28th at 1pm join Paul Heidema from Berteig Consulting and Shanly Suepaul from Myplanet Digital as we discuss what Scrum is, how we use it at Myplanet Digital and how Scrum can help your team.
 
Scrum is the lifeblood of Myplanet. When executed properly it empowers teams and individuals to stay motivated and achieve excellence. Most importantly, Scrum allows us to continually learn and improve our people and teams.
At Berteig Consulting, we are experts at using agile methods such as Scrum to transform people, process and culture in order to produce high-performance teams and organizations. From ScrumAlliance.org: “Scrum is an agile framework for completing complex projects. Scrum originally was formalized for software development projects, but works well for any complex, innovative scope of work. The possibilities are endless.”

Sign up here: https://eval.webex.com/eval/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=924723906 



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Introduction to OpenAgile Half-Day Workshop – Nov. 4, 2011 in Toronto

For those of you who are in the Toronto area, you might be interested in a half-day session being put on by Berteig Consulting: an Introduction to OpenAgile.  There are two sessions scheduled for Friday Nov. 4 – one in the morning, one in the afternoon.  The price is $50/person and at the end of the session, you will be fully prepared to write the OpenAgile “Readiness” certificate exam.  The session is being held at the Hilton in downtown Toronto.  The session agenda is as follows:

  1. Welcome
  2. History and Purpose of OpenAgile
  3. Foundations of OpenAgile
  4. Overview of OpenAgile Processes
  5. OpenAgile Capacity-Building
  6. Benefits of OpenAgile
  7. Case Study: Suncor
  8. Q&A

Register now for the Introduction to OpenAgile morning session.

Register now for the Introduction to OpenAgile afternoon session.


Affiliated Promotions:

Try our automated online Scrum coach: Scrum Insight - free scores and basic advice, upgrade to get in-depth insight for your team. It takes between 8 and 11 minutes for each team member to fill in the survey, and your results are available immediately. Try it in your next retrospective.

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Reader Survey: Important Topics for an “Agile for Managers” Workshop

Hi Everyone,

We have started putting together a list of topics / learning objectives for a new course: “Agile for Managers”. I am interested in getting suggestions from readers on topics to include. What are the challenges you have had with managing agile teams? If you are on an agile team, what are some of the challenges you have had with management? What are the burning questions you have as a manager about deciding to use agile methods? What have been some of the critical success factors in adopting agile methods? What about pitfalls?

I will summarize feedback in a future article as well as post a proposed agenda for such a workshop. In order to “give back”, I will also make the initial draft of the course materials available under a Creative Commons license so that others can use the materials.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


Affiliated Promotions:

Try our automated online Scrum coach: Scrum Insight - free scores and basic advice, upgrade to get in-depth insight for your team. It takes between 8 and 11 minutes for each team member to fill in the survey, and your results are available immediately. Try it in your next retrospective.

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ScrumMaster + OpenAgile + Kanban training – Toronto (June 8-10)

Just a quick note to let people know that there are spots available in the seminar we are delivering on June 8-10 in Toronto, Ontario. This seminar includes Level 1 of Scrum: Certified ScrumMaster & Level 2 of OpenAgile: Certified OpenAgile Team Member plus Kanban.

Registration and details can be found here.


Affiliated Promotions:

Try our automated online Scrum coach: Scrum Insight - free scores and basic advice, upgrade to get in-depth insight for your team. It takes between 8 and 11 minutes for each team member to fill in the survey, and your results are available immediately. Try it in your next retrospective.

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Agile Jobs in Beautiful Saskatoon!

From time to time I am happy to list positions that are available in organizations that are becoming agile or already are agile. For what it’s worth, this position was described verbally to me as being much like a Scrum Product Owner. Here is the position information:

Project Manager at zu
Closing date: Monday, May 30, 2011

Our new Agile PM will manage full life cycle website/application development projects using the Agile methodology, work closely with our strategists, designers and development team and other stakeholders to manage requirements, scope, milestones, timelines and budget.

As an Agile Project Manager at zu, you enjoy working with other talented people and succeed when we deliver a project worthy of being called “zu-made” to a client. You live to under promise and over deliver.

You have a passion for Agile Software Development. You are eager to work with and share your experiences with a team transitioning to Agile. The thought of finding new ways to adapt Agile to an existing team excites you.

As a team leader, you inject enthusiasm into the combined zu-client team, adding transparency and candidness to communication in all directions. Using your natural ability to develop rapport with all types of people, you liaise regularly with the client and team, keeping progress on track and delivering on expectations.

You are excited by the idea of creating things that have never existed before, that learning and teaching are everyday occurrences, you don’t mind dressing funny from time to time, or bringing a dish to the potluck.

If you have the required experience, pride yourself on being extremely well organized, have a magnetic personality, sense of humor and are eager to be a part of an evolving company, then what are you waiting for? Drop us a line!

Background

Post secondary education in business or technical field
Minimum three years related work experience
Knowledge and experience with Agile software development, processes and methodology
Ability to work effectively on concurrent, multiple tasks and projects
Ability to effectively manage priorities in an ever-changing environment
Outstanding leadership and teamwork skills
Clear and concise documentation skills; you can write mean user story
Strong verbal and written communication skills

Responsibilities

Document, learn and support all aspects of projects: scope, risk, schedule, budget, quality and communication
Manage client expectations and co-ordinate and deliver progress updates to ensure the successful delivery of projects on time and on budget
Manage all project related requests with the client
Ability to guide and direct production teams to keep them on budget and schedule while continually inspiring them to innovate and provide the best solutions for our clients
Work with development teams on a daily basis to clarify requirements and to provide feedback
Facilitate developing user stories based on requirements
Prioritize and prepare product backlog and facilitate estimation meetings for strategists, designers and developers
Communicate project status with stakeholders and gather feedback for review and implementation

For more information about zu, head to our website: www.zu.com/live/careers.


Affiliated Promotions:

Try our automated online Scrum coach: Scrum Insight - free scores and basic advice, upgrade to get in-depth insight for your team. It takes between 8 and 11 minutes for each team member to fill in the survey, and your results are available immediately. Try it in your next retrospective.

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Paul @ Scrum Gathering Seattle – Day 3 Recap #sgsea

Wow! The 3rd and last day of the Scrum Gathering in Seattle was epic! I am tired and thrilled to have participated in such a great day, and such a great conference. Thank you to all who made this happen.

Un-Conference Sessions Using Open Space Technology
This was something that I had some reservations about. What does this mean that we all decide what will happen and how it takes shape? However, this was, by-far, one of the most interesting and engaging parts of the entire conference. Here are the 4 principles of Open Space: (1) The right people show up (2) Whatever happens is the only thing that could (3) It starts when it starts (4) It’s over when it’s over.

There is one law to Open Space: If you are not learning or contributing where you are, find a place when you can learn or contribute.

And there are two roles in Open Space: (1) Bumblebees – these people bounce around to other sessions and add new ideas. (2) Butterflies – these people sit somewhere and look beautiful, and may not attend sessions. I guess that I was neither a bumblebee or butterfly, like most of the participants.

So we were encouraged to come up with topics that we wanted to facilitate and/or learn about and pick a time slot and location. This happened quite naturally – which was added to the marketplace for the participants to choose which sessions they would like to attend and contribute to.

Open Space - one participant adding his session to the wall
Open Space - one participant adding his session to the wall

My 1st Session – Team Estimation Game by Chris Sims
This is the first time that I had the privilege of seeing Chris in action. He is a dynamic and very effective teacher and facilitator. The game is another method for teams to estimate effort for User Stories (in Scrum) or Value Drivers (in OpenAgile) or whatever you use for your particular Agile method.

He had us form small teams to estimate effort on consuming various types of fruit (which were on cards) including: grapes, orange, durian, pineapple, apple, blueberries, pomegranate, and coconut.

Step One: This was carried out by each person taking turns and doing one of two things: (1) placing a new card on the wall or (2) changing the position of one card. This was pretty easy and allowed us to have conversations on what we meant when we did an action.

Step Two: Then the team had to add numbers (also on cards) as a way to categorize the effort that would be done. Now each person had three options: (1) place a new card number, (2) moving a single card on the wall, or (3) passing which means that you agree with what is currently on the wall.

Chris Sims (on left) showing the Team Estimation Game
Chris Sims (on left) showing the Team Estimation Game

My 2nd Session – How to Launch a Team by Roger Brown
Roger showed us a few things to keep in mind when helping to launch an Agile team (usually done by him in a 3 day training on-site).

A ScrumMaster or Coach has certain things to do during the various stages of a team’s development: (1) in Forming, he needs to be directive and tell the team what needs to get done, (2) in Storming, he needs to focus on conflict resolution for the team, (3) in Norming, he needs be a facilitator and observe and then offer ways to improve, and (4) in Performing, he either needs to work on organizational obstacles or move on to another team.

Roger explained how the constant sprint length for a team helps it to get into a rhythm and get data such as the team’s velocity (the speed at which it gets things done). He also offered a great tool for people to use called the Market of Skills which comes from Lyssa Adkin’s book “Coaching Agile Teams”. Other things to use include a team working agreement, team vision, and a definition of done. He said that he likes to spin up 2 or more teams at a time to that they can learn from each other.

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Notes from Roger Brown - How to Launch a Team
Notes from Roger Brown - How to Launch a Team

My 3rd Session – Collaborative Work Spaces by Skip Angel
Skip made this session very collaborative and got us to add own challenges and questions to a flip chart page and then get us to share how we would solve each others challenges.

Insights included: share visual stories to help the team see benefits, promote outcomes, tools to use for collaboration. Some tools and useful sites: http://sococo.com, http://onemoreagileblog.com, http://cocoo.com, and http://agileadvice.com !

Skip Angel on Collaborative Work Spaces
Skip Angel on Collaborative Work Spaces

Here is the format that he shared for a User Story: As a (type of user) I want (something) so that (value). Enter the things within the parentheses ( ).

Here are the 4 techniques for splitting stories that he shared: (1) Conjunctions / Connectors – words such as if, and, but or even commas. (2) Generic Words – eg. activities which could be broken into sports, dancing, and board games. (3) Acceptance Criteria – which is a list of pass/fail items that if agreed the story is done. (4) Time-line – which are steps of sequence to get something done.

Met Chris Sims
I spoke for a few minutes with Chris. We talked about David Parker who used to work at Berteig Consulting (where I work) and now works at Agile Learning Labs (where Chris works). Chris had nothing but praise for David!

Sharing by Participants on the entire Scrum Gathering
Each person shared something that they like or enjoyed about the conference. I shared three things: (1) the humility of the Certified Scrum Trainers (CST) and the Certified Scrum Coaches (CSC) to share with all of us their knowledge and their ears, (2) the wisdom of everyone at the conference, and (3) the amount of smiles and laughter that was the reality of all of us who attended.

Closing Keynote by Joe Justice and WikiSpeed
Joe gave an epic keynote on his team that built a car that gets 100+ MPG. It was amazing and super inspiring! I don’t even know what to say about it. He and his distributed, collaborative, and highly Agile team of volunteers did incredible things. I hope to buy one of their cars when I done with my current car. It is that good!

Joe Justice showing the WikiSpeed Car
Joe Justice showing the WikiSpeed Car

Final Thoughts on the Scrum Gathering in Seattle
So this was my first Scrum Gathering and it was amazing. From the people to the food to sessions to the Open Space to the Certified Scrum Trainers and Certified Scrum Coaches to the people who it made run so well – Fantastic! I hope to attend another Scrum Gathering in the near future. I already plan on attending the one in London, England in October 2011.

Warm regards,
Paul Heidema


Affiliated Promotions:

Try our automated online Scrum coach: Scrum Insight - free scores and basic advice, upgrade to get in-depth insight for your team. It takes between 8 and 11 minutes for each team member to fill in the survey, and your results are available immediately. Try it in your next retrospective.

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Coaching Agile Teams – Interpersonal Skills a Must

I know that coaching is hard. It requires many skills including: facilitation, encouragement, experience, an openness to learn, and interpersonal skills. I have learned that many believe that good Agile training and coaching requires technical skills (in a software development environment) above any other ability. I do believe that technical are important. However, those skills can be learned and advanced within the time with a team, training and/or coaching.

I have met many people that would like to train and coach. The one thing that seems to be lacking in many of them that would like to be effective is strong and well-developed interpersonal skills. I mean skills that include the ability to relate well with others, the ability to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with others as they learn and practice the art of being Agile, and the ability to observe and offer suggestions with humility.

Technical skills can be learned over time. Interpersonal skills are much harder to learn and have a much deeper impact on those that are being trained and coached. The second set of skills help teams develop, aid management in becoming part of the Agile transformation, and allow individuals to become partners in the process of culture change.

Wouldn’t you want an Agile coach that has integrity, wisdom, and humility over one that is proficient in .Net, Java, and can build databases?


Affiliated Promotions:

Try our automated online Scrum coach: Scrum Insight - free scores and basic advice, upgrade to get in-depth insight for your team. It takes between 8 and 11 minutes for each team member to fill in the survey, and your results are available immediately. Try it in your next retrospective.

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Worth Reading: The Scrum Compliance

Tobias Mayer, whom I respect greatly, has written a significant article on the nature of the Scrum Alliance and Scrum Certification.  http://agileanarchy.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/the-scrum-compliance/


Affiliated Promotions:

Try our automated online Scrum coach: Scrum Insight - free scores and basic advice, upgrade to get in-depth insight for your team. It takes between 8 and 11 minutes for each team member to fill in the survey, and your results are available immediately. Try it in your next retrospective.

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1st OpenAgile Team Training: Location is set! #OpenAgile

This is for people who have received the OpenAgile Readiness Certificate, this course is a key component for advancing your learning to the next level – the level of being able to function effectively as a Team Member in OpenAgile. This training gives you hands-on exposure to the OpenAgile team environment, and practice with all the core OpenAgile techniques for accelerating learning and moving systematically towards your goals.

Date;
January 26-27, 2010

Location:
Soloway Jewish Community Centre
21 Nadolny Sachs Private
Ottawa, Ontario K2A 1R9
Directions to Soloway Jewish Community Centre also known as The Joseph & Rose Ages Family Building

More information

To register for this seminar!


Affiliated Promotions:

Try our automated online Scrum coach: Scrum Insight - free scores and basic advice, upgrade to get in-depth insight for your team. It takes between 8 and 11 minutes for each team member to fill in the survey, and your results are available immediately. Try it in your next retrospective.

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What makes a true team?

Interesting article about a team:

EIGHT TEAM MUST-HAVES

On certain kinds of problems, Prof. Richard Field says a team always comes up with better solutions than does an individual. He offers these eight must-haves for a successful team…

  1. Must have a meaningful purpose that all members care about.
  2. Can’t be too large. Some experts suggest capping at 20. Field cautions against there being too little work for all members.
  3. Needs a diverse set of skills appropriate to the goals.
  4. Needs to be physically together. Even having some team members on different floors can hurt the team.
  5. Succeeds or fails together. No stars or scapegoats.
  6. Shares leadership. Of course there is one leader, but he or she should be willing to step aside when another team member’s skills are required.
  7. Has strong shared norms and expectations of behaviour. These are soft skills that often need to be taught.
  8. Needs time. “You lose advantages if you hurry,” Prof. Field says. “Slow it down for the process to work.”

Note: Was originally posted on the Financial Post!


Affiliated Promotions:

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Agile method for the Financial Services industry

There are two things every leader needs to know to be successful: first, a leader must clearly articulate what they expect, and second, they need to inspect what they expect on a daily basis. The big challenge though is how do you stay on top of changing priorities? And how do you avoid micro management and driving your team crazy?  This is why OpenAgile, in my opinion, will be very quickly embraced by management teams around the world. It has all the necessary tools to ensure success.
 
For the past 6 months, I have been working with a financial services team in Slovakia to introduce them to Agile methods. I started with Scrum, a methodology and framework that has been used in the Information Technology sector for the past 5-10 years.
 
The Slovak team started using Scrum with one team of 6 managers. They grew to have 4 teams actively managing their activities and projects using Agile Scrum, and another 2 teams are planning to launch soon. The feedback from the team members has been positive and the team leader is very impressed with the methodology, the activity levels, and the results. This organization/structure is doing very well in the very competitive marketplace that is Slovakia. I interact with the teams on a regular basis and often travel to Slovakia from Canada on business, so I have the opportunity to work closely with the structure, leader, and the teams.
 
The only challenge with Scrum is that it is somewhat restrictive regarding the types of work that is recorded and reported upon. Scrum does not accommodate repetitive or calendared activities. Fortunately, Berteig Consulting has developed OpenAgile as a new Agile method that allows for the tracking and reporting of all the Scrum work activities plus these new categories. I find OpenAgile more inclusive and representative of the Financial Services work environment.  
 
I’m now in the process of transitioning the Slovak teams from Scrum to OpenAgile. I believe OpenAgile will be a much better methodology for this team, and for all non-IT organizations, as it creates an environment for teams to achieve even greater success.
 
The OpenAgile method teaches the team members to self-manage. And rather than replacing the role of the team leader, that person is empowered to truly lead because they are free to focus on creating an environment where the team can thrive. OpenAgile helps the team to clearly identify the key strategic and tactical goals, and it allows the team to systematically inspects what everyone expects to be done.

There is actually a third thing every leader needs to know. It’s called OpenAgile.  And you can learn more about OpenAgile at http://www.openagile.com/ or by contacting Berteig Consulting http://www.berteigconsulting.com/Contact


Affiliated Promotions:

Try our automated online Scrum coach: Scrum Insight - free scores and basic advice, upgrade to get in-depth insight for your team. It takes between 8 and 11 minutes for each team member to fill in the survey, and your results are available immediately. Try it in your next retrospective.

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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


Affiliated Promotions:

Try our automated online Scrum coach: Scrum Insight - free scores and basic advice, upgrade to get in-depth insight for your team. It takes between 8 and 11 minutes for each team member to fill in the survey, and your results are available immediately. Try it in your next retrospective.

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Professionalism and Agility

Recently, I have been reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Fascinating reading. In this book, Mr. Gladwell chronicles some of the backgrounds of top professionals in artistic, sport and business endeavors. He tried to determine why these individuals/groups have accomplished so much in their lives and why they are in the top of their profession. Tiger Woods, Bill Gates and the Beatles are a few of the many professionals he examines. There should be no doubt in your mind that Tiger Woods is the top golfer, Bill Gates is a very successful entrepreneur, and the Beatles are a prolific band.

Please forgive me Mr. Galdwell if I summarize and distill your findings into a few short sentences. The answer is 10,000 hours. Each of these individuals or groups put 10,000 hours into their chosen profession before they arrived at the top. They viewed their professions differently, were passionate about what they did and behaved differently when learning their profession. I am not suggesting you need to work for 10,000 hours before you are successful. I am suggesting if you adopt the same methods they do, you will increase your chance of success.

As I observed these top professionals, I began to see similarities in a number of areas. They seem to share a comfort in their ability to grow and develop. I am not sure they set out to be the top but they certainly thought they would overcome what life threw at them and they trusted their own capacity to excel. I have found that giving yourself a steady message of what is possible helps you deal better with life and to overcome all the negatives around us. As an example, I seldom read the newspaper or watch the news, for this barrage of negative messages affects my outlook of what is possible. It seems to me that these top professionals insulate themselves from negative messages as well.

Next, they have incredible self discipline skills. They practice their profession with passion. They don’t believe in luck as much as they believe in hard work. This is where the 10,000 hours come into their development. They are constantly practicing to improve and master their profession. The top professionals did not achieve their position through luck, they attained the position through hard work.

To summarize, their methods are to be positive about your ability to cope with the future, give yourself positive messages, be disciplined about mastering your profession and be prepared to work hard to achieve the position of the professional.

There is a quote I like that was told to me by a businessperson from Jamaica. When asked his view of life, he said “I refuse to be held hostage by circumstances!” The top professionals choose their future and are agile as they cope with what life offers.

It seems to me another reason why these individuals are so successful is that they were very agile in their approach to life. They created their future rather than follow others. Through their own personal agility they made the right decisions to gain a top position in their chosen profession.

So the question I have been wrestling with is this: If they can be the top, then why not me? What is holding me back? Well, if you have ever spent time with me, or read any of my books, you would know the answer. The only thing holding me back is me. Can I get better? Yes, I can. Can I work harder? Yes, I can. Can I be more successful? Yes, I can. Can I be more agile in my approach to life and its challenges? Absolutely yes!

So how about you? In these troubled economic times, we have an opportunity to re-invent ourselves. The best way to survive and thrive from our current situation is to build the future we desire. Rather than expending a lot of energy worrying about your current situation, you should be taking that energy and using it to take charge of your future and build a new reality. Approach whatever life throws at you with agility. I believe success is a choice. Make good choices and everything is possible.


Affiliated Promotions:

Try our automated online Scrum coach: Scrum Insight - free scores and basic advice, upgrade to get in-depth insight for your team. It takes between 8 and 11 minutes for each team member to fill in the survey, and your results are available immediately. Try it in your next retrospective.

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