Sure, the name isn’t the greatest, but this little tool is fantastic. Basically, every agile coach knows that you need to take photos of whiteboards, and every photo of a whiteboard either looks super crappy or needs to be processed after the fact to make it presentable. RectAce does it for you. It detects the edges of your whiteboard (or any other major rectangular feature in the photo), and then does all the color and contrast adjustments necessary to make it look nice. Here’s the link to the iTunes store for this app: RectAce.
We have made some changes to our already well-received Certified ScrumMaster training seminar in order to add more value for our customers. Beginning in September 2010, you will see the following:
- Our seminar is now a more effective, participatory 3-day seminar giving more value for your time by including OpenAgile and Kanban along with Scrum
- Our preparatory reading material replaces lecture-oriented course content to allow more effective use of classroom time
- The Scrum Alliance knowledge test helps you consolidate your learning of the core Scrum principles and practices
- Our seminar contributes towards three certifications all in one course: the Scrum Alliance’s CSM, the PMAC Agile Project Management and the OpenAgile Institute’s Team Member level
All these changes help participants to be more engaged in their own learning, and derive more value from this seminar. Our seminar combines with the real-life experience of our facilitators to provide some of the best training value available! We will show you how to radically improve the performance and quality of the work of your team and organization.
I have been coaching an Agile-Lean team in Waterloo over the last month or so. It has been very rewarding for me (and the team I hope). I have learned that coaching is very much about accompaniment. To have a positive effect on the team that one is coaching, we need to walk shoulder to shoulder with them. The exhaustion of coaching (physically) is well worth the learning and advancement (mentally and spiritually). It is so valuable to witness the “a-ha” moments and have some of my own light-bulb insights. It is such an honour to serve as a coach for any team, especially if that team makes you feel like one of the team members. (Paul J. Heidema)
A close associate, David Parker, has written a great little article about the use of agile methods in volunteer management.
Christian Gruber, a Googler, an agile guru and an Aikido practitioner clears up some important mis-understandings about Shu-Ha-Ri as applied to both learning Agile and learning Aikido: http://bit.ly/bqgvZS . Strongly Recommended!
“Last week I taught an introductory course on Agile Work. Normally this is pretty easy stuff. However, I was teaching this course in Bucharest, Romania (cool), and I have come across a substantial, strong and vigorous objection to agile (also cool, but challenging too). Several people in my class are asserting that agile is just like communism and since communism failed, agile is not likely to succeed either. I’m looking for help on this! …”
Read the original article!
Here is a collection of interesting reads and articles that either Mishkin Berteig (@mberteig) or Paul Heidema (@paulheidema) reposted on Twitter.
You can join Twitter by visiting http://twitter.com and following their steps.
If you are interested in what OpenAgile or other agile methods are all about please follow @mberteig @paulheidema and many others of the ones listed above.
OpenAgile is similar to Scrum in many respects. Both are systems for delivering value to stakeholders. Both are agile methods. Both are frameworks that deliberately avoid giving all the answers. So why would we choose OpenAgile over Scrum?
The most important difference is in applicability: Scrum is designed to help organizations optimize new software product development, whereas OpenAgile is designed to help anyone learn to deliver value effectively.
OpenAgile is an improvement over Scrum in the following ways:
More effective teamwork and team practices, in particular the Consultative Method of Decision Making, and
applicability over a larger range of team sizes from a single individual on up.
Recognition of the individual capacities required for effective learning, namely Truthfulness, Detachment,
Search, Love and Courage. Scrum acknowledges a separate set of qualities, but does not show how they systematically connect with the requirements of a Scrum environment.
Systematic handling of more types of work beyond just “new artifacts” and “obstacles”. In particular, OpenAgile includes calendar items, repetitive items and quality items and acknowledges their unique qualities in a work
environment. OpenAgile also provides a framework to include additional types of work beyond these five.
Improved role definitions based on extensive experience.
There is only one role defined in OpenAgile (Team Member) vs. three defined in Scrum (Team Member, ScrumMaster, Product Owner).
There are multiple paths of service that allow Team Members and Stakeholders to engage with an OpenAgile team or community in different ways. There are five paths of service: Process Facilitation, Growth Facilitation, Tutoring, Mentoring, and Catalyst.
The Process Facilitator path of service is similar to the ScrumMaster role with the following major differences:
- is not responsible for team development
- is not necessarily a single person, nor is it a required role
The Growth Facilitator path of service is similar to the Product Owner role with the following major differences:
- is responsible for all aspects of growth including value (like the Product Owner), and individual and team capacity building.
- is not necessarily a single person, nor is it a required role
Integration of principles and practices from other methods. Two examples suffice:
From Crystal: creating a safe work/learning environment.
From Lean: build quality in, value stream mapping, root cause analysis, standard work.
OpenAgile allows interruptions during the Cycle. Scrum has the concept of Sprint Safety. This makes Scrum
unsuitable for operational work and general management.
The distinction between Commitment Velocity and other uses of the term “velocity” used in Scrum. Commitment Velocity is the historical minimum slope of a team’s Cycle burndown charts and determines how much work a team plans in its Engagement Meeting.
Flexibility in the length a Cycle. Scrum requires that Sprints (Cycles) be one month in duration or less.
OpenAgile allows a Cycle to be longer than that and instead provides a guideline that there should be a minimum number of Cycles planned in the time expected to reach the overall goal.
The Progress Meeting in OpenAgile does not require people to take turns or directly answer specific questions.
Avoiding conflict-oriented models of staff and management (Chickens and Pigs in Scrum).
Terminology changes to be more clear in meaning and applicable beyond software. A comparative glossary is
Another major difference between OpenAgile and Scrum is how the community operates. OpenAgile is an open-source
method that has a specific structure for community involvement that allows for continuous improvement of the system. Scrum is closed. It is closely managed by it’s founders and this has led to challenges with the method becoming dogmatic. OpenAgile is meant to constantly evolve and grow.
Comparative Glossary between OpenAgile and Scrum
|Cycle Planning||Sprint Planning and Sprint Review|
|Team Member||Team Member or “Pigs”|
|Growth Facilitator||Product Owner|
|Work Queue||Product Backlog|
|Work Queue Item||Product Backlog Item|
|Cycle Plan||Sprint Backlog|
|Progress Meeting||Daily Scrum|
|Learning Circle w/ steps||“Inspect and Adapt”|
|Delivered Value||Potentially Shippable Software|
|Five Types of Work:
New, Repetitive, Obstacles, Calendar,
|- no equivalents -
User Stories, N/A, Impediments, N/A, N/A
|Consultative Decision Making||- no equivalents -|
|Sector / Community||- no equivalents -|
References on OpenAgile:
References on Scrum:
“Agile Software Development with Scrum” - Schwaber and Beedle
“Agile Project Management with Scrum” - Schwaber
“Scrum and the Enterprise” – Schwaber
Berteig Consulting is thrilled to announce the early release of the OpenAgile Primer, version 1.0, now available for download at http://www.openagile.com/TheOpenAgilePrimer. This release falls 2 weeks ahead of the scheduled release date of 1 December 2009 thanks in large part to the implementation of OpenAgile itself in the creation of the document.
The Primer is intended as an introduction to the methodology of OpenAgile as well as required reading for the soon-to-be released OpenAgile Readiness Knowledge Test. Successful completion by individuals of the Readiness Test will result in the award of an OpenAgile Readiness Certificate—the prerequisite for OpenAgile Team Member Certification.
The team wishes to thank all those who have generously contributed to the realization of the first version of the Primer and looks forward to collaborating with many more of you in the future.
We will keep you posted as the work progresses.
The Berteig Consulting Team
We have wrapped up our Summer Special. There are still a few classes scheduled this year that have the discount price, but others have reverted to our normal price. I encourage you to take a look at our course schedule at http://www.berteigconsulting.com/ to see what is still available.
Also, all our future Certified ScrumMaster courses will have a knowledge test as part of the certification process. Please see the Scrum Alliance website for more information at http://www.scrumalliance.org/.
Berteig Consulting is a silver sponsor for the 2009 Toronto leg of the Agile Tour conference. The date for Toronto is October 20th. You can find more information at the Toronto Agile Community web site – http://www.torontoagilecommunity.org/.
Agile methods are now popular enough that the Project Management Institute has officially recognized them in a number of ways including setting up an agile project management community for PMI members. This is a good sign, and I re-joined the PMI as a result. However, there is still a big gap between “doing” agile and “Going Agile”, between adopting agile methods for project management and transforming your organization to become agile in all aspects of its work. Most people are “doing” and “adopting” agile, not doing the deep transformation.
For some years now, the premise I have been working on is that agile methods are actually all about learning. They aren’t about product delivery. Rather, product (or service) delivery is the context for learning. What does this matter?
Let’s imagine two similar organizations, Abacus and Brightstart. Both organizations want to improve the way they are working. In fact, they both see many similar opportunities in terms of efficiency gains, productivity gains, and improvements in customer satisfaction and employee morale. Abacus is headed up by Alex who is a visionary leader whereas Brightstart is headed up by Brit who is a hard-nosed bottom-line kinda person. Now just to make this interesting, let’s pretend that Alex doesn’t understand Agile and just wants to use an agile method as a way to improve the delivery of projects at Abacus. Brit, on the other hand, has some trusted advisors who have insisted that agile be treated as a fundamental transformation in the way Brightstart does business. What happens?
Alex gets a staff member to attend some Scrum training and launch an agile pilot project. Stakeholder satisfaction improves because of the frequent feedback. Some agile best practices such as timeboxing and prioritized user stories are easily adopted but others are harder. In particular, some of the obstacles uncovered by the team are related to the corporate culture of consensus-building which Alex considers to be a non-negotiable part of the organization. Abacus is infused with the values and personality that Alex has brought to the organization as its founder. So when the team had trouble getting clarification on its work because the consensus-building process was taking too long, Alex simply told them to move on to less important work and come back to the other stuff when it was “ready”.
Over time, there were modest improvements in productivity and customer satisfaction at Abacus, and most of the project work was done with an agile approach using several agile best practices. But any time a team encounters an obstacle that relates to the culture of the organization, the team loses. Gradually, agile is treated as just another method, just another tool that may or may not be applicable to the work being done.
Brit researches Agile methods deeply and comes to understand that there is a process component, but also a meta-process component. Brit decides that the potential benefit is huge: multiplying productivity, increasing morale enormously, and becoming a leader in the marketplace… but that the level of effort to get there is also large. Agile is not a “silver bullet“. Truly doing agile requires a deep cultural change in an organization and Brit is fully aware that changing cultures is enormously difficult.
To start things off, Brit decides that all work throughout the whole organization must take on an agile culture. This is a culture that allows for experimentation and regular reflection and learning. As well, Brit knows that like an athlete training for a major sporting event who gets a top-notch coach, Brightstar will also need a coach. Internally driven culture change is even more difficult and since Brightstar isn’t in deep crisis, there isn’t as much motivation for staff to fundamentally change the way they work. A coach will help to keep the motivation, vision, and encouragement flowing so that the corporate change will be sustainable.
Brit decides that the fundamental aspects of agile that need to be put in place are the timeboxed cycles of work that include a pause for reflection, learning and planning. All types of work can be done in that framework. The coach is responsible for helping the organization adopt this cycle of work and keeping at it until it becomes like a perfectly regular healthy heartbeat for the whole organization.
Finally, Brit announces to the organization that no opportunity for learning and improvement will be denied. Over the course of several months, this is demonstrated by several interesting incidents where staff suggestions for obstacles to be removed are acted upon quickly and decisively. Not every suggestion results in real improvement, but all the employees quickly get the message that the environment of learning is real, and the pace of suggestions increases as does the level of individuals taking initiative to make changes directly.
Within a year, productivity at Brightstar has soared. There is an initial bump in staff turnover as some people who were there with an “it’s just a job” attitude moved on. After the first year, employee staff turnover rates have decreased substantially, and can mostly be attributed to changes in personal circumstances such as marriages and deaths.
Brit gets it, and is willing to be hard-nosed about learning. Learning about product, process and people.
A Plan for Agile Transformation
I’ve worked with quite a number of organizations trying to adopt agile and trying to do agile transformations. In that time, I’ve seen some patterns. I would like to describe the high-level pattern of what an organization does to make a successful agile transformation. This overall plan must not be seen as a rigorous step-by-step procedure, thus using the term “wave” instead of “step” or “phase”. It can be visualized thus:
Step One: Decision
The leader of the organization decides that agile is more than just another method of project management or product development, and that the vision of an agile organization is worth the effort to make a deep transformation throughout the entire organization.
Wave One: Just Start
The leader engages trainers/coaches to do the following things roughly simultaneously:
- Introduce _everyone_ in the organization to agile concepts
- Start _everyone_ in the organization using the agile meta-process
- Start an Agile Transformation Team made from members of upper management to guide the overall transformation
- Do initial cultural and process assessments to track progress over time
Wave Two: Capacity Building
The coaches and the Agile Transformation Team work with employees to develop a sufficient number of people who are capable agile facilitators. They learn about agile methods more deeply: practices, principles, variations, techniques, and tools. They learn to be effective facilitators who have the trust of their co-workers. These facilitators then become responsible for ensuring that everyone else is using the agile meta-process for effective learning and simultaneously applying appropriate agile practices.
Wave Three: Sustainability
Finally, the coaches work with the Agile Transformation Team to help a relatively small number of employees to become internal coach/trainers. These are the people who will take over from the external coaches.
As an ongoing assistance, the coaches should be working in a consultative capacity as the organization struggles with obstacles, restructuring, and the deeper culture changes. Like any change effort, there are five critical components: sponsorship, communication, training, support and strategy. The coaches should be advising the Agile Transformation Team and management on how these five components can best be handled for the agile transformation.
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
What motivates human beings to do the right thing? To do good deeds, to be truthful, to be kind, to be helpful, to try to make the world a better place? First of all, we have to realize that everything we say and do has an actual, real effect on our environment for better or for worse. Every time we help someone, or tell the truth, it actually makes the world better in some small way, just as when we lie, cheat, steal or speak unkindly to someone, no matter how small the affront, we actually make the world worse. In fact, our thoughts, words and actions can really have only one of two basic effects on the world – they can make it better or make it worse. Period.
There are some powerful cultural forces in our society, most obviously the constant stream of materialistic propaganda through various forms of hypnotic media, that influence the way we perceive our ability to contribute to the betterment or worsening of our environment. The basic message is that individuals can’t affect any real fundamental change in society (i.e., their environment) and that the best any of us can do is to change our position, rank or class within the permanent structures of our society. Therefore, “only the strong survive”, “get what you can while you can” and the “pursuit of happiness” have become not only slogans that we live by, but conceptions of human nature that have constructed our social reality.
For example, the concept behind “the pursuit of happiness” is that happiness is something external and fixed that a person has to find somewhere “out there”. Embedded in this “right” is the implicit message that “average” individuals and groups do not have the potential to exert influence on, and contribute in any meaningful and lasting way to the shaping of the prevailing social order. Thus, there is always a better neighborhood to live in, a better employer to work for, a better school for your kids to go to, etc. It disempowers us all from thinking that we can get together and do something right now about our immediate reality. ”Don’t even bother”, it says, “you won’t be able to change anything anyways – you’re wasting time, effort, and worst of all – money! Better to lie just a little, cheat just a little, step on your neighbor just a little in order to protect your own little piece of turf.”
Understanding the truth about our reality – our potential to contribute to the betterment of the world – is what will actually begin to motivate us to be good – that is, the fact that our good thoughts, good words, and good actions can and do make the world better. ”Better” becomes not merely an external pursuit that we fight to get our little piece of; rather, it is an organic, sembiotic process of growth. For one thing, it requires vision: What would the world be like, for example, if everyone always tried to tell the truth? Would it really be so bad? Would human affairs come to stand still? Would the economy crumble? Or would it, rather, begin create something new… something better?