Tag Archives: economy

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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Scrum Gathering – Orlando Florida – Day 1 Summary

The first day of the Scrum Gathering in Orlando is finished.  I had a great day all-in-all.  I went to 3 and a half sessions, took a nice sun break in the afternoon, and then mingled at the evening reception.

Some observations:

More People Using Agile and Scrum for Non-Software

This was interesting.  When I actually spent time talking with people I heard several times that people were using agile approaches in non-software environments.  One person is working with an oil company to apply agile methods to all project work.  Another two people are extending agile / Scrum into marketing departments.  And one other person was applying agile into the whole organization.

Of course, with OpenAgile, I’m very interested in all this.  I’m hoping that I can organize some sort of group / institute / organization for people using agile methods outside of software development.  If you’re interested, please contact me on LinkedIn or Facebook or any other method you wish.  People seemed to be in general agreement that this is still new stuff, and that they are having to make adaptations to make agile work in these other environments.  After all, not all work is purely creative or problem-solving!

Economic and Recession Fears

Gregory Balestrero gave a talk about the relationship between the PMI and the Scrum Alliance.  I felt that his talk was much more 30000 foot level and that it probably wasn’t quite right for the audience.  The questions people asked at the end seemed much more appropriate for someone who was an author of the PMBoK rather than the CEO of the PMI.  There was a mis-match between presenter and audience.  At any rate, Gregory spoke quite a bit about the economy and the fears people have about it.  He emphasized that this time actually represents a real opportunity for organizations to get better at doing projects by focusing on value.  I couldn’t agree more!

As well, in my discussions with several other individuals who are coaches or run agile coaching businesses, I heard quite frequently that the past few months have been hard on business here in the United States.  One company has actually laid off some coaches.  This is in line with our experience at Berteig Consulting… up to a point.  December and January were slow, and in fact slower than “normal”, but we still did very well in the Dec. to Feb. quarter.  Clearly the Canadian market is still moving well, and there is a recognition that agile and Scrum are a means to help organizations get through these tough times.

One a related note, the resort we are staying in and in which the conference is being held is the Gaylord Palms.  Apparently, bookings are way down at the hotel to the point where they have temporarily closed some of the restaurants in the resort.  Likewise, when my family went to a water park during the day today, some of the rides were closed because there were so few people.  Please remember: this is Spring Break!!!  Clearly tourism is _way_ down.

Reconnecting with Friends and Collegues

I’ve met up with (in no particular order): Tobias Mayer, Alistair Cockburn, Catherine Louis (from Nortel), Sanjiv Augustine, Mike Vizdos, Carole Marks, Mitch Lacey, Jim Cundiff, Gabby Benefield, and probably others that I can’t remember.

I also met for the first time several people.  I hope I can keep in touch with everyone!

Highlight of the Day

Mike Cohn gave a presentation on Leading Self-Organizing Teams.  It was fantastic.  My favorite part of it was his introducing the CDE (Containers, Differences and transforming Exchanges) model.  In this model, self-organization is positively influenced by appropriate constraints on the containers, differences and transforming exchanges among the people who are asked to self-organize.  To explain: containers define in-ness vs. out-ness for participation, scope of work, environment of the group that is self-organizing.  Differences are the variations in the skills, qualities, attitudes, knowledge etc. of group members.  And transforming exchanges are the interactions between group members both amongst each other and with outside groups, where such interactions cause a transformation of some sort: creation of value, sharing of knowledge, new activities, etc.

By using the CDE model, we can diagnose challenges facing an agile team.  Mike Cohn included a number of scenarios for us to use to practice the application of this model.

Looking Forward to Day 2

Hopefully Day 2, which is primarily and Open Space event, will be even more interesting that Day 1.  I will continue to post frequent articles about the events of the day!  Please feel free to ask for more details in the comments… or to suggest that I connect with someone, or to bring up a topic for the Open Space portion.


Affiliated Promotions:

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