Timeless Agility

May 29, 2013

Agile has its own articulated values and principles that are built upon the principles of lean and learning organizations. And while there are various frameworks, practices and techniques that support agility, we need to understand they are tools that have the potential to change over time.

And while tools help, they aren’t the complete picture. By way of analogy, I can wield woodworking tools and hack something together (you don’t want me building your house, trust me!), but I’m not in the same league as my brother-in-law who is an excellent carpenter (you want him to build your house or high-end custom cabinets, he can do either). His understanding of woodworking transcends understanding what tools to use for which task, and the same tools in his hands will yield very different – and far greater results – than anything that I can do.

Product Owner Effectiveness Contributes to Agile Effectiveness

May 22, 2013

Scrum is the predominant agile framework in use – with 72% of the respondents in VersionOne’s State of Agile Development Survey for 2012 reporting that they use Scrum, a Scrum/XP hybrid or Scrumban. Since Scrum doesn’t prescribe technical practices, it’s good to see that Scrum/XP hybrids are in use and that the use of various technical practices is continuing to grow.

It is equally comforting to see that those who know most about agile are in the ScrumMaster role, since the ScrumMaster is responsible for guiding the team in agile practices. However, those closest to the work of the team – from a software development perspective – were ranked as most knowledgeable about agile. Those closer to the business such as executives and Product Owners were ranked as least knowledgeable.

This is a concern. A Product Owner should be interacting with the team on a daily basis; and it seems to me that if a Product Owner is in fact engaged with the team that some knowledge about agile practices and behaviors should be rubbing off. At the very least, Product Owners should have an understanding of and be supporting the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto.

Leading Agile Change – I’m Preparing a New Course

May 15, 2013

For most organizations, agile is a large change in cultural belief. We need to guide change in ways that will not only challenge existing beliefs about what works, but gain acceptance for these new practices in the process.

The ADKAR change management model tells us that:
  • There must be awareness of the need for change, followed by…
  • The desire to make change happen – along with participating in and supporting change.
Adopting agile is about moving from a current state to a new, desired state. This can and most often should start at the team level, with those who have the awareness and desire to make a change in the first place. We need to drive some initial success so that other individuals and organizations at large can see that will work in their organization.

But this is only the start of what will be a continual communication/feedback loop with the organization. In order to change the cultural beliefs of an organization, there will need to be more information flowing other than a working demonstration of a few agile teams working in isolation.

Automotive Metaphors for Lean and Agile Software Development

May 8, 2013

I read a lot, and as I’ve read various books on lean and agile topics I’ve noticed some authors occasionally using automotive metaphors or examples that are useful in making their point. While these don’t cover all the nuances of lean and agile development, I thought it would be nice to compile my notes in one place – and perhaps I’ll and some visuals and weave this approach into my courses that I’m developing as well!

Delighting the Customer
Lean and agile development is all about flowing value to the customer. The first principle of the Agile Manifesto states: “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”

I’m Ready to Start Contributing to Agile Adoptions!

May 1, 2013

Today marks my first day as an independent agile coach and trainer. You can call me either unemployed or self-employed, but the cold hard facts are that as of today, I don’t have an income stream. I’m planning to change that, of course! (Since I’m not independently wealthy, I will need to change that before too much time passes.)

To quote Steve Jobs, I want to “make a dent in the universe.” The agile universe, anyway. Maybe it will be only a nick or scratch, but I am pursuing my passion. I believe in agile and that companies and people have a lot to gain by adopting agile, enough so that I’m willing to put a stake in the ground and get out in the market to help make agile adoptions a positive, successful venture.