Sunday, September 11, 2016

6 questions that changed my life

A few months ago I noticed that I was working like crazy and there was no end in sight. To get off this endless treadmill, I came up with my first draft of what I now call "My Personal Agility." After working with it for a few months, it all comes down to this:
  1. What really matters?
  2. Of all the things I could do, what is most important?
  3. Of all the things I could do, what really has to get done this week?
  4. What do I want to get done this week?
  5. What am I going to do today?
  6. Who can help me?
I get help from my personal agility coach who asks me these questions at regular intervals, so that I don't forget to do it. I also get some help from two information radiators: My priorities map (which I maintain on Trello) and my calendar. My priorities map helps me remember what's important and what I want to be doing. Sometimes I use my calendar for additional help on focusing during the day.

Getting my life under control meant saying 'No' to unimportant stuff so I could say yes to things that matter. Sometimes it even meant saying 'Yes' to unplanned resting, because I am not a machine, and sometimes I need to rest.

How does this work? Here is an example from my life: my kids had kind of gotten used to the fact that their requests never really got processed. I was working so hard on "important stuff" that I never had time for family stuff.

Once I decided doing things for my family really mattered, so I put it on my priorities map as point number one and labeled it with a green dot. Then every week, as I plan my week, I make sure there are a couple of green items in the list of things I want to accomplish this week. The difference was obvious immediately! Now I apply that principle at home and at work.

Here's how this works:

What really matters? These 3, maybe 4 priorities in my life guide what I say yes to. Each priority has a color code for easy identification. 

Of all the things I could do, what is most important?  I always have too much to do, so I want to focus on things that matter. If I am considering doing something that doesn't match up to something that matters, I ask myself why and whether I should do it!

Of all the things I could do, what really has to get done this week? Some things have a pressing deadline and it's important not to lose sight of them. 

What do I want to get done this week? I don't have time or energy to do everything. So of the important things and the urgent things, which ones do I think I can accomplish this week? Unchecked, the urgent tends to push out the merely important, so I sometimes I need to make space for the important. Sometimes that means that urgent stuff gets postponed or even cancelled.

What am I going to do today? This keeps me from going off on a tangent. Sometimes it's even helpful to plan my time in my calendar, for example to make room for a larger chunk of important work.

Who can help me?  At the very least, I needed someone to ask me these questions once a week or so, so I remember to answer them! Most approaches to managing your time assume that you are really by yourself. In reality, you can ask a partner, your spouse, an advisor or a professional coach to ask you the questions once a week or so. You can ask other people for help. Individual performance is important, but collaboration enables so much more!

By reflecting occasionally on what you are doing and why, you ensure that you're not just working hard, you're also doing the right thing!


Call for help: I'd like to find out if this approach could be useful in your context. If this has piqued your interest, and regardless of whether you think the answer might be yes or is probably no, I'd like to talk to you! Please contact me, and I'll set up an appointment! Thanks!

UPDATE: I have updated and will continue to update this article to make it clear. First change. The questions changed my life, the information radiators just help me do what I want! Last Update: 12-Sep-2016 at 09:12.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Peter's 5 Question Agility Assessment

What does it mean to have an “Agile Mindset?” This assessment is intended to help you reflect on your level of agility. You can download the questionnaire and give assess yourself, your team, your organization, or even your customers!

Last week, I argued that the Agile Manifesto defines the Agile mindest. If your attitudes and values are aligned with the Manifesto, then you can claim to have the Agile mindset. This post is the short form: the conclusions without the reasoning, plus the questionnaire. For more explanation on why I chosen these questions, see Five Simple Questions To Determine If You Have the Agile Mindset.

You can download the questionnaire in PDF format.

The Manifesto for Agile doing what we do

We are uncovering better ways of doing what we do, by doing it and helping others to do the same. Through this work, we have come to value:

    Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
    Customer visible value over comprehensive documentation
    Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
    Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
– The Agile Manifesto, www.agilemanifesto.org, as paraphrased by Peter Stevens

What is the Agile Mindset?

Someone who has the Agile mindset is in alignment with the first sentence of the Agile Manifesto: The Agile Mindset is a learning mindset.

Someone with an Agile mindset knows what they do, besides making money! What value do you bring value to those whom you value? Someone with an Agile mindset is uncovering betters ways to do what they do, both by doing it, and by helping others to do the same. This is about advancing the state of your art, having time to improve your skills and technology, and learning and sharing beyond your own four walls.

Someone with an Agile mindset knows what they value. The have reflected on the Values and Principles of the Agile Manifesto and found their own beliefs to be largely in harmony with those expressed in the Manifesto. Values are a guide to decision making, so their decisions will be aligned with the Agile Manifesto as well. Perhaps they have additional values. Perhaps they have reason to disagree with one or more of the values in their context. The less relevant you consider the Agile values, the more you should question yourself on whether you really have the mindset!

Finally someone with an Agile mindset knows why they value what they value. Values are not to be blindly followed. You may value other things beyond the 4 values expressed in the Agile Manifesto.

Peter's 5 Questions

  1. What do you do for those whom you value? The answer must contain a verb and is not “making money
  2. Are you uncovering better ways of doing what you do, by doing it?
  3. Are you uncovering better ways of doing what you do, by helping others to do the same?
  4. Have you reflected on the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto and what they mean for you?
  5. Can you concisely explain your values and why you value them?

Use of this Assessment

Peter's 5 Question Agile Assessment should inspire you to reflect on your level of Agility. It is not about any particular practice nor does not give you a score. It intended to help you reflect on your values and principles, and to give you something to think about on the road to becoming Agile.

Downloading and Using the Assessment

You can download and use Peter's 5 Question Assessment. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Share Alike Attribution 4.0 License.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Five Simple Questions To Determine If You Have the Agile Mindset

My company has started a top-down transition to Scrum and Kanban. Will that make us an Agile company?
About 2 years ago, I attended a conference hosted by the Swiss Association for Quality on the topic of Agility. As a warm-up exercise, the participants were given the 4 values of the Agile Manifesto, then asked to arrange themselves in space. How Agile is your company? How Agile do you think it should be? Very Agile on left, very traditional on the right. There was a cluster of people standing well to the right of center. “Why are you standing on the right?” It turns out that they were all from the railway. “Our job is to run the trains on time.” They were uncertain whether this agility thing was really aligned with their purpose.

Is Agility limited to software?

Ron Jeffries (l) and Steve Denning at Agile 2016
Photo thx to Steve Denning 
Steve Denning has collected the evidence and laid out the case that Agile is not limited to software, nor is it merely a process, nor is it something you can do with part of your time, nor is it something you can have your staff do. Agile is a mindset, and this mindset is applicable to many if not all fields of endeavor.1 At the same, he questions whether the mindset is actually defined in the Agile Manifesto.2

What is this mindset? Where does it come from? How do you know that you or your company has it? And is it really missing from the Agile Manifesto?

There is no question that Steve is correct in his assertion that Agile is a mindset. Practitioners have known this since the beginning. I remember my first interview, back in 2008 or so, for employment at an Agile consulting company. The mindset question was my interview partner's key question, and I couldn't explain it. (No, I didn't get the job.) In 2009, I opened the first Lean Agile Scrum Conference in Zurich with the thought, “In 2001, we started uncovering better ways of developing software. Since then, we have uncovered the need for better ways to lead organizations.”

More recently, the importance of the Agile mindset was the key finding of the Scrum Alliance Learning Consortium:
“A universal feature of all the site visits was a recognition that achieving these benefits [of Agile values and practices] is dependent on the requisite leadership mindset. Where the management practices and methodologies were implemented without the requisite mindset, no benefits were observed.... What is new is the way that the new management goals, practices, and values constitute a coherent and integrated system, driven by and lubricated with a common leadership mindset.”

Denning, Goldstein and Pacanowsky. 2015 Report of the Learning Consortium
I believe The Manifesto for Agile Software Development (“the Agile Manifesto”) does define a mindset. This mindset leads you to the 4 values, 12 principles, and uncounted practices that are helpful in software development. This mindset also leads you to the five shifts of Radical Management, which are much more generally applicable.

Agility starts in the head

If Agility is mindset, then it starts in the head. It starts in the head of each individual. It starts in the head of the company, i.e. its leadership team, and it starts in the heads of the individuals that make up the leadership team.

I believe that you can assess the Agility of an organization through five simple questions, all derived from the Agile Manifesto, even if they are not primarily developing software. You can ask these questions to their leadership, and you can get confirmation from by asking their staff or customers the same questions.

Let's look at how the Agile Manifesto defines the mindset, then derive a set of questions based on that mindset. Let's take the case of a hypothetical railway: How would a railway apply the Agile Manifesto? How could an organization that values operational goals, like having the trains run on time, be Agile as well?

The most neglected part of the Agile Manifesto?

Quickly! What is the first sentence of the Agile Manifesto? If you said something about “people and interactions over tools and processes,” you got the wrong answer! But don't feel bad. At the last Scrum Gathering in Bangalore, I asked 5 Scrum trainers the same question, and only one of them got the right answer! Here are the first sentences of the Agile Manifesto:
“We are uncovering better ways of developing software, by doing it and helping others to do it. Through this work we have come to value…”
How come no one talks about the first sentence? It carries so many messages! For example:
  • We are doing. It's not about software quality, it's about uncovering better ways to develop software. It's about the process and not the result.
  • We don’t have the best practices, we are constantly looking for better practices. We are open to the possibility that someone else has a better idea.
  • We expect to be better tomorrow than we are today, so we maintain a certain humility about our knowledge today.
  • We are helping others to do the same. Not teaching, helping! Sharing knowledge, especially beyond the borders of our own organization, enables our own learning, enables us to learn from others, and builds overall knowledge faster. This clause defines our relationship to other people and organizations.

What is the Agile Mindset?

The first thing we have to let go of is the idea that this is about software. So let's forget about all the tools and practices, even the values and principles (for a moment)! How could our hypothetical train system be Agile? Let's start by making the first sentence of the Manifesto a bit more general:
We are uncovering better ways of doing what we do, by doing it and helping others to do the same.
The first question is, what exactly does our train system do? Run trains? Transport people and goods throughout the country? Something else? They might try this one on for size:
We are uncovering better ways of running the trains on time, by doing it and helping others to do the same...
What if our rail system incorporated this statement in its mission? How would that railway be different than the ones we know today? Simon Synek, in his famous work Start with why, gives us a clue:
“One by one, the German luxury car makers begrudgingly added cup holders to their fine automobiles. It was a feature that mattered a great deal to commuter-minded Americans, but was rarely mentioned in any research about what factors influenced purchase decisions.”
For context, Chrysler introduced modern cup holders with the Chrysler Voyager back in 1983o3. My 1993 BMW 3-Series did not have them. My 2001 BMW 5 Series had pretty flimsy cupholders, and my wife's 2011 BMW 5 Series finally has pretty good cup holders.

What was missing here? A culture of learning, particularly of learning from outside the organization. An Agile organization is a learning organization. An Agile organization will be looking for, validating and embracing new ideas quickly, so that they can get better at doing what they do.

What does it mean to have an “Agile Mindset?” At the very least, someone who has the mindset is in alignment with the first sentence of the Agile Manifesto: We are uncovering better ways of doing what we do, by doing it, and helping others to do the same.

The first question: What do you do?

What does your organization do for its customers or stakeholders? The answer must contain a verb, and should represent something of value to your customers or stakeholders. So making money is not what you do. It is a result of what you do.

Even the choice of mission says something about what the organization values, which may in turn determine its ability to meet the challenges of the 21st century. If our train system just wants to run the trains on time, how capable will it be to respond to new market challenges like digitalization (Uber, Zipcar, Mobility) or technological advancement (electric cars, self-driving cars)?

The second and third questions:
Uncovering better ways of doing things

Are you uncovering better ways of doing what you do, by doing it? This is about your culture of change and improvement. If you prefer the status quo, you are unlikely to be uncovering better ways of doing what you do.

Are you uncovering better ways of doing what you do, by helping others to do the same? “Helping” is a peer-to-peer activity, not a top down activity. So this not about getting training for your staff, this is about advancing the state of your art, having time to improve skills and technology, and learning and sharing beyond your own four walls.

What do you value?

The Agile Manifesto defines 4 value pairs:
“Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
[Customer visible value] over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”
As above, I have replaced “Working Software” with “Customer visible value” to make it a bit more general. The first of the twelve principles are:
  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of [Customer visible value].
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.
There are no straw man arguments in the Manifesto. Intelligent people can and do value all of these things. In the experience of the Manifesto's authors, emphasizing the points on the left produces better results than emphasizing the points on the right. For example Scrum, a leading Agile framework, strives to ensure that the right people talk to each other about the right thing at regular intervals. If followed, the Scrum process ensures that this happens.

By putting valuable things in relationship to one another, Agile values become a tool to guide decision making, which in turn enables more distributed decision making.

Must an organization embrace these values to be an Agile organization? This is a harder question, because context can be very different. What would an Agile police force or military unit choose to value? What would our hypothetical train system value?

As a frequent user of the Zurich public transportation system, I believe that they want to provide a high level of service to their customers, defined as on-time performance, frequent connections, ease of use, and comfort. But if they catch you without ticket, they have no mercy, and they don't care about your reasons!

Ensuring compliance with ticketing rules or showing compassion to loyal customers? How would our Agile train system decide this case? Would they want to handle it differently? Answering this question requires thought, and who is best positioned to make this decisions? The people who understand the problem best.

What other conflicting values might our train system choose to evaluate? For example:
  • An easy-to-remember time table or having enough seats for all passengers?
  • Trains departing on time or passengers making their connections when their train is late?
  • Minimizing operating costs or having a train available frequently and regularly?
  • Ensuring compliance with ticketing rules or showing compassion to loyal customers?
Our hypothetical train system could prefer either side of these pairs, and still be “uncovering better ways to run trains.” While valuing compliance over loyalty seems to come in conflict with the first Agile principle, it might be necessary to ensure the existence of the train system. An Agile organization knows what it values and why. An Agile organization has reflected on its values, using the values of the Agile Manifesto as its starting point, and can explain why it values what over the things it does not.

Questions 4 and 5: What do you value?

Have you reflected on the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto and what they mean for you? Can you concisely explain your values and why you value them?

What do your staff and customers think?

It may be possible to kid yourselves, but kidding your customers and staff is much harder. So ask yourself:
  • On a scale of 0 to 10 (highly unlikely to highly likely), how likely are your customers or staff to describe your company as an Agile organization?
  • Why?
Now go ask your customers, stakeholders, and staff the same question! (Thanks to Raphael Branger of IT-Logix for this suggestion!). Comparing your internal perception with the external perception is both a reality check and your first opportunity to start uncovering better ways of doing what you do!

Peter's 5 Question Assessment

If you can concisely answer the first question and answer yes to the remaining questions, then I believe you can say you have an Agile mindset. If your company and its leadership can answer yes to these same questions, then I believe you can claim that your company is an Agile organization:
  1. What do you do (besides make money)?
  2. Are you uncovering better ways of doing what you do, by doing it?
  3. Are you uncovering better ways of doing what you do, by helping others to do the same?
  4. Have you reflected on the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto and what they mean for you?
  5. Can you concisely explain your values and why you value them?
Bonus Questions:
  1. On a scale of 0 to 10 (highly unlikely to highly likely), how likely are your customers, stakeholders, or staff to describe you as being Agile?
  2. Why?

Using the Assessment

I started interviewing the leadership of various companies that have an affinity to Agile. The first feedback has been, “this provokes interesting discussions!” and “let's give this to our customers and see what they think!). As I get more data, I will share in this forum.

I have created a one page questionnaire which you can use to conduct this assessment. You can download it both in source from (LibreOffice) and as a PDF. I call it release candidate one, because it is a work in progress. Feel free to try it out, and please send me suggestions, improvements, and data!
 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

My Personal Agility RC1

How to do more of what you really care about

My Personal Scrum is a simple framework for people who want to become highly effective individuals. My Personal Scrum is based on the same values, principles and patterns as Scrum, but recognizes that organizing your life is a different challenge than developing a product in a team. The article explains My Personal Scrum and how to use it to become more effective.

In a business context, My Personal Scrum can enable managers and their staff to achieve high alignment and transparency about goals, forecasts and milestones achieved. In a personal context, spouses and partners can coach each other to set and achieve objectives together. And as a coach, you can use My Personal Scrum to enable your clients to identify and work toward their important goals in life and work.

Why My Personal Agility?

It takes just as much time to flip a quarter as to flip a penny, but the quarter is more valuable. So where should you invest your time? On the quarters, i.e on the things that bring value to you.

Sometimes resting or "chilling" is the right thing to do, and that's OK too. My Personal Scrum doesn't try to tell you what's important; it just helps you to recognize what's important to you, so you can do the right thing.

My Personal Scrum enables you ask and find answers to the key questions that enable you to make better use of your time:
  • What really matters?
  • Of the things I could do:
    • What is important?
    • What is urgent?
  • What do I want to accomplish this week?
  • What am I going to do today?
Like Scrum, My Personal Scrum is defined through a small number of roles, artifacts and activities. Each of them exists to help you ask and answer these questions, and ensure that your answers are still the right answers as you and your situation evolves over time.

Unlike Scrum, My Personal Scrum has no rules to follow. My Personal Scrum consists of a few agreements to make with yourself and maybe one other person, so that you ask yourself important questions at regular intervals. If you miss a week, it's not the end of the world. If you find that certain aspects don't bring you value, it's OK not do them.
I think of My Personal Scrum as kind a gravitational force - it exerts a gentle, attractive guidance that always pulls me back to doing the right thing. 

How does My Personal Scrum work?

In a nutshell:
  • You meet with your coach or manager once per week to review the last week and plan the upcoming week.
  • You discuss what's important, what's urgent, and what you want to accomplish this week
  • You visualize your goals and tasks with a Priorities Map
  • You reserve time for important, but non-urgent goals.
  • You plan your day
I use Trello to visualize my Priorities Map and my calendar to plan my day.

Read all about it

Want to find out more? You can find the full description of My Personal Scrum, including how to get started, at my Saat-Network site.

Call for Participation Join the Private Beta!


Update: The initial call for participation is complete. I am now working with a small number of beta-testers from 3 countries on both sides of the Atlantic. If you'd like to join the beta-test program at a future date, sign up for our Private Beta Test!

Previous text:

As I write this, I have been exploring personal self-organization for four months and doing My Personal Scrum in its current form for 2 months. I know it helps me in my context, but I how do I know if it will help other people, especially if their context is significantly different from mine? In particular, the alternative of working with your manager as your Personal Product Owner needs validation.

I have started asking people to help me validate the concept for a month. Learning continues!

If you think this is cool, feel free to try it out! I would love to discuss with you what works, what doesn’t, what can be left out or what is still needed! Comments, Please!

EDIT: 4-Sept-2016 After much constructive feedback, I have renamed this "Personal Agility" (or possibly, "My Personal Agility." Although I was inspired by the patterns of Scrum, some important differences between Scrum and my Personal Agility have emerged.

EDIT: 9-Sept-2016 - Updated the questions to reflect how I actually ask them. Added the most important: "What really matters?"

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Do you believe in the Scrum Alliance?

I got an interesting inquiry today:
I am a Scrum Practitioner and agile believer too. The reason of my contact is regarding a blog post I came across in your blog - scrum breakfast. I'd like to first thank you for providing visibility of important changes happening in Scrum Alliance and I would like to ask you what will be your position towards your membership in Scrum Alliance. Will you continue to be a member? Will you move to Scrum.org ? What would you recommend for someone who is a CSP trying to pursue a Trainer status at this moment in light of these big changes that happened in Scrum Alliance? Thanks.
My response:

The jury is still out on why these changes occurred and what they mean for the Scrum Alliance. I still believe in the Scrum Alliance so I am working to make it a better place. I am unlikely to move to scrum.org.

I do believe that CSTs represent the highest standards in the industry, and would encourage you to pursue CST certification. AFAIK, the CST is the only Scrum trainer certification for which candidates must a) apply as opposed to being recruited (if not spammed!) and b) demonstrate guide-level competency in Scrum theory, practice and teaching skills. I believe that if you are a CST, any Scrum oriented organization would be happy to have you.


Update: I have included a link to the InfoQ article about the changes. Scrum Alliance Directors Resign. Four directors resigned, the Secretary stepped down, and one director returned.



Monday, July 11, 2016

A Brief History of the Learning Consortium

The Scrum Alliance has had a bumpy two months, with a total of 4 out of 10 directors resigning and 2 new directors coming on board -- with specialties in Corporate Governance and Ethics(!). Some of the discussions have centered around the Learning Consortium, and apparently ethics and governance are hot topics as well. To help people understand what the Learning Consortium is about, I have attempted to summarize the goals, purpose, history and probable future of the Learning Consortium.

I have known Steve Denning since he started looking for reviewers for what became 'The Leaders Guide to Radical Management'. I attended his Radical Management Gathering in Washington, DC back in 2011, and he and I were among the hosts of the Stoos Gathering in 2012. if there is a common theme to these events, it was about building bridges across compatible schools of thought.

The Story of the Learning Consortium

In 2014, Steve -- by then a director at the Scrum Alliance -- was arguing that to transform the world of work, it was necessary to transform the organizations where people work. He wanted to reach the business schools and thought leaders, to get Agility on their radar screens. In November, he launched the idea of the Learning Consortium (LC):
"'We have arrived at a turning point,' says the launch abstract of the Global Peter Drucker Forum 2014. “Either the world will embark on a route towards long-term growth and prosperity, or we will manage our way to economic decline.... While there is a broad consensus emerging on the direction of change, there is less reliable information on the 'how' of making these shifts. What are the opportunities? What are the constraints? How much change is actually happening on the ground? What are the benefits? What are the costs? What are the risks? The Learning Consortium is designed to shed light on these questions."

-- November, 2014 draft of the call for participation Exploring A Learning Consortium For The Creative Economy
The idea was to identify companies that were systematically facing the challenges that Scrum helps them address, document their cases, and publish the results.

The leadership was provided by the Scrum Alliance, and the three principal organizers were:
  • Steve Denning, a board member of Scrum Alliance
  • Jay Goldstein, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University,
  • Michael Pacanowsky, holder of the Gore-Giovale Chair in Business Innovation at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah
I attempted to recruit some Swiss companies to participate. I did not succeed for reasons that have more to do with local market than the Learning Consortium itself, so my direct involvement was limited to the beginnings. I have however talked to Steve Denning and Jay Goldstein about the progress of the Learning Consortium from time to time over the last year and half or so.

My recollection is that the Scrum Alliance Trainers and Coaches ("TCC") Community did not react strongly to the LC initiative. Perhaps 10% or 20% participated in the webinar. So the LC got started as a board-level initiative without much support (nor AFAIK much resistance) from the TCC Community at the time.

The LC started building the bridge between Agile management and classical management - One aspect was the Scrum Alliance LC webinar series. Quite a number of thought leaders appeared, including Gary Hamel, John Hagel, Rod Collins, Roger Martin and Curt Carlson, as well as CSTs like Joe Justice, Simon Roberts and myself. (Man am I honored to be on the same page with these people!) The series was quite popular: iirc about 4000 people signed up for the webinar I participated in.

The Learning Consortium also created a group of companies, whose purpose was to share knowledge at the leadership level among companies who were facing the challenges of the Creative Economy. These companies included:
  • agile42
  • Brillio
  • C.H. Robinson International
  • Ericsson
  • Magna International
  • Menlo Innovations
  • Microsoft
  • Riot Games
  • SolutionsIQ
They organized a series of site visits so they could learn from each other. After a year, they held a members-only conference to share results. Due to the sensitive nature of the information they were sharing, they made working agreements about what to share and how to communicate that information beyond the LC. Out of this conference, the principals wrote the concluding paper.

The concluding paper was presented in November, 2015 to the annual Drucker Forum, while the Scrum Alliance was a sponsor of that event. Imagine, the thought leaders of management thinking listen to how Agile was being used to successfully master the challenges of the 21st century! AFAIK this is the first time Agile has been on the radar screen of the thought leaders of management.

BTW - If you haven't read the report, I recommend it. You can download it from the Scrum Alliance (officially) or without going through their registration wall. The paper is "Presented by ScrumAlliance", authored by Steve Denning and two others. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Share-Alike license. The essential message is that Agility is a mindset. Just applying the tools and processes is not sufficient to give you the results you are looking for.

What is planned?

My understanding is that the company visits were very well liked by the participants. The NPS scores were very high and the participants decided to continue. The members have founded a new non-profit organization. The Scrum Alliance is a founding member, is making a significant financial contribution and is represented on the board.

The new LC will participate in the 2016 Drucker Forum (scroll down to "Large-scale Organizational Transformations Enabling Rapid Business Innovation"). Executives from Learning Consortium members will join Steve Denning and management guru Gary Hamel to discuss innovative management practices. (Note how they avoid the "A-word" -- this is speaking the language of business leaders).

My analysis of the situation

I don't understand why the Learning Consortium is controversial. The alignment with the Scrum Alliance mission is clear. Surely the Scrum Alliance board has approved this every step of the way, especially given that the Scrum Alliance is a dues-paying member of the new LC and has seats on its board.

The Learning Consortium was and continues to be non-profit. AFAIK Steve Denning has worked and continues to work on a pro-bono basis, i.e. without any financial compensation other than reimbursement of travel expenses. Rumors of people using this to launch their consulting practice seem unfounded.

The mission of the Scrum Alliance is to "transform the world of work." This transformation is first and foremost a change in mindset, not just introducing a set of processes and tools. To be effective and sustainable, the leadership of an organization must adopt the mindset. The Learning Consortium has a plan and a vision for taking that message to the top leaders of business, via the schools and thought leaders who influence that leadership.

I hope the Scrum Alliance and its former board members will resolve their differences quickly, without a long, messy and expensive divorce. The Scrum Alliance is doing great things for the transformation. The Learning Consortium is doing great things for the transformation. Any differences between the people in these organizations should not detract from the more important mission of Transforming the World of Work.


Update: 11.Jul.2016: Added Ericsson, which I had somehow not included. Thanks Erik Schön!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Scrum Masters: Are you impacted by the First Impediment?

I just had a conversation with a graduate of my last Certified Scrum Product Owner class.

  • How is it going with Scrum?
  • Well, good, I suppose.
  • That sounds a bit hesitant...
  • Well, I'm called a Product Owner, but my job description is completely different, so I can't really make things happen the way I should
It turns out that her job description was missing some key aspects of Product Ownership, like the ability to make decisions.

I suspect this issue is widespread. People say were are going to do Scrum, because it will enable us to do many wonderful things. Then they fail before they start, by not even getting the basics right. Does this sound like your organization? 

Scrum Masters, Product Owners, is this your First Impediment? Do you have the full competency that your role should have? Step one, let's make the problem visible! What are you expected to do in Scrum that you are not allowed to do in real in your company?