Monday, July 25, 2011

Making Agile Stick

So many experts tell us mgmt is broken. Agile would fix many problems. Why is mgmt innovation so hard to apply?" I asked this question Friday in my Radical Management Thought for the Day. Don Reinertsen quickly replied, "Status quo is often a Nash Equilibrium."

For those of you (like me) who need to look it up, the Nash Equilibrium was named for its inventor, John Forbes Nash, the schizophrenic Nobel Prize winner who was the subject of 'A Beautiful Mind'.  Given a group of several players in game, "a group of players is in Nash equilibrium if each one is making the best decision that he or she can, taking into account the decisions of the others." (wikipedia) This does not optimize for all players achieving the maximum gain possible. Some higher profit strategies may expose an individual player to higher risks if the other players do not share a common goal (which they probably do not).

I have long believed that command-and-control hierarchies are dynamically stable. Now I understand why. As a manager, if you do not play your hand optimally, sooner or later, you will lose. Someone else will get promoted or you will get a black mark on your record which means 'no future here.' So managers follow a 'make no mistakes' strategy. Everybody wins a little bit, nobody loses, and everybody tacitly accepts that the overall result is suboptimal. (Today, "suboptimal" means sooner or later, your company will die or get acquired, but that is a separate issue.)

How do you ensure a successful transition to Scrum, Kanban, Agile or some other Radical Management framework? All these frameworks offer superior overall performance, but, as substantial changes in strategy, they may expose the early adopter to risk of losing as long as significant portions of the company are still playing by command-and-control rules.

Based on the successful (and indirectly from the non-successful) Scrum transitions I have seen, I think the following will be necessary for a long-term successful transition:
  • A culture of trust, especially in the transition phase. People must be able to change without risk of loss. They must also be discouraged from attacking others during this time.
  • Broad support for the new framework throughout the company.
  • A fairly quick transition. If the new rules are competing with the old rules, the proponents of the old rules may well strike back.
  • Measurements and rewards which reinforce the new framework. New social controls must also support the new framework.
In short, your Lean/Kanban/Agile/Scrum/Radical Management framework must become the new status quo. You need to create a new Nash equilibrium.

Want to make it happen? Join us for the Zurich Gathering For C-Suite Leaders with Steve Denning and myself: Zurich, Sep 12, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Certified ScrumMaster/Jumpstart in Zurich (Summer Sale Price)

My partners at DasScrumTeam and I have scheduled an additional Certified Scrum Master/Jumpstart for August 23 to 25 in Zurich.

Our three day CSM/Jumpstart meets the requirement of the Scrum Alliance for certification and includes enough time for questions, networking and some advance topics.

The course will be held at Digicomp, Limmatstrasse 50, 8005 Zurich, Switzerland.

As a special offer for the the summer, we have extended the early booker price until August 18. 

For details and registration, check out our home page at

A Month of Thoughts for the Day

One month ago, I started tweeting regularly a Thought for the Day on Scrum and Radical Management. It's hard to find old tweets, so here is a compendium of my #RMTftD's since I started.

Do you like these? Then follow me at @peterstev and be sure to retweet the thoughts that you think are worth repeating...

8.6 To be smart, first play nice. "The Wisdom of the Dog"
9.6 Better to have 80% of your features 100% done then 100% of your features 80% done.
10.6 Radical Mgmt = Scrum + (Delight the Customer, Leadership Storytelling) - (Product Owner, ScrumMaster, Software Baggage).

12.6 Tomorrow is a bank holiday. It's OK to let the battery on your smart phone run down.
13.6 Today is a holiday. Leave your Smartphone off. Who are those people at the kitchen table? Enjoy the day with them!
14.6 Do you follow your own advice?
15.6 I know having less work in progress is the key to better response times. How do I clear my todo-list?
16.6 What was your best work experience? Everyone motivated & focused, great results & happy customers? Are you living that now?
17.6 Radical mgmt is how decent people normally think, speak & act before organizations corrupt them. Feels like coming home.

19.6 Secret of apple stores' success? Don't try to sell! WTF? APPLE is an approach to customer service.

20.6 Discipline and loyalty can coexist with motivated, empowered staff.
21.6 Change Leaders: Which is more promising? One 70% solution everyone supports or several 100% solutions everybody fights?
22.6 Reframing the problem can lead to deep insight on how to achieve customer delight:
23.6 Once your common ground 70% solution is clear, you realize you have a 95% solution. The rest no longer bothers you.
24.6 A creative "Yes and" expands and builds on each other's ideas. 'Yes, but..." traps you in debate.

27.6 Continuous Innovation & improvement are key to corporate growth. Scrum & Kanban are proven approaches to achieving them.
28.6 Each sprint improves product and team. The Producet Owner has the vision for the product. Who has the vision for the team?
29.6 Agile is about Quality. What is the essence of your management philiosophy?
30.6 The purpose of an organization is to delight the customer! How would you feel, if you were a customer of your own company?

3.7 This week - thoughts from Fred Reichheld - 'The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth'
4.7 Dominant players have economic advantage. If this is not used to make customers :-), position and advantage will not last
5.7 When a customer feels mislead, mistreated ignored or coerced, then profits from that customer are bad.
6.7 Bad Profits are about extracting value from the customers, not creating value.
7.7 Bad profits work their damage by creating detractors - people who will avoid your product if they can and warn others away
8.7 When did you last recommend a product or company? When did you last warn a friend away from a product or company? Why?

And here are the most recent Thoughts for the Day on Scrum and Radical Management. To stay up to date, follow @peterstev

Monday, July 4, 2011

Scrum Breakfast July/Scrum @ Facebook

Facebook has set new records for growth: From 0 to 50 Million users in two years. Nothing demonstrates the need for speed, creativity and flexibility like a rising star on the Internet. Scrum was created to let teams approach the edge of chaos for the maximum in creativity and productivity, without falling over the edge.

How has Facebook applied Scrum values, principles and practices? Jens Meydam has researched this topic extensively and will share his insights with us at this month's Scrum Breakfast in Zürich.

Where: SwissICT, Vulkanstrasse 120, 8048 Zürich
When: 6 July, 8.00 to 11.00
Registration and more information: At the SwissICT

BTW - the Scrum Breakfast is going on vacation. August is vacation time in Zurich, so no event. And there will be no September event to make room for the LAS Conference. So we will be back in October with an experience report from Urs Giesser with a Project Case Study on Vivo Casa at Swisscom.

Lean Business Lunch with Don Reinertsen

"I believe that the dominant paradigm for managing product development is fundamentally wrong. It is as wrong as we were in manufacturing, before the Japanese unlocked the secret of lean manufacturing. I believe that a new paradigm is emerging, one that challenges the current orthodoxy of product development. I want to help accelerate the adoption of this new approach. I believe I can do this by helping people understand it."

For the last 30 years Don Reinertsen has focused on creating fundamental changes in the way organizations manage product development.  His 1997 book, Managing the Design Factory: A Product Developer's Toolkit, was the first book to describe in detail how the principles of Just-in-Time manufacturing could be applied to product development.

Don recently published 'Second Generation Lean Product Development' and will be speak about it at the first meeting of the newly formed Zurich chapter of the Limited WIP Society.

Don will focus on which lean methods that are actually producing benefits in product development, how they are correctly adapted to the product development domain, and how they improve performance. He will also discuss areas where classic manufacturing lean methods are inadequate, and where you can find more advanced concepts

And you can learn about the Limited WIP Society.

Mo, 18 Jul 2011, 11:30 AM
End time:
Mo, 18 Jul 2011, 02:00 PM
Restaurant Emilio
Zweierstrasse 9
8004 Zürich
There is no fee for the event, but everyone pays their own lunch.


Online via Xing.

Lean Agile Scrum Conference in Zurich - Open for Registration

Registration is now open for the third annual Lean Agile Scrum Conference in Zurich!

As a community event organized by the SwissICT Special Interest Group "Lean, Agile & Scrum" and supported by our Sponsors, the conference offers an interesting Program of hands on Workshops and Talks to encourage the exchange of information among all members of the community: C-Suite Managers, Project Leaders and Managers, Business Analysts, Developers and Testers.

The Conference begins at 08.30 am with a free entrance event: Keynote Speaker Steve Denning on 'Making the entire organization agile'. The paid admission part of the conference starts at 10.00 Uhr with a choice of 90 minute Tutorials on Scrum in and around the enterprise.

The afternoon starts with a keynote by David J. Anderson, on Kanban, "A Counter-intuitive Approach to Creating a Lean Technology Organization" Eight Sessions (45 Minuten) in four parallel Tracks round out the afternoon. We close the Program with a reception and quality networking time.

BTW - the program is bilingual English/German. The Keynotes are in English and there at least one English-language talk for each time-slot.

We look forward to seeing you in Zurich!
Date  14. September 2011
Time  08.30am to 5:00pm, with a reception afterwards
Location  ETH, Zürich