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Showing posts from 2012

New: CSPO Courses in Zurich

I am pleased to once again offer a Certified Scrum Product Owner courses in Zurich.  (see my CSPO Course Description).

I have always been an entrepreneur at heart and the Product Owner role has always fascinated me. I have always been on the lookout for better ways to live role of the Product Owner. From Kanban, to Lean Leadership and Lean Startup to Radical Management: there are so many good approaches to help you be a better Product Owner (see for instance Scrum and 5 Principles of Radical Management).

I love teaching product ownership.

My other job is Product Owner and investor in the HappinessApp. So I am not just a coach or theoretician, I am living the role of Product Owner. This has been my best project and its been my worst project, and I will share the ups and downs of that product and others with you as you learn the values, principles, and tools of the trade of the Product Owner. (Check out our next product, the HappinessApp for Events).

In this two-day course you learn wha…

Inspect and Adapt

As another year comes draws to a close, we all start thinking about that annual ritual, the 'New Year's Resolution.' Inspect and Adapt. The core of Scrum is deeply rooted in our culture. And yet, how many of us really implement our Resolutions? We Inspect, but we don't Adapt.

I recently realized that I had been collecting feedback from my course participants for years but I hardly ever really acted on what people wrote. I inspected without adapting. This fall, in the face of lukewarm Net Promoter Scores, I resolved to implement at least one of the suggestions from each round of participant feedback by the next course (see Managing by the Numbers in the 21st Century).

Now, after each course, I go through all the feedback forms, summarize them, and send that summary as a follow-up feedback to the participants. In the summary, I tell the participants what improvement I intend to make in the next course based on their feedback. I always implement one item, and usuall…

10 Myths about Scrum

I recently introduced Sharon Bowman's Myth or Fact exercise to my Scrum courses - it has proven to be very a popular way to explore Scrum. Last week in Brussels, we took it a step further - I asked the participants to identify their Myths around Scrum. Here is their list. What do you think, Myth or Fact?

Scrum is easy to implement.Scrum helps you recognize problemsIf you do not apply Scrum 100%, you cannot be successful with Scrum.Scrum can only be applied for time-and-material projects.Scrum is only for team playersScrum will solve any problemScrum is inflexibleScrum always worksScrum is a revolutionScrum gets easier over time In my humble opinion, 1 is fact if everyone wants to implement it, 2 is a fact, 3 and 9 are debatable (and probably depend on your definition), and everything else is a myth. What do you think?

17 Things to Try on Monday Morning

... to do better Scrum.

In my Scrum Performance MasterClass Workshop, the participants reflect on how their teams and organisations do Scrum, compare how they do Scrum with Scrum 'by the book,' and create both a long term vision for improving their organization and a list of things they could start Monday morning to begin the improvement process right away.

Here's the list of things my participants identified to start doing on Monday after last week's MasterClass:
Pairing: Two people work on each story. ( See 'Pair & Share, How We Do Sprint Planning 2')Review the Definition of Done in my projectThe Implementation Team, not the Product Owner or other manager, decides on how much work to accept in the Sprint.Improve the quality of the User Stories in my projectMove testing from a separate group to the Implementation TeamHold a retrospective with the Implementation Team and ManagementBuild awareness and acceptance for the Scrum mindset among our customersRecogn…

Questions and Answers from last week's MasterClass Workshop

One of the improvements I made in my Scrum courses and workshops is I commit to answer or address all of the questions which come up. There are always a few questions left over, so I pick them up in my blog.  
After last week's MasterClass, there were a number of unaddressed tickets left on the subject board: How to create interest in ScrumChange managementHow to address Senior Management and get them on boardTeam SkillsScrum of Scrums Let's have a look at the issues, one at a time:

How to create interest in Scrum. A very difficult question to answer briefly. I would seek to create opportunities to learn about Scrum. I would seek to create an interest in improvement. "We are uncovering better ways of ... by doing it and help others to learn to do it." Many of the patterns in Fearless Change are helpful. Sending links to short videos (e.g. TED Talks) and interesting books can be helpful. I have some links in the two blog entries that may be useful. 

Change management. T…

14 Wow! Moments from my Scrum MasterClass

...so that's how Scrum works!


In my Scrum Performance MasterClass Workshop, the participants reflect on how their teams and organisations do Scrum. Then we review Scrum and its values, principles and practices so the participants can create a plan to improve their teams and organizations. Along the way, the participants experience moments of enlightenment - Wow! Eureka! -- in which they suddenly understand essential concepts, relationships and implications for their organization.

Here's a list of findings that caused my participants to say 'Wow!'
Inspect and Adapt: Everybody inspects. Who really adapts? I haven't. This needs to change.We need to raise the percentage of done stories closer to 100% of the team's forecast.The Implementation Team selects the number of stories to implement in the sprint.Technical debt is an important issue - we have to do something about itTest effort accumulates if not automated - this is 'technical debt'How-to-Demo is not t…

How do I do #Stoos in my company?

Monday, Steve Denning and I held our Monthly Mashup webinar dedicated to the question, "What is Stoos?" If you haven't followed the linkedin discussion, I urge you to check it out! In any case, one of our participants, Gary from Chicago asked: I am in the process of forming a new company which will operate in a niche within the chemicals industry.   I am not looking to change my organization, I am looking to start my organization using Stoos, Agile and Radical Management from the outset.  It would be helpful to know who within the global Stoos network might be available to consult regarding my startup keeping my developing organization on the path of being customer focused with empowered employees. Great question! A couple of answers came back:
Several of the panelists are in that business (surprise!). For example, Steve & I teach a course on Radical Management. I also teach Scrum and lead Temenos visioning retreats to enable your your leadership team to create a com…

Sample Definition of Done

Why does Scrum have a Definition of Done? Simple, everyone involved in the project needs to know and understand what Done means. Furthermore, Done should be really done, as in, 'there is nothing stopping us from earning value with this function, except maybe the go-ahead from the Product Owner. Consider the alternative:
Project Manager: Is this function done?
Developer: Yes
Project Manager: So we can ship it?
Developer: Well, No. It needs to be tested, and I need to write some documentation, but the code works, really. I tested it... (pause) ...on my machine. What's wrong with this exchange? To the developer and to the project manager, "done" means something rather different. To the developer in this case, done means: "I don't have to work on this piece of code any more (unless the tester tells me something is wrong)." The project leader is looking for a statement that the code is ready to ship.

At its most basic level, a definition of Done creates a sh…

What is the role of a Business Analyst in Scrum?

When I teach a CSM class, my goal is that my participants go home delighted (and of course that they learn about Scrum, that they are motivated to do Scrum, and can pass the online CSM exam). So after every class, I ask for feedback, in particular what could I do to get a better score. And for the next class, I strive to implement or address two or three of the points raised by my participants.

One issue that was raised was unanswered questions. It is annoying to ask questions and not get answers! Time is limited, so it is not always possible to answer all questions, so I thought, why not answer them on my blog? So here goes, first question:
What is the role of a Business Analyst in Scrum? This question is a challenge because Scrum doesn't answer this question! Scrum is a simple, team-based framework for solving complex problems. The roles and ceremonies in Scrum are designed to ensure that inspect and adapt can occur regularly with complete and correct information. Scrum does not…

HappinessApp to collect Feedback at Agile Tour Lausanne

This Friday I will be leading a workshop on Scrum Performance at the Agile Tour in Lausanne. The HappinessApp will also be present, collecting feedback from the participants about their satisfaction with the sessions. Their feedback will be displayed in nearly real time for all the participants to see on a big projection screen during the breaks.

How it works

Here are some screen dumps and a description of the workflow of the prototype.



In Lausanne, a member of the organizing committee will have an iPad and be present in each room. He or she will select the session.




At the end of each session as the participants walk out, they just select their smiley and save!

Much like the World Happiness Index, their feedback scores are relayed to our server.  

Then, by the time everyone has gotten their coffee, the consolidated scores will be available. The scores will be displayed on a big screen which updates every 15 seconds while data is being collected.
I hope this approach will make it muc…

Reflection on my MasterClass on Scrum Performance

Last Thursday, I held my first MasterClass Workshop in my new training facility "zum Talgarten". The topic was Scrum Performance and the target audience was people who have been doing Scrum for a while yet feel the need to get better. Three people attended (in German, they say "klein aber fein!"), a Product Owner and ScrumMaster from one company, the former ScrumMaster from another.

The inspiration for this workshop came out of my workshop at the Scrum Gathering "Reinventing Scrum". I discovered none of the participants wanted to reinvent Scrum, they all wanted to debug their own Scrum implementations. And so the workshop was born.

The second piece of the puzzle came from the Temenos retreat I attended last summer. (Read more in the article on Deep Trust - a foundation for lasting change in your organization). A Temenos retreat goes through a process of reflecting and letting go of what happened, then creating personal and shared visions for the future. I…

Introducing the World Happiness Index

"This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy."

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Three months ago, I came up with the idea for what is now the HappinessApp(tm) - a simple tool for recording your moments and moods and sharing them with your friends, family and co-workers. Together with a talented team from Brazil and now over 30 beta-testers, we are getting close to our first public release.

Since then I have learned a lot about happiness. "Motivation is a multiplier for velocity" observed Joe Justice, founder of WIKISPEED.

For most people though, work is not usually a source of…

MasterClass: Leadership Storyingtelling with Erwin van der Koogh

No single framework has been more helpful for me as a Scrum Coach than Radical Management. If you taking 'Delighting the Customer' as the primary organizing principle of the organization, Agile suddenly makes complete sense.

Once you realize that stories have through the ages been an effective - no, the most effective - way to motivate people to change, you have a whole new approach to Change Leadership. I watched granite-like organizations transform themselves into bars of wet, slippery soap in a matter of months!

I am proud that the first guest trainer for the MasterClass series is Erwin van der Koogh. Erwin is based in Amsterdam, a committed Stoosian, and a long time coach and trainer with a focus on Leadership Storytelling.

Come to our MasterClass workshop on October 25 and you too can learn how to lead change throught Storytelling!

BTW - if you complete three MasterClass Workshops on Radical Management, you may elect to call yourself a 'Recognized and Committed Radica…

MasterClass Workshops: Taking Scrum to the Next Level

For years, I have been giving Scrum courses and workshops. These entry-level courses are, above all, eye openers! They introduce people to new ideas about how to organize work, and for some of you, a light goes on! You take Scrum back to your organization and start to do Scrum. Then reality sets in. Confronting the challenges of changing your organization is hard! Doing Scrum well is not easy. To help you overcome these obstacles, I created the MasterClass workshop series.

MasterClasses are about improving your understanding of Scrum.  MasterClasses complement Scrum with other important frameworks – especially Radical Management. MasterClasses are about working through real problems and finding real solutions. MasterClasses are about becoming Agile.

MasterClasses are one-day workshops, so it's easier to get away. I hold one every month, right after my monthly Intense Certified Scrum Master course. They repeat, so you can pick the date most convenient for you. And you can…

Getting Started - Special Prices - Housewarming

Although I have been teaching Scrum courses in Switzerland since 2008, I now feel like I am the new kid on the block, since I am coming back from my Sabbatical and restarting as an independent trainer. So to get the ball rolling, I have a couple of goodies for you:

MasterClass Workshop on Scrum Team Performance, October 4, 2012, CHF 450 instead of 800.- Register!

Intense Certified ScrumMaster: CHF 1'600 instead of 1'900, October 25. Note: This is the early bird price - it go up by CHF 50 after this Friday. Register!

"Housewarming Party" to celebrate my new training room, I will have a housewarming party one evening early in October. If you are on my newsletter list, you'll get an invitation. If not, you can email me or contact me on the web-site, and I'll be happy to send you an invite.

Last-but-not least: I will be talking at the 50th(!) Scrum Breakfast in Zürich on "10 Fazits von agilen Projekten, Führung und anderen Themen aus meinem Sabbatical in den U…

I'm back... and I am a CST!

My USA-Sabbatical is over. What came out of it, and what's next?

I am pleased to announce that I have been recognized by the Scrum Alliance as a Certified Scrum Trainer. This is very select group of 138 people world-wide whose understanding of Scrum and whose teaching abilities have been vetted by the trainer community. It's an honor to be included in this select group.  As a participant in my Scrum Courses, you can be certain of the quality of training you receive, and you will qualify to become a Certified Scrum Master or Certified Scrum Product Owner -- after you pass the test from the Scrum Alliance.

I have also spent the last 6 months working with Steve Denning on Radical Management. Radical Management is essentially the values and practices of Scrum, extended to leading an organization. OK, that's an oversimplification, because there are two essential principles which go beyond Scrum: Delighting the customer as the highest goal of an organization, and Leadership Stor…

New! A Special Training or Meeting Room in Zurich

For your meetings or courses:

The House "zum Talgarten" was built in the 1890's and has just been renovated. This idyllic yet central location is just 70m away from the Limmat with its endless parks and trails into and out of the city. The training room is on the entrance level (technically the basement, but the room has a floor to ceiling glass doorway to the street for optimal daylight.

I configured this room for my own Scrum and Agile training, so it is easily reconfigurable and has plenty of availability! The tables fold and the chairs stack. The walls are clear for for hanging flip-charts or post its. All the equipment you need should be available: Flip Charts. Pin Boards. Internet. Beamer (uh, projector). Sound.

The room is equipped as follows:
2 Steelcase Flip Flop folding tables on wheels, 2.00x0.90m. They can be joined to from one table 4.00x.0.90m
10 light, stackable chairsSpeaker's PodiumScreen ProjectorAudio system
Hi…

A Manifesto for #Stoos Movement?

I have asked whether Stoos needs a Manifesto twice, once just before the first Stoos Gathering (on the Stoos), and once again about three months after the fact on the Stoos LinkedIn group. Neither discussion produced a strong demand for a Manifesto. The topic came up again at the Stoos Stampede (and I was pleased to participate in the discussion). Is this the monster that won't die? Or is there a deeper need for a manifesto?

On the one hand, a manifesto seems like a very logical byproduct of the Stoos movement. Stoos-I was inspired directly by the gathering at Snowbird Lodge which produced the Agile Manifesto. This is turn has served as a rallying point and common identity for Agilists around the world. Today, no less than a dozen different frameworks and methods can be called Agile. Surely we need a manifesto as well.

The online discussions did not generate much enthusiasm for a Stoos Manifesto. First of all, there are many principles and not much agreement on what the right on…

About the Happiness App

The response to the HappinessApp has been really gratifying. Happiness in general seems to be an idea whose time has come.

This app came about as I participated in the Delight-the-Client exercise of Steve Denning's and my Radical Management workshop in May. Given my role as Scrum/RM Trainer & Coach, how could I delight my customer faster?

I thought: The earliest side effect of introducing Scrum is often significantly improved staff morale. How could I make this improvement visible quickly? Employee surveys are time consuming and expensive. The idea for an app was born. I came home totally enthusiastic ("jazzed" as they say in the US), wrote a vision and some user stories, asked some colleagues what they thought of the idea.

The initial user feedback was (mostly) really positive -- and gave me some really important changes in direction from my original idea! So off I went. A tweet to find a development team - I found someone who really understood what I was trying to…

Announcing the Happiness App

... and I am looking for beta testers and early adopters!

The HappinessApptm enables you to collect, log and share information about your happiness, save it for future reference or share it with friends, families colleagues, or even the whole world! And that's just the beginning!

Today at the Stoos Stampede in Amsterdam, I am proud to show off the app for the first time! You can record your happiness level, review your scores on a graph, and install it on your iPhone or iPad (if you are a bit technically saavy). Every week, we will add a new feature or two and ask you for feedback.

Would you like to be one of the first 100 beta-testers and early adopters?  Here's how you do it:
Check out our webpage HappinessApp.meRegister as a beta-testerFollow the HappinessApp on twitter.  I'll be contacting the first people next week to help you get started!

8 Questions for a Product Owner on Customer Delight

It's easy to talk about delighting the customer, but how do you really do it? As a Product Owner, it is your responsibility to create great products.  How do you take this philosophy and transform it into competitive advantage for your company or your project?

During our workshop, "Making the Whole Organization Agile," Steve Denning lead the participants through a series of exercises and role plays: 12 Practices of Customer Delight. I decided to participate this time around, and reflected on how I could improve my own business. I was stunned at the ideas I was able to produce. I'll come to that at some point...

Here are first 8 questions Steve in our Delight the Customer workshop:

1. What is your goal? As a product owner, you should always be clear on this. It can however be helpful to challenge your ideas. Think of an idea for a product or service. Is this a new idea or an extension of an existing product or service? If its a new product, try to think of an ex…

Agile Management: An Idea who's time has come?

I just saw that the CIO of General Electric is being quoted by the Wall Street Journal that their software development process is Agile. Wow! If nothing else, we can now say that Agile is officially on management's radar.

One of my favorite tools for monitoring trends is google Insight for Search. Let's look at how Agile Management and Agile Software Development compare:

Where once software development dominated the discussions around Agility, it looks like the focus is shifting to management, which, in my mind is where it should be. Development groups can create islands of common sense in the middle of the chaos that is there organization, but to really focus on delighting the customer, the whole organization has to be on the same page. That means management, especially top management.

Why is the C-Suite Clueless?

How many middle managers and agile coaches have asked themselves this question: Why is the C-Suite clueless? We try so hard to get their attention, but they just won't listen.  I think I am connecting the dots on why they don't listen.

Overwork is surely part of the problem, but it's deeper than that. Management has always been accustomed to communication by broadcast; listening and reacting have not been its strong suit. Before globalization, that wasn't much of a problem, because the customer didn't have many alternatives. But today, customers can easily go elsewhere, the complexity has risen, and the job of management has gotten much harder.

Today, I believe Management is in denial. It is in denial because it is being told by the marketplace: "you suck." Management focuses on improving the quarterly results, lowering the cost, and with it the quality to the point where lemonade doesn't have any lemon juice in it. And then they wonder why people ch…

Joe Justice, CEO of WIKISPEED to participate in next monthly mash-up

Joe Justice, CEO of WIKISPEED will participate in Steve and Peter's next monthly mashup.

Both Steve and I have written about Wikispeed (The Car the Scrum Built, Wikispeed: How A 100 mpg Car Was Developed In 3 Months). I think Wikispeed is the harbinger of dramatic changes in how we do business!

You can sign up here! And be sure to include your questions for Joe, Steve or myself when you sign up! We look forward to talking to you!

Does Your Agile Transition Provoke a Grief Response?

Radical Management principle number 4 says that communication must change from top-down directives to adult-to-adult discussions. Why is this so important? And how can you tell if your agile transition is really transitioning "agile-ly"?

Glen Alleman, author of the Herding Cats blog, recommended that I look at Peter de Jäger's webinar on The Art of Communicating Change. Given Alleman's critical perspective on Agile and Stoos,  I wondered, could there be something about Management in general and Change Management in particular that I've missed?

De Jäger starts by explaining that people react to change differently depending on whether change is voluntary or involuntary. Examples of voluntary change include deciding to learn a skill, getting married, or accepting a new job. People change like this all the time. Although it takes time to learn the skill or adjust to being married, most people do it willingly.

An involuntary change is a completely different matter. T…

Three Simple Hacks to Improve Management

Why doesn't the C-Suite understand Agile? Agile improves performance, profitability and customer delight. Why don't they get it? Why won't they even take the time to look at it? This dilemma has puzzled Agilists for as long as there has been Agile. Software developers have long been confronted with a similar problem. Here is a look a their solution and three simple hacks which may help managers improve their performance and their company's competitiveness.

I think there is a simple explanation for this: Top managers simply don't have time to think deeply -- about Agile, or anything else. They are overwhelmed, overworked and under extreme pressure to perform. They have no time or energy for creative thought. And since they have to deliver results every quarter, they can't risk doing anything new. If they were software developers, they would be doing death march releases every three months.

To understand the problem, let's look at the act of getting a meeting…

My Experience Building Deep Trust

How would a company function if its top leadership trusted each other deeply and truly shared a common vision for the future? This question burns in my mind as I ponder the impact of the retreat I attended last weekend.

I met Siraj while making contact with the Washington DC Agile/Scrum scene. I had offered to help him make high quality photographs of his collection of "influence maps." Having just moved to the DC area, and having time on my hands, I thought that some small acts of service would be a good way to get to know and integrate into the Agile community here.

An influence map is both a discovery tool and an information radiator for reflecting on and telling the story of your life. It was fascinating what I could learn about people I had never met just by looking at their maps.

There was always something mysterious about Siraj. As his name suggests, he is of Indian origin, but he grew up in Middle East and studied in a Jesuit school. His life has always bee…