Monday, December 31, 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 what you need to know to lead a Scrum Team effectively. You learn to the tools for creating great products and you meet the requirements for being a Certified Scrum Product Owner by the Scrum Alliance.

Like my Certified Scrum Master course in Zurich, attendence will be strictly limited to 10 people for an intense experience. Like my CSM course, it will normally be held in English unless everyone agrees to speak German (guaranteed German courses on request).

Want to register for the CSPO course? Jump to my registration page now!

Other Changes:
  • I have extended the class hours for all courses by 30 minutes a day. Classes now officially end at 18:00 (6pm) sharp. This is really a reflection of reality and enables members of the PMI to claim 15 PDUs instead of 14.  (See also the CSM Course Description)
  • Are you interested transforming your team or organization with Scrum or Radical Management? I have updated my directory of company Scrum trainings, workshops and executive retreats.

Happy New Year Everyone!

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 usually several.

Some examples of small changes: 1) including Q&A and case studies as backlog items in the course. I always did case studies and answered questions, but as line items, people knew they were getting them. 2) Ensure that everybody gets a chance to role play a leadership role in the simulations. 3) Answering open questions after the course. (see for instance Questions and Answers from last week's MasterClass Workshop

The biggest change was to restructure the course flow, but I think the small changes have had the most impact on customer satisfaction.

The results were tremendous! Within 3 courses, I was able to raise my Net Promoter Score (the % of participants who would surely recommend me, less the number of those who would probably steer people away from me) from a lukewarm +11% to a delighted +90%! Inspect and adapt really works. Delight the customer really works! And it amazing how quick the turn around can be! (see: Eight Questions for a Product Owner)

My new years resolution - I just have one - to keep inspecting and adapting, based on feedback from my customers.

Imagine -- how would your life or work change if you consequently inspected and adapted. What would next December's year end reflection be like?



Monday, December 17, 2012

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?

  1. Scrum is easy to implement.
  2. Scrum helps you recognize problems
  3. If you do not apply Scrum 100%, you cannot be successful with Scrum.
  4. Scrum can only be applied for time-and-material projects.
  5. Scrum is only for team players
  6. Scrum will solve any problem
  7. Scrum is inflexible
  8. Scrum always works
  9. Scrum is a revolution
  10. Scrum 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?

Monday, December 10, 2012

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:
  1. Pairing: Two people work on each story. ( See 'Pair & Share, How We Do Sprint Planning 2')
  2. Review the Definition of Done in my project
  3. The Implementation Team, not the Product Owner or other manager, decides on how much work to accept in the Sprint.
  4. Improve the quality of the User Stories in my project
  5. Move testing from a separate group to the Implementation Team
  6. Hold a retrospective with the Implementation Team and Management
  7. Build awareness and acceptance for the Scrum mindset among our customers
  8. Recognize the impact of technical debt and start working to eliminating it
  9. Introduce the principle of Inspect and Adapt in management
  10. Recommit to doing Scrum well 
  11. Bring passion for doing things well back into the process
  12. Apply the Test Driven Development to process design
  13. Measure velocity instead of using it to drive Team commitments to the Product Owner
  14. Order books to learn more
  15. Create a company Agile library to help the curious find out about Scrum and Agile
  16. Use real (potential) customers and users as personae for creating user stories
  17. Look at Spotify as a role model for organizing and scaling my teams.
Gee, this list is a bit long for to do all at once. So pick one, maybe two (OK, three if the they are tiny changes) and start working there.

Better yet, this list was created for the people who created it. So reflect on how you do Scrum to create your own list! (Feel free to add your ideas in the comments!)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

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 Scrum
  • Change management
  • How to address Senior Management and get them on board
  • Team Skills
  • Scrum 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. This could mean managing changes to a product or managing change in an organization. The Product Backlog is the instrument for doing the former and the Product Owner is responsible for deciding what changes are made to the product my managing the Product Backlog. I think "change management" to describe organization change in an oxymoron (kind of like "military intelligence" or "beatings in my interest.") I prefer to think of this as how to lead and inspire change. If you tell people what to do or what to change to, you risk provoking a grief response, and most people will fight the change.  I have found the basic storytelling approach of get people's attention, eliciting desire, giving them time and opportunity to digest and ask questions, then following up with facts and proposals to be a very effective approach. I touched on this in my recent PMI Webinar.

How to address Senior Management and get them on board: In my eyes, three books should give you the talking points you need to address Top Management: The Leaders Guide to Radical Management (Denning), Innovators Dilemma(Christensen), Lean Startup (Ries), The Ultimate Question (Reichheld) all address critical topics and should give you the talking points you need to argue convincingly for your Agile cause.

Team Skills. What I call 'Fearless Trust' is the basis for effective teams. Create an environment of Fearless Trust and the rest will be much easier. Dare I say it will take care of itself? No, but see The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Lencioni, and this will get you off to a great start!

Scrum of Scrums - Once upon a time, people thought ScrumMasters would coordinate across teams. The approach was called Scrum of Scrums and the meetings were usually held once per week. The ScrumMasters would answer 4 questions:

  1. What did you team accomplish last week? 
  2. What does your team plan to accomplish next week? 
  3. What impediments does your team have? 
  4. What impediments does your team expect to produce this week? 

People quickly discovered that there are many topics which need coordination for which other people are more qualified to address than the ScrumMaster. So today, one talks about Scrum of Scrum of ScrumMasters, SoS of Designers, SoS of DBAs, etc. Check out this case study from Spotify for an interesting insight on how to organize and scale teams to be truly successful.

I think that covers it for the latest MasterClass. I hope I covered everything -- of course I welcome questions and do my best to answer them! And you can look for other Q&A postings to see what came out of other workshops and courses....

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!'
  1. Inspect and Adapt: Everybody inspects. Who really adapts? I haven't. This needs to change.
  2. We need to raise the percentage of done stories closer to 100% of the team's forecast.
  3. The Implementation Team selects the number of stories to implement in the sprint.
  4. Technical debt is an important issue - we have to do something about it
  5. Test effort accumulates if not automated - this is 'technical debt'
  6. How-to-Demo is not the same thing as the Definition of Done.
  7. Our stories are too finely specified -- too much of the 'how' is predefined
  8. Limit stories in progress to 1/2 the number of team members.
  9. Create security so people can speak freely
  10. Understand the problem before looking for solutions
  11. Define and stay within your timeboxes
  12. 'Remembering Heaven' as an approach to gain support for change
  13. Pattern for Change: 'Fearless Change' by Rising and Manns
  14. I should have come with my team and/or management

Inspect and Adapt: I'm haven't been doing it. -- That recognition came to me a few weeks ago. Rather embarrassing actually, because I have been teaching inspect and adapt for years. But for years I have been collecting feedback forms after each course with high points, low points, puzzles and suggestions. Mostly I just looked at the score to pat myself on the back. Beyond that, I hadn't really done anything with the results.

Last September I started teaching CSM courses after a long break. To my horror, the NPS scores were much lower than I wanted. So I decided to apply my own teachings. I decided that after every course, I would implement at least one or two suggestions from each set of feedback forms. The results were spectacular! My NPS went from +10% to +90% in about 5 courses. Hey, this stuff really works! Inspect and Adapt. Listen to the customer. Strive to delight the customer.

So let me add one more Wow!-Moment, mine:

  • Scrum is easy and Scrum is hard. It is always a challenge to maintain the passion to do it well!