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Showing posts from 2016

The second impediment, or why should you care about engineering practices?

Sometimes I think, Switzerland is land of product owners. Thanks to our strong economy, there is much more development to do than have capacity for. So we off-shore and near-shore quite a bit. And technical topics seem to produce a yawn among managers and product owners. "Not really my problem," they seem to be saying. I'd like you to challenge that assumption!

I don't often change the main messages of my Scrum courses. For years, I have been talking about "Inspect and Adapt", "Multitasking is Evil" and "Spillover is Evil." Recently I have added a new message:

Bugs are Evil.

Why this change? While researching for my Scrum Gathering Workshop on Code Dojo's, I found a paper by Alistair Cockburn from XP Sardinia. He wrote, In 1000 hours (i.e. in one month), a team can write 50'000 lines of code. And they will send 3'500 bugs to quality assurance.

Doing the math based on industry standard assumptions, I found that that team wil…

How we used to Scrum and XP to keep the conference on schedule

Last week, I attended and facilitated Scrum Day Portugal. This was one of the best conferences I have ever attended: Great talks, new information, great discussions off-line both with participants and speakers! And despite starting 15 minutes late, we finished on time. Everything just flowed! How did we do that?

It didn't start out that way. Scrum Day Portugal is a two day event. I arrived Tuesday afternoon, half way into the first day. The speakers were interesting, the talks were great, but we were running late. It felt like a death march project, even though the conference had barely begun.

My job was to facilitate the second day. We had a really tight schedule! Seven igniter talks followed by 2 Pecha Kuchas and 3 ½ hours of Open Space. I realized that staying on schedule would be both challenging and really important. If people are exhausted at the Open Space, they can employ the law of two feet (leave), and all the air goes out of the event. This would be a disaster. How to f…

How to beat procrastination with My Personal Agility

As I started my quest which led to creating what I now call 'My Personal Agility,' my goal was to get more done of what really matters.  Today, I stumbled on a TED talk by Tim Urban (author of the amazing 'Wait but Why' blog) that explains why that is so hard to achieve. We are all procrastinators. How can we beat the urge to procrastinate?



Urban talks about the 'Instant Gratification Monkey' who seizes control from the 'Rational Decision Maker.' The monkey wants to do fun stuff, not hard stuff that's important but whose value is far off. The only thing that the monkey is afraid of is the 'Panic Monster' - if the deadline is near enough, panic will set in, the monkey is scared off and the rational decision maker can get to work.

And what if there is no deadline? No panic monster to raise its ugly head, so you never get anything started, much less finished. So procrastination is paralyzing.

Urban's solution was to visualize the weeks in …

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:
What really matters?Of all the things I could do, what is most important?Of all the things I could do, what really has to get done this week?What do I want to get done this week?What am I going to do today?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 …

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 collab…

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? 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 …

My Personal Agility RC1

How to do more of what you really care about My Personal Scrum Agility is a simple framework for people who want to become highly effective individuals. My Personal Agility 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 Agility and how to use it to do more that matters.

In a business context, My Personal Agility 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 Agility 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?…

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 …

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 …

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?

Looking for an Agile Developer

As Product Owner for the Scrum Breakfast Club, I want an Agile software developer,  At the Scrum Breakfast Club, our goal is to enable people and companies to become Agile. We need some software to help us make that happen. How do you find an Agile Developer?

When I have looked for a development partner in the past, I have always started what skills, passion and personality am I looking for.

First, let's talk about what this project is not:
This is not about creating a pretty website. This is about building the pipes between the various components. If the following points describe you, we would like to talk to you (must): We need to be able communicate in English. (I have tried working through an interpreter, but I have not found it to work well).Our basic flow is Scrum and we do short sprints. We are not dogmatic, but we want to produce working software at least once per week. We would like you to know what Agile is about before we start.Our Product Owner cares about quality and r…

Working toward Personal Scrum v.0.2

I have had a lot of great discussions around my post on Personal Scrum, and in the meantime, I have collected some hands-on experience. Four weeks later, what has changed? What's working well, and what still needs improvement?
What's gotten better since last month?I was ready without drama to go to the Scrum GatheringI have published a blog entry every week, something I've wanted to do but haven't done in years.I followed up on my courses and Scrum Breakfast Club meetings promptly.I succeeded in making a major revision in my CSM materials, something I've wanted to do for years. More generally, I am able to set and accomplish medium term goals.I pushed back and said no to something that would have been a lot of work and little value.I went for a 30 minute walk during the day.I have time to waste on youtube and reddit. (Ask me about where we might find life in the solar system or some fan-made Star Trek films worth watching!) It seems like this is mostly working. Th…

When should you apply Scrum?

... and when not? I was really surprised to discover it is not easy to find an answer this question. Let's look at what Scrum is, then look at when Scrum is appropriate and when not.
What is Scrum? Scrum is a simple, team-based framework for solving complex problems. Scrum is modelled on successful patterns for product development as identified in "The New New Product Development Game". I would summarize these patterns as follows:

Inspect and Adapt at regular intervalsProduce something that might be valuable for your customer at regular intervalsOne voice speaks for the customerAn interdisciplinary team solves the whole problemA coach helps everybody involved to get betterManagement provides direction and support, and knows when it's best to stay out of the way How is scrum different than traditional approaches? The principles of traditional management might be summarized as follows: Define a plan, follow the planCheck progress against milestonesMaximize utilization o…

What's a good spike?

Problem: Our forum has some unpleasant limitations. In particular, pasting formatted text into a forum post from Outlook (and possibly other sources) produces weird and wonderful results: the HTML gets converted so you don't see formatted text, you see the raw HTML A bit annoying.  So we decided to do a spike to evaluate an alternative:
spike: evaluate TinyMCE / other options for editing text in forum We got to the end of the evaluation, and as PO, I had more questions at the end of this evaluation than at the beginning! Why?

I think the answer can be found in the title of the spike. What's wrong with this title? First, it starts with an verb in the imperative. "Team, do this" It is not an invitation to think. Second how do we know if the we have satisfied the objective? It doesn't really say. It just says 'evaluate.'

Here's an improvement:
spike: can we eliminate our copy/paste problems by using TinyMCE? By formulating the spike as a question, it be…

Working towards my Personal Scrum

Two weeks ago I read an article that changed how I organize my life.

I have a problem. Despite teaching people and organizations how to organize their work effectively, how to prioritize, about the evils of multi-tasking and the importance of sustainable pace, I have never been able to get my own to-dos under control. By extension, my life has never really been under control either. So I often work late into the night, almost every night, and on the weekends as well.

I have experimented with the Pomodoro (I could never get myself to stop working after 25 minutes. I want something done before I can put it down) and Personal Kanban (post-its with waiting-working-done around the screen of my notebook (the problem wan't the WIP but the length of the backlog). The results of my attempts was always the same: I worked very hard, getting things done one after the other, but my work schedule always extended into the night and over the weekend.
An experiment with timeboxing tasks/goals Two…

What would a Teal contract look like?

As I started the Scrum Breakfast Club, I quickly realized that the SBC should be a Teal organization. Two reasons: First, we have an overriding vision to help people transform their worlds through Scrum and related practices, frameworks and mindsets. 2) The SBC should create value for all its participants, i.e. members, chapter hosts and yes, yours truly as founder of the club.

The SBC is at its essence a franchise model. Independent Chapter hosts organize workshops in their regions under the banner of the SBC. But it should be a Teal franchise not an Orange franchise. How is that different?

I discovered one aspect where things must be different: Contracts (or should I call them "Agreements"?) The first thing I created were simple terms and conditions for regular members. Then I needed an agreement between the chapter hosts and the club. Then, as the club grew, I discovered the needs to expand the members agreement.

The most challenging was the Chapter Hosts agreement, beca…

What's the difference Scrum or Kanban?

Scrum or Kanban, that is the question that keeps coming up! But is it really an either/or question? Some people would have you choose. I believe they are complementary approaches and a pragmatic approach is to use each when appropriate. Let's look at what is Kanban, what is Scrum, and how they are similar and different.

Here's the short answer:

Both are reflective and adaptive. Kanban is focused on limiting work in progress whereas Scrum limits the time you can spend on a problem before you have to produce a result. If your product were a car, Scrum would be saying check your oil and tire pressure every month, and Kanban would be the warning lights on the dashboard that turn red when something is amiss. Both the maintenance intervals and the warning lights have value, and it would be silly to ignore either one.

Here's the long answer:

If I remember David Anderson's Kanban course correctly: Every sentence has a subject, a verb,…