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Showing posts from May, 2011

Scrum Breakfast June: A new management paradigm?

"In the 21st century, there will be two kinds of company. -- Only two? -- Only two: Those who delight their customers and those who do not. The former will flourish and prosper. The rest will stagnate and eventually die." With these thoughts, Steve Denning launched a discussion about the purpose of the modern enterprise at the Washington Gathering, 'Revolutionizing the World of Work.' His arguments: Large enterprises are dysfunctional. Government is dysfunctional. Health care is dysfunctional. The causes can be found in traditional command and control based management. Scrum, Agile and Lean Values and Principles (together with a few others) have formed that basis of thriving new enterprises.

I attended the Gathering as a practice partner. In that role, I contributed an exercise which demonstrated dramatically how Agile principles improved organizational performance and value creation. More importantly, I learned a lot about how some organizations successfully adapte…

The Key to Good Estimates

Everybody knows the I in INVEST: each User Story or Product Backlog Item must be independent of the others.  This means that errors can cancel each other out. Too high on feature 1, too low on feature 2. Over the course of thirty or more features, things average out.

I have realized that another kind of independence is critical for accurate estimates. Just as important as the functional independence is the organizational independence of the team performing the work.

In a phased approach ("waterfall"), projects always share people. For example, last month, the architects were working on the design of project P1. Now they have handed that work off to the developers and start work on project P2. So if the architects have a delay in their part of P1, that will not just impact P1, it will also impact P2. If management re-prioritizes, taking people off of say P3 to support P1, then P3 is also delayed.

So a delay in one project impacts many other projects in the same organi…

Making your Company a Better Place

Welcome to the future! Fellow revolutionaries! We are here to change the world. This is an invitation to meet here again on May 12, 2021. By that time, we will have transformed the Fortune 500. We will have transformed the government. We will have transformed the health sector. We will have transformed the education sector....

You might be wondering: how could we, the thirty people in this room, possibly change the world. We have few resources. We don’t have much money. We have little explicit power. We don’t have political clout in any conventional sense. So how could we possibly change the world?

The reason why we are going to be able to change the world is that we have a better idea. At the end of these two days, we will all own a set of ideas that will change the world. With this compelling vision, Steve Denning, Seth Kahn and 5 Practice Partners (including yours truly) introduced the 25 participants into the world of Radical Management. Why did the 25 people come to ta…

How we do a retrospective

I consider the retrospective to be the most underrated meeting in the Scrum Flow. Since it is not about the concrete results of the project, there is a certain temptation to ignore it. It is easy to fall in to the trap that "there is always something more important to do."

Still, each Sprint should produce two results: 1) A product or service which is an increment of functionality closer to delivery and 2) a better, happier, more productive team. The retrospective is the primary opportunity for achieving the second result.

There are many ways to do a retrospective. Variety is the spice of life, and few areas are in need of more spice than a retrospective. So feel free to vary your approach, the questions, the focus, the location, the moderation, etc to keep the energy level up. The retrospective format described below takes about 2 to 3 hours, depending on the size of the team and your timeboxing. I like to use this format when getting started. It is also suitable for reflec…

Scrum Breakfast June: Agile Management

Radical Management, or a New Work Paradigm?

Today, some companies are wildly successful at creating value and excitement for their customers. You can see it in the stock prices of companies like Apple, Google, or Other companies are doing more to destroy value than to create it. These companies die slowly or become the subjects of government bailouts.

What is the difference between these two classes of company? A pattern is emerging. Successful companies are embracing practices and principles of Agile and Scrum and failing companies are sticking to traditional command and control. The successful companies are energized, pleasant places to work.

How can your company embrace agile values at the management level? How can you create an environment conducive to creativity and continuous improvement? How can you transform your company in to a more competitive organization (and have more fun while working)?

As readers of this blog know, next week I'll be at the Was…