10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: Focus on the Work, Not the Framework

This podcast is part of a series, The 10 most important things I have learned from 20 years in Agile (June 3, 2019)

In this series, Al Shalloway shares some of the most important insights he’s had over this time and how they relate to each other.

This episode is about Focusing on the Work, Not the Framework. Continue reading “10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: Focus on the Work, Not the Framework”

10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: Flexible Concrete

This podcast is part of a series, The 10 most important things I have learned from 20 years in Agile (June 3, 2019)

In this series, Al Shalloway shares some of the most important insights he’s had over this time and how they relate to each other.

This episode is about Flexible Concrete. Continue reading “10 Lessons from 20 Years in Agile: Flexible Concrete”

The need to teach the principles that drive practices with the practices

This is an except from Al Shalloway’s upcoming book: Going Beyond Lean and Agile: Introducing FLEX – FLow for Enterprise Transformation. It is from a particularly important section called Teaching and Adoption.

I have never liked the common Scrum/SAFe approach of teaching select practices that are expected to be used as is. Their justification is that you need to understand how to use these practices before going beyond them. I have observed that while people need a set starting point they also need to understand why things are working. This creates learning opportunities from the start and enables a gradual improvement, or even, the transcendence of the practice.

Continue reading “The need to teach the principles that drive practices with the practices”

What I Think About Scrum

First of all, I like Scrum. I think it can be a great framework when used in the right place. But I also think it must be taught as a tool in your toolbox, not an end in and of itself. This means initial training of Scrum should include more of the flow model (eliminating delays in workflow, feedback and using information) on which it is based. Test-first methods should also be incorporated into this training. This combination allows for teams to avoid most of the pitfalls teams new to Scrum face. I also believe one should look to see if Scrum or Kanban is better for a particular team (or something in between). See first comment for how I do this.

See Why Agile Coaches Need to Know Both Scrum and Kanban.   

Continue reading “What I Think About Scrum”

Time to Say Goodbye to Empirical Process Control

Creating software has several aspects to it.

  1. Deciding what to create
  2. How creating new software affects existing software
  3. How people work with each other
  4. The process being used to build it

Although all of this creates a very complex process, only the first three are fairly unpredictable, the fourth is not.

Continue reading “Time to Say Goodbye to Empirical Process Control”

What is the Most Important Question to Ask a Potential Trainer Teaching Anything But an Introductory Workshop (e.g. CSM)?

“Were you directly involved in the creation of the materials for your workshop?”

This is important because it guarantees the trainer will understand the materials. And because you know they are prepared to handle skepticism met during the presentation.

Here is what trainers know. Creating course materials deepens your knowledge of the materials. You can question the assertions being made. You understand the order, and the reason for that particular order. You can anticipate questions that will be asked and the students’ skepticism. You are prepared to teach… and not simply to convey information.

A recent trend for certifying bodies is to bring in outside trainers to create materials for them. In many ways, this is good. However it means that these bodies are becoming somewhat more focused on marketing than on creating new concepts. They are taking other peoples’ work and putting it into their marketing and delivery channels. And they have trainers deliver courses who haven’t developed experience through build the materials.

They lack the deeper knowledge to help their students.

How Design Patterns Give Insights Into Process Patterns

Design patterns are often described as “solutions to recurring problems within a context.”But the real power of patterns is to see the forces that each pattern resolves. They should be used as a way to help analyze what’s needed to create a quality design. That is the goal.

Given a situation where, say, the Strategy Pattern was not quite present but its concepts could be used, no one who understood patterns would criticize the solution by saying ,“Well, that’s not a Strategy Pattern!” So why do we hear these sorts of critiques in the process world? Let’s think about it. Continue reading “How Design Patterns Give Insights Into Process Patterns”

Using Cost of Delay to Improve Scrum

If you only quantify one thing, quantify the Cost of Delay” – Don Reinertsen

Cost of delay is the overall cost of loss in revenue, lost opportunity, increased risks, customer respect, etc., due to a delay in realization of value.

This jewel of advice not only tunes us in to what’s important, but it can guide us in all aspects of value creation and delivery. It’s what’s behind CICD, small stories, avoiding handoffs, not working on too many things, automated testing, test-first and more. Pause for a moment and consider how each of these remove delays in workflow, feedback, communication and error detection.

Projects miss schedules not because of one big delay, but due to a succession of small delays – each having a cumulative and cascading sequence of events that compound each other.

Using a mantra of eliminating these delays provides insights for how product owners, ScrumMasters and the team itself can work. Anticipating delays can even enable avoiding impediments instead of having to wait to hit them. The causes of delays are primarily working on items of lesser importance, lacking a focus on finishing, having too much work in process, lack of cross-functional teams, large stories and lack of collaboration. Understanding this greatly speeds up the adoption of Scrum for new teams.

 

 

 

 

Three ways to get trained in Scrum

Focus on Scrum. Use its practices, events and artifacts to drive teams to improve. For example, time boxing requires smaller stories. Releasable quality code at the end of the sprint encourages team members to work together. Retrospections are about learning. Daily Scrums provide an opportunity to pivot each day. This is the common way certified training is done.

Take a CSM course and teach it to your teams. This somewhat follows the above method as CSM classes also focus on Scrum.

Learn principles of flow (Lean) and Agile. Focus on how to do Agile work (small stories, collaboration, test-first, …) and then teach Scrum in how to support it.

The first two approaches teach Scrum but leave it to the team to learn what they need to do. The last approach gets people started on their real work and teaches how Scrum can support it.

Note: When I write things like this it seems clear to me which of these is the best way. Is it not clear to others?

Walking my Talk – Integrating our On-the-Job Online Master Class With our Onsite Class

I’ve been espousing (a nice word for rant) about the need for scaled learning methods and how 2-day classes have low retention. I’ve decided to integrate our On-the-Job Online Advanced Scrum Master / Kanban Coaching workshop with our Team-Agility Coach (our integration of Scrum/Kanban workshop.

Our online workshop is normally $595 but when you take our Scrum/Kanban master course we’ll include that for $200 a person. This means that our 2 day workshop followed by our 3 month program is $10,400 for 12 people ($500 for each additional person).

The onsite aspect of this integrates Scrum and Kanban. The three month program has me work with participants helping them apply what they’ve learned, as well as advanced topics of Agile, with their teams.

Please message me if you’re interested.