This begins a new blog series called FLEX Coaches Corner. I have just started Adopting FLEX online. Each lesson has a ‘coaches corner’ where I present coaching tips for participants. Each week I’ll put one of these out on Net Objectives Thoughts and collect them as Coaches Clinic.
We are told people always resist it, but this is an over-simplification. Consider this excerpt from A Simpler Way. Margaret Wheatley & Myron Kellner-Rogers
Continue reading “How do people react to change?”
Agile is a great ideal. It feels good. It is a call to liberation. We should never lose this. But we must also remember Millard Fuller’s observation “It is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than think your way into a new way of acting.”
This means working together will get you to trust and respect faster than saying to trust and respect each other will get you to working together. The latter is a nice thought but doesn’t work with divergent roles and values.
Continue reading “Step 2: Shift from Agile at the team to business agility”
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” Einstein
The team focus of 2001 is no longer viable. Early adopters could adopt Scrum without regards to the bigger picture. The key was having a cross-functional team that Scrum and XP were designed for.
But as soon as Agile spread beyond one team, it ran into challenges. Team dynamics are different from organizational dynamics. Scrum ran into problems because forming cross-functional teams required committing someone who was needed on several teams to one team. Agilists didn’t have methods that solved this problem.
Continue reading “Step 1: Acknowledge the need to move from a team focus to systems thinking”
For a movement that’s about quick delivery, continuous learning, innovation & flexibility, Agile has lost its way.
Organizations with good minded people who see better ways to do things are faced with massive delays to get started because Agile has become a huge endeavor – an anti-thesis of Agile. Agile would say “start and learn.”
Continue reading “How did Agile become so unagile”
“Test-first “sounds like it’s about testing, but it’s really about collaboration, shared understanding and better design. Test-first originated with eXtreme Programming (XP) with the focus was on writing tests before code. Fortunately, a natural law of software development is that programs written by first considering their behavior are more flexible and robust than programs written by considering their implementation.
Since then, test-first has expanded to be used between product owners and the team by specifying the requirements in the form of acceptance tests. This is called Acceptance TDD (ATDD)
ATDD requires the collaboration of all parties involved. This collaboration on understanding behavior prior to implementation clarifies what is being required while removing the delay between specification of requirements, their implementation and then their final validation. This both helps ensure the right functionality is built while increasing efficiency.
The benefits of ATDD are
- improved collaboration
- clear acceptance criteria
- prepared for automated testing
- improved developer-tester communication
- reduced time for feedback
- agreement on requirements
- improved code quality
It’s one of the best steps towards building the right thing in the right way.
For more information see:
Benefits of Acceptance Test-Driven Development using Behavior-Driven Development
How to Start with ATDD using BDD
The following is an excerpt from the chapter Adopting SAFe at Small Scale in Al Shalloway’s new book – Achieving Agility at Small to Mid-Scale
The Challenge of Essential SAFe
SAFe proponents suggest Essential SAFe be used for small companies. The reason for this is that small companies don’t need the complexity that full SAFe entails. But even small companies have the issue of taking their strategies to fulfillment. This means that the concepts of strategies, epics, solutions, capabilities, and MVPs are still needed. The challenge, of course, is that these are defined at the levels above Essential SAFe.
Most small companies adopting SAFe are mostly attracted to:
- the program increment and its planning event
- the role of the release train engineer (RTE) to coordinate teams
- having teams work in cadence with synchronization
These can be used as the cornerstone of their SAFe adoption. However, a simple Agile Product Management approach that takes the company from strategy to realization of value is still required.
See chapter above for more.
I’ve been delivering talks at conferences & user groups for over 20 years. One question I ask at most of my talks for developers is “how many of you spend most of your time fixing bugs?” Throughout all of these years, I get about 9 out of 10 telling me they do. But they don’t.
I go through this conversation with them:
- Consider a time you were notified of a bug.
- remember the time you spent trying to reproduce it
- and then figured out how to fix it and did that
- And then undid it because it broke something else
- And then found the real cause and fixed it
- Now, how much time was actually spent fixing the bug?
- I’d suggest that most of your time was spent finding the bug.
Now this is not just semantics. Consider from when you write a bug (and yes, do you write them even though you say “I found a bug” as if someone else wrote it 😊 ). And let’s say it was found right away (maybe you have automated testing). It likely wouldn’t take very long to fix, because it’d probably be due to the last thing you did. But if you discover it weeks later, even if nothing changed, it might take you hours or days to find and fix it. If things have changed, it’d take longer. And think of the wasted time you would have caused others.
The moral? Spend a little time so that you don’t have to look for bugs.
Scrum presumes it is effective to give all teams a simple preset, immutable framework that each team must follow until they figure out how to manifest it.
Scrum is designed for and requires cross-functional teams doing work that is plannable. If these conditions aren’t met it is presumed that manifesting Scrum’s rigid framework will achieve Agile in all situations if people are motivated.
An underlying believe is that teams can’t initially understand what they are supposed to do so must be given a predefined set of rules that must be implemented without change until the team understands what’s happening.
While this approach works when cross-functional teams can/should be created & work can be planned, it can causes resistance & abandonment of misunderstood practices when teams have challenges adopting the framework or attached to their roles.
Have expert have 2 hr discussion w/ team&their management to see what alternative or additional practices would be useful. Use these to provide a set starting point and provide teams a guide on how to improve/change practices when they encounter challenges. While coaching still advisable, significantly less will be needed.
I invite people to discuss these alternatives.
On a twitter thread there was an implication that perhaps the reason some people don’t engage with me is because they perceive my purpose is to destroy. I have told myself that as a good person that is not my intent. But I now realize it is.
Over the last 20 yrs I have observed many patterns of challenge & success in the adoption of Agile. I am convinced that Agile adoptions do not have to be as hard as they usually are. Most of the time they are difficult I see unexamined assumptions as contributing to this. This includes both beliefs underlying the approach used & how to teach it as well as if/when to introduce certain practices.
You destroy unexamined assumptions by examining them (they become examined beliefs). That’s what I am doing.
But many people make their livelihood on frameworks & methods that I believe are based on these unexamined beliefs. And this causes a cycle of poor Agile adoption w/o serious reflection. Unfortunately, as Upton Sinclair has observed, “Its hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
My mission is serve the practitioners and consultants who have an aligned mission – making organizations and their people more effective regardless of approach.