The Effective Organization of the Future

The future is here today for a select group of companies.  It’s no longer a question of what to do, it’s a question of getting there. By looking at the characteristics of these select organizations we can gain insights into what we have to do to help our own organizations. One thing is clear however, we cannot try to do what other companies have done. No great organization was ever made by following another. However, there are ways of helping foster innovation, alignment, teamwork and strategic clarity. So the goal is not to copy another company that leads their field, but to learn from what they’ve done to get there.


This article describes the goals and characteristics of the effective enterprise of the future. It then describes what is required to achieve these goals and offers some helpful resources. Continue reading “The Effective Organization of the Future”

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.

Improve Your Scrum by Using Flow Thinking

Scrum is based on empirical process control, the pillars of which are transparency, inspection, and adaptation. This mostly means that instead of following a plan we observe how things are going and adjust accordingly. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t use theory. It’s just that when we do use theory we must verify it worked. Continue reading “Improve Your Scrum by Using Flow Thinking”

Nice to See Scrum Evolve

Recently, Scrum.org announced the integration of Kanban practices into Scrum and that “Observe Orient Decide Act (OODA) is the mindset of Scrum. This comes on top of the announcement of Scrum team training a few years ago. These are all good things. It’s nice to see the Scrum community catching up to the many non-certifying consultants who’ve been doing these things for 5-10 years. Continue reading “Nice to See Scrum Evolve”

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”

Agile is Here to Stay (Or at Least the Being of It)

The most important words of the Agile Manifesto are, “We are uncovering better ways …” This should continue to be true.

Agile is often thought of as a way of being. But getting people to “be” Agile is hard. And it’s not clear what “doing Agile” is. Being” is good. But getting there is another issue. It requires us to continue to be “uncovering better ways.” Continue reading “Agile is Here to Stay (Or at Least the Being of It)”

Something has Happened to Me (Not My Normal Rant)

I’ve been having a very interesting two weeks. I would like to say that whenever I go into a client, I am always on, and always get my clients to see new opportunities. But I’d be lying.

However, for the last two weeks, that’s been what’s been happening… with five clients. While I feel I’ve been “on” and empathetic, that only explains half of it. Something else has been going on.

Here is what I think has been happening. In all of the cases, I started out with:

  • Depicting a value stream representing what they’d like to happen
  • Adding their team names, relating this to what people were doing now (making it less theoretical)
  • Identifying the client’s problems in this ideal flow

At this point, they started asking how to solve their problems. Often, they are stumped about how to work with non-Agile teams or how to create predictability. They would ask, “How can you do this in Agile?” “What do you think about LeSS?” Essentially they were taking solutions they knew, or had heard of, and were trying them on.

It’s like shopping for clothes. Every company is shaped differently. There may be lots of clothes (solutions) out there that don’t always fit. That’s when you want to learn to be a tailor.

This is the first of a series on the implications of these insights.

New Teams Can Avoid Common Errors by Understanding Cost of Delay

In an earlier post, I discussed how attending to the cost of delay helps us focus on removing delays in workflow, feedback, communication, and error detection. This involves a focus on finishing (not starting a new story if you can help somebody else with an existing story), working on small stories, and using test-first methods.


Note: This is a continuation of the post, Using Cost of Delay to Improve Scrum

Teams new to Scrum face many common challenges.

  • Not finishing stories at the end of a sprint because too many have been opened
  • Too many untested stories at the end of a sprint
  • Doing an analysis sprint, design sprint, coding sprint, testing sprint (“Scrumerfall”)
  • Separation of coding and testing responsibilities
  • After the demo, realizing there were misunderstood requirements

In an earlier post, I discussed how attending to the cost of delay helps us focus on removing delays in workflow, feedback, communication, and error detection. This involves a focus on finishing (not starting a new story if you can help somebody else with an existing story), working on small stories, and using test-first methods.

Review that list of challenges. Each of these challenges show up as impediments at the end of a sprint. Each can be avoided, or at least mitigated, by following the guidance of removing delays by focusing on lowering the cost of delay.

No longer will you be removing impediments after they’ve been discovered. Now, you will remove them before you even hit them!

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.