Just a little…Forgiveness

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Just a little…Forgiveness

I was attending the STPCon conference in Washington, DC last week (week of September 25). As always, there were quite a lot of old friends there. Folks I usually only meet on the conference circuit.

The conference committee tried a Lightning Talk format for the first time. They invited 7-8 speakers on stage to give 5-minute, focused talks. Dot Graham gave one that is still sticking with me.

She focused on creating (fostering, inviting, inspiring, allowing) a mistake culture. One where everyone focused on two aspects of their mistakes:

  • Learning from them, and
  • Forgiving themselves for them.

I’ve heard the learning part many times before. But this is the first time that I’ve heard “forgiveness” mentioned as part of creating a learning culture and it struck me.

In a team environment mistakes always happen. Sometimes they’re small things. And other time, they’re large ones which have an impact on the entire team.

I have a saying that I often share in my coaching and teaching. I amplify that agile teams (all teams really) succeed and fail as a team. That is, we don’t throw anyone under the bus, but we deal with everything from the solidarity of a WHOLE TEAM perspective.

I now want to add other attributes to that description:

  • We reflect as a team;
  • We learn as a team;
  • We make mistakes as a team;
  • And we forgive ourselves as a team.

I love the Norm Kerth sentiments regarding the Prime Directive for retrospectives where he sets the stage for the “intentions” of all attendees.

Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.

I think this sentiment helps us in our view towards mistakes and our forgiving each other (including ourselves) for making those mistakes.

I know that I for one can be really hard on myself when confronting the things I’ve done wrong.

As Dot reminded me, I want to encourage all of you in your agile journeys to be kind and forgiving of one another. Remember, they are ONLY mistakes and we all make them!

Stay agile my friends,

Bob.

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What the world needs now…Is Radical Candor

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What the world needs now…Is Radical Candor

I came across a video the other day that had this catchy title – Radical Candor. I watched it and was intrigued by the talk AND its implication to agile teams, organizational transformations, and sustainable cultures.

Kim Scott was the presenter in the video and she was sharing lessons she’d learned in her leadership journey at Apple and Google. In a nutshell, she was advocating radical candor for leaders in communicating with their direct reports.

The stories she told made me think about my own career and leadership journey. A couple of which I’d like to share with you.

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DevOps Explained...Simply

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DevOps Explained...Simply

I wish I could remember the young lady’s name. She was from a European DevOps tooling and consulting firm and she did an interview with me at one of the TechWell Star conferences. I believe it was StarWest at the end of 2016.

She was interviewing speakers to get their take on the implications of DevOps in agile, testing, and across software methodologies.

I recall vividly that she referred to DevOps as an evolutionary step beyond “agile” in nearly in every question she asked. And I told her I struggled with that idea. She was also very automation centric and extremely tools centric in her questions – referencing and emphasizing various DevOps oriented tools at every opportunity.

It’s not that I was defending agile. It’s that I have a very different view to DevOps and what it means than I was hearing from my interviewer. And I continued to explain and amplify my view in nearly every answer.

At the end of the interview, I felt that she understood my point of view. And that she had rationalized it against her own to create a more cohesive mental model for DevOps. I asked her to send me the link to the final interview, but to-date, I haven’t heard back.

And I continue to get questions during my coaching and consulting around DevOps, so I was inspired to write this post as a means of sharing my views.

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Agile Leadership – Eating our own Dogfood

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Agile Leadership – Eating our own Dogfood

Or The Dynamics of an Agile Transformation Team

I found this great article about a leadership team (SLT) adopting agility WITH their teams.

http://blog.qrious.co.nz/how-to-navigate-with-agile-leadership

It’s relatively short, but powerful because of the perspective. That is, it focuses on the activity of the senior leadership team in an organizational agile transformation.

I often think one of the core challenges for most leaders is that they are stuck in a situation where they’re telling their teams and organizations –

Do what I say, Go Agile, and not what I do

That is, they are not walking their talk. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s usually not a malicious or lazy play. It’s simply that they have more important things to do. Things that require their specific skill set and expertise to lead and get done. So, there is little to no time left for working like or with their agile teams.

Some may think this is ok and that it doesn’t really have an impact on the agile organization. Or the potential agile organization. I actually think it has a very negative effect.

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Agile Leadership – Keep it simple, stupid!

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Agile Leadership – Keep it simple, stupid!

We’ve all heard of the KISS principle. It stands for: keep it simple, stupid.

Well I want to apply it to software development leadership. Particularly those leaders that are in an agile context.

I’ve been hearing a tremendous amount of pushback and whining amongst leaders in agile contexts of late. What you say. How can this be?

Here’s a sampling of the running types of dialogue (complaints, whining, pushback, etc.) that I’m referring to:

  • We’ve already committed to customers a release date for a new, highly profitable product by June 1. However, the agile teams keep saying it will take till January. I thought agile would allow us to get more…faster. It’s sounds like every other time when the teams couldn’t seem to meet our demands. Where’s the creativity? Where’s the can-do attitude? Where’s the commitment to hard work? Where’s the agility?

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You might be an agile leader if...

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You might be an agile leader if...

I've been invited to do a keynote at the Agile Development, Better Software, DevOps conference in Orlando in November. 

The abstract for my talk is:

In case you haven’t heard, the leadership landscape has been changing—and continues to change—to keep up with the accelerating pace of business. And agile development has been an incubator of new leadership approaches. It has introduced or fostered many innovative concepts: servant leadership, self-directed teams, empowerment, emotional intelligence, employee engagement, trust, self-selection, open spaces—and even Lean Coffee “meetings.” Channeling comedian Jeff Foxworthy, Bob Galen shares patterns and anti-patterns that surround the leadership shift to more agile tactics and the mindset that many leaders face and often struggle to adopt. Having personally endured the massive change of becoming an agile leader, Bob shares his journey and discusses how you can tackle your new role—the tactics you’ll need to change, the stance you’ll need to assume, and the role models you’ll need to leave behind. Bob explores the new lean, value-based delivery perspective that provides the right focus for delighting your internal and external customers. Prepare to have your mind blown a bit—and never again think of leading in the same way.

Request

I'm looking for help in constructing my keynote. If you have an idea to fill in the blank:

You might be an Agile Leader if ___________

Please add a comment to this post. I'd be incredibly appreciative and you might get your idea woven into the final keynote. I'll even send you a link to the keynote video if you want to see your idea "in action".

Thanks so much and stay agile my friends,

Bob.

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Assessments: A Scary Investment

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Assessments: A Scary Investment

Quite a few years ago, while I was working at iContact, a fellow agile coach approached me with a free offer.

It seemed that he had developed an agile maturity assessment (framework, tool, approach, strategy, etc.) and wanted to try it out somewhere. I’d known him for quite some time and he had some solid agile coaching experience under his belt.

I politely told him “thank you” and that I would “think about it” and quickly closed down the discussion. To be honest, I was initially close-minded to the idea. Here I was an internal technical leader and agile coach in my company. And, to be honest, we were kicking-ass when it came to agile performance and delivery.

But the more I thought about it, the more I started to convince myself that it would be a good idea. Regardless of our performance, we could always get better…couldn’t we?

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Agile Transformational Leadership –  Where does it begin?

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Agile Transformational Leadership – Where does it begin?

A few of weeks ago I attended a 3-day workshop given by Trans4mation which was entitled, Agile Transformational Leader. They are a relatively new company that is focusing on the agile adoption, now transformation, space. They are led by Michele Madore and Michael Spayd. Michael is well known in the agile coaching space, having founded ACI with Lyssa Adkins. And Michelle is a very seasoned enterprise-level agile coach. They both co-taught the workshop with Stuart McCalla.

One of the backdrops for the course is the Leadership Circle assessment tool for leadership affinity. It wasn’t clear to me going into the workshop just how pervasive this tool/model was in their material. To say that it is “central” is probably an understatement.

In this post, I want to share some of my observations and learnings associated with the workshop.

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My Heroes: Johanna Rothman

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My Heroes: Johanna Rothman

It’s time for me to share something about my next personal hero.

I thought long and hard and it has to be Johanna Rothman. In this case, it’s not something that Johanna particularly did for me.

Of course, we know each other and have run around the same conference circles for quite a few years. But in this case, it’s the role model aspect that makes Johanna my hero.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I was trying to find myself as a software engineer and leader. I’d been working for companies over the years, but I had this idea to establish my own brand. It started by speaking at conferences and writing.

In those early days, both of those activities were limited. I was a “new guy” on the landscape and just trying to figure out how to become more of an influencer, a subject matter expert, a consultant if you will.

So, I looked around for role models. After a while, I found one. It was Johanna Rothman. She was doing the things that I wanted to do. She was speaking and writing about software development topics like project management, leadership, and testing. She seemed to be “everywhere” to me and had a relatively well-established consulting brand.

A Confession

I have a confession to make. Over the years, I’ve received quite a bit of feedback on my incorporated name: RGalen Consulting Group. Well, I have a confession. I borrowed that model from Johanna. As well as much of the structure of her services on her website.

She gave me inspiration in how to construct a brand and a focus in the world of software development consulting when I had few ideas of my own. And it helped me to get established and gain some initial confidence.

Later

As I attended more conferences as a presenter and workshop provider, I ran into Johanna more and more often. I continued to observe how she did what she did. Her area focuses, her way of presenting and connecting to an audience. And her posture and confidence when it came to providing advice.

No, I wasn’t becoming Johanna. No one could do that. Nor was I “stalking” her. But I was learning from her and using her as a phenomenal role model in my own journey.

And the writing…

I have another confession to make. As you can see in the picture I’ve attached to this post, Johanna has written quite a few books.

When I first met her, she was just starting her book authoring. Sure, she had written many articles, but only one book as I recall. Over time I followed her as she began to share her vast experience in this medium. And it too inspired me.

You see, I’m not a natural writer. I’m still not. And it’s been one of my greatest weaknesses. But watching Johanna write, share, and seeing the impact it had on others, again inspired me to begin writing.

More than fifteen years later and I’ve written four books and countless articles and blog posts. Am I a good writer? I wouldn’t be so bold as to say that. But I’ve improved drastically over those years and I’ve come to appreciate this way of sharing my learning and experience with others.

Wrapping Up

Johanna, I want to thank you for being a role model to me and countless others as to what a professional, courageous, and principled consultant and author should be.

One of the highest compliments I can pay you is that I always saw you – walk your talk. In everything you said and did.

You are the consummate role model and professional and I am forever in your debt for your inspiration. An inspiration that you’re probably not even aware of.

Anyway, Johanna, I’m incredibly blessed to know you and want you to know that you are my Hero.

Stay agile my friends,

Bob.

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Hiring A ScrumMaster

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Hiring A ScrumMaster

From questions to ask a ScrumMaster in the interview to…questions you should be asking…THEM!

Savvy has an interviewing article here - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/savvy-360o-how-interview-scrummaster-savvy-katham

And here’s a list from the Scrum Alliance - https://www.scrumalliance.org/agilecareers/careersblog/february-2016-(1)/38-scrum-master-interview-questions

Another from the Scrum Alliance for what Hiring Managers should look for - https://www.scrumalliance.org/agilecareers/careersblog/june-2016/what-do-you-look-for-in-a-servant-leader-or-a-scru

What about “Them”?

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