Viewing entries in
Agile Stories

Building a First Team

1 Comment

Building a First Team

During the years 2009 – 2012, I worked at a small company called iContact here in the Raleigh/Durham area. iContact had developed an email marketing, SaaS application that competed (still does) with the likes of Constant Contact and MailChimp. 

Ryan Allis was our CEO at the time and he was very innovative when it came to organizational change & evolution and leadership development. He happened to read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni at that time, and became enamored with the ideas contained within.

At the same time, we were adopting agile (Scrum, Kanban, and Scrum of Scrums for scaling) across the organization. Quite successfully, I might add. So, the two efforts naturally converged. And I was pleasantly surprised how well our Agile efforts and the 5 Dysfunctions blended together. That’s really what this article is all about.

5 Dysfunctions & Agile, like Peanut Butter and…

1 Comment

Competing Agile Voices

Comment

Competing Agile Voices

I was having an email conversation with an agile coaching colleague the other day. In one of her replies, she said the following: 

BTW I really like the way you articulate your concerns about the agile community at large. It’s helpful to share with my leadership and customers as we try to navigate a very messy space of certifications, frameworks, and competing agile voices

The final point she made really struck a chord with me. The notion of competing agile voices.

It made me realize that, YES, there are many, many agile voices today. And one of the real challenges is to figure out who to listen to. Where’s the value and the experience? And how to avoid the “noise” or how to separate the wheat from the chaff?

I want to share some ideas around this challenge. No, I’m not sharing any secret filter or the 1-person to listen to. They don’t exist.

But I do want to share some advice for handling the high voice count and how to become a more discerning listener when it comes to the noise.

And it’s getting worse…

Comment

Faultless Facilitation – Make a FIST

3 Comments

Faultless Facilitation – Make a FIST

It’s funny really. One of the key points of the agile methodologies and the manifesto is heavy collaboration, with the best being face-to-face collaboration. But one of the things I see happening in teams all of the time is, how can I say this delicately, over collaboration.

In other words, the teams, ahem, talk too much. There, I said it  And I’m referring to open-ended discussion that takes too long if ever to narrow down towards a decision. Folks seem to be talking to hear themselves talk. Often it’s not everyone, with a few heavy talkers dominating discussions and the rest seemingly along for the ride. So it can be quite unbalanced.

In facilitation terms, there are two types of discussions going on when a team is trying to make a decision. There are divergent conversations, where options and ideas are getting put on the table. This is the brainstorming side of the discussion. And then there are convergent discussions, where the team is narrowing down options in order to make a decision. 

3 Comments

Is Agile in Late Adoption Stage?

4 Comments

Is Agile in Late Adoption Stage?

I wrote a coaching article a while ago that illustrated an agile coaching anti-pattern. It was quite well-read and I received quite a bit of feedback on it.

One of the folks who responded was Mick Maguire.

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6345281715686166528
A great article by Bob Galen, he shines a light on an all too common pattern, especially among the late adopter market that we are in these days... My advice... If you are about to engage agile coaching, and you don't want to waste (a very big pile of) your money, make sure the first conversations are "what does success look like?" and "How will we know if we are getting there?...”

I’m not focusing on the coaching part of his reply, but more so reacting to this entry level statement:

“Especially among the late adopter market that we are in these days…”

Mick’s comment has stuck with me since I read his reply. Making me think about Geoffrey Moore’s, Crossing the Chasm and where the agile (movement, methods, frameworks, etc.) might be on that scale.

4 Comments

3 Key Agile-centric Metrics

Comment

3 Key Agile-centric Metrics

My friend and colleague Shaun Bradshaw and I were coaching at a client recently. We started to have a conversation about velocity, not directly driven by the clients’ context, but simply in general.

Shaun was focused on velocity as a relevant metric within agile teams to drive conversations between teams and upper management. And I was struggling to “get there”.

Part of his focus was to create visibility around the difference between average velocity and current sprint velocity. Furthermore, the teams and management would be able to see:

  • Velocity gaining stability over time (predictability, low variance)
  • And increasing over time (short-term burst)

As part of newly formed and/or newly coached agile teams.

Now I really get what he was saying. And I agree that teams in these contexts should be displaying activity and behavior towards those two results.

Comment

Communicating with Metaphor’s

Comment

Communicating with Metaphor’s

One of the things that I’ve come to value in my agile journey is our local Raleigh / Durham agile community. It’s one that I’ve had a hand in creating and guiding over the years. But one that’s taken on a life of its own.

I can’t tell you how many wonderful agilists are here in my local area. Some are:

Mary Thorn, Josh Anderson, Ken Pugh, Jason Tanner, Laurie Williams, Agile Bill Krebs, Andy Hunt, Ken Auer, Catherine Louis, Cory Bryan, Jeff Barschaw, Tom Wessel, my colleagues at Zenergy Technologies, and the leaders of our local AgileRTP and ALN groups. Literally, we have a community of thousands in our Meetup groups and our local TriAgile conference draws 500+ folks annually.

www.triagile.com

A couple of other local folks that I want to call out are Laura Burke Olsen, Arjay Hinek, and Matt Phillips. They are collaborators in a group/website entitled Collaboration Explored. It is a website focused on Collaboration inspired by the late Jean Tabaka. I think it’s wonderful that these folks (and others) are continuing the work that Jean inspired.

Comment

Meta-Cast LIVE @ Red Hat Agile Day 2017

Comment

Meta-Cast LIVE @ Red Hat Agile Day 2017

Josh and I were invited to deliver a live version of the Meta-cast for Red Hat Agile Day this past October.

Here's the description of our session:

The “Meta-Cast” Comes Alive

Since 2011, Bob Galen and Josh Anderson have been recording the Meta-Cast podcast. It’s an agile focused discussion that has literally covered every agile topic in its seven years and over 120 episodes. The podcast reaches listeners on virtually every continent and has received numerous accolades from listeners and fellow podcasters alike. In this session, Bob and Josh will be bringing the Meta-cast to you, a live audience. The podcast will be recorded and streamed live. We will gather your most challenging, interesting, and potentially exasperating agile questions and challenges. Then we’ll answer each of them with our collaborative and fun style. This session will prove to be fun, insightful, and driven by YOUR needs. So please, join the Meta-cast and try to “stump the chumps” or simply get some free coaching towards your greatest challenges.

Here's a link to the video recording of the session: https://bluejeans.com/s/MWMJy

And here's a link to the associated Meta-cast: http://www.meta-cast.com/2017/10/episode-122-red-hat-agile-day-q-session.html

Hope you enjoy it! We hope to do a similar session at future conferences. 

Stay agile my friends,

Bob.

Comment

You might be an agile leader if...

2 Comments

You might be an agile leader if...

I delivered a keynote at the Agile Development + Better Software + DevOps conference put on by TechWell on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 in Orlando. 

The feedback I received was wonderful and it seems the talk resonated with quite a few of the attendees. 

At some point, I'll get a link to the video of the keynote and I'll share it here. Until then though, here's a link to the slide from the talk.

2 Comments

Just a little…Forgiveness

Comment

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.

Comment

DevOps Explained...Simply

4 Comments

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.

4 Comments