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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Value – Revisited

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Value – Revisited

In the Agile Product space there are a few figures who are leading the way.

Jeff Patton – leads the way from an innovation and creativity perspective. Jeff’s storymapping technique is being used nearly everywhere to gain additional perspectives of backlogs beyond a simple list of requirements.

Ellen Gottesdiener – leads the way from a traditional requirements mapping perspective. Ellen has a strong Business Analysis background. As agile matured, she joined that approach and has added much in the way of mapping traditional analysis to agile analysis.

David Hussman – has partnered with Jeff Patton on many an occasion in his storymapping workshops. David has the uncanny ability to “see beyond” our current approaches and to keep us ground in “what matters”, while reminding us to ever challenge our staid approaches.

Roman Pichler – leads the way from a Product Ownership perspective. He focuses on valuation, forecasting, and roadmapping. I’ve always felt that my product ownership book focuses more towards the tactical role and Roman’s on the strategic. It doesn’t that that he’s a prolific contributor to the space.

And finally, Marty Cohen – leads the way helping us understand the nuance of Product Management as it related to agile products and Scrum Product Ownership. This is often an underexplored area in agile and Marty brings deep experience in Product Management, with an “agile slant”.

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2017 StarEast Keynote

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2017 StarEast Keynote

On May 11, 2017 I was fortunate enough to have been invited to share a keynote at the TechWell StarEast Testing Conference in Orlando, FL. There were about 1000 folks in attendance and the talk was entitled: Step Aside - Stop Leading from the Front! I can't tell you how big a privilege it was to share my thoughts on this important topic. Many thanks to Lee Copeland for inviting me.

Here's a link to a video of the keynote.

And here is a synopsis of the talk with a nice sketcthnote: https://developer.s24.com/blog/stareast-virtual.html

I thought I'd also share an interview I gave about the keynote a few months before. Here is that interview...

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Leaders, are you ready for agile?

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Leaders, are you ready for agile?

I was chatting with some colleagues the other day and the topic of agile maturity came up. Particularly for Technology Leaders who are inquiring about agile approaches.

These could be leaders who are new to agile and want to start the transformation OR leaders who are currently engaged in a transformation and looking for assistance.

The questions were around, how to tell IF:

  • Do they truly “get” or understand agility?
  • Are they really “ready” for it?
  • Are they serious about it?
  • Are they a good candidate for a coaching engagement?
  • And, are they properly aligned with the principles of the coaching/consulting firm?

Some of the questions focused towards money. In fact, quite a few of them. Questions here were around budgets, the contractual/approval process, and payment terms.

I was almost embarrassed to admit that these are not forefront in my mind when I’m engaging clients. My feeling is that they sort of take care of themselves. What I care more about is how I perceive the Inspection Report - February 2017 client’s answers to the first set of questions AND how do they align with my own principles.

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Agile Coach Camp – An Incredible Experience

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Agile Coach Camp – An Incredible Experience

For several years, I was heavily involved in running Scrum Alliance Coaching Retreats. I probably attended 5-6 of them over time. And they filled a necessary niche where folks who were in agile coaching roles could gather together and share ideas and challenges.

But the format of the events was focused towards running small projects as Scrum teams. You can read more about that here.

Well, last week I attended my first Agile Coach Camp – US in New York City. It ran from Friday evening to mid-day on Sunday. And it was held at the Spotify offices. It was run as an Open Space.

WOW!

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Chartering, Lift-off, Setting the Stage, From the Beginning…

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Chartering, Lift-off, Setting the Stage, From the Beginning…

One of my favorite, old-time rock groups is Emerson Lake and Palmer. And their song From the Beginning seemed appropriate for this article.

One of my new favorite voices in our agile community is Sandy Mamoli out of New Zealand. I’ve read oodles and oodles of her work, but I have yet to see her in person. Fingers crossed, I get that chance soon.

One of the more interesting things that Sandy is focusing on is team self-selection when it comes to how to organize around projects and work. Recently Sandy wrote a piece entitled: Giving Teams the Best Start.

In it she emphasizes the work that Ainsley Nies and Diana Larson have done in their book Liftoff, which just released its second edition.

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