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agile leadership

Employee Engagement AND Measurement

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Employee Engagement AND Measurement

I had to share this post because I think it hits on two pet peeves of mine.

First, instead of trying to measure employee engagement (morale, happiness, etc.) leaders should instead have face-to-face conversations with their teams to determine it.

We’ve sort of forgotten that old strategy of (management by walking around) which is STILL incredibly effective.

And second, it provides a sound reminder to be careful as to what you try and measure. 

In my perfect world, leaders would only measure a handful of things (1-5) that were both qualitative and quantitative. Then stay laser-focused on guiding the organization by them.

Stay agile my friends,

Bob.

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Is Leadership a Lonely Place to Be?

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Is Leadership a Lonely Place to Be?

I came across a blog post by Tricia Broderick in January 2018. I often read Tricia’s thoughts and really enjoy her perspectives. This one was entitled Leadership Is Lonely and it largely lamented this aspect of leadership. To her credit, Tricia shared some activities that leaders could use to combat the effects of the inherent loneliness.

But I wanted to provide a different take or perspective.

I’ve been in leadership roles for over 25 years. In the early days of my leadership journey, I felt very much like Tricia. In fact, it was one of my early and shocking discoveries of leadership.

When I wasn’t leading, I was “friends” with most of my work colleagues.

But when I was promoted to a leadership role, things changed. I was no longer Bob. I suddenly became “the Boss”. And in today’s terms, that often meant being equated to the pointy-haired boss in the Dilbert cartoons. It also meant that it was suddenly a very lonely place to be.

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You might be an agile leader if...

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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.

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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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Manager as…ScrumMaster?  The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Manager as…ScrumMaster? The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I subscribe to Mike Cohn’s newsletter. As you would expect the value is always high and his posts usually make me think a bit about my own coaching experience and ongoing advice. 

In a recent newsletter Mike adopted a position on a manager serving as a ScrumMaster that goes contrary to my experience. Here’s what he had to say:

When I first started doing Scrum, I was what we'd call today the team's ScrumMaster and product owner. But we didn't have those terms back then. And without terms or any clarity on the roles, it was easy for me to make the mistake of being both.

I also did some programming. Oh, and I was also the vice president of the software department, so my team reported to me.

I want to address that last role because common advice in the Scrum community is that a team should never, ever report to their ScrumMaster. That is, I could have been the ScrumMaster or the VP -- but I should not have been both at the same time to the same team.

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Agile Leaders…Be a Yes Man!

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Agile Leaders…Be a Yes Man!

Do you recall the … Jim Carrey movie called Yes Man? In it he was influenced by a ‘cult’ of sorts that recommended an approach, in order to change our lives, where we have to say YES to everything – every question, every opportunity, and every inquiry.

The point is somewhat captured in the agile posture of “Yes, and…” that many coaches subscribe to.

Lately I’ve been thinking about traditional software leaders who are moving towards agile methods. Typically they take a class or workshop to gain a cursory understanding of agility. Some even take more ‘advanced’ workshops, which are focused towards the leadership shift.

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Creating Self-Directed Teams – A Question of SPACE

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Creating Self-Directed Teams – A Question of SPACE

Over the past few months I’ve been coaching my clients who are in the early stages of adopting agile approaches for software. Most of them are adopting Scrum, but a few are adopting Kanban.

Universally, one of their complaints is that their teams aren’t “stepping up” to the

  • Empowerment
  • Responsibility
  • Accountability
  • Passion & Energy
  • Creativity

That is implied as part of the culture of self-directed, agile teams.

To say that they are disappointed is an understatement. And these comments are coming from all levels of the client leadership teams.

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Is Bubba Watson…Agile?

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Is Bubba Watson…Agile?

I was watching ESPN today. It’s spring in North Carolina, early April to be specific, and the Masters golf tournament is scheduled for later this week. So there’s a build up of golf buzz related to it.

I’m not much of a golfer, but even I pay attention to the Masters. It seems to be one of those golf tournaments that have seeped into the fabric of American life. And the Augusta, GA course is incredibly beautiful as well.

But enough of that.

There was an interview today with Bubba Watson. Bubba is a 2-time champion and he won the tournament last year – 2014. Early predictions from the pundits give him a more than reasonable chance to repeat.

As I listened to the interview, I became more and more intrigued with Bubba Watson – the person. And I started to see a correlation between some of his answers and the agile principles and mindset I’ve come to know and love.

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What Problems Are Executives Trying To Solve With Agile?

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What Problems Are Executives Trying To Solve With Agile?

Mike Cottmeyer is one of my favorite agile coaches and leaders within our community. When he worked for VersionOne years ago, I used to read his blogs fairly often. Now that he’s been out on his own with LeadingAgile, I don’t get the chance as often to experience his thoughts.

So I was pleased when I ran into a recent post by Mike that had the same title as this post. I read it with anticipation, and as with all of his writing, Mike made me stop and think a bit. Here’s a context snippet from Mike’s post:

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The Agile Project Manager - Can Agile Teams get “Burned Out”?

My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)
My my, hey hey
Rock and roll is here to stay
It's better to burn out
Than to fade away
My my, hey hey.
--Neil Young

One of the core principles of agility is the notion of “sustainable pace”. It originated in the Extreme Programming community. Initially, in v1 of the XP book, it was defined or framed by the principle of a 40 hour work week.

I vividly recall managers at the time railing (no ruby intended) against the notion as a clear example that these agile maniacs were out of touch with business reality, out of control, and looking for an easy road at work. What could possibly be next—working from home?

In the second edition of XP, Kent Beck softened the message a bit and dropped the (n) hours recommendation. Nonetheless and thankfully, the notion of sustainable pace has remained as one of the core agile principles. Although there does appear to be an increasing de-emphasis of it within today’s agile teams.

 

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