Viewing entries tagged
continuous improvement

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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Pair-Coaching

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Pair-Coaching

I’ve been doing more pairing lately. Much more.

I’ve been trying it in my conference workshops and talks. Pairing with Mary Thorn quite a bit on the agile quality and testing side of things. I’m also pairing with Josh Anderson on our Meta-cast and I’ve done a few presentations with him. Very enjoyable.

I’ve also been pairing more in my writing. For years, I’ve been a lone wolf writer. Nobody but myself saw my writing before it entered the light of day. But now, I’m learning the value of having reviewers and editors. Second opinions matter. A second set of eyes matter. And having a partner in your endeavors can be quite a bit of fun.

An example of this is Mary Thorn being my “Chief Story Teller” in my 3-Pillars book. We had a blast writing the book and her stories complimented my own experiences to give readers two sides to many coins.

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Stop Nit-Picking and Look for the  Big Picture!

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Stop Nit-Picking and Look for the Big Picture!

I’ve been presenting at conferences for years. Over 20 years to more precise.

One of the common occurrences is that someone points out a typo or grammatical error on one of my slides in the comment section of the feedback form. I recently had this happen in a Certified Agile Leadership class. One of the feedback post-it notes on the first day pointed out a few typos. While I appreciate the feedback, I often wonder if there is more feedback than simply minutia…

If you read the feedback on Amazon for my Scrum Product Ownership book, some of the reviewers say the same thing. They talk about copy edit quality and the errors. These folks are right. I should have spent more time and money on the editing process. But if you look at the vast majority of the reviewers, they seemed to have overlooked those mistakes and received great value from the book.

And the detractors really seem to rate the book much lower based on the simple errors, simply overlooking the real value of the book. It’s as if they can’t see the forest for the trees.

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Sharpening the Saw in 2017

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Sharpening the Saw in 2017

Every year I try to spend time on my own training. I usually start thinking about two things the year before:

  1. What are some knowledge gaps that I have that I’d like to fill, and
  2. What are upcoming trends that will cause me to become obsolete if I don’t get ahead of them?

Then I review the available courses and I’ll try to come up with 2-3 things that I’ll focus on for improvement.

Last year I posted my first "Sharpening the Saw" post in June. That inspired me to do it again for 2017, but closer to the beginning of the year. You'll probably see this become an annual post to remind me (and perhaps you) to plot a journey of continuous learning.

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I am a Professional Agile Coach

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I am a Professional Agile Coach

I read an article on LinkedIn by Ewan O'Leary that really, really resonated with me.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/i-am-professional-agile-coach-ewan-o-leary

I fell in love with his list. Mostly because it shined a light on my own journey and the work I need to do each and every day to become a better, more present, and more connected coach.

#5 is an area where I often fall down in my journey. I sometimes use the term "that's not Agile" in my coaching, passing judgment and elevating agile above everything else. I need to stop that. I also continuously check on #8 as I engage so many people and contexts as a leading agile coach.

Anyway, without further adieu, here's the list:

  1. I believe in the innate value and potential of all human beings. 
  2. I believe that Agile is a mindset that orients me towards human excellence.
  3. I believe that my own transformation is the path to transforming others, transforming organizations and transforming the world.
  4. I believe that I should do no harm, and wherever possible, improve psychological safety.
  5. I believe I should avoid judgement of others who I may feel are operating from a different developmental level.
  6. I embrace my own authenticity and share it in connection with others except where my authenticity may create unsafe conditions for them.
  7. I believe that I am oriented towards using my capability for good in the world.
  8. I practice humility and compassion, with a focus on kindness, recognizing my own shadow as it shows up in the work I do with others. 
  9. I honor and respect each individual as the author of their own journey, free from manipulation or coercion. 
  10. When I fail to adhere to these principles, I acknowledge my failure and its impact on others and harness it for my own development.

I am a Professional Agile Coach

I want to strongly encourage you to read Ewan's post and the comments it's received. There are great insights there as well.

And even though I'm continuously working on the list in my coaching and personal journey, I do believe:  I am a Professional Agile Coach.

Stay agile my friends!

Bob.

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Is It Safe?

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Is It Safe?

There is an old, old movie called the Marathon Man with Dustin Hoffman. In it, there is a compelling scene where the evil doer continues to ask Hoffman – “Is it safe?” while giving him a free dental checkup.

You can watch the scene here, if you’re up to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzw1_2b-I7A

There seems to be several things that are incredibly difficult for many folks to do.

You see it in general, but it’s particularly interesting in agile contexts. Agile Teams seem to rarely want to:

  • Ask for help
  • Or say, I don’t know

I’m wondering why?

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Sharpening the Saw

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Sharpening the Saw

Every year I try to spend time on my own training. I usually start thinking about two things the year before:

  1. What are some knowledge gaps that I have that I’d like to fill, and
  2. What are upcoming trends that will cause me to become obsolete if I don’t get ahead of them?

Then I review the available courses and I’ll try to come up with 2-3 things that I’ll focus on for improvement.

This year, I’ve planned on the following:

  • Training from the Back of the Room, by Sharon Bowman
  • The Nexus framework for scaling Scrum, by Ken Schwaber and Scrum.org, in July
  • And Leadership Agility 360 workshop, by Bill joiner, in November

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Retrospectives – Information for the curious

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Retrospectives – Information for the curious

Book References

Project Retrospectives - A Handbook for Team Reviews by Norm Kerth

Sort of the “Godfather” of the modern day, agile retrospective is Norm Kerth. I always try and mention norm and his work as a means of giving folks a sense of the pre-Agile legacy of retrospectives. Point being, it pre-dates agile approaches.

The other nice thing about Norm’s work is his notion of “safety” in retrospectives and his Prime Directive. I almost always reference the prime directive at one point or another with each of my clients and in my teaching. It epitomizes the “mindset” of a healthy retrospective.

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When are you “Done” with Agile?

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When are you “Done” with Agile?

I challenged a service organization leader the other day about their agile journey. The firm provides outsourced software development teams – mostly for agile-centric clients. I was asking him about his internal application of agile practices and he asked me the question:

But Bob, when are we “done” with Agile?

From his perspective, his clients were asking for agile aware and literate teams and he was providing them. But he really hadn’t wrapped his head around agility. And he struggled with the notion of adopting agile practices internally.

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The Agile Project Manager—“Going Agile”...The Price of Admission

I often get asked to visit agile teams—delivering some ad-hoc training and taking a look about. Usually I’m asked to do an informal assessment and share improvement feedback—framing the visit as part get to know each other session and part agile assessment. A short while back I visited a team. They’d been doing agile (mostly Scrum) for quite a while and considered themselves relatively mature in their adoption.

Right away, when I got off the elevator, I noticed that their environment was open and airy; so very conducive to collaborative agile teams.  There were rolling whiteboards all about and small groups of people were talking and pairing all over the place. Even the managers were sitting out in open space.