A CEO asked me: “I can see how the teams and the product lines will operate with an Agile mindset, but at my level, how do I manage differently? How do I work with the other executives?”
Here is my quick (“elevator pitch”) summary:
Imagine you’ve been asked to join another Agile team. The person in charge meets you and during the introductory conversation, says “Mondays, we have the planning ceremony at 10. The other main ceremonies are on Friday afternoons…”
Rewind to where the person said “ceremony.” Did you feel excited? curious? nervous? unenthusiastic?
Almost every organization is now showing interest in Agile. We seem to have all the ingredients for effective transformations: well-known practices, detailed processes, ever-improving tools, extensive literature, myriad certifications, and many consultants. How is it, then, that so few organizations are truly agile?READ MORE
Everyone who tries to adopt Agile in their organization quickly realizes that the change extends beyond the team, project/program, and value stream. It affects management too. But how? More specifically, what should managers focus on to support the change to Agile?
Try this sometime:
Survey your team members anonymously: “What’s the purpose of our daily standup?” (or daily Scrum, whatever you call it).
You might be surprised by the number of materially different answers you’ll get.
And then, you should be concerned over how many of those answers include words such as “updates” or “status.”
A few weeks ago I started helping out at one of the most Agile tech companies I’ve ever seen.
I looked into their current state. On the surface, they use a mix of Scrum and Kanban ideas that wouldn’t pass muster by the standards of either approach. Some practices are done loosely, while others are absent.
How does a group of managers truly become a management team, especially one that builds an Agile culture? READ MORE
Recent story from a technology company: The CEO, seeing the software teams’ outcomes from being Agile, wanted the sales team to work in an Agile manner as well. In fact, he told the VP Sales to be more like the tech teams.
A few years ago, this would have been quite a shocker. Technology teams as the model of behavior? Yet, that’s becoming more and more the case, because Agile teams have a different impact on business: they work with the whole product in mind, make more strategic trade-offs, are more transparent and responsive, and so on.
So how does a non-software group/department/unit adopt Agile?
For years, whenever people wanted to know about my Agile coaching practice, one thing I would bring up was, “I only coach the willing.”
Sometimes they would chuckle or nod understandingly. Yet, more often, they didn’t realize why I was saying this. I’m a professional coach, wouldn’t I coach everyone?
In my courses, I use various activities to examine and drive home Agile’s many principles. Ones that usually trigger deep conversations include getting to “done,” feedback, collaboration, and effectiveness before efficiency. Many senior managers attend my courses, and almost every time, one of them will ask:
“Aren’t these principles just a common-sense way to work?”READ MORE
Suppose you have Agile teams and things look good. Folks work on important initiatives, do high-value work, get feedback regularly, and deliver finished products/services to their intended consumers frequently.
Question: How long before things start to break down?
Howard Sublett, host of the Agile Amped podcast, interviewed Gil Broza in May 2018. Gil discussed mind-set (both personal and organizational), why an unchanged mind-set is the key reason for failure of Agile transformations, and how to help leaders with the change.
Organizations are used to concentrating their technology workers in specialized units, such as IT or Product Development. This approach enables them to focus on their specialties and to establish their own methods and processes. As a side effect, it also creates a vendor-consumer dynamic. And once this dynamic is in place, managers on both sides start wondering, can the technical people work faster?
At the 2016 Path to Agility conference in Columbus, Gil gave the keynote Being Agile: Having the Mindset that Delivers. Ryan Ripley, host of the Agile for Humans podcast, interviewed him about this topic.
Every day, my kids tell me about a new homework assignment. They always finish the description with “and it’s due on…”; school is habituating them to think about deadlines. My wife and I have deadlines of our own, such as applying to high school for said kids, and filing taxes.
At work, deadlines are everywhere. Almost every nontrivial undertaking has some date attached to it by which it ought to be completed, released, delivered.READ MORE
If you’re picking up a new skill, method, or tool, how do you learn to apply it?
Perhaps you like to read instructions and follow them. Or maybe you prefer to have an expert teach you. Another option is trial-and-error. There are multiple learning styles.
What if you’re learning something as deep and impactful as an overall approach to work, such as Agile?
All over the world, Agile is the new darling. This approach to work has caught the attention of most IT and product development managers, who are now rethinking their teams, tools, practices, programs, measurements, reporting, and so on. Few of those managers, however, question Agile’s fit to their situation, or begin projects with the question, “Which approach should we use here?”
All Agile methods are predicated on strong teamwork. It’s not an Agile invention; bringing diverse skills and viewpoints to bear may indeed increase aggregate performance.
From an Agile standpoint, teams are also useful because human beings make mistakes.READ MORE
How do you lead with both heart and mind? Why would you care do to that? And how do you overcome the organizational barriers to a people-first culture? Selena Delesie, host of the Lead With Love Virtual Conference, held a deep-dive interview on these matters with Gil in January 2017.READ MORE
One process element that all new Agile teams adopt easily is the daily standup meeting. Even without receiving Agile training, it’s the one thing everyone seems to know about Scrum. And you know what I’m realizing more and more? In its popular, standard form, it hurts teamwork.
Like most people, I carry various kinds of disaster insurance. If I crash my car, I’ll get paid back its worth. If my house burns down, I will lose lots of personal effects and time, but not my financial investment.
Even if the law or mortgage lenders didn’t require car/home/life insurance, I would still buy them. They are a large expense but they have a huge benefit: They allow me to live my life without fear of financial ruin.
If you could buy a policy on your software development efforts, guaranteeing some quick recovery if anything goes horribly wrong, would you?
A client reached out to my company, asking us to assess three teams. The consultant who did the assessment sent me an interesting note:
“One of the three teams is actually one of the most Agile teams I’ve observed in an enterprise environment (and their customers are really happy with the value being delivered). Yet, they’re not perceived as such by IT management because they don’t fit a ‘cargo cult’ understanding based on process.”
Interested in keeping high performance and agility for the long haul? Want to have a more collaborative and healthy relationship between business and technology? This interview will give you a lot to think about.