Are your Product-Owners cross-functional enough?

Improving teams/organizational flexibility/versatility is a topic that comes up often in my engagements. This includes discussion of T-shaped people/teams, Collective Ownership, Code Stewardship, Full-stack-developers and the like. I typically refer to Henrik’s classic (and recently my “scaled” version ).
So let’s assume you improve the agile team flexibility which means you can “swarm” a couple of teams to areas in high demand. How do you deal with their product ownership/management in those cases?
1544063

Continue reading “Are your Product-Owners cross-functional enough?”

Guest Post – 5 Guiding Principles To Using Agile In Research-Intensive Software Environments

Agile Meets Research / Data Scientists

As agile spreads wider and wider I often get to work with researchers (a.k.a Data Scientists) working closely with product development. When going agile these people struggle to figure out how it fits their unique style of work. One of those researchers I encountered on an Advanced Analytics group in Intel was Shahar. We had a chat recently and I asked him if he would be so kind to write a guest post describing his perspective. And he delivered! If you’re a researcher trying to make agile work or you’re implementing agile and you’re trying to help your researchers figure it out, this should be interesting!

Continue reading “Guest Post – 5 Guiding Principles To Using Agile In Research-Intensive Software Environments”

Spark engagement and participation in a SAFe Scaled Agile Implementation using Online Games – My workshop at Agile Games New England

IMG_0952
Last week I gave a deep dive workshop in the Agile Games New England conference about the NEED for engagement and participation when implementing agile at scale using an approach like SAFe as well as how I use online games like Kahoot and Socrative and various points throughout the implementation to increase engagement and participation especially when working with big groups beyond the team. Here’s my slide deck from the talk:

Continue reading “Spark engagement and participation in a SAFe Scaled Agile Implementation using Online Games – My workshop at Agile Games New England”

Driving Motivation – an exercise for understanding the Daniel Pink’s Drive model

Recently, the issue of motivation is permeating our work as agile consultants. And not surprisingly,  Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink is the main model we’re currently excited about. Our resident AgileSparks CST and team coaching expert Danko is leading that charge…

Today, while Danko was describing the Autonomy Mastery Purpose (AMP) model in our Agile Forum meeting, I thought of an exercise that can be used to learn and internalize the model. Here it is, provided AS IS… I didn’t have a chance to run this yet but fully intend to.

While writing the blog item, I realized that this can be thought of as a pattern of the Force Field Analysis retrospective activity

The outline of the exercise

  • Ask participants to come up with as many management actions they can think of that happen in their organization, they heard of, are considering, etc. Write them on sticky post-its.
  • Provide a primer on Drive and the AMP model
  • Meanwhile Draw the diagram from the first slide on a whiteboard / flip chart / several flip charts
  • Ask the participants to come place their actions in the right place in the diagram – each action can be driving/restraining one of the A M P aspects.
  • Ask the participants to look for duplicates and conflicts – actions that they have disagreement/confusion about
  • Have a discussion about the items in disagreement
  • Ask participants what are the actions they are committing to try in order to help drive higher motivation, and what are the actions they are committing to try to stop. One from each category should be enough per participant.

Some advanced tweaks or ideas that might improve the exercise:

  • Use pictograms for the actions
  • Use different colors for activities currently being done, and ideas.
  • Separate discussion to current activities, and later on after discussing the model, ask participants to come up with ideas that can help drive higher motivation
  • Reorder the steps somewhat…
  • Provide a set of activities that the participants need to classify, instead of coming up with their own, or on top of it as a bootstrapping activity.

If you try this and find it useful – let me know!

Want to experience agile in an accelerated form and focus on innovation at the same time? Try an agile FedEx day!

A while ago I wrote about Slack and FedEx Day and why I think its important to have slack in the system, and why a FedEx Day is a good way to to run an innovation day.

A few days ago we had the first inaugural AgileSparks FedEx Day.

Since we are, after all, a company which believes in agile approaches, we decided to some dogfooding an run our FedEx day in an agile form.

We started with identifying the Goal of the day and then decided on a few key themes the innovations should focus on. This was done offline a couple of days before the actual FedEx day. For example, one of the themes was “Process Innovation – Things that will enable us to do our work more effectively and bring more value to our clients”.

With those themes defined, we opened the floor to brainstorming of ideas to work on. This as well was started offline, by sharing a google spreadsheet where each member of the team could add his ideas. Some of us had some ideas in mind, some of us came as a “Clean Slate”.

At the morning of the FedEx day itself, we started with a warm-up – a great breakfast accompanied by running Presentation Karaoke which was quite hilarious. I drew a presentation covering the lifecycle of a butterfly which I used as a metaphor for an Agile Transition… but since our rule was that things that happen in FedEx day stay in FedEx day, I will leave it at that 😉

Then we looked at the ideas, collected on a sunny window, both ideas from the spreadsheet as well as other ideas that came up during the warm-up and gathering time. Each of us had to choose an idea he is excited about, and that is how we did team formation. We came up with 3 teams each working on a different idea.

We then started sprinting! we did 4 sprints of an hour, including planning, demo and retrospective. The demos included the whole team. During the sprints we worked on elaborating our ideas, using Agile User Stories and techniques such as story mapping, as well as started implementation and delivery of “Working Software”. It proved a real challenge to deliver on such short sprints, especially for those of us who didn’t have a somewhat formed idea at the starting point.

In the middle of that we stopped for a quick lunch and great Vaniglia Ice Cream (This is the best ice cream in Israel IMHO btw… and we have an Ice Cream fetish in AgileSparks…)

At the end of the day we gathered to retrospect on the whole experience and choose the winning idea. We decided that it was a great experience, that pushed forward several important ideas, as well as gave us the opportunity to experience on our environment some of the practices and approaches we are helping teams with.

One important insight was that you can use a FedEx day for various purposes. Innovation is just one of them:

  • Product Innovation
  • Process Innovation
  • Business Innovation
  • Set-based approach for Solving a tough and important problem
  • Making a real dent in a cluster of small technical debt areas, or a big technical debt.

Have you thought about running a FedEx day in your team/company? If you have been sprinting/churning for a while now, and want to change gears, consider something like a FedEx day.

If you also try some new lean/agile practices while at it, you get double benefit! We believe that exercises/games bring accelerated learning of any new approach to doing things. One of the cool things about a FedEx day is that its a mix of accelerated delivery as well as accelerated learning.

If you are interested to hear more about this, or would like our help in planning or facilitating such a day – let us know!