Here at agile42 we are happy supporters of the Manage Agile conference, held each year in Berlin. This year the event will take place from November 4th to 7th with the theme of Agile Leadership: it will be a great chance to follow talks and workshops on the topic.
Call for Paper is open and will close on June 30. Speakers will have 20 or 45 minutes for a lecture and 100 minutes for a short workshop. The duration of the lecture should, therefore, be between 15 and 20 minutes or 35 and 45 minutes, depending on how much time the speaker wants to leave the auditorium open for questions.
Klaus Leopold, renowned coach and host of the Lean Business Agility YouTube channel, met at Enterprise Kanban Coach in Barcelona with agile42 coach Peter Hundermark. The result was a video about Kanban, Scrum, coaches, trainers, local optimization, etc…
As an international Leading Logistics Provider Company, they wanted to transform ‘the agile way’ of all over the world. Taking a step in that direction, they decided to transform the agile way of working in the IT department of their Turkey base too. Therefore, they contacted us and we started to work together.
As agile42 we always start to work with the company doing an assessment to ensure the further application of tailor-made training & agile coaching. It is essential to support the leaders at getting the same view of the current status and to align on the goal.
Initial assessment results were;
Working as individuals, not as a team,
Lack of respect towards people’s ideas, missing initiative,
Lack of transparency,
Driven to increase efficiency,
Working with a push system,
No opportunity to learn from each other in order to reach the same level of knowledge.
Training and Coaching
We used the agile42 Team Coaching Framework. After completing the assessment, we customized the training according to the special needs of UPS Turkey. We also encouraged the business partners of the IT department to attend the training, Their support, and collaborative behavior was needed for reaching true agility. So, the training group consisted of IT members and people from other departments of the company who always work with IT departments. This training has created awareness in all units. Suddenly agile winds started blowing in the company and all units started thinking of how to implement agile methods in their own business. The framework to work best at enhancing agility was Scrum for the IT department. Since they receive requests from each department and have to prioritize them in order to work on everything together, it was a useful choice for their way of work.
We started working with the IT department. In the beginning, since everyone did their work individually, we focused on team building activities in order to address the team phenomenon. They had been working together for a long time but it was their first time to work as an agile development team. After that, we prepared a “team agreement” as well as some “done criteria” for the team. Together we prepared their first product backlog and we turned big chunks of work into small enough tasks. We prepared user stories and the development team pulled the stories accordingly. We started with a 2 weeks sprint loop starting at the team kickoff. One of the biggest problems of the department was that everything was labeled ‘urgent demand’ by the business side. So, we proposed the product owner to use the lean canvas model for their prioritization.
The IT team adopted Scrum very quickly. Scrum had generally been thought to be a project management methodology. Prior to our support and guidance, they were thinking of applying Scrum to only one important project and keep the rest of the team continuing as usual. We provided clarity on the fact though that there was a strong correlation to all the work that this team would be putting into their backlog and that the team members would have to change their behavior too. This way, the company would be given the opportunity to have full transparency of all the work and meet their need for changing items at a pace of sprints. For this reason, we prepared the first product backlog prioritizing all their work. After the sprint planning meeting, we started a 2-week sprint. At the end of the first sprint, they had finished almost everything they had committed to in the beginning. However, whenever looking at their scrum board, they could still see how many jobs in the originally ‘urgent state’ were remaining there and not currently planned in the sprint. They decided to open another column for the ‘urgent’ status, following up those demands by analyzing their root causes in order to later apply the best solution for similar problems.
What were the problems and team’s decisions around the first sprint
Working separately within the same unit, the team members were unaware of each other ́s actual work and it was the first time for them to really be a team. They experienced the advantages of working as peers in future sprints. One of the former employees taught other team members a software language used in the company. They started working together. The Agile approach always focuses on fostering team support, co-operation and learning from each other. Our experience showed that this is right.
Frankly, it was a great moment of happiness for me seeing the team achieving this great improvement during their very first sprint.
First gains from working with agile methodology are:
A pull method
Being a team
Learning from each other
A higher level of planning for their work
They have also started seeing deficiencies of the team. Therefore, they decided to develop user stories precisely, agile forecasting, the use of story points and definitions of ready criteria. The PO decided to add more user stories to their product backlog, He decided on making Product Backlog Items transparent to all the team increasing awareness of the team this way.
At the end of the second sprint, the team had learned the scrum practices much better, understands their impediments, external dependencies, test issues, etc. They had to take steps to solve them. Therefore they initiated regular daily product owner meeting too.
It was great for us external coaches to see the team getting better at every Sprint based on a continuous improvement mindset. I’m excitedly looking forward to their further results.
The Business Department’s involvement in the journey
While we were coaching the IT team, other departments also started making their own kanban boards. Since agile42 believes in Organic Agility, we made a considerable effort to spread an agile thinking perspective & methodology all over the company. One way to do so was by leading workshops for the top management and their departments separately.
As mentioned before, the business units are also very motivated to change their way of working towards agile. In the meantime, our coaches are meeting with two other departments which decided to go the kanban way. They are currently at their first step visualizing the workflow.
Missing are still other 5 practices of Kanban such as:
Limiting the work in progress,
Managing the Flow,
Making policies explicit,
Implementing feedback loops,
Improving collaboratively and evolving experimentally
Currently, they are starting to work collaboratively, wanting to evolve their way of working. Environmental limitations don’t allow quick alteration for them though.
This is just the beginning of the agile journey of the company and in a very short time benefits were seen clearly. Consequently, we were very proud of having taken an active part in their agile journey.
«As a software developer who has developed various projects for many years and worked in various projects, I experienced serious problems such as; the size of the projects, the lack of time and other resources, the lack of clearly defined demands and unplanned and time-consuming test processes. shortly after I joint company, I attend agile 42 training courses and thankfully we got agile coaching as a team. I have had the opportunity to comprehend and apply the benefits of Agile and Scrum in a very short time thanks to the various activities; active learning programs, workshops during coaching program, make it’s clear and understandable easily applicable for work. As a team, we understood the benefit of cooperation, we learned new programming techniques from each other. I started to save time and work in a more regular way by using the Scrum structure in all my projects. Thanks to Scrum, I can work more efficiently and have time for myself.»
«I think the first thing we can provide is transparency with Agile working methods which will bring more efficient communication, managerial convenience, and fairness. While visualization reveals the exact point to be focused on, having a unique board/wall for a team improves the sense of being a ” team". Using Agile, we will save time by getting rid of unnecessary works and by making only effective meetings. I believe that it will lead to a multivocality with participation and eventually, this will lead to change. When we have all these positive feelings associated with being in the team, the quality of our work and production, both external and internal customers' satisfaction and our control over work will increase.»
Industrial Engineering Supervisor
«The agile scrum and kanban training we received was very helpful for us, as a team, we start applying the basic principles and values of agile approach such as openness, courage, respect, focus, and commitment. To finish committed PB’items at the end of the sprint, we took the decision to collaborate and help each other which decrease our stress level, increase happiness in the team.
In this way, We strive to create fast and quality projects by increasing the competencies of our team and working in joint projects. I hope we will, even better in our future sprints. We thanks to our agile42 coaches, kindly supporting us with different kind of coaching tools.»
On May 14th in Berlin, agile42 founder and strategic coach Andrea Tomasini, the “enthusiast pragmatist”, presented the ORGANIC agility® approach during the Keynote for 2019 event of the Fast Growth Icons Berlin, an invitation-only network for founders of fast-growing successes.
Andrea talked about his history of business starter and what makes companies succeed or fail to an audience of more than one hundred startup founders and venture capitalists. Today market cycles are rapidly shortening. ORGANIC agility® offers organizations a way to resilience, equipping them to deal with complexity and the challenges of today.
During my last few engagements and following recent trends, I have been observing two worlds in which I co-exist at odds. The world of empiricism and hard sciences and the world of human sciences or psychology. The so-called ‘tree hugger’ (as it is sometimes dismissively called) and the unwavering pragmatist. As someone who has a strong background in both of these, this is not only an extrinsic observation but also an intrinsic one.
How do you reconcile the world of engineering challenges like control systems which provide constant empirical feedback with the non-causal nature of working with people? On top of this, as coaches, we are challenged to step into organizations and facilitate quantifiable practical change.
When considering wider change, people are the influencers of the culture and the wider organizational system. If we then try to facilitate change in a non-causal context and desire immediate results that can be mathematically quantified, it comes as no surprise that an inherent tension exists.
I have worked in organizations where Scrum Masters were called ‘blah-blah’ men. They were silent influencers having conversations which seemingly did not have an impact on the ‘real’ world. This, of course, was not the case. The challenge emerges that the truth becomes extremely subjective to the perception. This tends to create some organizational tension.
Although these worlds seem to be in contrast and at odds I believe that harmony is what needs to be pursued. Music presents a great metaphor for the next generation of skills that need to evolve. I’m pretty sure that when rock music first made its appearance, the concept of including a violin was the last option on the table. However, today some of the most iconic rock albums include the violin. The synergy created something unexpected and timeless.
Two worlds colliding in harmony bringing about an unexpected experience of delight. In the age of Millennials and Generation Z people want to be accepted and included in organizations which fully acknowledge them not just for the skills that they bring, but for the people that they are. The culmination of truly being good at being human and purposefully honed skills becomes the environment in which true harmony can exist.
The harmony of empirical sciences and human sciences is thus becoming more and more relevant to today’s organizations. In order to deliver true delight, the world of ‘hard’ science and ‘soft’ science need to join forces in a whole new set of ways.
It’s time to bring a soft hand to a ‘hard’ world and a firm touch to a ‘soft’ world. As coaches, this is the art that we dabble in.
Powered by agile42 and Cognitive Edge, the ORGANIC agility Conference will be taking place in Vancouver on May 6th. This will be the very first conference featuring a keynote on ORGANIC agility®, which is an evolutionary approach to creating organizational resilience - the capability to innovate and quickly adapt to changing market conditions.
Why attend the ORGANIC agility conference?Following the keynote on ORGANIC agility, the conference will be divided into two tracks that you can choose from - allowing you to experience the ORGANIC agility approach through real case studies and hands-on activities. Track #1: Leadership AgilityThis track is a great opportunity for attendees who want to learn directly from other organizations who have gone beyond the usual agile transformation experience by applying agility to their organization as a whole and are seeing rapid impact from shorter cycle times to successful product launches.
Get insights on how your company can become more resilient and adaptive to markets that are changing at an exponential rate
Learn about the Cynefin Framework and how to use it to help in decision making
Exchange knowledge with peers and speakers from HSBC, Best Buy Canada, Resort Municipality of Whistler and others
>> Learn more about the Leadership Agility Track: LinkTrack #2: Team Coaching WorkshopThis full-day workshop is more applicable to attendees who are looking for techniques and approaches to improve team performance. Attendees will
Learn how to structure their coaching effort and measure the impact
Walk away with practices they can apply immediately on their team
Exchange knowledge with peers, speakers and agile42 coaches on-hand
>> Learn more about the Team Coaching Workshop Track: LinkWhat is ORGANIC agility?
In a nutshell, ORGANIC agility consists of three pillars.
1) Capability-based leadership modelThe new ORGANIC leadership model supports leadership growth as a capability, rather than only seeing it as a personal development initiative for leaders based on role. This is an important distinction - growing the capability of leadership throughout an organization requires building it into the organizational structure and culture. To grow leadership capabilities, we need to start building the ability, in ourselves and others. This will allow us to see the connections between what we do and the effect it has on our organizational culture, our environment and us as a leader. >> Rethink leadership: Learn more2) Organizational scaffolding through five principlesORGANIC agility is centered around five key principles that act as scaffolding for organizations as they evolve into being more adaptable and resilient. These principles act as a reminder or guardrails to ensure that as an organization grows and evolves it continues on the correct path until a point where they are ingrained into the organizational culture and no longer need to be explicitly called upon. Organizational agility is not a destination but a journey of continuous improvement. As long as an organization can be kept to these five guiding principles, it can continue to evolve and grow in a positive direction.
3) Tools supporting ORGANIC agility
There are key tools developed to support ORGANIC agility that include the Organizational Scan™ (OrgScan) and the Agile Strategy Map™. The OrgScan was developed in partnership with Cognitive Edge that utilizes their patented SenseMaker® technology and allows businesses to get a thorough and unbiased view into their organizational culture through self-documentation and analysis of decision making. Complementary to the OrgScan, the Agile Strategy Map helps you take the principles of ORGANIC agility and apply them in practice. It is both a true map and a living, responsive tool that lets you share your strategy with your entire organization and seamlessly connect planning with execution.
The talk highlighted the problems/limitations in the approaches to scaling Agile in organizations that react to increasing complexity by mass manufacturing or mass engineering an organization’s design through cascading layers of processes and frameworks. I then moved on to exploring the holistic view of ORGANIC agility® which allows organizations to grow and evolve like a natural thing. An overview of the Cynefin framework has been given together with an overview of the principles of ORGANIC agility.
The talk then illustrated two unique tools that are inspired by the principles of ORGANIC agility®, namely agile42 Organizational Scan and Agile Strategy Map.
The Organizational Scan is a tool of immense utility in revealing deeper truths about your decision-making processes, leadership style, and organizational culture. On the other hand, the Agile Strategy Map is a real visual map for guiding an organization's strategy towards specific targets while highlighting the success factors and dependencies that are relevant to moving in the right direction.
Case studies that demonstrate ORGANIC agility® and its tools in action has been shared near the end of the talk.
How did you first start your agile path and end up coaching with agile42?
After leading a set of software development teams from 2006 to 2008 using traditional methodologies I came to the insight that there had to be a better way to deliver high-quality software and create more opportunities for innovation and creativity in teams.
I was introduced to Scrum by one of my mentors and started doing experiments immediately after. By implementing the Scrum guide to the letter, I learned not only the ‘How’ but I also discovered the emergent value and the ‘Why’ behind the mindset. The change in the lives of the people, as well as the organization, convinced me that Agility and the mindset associated with it was indispensable in inspiring positive change.
I moved away from the typical management mindset and started focussing on Scrum Mastery and implementing healthy DevOps principles. This perfectly aligned with my passion, talents, and background. I came into contact with agile42 which opened up the door to wider involvement in the Agile community. The way I think, approach and choose to live life naturally aligns with the ideals held dear by agile42 and the wider community.
The natural way for me to propagate these ideals and values is to, more in-depth, get involved in the coaching of people, teams, and organizations. It’s been 11 years and the adventure is still in its infancy.
What is the main inspiration for what you do?
Perhaps a story can illustrate this best.
Two years ago (2017) I was starting up a new team in a company that made use of ancient practices and had endless red tape. This made software delivery, communication and organization-wide collaboration almost impossible. It put a lot of strain on the team and they were almost at breaking point.
By growing incrementally, the team started delivering which in turn empowered them to take more initiative and grow personally as well. One of the team members made the comment that he had never had the opportunity to discover himself, his passion and the possibility of being happy until joining the team.
This is what inspires me. Seeing people change and embracing their true selves, unveiling their potential and discovering that happiness can and should be a constant.
What have you seen lately that is interesting and new in the world of Agile?
What excites me is to see the draw that is created by practical display of the value that Agility can bring. I am seeing more interest from non-it related people at public gatherings. The realization by the general marketplace that Agility can not only bring value to software development teams but also to other disciplines is picking up more momentum.
Although this is not necessarily something that is new it is definitely a wave of change that I would like to ride in order to see organizational structures change for the better.
The Problem with MetricsIn modern knowledge work, no two tasks are exactly the same; no two teams work exactly the same together; and no two project contexts are quite like each other. This means that when we abstract these complex situations into numbers for metrics, they inherit all of that same complexity and imprecision. Now what looks like clear and simple numbers is actually a set of ranges and guesses.
To understand why people get frustrated with metrics, I want you to imagine you’re driving down the road and suddenly you see flashing lights behind you. You stop and the police officer comes up to the car and says “The speed limit is 60 kPH with a minimum speed of 45 kPH, but you are doing 30 kPH.” The officer asks why you are below the minimum? “It’s icy, I want to get home (deliver the value) safely (with quality).”
Would that feel fair (to receive a ticket for driving under the minimum speed)? When things are exactly the same (like speed in a car) we can make some judgements based on hard numbers, but in all other cases, those numbers show a very limited picture and they can feel completely unfair. In this case, due to the conditions we’re working in, doing the job with quality meant we had lower speed.
How Can We Use Metrics Effectively?There are a few simple changes we can make to how we measure and what we measure that can change it from an unfair judgement into a tool for positive improvement.1. Ask honest and curious questions about the metrics.
We can think of metrics a lot like the check engine light in our car. It doesn’t mean much by itself, but it indicates what we should look into it more. If a team’s burndown chart is flat, we want to ask the team if they’re struggling with something that is stopping them from completing work.
2. Look at trends over the raw numbers.Even when the numbers are imprecise, the trends may tell us something meaningful. Is the team’s velocity erratic? Is the number of defects rising? These trends have relevance even if the exact numbers are hard to pin down.3. Encourage the team to tell stories, supported by metrics, about what has happened.Think of the difference between a team saying “We feel like our quality is better” and another team saying “See here where our number of defects starts going down? This is where we made the change to how we test our code.” If you’re starting this habit with a team, you might want to start with good stories. If the customer satisfaction score takes a dip for a week, focus the conversation on how they brought it back up – the problems will usually come out in the conversation without you asking. Here is a quick summary of the Do’s and Don’ts to use your metrics more effectively:
As the saying goes: old habits die hard. If the team or team members are used to defending themselves from metrics, they’re going to be wary of any measurement. Take it in stride. Keep creating those good experiences and over time, those will win out over the bad ones.
Work with the team to discover what measures they think are valuable, and, particularly, improve their delivery. Measure that the team recommends are more likely to be accepted by the team and be effective.
If you want to learn more about using metrics to reflect trends back at the team that helps them achieve better performance, join us on May 6th in Vancouver at the ORGANIC agility conference. Register for the Team Coaching Workshop track >> Link