A few weeks back, I had a conversation with a peer coach who was introduced to me. As we chatted, we discussed several aspects of coaching. At one point, he asked me a question that has proven difficult for me to answer.
Well, to clarify, I gave an immediate answer, but I have since changed my mind about it. The question has been weighing heavy on my mind for the past few weeks. I keep coming back to it. …
“We are doing hybrid Scrum. Pure Scrum won’t work here.”
“We have too much other work to do. We can’t dedicate our time to one team.”
“If we allow teams to self-organize with no checks and balances, chaos will ensue.”
“We are starting our Agile journey with an output focus.”
“We need to reorganize our company structure before we can try to work like this.”
“We still have to maintain existing management mechanisms while we transition to Agile.”
“We have had too much change. …
Our fear was building, and it was resulting in irrational behavior. The statements coming from my team members were crazy:
“We should demo our work even though we are not done. We can finish it next Sprint.”
“If we demo around the known defects, we can still show we made progress.”
“We can be ‘Done’ if we take on technical debt. We can pay it back in later Sprints.”
“We can’t have a zero for velocity this Sprint. This will tarnish our consistent track record. …
I have been working in the Agile space for most of my career. And I am worried about the momentum of current trends. The recent patterns I am observing reverse our progress to Agility.
The unfortunate trend I see is in organizations using Scrum. They are deciding to try to get good at outputs before focusing on outcomes or team engagement.
For example, recently, I started coaching a team with ninety-six Sprints under its belt. It delivered working, high-quality product every Sprint. …
The latest release of The Scrum Guide in November 2020 has some welcome changes. One of those modifications is being less prescriptive. It was already lightweight, and now, it’s even lighter — down from seventeen to eleven pages.
Many references in the new Scrum Guide allude to less prescription, for example:
The idea behind empowerment originated from social scientist Julian Rappaport in 1981. Empowerment emphasizes the degree of autonomy present in people and groups of people. In the 1980s and 1990s, it gained traction as a management trend. The goal was to delegate decision making authority to employees.
But it was not successful in empowering people in the workforce. Management “talked the talk.” They pronounced their people as empowered. Then, they sat back and waited for the magic to happen.
But the magic did not happen.
As it turns out, those accustomed to command-and-control have difficulty with autonomy.
Employees in a traditional management structure get told what to do and how to do it. Rewards result from adherence to the rules, not for venturing outside of them. And these employees bring experiences and biases steeped in the status quo. They have never explored other avenues. …
“My team consistently rolls work over from Sprint-to-Sprint. Why is it not motivated to finish what it starts? It doesn’t deliver what it commits to deliver. I must have the wrong people.”
Do you ever hear this? Do you say it about your teams?
When I coach an organization, I often hear a statement such as this. It is rampant and misguided. And to be honest, it’s wearing on me.
The common implication is some inadequacy in the teams or team members. But it is unlikely for teams or its members to be bad apples. …
I played basketball when I was younger. I remember wanting to become an expert at spinning a basketball on my finger. For some reason, this was the craft I chose to master.
I practiced for hours in my garage. When I started, I could keep the ball on my index finger for approximately one-tenth of a second. After five days of relentless practice, I could spin the ball as long as I wanted on all five fingers of my left hand.
This is impressive to anyone that witnesses it, even to this day. But it did little to make me a better basketball team member. …
I am passionate about simplifying the Agile journey — often, to a fault.
As an Agile coach, this is my driving purpose. It gets me up in the morning, ready to embrace the day. It fuels me to persevere as I encounter the ever-present resistance to Agility. And it keeps me up at night worrying about my teams and organizations as they struggle to embrace change.
Grit (n): firmness of mind or spirit; unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger. —Merriam-Webster
I drive to change the status quo and create fertile ground for growing team engagement. My stamina is significant in this area and my focus does not waiver. And I am not content with my own drive; I have high expectations of those I coach to have similar enthusiasm. …
I have experienced an interesting trend in the Agile and Scrum space this year. At first, it seems like a step to get us closer to our customer’s needs. But as I peel back the onion, I have seen how it can lead us down a treacherous path.
The trend involves Product Discovery. Several companies have approached me with a request, such as:
“We need a Product Discovery coach to help build capable Discovery Teams and improve the intake of backlog items with Delivery Teams.”
At first, the notion of Product Discovery coaching sounds intriguing. Design Thinking, customer research, and lightweight prototyping are engaging activities. Plus, exploring what customers need by engaging with them is not commonplace in today’s Scrum teams. …