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Green eyed monster

green eyed baby owl

Today I read this excellent assessment of SAFe training.

I have to be honest. There’s a wee bit of jealousy in me that Daniel wrote such an insightful and informative post. It can be hard to know what’s interesting for anyone who happens upon your musings. I could sit write about the mechanics of Agile methods. But that’s already out there (see Scrum AllianceLeanKanban University, Scaled Agile Academy, amongst others ) . I never thought about writing about training I’d been on! But I will follow Daniel’s excellent example from now on and take better notes.

So I thought I’d share a less eloquent, but I’m hoping, somewhat informative run down of the training I’ve been on recently.

Problem Solving Leadership Workshop with Gerry Weinberg, Esther Derby and Johanna Rothman Albuequerue, NM

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This week long residential look at yourself has to be the best investment I have ever made .
It’s tough going. You are often working from morning to evening and having one to one consultations with Gerry, Esther or Johanna. When I say work I mean experiential learning. In my case my biggest lesson was Gerry himself telling me to “Shut up or get out”. In the middle, when you’re already a little weakened, if truth be told, there is a complicated exercise. We were a proper little town for several hours that day.

Throughout there were tears and tantrums, crushes and friendships formed and deepened. In fact I find myself in the twelve months since wishing there were a regular way to reconnect with the group I went with. After lots of imparting of psychological knowledge, and treatment dare I say, the trio of wisdom task you with a few last things to ensure lasting effect.

No there were no drugs involved 😉 it was not a love in – it was about becoming a problem solving leader. Bugger the title, it was about helping people around you and being true to yourself doing it.

Today I can say I continue to learn more about others and myself every day thanks to Gerry, Esther and Johanna. They run PSL bi-yearly. Just go. You’ll also come away with tons of models and tools to use. But better still you’ll come away with more knowledge of yourself to offer.

Find more details here.

SAFe with Dean Leffingwell London

I agree with pretty much everything Daniel says. And he says it better.
All I can add is I liked hearing the stories from Dean himself (although even his business tales were about tech upgrades). It adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the spaghetti throwing.

I had some confused looking tablemates throughout.

Coaching with Johanna Rothman, London

This was a one day course with Johanna that I booked during PSL. It was full of useful information although some of the exercises with stickies felt basic. I suspect this is because most peeps were there to learn how to start using coaching skills. As an experienced coach I came away with a few extra tools in my belt, and of course Johanna is delightful to learn from as always.

Kanban Coaching with David Anderson, Vienna

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I went with some deep expectations and came back with a round tummy (sacher torte yummy) and lots of marketing materials. There was no experiential side. Although there was sumptuous food served every two hours.  Not a lot of kanban theory or practice. Mainly stories, and mainly dev team focused.

David had some interesting stories to tell and this was lecture style teaching. A large part of the content was about marketing Kanban, commercial restrictions. On the last day David explains that we must fill out an case study style application. We must then attend (and pay for) a further event in order for a panel to interview you. After this you might receive a Kanban coaching certification.

Scrum

My Scrum Alliance CSM was many years ago now, and I have to say as someone who knew Scrum already it’s hard to be a fair judge – although it may be interesting for y’all to know that CSTs are not subject to PDU or quality reviews once they’re certified.

 

Scrum Values and The Duality of Openness

The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy, but the best weapon of a democracy should be the weapon of openness.   
Niels Bohr 
 
Openness is synonymous with transparency, and this requires candid and frank communication.  The most important word in the previous sentence is communication – if this isn’t happening then openness is simply impossible.   This can be a challenging value to hold dear and is particularly difficult to achieve if respect and courage are not yet instilled, and even more difficult it trust is yet to be established – this is probably why Commitment is the first value!  Anyone affected by conversations and decisions must be made aware as soon as possible – and without disrupting their current focus.   Openness needs to be considered at the highest levels of the organisation. Consider distributed, multiple teams facing a common impediment. There is little opportunity for passive communication and it’s probably something that is not within a single team’s control – in this situation openness becomes essential to everyone. Read More

What is Agile Coaching?

All too often people forget what was learned in a training session or struggle to apply what they have learned to real-life.  Coaching enhances and extends training by helping people to understand what they have learned and how they can leverage it to their advantage in a real-life situation.  Coaches work closely with you and your people, pulling information from across the organisation and supporting you in defining what success looks like.  An Agile Coach will help you set goals and support you in discovering the right way for your organisation to use Agile to your advantage.

Coaching can be effective for short and long term purposes.  Short term coaching is usually focused on specific activities, for example coaching a team’s planning meeting or helping groom

Read More

Scrum Values and The Tale of the Cowardly Cow

Today I was self-respecting – as I often do towards the end of an engagement – and found myself looking for inspirational quotes around opportunity..of which plenty abounds in India.  As I considered everything I happened upon in the last six months, both professional and personal, I realise that I have been lacking in something.  Courage.

As I tried to focus on when and where and how to improve I began to correlate with Scrum values.  Over the last several years these ideals became so embedded in my way of working that I simply forgot about them..and recent exploration has confirmed my fears – that most people who are actively pursuing or practicing Scrum are also lacking in conscious knowledge of these core ideals.    I only recall ever seeing these in black and white in the very first Scrum book I read by Ken Schwaber Read More

Agile Principles in Practice @ Scrum Bangalore

Thanks to Isense Prowareness for another fabulous Scrum meetup. It seems that Scrum and Agile continue to grow exponentially here in India, I could swear the crowd doubled from the last meetup!    For those of you in Bangalore it’s worthwhile signing up to come along – lunch is even provided!

This time I was one of the main presenters, alongside Jesse Fewell and Sanjeev Kumar Mishra – who ran a mean marshmallow challenge!

Anyway I digress – it is early Sunday morning  – I decided to present on the Agile Principles and thought I’d share it for posterity. Read More

Scrum Alliance could be more Agile

I am a CSM and CSP for 4 and 2 years now and I started my application to become Certified Scrum Coach about a year ago.   The 25 questions and case studies scared me.  I found some questions very odd – for example when did planning poker become a coaching technique?  Isn’t that an Agile practice instead? And how can I define advisory and consultation skills vs facilitation skills vs leadership – aren’t these all facets of a good coach..i.e. the coaching skills asked about earlier.

In addition I suffer from acute procrastination when faced with documentation.

I picked it up again this year with fresh vigour and spent approximately 40 hours of hair tugging, brain dulling recantations of every Agile and Scrum experience over they years.  I was then forced to distill these into the top three style question that permeates the CSC app.  So far I have managed a grand total of 15/25 questions and the ubiqitous case study.

Still on high with the prospect of what I see as a valuable opportunity to get feedback from my peers I received an email prompting about my CSP renewal.. Read More

Product Owner Nerves

Perhaps it is the meds I’m on (in Bangalore at the beginning of mosquito season with particularly tasty blood and a nasty reaction), but even after all these years this week I started to question the scrum product owner role ‘in’ the team.

Is the product owner really able to step back and let the team get on with it, as seems to be the case in so many teams?  Am I mad, considering a fellow coach seemed horrified at the prospect of adding the PO’s to the team stand ups.

And then I did what I have been doing for 15 years – I canvassed opinion – from real live people and the dark corners of the interweb.  It is a fairly well discussed topic and when I read one particular blog post it reminded me of the product owner’s responsibility and why they are the dirtiest pig in scrum..they are the single wring-able neck for the product :)..  this is why I always push for the PO to be in the team and not ‘served’ by it.

Now I just need to get clean 🙂

Scrum Master..An Agile Oxymoron

One of my favourite transitions is helping people become a successful Scrum Master.  It’s very heartening to see an individual become a whole human being, not simply concerned with timelines and figures but happy, empowered and delivering to boot.

Too often though this can be the most challenging task and far too often the individual is blamed when the impediment exists in the very title Scrum Master. Let’s consider the top 5 definitions from dictionary.com.

 

master
    1. a person with the ability or power to use, control, or dispose of something: a master of six languages; to be master of one’s fate.

 

  1. an owner of a slave, animal, etc.
  2. an employer of workers or servants.
  3. the male head of a household.
  4. a person eminently skilled in something, as an occupation,art, or science.
The top four definitions imply ownership or control – the opposite of the Scrum Master Role, and very far removed from Agile.  Not until number 5 do we come even close to what we mean.  A Scrum Master is expected to be skilled in Scrum, to coach and help the team keep a heartbeat, to always strive for better and to feel he can effectively remove anything that blocks the teams progress.  With these descriptions of Master in mind, is it really so unbelievable when the new Scrum Master resorts to command and control.  Or indeed when the organisation diverts his attention to reporting and is shocked when he tries to effect change.