Agile and Scrum – Driving Success Through Innovation Conference 2016 part 1

hdr-agile-scrum-conferenceInternational Institute for Learning organized its first Agile and Scrum Virtual Conference. 5 keynotes and 20 video presentations, Q&A, chat, and networking opportunities in an slick and smoothly working online environment. Not only IT, but many companies in other sections are benefiting from Agile approaches like Scrum. Too much to watch in a single session, with the 1,100+ other concurrent watchers. No problem, since IIL offers to watch sessions on-demand for additional 90 days. That’s an opportunity regular offline conferences cannot offer. Welcome to the 21st century 🙂

In a two-part review I’ll highlight the mixture of video presentations and keynotes I attended on 2 June 2016.

Angela Johnson – Scrum master or arm chair psychologist?

Recovering project manager Angela Johnson ( PMP, PMI-ACP, CST, a founding member of Collaborative Leadership Team, a Certified Scrum Trainer, and Agile Transformation Coach) considers Scrum as simple, yet not simple. It’s lightweight. Application is not easy. Do you face Scrum problems or people problems? Scrum Master seen as servant leader may turn out to be the one ordering pizza. Facilitating the team means so much more. Scrum Masters are no secretaries, don’t necessarily have product in-depth knowledge. The Scrum Master is a leader, and a coach, not necessarily leading every Scrum meeting, not even the Daily Scrum. Running Scrum ceremonies may overlook the people stuff. Michael James developed the scrum master checklist, but there’s more. Dale Carnegie provided principles on influence, honesty, listening, encouraging, appreciation. How to Win Friends & Influence People? is a perfect addition to the Scrum Guide regarding people aspects. Harvey Robbins focused on dysfunctional teams in Why Teams Don’t Work, worth reading too to learn from characteristics of bad, good and best teams. Versatility plans which were developed by David Merrill and Roger Reid (Social styles) with drivers may be of help. Be clear to your team on do’s and don’ts. There’s we, not me in teams.

Scrum is different. Change is hard, and that’s why a Scrum master role is difficult. It’s your job to help the organization migrate into the Scrum way of working and maximize the delivery of business value. Don’t let words get in the way. Ask questions. Don’t mark people as impediments.

Manny Gonzales – Future of Work

Manuel “Manny” Gonzalez has proven himself to be a successful global strategic leader in both the nonprofit and corporate sectors in an international arena. His strengths lie in transforming organizations into Agile performing environments. As CEO, Manny speaks around the globe to advocate for Scrum Alliance’s mission to transform the world of work by promoting widespread adoption and effective practices of Agile and Scrum.

In the period after 1950, the human population doubled, growing from 2.5 billion to 5 billion, in just four decades (less than average the human lifetime).  Factories, production lines, and minimally skilled workers were put into place across many industries.  All that was needed were a few knowledgeable leaders at the top to keep the machine going. Agriculture, industrialization and the development of services industries in the computer age, brought us in the where we are. Cultural shifts through the process of creative destruction trigger innovation and social changes. New customer and workplace demands require changes in the way work is organized.

Gonzales emphasizes the importance of relationships, value creation, and honesty (more specific integrity and transparency). See how well these connect to the Agile Manifesto.

Companies refer to their problems as recruiting, retention, and employee development. Employees are looking for sustainable businesses. Things are changing fast. Participate or be out of business soon. Be open for new ways of leadership and management. Agile leadership is the new paradigm, Agile is the future of work. Organizations like Scrum Alliance are out to inform, help, coach, empower, provide resources and support teams and corporations on Agile and the transformation from traditional way of working towards Agile. Change takes iterations, time and reinforcement. Agile is no simple key to be on or off.

It’s not about you, it’s about them. Live through your principles. Walk the talk. Enable self-organization. Grant time to grow that and enjoy the journey. The future belongs to socially responsible companies. Bear in mind Scrum and Agile are no IT ‘thing’ anymore, as the State of Scrum report shows.

Jesse Fewell – Big Agile: It’s not just for small projects anymore

Jesse Fewell (writer, coach, trainer) kicked of setting the stage. Wasn’t ideal team size about 7 plus or minus 2 people? Lightweight approaches like eXtreme Programming (XP) stressed the lean and small teams. Scrum advocates small teams too, encouraging self-organization. With the advent of Agile popularity discussions on application of Agile principles in larger organizations continued. Scaling agile became a necessity. Simplicity may lead to micromanagement, silos and more standards. Autonomy can lead to role confusion, duplication and more variation. A paradox to be solved. Do your homework. Learn the various frameworks, and case studies. Other companies already invented this wheel.

Preservation while the company grows was faced by Zappos and Spotify. Big non-Agile companies like Intel and Nokia Networks saw small Agile teams in their midst producing more high-quality output, serving stakeholders much better. Two organizational ‘problems’ that require different approaches.

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) help non-Agile organizations to become agile ones. Intel did a roll-out to 170 teams in just 2 months. Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) is an alternative. There’s more than one way to organize your work. Nokia Networks did it with LeSS in 2005. Both workers and leaders need to be coached. Regardless the commercial names, there’s consistency in principles needed for these kind of implementations:

  • Teams-first identity: self-organization, multi-skilled team members, 5-9 members per team, leveraging existing small agile teams and knowledge. At least build experience with Agile on team level, then scale up.
  • Collaborative policies on the used vision, methodology, daily schedules. Delegate what can be delegated, standardize principles.
  • Align cadence: synchronize schedules of the various teams. You need to be on the same page on who does what and when in order to implement the combined results.
  • Organizational design: call it Center of Excellence (CoE), guild, Community of Practice (COP) as informal cross-team grouping of people to reveal systemic gaps. Be aware to focus on tasks. Focus on competencies.
  • Leadership competency: from management as coordination to management is enablement. Are you going to adapt, manager?

Move from big to awesome!

V. Lee Henson – The 4 Pillars for Agile Success

Making the decision to move over to Agile may make you think of trying to eat an elephant. Where to begin on this Agile Journey. AgileDad, V. Lee Henson helps.

  • Culture: Agile is not a one size fits all. It’s important to understand interpersonal culture. Create and nurture a culture that supports frequent inspect and adapts habits.
  • Organization: each piece is critical for success. Collaboration, delegation and empowerment are must-haves. Organize the work, not the people. Too many projects in motion can still hit your output rate. Agile organizations focus on the best outcome, limiting work in progress and maximizing business value. Less is more.
  • Process: process improvement is essential. There’s no single best process out there. It may be helpful to apply agile hybrid models, enabling you to choose from alternatives.
  • Sustainability: there’s more to life than hands on a keyboard. Avoid context switches. Focus on a sustainable workload.

If you want to dig further, you can embrace AgileDad’s 12 step program to Agile success. Don’t forget to bring in an Agile coach to help you along the path to success. Why? Because it takes time, honesty, trust, communication, a clear vision and strategy, transparency and supportive leadership.

Scaling is by taking steps one by one. Failure is an option. Crawl, walk, then run.

Jeff Sutherland – Disruptive leadership

Jeff Sutherland (CEO, Principal Consultant and Trainer – Scrum, Inc., Co-creator of Scrum) promises a way to double your work in half the time. Well, that’s a teaser, isn’t it?

Scrum is important because of:

  • Poverty has decreased worldwide because of computing and internet. Many of the web and mobile applications now are built with Scrum.
  • People’s pursuit of happiness in the workplace. Engagement at work is crucial.
  • Agile mindset required: without agile mindset in command, there will be no agile execution by the body. Rapid decision making, rapid movement as fundamental to Scrum. Sutherland learnt to sweat twice as much in half the time in his early cadet months at West Point Military Academy during the Vietnam War. Visualizing work helped. Even mediocre teams can self-organize themselves to become great.
  • Prioritization is mega issue #1. Plans are worthless, planning is everything. Soldiers need to self-organize, because plans will be screwed, when the battle marches on. Inspect, adapt, throw away plans to accommodate to changing circumstances. Cells, people, teams, and organizations change in small increments. High failure rate of project execution. Tasks dependencies leading to overruns. Learn to land the project, just like a fighter plane. Burndown chart instead of a Gantt chart to monitor the project’s progress towards ‘done’.
  • Continuous delivery is mega issue #2. Learn how to walk by enriching your neural networks. Bootstrap your learning curve. Organizational constraints may be restricting. By reducing team size speed of delivery was increased. Be aware of Conway’s Law, Brooks’ Law and Peter Drucker’s Cuckoo Effect. Team of Teams by general Stanley McChrystal led to the acknowledgement of having all disciplines in one team.
  • Organization refactoring is mega issue #3. An executive action team is needed to remove organizational impediments on a weekly basis. Ikujiro Nonaka, the grandfather of Scrum viewed Scrum as a way of doing, being and life. With his partner Hirotaka Takeuchi, he studied project management approaches and wrote The New New Product Development Game in 1986, which is considered as the basis of Scrum. Great teams benefit from managers deeply introduced to Lean manufacturing principles.

Now in 2016, Scrum is everywhere. In sales, marketing, finance, manufacturing, families and weddings, agriculture, space and government. Sprint after sprint, team by team. Velocity up! More people freed up to aggressively get more done in less time. Read Jeff’s new book, don’t wait for the movie 😉