Give good feedback !

For many of us ‘Inspect & Adapt’ has become a second nature. We love to timebox because we need the feedback to learn from it. ‘Feedback’ about the system we’re building or the process we’re using. Because individuals are to be found more important than processes and tools, we must not forget to give each other good feedback so we can also learn from that. After all, the Team will never grow, if the individuals in the Team don’t grow.

To give good one-on-one feedback is a very difficult thing. It’s hard to keep it save and it’s even harder to do it in a way that really helps the other learning something from it.

I ran into some nice ways of giving feedback :

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Three good ways to stay a good coach… ( and not become a great coach)

The art of coaching is not as easy as it looks. One of the main reasons for this is that being a successful coach is not measured by what you do but by what is achieved.

I’ve discovered a few ‘patterns’ in my own coaching behavior that leed to on ‘working hard’ instead of ‘achieve results’. And I’ve found some alternatives for these behaviors that will help me to become a great coach.

I would not like to use the word ‘anti-patterns’. It’s better to speak about wolves in sheep’s clothes. Some amazing results can be achieved working like this. However, on the long term it will neither help the coach become any better, neither help the organization to live on without the coach.
Love the sheep, but be aware of the wolf !

What wolves am I talking about :

  1. Do whatever is needed to make the change a success.
  2. Do whatever is expected from the coach.
  3. Focus on the biggest impediments.

A coach who manages to do all three above is a great coach, right ?
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Agile is not a methodology, it’s a mindset !

There are many misunderstandings about Agile and what it is or is not.
I’ve met some people who were really convinced that ‘Agile’ and ‘Scrum’ are like synonyms. Or who think ‘Agile’ is a synonym for ‘flexible’.

Both are not true. If Agile would have just been about flexibility or responsiveness, I suppose they would have called it ‘The Manifesto of Responsiveness’ or something like that. However they didn’t so there must be more to it than just the Responsiveness.

Agile is a mindset. A set of principles to guide you in the choices you make.

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Story Planning

Story planning is a technique to facilitate commitment.

The ultimate goal of Story planning is to make a sprint planning that is really understandable and clear for every body. Something you understand so good that you can really feel whether it is doable or not. This is what you need to be able to commit. As a person and as a Team.

It’s a way to implement the Sprint planning and Sprint review session(s) and it serves as a great base for the standups and has proven to be very useful in many different cases.
When it’s hard to complete an entire story before the end of the Sprint.
When there are so many tasks in a Sprint that everyone has lost the overview.
When for some reason there is an anxiety to commit to a Sprint.
When planning a Sprint is taking a lot of time ( more than 1/2 hour/sprintweek )

The outcome of working with the Story planning is a highly focused and committed Team with maximal fun and productivity as a result.

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The 3 basic principles of Scrum in an Agile Mindset

Scrum claims to be ‘Very Simple, but Very Hard’ with its 3 principles and 3 roles. Indeed, the rules of the game are easy to understand and the Scrum process that links everything together is one of the leanest ever seen. The hard part of Scrum is understanding why it works and how to make it work. If you implement Scum on the right side of the Agile Manifesto you’ll be having a very hard time making it work. More important than the rules and roles of Scrum is the spirit of the Agile Manifesto. Scrum is meant to be a practical guide for ‘doing Agile’.

It’s not easy to implement a process with roles, rules, principles, meetings and timeboxes in a way that brings ‘Humans and Interactions over Processes and Tools’ alive. How to create an atmosphere where commitment and the product backlog are not seen as a strict contract with the Product Owner and project management, but where ‘Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation’ is a normal thing. ‘Respond to Change over Follow a Plan’ seems a perfect match, however many Scum implementations seem to have a large focus on delivering releases on fixed dates, no matter what… And many Teams love ‘Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation’, where QA and management still demand All Documentation.
The point is… It’s hard to implement Scrum in a real Agile mindset.
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Effective Standups

I have been experimenting with standups a lot over the last 4 years and I found a good way to get the most from it.

In my experience a good standup only serves one goal. It is to unite every mind in the Team into One Mind so there can be one view on status and one view on focus. Or put otherwise : One commonly understood answer to the questions ‘Where are we now?’ and ‘Where do we want to be tonight?’
If every member of the Team leaves the standup with a clear understanding of where the Team wants to be at the end of the day, then they will make choices during the day that lead towards the actual realization of this goal.

The structure of an effective standup looks like this :

  • Welcome the Team in a happy and energetic way
  • Decide together on the actual status of the project.
  • Decide together on the focus of today.
  • Find a way to achieve this Goal in the most effective way.
  • Send away the Team with a wrap up of the focus of the day and a reminder to have fun.

Do all this from a point of view of the TEAM and avoid talking about individual achievements or goals and you will increase the effectiveness of your Team.

The amount of energy and interaction during the standup represents the quality of the Team. A boring standup will never lead to an inspired working day.
To bring your Team alive, you should bring life into your standups!

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The Agile Mechanism

The Agile Mechanism

What mechanism makes that teams and organizations who act according to the Agile Manifesto can respond to change faster and that they deliver more added value with very low costs ?   The Agile Manifesto itselve does not really gives an answer to this, I think.

Maybe it does in this format :
Interaction between people to deliver working software in close collaboration with the customer delivers good and early feedback, which leads to adapting the plan if needed

Hmmm … already better, but not yet the clear cup of water I’m looking for.
What about a picture ? A cycle ? The Circle of Agility …

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Limerick

A Scrum team from London was trying
To deliver the app without dying
Sustainable pace
no more rat race
The feedback augmented the buy-in.

Agile Manifesto : The official Dutch Version

The Agile Alliance wants to translate the Agile Manifest into different languages. The Dutch translation will be coordinated by me.
I really want this to be a community effort of the Dutch speaking community. Therefor the blog to guide this translation effort is in Dutch and on a community blogsite (AgileHolland).

If you want to add your contribution to this translation please follow this link for the translation of the Manifesto,
and follow this link for the translation of the Agile Principles.

Because the translation started from this blogpost, there are already some comments on this post. I’ll see with the people who posted the comment how we will transfer these comments to the new post.