“Why are development and operations always at odds with each other?”, and other interesting organizational behaviors explored through Pete’s latest keynote delivered to the Agile Prague Conference in September 2019. ...
I was recently interviewed by RocketNine Solutions about why leaders should attend a Certified Agile Leadership (CAL) Workshop. I have posted a compilation of a few of the most common questions I hear and what you might expect from ...
Introducing a new Program – Certified Agile Leadership (CAL) by the Scrum Alliance. Pete Behrens, who led the initiative in creating this program, along with others on the program design team, share their insights into the reason ...
Leading Agile: Laying the Foundation for Success
While Agile offers myriad benefits to an organization, the fact is: adoption and subsequent success of software development projects across the board could be better long-term. Why, when we have a system that has proven to work for countless organizations in various verticals, do initiatives still fail, or else the whole Agile endeavor peters out after a few months or years?
While there are many reasons why Agile approaches can fail, inadequate Agile leadership can be a large contributing factor. Note that it’s not necessarily inadequate leadership, because you can have the most stellar executive leader, but if she doesn’t know how to lead and support an Agile team, she can put it at great disadvantage.
Why Coaches and Consultants Can’t Save Your Organization
Organizations spend millions on Agile coaches and consultants, then point the finger when, a few months down the road, the “whole Agile thing” has gone off the rails. Is it really the fault of these Agile professionals?
Doing vs. Being Agile
While there’s a whole slew of barriers to successful Agile adoption, I think most of them boil down to one major one: is the team doing Agile or being Agile?
Seems a subtle difference, but there are miles between the two. I can’t tell you how many organizations I know of (including some I’ve worked with) who, after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to establish Agile processes through training and coaching, have abandoned Agile completely for more familiar territory just a few months or years later.
Here are some of the quintessential differences between doing and being Agile. Maybe defining the two will help other organizations not fall victim to the same fate.
"Life is the Art of Drawing without an Eraser."
I saw this quote one morning as I entered my local gym. There is a guy at my gym that posts inspirational quotes each day; this one struck me. It reminds me of Yoda’s wise words about the commitment life takes to move forward.
“Do or do not...there is no try”
Time does not provide an “undo.” Everything we do is done. It is recorded, in a sense, in time. And while we may “undo” by erasing or going back, that is also done in time.
Yoda’s message to “do or do not” is thinking about life without an eraser. Everything I “DO” is done. Everything I “DO NOT” is not done. There is no in between. If we “TRY” we are actually “DOING” something.
I recently received an Agile Project Fit Assessment Scorecard from one of my clients divisions (client to remain nameless).
While I have nothing against evaluation criteria for which one might determine if an Agile approach is appropriate for them, this particular tool is so far removed from common understanding, experience and practice, I feel like I need to share it and help others learn from it as well.
This particular tool, I have to believe, was created from significant Agile project failure based on ill-formed Agile practices. If not, I am even more concerned because that means the education of what Agile is, why it's necessary, and how to properly apply it is completely missing in many organizations.
OK. Enough lead up, let's get to the tool and dive in...
This article describes my own surprising relationship and discovery from reading The Coach's Casebook by Geoff Watts and Kim Morgan. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I have...
As an Agile coach for the past 10 years, and one that has taken on the responsibility for defining, measuring and certifying other Agile coaches through the Certified Scrum Coach (CSC) Program for the Scrum Alliance, the question of what an Agile coach is and how do they differ from other coaches, consultants, ScrumMasters, and organizational leaders comes up frequently.
While a classic dictionary definition of "coaching" is training someone learning or improving a specific skill, a more modern definition in an organizational perspective from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Looking at delta between two definitions, one can see a vast potential and pitfall. A potential in the opportunities abounding Agile coaches in the variety of services and focus they could provide. A pitfall of slippery slope on either side of this divide.
Mary Parker Follett, a late nineteenth and early twentieth century scholar, was a century ahead of her time in terms of organizational understanding, development and leadership. I came upon her work thanks to the insight by my friend and colleague Martin Kearns in reading a summary of her work through the book The Essential Mary Parker Follett by Françoi Héon, etal.
If Mary were in today's leadership discussions, likely she would be a part of the agile community. Speaking on difference, conflict, unity, integration and more, Follett espouses post-heroic and agile leadership principles. One of the key mindset shifts of agile leadership is moving from a competitive thought process to a collaborative one, from "or" thinking to "and" thinking, to enable organizational possibility, creativity and innovation. Her deep dive into some key leadership qualities and characteristics is incredibly powerful, as an example on her focus on unity vs. uniformity...
“Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. We attain unity only through variety. Differences must be integrated, not annihilated, nor absorbed.” pg. 31
Furthermore, her agile mindfulness is also adept, in this articulation of unity vs. unifying as a distinction of a final state vs. a state of being...
“The most important thing to remember about unity is that there is no such thing. There is only unifying. You cannot get unity and expect it to last a day or five minutes… [This is] neither of subordination nor of domination, but of each man learning to fit his work into that of every other in spirit of co-operation.” pg. 168
Her agile leadership wisdom continues...
I am excited to share with you that we are running another Leading/Coaching Agile Organizations Workshop this year! Thanks to VersionOne for hosting this workshop, we are able to offer a limited capacity class this special, one-time offer.
This workshop is for anyone in an internal or external leadership position guiding growth in organizational agility.
Webinar: Agile Leadership for the Enterprise
October 8, 2013
This talk was hosted by VersionOne and moderated by David Rubinstein of SD Times Magazine. It focuses on the current state of agility, why many companies are struggling to adopt agile, 3 companies who are thriving on agility, and the agile leadership approach needed to do so.
May 2013 @ Mile High Agile 2013, Denver, CO
Too many organizations are following the Scrum framework AND fail to learn, grow and achieve their desired results. Many continuously thrash by tweaking Scrum or their organization but rarely see significant positive impact or change. Others may achieve pilot success only to stagnate trying to replicate that success at the enterprise level. To achieve and sustain organizational agility, a completely different approach must be taken – it must be LED from the inside-out.
If you are reading this blog, you are likely aware of my focus on organizational culture and agile adoption. Over the past 5 years, I have been leveraging William Schneider's culture model as introduced and researched for the book "The Reengineering Alternative". In 2012, I was introduced to similar cultural model - The Competing Values Framework, and during the last 6 months, I have been in the process of converting all of my cultural assessment, teaching and coaching from William Schneider's culture model to the Competing Values Framework (CVF).
VersionOne has released their most recent state of agile survey. And while there are a number of revealing indicators of the growth and expansion of agility within the enterprise, the one that remains troubling is the difficulty of adoption in many deeply established organizations. Looking at the barriers to adoption, the top items include a lack of ability to change the organizational culture, general resistance to change, trying to fit agile into a non-agile framework and management support. Why is culture so hard?
If you are viewing this on our website, you probably notice a few changes. I would like to share with you some of what we've done and more importantly why we have done it. We are in our 8th year consulting and figured it was time to freshen up and re-focus our message.
Many of you know that I have been maniacally focused on the agile coaching discipline since 2005 when I started this practice. I joined the Scrum Alliance, not because it had the best training and coaching programs, but because it had the best focus and framework. during my time in the Scrum Alliance, I have been focused on creating a world-class coaching association which parallels the training institution that I became a part of over 6 years ago. What I am referring to is my work, and the work of my peers, in building and growing the Certified Scrum Coaching (CSC) organization from the ground up. At this time, we have the most comprehensive and complete definition of enterprise agile coach in the industry. But that is not all...
Essential Scrum by Kenneth Rubin - As a Scrum Trainer and Coach, I often find myself navigating between the theory and practice of Scrum. The theory of Scrum is easy to grasp yet implementing Scrum is quite challenging. Putting Scrum to work effectively in an organizational context requires years of practice, experience, and trial-and-error. In reading the title of the book, I made the mistake of reading "Essential" as the bare essentials of the Scrum framework. In fact, this is a similar story that Ron Jeffries tells in the forward - dumbfounded that an "Essential" book on Scrum is over 400 pages!
Upon reading Essential Scrum, I have redefined my interpretation of the title "Essential" as meaning everyone MUST READ this book before and during your implementation of Scrum. Ken has packaged decades of applied learning and teaching in this book and it will save you months (if not years) of Scrum thrashing, navigating between the theory and practice of Scrum.