Category Archives: Blogs

Respecting time – trains, school bells and meeting etiquette

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It was a rainy Thursday morning and again, despite my good intentions, I found myself leaving the house with only minutes to spare before the train pulled in.  As I dashed down the road, I could hear the train approaching.  A glance at my overpriced Apple watch suggested I still had 90 seconds.  I got to the station and straddled my way down the many steps, just as the doors closed and the train pulled away.  “Damn and blast!” I thought to myself, whilst trying to style out the fact I had just run all the way from my house, some 6oo yards away.

Whilst waiting for the next train and gathering my breath, well, trying to stop gasping for air actually (it’s been many years and several pastries since I last did any strenuous exercise), I pondered my frustration about the train doors closing “early”.  If you read the website terms and conditions (which I did), the facts state that the timetabled time is the time that train leaves the station.  Several activities take place before this time including all doors being shut, the platform checked, signals checked and controls activated in the drivers cab.

So by rights the train doors should beep 30 seconds before the stated time of the train, remembering that the stated time is the time the train should depart, not the time it arrives.  I think we have fallen victim to the trains being constantly late.

I then started to consider this behaviour within schools and our workplaces.  When we were at school, the times stated on the timetable were the times the lesson started, similarly when at work we state the start of the meeting time.

However, when at school, someone else takes on the responsibility of ringing a bell 5 minutes before the start of the next lesson, giving us ample time (in theory at least, not taking into account trips and wedgies on the way) to wander to the next lesson so that we started on  time.  Do we ring any bells when at work?  We have all at some time or another discussed meeting etiquette and how we should arrange meetings with a clear agenda, that start on time, set clear actions with clear minutes and end on time.

How often in reality have we spent all day apologising for being late rather than apologising for leaving 5 minutes before the end of the current meeting to avoid being late for the next?  It’s not rude, its ensuring we offer courtesy to each and every meeting we have accepted.  Remember, if meetings are arranged where you are not clear what the agenda is or why you are needed, ask.  Your time and the time of others is precious, don’t waste it.

P.s. I’m a fan of meetings, for me they are not something to be mocked, rather to be valued, they are opportunities to collaborate with our amazing peers, so respect that time and respect your peers, ensure there is an agenda and make sure you adhere to the timebox.

Remember, it’s OK for meetings to deliver value early.

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All it takes is a little initiative

initiative

In recent roles I have been much more focused on ensuring the people around me understand the agile values and principles and the benefits they can bring to enjoyment and fulfilment at work.

 

Agile leads us to talk alot more about the importance of mindset and the belief that if you hire for attitude and train for skill but can you hire for skill and train attitude?

 

I have had a couple of team members and peers recently whos attitude and behaviour has been brought into question.  When speaking with them many techniques are used with the core objective to bring a sense of self awareness.  Why are they behaving in a particular way and did they realise the negative impact on others.

 

Whilst on most occasions this has seen an improvement in behaviour, in the short term at least, we encountered another issue of questionable initiative.  Initiative? Where did that come from? Did we test for that in interview? What does it even mean?

 

We talk about creativity and curiosity which when coupled with initiative are extremely powerful but what affects people’s ability to be perceived as having and using initiative?

 

I started to realise that there is something much deeper going on.  Whilst we can claim that some people just simply lack initiative our upbringing, society and work culture do have a direct impact on how much we are encouraged to use these important attributes.

 

If we have tight boundaries as we grow up and are not encouraged to try new things and gain some independence then this can have an impact, in society a shift towards a “blame” culture, deferring responsibility and becoming extremely risk averse.  In work how much autonomy are we actually afforded to explore new things?

If we are in an environment where instructions are given top down and output is templated and constrained then how can we complain when in given situations individuals do not use initiative? Those full of creativity, curiosity and initiative may have already moved on to find a more suitable environment.
So when you are in a situation where you are questioning someone’s apparent lack of initiative think about how you can help them, understand what might be impacting their ability to use it and encourage them to be more self aware.  You might also want to think about how initiative can be given freedom to show itself within group scenarios when interviewing potential new employees.

But the Scrum book says no Business Analysts…..

business_analysis_role

5 years ago I planted a seed, an Agile Scrum seed at the company where I worked. It took a year to germinate and I actually left the company during that time. I was lucky enough to rejoin to take up the role of a Scrum Master.

The role I left behind was that of a Business Analyst. Like many others I have read all the recommended Agile and Scrum books. They do not speak of the BA role. It becomes very simple, become the PO, become a developer, move into commercial analysis or go to a company not doing agile or doing agile ‘wrong’.

I had the gut feeling that the BA team I so proudly managed would not be required in the new world, I’ve never written this down before and I regret not sharing this view with my team. I protected myself from this fate and moved to another company as a BA whilst I pondered my viewpoint and whether I could leave the profession behind.

8months later I took the decision that the time was right and the opportunity was available to move into Scrum Mastery, I didn’t fancy Product Ownership at that point as I wanted to be able to influence a change in the approach to ‘how’ the work was done not the ‘why’, ‘what’ or ‘when’.

When I returned, my old team had indeed moved out of the new ‘Scrum’ feature teams mostly because they were either seen as ‘waste’ or as a frustrated ‘proxy PO’.  They sat all together away from the teams, making up business cases for upcoming work.  In hindsight it was almost a necessary growing pain for the whole company. We questioned the value of the role, it evolved into product insight and commercial and financial analysis and they are in a really strong position now as a collective analytics, BI and data science team(s).

The standard role of a BA (interface between the business and IT) is too simplistic and means most agile teams fail to document new/changed logic for the future to make, in particular, operational support easier, to make change in that same area easier and cheaper in the future. To consider not only technical (non functional) but also customer facing considerations.

Agile encourages the T shape of skills and embrace exactly that, ‘skills’. Whilst we may question having one person sitting in the BA position, as we sometimes do with QA or SM. We still need the skills that the role normally brings.  We must train the team with those skills even if we make the roles non mandatory. Maybe we should all take the view that we should work to make ourselves redundant, share all our skills and automate as much as we can.

Besides there is always something more interesting to work on 🙂

work to make ourselves redundant, share all our skills and automate as much as we can.

So, fast forward to the present, I have a Scrum team with a BA and a PO, what’s that all about? I no longer see it as an obvious problem but I would advise you to review the team, the skills in that team and the context of the work they are doing. My view now is that you need either role or both roles and occasionally neither.

As businesses ‘go agile’ and they add POs and SMs and if you retain BAs, you will notice that the cost of teams stays quite high, I recently read that on average a traditional Scrum team costs £1million per year.  That’s a lot of revenue they need to generate. Thus the risk is quite high.

So why not start with the problem being solved/the objective being set and review the skills you think you need. Build up those skills as required, add people to the team as required. Start everything like a startup, review the potential value in solving the problem or doing the work and be strict on who you need involved. Its really simple, time invested = cost and we must generate more value than the cost.

Inspired by lean we should move the people to the work, so don’t just assign random features and projects to existing scrum teams, question who is best suited to achieve the goal.

It’s harder to manage but will be a better investment for the business as a whole and should hopefully encourage more learning in your teams, higher engagement and better products, always hopefully leading to happier customers.

we should move the people to the work, so don’t just assign random features and projects to existing scrum teams

We are all valuable and teams need a mix of skills, the lesson here is to be very honest about what skills we need, look to train skills within teams and recruit people eager to learn.

We need to move away from the days whereby to start more work we need a new team and that team by default needed 8-10 people. £1million is a lot of money, invest wisely.

 

No more Scrum Masters

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[Context: Sat in a meeting room reviewing Scrum Master CVs and interview performance…..]

I’m in the lucky position to be part of a company looking to digitise it’s customer facing and internal systems and processes, striving for better customer satisfaction and efficiency. We have new backers and money to spend and growing a team of talented people.

We are though hitting a lot of the common challenges when working in and around Agile teams.  The need for a clearer strategy, linking metrics to the features being delivered and understanding the best way to measure improving team performance.

As part of hiring for a Scrum Master we had the age old debate as to why we need a Scrum Master, it became obvious that those around the teams had done a good job at creating the perception that the teams were working well.  However when talking to the teams themselves there remains a number of areas for improvement that the teams need support with.

The complication with Scrum Masters is that typically they command a fairly high salary and often do not add direct tangible value to the software solution.

There are many statements that are banded around that can confuse senior leaders, a Scrum master is there to make themselves redundant, a Scrum Masters success is a reflection of the teams. But what is a ScrumMaster? for most we do not need to defend this too strongly as Scrum Masters come out of the box with Scrum and i’ve been lucky enough that previous Directors understood the value of the role.

Change agents, leaders, mindset enablers and other such visionary statements.  However we live in a world where its hard to think long term, we want results today or we might not be in business tomorrow.

I hire only people with Agile experience, so why do I need a ScrumMaster to teach them what they already know?

I’ve lucky enough to have moved through all roles within the software development lifecycle and most recently floated in and out of IT and Business teams and from Scrum Master to Coach to Product Owner.

As a Scrum Master my role was to remove blockers for my team and ensure we delivered. However my own interests (Agile, lean, management3.0, strategy) meant that slowly over time i moved away from the team.  It’s human nature for people to be career driven and for budding Scrum Masters this will often mean Seniority and Agile Coaching.

This move from the specifics of the work into the focus on the process and happiness of the team leaves you terribly exposed, if senior leadership do not value the role then, in more difficult circumstances, it leaves you in a difficult position to justify the cost of you.

So……should we hire a ScrumMaster?. I think you really have to question the objectives for the role to ensure you get the right person. In our case we do not simply want someone to facilitate the process, we need our teams focused on some very strict delivery deadlines, someone technically minded who can work between teams and systems. Isn’t that the role of a senior engineer i hear you say? well there are multiple ways to solve every issue and multiple ways to deploy your headcount, this is just our current thinking.

We think we might be looking for a Delivery Manager (popularised by Government Digital Service), i’m even reconsidering my view that that person cannot be the line manager of the team. We need to try and detach personal development through delivering solutions, versus learning and improving skills versus career planning. You can get these from multiple people, its just a case of having the right networks and time permitted for it to be of use.

So that’s decided, no more Scrum Masters for us? maybe, I’m not even certain we should be using Scrum as the outcome we want is fairly certain, but that’s another different conversation.

I’m far more open minded that I used to be, we can make any structure or process work well if we have the right people with the mindset to continuously improve and ideally those that have worked with the more frustrating and inefficient project mgt/software delivery frameworks.  Get the right person and the job title doesn’t really matter, as long as the objectives are clear. I’m confident now that I could take on the role(s) of Product Owner, Scrum Master and team line manager and succeed.  That’s based on my experience and empathy I have gained by getting it wrong in the past.

So……what about Business Analysts and Product Owners.  Life is odd isn’t it, having built a Scrum Master and Coaching team and phased out Scrum Masters in the past, I’m now in a position where I’m prepared to do the opposite.

Essentially, we need to get things done, as quickly and cheaply as possible whilst ensuring high enough quality.  We need the teams to be comfortable, inspired with where we are going and know why we are going there.  They can decide the path to get there and advise if its not the right destination as we start to travel.

Without wishing to bite the hand that once fed me I’m starting to wonder if all the theory based preaching, the happy clappy, everyone loves everyone and trusts everyone, no need for managers, holocracy, setting each others objectives and salaries etc etc is actually doing the whole Agile movement a dis service, it’s too far from reality in most mature organisations.

Businesses only exist to serve a purpose and make money doing it.   If we cannot clearly tie the value of all this hugging to the bottom line then we will lose the faith of the very people that employ us.

HOWEVER, I still see value in embedding the Agile mindset at the more senior level, to ensure the business has agility, could this though be an Agile Coach sitting in the HR/People or L&D team? I’m quite interested in the work  Jen D’jelal is doing. If our recruitment teams understand Agile then thats really positive for the future of the business culture and if someone in L&D can train when required then this feels like a great place to be.

Don’t get me wrong I live and breath the Agile values and embody the mindset, however I feel the value much more embedded in project ownership talking about how we are going to increase customer and business focused measures far more than I was getting teams to right their names on balloons.

Why not discuss this further with me……

Lean coffee meetup

Tuesday, Dec 6, 2016, 8:00 AM

All Bar One Milton Keynes
Unit 2, 320 Midsummer Blvd Milton Keynes, GB

3 Members Attending

Join us for discussion on Agile, Lean, Testing, Development or whatever else you’d like to talk about. Propose your topics join the group discussion, or just listen and get inspiration.How does a Lean Coffee work?Lean Coffee is a structured, but agenda-less meeting. Participants gather, build an agenda, and begin talking. Conversations are direct…

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We took Lean coffee to MK

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We hosted the very first lean coffee in Milton Keynes this week and it was a good one.

A great mix of creative agencies, transport systems, automotive, retail and consulting.  All with very similar challenges and ideas.

In particular we had some great discussion around the usage and meaning of story points and how on occasion we fail to give visibility and consideration to the business/customer value of the work being delivered and instead only focus on technical complexity.

We discussed Scrum and how in very small teams perhaps adding in all ceremonies becomes an overhead.  We started discussing what problems/inefficiencies we were actually looking to solve and that perhaps Scrum wasn’t the most appropriate solution.

Innovation was another that kept us talking for the full 12 minutes (8 + 4), how best to encourage innovation? what strategy encourages the right behaviours? how best to fund? what even is innovation? funnelled through one team or everyones responsibility? continuous improvement or disruption? does your business have agility?

So many questions, perhaps innovation is a great topic for a break  out workshop at a conference, if anyone fancies joining me let me know.

Milton Keynes Lean Coffee Meetup

Milton Keynes, GB
32 Members

Lean Coffee is a structured, but agenda-less meeting. Participants gather, build an agenda, and begin talking. Conversations are directed and productive because the agenda for…

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Lean coffee meetup

Tuesday, Dec 6, 2016, 8:00 AM
1 Attending

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Conferences – a year in a few minutes

Over the last few months I have taken in several conferences, some Agile focused and some more IT focused.  Below I have captured the main trends and topics coming out of the community.

My favourite keynote of the year was by Linda Rising: http://www.slideshare.net/AgileSparks/mindset-better-60-min and a youtube video here,

My thinking aligns alot with hers around the ineffectiveness of our approach to teaching and learning through doing and failing.

Below are a few of the main ideas/topics I have learnt from this year…..

 

Mindfulness – sharing stories of failure in teams to build trust and using time to encourage mindfulness techniques.  Makes teams feel safe and relaxed.

Interesting article: http://www.boost.co.nz/blog/2016/02/mindfulness-and-agile-different-sides-of-the-same-coin/ 

Practice mindfulness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thYoV-MCVs0

 

Management 3.0 and performance mgtThere is growing recognition that the traditional approach to Performance Management e.g. appraisals and reviews are ineffective and especially toxic to Agile teams. How can we experiment with alternatives and be team-centric and more aligned with Agile values. How, with the appropriate support, it is possible and desirable for Performance Management to become a team responsibility.

Jurgen Appelo: Managing for happiness: Don’t manage the people, manage the system around them,  as Deming famously said “A bad system beats a good person everytime” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvJ4KlVlqV8

If you haven’t heard of Maria Montessori or Lumiar Schooling (Ricardo Semler) then these are worth a read.

One of the speakers, Adam, works in a team that built: https://www.team-sense.co.uk/home/welcome

Also if you haven’t read this, then I would strongly recommend: http://www.managementexchange.com/story/atlassians-big-experiment-performance-reviews

 

Ecosystems and platforms – Particularly in the IT community ecosystems are now just as popular as digital, platforms and IoT.  Ecosystems are seen as a way to connect with vendors, customers and communities.  I still think we are a little confused between platforms, ecosystems and marketplaces and some of these words just feel like a way for a vendor to sell a solution.  It’s often interesting to compare and contrast the success of startups versus larger enterprises trying to innovate their business model.

An interesting read from an old boss of mine: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mythbusting-platform-economy-mark-ridley

 

Cryptocurrency – Some really interesting research being carried out by Imperial College London, they built this visualisation of the blockchain showing chains being created live. I don’t pretend to fully understand the underlying tech but it does look pretty.  For those that are interested this is the story of how bitcoin was created: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n13/andrew-ohagan/the-satoshi-affair

http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~dm214/dsi_coinobs/Web/Bitcoin/mempool.html

http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~dm214/dsi_coinobs/Web/Bitcoin/globe.html

 

The internet of things (IoT) –

I’ll just leave you with this:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSIPNhOiMoE 

Love it or hate it the world of connected devices is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsiHUfIpNGY

Cubic (a little like echo) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGBSIabp2eg

 

Accounting for Agile – Where traditional cost and time accounting meets Agile fail fast and iteration and experimentation….starting to recognise that timesheeting individuals and seeing additional work (iteration) as maintenance and not adding new value is perhaps not effective for an agile environment.  Measuring individuals output and not teams effects effectiveness. Realisation that timesheets are not accurate, teams are mostly stable so we know how much they cost and we can measure the output and the value generated.  We can start to estimate the cost of delivering features as velocity and item size and team size/cost becomes stable (usually 5 sprints). Initial bugs can also be capex and after a period of opex new value within that feature set can then also become capex.

Start to have common sense conversations with your finance teams in the context of value creation.  Various methods can be used if estimates are required for spend or a budget can be assigned. Ensure for audit purposes that new features (and feature iteration) and bugs and tech debt etc is clearly defined in the work item tracking system.

This is also interesting talk on Agile accounting and GAAP, capitalizing costs and depreciating investments and how this impacts the bottom line is a growing area of discussion in Agile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZXG1XON0Pw

 

Research and cognitive bias – you’re in a bar and looking at the beer options, have a beer (£3) or premium beer (£4).  80% of people go for the premium option.  What if we add a third option? A really cheap beer for £1.80.  This time 80% purchased the normal beer.  By adding an option nobody wanted we changed behaviour.

Kat Matfield always does great talks in this area: https://vimeo.com/148545335

 

Kata – The technique of kata and kata boards has grown in popularity this year, we had a group present it at our Agile in Covent Garden meetup in February. The background to it is here: http://blog.crisp.se/2013/05/14/jimmyjanlen/improvement-theme-simple-and-practical-toyota-kata. It helps focus behaviour on having a vision, a target condition and regularly experimenting with change towards the target condition. Also the importance of reviewing if you are close enough to the vision (definition of awesome).

Some other interesting related areas are the concept of Gemba (go to the place) and Toyotas A3 thinking: https://www.moresteam.com/lean/a3-report.cfm

 

Cost of delay – Some interesting discussions about how cost of delay can be used to aid decision making and prioritisation. A few interesting articles:

Urgency profiles: http://blackswanfarming.com/urgency-profiles/ and COD http://www.leadingagile.com/2015/06/an-introduction-to-cost-of-delay/ and if you want to learn from the master: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmU5yIu7vRw

 

Skills mapping – Something I first heard by Dan North the concept of understanding what skills the business needs versus skills your team has versus what skills your team wants to learn/teach.  Rather than dashing for outsourcing or recruitment how can we get the best out of the teams we have.  Nothing more amazing than learning something new that I’m interested in and being able to apply it to value creating change for our customers.

Dans talk (Skills mapping diagram at 40minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzWmqlBENMM

 

FSGD (Frequent Small Good Decoupled) – encapsulated attributes of work should have to be successful.  Jon Terry from Leankit talks about the importance of deciding the differing importance between frequency, small, good and decoupled.  For them SAAS meant Frequency was critical but not at the expense of quality.  They talk about quality in 2 contexts, marketability (from customer perspective) and sustainability (from a technical excellence perspective, keeping customer in the long run i.e. cost, performance).

Technical standards were also introduced TLDR (tested, logged, documented and reviewed)

Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHEJ7wIojc4


 

I hope you will enjoy these topics too, if you want . to discuss any at length let me know 🙂

 

As a complete aside Schindlers Elevators, had never heard of them but when looking into IoT and connected cities they are trying to innovate.  Not only how devices connect to lifts, how marketing can be targeted based on mood (facial detection) but also how elevators can be ordered and customised in a more digital way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDeNuhxDPBI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZbPYCC0wMs

Stuffing my face in the name of digital

Picture the scene, in fact no, just look at it below….

Walking across the Thames after a beer after work with a friend and off home to retrieve my dinner out of the dog. When alas I discover the trains are delayed. Damn Govia Thameslink!
What to do? Sit and wait 30mins for the next train? What a waste of time. So my hungry self decides to walk back across the river and take in the magic of London on a summers evening. 

At that moment I had a craving for burger, not just any burger, a gourmet burger. I looked on their mobile site to see if they did takeaway, I was inspired by a story of George Osborne having one delivered (that might have been Byron).

On pressing takeaway I was invited to download the app, 90 seconds later it was installed, almost brings a tear to the eye considering that would have taken all evening in the late 90s.

I registered on the app, got my card out my wallet and scanned it, all numbers were magically lifted into the app (ignoring the fact they didn’t have apple pay or paypal, having to get my card out, what a disgrace).
I chose a burger, camemburger as I’m a cheese fiend, and it detected my nearest GBK (only have 0.3miles to stagger) and paid using my previously scanned card. Even 3D secure wasn’t required for this transaction 🙂

My estimated time was a short while after I arrived so I used the facilities (needed due to the aforementioned beer). My burger arrived early at 20.30. 

I then headed off to the train station to inflict my disgusting burger eating on other innocent train passengers……Don’t look at me, I know I’m disgusting…….

God bless our connected world from turning a train delay into an efficient and delicious dinner, driven by digital.

Agile is just words?

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I started thinking the other day about words and just how important they can be when associated with creating, driving and influencing change.

 

I remember talking to a frustrated developer who questioned the Agile movement and all the new words particularly in Scrum and in our adoption of the Spotify model. Scrum, sprints, guilds….they were still doing the same job so what was different?

 

I had the same realization when I worked with the HR department. Lots of HR teams have re-branded as ‘people teams’ but again, what do the new words mean, why bother?

 

I’ve worked with supportive and knowledgeable people teams and i’ve worked with some unhelpful and process driven people teams. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the importance of words being supported by strong leadership and purpose.

“Strategy Without Execution Is Hallucination”

 

When a company introduces the spirit and values of agility in it’s people, processes and strategy or when it renames HR to the People team what we really are looking for is a change in behavior.

 

I once remember a conversation about the use of the word ‘resources’, one company CEO demanded the word be banished from all conversations, processes and internal communications. A strong statement that they cared about people and did not wish to dehumanize them with the phrase resources.

 

That got me thinking that words are used to change behavior, once the behavior is changed and the right habits are in place the words become less important. In some companies we can talk about people as resources because the behavior and culture is already at a healthy level.

 

The same can be said for Agile, some will say it’s just common sense, and I agree, but the words are there to remind us of what values and principles we are aiming for and to help influence a change in our behavior.

 

So remember, next time you are invited to a retrospective or Kaizen, these are not just silly names for project updates or briefings these are your opportunity to embrace and influence change, collaborate as a group and talk about how you feel about your purpose, the team and the wider business.

 

The people team should also remember that they are there to support the growth, development and success of people rather than just becoming admin and pointing people to pages on the intranet. Cultivating talent and leading by example, ensuring learning and development is a core value rather than just something available if people have time.

 

If you are crafting words then choose your words carefully and embrace the power of change, if you are someone questioning “yet another new internal communication with new words” really think about why these new words are being used, what is Agile, Kaizen and Scrum? better still go and ask whoever wrote it or said it, as they should know the change they are trying to influence and the behavior they want to see.

 

 

 

Making Product Owners redundant?

BigProductOwnerSmallProductOwner-1024x486

In my time as a Scrum Master and Coach it was always very clear to me that my objective was helps teams to improve, providing them with training, tools and techniques to make themselves more effective over time and eventually make myself redundant in the process. I’m about to move into a Product Management role and this got me thinking about the objectives for that role in an Agile team.

 

In some teams the Product Manager/Owner can be seen as the person who creates user stories and tells the teams in what order to attack the product backlog, however should a vested and well experienced development team be able to decide in what order to create the product and sprint backlogs if the Vision and Strategy for the product is clear? if customer research, competitor analysis and industry trends are gathered and shared? if the team is actively involved in focus groups and customer testing and interviews.

 

Product ownership for me can perhaps be abused, all decisions devolved to the single person in the team, it can also perhaps breed egos in some POs who now have an awful lot of autonomy.

 

I think that everyone in an agile team should consider attempting to make themselves a least a little bit more redundant. If we can train others, share knowledge, automate manual low value tasks then it means we can spend our time doing even more interesting things.

 

Once we become reliant on individuals we leave ourselves open to inefficiency and blockers, if the PO isn’t available or leaves the company could the team confidently soldier on delivering value towards a clear and inspiring vision?

 

As product managers it’s crucial that we motivate and inspire our teams to deliver amazing products solving customer problems. We need to ensure that our product and vision and strategy relate to the overall business vision and the measures of success are clear and that we communicate priorities, progress and risks clearly to our stakeholders.

 

So always question as a PO am I making a decision that anyone else in the team could make or am I just doing it because i’m the all powerful PO?

 

Live long and Agile.

Stay hungry, stay foolish…don’t settle

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today”

“Whenever the answer is no for too many days in a row I know I need to change something”

“Work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truely satisfied is to do what you believe is great work”

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do, if you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, don’t settle”

These are just a few great quotes from Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech. 

With those inspiring words in my head, today I took the brave, or perhaps foolish, decision to resign from my relatively new job.

I haven’t got another job lined up just yet and I’m not completely sure what my next challenge will be. All I do know is that I didn’t have the right challenge where I was or the chance to influence the change required to make a good business great.

I don’t want to be in a position where I’m taking a salary and not giving the most value back to that organisation or client. 

Where I cannot see how I contribute to the improved performance of the business.

I need the business to be aligned to my values and to be in a learning and continuous improvement culture. 

Surrounded by like minded peers who hold the agile and lean values dear.

I’ve learnt a lot over the last 4 months about my own personality and how this both supports how I work with others but more importantly the type of environment and challenge that will get the best out of me.
“The INTJ brain has two modes of operation: uninterested or utterly obsessed.” 
I don’t want to be uninterested. 

I’ve drawn up a prioritised backlog for future roles, always open to review and change though, in a very agile way:
Learning new things

Able to influence change

Working with like minded individuals

Able to receive mentoring

Able to create new and exciting products and experiences

Able to coach and mentor others

Able to collaborate with senior leadership

Central location

Fair renumeration

Clear career paths

Other considerations:

– is there agile/lean training?

– what’s the release cadence?

– is there a visible strategy?

– can I meet senior leadership?

– is how success is measured clear?

I’ve found it really useful to think about the things at work that are really important to me, the real intrinsic motivations that are often invisible or hard to specify.

 
I have leapt into the unknown, I now have 13 weeks to find a new role, although I’m much clearer on the type of challenge which will get the best out of me and in turn ensure I’m able to enthuse and inspire those around me.

If anyone wants a driven Agile Coach/Delivery Manager/Product Manager to help make a difference, embed a spirit of continuous improvement and a mindset of learning and experimenting to create amazing products and fun and fulfilling workplaces, I’m available.

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