The value of focus training

Strangely, in most companies people are considered perfectly healthy until they suddenly burn out. While in reality, it seems that a large number of people are somewhere between those two states, and could use some help to get more focused and less stressed.

We had a guy, Mattis Erngren, visit us at Crisp and do a session on focus training and meditation. Very pragmatic, interesting, and useful session. Highly recommended. Mattis and his company Lightly are on a mission to make focus training a standard offering at all companies, just like other health benifits like gym and such things. The brain is a muscle and it needs training too, to stay in shape.

So go ahead and contact the guys at http://lightly.io and bring them over. They offer free trial sessions so it’s really a no-brainer.

Incidentally, Jeff Sutherland was at the session at Crisp, and revealed that he used to be an avid meditator, and that Scrum was actually conceived during a meditation session. As in, the idea behind Scrum popped into his head right after a session. Interesting! When you clear your mind from all the noise, you make room for the really powerful stuff.

How do you know that your product works? Slides from my LKCE14 keynote.

Here are the slides for my keynote How do you know that your product works at Lean Kanban Central Europe, Hamburg.

I travelled with Emma (6 yrs), she’s been wanting to travel with me (alone, without her 3 siblings…) for a long time, so she’s really happy! Thanks Mary & Tom Poppendieck for being her bonus grandparents during the whole trip :)

Some sample slides & pics below.

LKCE14

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Agil HR på IDG

10 oktober anordnade IDG Rekrytering & Ledarskap ett frukostseminarie om Agil HR för dryga 100 HR- och IT-chefer. Jag var inbjuden för att prata om ämnet och min nya bok Riv pyramiderna igen. Vi hade också en kortare paneldebatt om ämnet med bland andra Matti Klasson från King och Gabriella Ekström på SVT (som bloggat om det här). Efteråt intervjudade IDG:s Hillevi Billinger mig om vad agilt är, vad agil hr är och hur man kan komma igång med det. Här hittar du hela intervjun:

Scrum saves lives

I was deeply moved by this letter. I’ve seen how Scrum and similar pull-based approaches not only improve productivity, but reduce stress and improve quality of life for people, and this is a powerful example. I asked the sender if I may share it with the world, and thankfully he agreed. Here it is:

Recently I picked up a version of your free online edition of “Scrum and XP from the Trenches, How we do Scrum” and I have to say it changed my personal and professional life.

I have been and software developer on interactive voice response systems for close to 20 years now.

A few months ago I was speaking with a colleague and mentor of mine about his efforts to become a certified Scrum master.  Up until this point I had never really been exposed to Agile and Scrum in detail and only knew some of the jargon.   My colleague suggested that I research and learn more about the Agile philosophy and in particular Scrum.  Since I have been suffering from a poor work life balance almost my whole career I decided to pay it some attention.

I read your paper on a Saturday night and decided that Sunday that I would implement Scrum start on Monday morning.  So I quickly pulled together a spread sheet with what I had that night and formalized the excel sheet that was our product backlog. That Monday I held my normal morning meeting with my development team and the rest is history.

The short of it is that my team is finishing up its 3rd sprint next week and we all love it.  A lot of the stress that was keeping me up at night has completely gone away.  I feel in complete control when I come to the end of my work day.  In the past two months I have even hung out with my family on Saturdays and Sundays.  I have begun to add more of a balance back to my life.

I really wanted to thank you for writing this paper and putting it out in the world for free.  The tips that your paper offered have literally saved my marriage and probably my life.

Thank you again for you effort.

 

 

10 talks in 2 weeks! Here are the slides.

Wow, it’s been a crazy period. Sydney, Trondheim, Oslo, 10 talks in 2 weeks! Didn’t really plan to do that much, but one thing led to another. Fun, but exhausting!

Henrik keynote @ TDC

  • 4 internal talks at several large banks in Sydney
  • Keynote at Scrum Australia, Sydney. Topic: “Scaling agile @ Spotify” (slides)
  • Keynote at Trondheim Developer Conference. Topic: “Succeeding with Lean software development” (slides).
  • Talk at NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Trondheim. Topic: “How do you know that your product works” (slides)
  • Keynote at Smidig 2014, Oslo. Topic: “Scaling agile @ Spotify” (slides) (video)
  • Lightning talk at Executive Workshop at Smidig 2014, Oslo. Topic: “Change” (slides).
  • Talk at Sintef, Oslo. Topic: “Lean from the Trenches” (slides).

Here’s a high-quality video recording of the Smidig 2014 keynote (on Spotify engineering culture). The conference organizers say it’s the highest-rated talk they’ve ever had! Cool :o)

review

Here’s a shorter version with much the same content, in the form of a two-part animated video series, for the impatient.

YANIA – You Ain’t Needing It Anymore

In the agile community we use the acronym YAGNI to remind ourselves to stay away from building (however cool) stuff that no-one is asking for.

If used wisely, the YAGNI veto will help teams maintain velocity over time and let them focus on delivering true business value early and often.

Now when we start adopting Lean Startup principles, it’s time to learn a new acronym: YANIA!

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Example of Product Discovery and Delivery Process with one team

discovery-adn-delivery-process-w-one-team-small

Here you find the “Product Discovery and Delivery process with one team” as a PDF poster if you like to download it >

Ever since I saw Henrik Knibergs movie “PO in a nutshell” about how the PO role work for the first time I have been thinking about how he could have included the discovery process in the picture too. A while ago I created this as an example of how it could look and work for a X-functional team.

All ideas could be good ideas

The process starts with some kind of idea that could come from any stake holder – even from anyone in the team (this is usually a very rare occasion in most companies). The idea is verified in a concept (see example of a concept in my blog post on discovery framework) by the owner of the idea and the Product Owner decides if it worth starting the discovery process to figure out what it is they are supposed to build – or if it is not, based on the information in the concept.
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Agilt ledarskap

brain
Jerry Weinberg säger att “ledarskap är varje handling som hjälper en grupp framåt”.  Det är trevlig definition tycker jag.  Med den definitionen kan vi alla utöva ledarskap i vår vardag.  Men vad definierar en ledare? Om vi nu inte bara avser du eller jag eller vem som helst som försöker hjälpa en grupp framåt genom konstruktiva handlingar som leder till samsyn och framsteg?  Och hur skall man agera om man vill vara en agil ledare?

Concept Cubes

Cubes Crisp blog pic

A while ago I was asked to help out create a checklist for a team, a checklist that could tell something about whether or not a user story was “good enough”. I opened PowerPoint and starting to ponder over how I could help. I immediately realized that a presentation would be boring, shown once and then forgotten, and not invite to curiosity. I put my laptop away and created a cube instead.

A couple of days later I showed it to a friend and colleague (Viktor Sessan, Agile Coach at Spotify), who were also very intrigued by the concept, and we started to talk about how to take this further.

This is the result :-) We believe that if you let an idea loose, and it is a good idea, great things will happen.

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The Agile Meetings Cube

Agile facilitators, be aware, now you are about to be replaced – by a cube. Just kidding. But have you ever felt that your meetings are not on track? Or that you have a hard time doing the elevator pitch for that backlog grooming meeting you would like your team to have? Or do you meeting often ends in thin air? Comes your rescue: The Agile Meeting Cube.

Agile Meetings Cibe

Agile Meetings Cube

The Agile Meeting Cubes gives you purpose, expected outcome and a suggested checklist and possible tools to use for six classical Agile or Scrum Meetings:

  • Release Planning
  • Backlog grooming
  • Sprint Planning
  • Daily Standup
  • Sprint Review
  • Sprint Retrospective

Download it from conceptcubes.com and do the following:
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Internutbildning hos Lantmännen i Konverteringsoptimering och Digital Design

konverteringsoptimerin och hypoteser på lantmännen

I september höll jag en endagskurs hos Lantmännen i Konverteringsoptimering & Digital Design, som även inkluderade user research, användbarhet och effektstyrning och agil metodik. Den här dagen var starten på en serie utbildningar för Lantmännens centrala IT och marknad samt alla webbansvariga för respektive varumärke.

Tanken på en gemensam grundutbildning föddes i våras av Anette Lovas som är centralt ansvarig för alla Lantmännens 35 EPI-webbar.

I min roll som centralt IT ansvarig för alla EPI-webbar såg jag en möjlighet att bidra med en gemensam kompetensplattform i modern utfallsdriven webbutveckling för att ge alla möjlighet att inte bara förvalta respektive webb, utan också förbättra löpande på ett effektivt sätt. Vi behövde lära oss att använda rätt data som beslutsunderlag för att skapa användarnytta och driva affärsvärde även online. Mia var given som kurshållare för den första delen av utbildningarna med sin erfarenhet inom konverteringsoptimering och effektstyrning samt att hon de senaste åren har hållit många liknande utbildningar på Crisp.

Webbansvariga i våran organisation arbetar väldigt mycket ensamt ute i organisationen och har få gemensamma kontaktytor. Utbildning är också ett sätt att mötas och diskutera hur vi på Lantmännen ska arbeta med våran onlinenärvaro, hitta synergier och utnyttja varandras olika kompetenser. ”

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Agila kontrakt – slides från Devlin 2014 (swe)

Här är mina slides om Agila kontrakt från Devlin 2014.

Jag hoppas det skall inspirera fler företag och myndigheter att börja använda sig av dem, då de medför väsentligt lägre risk än traditionella kontrakt.
(Använder du Agila kontrakt idag – tveka inte att höra av dig!)

Vi har i Sverige dåliga practicies för upphandlingar och har redan halkat efter våra grannländer. Det gör att vi tappar nödvändig konkurrenskraft som vi verkligen behöver för att fortsätta utvecklas i global värld.

agila-kontrakt-slides2

Slutligen vill jag påpeka vikten av att inte bara se till kontraktet utan att ha koll på två andra processer:

  • Hur veta jag var jag skall beställa?
  • Hur utvärderar och väljer jag leverantör

Detta går jag och Mia Kolmodin som framgångsrikt hjälpt flera företag med beställning igenom på vår kurs “Certifierad Agil Beställare (9-10 Mars)”, ett initiativ för att öka kundmognaden vid beställning och upphandling, både för privat och offentlig sektor.

Väl mött – här är slides från presentationen

What is Scrum? (slides from my talk at KTH)

Here are the slides for my talk “What is Scrum?” at KTH (Royal Institute of Technology). It was a guest talk at a course called Projektstyrning. Hoping to inspire young entrepreneurs to plant agile DNA in their companies from the very beginning. Last time I spoke at KTH was 6.5 years ago, that’s when I met the first Spotify team, and I’m really happy to have been able to influence and participate in their journey!

Here are some sample slides from the talk:

What is Scrum? Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 08.20.00 Don't go overboard with agile

Facilitating the Elephant Carpaccio Exercise

One of the best exercises I know of on how to learn and practice User Story slicing techniques is the so called Elephant Carpaccio exercise. At Spotify it is something of a staple as it it is (often) used when introducing new employees (now a days).

The exercise is about creating a quoting application which includes different markets, tax and discounts. If you have not done this before your initial slices will probably be pretty large. The aha moment is when you realize how SMALL you can actually make them. You can can dry run this exercise by only creating and discussing the backlog. It’s also very friendly to actually do it for real by programing the application; even excel can be used to do that.

Henrik Kniberg has written an excellent guide on how to facilitate this exercise. Here’s my slides based on that presentation to make it a little bit easier to remember and run it in a classroom.

Getting High on Your Own Supply

shared-knowledge

Back in undergraduate school I had an artsy roommate who quickly dropped any intention of attending classes. Soon thereafter he picked up a line cook job at the local diner and took on a nocturnal lifestyle. That lifestyle led to a whole new set of friends who quickly helped him develop a recreational drug habit. To support his new found hobby, my roommate began dealing to his new found comrades and their acquaintances. The temptation of having all of that product around him turned out to be too much though and, soon enough, he was consuming more than he was selling leaving him increasingly in debt to his suppliers. This culminated in a day I’ll never forget. I had to take him to the pawn shop so he could trade his car (his last possession) for cash to get out of that debt. We rode home on the back of my motorcycle (which became our only means of transportation for the duration of our cohabitation). read more »

WIP and Priorities – how to get fast and focused!

Many common organizational problems can be traced down to management of Priorities and WIP (work in progress). Doing this well at all levels in an organization can make a huge difference! I’ve experimented quite a lot with this, here are some practical guidelines:

WIP = Work In Progress = stuff that we have started and not yet finished, stuff that takes up our bandwidth, blocks up resources, etc.. Even things that are blocked or waiting are WIP.

“As a, I want, So that” Considered Harmful

If you are working on an agile project, it is almost certain that you are using Stories to describe your backlog of work. It is another near-certainty that if you are using Stories, you write them down using this format:

As a <user or stakeholder type>
I want <some software feature>
So that <some business value>”

As someone who cares about the state of agile practice, I want to offer some alternatives, so that agile teams remember that the point of the story is in the telling, not the template. The shared understanding comes from the conversation, not the card. By offering you different ways to ‘tell’ the story in its short written form, I hope you will be able to re-ignite a greater level of meaning, interest and engagement in your team’s discussions about the work they are doing to build great software that matters to people.

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Spotify Engineering Culture (part 2)

Here’s part 2 of the short animated video describing Spotify’s engineering culture (also posted on Spotify’s blog). Check out part 1 first if you haven’t already seen it!

This is a journey in progress, not a journey completed, so the video is somewhere between “How Things Are Today” and “How We Want Things To Be”.

Here’s the whole drawing:
Spotify-Engineering-Culture-Part2

(Tools used: Art Rage, Wacom Intuos 5 drawing tablet, and ScreenFlow)

Let the User Story Flow

One of my biggest surprises when I first met the squads I where going to work with at Spotify was that none of them were using User Stories. At first I observed to see their alternative. Unfortunately there was none. Instead most of the work got done as big chunks of work (what I would tend to call Epics) that was sliced into a todo-list of tasks (named that way by the developers) and also divided according different platforms.

Squad focus on technical tasks

A typical board contained one or more business cases and lanes for each developer/platform with tasks that were executed upon. These big “busses” where on the board blocking other works for weeks, which of course meant there needed to exist one or more emergency lanes for all expedite work (in the long run, most work).

This is a setup that does not foster collaboration, focus on value and art-of-the-possible. From an agile fluence point of view I would say it is a way of working that does not even reach fluence level 1 (Christian and I will describe agile fluence in more depth in a follow up blog post). From my experience focusing on User Stories is a great way of fostering the above values, and reach fluence level 1.

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Video – product development without the product owner

Crisp’s Youtube channel has made a new release – introducing Concepts.

Concepts is used to let passionate people run with ideas, a different approach than that of traditional product ownership. If you do use in conjunction with a product owner, it allows that person to spend more time on the field with customers.

Ps: The mastermind behind the illustrations -> Jimmy Janlén!

More on concepts: crisp.se/concepts

Try out concepts at The Product Owner Survival Camp, 3-4 Nov

Cheers

/Mattias

Squad Health Check model – visualizing what to improve

Squad Health Check model

(Download the cards & instructions as PDF or PPTX)

At Spotify we’ve been experimenting a lot with various ways of visualizing the “health” of a squad, in order to help them improve and find systemic patterns across a tribe. Since a lot of people have been asking me about this, I wrote up an article about it together with coach-colleague Kristian Lindwall.

Read it on the Spotify labs blog: Squad Health Check model – visualizing what to improve.

Agile @ Scale (slides from Sony Mobile tech talk)

Here are the slides from my tech talk Agile @ Scale at Sony Mobile. Full house & very high level of engagement, I was impressed by this crowd! And thanks for the awesome recommendation on LinkedIn :)

 

Some sample pics below:

Visualize and limit WIP

Visual planning

Productivity and motivation

 

Tradeoffs

Vad du inte visste om LOU – Lagen om offentlig upphandling

(this post will be in Swedish since it is a response to Swedish legislation describing how to sell and buy software. If you still are interested, Google Translate is your best friend :)

LOU – Lagen om offentlig upphandling är fröet till många katastrofer för statliga och kommunala mjukvaruprojekt. Tänkt som ett verktyg för att hushålla väl med statliga medel, genom att konkurrensutsätta erbjudanden bidrar LOU tyvärr till att skapa dåliga förutsättningar för att lyckas med mjukvara.

Det knasiga med LOU är de felaktiga incitamenten: Om vi antar att de funktioner som är användbara är relativt okända i ett tidigt stadium av projektet så är default practice vid användandet av LOU att funktionerna skall specas i början och sedan skall billigast leverantör väljas. Det vanligaste sättet att jämföra leverantörer är att skapa en lång lista av den sammanlagda funktionaliten i deras produkter och sedan låta dem bjuda på minsta kostnad. Inte oväntat kommer vinnande leverantör efter kontraktet’s inskrivande att snabbt flytta på senior kompetens ur projektet till fördel för junior och vips befinner både kunden och leverantören i en långsam dödsdans där kundens användare blir förlorarna.

LOU innehåller dock ett antal möjligheter som du som upphandlare kan nyttja smart.

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Why is it so difficult to bring Agile and Lean to the organisational level?

Are you also sensing something is wrong with today´s organisations? If you have been working with Agile or Lean for a while you typically notice that the early wins and benefits on a smaller scale will very soon hit it´s limits. Maybe you have been struggling with getting expected results from your Agile and Lean transformation initiative. Or you feel it is going painfully slow. In this blog I am going to put some light on what is wrong and what to do about it. My intention for you is to better understand the friction we are sensing in today’s organisations and what is getting in the way from creating truly Agile Organisations.

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Product Discovery process framework and tools

Product Discovery defines what should be built – and why. Collaboration Is Key. Your success with agile development depends on delivering the right product requirements at the right time.

During the past few years when I have been working as Lead UX or Product Owner I have come to a core process of how to do the discovery. At my latest gig on Viaplay as Chief Product Owner I had great use of some of these methods and also found it to be a great tool to have it visualised for all Product Owners in a one pager.

Within this process I see lots of different methods that may be used.As I use it I pick different methods in each level depending on organisation, product or project. Sometimes not all steps are neccesary off course. When working methodically for some time you start getting a feel for what seems like a good ide or not.

In this post I’m presenting a framework of the process as well as the methods in short formats. I will try to post more in dept posts on some of the methods going forward. Please let me know what methods you would like to know more about :) Hope you find it useful in your daily work.

Download the one pager for Product Process and Tools here >

Note: Due to some lazyness there are some Swedish material in this article also – sorry for that!

1. Strategy

Why are we doing this? What is the goal & desired impact? 

1.1 Concept
Concepts enables people passionate about a product idea, regardless of role, to realise it all the way to happy client. Concepts is a one page specification, in A3 format that represents a product idea of feature. It is enough to enable a prepared conversation with engineers developing the product. Think of it as a “flexible minimum specification”.  Mattias Skarins blog post on this http://www.crisp.se/concepts

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 11.08.12

Here you can download the Concept template I have created from Mattias Skarins examples > read more »

Hello managers, coaches, and other change agents

Here’s the thing. Suppose you introduce a change X to your workplace, and then business improves noticably. That doesn’t mean X caused the business to improve. Well, MAYBE it did. Or perhaps business improved for other reasons, and X was actually detrimental, and business would have improved even more without it. So did things work out well because of the great X, or despite the lousy X? You’ll never know, unless you could rewind the clock and play out the same scenario without X. Correlation doesn’t imply causation.

So people like me who work with organizational change, we are in the business of pseudo-science. We get customer feedback and anecdotal evidence, but we can’t actually prove that we are doing any good, it’s just opinions and observations and guesswork. I think that’s fine, but let’s be honest about it :)

Lean Canvas – an hypotheses board

As so many others I’m inspired by the book Lean Startup. The idea of experimenting with your business model and deliver just the bare stuff needed to validate (or actually try to refute) your business hypothesis is so enticing. But how do you do that when you are one of 50 or 100 teams? How do you do that when the teams are not even using User Stories? How do you do that when daily work is done on a Kanban board only showing tasks?
Lean Canvas

One part of a possible solution is to find a way of visualizing the business case. A popular approach has become setting up a business board, often called a Lean Canvas. I wanted to try something like that. But going trough all the different variants I could find, no one was good enough in itself. I wanted to get the same feeling as with User Stories: a simple formula that everyone can understand and use as soon as the formula is presented.

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My Spotify tools

Last week i quit my assignment at Spotify. I was there to help and act as a stand-in for Joakim Sundén while he was on paternity leave. He’s now back in the saddle as Agile Coach in the More Than Music Tribe.  I had the pleasure to work closely with the Agile Coach Christian Vikström on Spotify and together we have been coaching the Browse, Growth and Customer Support squads. A was also a member of the tribe management team, and together we did some new interesting stuff.
Facilitating from the Back of the Room
It’s has been fascinating and fantastic to work with such dedicated people and a product that has such a traction. Spotify is also really trying to build an awesome and agile organization and culture that can win and sustain in the long run. What is there to do at such a fantastic company? That’s a reasonable question. A lot I discovered. Spotify is shock full of super smart people, but many of them has not worked there for long, many of them has not worked long at all, teams have been newly formed and are under constant change. Simply put: even Spotify needs a lot of basic agile coaching.

When I now look back at what we did during these last 8 month I see a lot of tools and experiences that I think others also can find useful. During the next couple of month I will share them through this blog. Hope you will find them useful. Here’s the planned list:

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About the Developer Profession #1: How Many Decisions Do You Make in Real Time?

In this series of articles, I’ll be discussing the developer profession from different angles. The common denominator is that all articles will, in one way or another, be about professionalism. This first article is about the different factors and decisions behind every single line of code.

Notes snd Equations

A while ago I spoke to a friend who is pretty much a professional singer. He explained singing to me in a very passionate way, saying that singing is like solving multiple parallel equations in real time. He told me that it’s quite obvious that every singer has to follow notes. What’s less obvious is that the singer also takes a multitude of micro decisions during every second of his/hers singing. He told me about tempo, intensity, interpretation of the composer, matching the expectations of the audience, synchronization with other singers, following the Kapellmeister, and a bunch of other factors. I was quite impressed.

A second later it struck me that this goes for programming as well, and I started to list all the equations a developer must solve while writing a single line of code. Here it is!

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Facilitating from the Back of the Room at Spotify

Last week Jimmy Janlén and I held a shortened version of our course Training from the Back of the Room for our former colleagues at Spotify. Actually it is not “our” course, but Sharon Bowmans. It’s based on her books about how create a more engaging learning experience in the class room, especially when training adults.

“I really liked the whole setup of this course – a really well organised and inspiring day. Wow :-)”

Jimmy and I are certified trainers of this course. We use the techniques when we do training. But we have also experienced how useful they are in other coaching and facilitation situations, such as workshops and retrospectives. Almost any meeting can be made more engaging and with longer lasting result with the set of tools TBR provides.

We have chosen to call the shortened training Facilitating from the Back of the Room, since that is what we agile coaches do most. 16 persons from the Spotify Agile Guild showed up this beautiful day in a corner room on the 17:th floor in High Tech building with amazing views over Stockholm city. We have to admit we were a little nervous at first. Would this actually make sense to coaches? It did.

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