Warning! These 6 Pitfalls Will Slow Down Your Organization


You have probably read about “at scale” implementations, activity based offices, globally distributed teams, SAFe, Agile transformations and outsourcing. Beware. Danger can be lurking beneath the surface of these popular phenomena.

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10 years of Agile @ Crisp. Next challenge: Global Warming!

10 years ago, 2007, me and a few Crisp colleagues embarked on a mission: be best in Sweden at helping companies become agile. We had experienced first-hand the power of agile development, and wanted to use this newfound super-power to help both Crisp and our clients improve. Others joined us and – tadaa!  – Agile Crisplet was born (and the concept of crisplets)! That was the year I taught my first Certified ScrumMaster course together with Jeff Sutherland, co-creator of Scrum. Since then we’ve co-trained almost 30 courses! About 2-3 times per year. In fact, May 22-23 is our 10 year anniversary (join us at the course in Stockholm!).

Now 10 years has passed since our Agile Crisplet was formed, and I’m happy to see we have achieved more than we ever could have dreamed!

Dispensing with false humility here, we’ve somehow managed to become one of the world leaders in this field! Famous agile and lean experts partner with us. Super well-known product companies, large telecoms and banks, even government organizations, turn to us as first choice for agile guidance and training. Our videos and articles and books have racked up millions of hits, and we are basically overwhelmed with requests to do coaching, write book forewords, do conference talks and workshops, and run training courses. I’ve done almost 30 keynotes in 20+ countries. I’m amazed (and overwhelmed) every time I look at my inbox, I’ve had to hire an assistant just to turn down the 95% of all requests that we simply don’t have capacity to handle.

OK, so now what?

10 years is a long time, and now it’s time for a new focus! At least for me (Crisp is a no-CEO company where people are free to do whatever they want).

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The Minimum Loveable Product

I recently attended a course (the excellent LeanUX course held by my colleague Martin Christensen) and again the topic of what a MVP is or is not came up in a discussion. In the Lean startup-world an MVP is defined as the smallest thing you can make to validate a hypothesis which helps you decide if you should continue developing something or if you should stop. For more information about this, I suggest you read Eric Ries’ blog post on the topic. However, in (very) many companies and organisations the term is used to describe the first version of a product released to the end customers. This “version one release MVP” usually contains as little functionality and features as is possible without making the end customers too upset, disappointed or unwilling to pay.

Another colleague of mine, Henrik Kniberg, wrote a quite thorough and lengthy blog post about MVPs a while back where he touched upon the point I’m about to make. While quite a few people see the different uses of the word MVP as problematic, I see it as a symptom of a need for a better word for describing at least one of its currently used meanings, i.e. the “version one release MVP”. Luckily enough a good friend and coworker gave me the answer to that need a few years ago: He called the first release of the hardware product we were working on at the time the “Minimum Loveable Product”.

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Team Shapes – Simulating the challenges with component teams

A common pitfall for large and medium size organizations who are adopting Agile is to organize teams based on software component boundaries instead of feature teams. Some of the aspects of long term code ownership are more straightforward this way, but the negative consequences in terms of business agility and costs of coordination are huge. A few years back I designed a simulation exercise that I call Team Shapes which illustrates some of the issues and now I would like to share this simulation with the community. read more »

Reactions to “No CEO” by the BBC


When the BBC published their “No CEO” piece where Crisp is featured with an article and a 4 minute video, there were a lot of reactions. Friends cheered on Facebook. Colleagues gave a thumbs up on LinkedIn. The article was featured on Hacker News and Slashdot. Here are our reflections on some of the comments we found.

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4+3+2+1 Team Success Factors

I’ve now published a new YouTube video where I present 4+3+2+1 Team Success Factors, a model that captures and describes what you can do to help make your team become strong and successful.

These 10 factors are split into four groups.
* The first group describes four dialogs we need to have as a team.
* Next we have three aspects of hard work.
* Then there are two dialogs I need to have with myself.
* The final one is about how we communicate with the organisation around us.

To download a printable version click here, or the image below.
4+3+2+1 Poster (v2)

And here is the actual video 🙂


What is Agile – easy to grasp material for the non-techie

I frequently get the question (often from people outside IT): “how can I quickly understand what Agile is?”.  I’ve collected a suite of links and videos over the years to help people grasp the basics concepts in 10 min or so. I thought I’d share them with you.

(pls note: the list is intended to give people a quick introduction, short and sweet. The intent is not to cover all aspects.)

Brief explanation of Agile (8 min video):


How a Product Owner works –  “PO in a nutshell” (12 min video)


Article highlighting cultural aspects – Experimenting, Awesome people, Deliver continuously, Safe to try


Behaviours displayed by agile teams – 12 seemingly normal things agile people do


Case: Agile at Scale with 200 people @ LEGO (50 min video).

– Pay attention to how engagement/responsiblity was created for both team and department deliveries, and how positive energy was nurtured.


I hope you find it useful. I expect this list to evolve over time, so don’t be surprised if new links pop up here in the future.

Cheers Mattias

Feature Verification Funnel

verificationfunneloverviewYou have a feature to implement, and there are several implementation solutions available. How do you choose the best one?

Start out with all your potential solutions for a feature idea. Next, filter based on how the solutions perform using a set of verification methods. Finally, implement the feature knowing that you’ve found the solution that meets your needs.

Verification Methods

The following are the verification methods I’ve experienced most often on the projects: read more »

How to set role expectations and working agreements

teamcultureConflicts in teams about how to work are common. There are expectations from team members on each other that aren’t being met. In a given team, members might be implicitly expected to perform a certain task. The team might have unspoken policies that seem to be common sense. Sometimes people pick up on these unspoken rules and implicit expectations, but when they don’t, you have a team in conflict. You can’t avoid all conflict (and a dose of healthy debate and discussion is good for teams), but you can help teams by explicitly defining the roles and working agreements. Instead of dealing with conflict after the fact, you start with discussion and agreement. The following workshop is the one I use with my teams and organizations.

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Mål: Lösa global uppvärmning

Igår möttes 9 av oss på Crisps kontor för att diskutera vad vi kan göra för klimatet.


För många av oss på Crisp ligger denna fråga nära hjärtat. Tyvärr är det som konsult inte alltid lätt att hitta passande uppdrag. Men klimatfrågan är planetens största utmaning, och många av oss vill inte längre sitta inaktiva.

Vi spånade tillsammans med Niclas Gross Martinsson och Erik Martinson (som Hans Brattberg och Henrik Kniberg redan samarbetar med) ihop ett antal idéer vi ska försöka jobba med:

  • Erbjuda vår unika kompetens till företag som jobbar med miljöfrågor, gratis eller till rabatterat pris
  • Hitta och hjälpa investerare att utvärdera och kickstarta miljöprojekt och startups
  • Utmana andra företag att minska miljöpåverkan
  • Informera om hur situationen ser ut, vad man som privatperson och företag kan göra
  • Blogga om lyckade och intressanta miljöprojekt
  • Hitta partners som kan stärka eller komplettera oss

Vi hoppas bli fler företag som vill jobba med detta, så vi kommer att öka kontaktytan och erbjuda vår kunskap. Vi är duktiga på:

  • Programmering – vi har erfarenhet inom nästan alla områden, från UX till kontinuerlig leverans
  • Agila metoder – hur man tar fram användbar mjukvara på snabbast möjliga sätt
  • Startups – vi 35 konsulter har tillsammans startat eller jobbat på över hundra startups

Kontakta oss gärna om du vill hjälpa till!

Design Studio – Collaborate towards a shared understanding

Design Studio is a design method that focus on a specific format for collaboration to create a shared understanding of the problem. This is done by, together as a team, coming up with a solid foundation for a design solving the problem.

Here’s the short version:

  • Illuminate – In the first step, the team gets a presentation of the problem and possible boundaries (such as a certain target group or a platform).
  • Sketch – The second step is all about creativity. Let everyone in the team sketch solutions to the problem within a timebox of about 5 minutes. It is important that the sketching is quick and dirty, since giving people time gets them stuck on unnecessary details.
  • Present – In the third step, each and everyone presents their design. A good timebox is one minute per person. When a person has presented, a critique sessions for that particular person’s design follows.
  • Critique – As a fourth step, an open discussion about the design is held. The critique is meant to churn out the key issues with the ideas previously presented and inspire the other members for the next sketching iteration. Try to answer the question: Does the design solve the problem? A good timebox is 2 minutes. The discussion will make everyone think deeper about both the problem and the solution. After the critique, listen to another team member’s presentation until everyone has been given the opportunity to present and discuss their designs.
  • Iterate – Run the last three steps at least 2-4 times. Iteration is the key to finding reliable solutions and getting a shared understanding of the problem.

The overall rule for Design Studio is to never dwell on details to get most value out of the least amount of time. After a Design Studio session, the UX designer, have plenty of material to work with to take the design towards implementation. Try it out in the course Agile UX or read on to find out the details.

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Global warming – simplified summary

OK, here’s a (very) simplified summary of what I’ve learned about global warming after digging deep the past few weeks.

  1. Global warming is a major threat to life as we know it. It’s ALOT worse than most people realize.
  2. Global warming is caused (mostly) by increasing CO2 in the atmosphere.
  3. The CO2 increase comes (mostly) from us burning oil & coal (“fossil fuels”). Adds about 20-30 billion tons of CO2 per year.
  4. So we need to (mostly) stop burning oil & coal.
  5. We burn oil & coal (mostly) for electricity and transport. Coal power plants, car/plane/ship fuel, etc.
  6. We want to keep electricity and transport, but we also want to stop global warming, therefore we need to get electricity and transport without burning oil & coal.
  7. We know how to do that (solar, wind, electric cars, etc). The technology has been figured out, and the prices are at the tipping point where oil & coal can’t compete economically.
  8. So now we just need to hurry up and roll out those solutions! Every single reduced ton of CO2 counts.
  9. Unfortunately shit is going to hit the fan either way (because it’s already launched so to speak), but at least we can slow it down, reduce the impact, and buy us some time.

So pull whatever strings you can to help out – technology, policy, economy, communication, etc. Inform yourselves & each other. People have varying degrees of discretionary time, money, knowledge, voting power, contacts, influence, and motivation. But the more people try to help in one way or another, the more difference it will make as a whole.

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Transforming the pyramid to an agile org

I recently published a video exploring how an agile team based organization could look like. How does it function under the hood? In the video I also discussed how you get there.

I got tons of great feedback so I decided to provide the contents of the video in the format of a blog. If you prefer to read instead of watching a 11-minute-long video, then this is for you 🙂


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Planning as a social event – scaling agile at LEGO

The past couple of years I’ve been travelling back and forth to LEGO’s HQ in Billund Denmark, helping out with their agile journey. Super interesting! Learned more than we could ever fit in an article, but here’s an attempt to capture at least some of it, written together with LEGO colleague and co-instigator Eik Thyrsted Brandsgård. Enjoy!

Planning as a social event – scaling agile @ LEGO

Agile @ Lego



Hur Karlstad sjukhus byggdes på tid och budget med Agila kontrakt


Karlstad sjukhus har i flera omgångar byggts om och byggt ut. Samtliga hus har levererats på tid, budget och med en fungerande vårdverksamhet från dag 1. Sjukhuset har sparat 300 miljoner åt Värmlands läns landsting. Lösningen? Effektstyrd upphandling med Agila kontrakt och Partnering. Vad skapade förutsättningarna för att lyckas? Vi intervjuade Lars Nilsson, som ledde upphandlingen av Karlstad sjukhus.

(How Karlstad hospital was built on time, on budget and with working medicare from day 1, using Agile contracts). Read the interview here (in swedish)


Did the math on my contribution to global warming

I was curious about how many tons of carbon dioxide that my family pumps into the atmosphere (= global warming). Looked at the most direct variables: flying, driving, and home electricity. There are obviously more variables to look at (like beef!), but I’m starting with these three, as the data is readily available and I gotta start somewhere.

Result (updated):

  • Flying = 14.6 tons per year
  • Driving = 4.1 tons per year
  • Electricity = 0.5 tons per year

So, 19 tons of CO2 per year. Damn! Sorry about that, earth and future generations. Good news is that I now know how to reduce it by ALOT (like 5 times less)!

CO2e emission before and after

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A/B testing at King


I gave a lightning talk at tonight’s Lean Tribe Gathering in Stockholm about A/B testing at King, how we develop games, features and decide which improvements to make. Here are my slides and notes from the presentation.

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How I wrote a book publicly online

I love visualization and I collect visualizations. Why? Well, I love drawing and have a very visual way of thinking. But more importantly, I’ve been amazed time and time again, how great an impact a valuable and useful visualization can have on a team’s ability to focus, collaborate, and adopt new behaviour.

This passion for post-its and whiteboards finally manifested itself in the form of a book; “Toolbox for the Agile Coach: Visualization Examples – How great teams visualize their work”. Not only am I proud and happy of the final result, I’m also very excited about the way it came about. This blog is about how I wrote a book, publicly and collaboratively online, with frequent increments and tight feedback loops.


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Agile Everywhere – slides from my keynote at Agile Tour, Montreal

Here are the slides from my keynote Agile Everywhere at Agile Tour Montreal. In the keynote I shared my experiences from applying agile in lots of different non-software contexts.

Enjoyed the trip! After the conference I spent a day at Ubisoft Quebec to discuss REALLY large-scale agile (like 1000-person video game projects). I see more and more companies applying agile at really large scale and my key takeaway is that, the larger the project is, the more important the agile principles are. For tiny projects any process can pretty much work. Also interesting to see how different types of organizations – such as video game development, banking, and aerospace – arrive at very similar patterns for how to deal with dozens or hundreds of agile teams building a product together. Just keep in mind that big projects are super-risky with or without agile, so your first priority should be to de-scale.

Anyway here are some sample pictures from the keynote.


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Video clip – The importance of team size and proximity

youtube_hansJimmy Janlén wanted to make a move star out of me, so he persuaded me to do a short video of an earlier blogpost.

So here it is, a 3 minute video clip!



P.S. If you want to read instead, you’ll find the written English version here, and the Swedish version here.

My journey of finding and applying Sociocracy 3.0 (S3).

During my ongoing search to find new and improved ways to grow more human centric, high performing workplaces I was introduced to Sociocracy and Holacracy in 2012. I was immediately intrigued by the underlying principles and fundaments, especially with sociocracy and have been experimenting ever since. With the recent emergence of Sociocracy 3.0 I’ve turned my attention towards learning about and experimenting with it’s modular, optional framework of principles based patterns, with fantastic results.
S3 is a free and open, principles based framework of patterns for people wishing to collaborate more effectively and benefit from agile principles at scale, regardless of their chosen approach to product development and service delivery. It provides a rich variety of compatible options to choose from and adapt, according to unique context and needs, building on sociocratic practices and integrating principles from Agile / Lean to dynamically steer and evolve organization.


Discovering S3 workshop

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Scrum med flera team


Att organisera flera Scrum team görs på en hel del olika sätt. Här beskriver vi likheter och skillnader mellan några av de ramverk som vi har stött på hos våra kunder och utbildare, LeSS, SAFe och Scrum@Scale.

Gemensamt för LeSS, SAFe och Scrum@Scale

I alla tre ramverken utgår man från att man i botten har vanliga Scrum-team som är tvärfunktionella och självorganiserande.

Man utgår också från att vi alltid försöker bryta ner kraven vertikalt, så att varje inkrement blir så litet som möjligt men ändå kan driftsättas separat.

Underförstått är även att man kör kontinuerlig integration och automatiserad regressionstestning, och  att man efter varje sprint har en produkt som går att driftsätta ifall man så väljer.

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Developer Testing: Book Release Party

Developer Testing PartyLast Friday, we had a release party for my book, Developer Testing: Building Quality into Software, here at Crisp. Thanks everyone for coming! Apart from signing books, I did a short presentation and made some announcements. 

I started by talking about the process of writing the book (It’s available on Amazon, Adbris, and Bokus.) It took four years, but I did have some bumps along the road, like two kids :). For those of you who haven’t heard the story, here it goes: Large parts of the concept of developer testing were born during my time at the Swedish Postcode Lottery, where we were a brand new Scrum team working in a regulated industry. Since we had no testers on the team, and probably even more important, no traditions and rituals to adhere to, we self organised into automating all checking: at unit, integration, and end-to-end level to such a degree that we were confident about releasing, pretty much always.

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Scientific method applied to performance improvements

build-measure-learn-loop In my team, we are working on improving real-time performance for our main service. The goal is to have response times below 100 ms in the 95th percentile and below 200 ms in the 99th percentile for certain database volumes and request frequencies.

We don’t know what will be needed to reach this goal. We have some ideas, but we don’t know which one, or which ones will do the trick. We call these ideas “experiments”.

We can estimate each experiment, but we don’t know how many we will need to do to reach the goal.

This is the story of how we apply the scientific method to working with performance improvements.

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Programmer productivity: SP < PR < PP < MP

In my experience, when it comes to programming productivity, mob programming beats the rest. Of course the definition of productivity in this context is debatable and these are just my observations. Thus, it is not a proper scientific study but bear with me anyway.

I wish to compare one aspect of productivity, how we work together. I look at single programming, pull requests, pair programming and mob programming.

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Focus – my keynote at AgileByExample, Warsaw

Here is my slide (yes, it’s just one slide) from my keynote at AgileByExample in Warsaw. And a video of the talk. Scroll down for a written summary.


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How to append to lists in Ansible

Since I have found the Ansible documentation to be lacking, and StackOverflow insufficient in this matter, I feel the need to share how you can append to a list using Ansible.

I’ve created a demonstration playbook and published it on GitHub. See: https://github.com/betrcode/ansible-append-list

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Bimodal IT is not the goal

In 2014 Gartner introduced bimodal IT. Since then quite a lot has been written and said about it. And just recently it popped up at two different clients almost simultaneously. After reading articles, watching webinars and listening to what people say about it, I’m a bit worried that organizations think Bimodal IT is the goal. I don’t think so, and I’ll explain why.
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Stephen Bungay on Agile Strategy


Last month, we had the pleasure of bringing Stephen Bungay to Crisp in Stockholm to share with us his wisdom and insights on how to use Strategy under uncertain conditions.

I find this topic interesting, since the interative nature of Agile can trick management into believing either that they do not need to have a direction, or that a few abstract statements would serve the purpose.

In my mind, nothing can be further from the truth. In a dynamic, fast paced environment, more attention needs to be focused on finding, communicating and revising your direction. The question then becomes, “How can we do a good job of it?” Stephen has studied how leaders do this (from the military to Formula 1) and has translated the strategies to fast-paced business environments. Interestingly, he notes, “Strategy is not a science. It’s a practice, which each generation needs to rediscover.” I think we would do well to do the same within Agile environments.

Apart from Stephen’s “Art of Action” class, which was highly recommended, we also hosted an open evening on the topic “Keeping Direction” which combined the practical experiences from LEGO with Stephen Bungay’s insights. The slides for the talks are available in PDF from the links below:

Also check out Sami’s excellent podcast with Stephen at http://www.bosslevelpodcast.com/stephen-bungay-and-strategy-under-uncertainty)







Value: The Lynchpin in Agile Product Management

You’d think the topic of value would be straightforward when it comes to agile product management and ownership. After all, early and continuous delivery of value is the first principle in the Agile Manifesto and product backlogs need to refined based on value.

And yet, value is not easily defined, qualified, quantified, or agreed upon.

With many smart, experienced folks together at the Agile Product Open last month, I decided it would be informative to propose the topic “Value: The Whats, Whys, and Hows” in the marketplace of ideas.

To start the conversation, I offered my favorite definition, borrowed from the Value Standard: fair return or equivalent, in goods, services, or money, for something exchanged. From there, our conversation grew richer and deeper.

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