Tag Archives: agile

Transforming the pyramid to an agile org

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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 🙂

AgileOrg

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Planning as a social event – scaling agile at LEGO

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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

 

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

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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.

takeaways

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Alignment at Scale – slides from my Agile Africa keynote

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Here are the slides from my Agile Africa keynote Alignment at Scale (or How to Not become Totally Unagile when you have Lots of Teams). Thanks for a great conference!

And thanks everyone for the Emma greeting, that sure made an 8 year girl very happy 🙂

(Emma was supposed to join me on this trip, but couldn’t make it because I had missed some required paperwork for travelling with minors to South Africa).

Agile Alignment at Scale

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Spotify Rhythm – how we get aligned (slides from my talk at Agile Sverige)

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Here are the slides from my talk about Spotify Rhythm at Agila Sverige.

The talk is about Spotify’s current approach to getting aligned as a company. It covers:

  • what problem we’re trying to solve, and how we’ve gone through two other models (OKR and Priorities & Achievements) before arriving at our current model
  • how we define “Bets” using the DIBB framework (Data-Insight-Belief-Bet)
  • how we prioritize bets using stack-ranking based on company beliefs and north star goals
  • how we visualize bets on a kanban-like company level board, and group them into Now – Next – Later columns
  • how different parts of the company visualize their own bets and align with higher level bets, using interlinked bet boards.
  • how we synchronize and prioritize our work using different cadences at different levels of the company.
  • how this model is used to support squad autonomy
  • our challenges and learnings with this so far

Holy crap how did I manage to cover all that in 10 minutes?! Guess I talked fast 🙂

Some sample slides below.

RIP OKR

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Growing up with Agile – Minimum Viable Bureaucracy at Spotify

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The Spotify ‘model’ was presented in 2012 and has stired a lot of interest in the agile community and the software industry in general. In May I was asked to talk about this a the Bay Area Agile Leadership Network meetup in San Francisco (where I at that time was working as an agile coach at the Spotify office): Since 2012 Spotify has continued to grow hectically. How has agile evolved at Spotify since then? Going back in time, and following the latest structural changes makes it clear that the model was never the primary mover: instead a number of core principles and ambitions has worked as constraints on how to grow the most suitable organization for the task, with small enough structure to help but not be in the way: you could call it Minimum Viable Bureaucracy.

Here’s the slides:

I also spoke about the same subject in April, at Agila Örebro, where there is a video recording of the talk (in Swedish).

Agile @ Lego – our slides from Passion for Projects

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UPDATE Dec 2016: Wrote an article about LEGO’s agile journey, see here. Includes all of the material below, plus explanations and updates.

Here are the slides for our talk Agile @ Lego at Passion for Projects in Uppsala. Enjoyed discussing this stuff with project managers and the like from all sorts of industries. A common theme from the conference was the power of self-organization, and the role of leadership in creating the right context for self-organization to happen. Our talk provided a real-life large scale example of this.

2016-03-15 Agile @ Lego Henrik Kniberg Eik Thyrsted Brandsgård

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Making sense of MVP (Minimum Viable Product) – and why I prefer Earliest Testable/Usable/Lovable

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(French translation)

A couple of years ago I drew this picture and started using it in various presentations about agile and lean development:

Since then the drawing has gone viral! Shows up all over the place, in articles and presentations, even in a book (Jeff Patton’s “User Story Mapping”  – an excellent read by the way). Many tell me the drawing really captures the essence of iterative & incremental development, lean startup, MVP (minimum viable product), and what not. However, some misinterpret it, which is quite natural when you take a picture out of it’s original context. Some criticize it for oversimplifying things, which is true. The picture is a metaphor. It is not about actual car development, it is about product development in general, using a car as a metaphor.

Anyway, with all this buzz, I figured it’s time to explain the thinking behind it.

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Fluent@agile – visualizing your way of working

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Help your team improve by visualizing their way working with the fluent@agile game. With the game you can help a team find out where it is on its agile journey and help it find new ways of both fine tuning and make leaps in their daily agile practices.

Fluent@agile board

A teams fluent@agile board.

Me and Christian Vikström made the game together at Spotify during the spring 2014 when we were coaching and helping team to improve their agile skill sets and processes.

At Spotify the teams owns their own way of working. A team is basically only accountable to itself. We therefore needed an coaching tool that could help team take ownership of their self image and improvement strategy.

We also wanted the tool to be opinionated. It should be normative, tell what’s good and not, what kind of practices and behaviour that’s expected and not. But at the same time it should be open to new ideas, new practices and the teams local conditions.

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Scaling Agile (but not in the way you think…)

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For more than a year now, I’ve been working with clients that have agile scaling problems. But not the kind of scaling problem everybody is talking about – one product and lots of teams. No, I’ve been busy trying to sort out what to do when you have one team supporting a multitude of products with different architectures, stakeholders, technology stacks and whatnot. This is what I’ve learnt, so far.

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The Pirate Ship – Growing a great crew: a workshop facilitation guide

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The Pirate Ship is a workshop format that will help you grow amazing teams. It is “speed boat” on steroids. I have now been using it for a couple of years, and the time have come to share this useful and productive format.

I do a lot of workshops with teams. Very often the workshops are about the teams themselves. It can be anything from getting a newly started team up and running to helping a mature and stable team find new inspiration and challenges.

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Real-life Agile Scaling – slides from keynote @ Agile Tour Bangkok

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Here are the slides from my keynote “Real-life agile scaling” at Agile Tour Bangkok. Enjoyed hanging out with everyone!

Key points:

  • Scaling hurts. Keep things as small as possible.
  • Agile is a means, not a goal. Don’t go Agile Jihad. Don’t dump old practices that work.
  • There is no “right” or “wrong” way. Just tradeoffs.
  • There is no one-size-fits-all. But plenty of good practices.
  • Build feedback loops at all levels. Gives you better products and a self-improving organization.

Here is an InfoQ article with a nice summary of the keynote.

Sample slides:

Henrik Kniberg
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What is an Agile Leader?

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Agile product development has become the norm in many industries (especially software). That means products are developed by small, self-organizing, cross-functional teams, and delivered in small increments and continuously improved based on real customer feedback. Pretty much as described in the Agile Manifesto – but replace the word “software” with “product” (because it really isn’t software-specific).

That’s all fine and dandy. However when things get bigger, with dozens of teams collaborating over organizational boundaries, things obviously get more complex and painful. Even if the entire organization is neatly organized into scrum teams, you can still end up with an unaligned mess! Here’s a picture that might feel familiar:

Misaligned teams

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What is an Agile Project Leader?

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I wrote this article because of two observations:

  1. Many organizations use a “project model” when they shouldn’t.
  2. There is a lot of confusion and debate in the agile community about projects and project leadership.

I don’t claim to have “the answer”, but I’ve thought about this a lot and also experimented on my clients (don’t tell them… sshhhh). So, here is my take on project leadership in an agile context.

Oh, and by the way, this article is a Bait & Switch. I’m trying to get you to read What is an Agile Leader. You might save time by just skipping this and going there right away 🙂

Beware of “projects”

The word “project” is controversial in agile circles. Some companies use the “project model” as some kind of universal approach to organizing work, even for product development. However, a surprising number of projects fail, some dramatically. I see more and more people (especially within the software industry) conclude that the project model itself is the culprit, that it’s kind of like rigging the game for failure.

A “project” is traditionally defined as a temporary effort with a temporary group of people and a fixed budget. Product development, on the contrary, is usually a long term effort that doesn’t “end” with the first release – successful products start iterating way before the first release, and keep iterating and releasing long after. And teams work best if kept together over the long term, not formed and disbanded with each new project. Also, the traditional approach to planning and funding projects often leads us to big-bang waterfall-style execution, and hence a huge risk of failure because of the long and slow feedback loop. The project model just doesn’t seem to fit for product development.

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Scaling Agile @ Lego – our journey so far (slides from LeanTribe keynote)

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UPDATE Dec 2016: Wrote an article about LEGO’s agile journey, see here. Includes all of the material below, plus explanations and updates.

Here are the slides for my Lean Tribe keynote Scaling Agile @ Lego – our journey so far.

Here’s also a more detailed version from a talk that Lars Roost and I did at GOTO conference in Copenhagen: is SAFe Evil (that talk was also recorded).

This is just a brief snapshot of a journey in progress, not a journey completed 🙂

Sample slides below.

This doesn't scale read more »

Slides från session Agila Arbetsmetoder @ SAST Q20

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IMG_5797

Otroligt kul att se hur många som fick plats i ett konceptrum i Aula Magna under våra presentationer under SAST Q20! Vi pratade först om kontinuerlig förbättring och sedan om working agreements. Slides hittar du nedan.

På Crisp har vi en hel del gratis material och guider, bland annat en Toyota Kata mall, som Martin nämnde under sin presentation.

Vi pratade också om Mobprogrammering, och den främsta källan till information finns på mobprogramming.com.

Tack till er alla som kom och lyssnade och vi ber om ursäkt för att alla inte fick plats.

/Martin & Mikael

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What should we build next?

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Gathering ideasHow do you decide what to build next? Who comes up with the ideas? How do you decide in what order to implement them? How do you keep track of what you’re working on, and what you want to work on?

Here’s a behind the scenes look at how the Candy Crush Soda team comes up with ideas and decides what to build next!

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Agile Topics card deck

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The other week I got the idea to create simple conversation cards. Each card represents an agile practice, a conversation topic or an abstract theory. Now I’ve drawn 96 cards. I simply couldn’t stop 🙂

Cards

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Using Agile in Hardware To Develop New Products In One Day

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Team developing new productsCan you develop new products from scratch in one day?

This challenge was taken on by the Medical HW manufacturer Optinova in August. Over the course of two days, we pushed the limits of “what is possible” by applying Agile in a HW environment.

Our hypothesis was that Agile would be a good fit in product development and innovation scenarios. And the result so far from the work that we have been doing with Optinova is promising.

Cross-functional teams, focus, rapid prototyping, close customer feedback and visual overview work just as well in hardware as in software. The training setup we used was as follows:

  • Day 1 – Learn basic Agile practices and principles
  • Day 2 – Applying them – developing three product ideas from scratch in one day, in a rapid prototyping workshop.

The result: All three participating teams managed to take an idea to working prototype in a day. One team went so far as submitting a bid to a real customer the following day based on their prototype. That’s high speed, even in software terms. But the most important thing wasn’t the result, it was the lessons learned. When we asked the participants if they wanted to continue to build products this way, the votes were unanimously in favor. If we can get it to work, this would help build a competitive and innovative company. read more »

Omöjligt att kombinera agilt arbetssätt med pm3

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Låt oss säga det direkt: att kombinera pm³ och någon agil metod, som t ex Scrum, är en dålig idé. Varför?

Därför att du kommer inte kunna dra nytta av det agila arbetssättet. pm³ är baserat på en helt annan världsbild. pm³ bygger på årsplaner och att verksamheten beställer från en leverantör, typiskt den egna IT-avdelningen.  Agilt har som en grundläggande värdering att reagera på förändringar i stället för att följa en plan. Det agila arbetssättet drivs proaktivt genom utforskande i motsats till att vara en mottagare av beställningar.

Vi har sett flera försök att implementera pm³ och de har ofta misslyckats på grund av att pm³ bygger på tankar om att verkligheten kan förutsägas 18 månader i förväg, att användarna vet vad de vill ha och att det är viktigt att ha en skarp linje mellan verksamhet och IT. Vi hävdar (och flera med oss törs vi lova) att inget av detta är varken sant eller bra.

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Dedicated Scrum Master or not?

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Should the Scrum Master role be full time or part time? What if there is not enough Scrum Master work to do? Can the Scrum Master also do other work in the team? Can the Scrum Master be Scrum Master for several teams?

There was a debate about this and Scrum Alliance created the Scrum Master Manifesto in 2011.

Even though this has been debated by many minds before, I still get asked what my views are on this topic.

I’ve done all kinds of variations on this role. I’ve been a dedicated Scrum Master for a single team. I have done the SM role and a developer role at the same time. I’ve been a Scrum Master for several teams at the same time. These alternatives have their own advantages and challenges. In this post I intend to describe my view and recommendations.

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Samarbetets myserier på Agila Sverige 2015

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Samarbete är en svår konst. De flesta organisationer har grava underskott på samarbete. Ännu saknas på många sätt förståelse för vilka mekanismer som driver och uppmuntrar samarbete. På Agila Sverige 2015 pratade jag om samarbetets mystik och gjorde några nedslag i en längre workshop om detta. Bland annat visar jag hur man kan spela ultimatumspelet i storpublik, hur apor reagerar på orättvisor och de fyra pelarna i samarbetets mekanik.

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2nd edition of Scrum & XP from the Trenches – “Director’s Cut”

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Guess what – I’ve updated Scrum and XP from the Trenches!

Scrum and XP from the Trenches 2nd edition

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No, I didn’t invent the Spotify model

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You know the saying “don’t shoot the messenger”? Well, that goes both ways – “don’t praise the messenger”. Well, OK, you can shoot or praise the messenger for the quality of the delivery – but not for the message content!

I’ve spent a few years working with Spotify and published a few things that have gained a surprizing amount of attention – especially the scaling agile article and spotify engineering culture video. This has come to be known as the “Spotify Model” in the agile world, although it wasn’t actually intended to be a generic framework or “model” at all. it’s just an example of how one company works. The reason why I shared this material is because my Spotify colleagues encouraged me to, and because, well, that’s what I do – help companies improve, by learning stuff and spreading knowledge.

Spotify engineering culture

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Tillsammans – så river programmerarna företagspyramiderna

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I år hade jag äran att i anslutning till Agila Sverige (2015) släppa Riv pyramiderna igen som riktig bok med den mycket bättre titeln Tillsammans – så skapar du flyt och egenmakt med agile och lean (tack till Joakim Holm för att du övertalade mig att negativa titlar är dåliga).  Den hemliga undertiteln tycker jag dock är “så river programmerarna företagspyramiderna”.Tillsammans

För det är ju just det det handlar om. Först vände programmerarna upp och ner på mjukvarubranschen genom att börja ge bort sitt arbete som fri källkod. Nu vänder de upp och ner på företagen genom att göra den gamla sortens chefer överflödiga.

Programmering handlar om att generera kunskap. Och det sker bäst när man får arbeta direkt mot användarna och när man själv får styra sitt arbete. När man får makt över sitt liv på jobbet, kort sagt. Och eftersom allt mer i samhället kräver programmerare får programmerarna makt. De kan forma sina arbetsliv så bra som det är möjligt.

Denna förändring är så spännande att följa och i Tillsammans skildrar jag mitt arbete som chef i en produktorganisation och hur vi förvandlade den till en utvecklingsorganisation i världsklass, med hjälp av agile och lean och en hel del gnutta sunt förnuft, och framförallt: extremt experimenterande.

Jag påbörjade och en märklig resa där min roll som chef drastiskt förändrades: den som behöver praktiska tips om hur man gör med utvecklingssamtal, karriärvägar, lönesättning, kompetensutveckling och rekrytering i en organisation som domineras av självorganiserande team hittar gott om tips i Tillsammans hoppas jag.

Läs mer om Tillsammans här eller köp direkt från:
adlibris och bokus.

Lean Startup

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Du har en idé om en tjänst.
Hur kan du snabbast och enklast verifiera att någon vill använda den?
Det är vad Lean Start-up handlar om.

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A Scrum Product Owner Checklist as a mind map

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If you wonder what a Scrum Product Owner need to do, here’s the checklist (in form of a mind map) for you!

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Something Agile Lean Something – Posters on agile and lean concepts and techniques

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A couple of weeks ago I started a new hobby. I’ve found a way to combine teaching agile and lean with creativity, art, Lego and Star Wars. Now I love spending time slowly putting Lego blocks together to create scenes. One by one. Very meditative and creative 🙂 The scenes I build I then use for illustrating different concepts and techniques from agile and lean in the format of posters.

This is the latest poster – #5 MVP Flavors.#5 - MVP Flavors

If you like it, you can find more here. Clicking the thumbnails on the site will give you high-resolution images that you can download.

1544346_10152571030156249_4360171987474261740_nYou can put print them and put them up on your team’s wall like a friend of mine has done.

Thanks Jörgen Thelin for the photo 🙂

A Decade of Agile, A – F

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A decade of agile boils down to theses simple fundamentals and steps for me.

A.
Ask: do you need to improve as an organization?
Only go forward if your sincere answer is yes.
Ask everyone: Do you want to improve? Same procedure.
Make sure you will fail (and win) regularly by commitment (plan/hypotheses) and checkpoints.

B.
Work with just a few things at a time.
Work with small things.
There are NO exceptions to this. This is a LAW.

C.
Build quality in. No exceptions here either. Also a LAW.

D.
Focus on customer value
This is optional, but you might be out of business quickly.

E.
There are multiple ways to achieve this. You are probably stupid if you do not test Scrum, since it’s a great litmus test if you actually get A – D as an organization.

F.
And yes. There are people too.

Agil HR på IDG

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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: