Are you, as many others looking, for advice and tips for remote working and meetings? You’re not alone. At KRY / LIVI, me and Anders Ivarsson, compiled a list of tips and advice on how to make the most of remote collaboration and working from home. We suspect many are looking for similar advice andContinue reading
Rigid detailed long-term plans, where progress is tracked based on consumed budgets, are in agile organizations quickly becoming a fading nostalgic memory of the past. They are replaced by forecasts and non-static roadmaps. Gather regularly in front of these visualizations and you will enable learning, sharing and trigger important conversations, resolve dependencies and invite to acts of servant leadership. Make your OKRs and Forecasts come alive!
In this blog I want to give examples of visualizations with accompanying recurring ceremonies. The visualization and accompanying ceremony enable sharing of progress and ensure that impediments and dependencies continuously are addressed and mitigated. It also turns the forecast into a conversation (as opposed to a fixed estimate captured in a project plan that is treated as a promise).
The core question the involved teams answer is:
“How confident do you feel that you will accomplish the Key Result before the end of this quarter?”Continue reading
I hereby proclaim that; there are ONLY 10 different ways a decision can be made!
At least in a meeting with several participants.
Sorry for starting with this click baity statement. On the other hand – I haven’t been disproven so far. Regardless of if this is true or not, I believe that the art and skill of decision-making is an increasingly important topic. Why do I believe that?
In many organizations, I often encounter the assumption that a decision is either made by one person, or by a group that has discussed a proposal until everyone agrees. If this is actually true, your ability to conduct effective, efficient and inclusive decision-making is sadly limited. A rapidly increasing number of companies go agile, organizing people into a network of autonomous teams, supported by teams of managers and leaders.
Decision-making and ownership are decentralized to those closest to the problems and opportunities. Leadership is no longer manifested in hierarchies of individual accountability, but in interconnected layers of supportive leadership teams. Just as agile teams collaborate to delivering value to users and customers, so must the leadership collaborate when working, meeting and making decisions. A leadership team’s ability to reach a shared understanding through debates and discussions, explore options and then together decide on the best path forward – is crucial. The speed to decision and time to review and evaluate the impact will dictate your whole organization’s ability to quickly respond, learn, adapt and improve.
With this blog I hope to expand your toolbox and inspire you to experiment with a more varied approach to decision-making.
In this blog post I want to share a powerful tool, the Leadership Health Check. It will help you become stronger as a management team and reveal improvement opportunities for how you, as a team of active servant leaders, better can enable the agile teams you support.
But first, let’s take it from the beginning.
One of my favourite exercises in my toolbox as an agile coach is something I learned during my years at Spotify; the Squad Health Check. It’s a retrospectives format, a self-evaluation workshop, in which the teams express how they feel they’re doing on wide variety of topics such as collaboration, value of what is delivered, ability to influence, received organizational support, etc. The result generates insights and commitment to actions of improvement for both the team and the supporting leadership. I love it because I believe it’s a great tool for strengthening autonomy, culture and continuous learning.
More than a year ago, a colleague at Spotify Georgiana Laura Levinta and I created a health check for the leadership of our Tribe (Tribe is a semi-autonomous department at Spotify encapsulating 4-8 teams and with a dedicated set of leaders and managers). Geo and I were inspired by the Squad Health Check, but the goal with this adoptation was to help the Tribe’s managers perform a self-evaluation of their ability to provide active supportive leadership to the squads within the tribe, and to generate a discussion on how they can improve as a team to be able to provide even better support.
Since then, I have together with my current client Casumo, adopted this for their context, culture and beliefs. We’ve run it several times with great success and value, both with the company’s leadership team but also on cluster level (semi-autonomous department). I believe the Team Health Check and the Leadership Health Check both are tremendously powerful; hence I want to unleash them to the wider agile community, hoping that more organizations will find them valuable and useful. Or at least be inspired by them, and then try something totally different.
I’m blown away of the popularity of the Jimmy Cards I created a few years ago. The massive amount of feedback and appreciative comments inspired me to compile two additional decks. The goal of the original red is to help new teams gel. The new black deck is aimed to challenge mature teams that have worked together for some time. The new blue deck will help the leadership team collaborate more effectively. And now, finally, the labour is done and the physical cards have actually been printed and are available to buy!
I suspect that running a session with a team to help them bootstrap a Working Agreement, is the single most common workshop I’ve been facilitating the last couple of years. And I’ve learned a lot of what works for me (and what doesn’t work). In my experience, this approach works equally well for the agile team, the department management group and the steering board team. This blog is me documenting how I ended up facilitating these sessions.
For me, a Working Agreement captures the expectations we have on each other within the team when we collaborate and communicate. I’ve seen teams call it “Code of Conduct” or “Ways of Working”. I call it Working Agreement. You call it whatever makes sense for you.
Running a Working Agreement workshop as early as possible is crucial for setting the team up for success. Preferably it’s done during the team’s two-day kick-off offsite, or at least within the first few weeks as a planned structured workshop.
Den 20:e September presenterade jag på SAST Stockholm (Swedish Association for Software Testing). Under 30 minuter delade jag med mig av mina tankar kring hur man uppnår “Flow through Visualization”. Presentationen hittar du här, och nedan har du inspelningen av presentationen. Videon fokuserar bara på mig, men med lite skicklighet kanske det går att klickaContinue reading
On September the 19th 2018, Joshua Kerivesky, creator of Modern Agile, gave this talk “Are you curious?” at Crisp Stockholm. This is the video recording from that evening. The seminar is 60 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. About the talk: ARE YOU CURIOUS? Learning is key to improving. Yet without curiosity, learning stagnates.Continue reading
Through the years we have at Crisp repeatedly been confronted with the question “How can I become Agile?”. We have checked with coaches outside Crisp and they give us the same picture. People want to become agile and they want it now. It has become obvious to us that there is a need for a quick fix. Hence the Agile Pill.
Last time I wrote a book (Visualization Examples) I decided to do it publicly online. That was a fantastic experience, which I also wrote a blog post about. It was great fun and I got tons of valuable feedback.
Now I’ve started to write a new book and I’ve decided to have the same approach. It’s currently titled “Toolbox for the workshop facilitator – Facilitaion Tricks and Techniques (How to reach strong workshop outcome)“.
The book is far from finished and it might take me another year to finish it. But I still want to invite you to read it now and to help me make the book even better.
Note: Access to Google Docs and Feedback has been disabled.
Back in 2013 I created a deck of cards with questions for the agile team, called “Jimmy Cards”. The questions on the cards were designed to ignite exciting discussion for teams to get to know each other and grow as a team.
I’ve received so much great feedback and appreciation over the years since. This feedback inspired me to create two more decks, the Black Deck and the Blue Deck. The Black Deck is for mature agile teams. The Blue Deck for leadership teams.
These have been in the working for over a year now but now I feel it’s time I wrap up my work and print them. I’m however not confident on the level of quality just yet, so this blog is a plead for help.
As a high-performing tech professional, it’s useful to constantly fine-tune your ability to add value.
For example, you might ask yourself at work:
What is the one thing we can change in our product, service or in the way we work together that can bring more value to our customers or the team?
This philosophy of looking for things that can add value can also be used for your personal and professional development.
To give you some inspiration, here are some of the real life small changes and habits that our team members at Crisp have made that have added tremendous value to our personal and work lives.Continue reading
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.
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. * NextContinue reading
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 🙂
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.
Jimmy 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! Enjoy! /Hans P.S. If you want to read instead, you’ll find the written English version here, and the Swedish version here.Continue reading
We have translated our blog on team size and proximity to english. If you prefer to read it in Swedish it’s called Storlek och närhet har betydelse. The english version you’ll find at Nomad8 site, because Jimmy Janlén is currently in New Zealand. 🙂Continue reading
Process är dyrt. Större team, distansarbete, deltidsarbete samt många specialister leder till mer uppstyrd process. Kanske är detta självklart, men ju fler företag vi lär känna, desto mer upplever vi detta vara något som ignoreras.
Jobbar vi i någon form av agil process såsom Scrum, Kanban, eller Lean UX värderar vi högt samarbetet mellan olika kompetenser. Ett team av olika kompetenser som kan ta en idé från start till mål brukar kallas tvärfunktionellt.
Enklast möjliga agila process för hur dessa personer kan samarbeta ser ut så här:
I’m happy to announce that Toolbox for the Agile Coach – Visualization Examples is now available on LeanPub! It’s a 124 page book cramped with visualization examples for teams on how to improve collaboration and communication, as well as shaping behaviours.
It’s been great fun to write. It’s been great fun to get feedback from early readers. It’s been great fun to show it to colleagues and friends. And now, finally, it feels awesome to be able to share it with you!
I planned to release the book in physical and digital form at the same time… but getting it printed have sadly taken forever, and I still don’t know when it will be available on Amazon.
So, I’ve decided to go ahead and release the digital version first. Might be a stupid thing to do from a marketing perspective, but I don’t care about that. I want the book out and available 🙂
We have just released our short comic as a poster, free to download and print! Jennie Discovers is a comic that tells a story about working Agile and Lean. It’s a story of product discovery, the journey from first idea to continuously releasing and updating a product or service. This book is written for productContinue reading
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 🙂
At Crisp we often find ourselves discussing various, sometimes though topics, in really big groups. The way we govern ourselves (no managers) and the fact that we make big decisions by consensus or concent have driven a need for us to figure out how to have efficient and effective discussions in big groups. A coupleContinue reading
Update: The book has since the publication of this blog been
made available for purchase at LeanPub.
A couple of weeks ago I published my new book ”Toolbox for the Agile Coach – Visualization Examples (How great teams visualize their work)” even though it’s still very much a work in progress.
I’ve made it public, thanks to persuasion from my colleague Hans Brattberg. I decided to try out Google Slides to make it easily accessible and to provide a simple way to give feedback. That turned out to be a great decision. The response has been overwhelming. There are at any given point 5-15 people reading the book, many of which provide great feedback, point out spelling correction and provides generous suggestion for more examples.
Having trouble with curled Post-its that won’t stick to the wall? Well, it could be due to bad glue or that you peel them off wrong. I would guess it’s the latter. Might feel like a silly blog post to write, but I found myself teaching people the technique of peeling Post-its quite frequently. It’sContinue reading
I’ve met very few teams that successfully found a valuable and useful way to update and use a Sprint Burndown. The Sprint Burndown can be tedious to update (if done manually), and doesn’t seem to trigger the discussions in the Scrum team it is designed for. Even to agree on a unit causes confusion (hours, tasks, finished User Stories?).
But don’t despair; let me introduce you to Confidence Smileys. Confidence Smileys provide a simple, honest, transparent and overview-friendly tool for the team to visualize how confident a team is that they will be able to finish each User Story by the end of the sprint. The can replace the need for a Sprint Brundown (or Sprint Burnup), or function as a complement.
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 useContinue reading
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.
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.
I tisdags hade jag glädjen att få komma tillbaka till Lantmäteriet i Gävle och återigen hålla ett seminarie. Denna gång var titeln ”Agil Testning – Will automation replace the tester”? Lite vilseledande då ämnet jag täckte var långt mycket vidare än så. Under två timmar pratade bland annat jag om: Contexten som agil testning leverContinue reading