The Lead-Squad Protocol

How to successfully drive initiatives, objectives or opportunities that require several squads (or teams) to succeed? How to do this in a way that respects the agile mindset without falling into the command-and-control trap? Today, this problem is more complex than it seems. We’ve designed and built our squads for self-organization and autonomy in the

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Integrating Discovery & Delivery – Patterns that work

This is the second article in my series on integrating discovery and delivery. In the first article I outlined some common challenges I have seen holding organizations back from benefiting fully from both.

In this article I will introduce some patterns that will help you integrate product discovery and product delivery in a way that works. These patterns have all been field tested in practice.

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Integrating Discovery & Delivery – Common Challenges

Most organizations that I meet in my work are struggling to integrate product discovery and agile delivery in a simple practical way that works.

I will illustrate what I mean by giving you examples of a couple of very common issues.

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Continue reading: Comparison of three strategy alignment frameworks – OKRs, Spotify Rhythm and Art of Action Strategy Briefing

Comparison of three strategy alignment frameworks – OKRs, Spotify Rhythm and Art of Action Strategy Briefing

A downloadable version of this article can be found here.

One of the strongest management trends right now in companies striving towards Agile is undoubtedly OKRs, “Objectives and Key Results”.

But how do OKRs stack up against the alternatives when it comes to alignment frameworks? And what are the potential undesirable behaviors that come with them?

That is what I intend to explore in this article.

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Continue reading: En definition av Agilt mindset

En definition av Agilt mindset

Vad är ett Agilt mindset och hur beskriver man det?

Det är en fråga jag fick finna svar på i och med det sista tillfället i Scrum Master programmet Mia Pilebro (agil coach på arbetsförmedlingen) och jag genomförde på Arbetsförmedlingen. Denna artikel beskriver den definition jag landade i, resonemanget bakom samt varför detta är viktigt då man förändrar en organisation mot en Agil kultur och arbetssätt. De definitioner jag hittade när jag sökte svar på frågan kändes inte kompletta, enligt mitt tycke. Efter diskussion med mina kollegor på Crisp, och med Mia, landade jag i en definition som består av ett antal påståenden, hållningar och en intention.

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Continue reading: Make OKRs and Forecasts come alive!

Make OKRs and Forecasts come alive!

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?”

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Continue reading: Output vs Outcome vs Impact

Output vs Outcome vs Impact

Here is an attempt to establish a definition of Output, Outcome and Impacts! It is based on my interpretation of the work of Jeff Patton, Marty Cagan and Clayton Christensen, with some good input from Gojko Adzic, John Seddon and John Cutler.

How Outputs generate Outcomes that generate Impacts
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Continue reading: Evolutionär förändring

Evolutionär förändring

Inledning

Ser jag tillbaka på mina år som konsult och coach på Crisp har det skett en rätt stor förändring i vilka typer av uppdrag vi får. Många organisationer möter en allt mer föränderlig omvärld med snabbfotade kunder; är de inte nöjda med det utbud som organisationen levererar går det till en konkurrent i stället. Det räcker inte längre med att enskilda team fungerar bättre; hela organisationer behöver förbättras för att nödvändiga effekter skall skapas. 

För att lyckas med förändringsarbetet behöver vi:

  • Utgå från att organisationer är komplexa system vilket kräver en organisk förändring snarare än ett plandrivet och mekaniskt sådan. 
  • Genomför förändringen evolutionärt drivet genom de hinder som teamen upplever, 
  • Successivt forma den struktur och arbetssätt som just den specifika organisationen bäst behöver för att leverera värde. 
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Continue reading: Efficient, effective and inclusive decision-making – A bold statement, a book and a video

Efficient, effective and inclusive decision-making – A bold statement, a book and a video

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.

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Continue reading: How self driving car company AID builds its organisation using Agile – interview with the CEO

How self driving car company AID builds its organisation using Agile – interview with the CEO

How do you grow, innovate, and deliver – at the same time? AID (Audi’s unit for self-driving cars) uses Agile to build its organisation at the same pace as their product. We interviewed their CEO Karlheinz Wurm on why they have chosen to do so. We also sneaked in a question – how is it

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Continue reading: Playing with Power – Game of Structure, Beta version

Playing with Power – Game of Structure, Beta version

Two years ago I created a simple role-play card game called Game of Structure. After trying it out a couple of times it has been sitting idle, and what fun is that? So now I am making it available with this post.

=> Game of Structure – Beta version

The game is Creative Commons Attribution 4.0, so you may use it freely as long as you honor it’s origin. If there is enough interest I may go ahead and create a physical card deck based on this game.

What type of game is this?

The idea is to offer an experience of how a single hierarchy of fixed power roles can generate some common patterns of stuck attention, conversation and challenge that we frequently see in organizations. Often we spend a lot of time managing those conversations without seeing that some of them may emerge just from the power structure itself as a design choice. If we can experience that this may be the case we can talk about it and consider redesigning those structures rather than having to fix these challenges directly.

This game helps you see and experience some of the load of this extra complexity. Have fun!

Disclaimer – The game is fun as it is but I invite you to be a little careful when drawing conclusions from it – there may be some fallacies and traps! If you want to dive down this perhaps sensitive and deeper rabbit hole, read on through the second part of this blog post.Continue reading

Continue reading: Health checks for Teams and Leadership

Health checks for Teams and Leadership

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.

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Continue reading: The CTO Questions: 10 questions that help you gauge the current state of your tech operations

The CTO Questions: 10 questions that help you gauge the current state of your tech operations

Ever heard this conversation play out? Manager 1: “We should adopt scaling framework Y.” Manager 2: “But scaling framework Y doesn’t have a recipe for baking cookies. So we need to do X.” Manager 3: “Whut? You’re both wrong. We have Agile teams. We’re good!” In fact, each statement above can be wrong. So the

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Continue reading: Q & A with Bonnitta Roy on Open Participation

Q & A with Bonnitta Roy on Open Participation

Bonnitta Roy was one of the keynote speakers at last year’s Agile People Sweden conference and she also held a course here at Crisp last February on self-organization beyond the team using Open Participatory Organizations (OPO), which was very well received by our course attendants. She is coming back to Stockholm in November and we got the opportunity to sit down with her and ask some questions about open participation and her work on the future of organizational life.

What is open participation and why does it matter in organizational life today?

Organizations face continuous pressure to “level up” to new social and economic realities. This places enormous strain on legacy structures which are difficult to overhaul, and conventional management practices which are difficult to shed. Instead of offering yet another “off-the-shelf” product, we help people see simple but powerful opportunities to become more open and more participatory in their everyday ordinary work.

In agile software development there is the notion of refactoring when code has become too unruly and is increasingly built up in an ad hoc manner. Refactoring means starting over with clean, elegant code. It releases a tremendous amount of complexity from the system. Open participatory practices do the same for organizational structures. It releases complexity and affords more elegant ways to solve complex problems.

So OPO is basically a location based structure to self-organize and to self-manage in organizations?

Self-organization and self-management are core principles of open participation. Location-based-structure is one way to optimize them. It is the only way I know that also avoids the “law of suboptimization” which states that when you optimize the lower system, you suboptimize the higher (and vice-versa). This “law” leads to paradoxes in incentive systems that have to juggle rewarding individual merit, team performance, and company profits.

Locations are defined as mutually interdependent. No individual location can be defined outside of its context with larger strategic wholes; but the “whole” is not defined other than by the interdependent coherence of all the locations. The language of “location” helps reinforce the synergistic way of thinking. If you renovate your kitchen you are simultaneously adding value to your house, and to the experience of everyone who lives there. Similarly, in the OPO, people focus on making sure that the locations are healthy, and that the relationships between them are synergistic. This simultaneously adds value to the larger whole.

Let’s ask some frequently asked questions, as most readers may be new to these ideas.

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Continue reading: Innovation Talk – an Introduction to Locations

Innovation Talk – an Introduction to Locations

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to give a keynote presentation at an internal innovation event hosted by one of the more pioneering product companies here in the Stockholm area. The organizers requested the name of their organization to remain undisclosed, but were happy to see a video recording of the talk shared

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Continue reading: Meet Enspiral, Crisp’ long-lost cousin

Meet Enspiral, Crisp’ long-lost cousin

Meet Enspiral, with the inspiring purpose of “More people working on stuff that matters”. This autumn I finally got to meet Joshua Vial from Enspiral when he and his colleague Susan Basterfield visited Stockholm for keynoting at the Agile People Sweden Conference.  This was the first time Joshua visited us but Susan, I had already had the privilege to get to know last year when we hosted a workshop at Crisp on the Enspiral European tour.

Joshua Vial and Susan Basterfield from Enspiral

After the conference, I had a chance to sit down with Joshua and Susan to chat about Enspiral, social entrepreneurship, doing things that matters and the future of work. As we sat down and chatted and realized that we are a tribe of changemakers separated at birth, or at very least sharing latent strands of DNA. How else can you explain the exquisite similarities of two entrepreneurial collectives from the polar opposites of the planet? Crisp and Enspiral are like long-lost cousins. We are both two companies with a belief that there are better ways of organizing and leading work than the traditional way.

These new ways are based on principles of self-management, agility, openness, and participation. We believe organizations like this are more rewarding and purposeful for the people working in them. This will lead to that people’s potential are freed up to do more good and impactful things in the world.

 

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