Tag Archives: agile

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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(translations: Russian)

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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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:

10 talks in 2 weeks! Here are the slides.

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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.

The Agile Meetings Cube

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

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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

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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.

WIP and Priorities – how to get fast and focused!

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(Translations: French)

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

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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)

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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

Here is a full transcript.

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

Let the User Story Flow

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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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Agile @ Scale (slides from Sony Mobile tech talk)

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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