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Leadership Scrum Grows Exponentially

I'm noticing quite frequently now  people from a broad variety of fields, especially agile transformation consultants, executive coaches and engagement model designers, are seeing success with Leadership Scrum as a highly effective approach to Business Agility.  Starting with the Product Team has not given us nearly the lasting benefits that starting from the top of the organization has.  I attribute this to the difference of impact that leaders who go first have on the rest of their organization. Authorization by example, and Signaling with Action are just more viable as a self-replicating vector (aka. 'meme') than the passive-aggressive  ownership projection known as "just-tell-me-what-to-do" or  the clumsy ambiguity of "do-as-I-say, not-what-I-do."  People who are leading Exponential Organizations understand this phenomena instinctively, and they are taking very bold, decisive action toward behavior…
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Where “Meet Them Where They’re At” Meets “The Tyranny of Structurelessness”

In the agile community, there is a gradual, non-disruptive approach to agile transformation which is represented by the phrase, "Meet them where they're at."  This approach is in contrast to a more confrontational, disruptive approach to agile transformation, where there is a kind of monolithic, across-the-board "from this moment forward, and until further notice" sudden change to people's roles, flattening the hierarchy of the organizational structure, and drastic update to the processes and tools being used, which may bear absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to their predecessors.  The latter approach can add such a huge shock to the system that the company cannot continue to deliver its product or services to the market, and possibly go out of business as a result, theoretically.  I haven't seen such things happen yet, but…
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Catalyst Level Leadership and Open Space Agility

I've found some new alignment with the findings of Bill Joiner & Stephen Josephs in their book, "Leadership Agility" which I have been reviewing again. Originally published in 2007, the book is now 10 years old, and aging like fine wine, in my opinion.  The principles it reveals are timeless classics, and as I review their bibliography I find I share an appreciation with Joiner and Josephs for great authors and research in the field of organizational development, behavioral psychology and business coaching, to be quite closely aligned. From page 93 to 95, under the heading "WHAT LEADERSHIP MEANS AT THE CATALYST LEVEL" I noted a flurry of parallels to several constructs which are pervasive to the Open Space Agility movement which professional agile coaches, Open Space facilitators and business…
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Business People Usually Throw Good Money After Bad in Agile

I'm writing this blog to issue a Protective Warning: You're probably wasting a lot of money on agile coaching, training, facilitating and consulting. People attempt to do Agile transformations on their company quite often nowadays. Unfortunately, they fall victim to consultants who do not share their interests.  -Especially large, well-known consulting firms are the worst offenders. Agile has a kind of paradox that frustrates employers from capturing the business value that is often touted in business newspapers, magazines, online articles, whitepapers, blogs and golf course conversations.  Here's what the misunderstanding is all about: you can't make your people be or do Agile, because part of Agile is the freedom to choose to be great. [caption id="attachment_464" align="alignright" width="446"] Martin Fowler, signatory of the Agile Manifesto[/caption] I cannot claim this as…
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MA-11

I recently led a Scrum class whose members were already quite knowledgeable and experienced.  I did a retrospective of the first day of the class, and there were several stickies under the column entitled "Could be better" which were explicitly asking for less beginner theory and more stories and hands-on complex tools.  They were pleading for the advanced version from the trenches. I had very little time to throw something together, but I had a few ideas.  Fortunately, I was co-training this class with their coach, and he knew some of their pain points.  On day 2, we promised to give the class lots of "variant content" that could be used to conduct the meetings as an experiment, if the plain vanilla format of the Scrum meetings grew stale, and…
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Transformation Hall Pass & Big Bang Regressions

When transforming an entire enterprise it is nearly impossible to all of sudden instantaneously flip everything on its ear: the roles, processes, organizational structure and the mindsets of all the people that inhabit it.  From the outside looking in, there are many aspects of life that appear susceptible to instant metamorphosis.  Individual kernels of pop corn bursting open, photographic film exposed to sunlight, the illumination of a light bulb...all of them are commonplace to us. However, many changes happen so gradually, at such a small scale or large scale that our perception of them is that they are practically static and immutable.  Consider the pupa.  Though it contains dormant life, it does not move perceptibly to humans.  Indeed, we would not recognize that the contents of the cocoon are a…
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Leaders Go First

Being a leader may not be the bed of roses we dreamed it would, from the outside looking in. Turns out, Leaders Eat Last, according to Simon Sinek in his popular book by the same name. To make matters worse for leaders, when it comes to doing something new or particularly challenging...in that case leaders go first. (Lucky you!) Somehow, it seems that most Agile Coaches didn't get the memo. There is a certain "coming of age" period approaching the Agile community.  It's an area where Agile Coaches and Trainers have been kicking the rock down the road for more than a decade now.  I could speculate why, but I won't.  Agile Coaches are going to have to start actually coaching the entire enterprise, not just the individuals and teams…
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Warnings and Watered Down Wine Won’t Make SAFe Buyers Bite

I just got a text, photo and phone call from a life-long friend in Omaha who attended a presentation by 2 "agilists" from a major global consulting firm in town. They were pushing SAFe hard, claiming it is certain to be the future of agile for the world.  After some mediocre steaks and bad wine (according to my buddy who is about to head up an agile team at a financial services firm) they went into their pitch, and when they bored the audience, or at least my friend (who at that point was going to set his napkin on fire just to stay awake) finally they took questions. "What will you do when the other directors and people in the company won't switch to agile?" No answers returned to…
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120 Days Count Down to Open Space in a New Land

I've wondered how long it would take, if I went to a new city, where I a total stranger, if I were to propose holding an Open Space Technology event, how long would it take for people to be open and engaged in doing something like that. Tonight I got my answer: about 120 days.   Now, the truth is it doesn't really take that long.   In retrospect, if I had acted before someone in my Lean Coffee Meetup Group (Audaciously Agile Conversations with Lean Coffee in Omaha) actually went to the trouble of sending me a written request to, then realistically, it would have only taken about 60 days.  I actually received an email asking me to please pause the 4 or 5 tables doing Lean Coffee synchronously,…
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18 Applications of Open Space in Product Development

When I say "open space" in this context I am referring to taking the higher laws of Open Space Technology (rather than the mechanics per se of OST) and applying them to large teams, or multi-team program events where difficult coordination problems must be solved to handle the enormous complexity and risk of large scale agile approaches to product development. Because events of this scale have costs that scale with the number of participants, it behooves the sponsor to wrap them inside of all the elements of OST and Open Space Agility.  Namely, extend a written invitation to every person in the organization, with a well-crafted theme, providing ample advanced notice, create the appropriate "guard rails" and psychological safety to unlock the most enlightened, creative mind of each participant, and…
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