Honesty and Openness for Agile Team – Meet Up

“Are you telling enough truth?” or, “Honesty & Openness for Agile Teams”  Honesty was the main topic of the May Meetup session for the Ottawa Agile Community. Amanda Holtstrom presented tips for maintaining openness in teams and encouraged participants to experiment with these practices in their own groups. (here is the Presentation)

“Openness” is one of the key values set and manifested by any Agile Team.  Openness to feedback, openness to recognize any issue, openness to accept changes, and openness to keep improving! This is a quality which helps Agile teams to always move forward and achieve their desired results. Indeed, openness is an important value for Agile teams to commit to!

To be honest within an Agile team is a core communication need and key to the overall work process. Honesty contributes to the overall Transparency of what you’re doing as a team, and helps you proceed with a fair process and good result (Inspection), as well as ensures equitable Adjustment.

Transparency, Inspection, Adaptation – Agile way of process organization which has some similar conceptual bases with Empiricism – by notion: Empirical evidence is the knowledge or source of knowledge acquired by means of the senses, particularly by observation and experimentation.

The idea of empiricism applied to Agile values was presented by Simon Bourk. While we all agree on Agile Values it is important to think and try to prevent potential problems that might cause the failure of any team: Absence of Trust, Fear of Conflict, Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of Accountability, and Inattention to Results. (see Pyramid image presented by Simon)

To overcome failure and find improvement requires team members to be honest, and communicate that honesty in a productive way. Giving a feedback is an invaluable tool: it can be immediate or retrospective, and can come in may different forms. Whichever style you use, whether positive or negative feedback, it should always be given in a way which is constructive to improving the team. In my own experience, helpful feedback focuses on the cause and effect of a situation, provides suggestions for improvement, and motivates and encourages the person to do better going forward.

Amanda closed the meetup with a presentation of tactics for efficient communication, and suggestions   for coming to agreements when there is disharmony among team members. Following the presentation, we had an interactive discussion between participants.

The only way to come to a consensus on any issue is the tolerance of different opinions and, when faced with disagreement, keeping attentive of your opponent. It is just as important to have a fair perception that your opponent also tries to find and present his way to change something in order to improve something. Understand that you both have the same target: it’s just a matter of how to get there. Recognize and acknowledge each other’s arguments, and work to consolidate them to reach a mutually agreeable solution.

Honesty and communication are the keys of success; the breakdown of either are often the cause of failure. At our June Agile Ottawa Meetup session we will continue to explore real-life examples of failure and experiment with ways which lead Agile teams to success.  I kindly invite you 🙂  to June session dedicated to Pitfalls and Successes of Self-Organizing Teams.

.

IMG_20170509_185214.jpg

Amanda presents Communication Tactics

IMG_20170509_182223.jpg

Simon presents the Empiricism

IMG_20170509_183326.jpg

Pyramid

 

Advertisements

Why or Why Not Agile? – Meet Up

 

“Sorry, the new Champlain Bridge cannot be built using Agile…” – Mathieu Boivert presentation attracts many participants at Agile Ottawa MeetUp!

This MeetUp brought together Agile practitioners and students who have just begun a journey in Agile. The topic of presentation provoked an open and interactive discussion on the topic, “Is Agile recommended for every project?”

Some follow up questions included, “What should we take into consideration when proposing Agile, and once it is decided on, how do we organize and implement it?”, “Why Agile? “, and “Why or why not Waterfall?” Everyone was encouraged to come up with a real example, and arguments and ideas based on their own experience and practices.

The values and principles of understanding Agile provide a base to identify potential the type of project which can be successfully implemented using this approach.

Agile Manifesto was a dedicated theme for the MeetUp introduction session moderated by Simon Bourk. The consensus reached through open discussion between participants was very useful to underlining the Agile Values applied in practice, and facilitated answering the question, “Why or why not Agile?”  for any project.

Indeed, Agile is essentially developing an asset by doing your product step by step, from sprint to sprint, from delivery to delivery! It also means starting the project and asking, “How aware are we of requirements, technology, client expectations and team maturity?”  It is essential to assess and evaluate Known and Unknown zones (see Stacey’s Chart), as well as acceptable levels of Uncertainty we can afford upon our project. This evaluation will help you decide on your approach to project implementation and efficient risk mitigation.

Delivery Value vs. Delivery on Scope – You Decide!

Agile Ottawa MeetUp was a great opportunity to meet members of the Agile community and exchange ideas, and gain knowledge through hands-on practice!

Simon and Mathieu created a very pleasant and friendly discussion environment. The interaction and dialog between presenters and participants was key to creating a positive and efficient atmosphere – and a lot of smiles!

 MeetUp – Meet people!

I appreciate the opportunity to get to know new people, participate in open discussion, share experience by interacting with others, and am looking forward to the upcoming MeetUp!

Next time, we’ll have a new topic, new ideas, and a new exchange of knowledge and experience! Everyone is welcome! 😊

Spark the Change – Montreal

Spark the Change brings together change leaders from all industries and walks of life, with one mission only: to work together to create positive and lasting change. If you have a vision for change within your organization then this event is for you.

spark-the-change-logo

 

 

Top 5 reasons to attend Spark the change

They have a great Spark the change line up for speakers, Register for Spark the Change – Montreal now and be inspired.

Agile Film Festival

Thanks to all who made it out on a very snowy night to our Film Festival! Not only did the participants brave the harsh weather, but they also brought with them their curiosity and juicy questions about Agile adoption.

Here’s a quick summary of the content shared during the Film Festival.

101 Session Whiteboards – Brief Overview of Agile and Scrum

These brief interpretations were created and presented by Caroline Sauvé

Film #1: Agile Version 2016 by Dan North, presented December 2016 at GOTO Conference

In this 30 minute video, Dan offers an overview of where Agile has come from – noting that Agile is 20 years in the making. He also offers a view into where it should be going based on real world experience. To learn more about Dan, check out his website: https://dannorth.net/

Film #2: Cynefin Framework by Dave Snowden

We followed up the overview of where Agile has come from and where it is going with an introduction to Cynefin Framework. This decision making framework offers a useful lens to apply when teams and organizations are asking themselves – how should I approach Agile adoption. We noted that most adoptions are effectively managed between the Complex and Complicated (this is where most systems are stable).

Thanks to Dag who managed coordination and facilitation of allowing remote collaboration for this event – on short notice!

 

 

Lessons Learned from our “Fail Faire”

On a cold December evening, several of us gathered to share our latest stories of Agile woe.

One of the outcomes of a “Fail Faire” event is to gather a set of lessons learned. The session we hosted three years ago gathered many such insightful gems – you should go read them – great stuff there: https://agileottawa.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/lessons-learned-from-our-fail-faire/

This session proved a little different. The group of participants was smaller. We sat (round table style) and shared stories – the outcome was an incredible amount of support and help from all. Indeed, everyone at the table was keen to exchange ideas on how to make things better. The session was a shining example of the very spirit of an Agile team…

By sharing our problems openly, we create the opportunity to learn and gain the support we need to improve.

For those who missed the event, here’s a quick summary of lessons learned from our discussion:

  • Strong facilitation can accelerate your meetings and help to solve problems.
  • Make sure “safety” is established and maintained during a retrospective.
  • Recognize when your help is not “helping” – sometimes, the skills required are beyond what you are able to offer.
  • When adding a new team (scaling), you need to have active support from leadership. Be aware of leadership “passively” supporting – they need to be involved.
  • Guide the solution, don’t provide the solution.
  • Anonymous feedback is very helpful at uncovering blindspots.

Thank you to all the participants who joined us for this event. From everyone at Agile Ottawa, happy holidays – looking forward to connecting in 2017!

Sponsor Profile – Neuland

neuland_agileottawa_logo_rgb

For almost 50years, Neuland has been developing and manufacturing professional learning tools for all manner of training, workshop, and conference environments, in our own facilities located in Eichenzell, Germany. Creative concepts and inspiring furniture designs have made us a preferred meeting and conference interiors specialist for hotels and corporations.

We are dedicated to the philosophy of “active learning” that has pushed us to continually evolve to become one of Germany’s prominent leading suppliers of exclusive learning materials, and as a pioneer of innovative design concepts for meeting areas to host a variety of dialog spaces. “Made in Germany” is synonymous with high-quality, which is acknowledged around the world, and we endeavour to uphold that reputation as our products are designed and produced in German facilities.
As a family-owned company we are dedicated to provide you with everything you need to hold successful, meaningful meetings! Our goal is ensuring you have the most efficient and conducive materials, equipment, and furniture; that not only helps you accomplish your objectives, but that it is also fun, creative and innovative along the way.

Sponsor Profile – Halogen Software

halogen-logo

At Halogen Software, our mission is to help our customers win with talent. Winning with talent means building an engaged workforce that delivers exceptional business outcomes. Through our TalentSpace™ solutions, we help our customers assess, develop and retain the best talent. And we do this by putting ongoing performance management at the heart of their talent strategy.

What services/products do you offer?

Halogen Software offers human resources software that is ranked no. 1 in customer satisfaction (Gartner, IDC, Forrester, Bersin by Deloitte). Halogen TalentSpace™ is powerful, configurable software that helps organizations win with their talent. Our software helps your organization drive exceptional business outcomes with award-winning talent management solutions covering the areas of performance management, succession and leadership, learning and development, compensation and recruiting.

In Agile/Scrum, how do we deal with people working across multiple projects in parallel?

At Halogen, we move work to people, not people to work.  It is becoming common for teams to work on shared initiatives, with each team taking their own part of the workload represented as stories in their backlog.  Continuous integration is used to tie everything together.

Role of wikis or collaboration tools in Scrum?

We use wikis to supplement the face to face work that we do.  Halogen uses Confluence as the wiki.  Each team uses it in a different fashion.  Confluence has a blogging feature that is used to share important information with other teams.  We also leverage the Confluence Questions plugin as a way to share solutions to common problems.  Project documentation, how-to articles, and other useful information are also hosted in the wiki.

What metrics are generally used to assess a ScrumMaster’s performance?

We use a number of techniques to gauge the performance of a ScrumMaster.

Team morale:  We use Halogen PulseCheck to help gauge team morale on an ongoing basis.  This is a short, 7 question survey delivered once per month.  We supplement this with a twice yearly survey from Gallup on engagement at the corporate level.

Team engagement:  We use a service from Gallup to run an engagement survey twice per year.  These results are discussed with the teams to develop strategies for improving engagement.

Say/Do ratio:  We recommend this to teams at the sprint and release level.

Impact on other teams:  Are they influencing the other teams’ practices?  Are they moving the process forward?

What Type of Estimation Methods Do You Teach?

We use a combination of expert-guessing and velocity for estimating work.  Expert-guess is used for high-level roadmap planning to be able to size large rock items and make decisions about release schedules.  At the scrum team level we use velocity for planning out the sprints.