New Roles for Managers: Interview with Lean Magazine

I recently did an interview with the nice folks at Softhouse.se for their Lean Magazine. The interview was a lot of fun, and made me think (which is fun). The full interview will be in their special anniversary edition, schedule to be out by Christmas.  (Information on obtaining the magazine here.)  In the meanwhile, some…

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ScrumMasters and Agile Coaches: More than a Title

As I said in an earlier column, it’s not enough to slap the tile of Scrum Master or Agile Coach on a project manager, manager, or whatever other warm body happens by.  It’s also not enough to look for the keywords “CSM” or “coach” on a resume. If you are serious about helping teams learn…

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Supporting Team-Based Work

Many of the companies I work with want the benefit of the team effect in software development. The managers in these companies recognize the enormous benefits teams provide to the company–creativity, engagement, learning. However, in many of these companies, the HR systems focus only on individual accomplishment. Individual goals, individual bonuses and merit-pay processes cause…

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Why not velocity as an agile metric?

In response to my recent post on Agile Metrics, a reader asked, “Why did you leave out Velocity?” Even though it’s not perfect, velocity is the best way we have to understand the capacity of teams. It’s the best way we have to bring some reality to planning for releases.  Watching velocity over time and…

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Metrics for Agile

“How can we tell how far along we are with our agile adoption?” I heard this question again the other day. Usually, the person who asks the question starts to answer it: Number of teams using agile Number of people trained in agile Number of projects using agile Number of certified coaches. Metrics like these…

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Real Coaches or Hierarchical Control in Coaches Clothing

I recently met with a group of managers who work in organizations adopting agile methods. Several of them asked whether functional managers should become ScrumMasters or coaches. That’s a risky road. One manager was adamant. In his view, making managers ScrumMasters was the best course of action. According to this fellow, managers already know people’s…

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Essential Readings for Managers I: Pay & Evaluation

I used to make my living writing code.  I was good at it. I was really good at figuring out the problem when the symptom and causes weren’t close together. So they promoted me to manager. As a new manager, I was sent to a two-day Basic Management Orientation, where they taught me to how…

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A Manager’s Guide to Building a Relationship with the Team

“A talented employee may join a company because of its charismatic leaders, its generous benefits, and its world class training programs, but how long that employee stays and how productive he is while there is determined by his relationship with his immediate supervisor.”  Buckingham & Coffman Good managers know how to build strong relationships in…

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Solving Symptoms

Recently, I attended two retrospectives.  Different teams, different states, different facilitators. I’m usually on the other side, leading retrospectives. Both retrospectives followed the “make lists” pattern.  One made two lists  “What worked well” and “What didn’t work well.”  The other made three lists “What worked well,” “What didn’t work well,” & “Issues or questions.” Once…

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Rethinking Manager’s Relationship with Agile Teams

This article originally appeared on gantthead.com  In the early days of agile, some pundits (and developers) cried, “We don’t need no stinking managers.” By now, most people realize that organizations still need management (and people in management roles) after they adopt agile methods. However, if those organizations want all the benefits of agile, managers must…

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