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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Readings for Managers: Motivation

I’ve been having conversations lately with people about compensation and reward systems, and the role that money plays in motivation. All the research I’ve seen concludes that–for most people–money becomes the primary motivator at work when there are no other salient motivators. What might those other motivators be? Sense of purpose, pride in work, belief…

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Peck, peck, peck

A participant in one of my workshops of my workshops declared that in every team there is pecking order….and every one knows what the order is from one to n.  Since this is the case, he reasoned, it follows that ranking people in organizations is a reasonable management practice. This is not the first time…

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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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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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Empowering Leadership II

Every team needs leadership, even self-organizing teams. When I make this statement, some people assume I mean that every team needs a designated leader.  I can’t blame them, most people are accustomed to thinking of leadership residing in a role or a charismatic individual—a “born” leader. On self-organizing teams, there isn’t one leader.  Agile teams…

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