Training and Education

Recently, while discussing how job descriptions and evaluation criteria impact collaboration, a director commented, “Behavior. That’s what we’re after. Behavior.” Her comment struck me as both familiar and very odd. However, the director’s comment did...

Interview about Change with Marcus Blankenship

I recently sat down for an interview with Marcus Blankenship of Programming Leadership. We talked about my book, 7 Rules for Positive Productive Change, and how change plays out for people and organizations. You can listen to the full interview on Marcus...

Forgotten Questions of Change

When people set out to change their organizational system, they think about the desired future state. But they don’t give sufficient attention to what is. I call this blindspot the forgotten questions of change. However, change starts from where you are. You...

Seven Ps for Profound Change

Captured from my keynote, Still No Silver Bullets, at Big Apple Scrum Day, May 17, 2016. The 7 Ps  for  Profound  Change. I’d add an 8th question: What do you want to preserve?

Assessing Team Improvement

Managers who have invested effort and money in training teams in Agile methods want to see team improvement–reasonable enough. I describe a handful of measures that indicate the organization is improving over all in posts( here and here. Some of these measures...

Seven Agile Best Practices

Someone I don’t know offered to teach me Agile Best Practices recently. I tend to think there are “generally good practices,” some of which are broadly applicable.  In my experience, the search for Best Practices is often a search for Silver Bullets,...

Agile and The Chasm

Someone posed the question:  Has Agile Crossed the Chasm?– a reference to Moore’s work on marketing. Agile is no longer the prevue of pioneers and visionaries.  Agile shows up in the popular business press. PMI is all over it. The big...

The Elements of Improvement

Improvement requires three factors: Information. People need information about the context and how their work fits into the big picture. They need information from the work so they can self-correct. Without this information, systematic improvement is impossible. A...

Agile Teams at Scale: Beyond Scrum of Scrums

Agile methods depend on effective cross-functional teams. We’ve heard many Agile success stories…at the team level. But what happens when a product can’t be delivered by one team?  What do you do when the “team” that’s needed to...

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...

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...

Double Loop Learning in Retrospectives II

Slides from a talk I gave on Double Loop Learning in Retrospectives: Double Loop Learning in Retrospectives View more presentations from Esther Derby And take a look at PROMOTING DOUBLE LOOP LEARNING IN RETROSPECTIVES.

Promoting Double Loop Learning in Retrospectives

“The thinking that got us here isn’t the thinking that’s going to get us where we need to be.”  attributed to Albert Einstein I have  this niggling concern about retrospectives. I have no doubt that retrospectives that are too short,...

There’s I(ntelligence)Q, and then there’s I(nfluence)Q

People who work in software are smart people who take pride in their abilities to understand complex information and solve difficult problems. But much of the work isn’t only about smarts. Creating most software requires the help and cooperation of other people....

Fixing the Quick Fix

Here in the United States, our business culture tends to be action-oriented. We value the ability to think fast and act decisively. These qualities can be strengths. However, like most strengths, they can also be a weakness. Taking action when you don’t know the...

Building Trust, One Iteration at a Time

A while back I talked to a CEO of a contract development shop.  He wondered how Agile could help him with fixed price, fixed scope contracts to deliver software. Of course, the requirements that come with these contracts are never complete or completely accurate. The...

Still No Silver Bullets

Not so very long ago, I made my living writing code. My colleagues and I did our best to understand what our customers needed, and to write code that was easy for other programmers to understand, solid, defect free.  When our managers asked us how long it would take...

Shifting Organizational Patterns

I’ve been talking about (and using) Human Systems Dynamics tools lately–Rally Success Tour, OTUG, Practical Agility and Retrospective Workshops in Stockholm. I find Containers, Differences, Exchanges offers my clients (and me) a useful way to see past...

Bridging Structural Conflict: the Same and Different Exercise

No two people or groups are the same, but their differences don’t have to force them apart. Conflict resolution in the workplace starts with redefining these differences. Let’s begin our exploration of how groups can bridge structural conflict with a story. I...

Changing to Agile, in an Agile Manner

A while back I was contacted by a potential client who wanted to “go agile.”  But they wanted to do it in a deterministic manner.  They wanted a plan, complete with milestones and dates–mostly indicating that other people had changed their behavior as dictated...

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