agility practice lead

Category: Agile (Page 1 of 2)

Create a Virtual Team Lobby or Team Room

With the move to remote work for so many, including myself, an idea occurred to me. Likely, your teams and colleagues are using many new tools and connecting in different ways if you were previously and primarily co-located.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve collected and cataloged tools, articles, and resources on overdrive to support the many people I work with. Events I organize required work to make the shift to remote attendance and participation. This led to my reflecting quite a bit on just how much has changed in a short period of time. Many of us are experiencing change at a rate we have never seen before. And it’s all virtually located and organized inside our heads in most cases.

As a coach and consultant, I frequently make use of visual information on whiteboards, flip charts, paper even on an iPad with use of Apple Pencil. The first three are nice low-tech options that can be used over video meetings, and there are lots of tools available online or to download to use for these purposes as well.

Likely there are ALREADY tools that allow for this idea I am suggesting here: a virtual team space that connects all the things an employee might need AND gives a sense of physical space for the team to connect in.

There’s a hitch though. Many organizations are currently watching costs given the current financial situation. You may be finding that additional tool licenses are not in the budget.

Some of the amazing work coming out of Business Agility Institute for remote attendance of the NYC conference sparked this idea for me. In a short amount of time, conference organizers created a virtual conference lobby, if you will, for people to be able to visualize the conference experience and connect to the resources necessary for remote attendance. Conferences that are all remote have been doing this for years. It’s not necessarily new. Given the times and pressure, and the shift to attend remotely for many, this was a nice touch that significantly enhanced the virtual conference experience for me.

Borrowing from that experience, here’s a low tech suggestion to help your team members visualize their new way of work.

Create a virtual team space or virtual team lobby that contains image representations for all of the team’s assets, tools etc and that visually represents your virtual team or virtual team space. It might help to consider what you wish that virtual space would look like, and to consider icons or representations that align with the purpose of the tool or link your team uses and their personality.

In this virtual team space, you could consider

  • a visual representation of how you track your work with an image of a digital work board that links to a Trello or JIRA or a picture of your previously physical board
  • a document or file box image that connects to Google Drive or Confluence or other documentation/wiki for your team
  • a team meeting table image that links to Slack, Zoom Room or WebEx
  • for teams who support software or develop software remotely, you might consider a desk picture that connects the team to customized links for their work such as ticketing systems, development tools and virtual machines
  • a picture of the team, or individual pictures of each team member
  • a kudos or sticky wall that includes thanks and appreciation to team members
  • a picture of your workplace that links back to organizational resources, news and collaboration spaces, especially if you have essential personnel on site that you want to thank or spotlight for the work they are doing to support the organization in this difficult time.

I can’t be the first person who has thought of this, so I’m not claiming credit. Happy to connect to others who have done this well, if you know of any examples or if this idea already has a nifty name.

2019 My Year in Books

I blew past my goal! I set it lower based on last year’s experience where I felt like I wasn’t absorbing everything toward the end.

This year though, while I did have a few weeks where reading felt less enjoyable, I didn’t feel like stopping at my more modest goal.

I can’t help myself! So many good books, so little time.

Best nonfiction:

  1. Atomic Habits, James Clear
  2. Nudge, Richard Thaler
  3. Not That Bad, Roxane Gay
  4. The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge
  5. Range, David Epstein
  6. Fascism, Madeleine Albright
  7. Feminist Fight Club, Jessica Bennett
  8. How to Be Heard, Julian Treasure
  9. So You Wanna Talk About Race, Ijeoma Olua
  1. Liminal Thinking, Dave Gray
  2. The Uninhabitable Earth, David Wallace-Wells

Best fiction:

    American Gods, Neil Gaiman
    The Nickel Boys, Corson Whitehead
    Daisy Jones and The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid
    Where’d You Go Bernadette? Maria Semple
    The Water Dancer, Ta-Nehsi Coates
    11.22.63, Stephen King
    Dune, Frank Herbert
    Minority Report and Other Stories, Philip K Dick
    Trigger Warning, Neil Gaiman
    A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini

See more here: Carina’s 2019 Year in Books

First Inaugural Women In Agile Conference at Business Agility Midwest 2019

On Tuesday, November 5th, 2019, the afternoon before Business Agility Midwest 2019, the Women in Agile (WIA) conference here in Columbus gathered nearly 80 women and allies to learn and share our experience and knowledge with each other.

Keynote

Maureen Metcalf, CEO of The Innovative Leadership Institute, whose podcast airs on Voice America and author of nearly a dozen books, shared Leadership Trends for 2020 and beyond in an engaging and interactive keynote. Attendees were invited to reflect on key trends and how they plan to meet the challenges ahead.

Speed Mentoring

We dedicated most of our conference time to speed mentoring, a collaborative technique I first experienced in New York as part of the WIA event before the Business Agility Conference in March this year. this activity allows each person to practice speaking or teaching on a topic of their choosing in a safe and supportive environment.

There were so many great topics all across the room. Examples from our table included:

  • building trust
  • coaching mindset shifts
  • expanding your network
  • leadership
  • making salad jars

In Closing

At the end of our engaging event, we invited participants to give us feedback- and we will apply the helpful constructive criticism to make our next event even better.

A big thank you to Business Agility Midwest for making this event possible, to Maureen Metcalf for her wonderful keynote and to our sponsor, Nationwide Insurance!

Photos from the event

I am collecting photos of the event here – please feel free to browse for examples from speed mentoring, pictures of the room and volunteers as well as our retrospective artifacts.

Let’s Connect!

You can get involved with Women in Agile in a number of ways:

A Work In Progress

Growing up I played the piano. I must have been at least slightly musically gifted because there were definitely times I didn’t practice and I got away with it. My music teacher finally quit me, and that was probably a good call. I held myself to such crazy expectations to get things quickly it was difficult to practice. I was a fast learner. It should come easily with minimal practice. And sometimes I did not and that had to be maddening for my teacher. Also I was 12(?) when I was left without a teacher. I’d like to think I’d be kinder to myself now, and if I wanted to I’d stick with it but I need to test that theory.

For some time from youth until adulthood, I still had a piano in my house, and I would sit down to play, just not consistently. Now there’s no piano given many moves… so I’m trying something different- to learn to play the Kalimba. I’m enjoying it and there’s no pressure, it’s just picking up musical notation again, and sometimes just toying around to learn a song that just pops in my head.

You are a work in progress, no matter the age. What kinds of things do YOU do to further your work in progress?

Best Books I’ve Read This Year (So Far)

I read A LOT! This year I scaled back my Goodreads Reading Challenge to only 175 books. I’m more than halfway there at 91 books. I’ve been mixing it up, per usual with books both inside and outside my comfort zone. I continue to learn a lot along the way.

I’ve got a few, like The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge, than are big volumes I’ve been taking my time to really absorb, but can still strongly recommend. Below are the books I’ve finished and either loved, found challenging in a good way, or really learned a lot from.

Good fiction

  • I finally finished the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series and Neil Gaiman was suggested. Dunno how I missed this wonderful writer. Now I’m devouring all of his work.
  • What else? The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera was lovely. And The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Cary was a page turner. Lots more but these were the standouts.

    Good nonfiction

    I’ve read a lot more nonfiction this year. Universally interesting reads include:

    1. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith
    1. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
    2. The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klas Schwab
    1. Flawless Consulting by Peter Block
    1. Quiet by Susan Cain
    2. Endure by Alex Hutchinson
      The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
    1. When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors
    2. Not That Bad by Roxane Gay
    3. Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

    Helpful for Agilists

    1. Nudge by Richard Thaler
      Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
      The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
      Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows
      Atomic Habits by James Clear
      Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull
      Radical Focus by Christina Wodtke
      Measure What Matters by John Doerr
      Lateral Leadership by Tim Herbig
      The Human Side of Agile by Gil Broza

    You can see my full list of books I’ve read in 2019 over at Goodreads, linked to on the footer of this page.

    I’ve got a running queue of over 2,000 books to-read, and the list just keeps getting longer! Since I’ve started tracking my reads on Goodreads I’ve read 860 books and I’m always taking recommendations.

    What have you read this year and either loved or found recommendation-worthy?

    The Power of Noticing

    Recently I’ve pondered the power of noticing. Not judging, nor solutioning, just noticing.

    I think it’s a profoundly human instinct to jump directly to solving problems we see. A solution can become part of the problem without pause. Without observation. Without clear eyes to see what’s there, what’s connected, what’s working and not working.

    At pivotal moments in my life, someone with clear eyes, just noticing was able to prompt action in me with a few simple words in the form of a nonjudgmental observation.

    Things like, “That took courage” helped me see myself as courageous and reframe a nerve-wracking situation.

    “You seem happier lately” encouraged me to consider why that might be and decide to amplify it.

    “Your note made a difference for me,” describes both an action I took and it’s impact, and of course I’m bound to do more of that going forward.

    Or, notice given with eyes only, prompting me to think about how I show up.

    We must be paying attention… noticing the noticing to be able to use it well, I think. Even still, there seems to be unlimited power in notice. It’s a gift you can transform.

    I wonder what unknown and awesome action we can prompt, tomorrow, by noticing for one another?

    Do No Harm

    A feeling has been rising in me over the last year about how agilists choose to speak and behave. At Path to Agility in 2017, it became overwhelming in a moment when a conversation I was a part of took an unexpected turn.

    If I had not seen Tim Ottinger‘s opening keynote on aggressive curiosity, it might have taken much longer for me to identify this feeling.

    The Curiosity Manifesto

    Ottinger spoke of embracing curiosity, and closed his talk with the curiosity manifesto:

    By thinking and helping others to think, we have come to value:

    1. Instead of judgment, curiosity
    2. Instead of later, now
    3. Instead of guilt, permission

    That is, while things on the right have value, things on the left just seem to get in the way.

    My Take-Away

    I took these words to heart. When I felt the urge to judge a mistake in a tweet I posted, I paused,  and said instead, “How interesting!” Throughout the two days, I postponed judgment. I tried to remain as open minded as I could.

    I’d like to think that this is easier for me because I am incredibly empathetic. I can easily put myself in the other’s shoes.

    Even in the conversation in question, I could see the temptation to make a flippant comment. I could see wanting to get some laughs, grow a sort of insider agilist camaraderie. But I could also see fresh faces just newly embracing agile participating in the conversation with me. And I thought, what a mistake it would be to close conversation off to possibility for a laugh. What harm we could do by turning a person off pursuing something better for themselves or for the workplace they might take this conversation back to. In the moment, I felt concern for how those taking part could misinterpret the words that were said.

    As the conference came to a close, and now, it seems more and more often… I am struck by how our words and deeds either express our values as a community, or betray them.

    As a community, I see agilists as smart, adaptive folks who believe in treating human beings with respect. We invite everyone to the table to participate. We are inclusive.

    As a person, the values of inspect and adapt are central to who I am. Explaining what I do to a long time friend I hadn’t seen in some time, she exclaimed- oh that makes perfect sense, that’s who you are.

    I want us as a community and as individuals to get better at doing no harm. I’d like to see us get better at constructive disagreement and listening to context before we speak. What we say and do can harm as much as help, depending on how we choose to respond.

    Maybe, you too, see where I am going here. Maybe you too see sweeping statements filled with judgment and feel uncomfortable. When we say, don’t do ____. Or that’s not ____. Or we make a flippant comment about a buzzword and it is taken out of context. When we tell a client, “you shouldn’t need a [role] for longer than [ a time period]” without understanding the client needs.

    What about when decisions rely on our words? What responsibility do we have to individuals? What about when organizations make decisions based on our advice? We can do great damage.

    Do No Harm

    The way I see it, as agilists it’s our responsibility to open up the conversation. Perhaps agilists should have the equivalent of a Hippocratic oath. We may not be operating on human bodies but organizations are living things- we are working to improve the health of organizations. There is great weight with this responsibility.

    The importance of time

    I recently was quoted as saying, I’ve yet to encounter an organization that was excited to put in the time for agile to be successful when they first get started.

    Often Scrum is adopted, and subsequently adapted for what the organization can tolerate in terms of the time commitment. So we are all talking about the same thing here, Scrum meetings consist of daily stand up (or scrum, or huddle, depending on your implementation), sprint planning, sprint demo, backlog grooming, retrospective, in some implementations, mid-sprint review/checkin.

    General consensus for standup or scrum meetings are that it should last 15 minutes. Hardly anyone disagrees on this, though lots of people have trouble implementing this. Run well, standup shouldn’t go over 15 minutes. If they do, it’s time to get curious.

    When it comes to sprint planning, while there is some disagreement on the amount of time groups should spend, I can almost guarantee an hour is unlikely to be sufficient. Lots of businesses do not want to spend more time however. If you’re only spending an hour on sprint planning, you’re losing out on a lot. You’re crippling your team.

    There are a few theories on the appropriate amount of time, from 4 hours for a 2 week sprint, to 1 day for a 1 month sprint. I’ve found 2 hours *can* work, however, it depends on the work being discussed, and the team’s need.

    Backlog review can take an hour, or it could take more depending on the backlog, the product owner and the expertise in the room.

    Retrospectives should take as long as your sprint planning meetings should. You don’t get into the heart of how a team can do better or the problems that they are facing in the course of an hour. I’ve found two hours is really the sweet spot for organizations unwilling to spare more time. It’s enough time to knock out a check in activity, get the team warmed up to discuss things and start digging into the real things that get in their way or help them succeed. You can wrap up with a check out activity and sometimes don’t even need all that time.

    It’s an interesting quandary. I see organizations that say they want to get better and see the benefits, but they don’t want it to cost them any time. Things worth doing rarely work that way.

    Agile Principles for Everyone

    Based on the 12 Agile Principles and adapted for any delivered value.

    1. Early and continuous delivery of the most valuable work.
    2. Welcome and manage change. It happens.
    3. When work can be broken up and delivered in smaller (but valuable and usable) chunks, do it.
    4. Work directly with your customer daily throughout projects.
    5. Use motivated individuals. Given them the environment, support and trust to thrive.
    6. Face to face conversation is still the most effective method of conveying information.
    7. High business value is the primary measure of success.
    8. Work should be sustainable.
    9. Give continuous attention to excellence.
    10. Maximize the amount of work not done.
    11. The best work emerges from self-organizing teams.
    12. Regularly reflect on the past and make adjustments.

    I’m sure I’m not the first or the last on this, and if you’re interested in more, check out ModernAgile.org

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