Agile Leader Competence Map

The more the Agile Leadership is popular, people are asking for more description. Who is the Agile Leader, what makes him different from a traditional manager, and which competences and skills they have to have. So I created this Agile Leader Wheel so you can map the competences and skills.

Great Agile Leaders have four core competences in which they can create vision, enhance motivation, get feedback, and implement change. Vision is the driving engine. It’s not necessarily related to the product and business but the organization itself. The second segment is motivation. Agile Leaders understand the nature of motivation, are familiar with the power of intrinsic motivation of autonomy and purpose. The third one from the top section of Agile Leader Wheel is feedback. For Agile Organizations feedback is crucial, it makes the team and product feedback part of their DNA, it becomes integral part of their culture. The same for Agile Leaders, the regular feedback from the system is the key to their success. The last piece is ability to implement change. For Agile Leaders the change is happening at three levels. Firstly there is change of myself, my own beliefs, reactions, the way I work. Secondly there is the ability to influence others. Make them part of my team, get supports who will help me to lead the change. Finally the third element of change is change at the system level, the whole organization level.

Agile Leader Wheel

In addition to the mentioned competences, Agile leaders will need to balance the time when they need to take a decision and when it’s better to delegate and empower others to take decision and responsibility for that. Finally on the right side Agile Leaders are facilitators and coaches. We are not speaking here about one-one coaching. Great Agile Leaders use coaching as a spice to address the complexity at the system level, and coach organization as whole. Great Agile Leaders are not born this way but constantly develop those competences and skills. This concept is part of my Agile Leadership program where I help leaders to understand complexity of nowadays organizations and be successful in their roles. Looking forward to see you at some of my Agile Leadership workshops.

Traditional metrics are dead, let’s kill KPIs

Most of the people, when you ask them, admit that KPIs are not any useful at their organizations. They don’t motivate, they don’t change people’s behavior to any better way. In the best case KPIs are usually a formal metric, in the worst case a way how to punish people. In modern organizations, which are built on top of collaboration and teams, the need for individual metrics disappeared. So what can you do instead?

If you have a bit of courage, you may try this: ask all team members to distribute for example 100$. They can give it to any team member, but can’t keep it for themselves. In a very short time, you get a very honest feedback. If you ask people to give Kudos or appreciations together with that, it’s awesome. Problem of bonus distribution solved. There are companies which distribute the bonuses not only within one team, but across the whole organization. To the receptionist, CEO, sales, developer. Your choice. We make it very transparent, so the system will correct any weird behavior as exchanging bonus money within two people. In general this is more theoretical question. I haven’t seen it happen but it comes out anytime we talk about it with managers. I guess it indicates lack of trust.

Another way how to do it when your organization is more Agile is to give every month people some money to their bonus account, you can keep them of give some to the others. Each month the random person from your company rolls a dice and if there is a six, the money is yours and we start to build another jackpot. When it’s any other number, they just continue in moving money as appreciation. As no one knows when the money is going to be paid, they don’t game it.

Finally, I have to admit that I don’t believe in any money bonuses. They are not going to help with real motivation and the risk of side effect is higher than possible outcome. So I would kill not only individual KPIs but bonuses as well. You can achieve better motivation by giving people autonomy, responsibility and clear purpose. And you can help them grow with coaching. It takes more time and energy then do KPIs and bonuses, but it brings higher results.

Agile Culture

Culture is intangible. It’s hard to touch. Hard to define, hard to measure. However, it is the critical piece for the organizational success. We may debate if culture follows an organizational structure or vice versa, but I don’t think it is important. Culture reflects our values and philosophy. The way we are. Being Agile is about changing mindset. If enough people change their mindset, the culture changes and they become Agile Organization. Simple if you say it this way, but hard to do.

I’ve been looking for a good definition of culture for years. I surprisingly find it at CAL (Certified Agile Leadership) training which I attend from Michael Sahota in California. I very much like his way of describing culture, and I used it as an inspiration for my drawing.

Agile CultureThe culture consists of two parts. The mindset and structure. I’ve always seen the mindset as the most important part of culture, a driving force. Something which can change the structure part if done well. To my belief structure is always preventing us from change, from being successful. So shall we change the structure or mindset?  I would always go for the mindset. It’s harder, but it brings significantly better results. Create a clear goal. Purpose. Something which makes to you stand up every morning and put energy into it. Something you truly believe in and are willing to take ownership and responsibility for. Something which makes you collaborate with others, something which makes your day. When you succeed with the mindset, you are usually ready to change the structure. So I truly believe that structure follows mindset. Which is good, because as the first step you can start with changing yourself. 🙂

State of Mind – Myself Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay concept

Let’s continue with the next element of ‘Myself’ dimension. As we already said in the previous blog posts, each element of this dimension represented by a dice which you can roll every day or Sprint and choose the aspect you are going to take. The third dice is for choosing the approach – State of mind. The approach you take is important and can completely change the result you get from addressing the different situations. For every situation, you can choose one of the following aspects: observe, facilitate, coach, remove impediments, teacher and mentor, and increase positivity.

Observe

Start every situation with observing. There is no rush. Then choose any of the following approaches, address the situation by facilitation, coaching, teaching and mentoring or increasing positivity and return back to observing to see how it landed. If it works, you can continue with the selected approach, if not it’s time to change. Keep in mind that you work at system level and systems are complex by nature so hard to predict their reaction. You have to inspect and adapt.

Facilitate

Almost every situation can be addressed by proper facilitation. You can prevent conflicts by keeping the discussion in the problem space and prevent the situations when people takes it personal. Facilitator you shall be neutral. It’s their agenda, you only take care of the discussion flow.

Coach

Coaching can help when the other approaches can’t. Coaching will raise awareness and grow the interest to learn or change. It will start thinking process and creativity. Through coaching you can help team to reach the next level and become great team.

Remove impediments

This approach is actually a trap for ScrumMasters. Way too many ScrumMasters takes this approach as a destination and become assistants or mothers. Instead, you can help team to identify impediments by proper root-cause analysis and help them to solve the impediments by themselves.

Teacher, Mentor

ScrumMasters shall be the subject matter experts with hands-on experience from Agile and Scrum environment. This approach is about sharing the knowledge and experience so people understand the purpose of individual practices, Scrum framework and Agile.

Increase positivity

Finally, increase positivity. Celebrate success. Search for short wins. The more positive the overall team and company environment is, the higher chance they have to become great high-performing team and bring overall organizational a success.

Learning – Myself Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay concept

Let’s continue with the next element of ‘Myself’ dimension. As we already said in the previous blog post, each element of this dimension represented by a dice which you can roll every day or Sprint and choose the aspect you are going to take. The second dice is for learning. Scrum Masters shall learn new things every day. This element shows a direction where you can focus the learning activity to gain Agile, coaching, facilitation, business, change, and technical skills.

Agile

ScrumMasters you must be Agile enthusiasts, constantly looking for new practices, concepts, and ideas. Joining local communities, attending or speaking at conferences. Looking for trends where Agile is heading. The world is changing fast, so do Agile and Scrum.

Coaching

Without good coaching, you can’t create sustainable high-performing teams. So better start right away. There are many classes and books on coaching, plenty options to choose from. But after all, it’s all about practice. Start tomorrow and get better during the time.

Facilitation

Facilitation is critical especially when the team is not that mature. Be ready to facilitate not only during meetings but anytime. Every conversation can go wrong, and create a conflict or misunderstanding. Be on a watch for those situations.

Business

As part of the mentoring and teaching, you will need to understand the Agile Product Ownership. Have an idea on how to form a vision, how to prioritize, how to build the backlog. Help Product Owners with business Agility concepts.

Change

ScrumMasters are implementing change in organizations, they change their culture, and way of working. Such change is one of the hardest. You are change manager, change is your day to day job, so be better at implementing change.

Technical

Finally, the most controversial aspect of this element is technical. It’s controversial because as ScrumMaster you shall not be a team member at the same time as you will lose the overview. The technical aspect here points to the Extreme Programming practices as continuous integration, shared codebase, auto-tests and TDD, BDD, pair programming, regular refactoring, agile architecture and continuous delivery. They are critical for team success and every great ScrumMaster shall have a decent knowledge about them.

Metaskills – Myself Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay concept

Let’s start with ‘Myself’ dimension. Each element of this dimension represented by a dice which you can roll every day of Sprint and choose the aspect you are going to take. The first dice is for metaskills. Scrum Masters shall be able to take the metaskills of teaching, listening, curiosity, respect, playfulness, and patience.

Teaching

Teaching is embracing the wisdom, ability to advise people, be a good mentor. Your knowledge and experience on different frameworks, concepts and practices are your ground here.

Listening

Listening is a critical skill to be able to learn from the feedback and choose the right approach. We as human beings are not listening enough. Too often, we jump towards the closest solution and ScrumMasters are not any different. Good listening is a prerequisite of being a great facilitator, coach, and leader.

Curiosity

Being curious helps you not to take sides. Be open to different situations and solutions. Find creative and innovative ways of approaching things. Working with team and organizations is a complex task. It requires different skills in order to address the complexity.

Respect

Respect will help you to build trust and create safety environment. Respect different opinions, who knows what is right and what is wrong. At the level of a complex system, it’s hard to assess. Openness and transparency are your best friends here.

Playfulness

It’s going to be a long journey, so make it fun. Bring the metaskill of playfulness to your day to day work. Take the same approach as if you were playing the strategic game. It is just a game, so enjoy every single day of it, don’t get frustrated when you don’t win the first day. The good game shall take some effort to play well.

Patience

You have unlimited time as ScrumMaster, there is no hurry. You are not responsible for delivery, nor the short-term goals. Your goals can only be seen long-term when the teams are getting self-organized and high-performance. Only then people can see the ScrumMasters are doing the right job. You will never be finished, as Agile is not a destination, but a star on a horizon. There is always a better way, there is always a need for great ScrumMaster to guide us on our Agile journey.

The #ScrumMasterWay concept

When I first time decided to write my new book The Great ScrumMaster: #ScrumMasterWay I have a clear picture in my head of what I have to write about. I wanted to share what I learned on my ScrumMaster journey, offer you hints on how to avoid problems, bottleneck, falls during the way, and give you an advice on how to become the great ScrumMaster. To make it consistent learning path, I combined all necessary elements which must be used to successfully get to the great ScrumMaster journey into the #ScrumMasterWay concept. At the beginning of my writing, I had only independent pieces. When I started to write the book, the elements clicked together and created the coherent whole of the #ScrumMasterWay concept which I’m now presenting in brief at a separate website and in the Great ScrumMaster book: #ScrumMasterWay which has been published in January by Addison Wesley.

The concept is formed from my personal hands-on field experiences as a ScrumMaster and Agile enterprise coach which I got during my 15+ IT and Agile journey.

In the following blog posts, I’m going to introduce the core elements of the #ScrumMasterWay concept. The #ScrumMasterWay concept is shaped in two dimensions: ‘Myself’ and ‘The world’. The first dimension is dedicated to your own mindset, attitude, and personal growth. They help you to develop yourself as a person and become a great ScrumMaster. They consist of four building blocks: Metaskills, Learning, State of Mind and Leadership. The second dimension is dedicated to the outer world represented by your team, broader product group or the entire organization. The great ScrumMasters shall be able to work at all three levels of the world dimension and use a mixture of all different aspects of Myself dimension elements.

I hope the #ScrumMasterWay concept will help you to start your great ScrumMaster journey and help your organization to be successful in nowadays constantly changing the world.

The #ScrumMasterWay concept series:

  1. The #ScrumMasterWay concept
  2. Metaskills – Myself Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay concept
  3. Learning – Myself Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay concept
  4. State of Mind – Myself Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay concept
  5. Leadership – Myself Dimension – #ScrumMasterWay concept
  6. My Team – The World Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay Concept
  7. Relationships – The World Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay Concept
  8. Entire System – The World Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay Concept

Top 10 Agile conferences to attend in 2017

Top 10 Agile ConferencesI travel & speak at many conferences each year. Here is my list of TOP 10 conferences for 2017:

  • #1: ACE! (Krakow, Poland) – May 11-12, 2017. Innovative form & great atmosphere.
  • #2: AgileEE (Kiev, Ukraine) – April 7-8, 2017. Interesting speakers and nice audience.
  • #3: Agile Prague Conference (Prague, Czech Republic) – September 11-12, 2017. An awesome program, collaborative atmosphere of open space format, good value for money.
  • #4: Big Apple Scrum Day (New York, NY, USA) – May 1, 2017. Enthusiastic community, great space.
  • #5: Agile Leadership Day (Cologne, Germany) – March 2o, 2017. Strong speakers with Agile Leadership experience.
  • #6: SGDUB – Global Scrum Gathering Dublin 2017 (Dublin, Ireland)  – October 30-November 1, 2017. Talk to Scrum practitioners, join coaches clinic, get hands-on experience.
  • #7: Agile Testing Days (Potsdam, Germany) – November 13-17, 2017. Interesting keynote speakers, deep insights in testing.
  • #8: LeSS Conference (London, UK) – September 13-14, 2017. Large Scaling Scrum (LeSS) Practitioners share their LeSS experience.
  • #9: SGCAL – Global Scrum Gathering San Diego 2017 (San Diego, CA, USA) – April 10-12, 2017. Meet people who are around Scrum from the beginning.  Great coaches clinic and open space.
  • #10: Agile 2017 (Orlando, FL, USA) – August 7-11, 2017. Top Agile conference for the size and speaker selection. It’s a huge event which is unfortunately very expensive.

The selection is based on my personal preference and experiences from those events.

Other conferences to consider this year:

(Please share your suggestions with us and we add them to the following list.)

 

Scrum Transformation Journey

As one of the CSTs – Certified Scrum Trainers – I’ve got a unique opportunity to travel around the world during the last two years and teach Scrum at a variety of businesses, organizational environments, and very different cultures. I must admit that Scrum is awesome as it is universal. You can apply it to software, hardware, marketing, HR, executive teams and be rapidly successful, significantly better, change the way of work and become the best of the greatest. The flip side of the coin is, that despite the easy way how Scrum is defined, there are still companies, teams and individuals completely failing to understand what Scrum is and therefore failing to implement it.

I draw this picture to illustrate that becoming Scrum is a journey. You can’t just do Scrum, you have to embrace it. You have to become Scrum yourself first. It’s often not that straightforward as we’ve been got used to the traditional processes throughout the history, but at the same time, this is the very best strength of Scrum. Once you master it, it becomes the part of your life. It’s not just a process, it is a way of living.

Scrum Transformation

 

Technical Scrum

First, let me say explicitly that “Technical Scrum” is not Scrum. It only pretends to be Scrum. It’s a camouflage. However, it might be the necessary first step in certain organizations to move to the real Scrum. How do you recognize Technical Scrum? People “do” Scrum. They are looking for ways how to remain the same as they used to be. They are eager to get checklists of practices which need to be done, in order to do proper Scrum. Therefore Technical Scrum is all about estimations techniques, burn-downs, measuring velocity. The very important metric would be individual utilization, so they usually insist on time task estimates, capacity calculations, and time-sheets to be filled. They have identified new roles, but in reality, they just renamed the traditional roles and didn’t change the behavior. Scrum meetings are usually long and felt redundant. Managers use Scrum to micromanage.  The overall team focus is on “how”. The team is not any team but a group of individuals working on similar items. The individual accountability matters. They are looking how to split responsibilities instead of how to collaborate to achieve the goal. Product Backlog is usually a to-do list where most things have to be done.

Scrum Mindset

In the real Scrum, your team understands the mindset and they are “living” Scrum. They take it as the way how to focus on customers, how to innovate, how to collaborate. The estimates, efficiency, and utilization become quite unimportant, as they focus on delivering value to the customer and overall long term results. The first step here is usually “Team Scrum” where the development team becomes a real self-organized and cross-functional team which works together. The team creation process produces a huge trust internally among the team members but also externally to the organization. It’s the first tiny ‘snowball’ which afterward starts the whole transformation and creates forces to change how we run our business and how the organization itself is structured.

The “Organizational Scrum” builds on top of the values we experienced at team level – openness, transparency, and trust which leads the organization to be more business driven, flexible, and open to innovations. The business slowly starts to be picking up and the organization has to follow the rest. At this time, the snowball is big enough to attract the rest of the organization. At that time, you are truly Agile.

Such transformation can take years. It’s not uncommon that companies are falling back and restarting the whole initiative again. It’s hard. To succeed you need a good reason for change and courage. Eventually, every company has to change as the word is getting more complex and fast. The same way as industry revolution changed the way we were hundred years ago, the complexity of our current life is changing us now. To succeed in a long term, we have to be more flexible and dynamic – more Agile.

AgileNEXT podcast

Thanks to AgileNEXT team – Daniel Gullo and Stephen Forte – for recording a podcast with me at Scrum Gathering.

During the session we discussed the following topics:
Scrum Master as Agile Coach, Kaizen in Scrum, Agile Brands and Scaling, Community Involvement, and finally my new book The Great Scrum Master which was published by Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn) in January 2017.

Enjoy the listening.