Top virtual conferences to join in 2020

The world recently changed into a very unpredictable stage. No one expected it, no one was ready for it, and not many people like it either. However, every crisis is good for something, and this one brought new ways of doing things. While most of the traditional conferences from my recommendation from January are canceled or postponed, the new virtual events emerged from the crises and bring unique value in this difficult time. The first time ever there can be one event for everyone in any place in the world – no travel, no jetlag. If some talks are late at night or too early in the morning for you, don’t worry. There is going to be recording. And just be honest, how many of you attended all sessions at the face to face event? I didn’t. So there is no difference really 🙂

#1: Agile100

Agile100 is a series of virtual conferences that bring the world’s top 100 agile thinkers and speakers to everyone across the globe. Embracing the latest technology, the conference is not only streaming talks from great speakers but creates connections, allows participants to meet and learn from each other, offer parallel ad-hoc open-space sessions, learn from experienced Certified Agile Coaches, and much more. People with access to knowledge and information can tackle any challenge and make our world more productive, more humane, and more sustainable.

LEARN – CONNECT – GET INSPIRED

The first few dates in the 2020 series are May 29, June 26, and July 31 – 12pm – 10pm (CET – Central European Time) / 6am – 4pm (ET – Eastern Time).

#2: Emerging from the crisis

Business Agility Institute is known for the top-quality conferences across the globe. Their last face to face event in the NYC had to turn half into virtual to accommodate people with travel restriction and they did amazing job allowing online participants to join and collaborate in facilitated deep dives the same way as the face to face attendees could. The current crisis will leave an indelible mark on the world of business. What will be the impact on Leadership, HR, Strategy, Finance & Risk Management? And what role does business agility play in emerging from this crisis? This conference is not about what we need to do now to survive the crisis or adapt to remote work; we’re aiming higher. We want to learn what we need to do today in order to thrive tomorrow. Join Emerging from crisis virtual conference to be inspired through 20-minute talks and discover practical next steps through facilitated dialog with your peers, get inspiration from invited leaders and strategists who walked through crises and have come out the other side with lessons learned and best practices.

LEARN FROM THE PAST TO THRIVE IN THE FUTURE

June 17th – 19th, 2020 – two options to choose:

  • Option 1: 11am – 1:30pm (US Eastern Time) / 5pm – 7:30pm (CET – Central European Time)
  • Option 1: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm (US Eastern Time) / 8am – 10:30am (Sydney time)

#3: LeSS Day Europe

LeSS Day Europe virtual conference takes upon a mission of bringing to you fresh, impressive and up-to-date case studies of Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) adoptions by means of story-telling and rich knowledge exchange. Get inspired by the most recent and most insightful case studies involving hundreds of people transformation in different industries. As usually, this conference is worth joining.

LEARN FROM PROVEN CASE-STUDIES AND FIRST-HAND STORIES OF DEEP AGILE TRANSFORMATIONS

June 15 – 17, 2020 – 3pm – 7pm (CET – Central European Time) / 10am – 14pm (US Eastern Time)

 

 

Who is Driving a Change in the Organization

Managers are very often asking me who is driving the agile transformation and expecting some special position like VP of Agile or Chief Agilist. To their surprise, there is no such position needed. I already wrote here about Agile Organizations and hierarchy. Real Agile Organizations are flat and lean, so they don’t create any new position for a problem, issue or initiative. In Agile Organizations, we already have ScrumMasters to introduce change.

“If you want to drive Agile transformation, you need to become ScrumMaster.”

It’s simple and straightforward. We don’t need another role, we don’t need another layer. Referring to the #ScrumMasterWay model, ScrumMasters are not only responsible for growing great self-organizing teams (My Team level), helping the ecosystems around their team to be self-organized (Relationship level), but also helping the entire organization to be self-organized (Entire System) and embrace agility at all layers. Scrum Masters competencies cover not only agile, business, and technical practices, but are also responsible for driving a change because, at the end of the day, agile brings significant change, new culture, a new way of working.

ScrumMaster is a leadership role, so it’s a good fit for managers who want to make a difference in the organization, who care about helping others to become leaders, who are passionate about changing culture, who are Catalysts. ScrumMaster is a Servant leader. They are not having any positional power, they can’t tell people what to do. But they have an influence. They can coach and facilitate to unleash the potential, helping people to find their own way of working. That’s what self-organization is about in the first place, that’s what agile transformation is about.

Top 10 Agile conferences to attend in 2020

I travel & speak at many conferences each year. Here is my list of TOP 10 conferences you shall attend in 2020:

      • #1: Business Agility 2020 Conference (New York, USA) March 11-12 2020. Agile is not about frameworks, practices, and tools, but the mindset. This conference brings stories from executives, practitioners, and thought leaders. It has a very innovative format – three short industry experts’ talks are followed by a facilitated conversation around tables. This conference is very unique, don’t miss it.
      • #2: Agile Prague Conference (Prague, Czech Republic) – September 14-15, 2020. This year it’s the 10th anniversary of this popular conference. An awesome program, a collaborative atmosphere of open space format, good value for money. Postponed to 2021.
      • #3: Agile 2020 (Orlando, FL, USA) July 20-24, 2020. Top Agile conference for the size and speaker selection. It’s always worth the visit as you can meef there every agilist 🙂 Canceled.
      • #4: ACE! (Krakow, Poland) – May 20-22, 2020. Innovative form & great atmosphere. Focusing not only on building software better but also building better products including UX design. Rescheduled to September 16-18, 2020.
      • #5: Agile Austria (Graz, Austria) April 29-30, 2020 – a great place to meet Agile enthusiasts. Have fun with games and workshops. Postponed to 2021.
      • #6: Global Scrum Gathering NYC (New York, NY, USA) May 11-13, 2020 Scrum Gatherings are great places to talk to Scrum practitioners, join coaches clinic, get hands-on experience on your agile journey. The Gathering is not just about Scrum, it’s about sustainable agility. Canceled.
      • #7: Agile Iowa (Cedar Rapids, IA, USA) April 30, 2020 – Great local conference organized by the community, join the first year of this conference and be there from the beginning.
      • #8: Agile Testing Days (Potsdam, Germany) November 8-13, 2020. Interesting keynote speakers, deep insights in testing. And it’s always fun to be there.
      • #9: Agile Tour Vilnius (Vilnius, Lithuania) October, 2020 – enjoy the day full of fun. Great community, enthusiastic audience.
      • #10 Beyond Agile Israel 2020 – January 26, 2020, Tel Aviv, Israel. – Enjoy warm weather in the middle of winter. Great program in just one day.

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

Recommended virtual conferences this year:

    • Agile100May 29, June 26, and July 31, …2020, 12pm – 10pm (CET – Central European Time) / 6am – 4pm (ET – Eastern Time) … more days are coming
    • LeSS Day Europe 2020 June 15 – 17, 2020 3pm – 7pm (CET – Central European Time) / 10am – 14pm (US Eastern Time)
    • Emerging from crisisJune 17 – 19, 2020
      • Option 1: 11am – 1:30pm (US Eastern Time) / 5pm – 7:30pm (CET – Central European Time)
      • Option 1: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm (US Eastern Time) / 8am – 10:30am (Sydney time)

Other conferences to consider this year:

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

Great ScrumMaster is a Catalyst Leader

ScrumMaster is a Catalyst leader introduced by Bill Joiner in his book Leadership Agility. Catalyst is the third step on the leadership journey from Expert to Catalyst. In a very simple way, Expert is the person who knows better and therefore can advise and lead others by example, using his own experiences. Achiever is oriented to the results, they are very competitive, like the stretch goals, clear objectives, and believe a good challenge is the best motivator. They take people as resources towards achieving their goals. Finally the Catalysts understand agile deeper beyond practices, roles, and frameworks. Their key focus is to create a space, an environment where people can be successful. They care about the culture where many-to-many relationships emerge, focus on collaboration, transparency, and openness. They empower people around them, work with teams not just individuals. They are good at complex situations, seeking different perspectives and diversity, looking for innovative and creative solutions.

At the first place, ScrumMasters need to be Agile believers, the highest enthusiasts about agile from far around. Otherwise, there is no way they help others to embrace true agility. They need to be good at all five ScrumMaster State of Mind approaches explaining, storytelling, root cause analysis, coaching teams, not just individuals, large group facilitation, and that not all. Their knowledge goes wider than a few frameworks, practices and methods. They need to improve their leadership skills, understand organizational design, structure and culture models, overall business agility and be good at change management because agile is a huge change of the way we think and approach things.

As Expert leaders, they only drive a car on one gear – teaching. The Achievers are adding a pressure which is not really helpful if you think about ScrumMaster’s goal of achieving self-organization. So being Catalyst is the only way how to become great ScrumMaster.

5 Reasons Why to Attend AgilePrague Conference 2019

#1: World-class Program

Several years in a row we managed to achieve high-quality program while keeping it affordable to the people in the Czech Republic. This year you can be looking forward to awesome speakers, for example, Samantha Laing, Pete Behrens, Heidi Helfand, Stephen Parry, and Marsha Shenk. Register soon, the conference is always sold out.

Agile Prague Conference 2019

#2: Agile Journey Focus

The theme of this year is the Agile Journey. Agile is more than an IT process. We are going to talk about Agile transformations, leadership, scaling, the new ways of running your products and businesses, collaborative culture and great teams. See the program.

#3: Coaches Clinic

You can discuss any area you are interested in and get free help from experienced coaches at our Coaches Clinic. It is a unique and free service designed to help you with specific challenges you’ve encountered on your way to a more Agile way of working. The Coaches Clinic is prepared and organized by Certified Agile Coaches – Certified Team Coaches (CTC), Certified Enterprise Coaches (CEC), Certified Scrum Trainers (CST) and other experienced Agile coaches.

#4: Open Space

AgilePrague Conference is not just about listening. We want you to participate and come up with your own session. Every mid-day there is an open space where you have an opportunity to share ideas, discuss topics with each other and join a deep dive conversation with our speakers. Open space is an opportunity to create your own program and bring your own topics to the conference. 

#5: Visit Prague 

Prague is an awesome city, so why not combine the sightseeing & conference? Have a beer, wander through old town & narrow streets, enjoy one of the greatest historical cities 🙂 

Looking forward to seeing you on Sep 16-17, 2019 at AgilePrague Conference!

10 Most Common Mistakes of Product Owner

Being a Product Owner is not simple. At the end of the day, Product Owners are responsible for the overall Product success. They need to have business knowledge, authority and time. But let’s have a look what are the typical mistakes of a Product Owner as this is one of the very common questions at the classes and learn from that perspective. Here is the list:

Doesn’t Have a Vision

Without a clear vision, there is no direction, no way Product Owner can prioritize, and no Scrum. It’s just a mess where all we can do is to say “everything needs to be done”. The key responsibility of the Product Owner is to have a vision and be able to share it with everybody. Agile organization is about having an evolutionary purpose. If you don’t have it, why are you even here? Similarly to the vision, we have a Sprint goal in Scrum. Without it, everything seems like a good idea to do in Sprint. Sprint goal helps us focus on the need, the real business value.

Can’t Say No

There is no way you can do everything. There are so many options in a complex world. So much functionality customers can ask for. The Product Owner who says yes to all wishes from the customers will fail as the quantity will burn out the organization. Instead, Product Owners are prioritizing based on the business value, and as 80% of value is hidden in only 20% of the functionality, they need to say no quite often during their prioritization.

Doesn’t Have the Business Knowledge

Business knowledge is wider than just a product understanding. It covers the understanding of customers, the market, and the competitive landscape. Without such deeper understanding, Product Owners can’t make a decision and are drafted by different stakeholder groups into their politic fights and the products are usually failing to deliver the real value. Product Owner doesn’t have to be technical, but the business knowledge is critical to their success.

Can’t Prioritize

Product Owner who believes everything needs to be done is not a Product Owner but customer or stakeholder. Prioritization is key in Scrum, at any time you shall know what is more important than the rest and what are we going to invest our energy (effort and money) into next and the rest later or never, depending on the feedback and impact we achieved by the value delivered. There is always more functionality which can be implemented. But maybe that little we already did is good enough for now and we can focus on some other more important areas. As I said already, 80% of value is hidden in only 20% of the functionality. There is no need to implement 100% of the ideas you have.

Don’t Have Negotiation Skills

The Product Owners without negotiation skills are very weak Product Owners. They often end us accepting everything customers ask for and are struggling to say no. Negotiation skill help Product Owners to understand not only what the users want but also what they need. Ant that’s the key part of the prioritization.

Estimates are the Key

Product owners who focus too much on estimates are mentally tight to the functionality, not the business value. In the traditional world, the estimates are important as all we care about is delivery, and we need to deliver more. In the Agile world, it’s not about delivering features. It’s about achieving certain business value. And those two have often only very little in common.

Doesn’t experiment

Product Owners who believe they can create a plan (in agile called Backlog) and then step by step execute it with the development teams during Sprints are not real Product Owners. Backlog can’t be farther from a plan and an iterative approach of delivery is here to inspect and adapt and learn from experiments. Find out where is the real value. The approaches like Lean Startup are quite useful here.

No Impact

As we said, Product Owner shall be able to run experiments. In a way, every backlog item is an experiment where you expect something will happen as a result. That’s the impact. Without knowing why you invest team time and energy into it, why to do it in the first place? Running an experiment without knowing how are you going to evaluate it is silly. That’s not an experiment but functionality you plan to deliver no matter what. Why? Because it’s important. Because I said so. Instead, spend more time identifying the impact so you know why you do it and what you expect to happen. Tools like Impact Mapping are quite helpful here.

Multiple Products

Or shall I say systems, or projects? Because product definition is much wider than that. Product Owners taking care of multiple product don’t have focus, and often don’t have time. Considering Product Owner is the person responsible for the overall product success including the return of investment, it’s quite useful to have the focus for making the product successful and don’t switch the context all the time.

Not Part of the Team

Product Owners sometimes feel they don’t belong to the team. They act as Backlog managers, telling the team what to do, and then waiting to get results/blaming at the end of Sprint. Instead of that, Product Owners are part of the Scrum team, they are team members, they shall collaborate with the team on delivering the value and achieving the Sprint Goal. They are part of the team.

10 Most Common Mistakes of ScrumMaster

Great ScrumMasterBeing great ScrumMaster is a journey, where you have to learn a lot about Agile, Scrum, coaching, facilitation, change, business agility, technical practices, leadership… But all over it all starts with having the agile mindset. This time, I’m not focusing on who you need to be, but quite opposite what you should avoid, as one of the very common questions at the classes is what are the most common mistakes of ScrumMaster. So here is the list:

Being a Team Assistant

Taking care of the team, solve issues (impediments) for them, plan meetings… It’s easy to get there as it seems to be helpful. But only in the short term. Long-term, it will create unconfident people who rely on ScrumMaster and never take over responsibility and ownership. Instead, you shall show them they can solve most of their problems by themselves, and be a good coach, facilitator and servant leader.

Share ScrumMaster Role with Another Role

Such ScrumMasters have usually lack of focus. They don’t spend enough time observing, finding better ways for the team to become great, and are happy and done with the role once everything is ok. Instead of sharing ScrumMaster role with another role, have ScrumMaster full time, let them focus on how they can become great ScrumMasters and truly master the agility so it will help the entire organization. Give them space to invest more time to the other levels of the #ScrumMasterWay concept.

Team Only Focus

Speaking about #ScrumMasterWay concept, many ScrumMasters believe that their only role is to support their development team to be great. I mean this is fine, but it’s just a tiny part on the ScrumMaster journey. It’s like a kindergarten. You need to experience it. That’s where you learn and practice all State of Mind approaches, that’s where you get confidence in yourself as a leader and change agent. But even if you are super successful, it’s only changing at the team level. You need to go broader and follow the other steps of the #ScrumMasterWay model and change the entire organization into an agile organization.

Technical Expert

Being a technical expert is dangerous for ScrumMasters. They feel a strong need to advise people on what to do. If you know a better solution, it’s just easier to tell them, then help them to figure it out. Instead, ScrumMaster shall trust the team they are the experts and coach them so they become better.

Manage Meetings

ScrumMaster is neither manager of the Scrum meetings, nor responsible for scheduling them. Instead, ScrumMaster shall be a facilitator, who takes care about the form of the conversation, not the content.

Don’t Believe in Scrum

How many times you’ve seen ScrumMaster who is doubting about the core Scrum so much that no one is following them? You need to be sure it works, need to believe in it, need to be the biggest Agile enthusiast all around. Otherwise, you can’t make the others to follow.

Apply ‘Fake Scrum’

Sometimes ScrumMasters take Scrum as just a process, don’t search for deeper understanding. Just do it (Daily Scrum, backlog, ScrumMaster role, …) as Scrum says so. They don’t have the right mindset. Agile and Scrum is not about practices, it’s a different way of thinking. It’s about “being” not “doing”.

Waiting for Someone Else to Start the Change

ScrumMasters often wait for someone else to initiate a change. They are reluctant to take over responsibility and ownership and the organization is not moving anywhere. Instead of waiting forever, ScrumMaster shall be a change agent, responsible for the entire organization Agile journey.

Scrum and Agile Expert

It’s enough to understand Agile and Scrum. Which is simple so we are done. Being ScrumMaster is a journey, and you can never stop learning. Even if you feel you know Agile and Scrum, there is always something new. And there are those other domains you need to master: coaching, facilitation, change, business agility, team dynamics, technical practices, leadership, … The learning is never ending.

We Are Great Team, We Are Done.

Often ScrumMasters let their team believe they can be done. The team is good, we finished our Agile transformation. Don’t bother us with new ideas. We know how to work. We are self-organized. You can never be done in a complex environment. There is always a better way. So instead of this false believe, ScrumMasters shall coach the team so they see other opportunities to inspect and adapt.

From Good to Great: Cross-Functional Teams

Next blog in the “From Good to Great” series (Don’t Copy Find Your Own Way, Radical Transparency, Agile Mindset, and Collaboration) is focusing on cross-functional teams. It seems like basics, but I realized that organizations still don’t fully understand why the cross-functional teams are critical to Agile and Scrum success. I guess it is grounded in the fundamental mindset shift, where the organizational focus is moving from functionality driven to the value driven. In traditional organizations, the delivery of functionality was the key. That’s what we focused on and that’s what we measure. It’s the world of allocation and reworks caused by misalignment which all over creates so many dependencies, that delivering end to end feature is a nightmare and takes forever.

Component teams

Business value

In agile organizations, the focus is changing to deliver business value. And here is the problem. Business value is hard to measure before you get feedback from the customers and users. There is no formula. All you have to do is to get feedback fast and inspect and adapt based on that. And here we are: the cross-functional team is an enabler of fast feedback as there is no way users will give you quality feedback on the backend or one system change while they have a hard time to imagine what does it mean for them. They give feedback on the end to end functionality, that actually often goes across all the technologies and systems in your organization. As such, teams need to be able to deliver value end to end. Otherwise, you are mentally at the manufacturing line where teams work in sequential mode and trying to parallelize this work creates so many dependencies that are making your life hell and preventing teams to focus on the value. They micro-focus on the part of functionality without seeing the whole and the feedback will suffer.

Cross-functional teams

The typical misunderstanding is that cross-functional team means that everyone needs to be expert on everything. But that’s not needed. All we need to have is a team willing to learn and take over responsibility for the end to end value delivery. A team, which can take any item from the backlog (which is end-to-end functionality which brings the value by the definition) and finish it together. They don’t need to take it as individuals, they collaborate as a team. In most of the cases, it’s not that hard in reality once you overcome the initial resistance of team members and the overspecialization mindset of the organization. Try it, and see that I was right :).

Impact

In addition to what has been said, we don’t do functionality because we can, we don’t do it because we believe there is a value, we implement it as we expect something to happen. It is impact driven, strategic approach. And that’s a game changer. In order to be able to measure impact, we need to be able to deliver working product frequently so you can really see how different functionalities changing people behavior. And to do that, cross-functional teams are the essential enabler.

During their agile journey, companies often ask what shall we do if we can’t have cross-functional teams. And the truth is I don’t know, except make it happen. It only needs courage and focus, which are two of the Scrum values after all so nothing new. All over, Agile without cross-functional teams is only empty process, kind of a fake agile where we are using the terminology but not changing the mindset at all.

From Good to Great: Collaboration

Next blog in the From Good to Great series (Don’t Copy Find Your Own Way, Radical Transparency, and Agile Mindset) is focusing on the collaboration. There is nothing magical on it, just people are so got used to working as individuals that they forgot what the collaboration is about. However, collaboration is the key aspect of the Agile environment and if you can’t collaborate, there is no way you become Agile.

The traditional organizations are all about processes, rules, and delegation. All we need to do is to analyze the situation, come up with the way we want to handle it, and describe it in a process, and follow it. It shall be enough. It’s the world where we simply rely on processes in our day to day decision making. In simple situations, it works well, as the transparency and predictability of the situation are playing in favor. In complicated situations, it might not be flexible enough and people and organizations will struggle to react properly to the situations. In a complex situation when it’s hard to predict what happens it’s mostly failing.

“Tight processes are killing creativity and only work at simple and predictable situations.”

The more complicated is the situation you face on day to day basis, the more are companies failing to describe the process to be followed. It seems to be unavoidable that rules and practices are not enough to be successful, delegation come in place and the situation results in creating new roles and position for those who are responsible for certain part of the process. It allows more flexibility and responsiveness as people on the contrary to the processes can make a judgment based on the particular situation and solve it better. It’s the world of individual responsibility, where we create a single point of contact we can blame when things go wrong. Similarly to the previews process-oriented world, there is no real collaboration happening. Either I do it, or you do it. And it must be clear who is the owner.

“Individual responsibility kills collaboration and team spirit.”

Finally, over here we cross the line of collaboration. At least from a technical point of view.

This already starts feeling like a collaboration. At least at the first look, as there are more people working together. However, there is still one person responsible and the other just helping them. It’s a good first step, but at the end of the day, it’s closer to the delegation scale, than collaboration as the unequal ownership make one side more invested in the results than the other, where the owner usually makes decisions, plans, and responsibility, while the other support them with the inputs. It’s still more likely to create blaming than shared ownership and responsibility. While it may be a good first step, it’s not collaboration as we speak about it in an agile environment.

“Helping each other on their tasks is not a collaboration. Collaboration needs equal ownership.”

Finally, there is a real collaboration, where people have shared responsibility, shared ownership, and one goal together. It’s not important who does what, there is no task assignment up front, they all just do what is needed and make their decisions at the time. This is a type of collaboration, is what makes teams in Agile and Scrum great. Such collaboration creates high performing environments. If you truly want to be agile, and not just struggle to pretend that following practices are enough, it’s time to get rid of individual responsibility, which is often grounded in your org chart, position schemes, and career paths and learn how to create a real collaborative environment with shared responsibility and ownership. Learn how “We can do it together”.

From Good to Great: Agile Mindset

The next blog in the From Good to Great series which started by Don’t copy, find your own way and Radical transparency is focusing on the most important part of being Agile – Agile mindset. The mindset change is very difficult to describe. People who are far from being Agile are often saying “That’s what we are already doing, so what is this buzz about Agile about?” or “This will never work in reality, Agile is only for unicorns.” But it still exists so I thought I will share with you the picture how I see the Agile mindset change journey now.

Delivery

At the beginning of the Agile journey, it’s all about output. The delivery is the key. People care about efficiency, measuring velocity, estimating effort and complexity using Story points, T-shirt sizes, drawing Burndown charts. “How can we deliver faster?” is the most common question. People want to measure everything. They still believe the work which needs to be done can be analyzed and planned, so they create mini ‘stories’ aka business requirements with all the details specified, often using acceptance criteria to add more details. They also believe that we only need to follow the plan and deliver everything as described as soon as possible to be successful. Nice and simple world. But that’s not what Agile is about so you can freely forget most of the practices mentioned above. They might be better than some others from pure traditional world, but most of them have nothing to do with being Agile. It’s just ‘fake Agile’. On the other hand, most of the people couldn’t learn how to dance overnight, so a bit of ‘fake Agile’ might be a good step towards the mindset change. To be fair there are some aspect teams need to master at this level, mostly going back to the XP (Extreme Programming) like continuous integration, shared code, TDD, regular refactoring, and pair programming or mob programming, but that’s not enough to be agile.

Strategy

The more you apply the agility, and aspects like self-organization to raise empowerment, cross-functionality to be business value driven, and frequent product reviews to be customer-centric, the more your focus turn from delivery to the vision: Why are we doing it? For whom? What makes it different? What is the value? How are we going to change the world? People start to see that delivery is important, but just prerequisite. It’s not about delivering faster (but wrong things). It’s about maximizing value, which actually can be achieved by delivering less than before. The million-dollar question is how can we know this item brings value. The answer is surprisingly simple: Feedback. You can start with the implementation of Scrum. Short Sprints help teams to focus value delivery through defining Sprint Goals, cross-functional teams enable fast feedback from customers through regular Sprint Reviews, and good Product Owner brings decent business knowledge and creates a relationship with the customers so the feedback makes sense. Tools like User Stories and Story Mapping, which are by definition customer-centric value-driven (if used how they are supposed to be) are useful concepts to start a conversation about the business value. At this stage, people believe that if they have a good vision, and understand the customer well, they are going to be successful. Sounds great, the only weak point is that often that’s not enough in nowadays constantly changing the world.

Impact

Finally, the last stage of the Agile mindset change is acknowledging that we don’t know where the value is, we can’t analyze it, we can’t plan it. All we can do is to iterate and inspect and adapt. This stage is finally where we stop pretending we know where the value is, and start heavily experiment. Note, that 80% experiments must fail by definition, so you need to run very small tiny reality checks which are expected to be opportunities for learning. Teams learn fast from day to day failures, always looking for better ways, and when every experiment goes as they expected they take is as an indicator of lack of transparency, honesty and relevant feedback. All over radical transparency is their best friend, empowerment doesn’t stop at the at the team level but goes through the entire organization, and emergent leadership is the key engine to creativity and innovations. The delivery at this mindset stage is needed but is quite unimportant. It’s like walking. You would say you need to walk to get somewhere. But if you don’t know where the ‘somewhere’ is, walking no matter how fast only makes you tired. At this stage, it’s not even about a strategy that much as the strategy is emergent and changes depending on the feedback. It’s all about if the outcome created impact. If you know what do you want to achieve, you can measure if it’s happening. The sooner the better. Gojko Adzic and his Impact Mapping is a good tool to start. As he often shares in his stories you don’t implement functionality because you know how to implement it, nor because someone believes or say it is a good thing to be done. You do it to achieve your goal. If you have any evidence that the impact you need to achieve it is happening, you continue. If not, you stop and find another assumption to test. If you think about it, this is a very different way of prioritization, working, and thinking. That’s the real agile mindset. Once you embrace such a way of working, you are Agile.

I travel and speak at many conferences per year, and often to help them promote their event I draw a picture from some interesting talk. This time I decided to share Gojko’s keynote sketch from Agile Vilnius (#9 to attend this year 🙂  ) here as it is well aligned with my blog post and there is never too little visualization.