Video and Whitepaper Are up

The artifacts are up from Agile 2019! I’m super happy with the quality.


Video (You have to be a member of the Agile Alliance for this) . Super fun!


Agile 2019 – Day 4

Day four was the big day for me – Talk Day! My talk on coaching remote, non-agile teams was a load of fun. What was super cool was that I went to the guy before me, a gentleman named Steve Adolph, who was speaking about remote work and “The sun never sets on the problem-solving workshop”. It supported many of the items that I was suggesting in my talk.

A Full Session!

My talk was super fun, and I’m pleased that it was a full session. The demand for help and tips for remote coaching is huge. As you can see on the front page, I got 28 great tips on doing remote work. Yet, remote work is complex and, like Agile, there is no silver bullet. Nothing that will “fix it” especially when considering lower levels of overlap time, etc. I’m pleased to say that Mark Kilby, an author on the topic of remote work, was in attendance. I hope to collaborate with him and Joanna Rothman in the future.

The folks at @AgileAlliance were practiced and professional, and I left there feeling like the talk went really well. The point of my talk, and many others is that remote work isn’t solved by practices or tools, but in mindset. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? 🙂 There’s a recording of my session coming up, but for now, if you’re a member you can see the whitepaper here.

I’m super pleased to have given away the hottest item of the conference, the SolutionsIQ water bottle. Those things went like wildfire! But the big winner was the Rosalie R., who won a timeular device! Thanks to the folks at Timeular for providing that give away. I’ll be holding a second give away here in the near future, so stay tuned!

The rest of the day was a blur.

In the afternoon block, I attended the interesting Adapting TBR for remote learning, by Shane Hastie and Shannon Ewan. Training from the Back of the Room is a book that I have only heard of and gotten some of their lessons through others. I was pleased to see the four C’s so well explained. However without being there, it’d be tough to explain the session, which was very workshoppy, so check out this link to find out more about the 4 Cs and 6 trumps.

After that, I went to my final session, Liberating Structures, by the entertaining Alex Sloley. We did the 4-6-2-1 exercise, a structure to share information verbally. I liked that he said don’t tell people you’re doing this thing, just do them, and notice how it works. It’ll be your little secret with yourself.

Meeting Carey in DC – Yay!

I was able to meet with a colleague from Accenture training, Carey, which was super fun. We spoke of VR-based training, my latest obsession.

Before I knew it, Agile 2019 was over and I was on the Accella train to NY to see my family for a mini-family reunion. It was a great week, and I’ll be distilling those lessons for some time to come. This is the fam – loved that I could connect work and play!

The NY Family

Agile 2019 – Day 3

Started the day with a great keynote from Lynne Cazaly, the author if Ish. She spoke, in a wonderful Australian accent, about the scourge of perfectionism. She referenced a few books. “The Lie that Perfectionists tell themselves.”

The perfectionist doesn’t get more recognition!

The problem with going for perfect. – Overthinking overworking reworking, sleeplessness, pain anxiety, depression. Increase levels of trust, deepen it.

Often you can’t launch because you think it needs to be perfect. For me, this is considered “ready”. I liked her notion of Satisficing – going for good enough. She was really funny. “Everyone Ished today. Who’s wearing jeans from yesterday?” It was very entertaining. The point is when to Ish and when not to Ish. Mentioned a few effects – Pratfall effect – showing mistakes and the perception is better. Spotlight effect – the spotlight effect is the phenomenon in which people tend to believe they are being noticed more than they really are. Finally Wabi-Sabi effect, which is the broken ceramiic made more valuable.

The irony of expertise, e.g. the collaboration expert who gets a divorce. What is ours? I have to think about that.

Good talk on Lean portfolio management by Christopher Pola (Rally) and Laureen Knudsen (Rally)

A lot of lean portfolio management at the conference this year. The presenters had a lot of practical experience. She said that projects generally become greener (more satisfactory) as time and reporting levels go on. They had a nice metaphor of using Kenny Rogers “The Gambler” theme. A lot of know when to fold up, know when to hold up, etc. 🙂 I like this question: “Do you honestly measure the success of outcomes?”. He pointed to WSJF aka Cost of Delay as a good way to make “a gamble” into what you fund in a project.

In the afternoon session, I started with Evening the Odds: The Monte Carlo Technique for Project Forecasting (Hunter Tammaro).

It was really informative, though I do wish there was a bit more theory, like the math behind monte Carlo, that was overcome by the great and bold step to actually use the spreadsheet in the session. Very practical. I have a copy of his spreadsheet now I can play with.

Planning is guessing

  • Don’t mistake math for certainty
  • Even if you’re 80% sure, you’re wrong 1 in 5 times
  • You need historical data
  • to take a few weeks to track if you need to gut estimate may get you over this hump.

Will work be completed at the same rate? – Keep the team clear of impediments and keep teams consistent

Will work items be the same size? Keep an eye on story splitting and estimation and discuss when work items are unusually large. Does the backlog we’re simulating adequately represent the project?
Build in a buffer of a nice to haves so you have features to trade out if you need to and adjust your projected backlog using historical data.

Easy to create and update, validates Agile concepts, replaces a datapoint with a conversation.

I was deciding on which session to go to and I saw a HUGE line 30 minutes before the next session. It was Jeff Sutherland’s topic on Flow metrics. This show – Flow – Why Process Efficiency is a Key Metric for High Performing Agile Teams (Jeff Sutherland, Jessica Larsen)
Definition of “Lean” – Process Efficiency > 25%. He asked if anyone in the room of 200 who knew what their process efficiency is. One person raised their hands. Amazon has 3300 scrum teams and has high process efficiency. They publish a total of 1 per minute I think he said.

So they’re saying to use this along with velocity as if the velocity was how fast the car could go, and the process eff. is the how efficient that engine is distributing power, friction, heat, etc.

Interestingly, Jeff takes that number and leverages story points, to keep people away from hours. To this, I breathed a sigh of relief. He told a great story about a hospital and how the surgeons were mistreating the cleaning lady. This is the core lesson – treat them as equals. Faster cleaning was part of the entire value stream of providing care.

He was pumping his upcoming Pattern book which sounds quite interesting (Actually I think its by JJ Sutherland) ..not out yet. The idea is that velocity

Jeff and Jessica were a great team on the stage and I found it very interesting, one of the best. I’m glad I followed the crowd on this one. I intend on trying the Process Efficiency metric when I get back 🙂 He asked for people

Shock therapy in scrum – “why isn’t the top story on the backlog not done yet?” Instead of the three questions. Interesting. Other notes – pair programming increases quality but leaves velocity untouched


Agile 2019 – Day 2

Anytime I can combine worlds I love it. I’m a gamer and love EDM and Agile. When agile and gaming come up together, I’m there. In this case, I was thrilled to see League of Legends creator Riot Games had two men giving a great speech about creating the KDA Popstars, a fictional band created of LoL characters, that destroyed the charts last year.

Came away with the idea of summiting a mountain – Camp “n” model, shown below:

Teams that are built around them with the goal of getting them not necessarily to the top, which can be the decade away, but to the next camp.

The mindset shift is from protecting the company from its crazy employee ideas, but how to do we enable it, and place guard rails so they don’t kill themselves. KDA was a coalition of the unwilling. They were able to blow through legal work in six months. They leveraged the BAI framework as a guide but only loosely.

It’s not transactional – innovation is not transactional. These are long plays. Agility requires craft excellence that continually improves over time, is the most impactful to creating value. Try and experiment and learn. This is at the heart of it. What does it take to focus on the customer? We are player focused? What struck me is that you grow abilities long before there is an ROI on it. This is the key. This quote is a key takeaway: “The customer is always moving. So saying that we’re customer-focused is to say that we are always moving. This is why we need to be agile.

Fishbowl on Agile coaching – 2-3:15 Shane Hastie and Evan Laybourn

Interesting experience with this one. People would get up and enter a circle with some coaches. Agile practices may not work in things that are not technology directly. So, the mindset could travel to finance for example, but not the practices.

Interesting question about the younger generations coming into agile, which I thought was good. I don’t see the troubles coming from the younger generation but the older ones. Keeping a growth mindset is very important to teach.
-> Look at 13 characteristics of Agile? Couldn’t find it? Evan has a book that sounds interesting.

-> Agile Manifesto for HR? Gotta look that up.

Talk to HR about the things that get in their way and what about the agile mindset applies? We need to solve their problems, not impose our frameworks, processes, and practices.

A lot of transformations fail because of the top changes. We have to affect the board. The board is the furthest away from the customer. Is agility entering the boardroom? Need to look at this model…. the second time I’ve seen it. MBA’s are still aligned with the old school. Get in front of these MBAs, or training orgs to bring agility and growth mindset from day one.

Love this: what are the new management styles needed for this new, always moving, customer? What about value streams – they are better at it than silos. Brand loyalty is weaker than ever before. The conversation pulled out the data that we need to watch how the awards of a system are given out, e.g. salespeople rewarded for sales, rather than customer satisfaction. He didn’t succeed where he was because he didn’t have top-down support. Watch out for local-maxima – when a transformation gets you to a place. We do SAFE, we do Scrum, then LESS, repeat. It’s okay! just get them moving to that next place. It was a good talk! business agility institute is where to find more.

Facilitating Distributed Teams – Mark Kilby

Super excited about this one since I’ve been coaching a fully distributed team for over a year now. He’s an excellent presenter, and I love that he’s run against the Agile establishment regarding co-location. My thoughts are his – distribution is not our idea…but we’re gonna have to deal with them. I love the way he used Mentimeter during the entire pitch. Seamless, and added to the presentation. It’s quite a tool! Below are my random stream-of-consciousness notes:

Open space works with distributed teams and that way you don’t have to be at everything! Teams own their collaboration.

Meetings are a bit more fluid – Connection and Collaboration. Allow for connection!

What can I do about timezones? – 4-5 hours to collaborate per day. We don’t have that. It’s better if you use Kanban or at least a value stream if you have less. Scrum is very difficult in this situation.

Three types of work arrangments:

  • Satellites – one person
  • Clusters – groups of people in locations
  • Nebulas – everyone working remotely buffer, WordPress, etc. This is becoming more common.

Three approaches :

Backchannel – all frequencies open. What do they use? What’s working? KEEP IT. Update presentation about tools! slack and teams as a backchannel. invite the teams to look out for each other. In the meeting, chat tools are bad because the questions are lost. Backchannel can be used for a backup for online meetings. Zoom and backup google meetings. Reminder about retro safe checks.

Buddy system – each remote person has a buddy in the main location. So, if there are a few people in the call of a mostly in-person meeting, have a representative.

Co-pilots – someone who can help you facilitate the whole team meeting. Facilitation (equal ) pairing

Host and Producer (handles logistics) . This requires a little upfront planning. Add the steve”backup facilitator” note in my story.

Where the Action is – J. Elise Keith . Book reference – human connection and focus on the work product

Have a Plan B (and maybe C)

Goal or process not right?

Technical issues

You as a facilitator have an unexpected event

How to read the room?

  • I need instruments! I’m in a capsule!
  • Meeting checkin
  • Account for different styles – Introvert, extrovert. Introverts like to type more than not.
  • Build your own cockpit – Multiple channels always.
  • The question is map all five senses into the virtual space?
  • Combine async and sync.

Try new tech! Collaboration tools change monthly! Keep up.

Choose one thing to try of the list we learned.

One on one videos when you start.

Take away – try the open space with them, do the facilitation book, and the control panel approach.


Agile 2019 – Day 1

Great first day to Agile 2019. I thought the keynote was good, though I wasn’t familiar with the speaker, Chris Bailey. He’s got a book called Hyper Focus, which looks interesting.

Went to a Beyond Agile variant called BOSSA nova. It’s Beyond budgeting, Open Space, Sociocracy, and Agile. It’s a very interesting model that I’ll look into for sure. It was a bit too much to fit into an hour, and I found myself a bit lost. There’s a book here, so more research is needed. Love the idea.

Circles and Soup were mentioned at Johanna Rothman and Mark Kilby’s talk today this afternoon’s great talk on Agile principles that work remotely or colocated. Here’s a link:

Part of my focus is remote coaching due to my current client, and you’ll see that throughout my session selections. Mark and I spoke a few times during this day and on day 4 (when I’m updating this). He has this wonderful take on teams and tools and time that I’ll be writing about. But the overall tone from him and others in this remote space are that it’s here to say and we might as well get good at it. Here’s Mark’s book on the topic.

I tried to get to the Mike Cottmeyer speech on Organizational Transformation but it filled up FAST, showing significant demand, so I flipped over to a session on Kanban Cadences. I’m always trying to brush up on Kanban stuff because I think it’s evolving pretty fast, but also really quiet, unlike other hyped methods. 🙂 I liked the two techniques, Operations Reviews, and the Risk Reviews, two of the most powerful Kanban Cadences according to the presenters, and I intend on reviewing the processes for future use.

Overall the vibe of day one was as positive as I remembered from years ago. The conference seemed organized and professional than before, but that chaos could have been my emotional state when I attended last. 🙂

I spent a bit of time at the evening ice breaker and will upload pictures later. My biggest takeaway from the hall was that BP and Lockheed-Martin were there! I think it’s great to see “client companies”.


On the ground and checked in at Agile 2019!

I’ve been to this conference five or six times over my career. My first time way back in 2007, I wanted to understand more about my role as an agilist/scrum master and it was at this same location – the wonderful Gaylord National in downtown Washington D.C.

A Town…inside the hotel

After I managed to get a quick nap after my red-eye, I stumbled into the blazing heat of D.C. to find caffeine. I actually got an iced coffee, which is as close to sacrilege as I am comfortable with. Downtown has gotten even more beautiful, and I had a wonderful crab cake down on the waterfront.

This beach is super cool!

Memories flood my mind as I walk this hotel. I remember meeting with people in the little town they built inside the hotel. I’m telling you, the thing is massive.

I’m excited to get back to my roots, to get some pure oxygen of a conference like this. I’ll post daily about what I learned here and on Twitter.