Month: November 2018

Transparency

Transparency

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Transparency & Agile

What does Transparency mean to #People?

Does transparency mean to be open about everything? or does it mean we all need to agree on everything? The answer basically goes back to understanding what’s the context, so “it depends”. Transparency is a vital component that has to be met in order for us to collaborate effectively and understand agile principles and values. Sometimes we lose our thoughts on transparency because we are missing the definition of what does transparency actually mean.

How does #Culture relate to Transparency?

When we start talking about transparency at an organization level, we have to understand the culture and environment around us. Culture is a key, and hence something that we always blame when things aren’t transparent. In an organization where culture is not strong, we see that the blame goes directly to the culture, which is quite ironic because when that happens, it kind of gives you a glimpse of what that organizational culture might be. Would people feel empowered in an environment where blame is being dumped on culture? How do we fix this problem, I tell people to first ask yourself the question: “How transparent am I?”. In order to change the culture, I believe it has to start with the individual first. I encourage people to ask questions listed here:

  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • As a team/organization, what is our vision?
  • Are we all on the same page?
  • What do I need to do to become better and help my team/organization deliver value?
  • How are you doing? 
  • How was your day? 
  • How is it going? 
  • Is there anything I can do to help support you all?
  • [Insert your question here]

These are all good questions but the bolded ones are the most important, in my opinion. Sometimes we get so caught up on work, that we don’t bother asking general questions to empathize with the person you are working with. This is important because understanding the person, and what they are going through can help enrich the dialogue and conversation, and build the TRUST needed to increase transparency!

How does everyone #Value Transparency?

This term “value” has a lot of weight because how someone values transparency can be different from person to person. This is why as mentioned earlier that it is important to come to a common definition of how we would like to define transparency. Individually, you can have your personal definition of transparency, but when you are working with a team, it is also crucial to come up with a team/organization definition of transparency. This mimics sort of a working agreement within a team. This working agreement can be used as a tool to help create guardrails and clarity on the definition of transparency, as well as serve as a medium to help build more TRUST!

Trust and Transparency: Personal Example:

Asking the question “How transparent am I?”, I thought of an idea to put this to test. So knowing the technologies available on our phones today, I recently shared my location with my parents, so they know where I am and my whereabouts, however, what I learned from activating this feature on my phone was interesting. Some may consider that this is too much, some may say I would never do that, but what I did there was actually change our definition of transparency. I realized that improving transparency with my parents, I have now allowed them visibility on my whereabouts, but what I also have done in parallel is taken my trust to the next level. I noticed that they aren’t as worried as they were previously, fewer phone calls as a result. (Disclaimer: Not encouraging that anyone should do this, but this really worked well for us). I take this example to illustrate the concept of how our definition of transparency can change and lead to increased levels of trust. The same concept can be followed in our organizations. If we have people who are not transparent, maybe we can do something to allow us to continuously build trust until we can change the definition of transparency.  Trust is vital, not just in terms of transparency or agile, but also when you are working within a team. To build this trust, think of this example, and start asking “What is the next thing I can do to improve my transparency?”. On the opposite spectrum also ask the question, “What is the next thing I can do to improve trust within our organization?”. Two important questions, because as we can see the relationship between Trust and Transparency are vital for any team to be successful.

Don’t be afraid to speak up, foster positivity, and collectively move towards your goal by changing yourself first.

I hope this helps, but I’m curious to hear everyone else’s thoughts on how they handle transparency within their organizations. How can we collectively share our issues here to learn from each other? Are there other ways we can tackle this issue? Comment below and join our journey.

#AgileMillennials #ContinuousLearning #EmpowerTrust #ImproveTransparency

#PEOPLE #CULTURE #VALUE

 

 

3 Practical ways to be Agile Daily

3 Practical ways to be Agile Daily

Reading Time: 4 minutes

3 Practical Ways to be Agile Daily

 

The word “Agile” is one of the new buzzwords of recent years, and I wonder if people, especially millennials are aware of what it really means… And more importantly, I’m curious how people actually perceive the term and apply it to their daily lives.


Thanks to Google, I could more easily explain what I’m trying to express through the definitions above 🙂

The word “Agile”, on its most basic sense, based on Google dictionary is an adjective – it means being able to move quickly and easily. Acronyms are “nimble”, “light-footed”, etc.

On the other hand, the word “Agile” is also related, and most popularized by the project/product management methodology that IT people, (developers, Scrum Masters, and all those who study and aspire to be in the industry) know.

So what does being “Agile” really mean? How do we, as millennials, grasp this term and leverage it in our daily lives? Here are three easy and practical ways on how to be so:

1) Don’t Overthink

I think this is probably the root cause of all “un-agileness” amongst us. Overthinking is a “waste” both from a Lean perspective, and its most practical sense.

Overthinking just paralyzes your brain and your body to not act quickly and easily. It makes you hesitate on things you should have already done, and worst, it never gets you started on anything.

Of course, this easier said than done, but the way for us millennials to be more agile is to consistently be comfortable with acting rapidly and learning from our rapid decisions. Based from the PDCA cycle (which is the basis of the Agile framework), you can’t check and act if you don’t “do”.

One thing to note about is that we are not advocating doing without thinking. As with the PDCA cycle, we need to plan accordingly, but without waiting for a long period of time. Give yourself or your team a deadline (or a timebox) to plan and decide which activities you will do for the day.

2) Reduce the “OCD-ness” (Don’t Seek for Perfection every time)

Yes. Yes. and Yes… I know some of you might be laughing right now because you are in the same boat as I am. You are a natural- born OCD. For those who might be unfamiliar with the term, OCD stands for “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”. It is the need and urge to be obsessively “perfect” in things that we do. For example, I my OCD-ness kicks in every morning when I fix my bed before I go to work. The distance of the bed sheet from both sides of the bed (left and right) needs to be exactly equal. If not, I kinda freak out and do it all over again. And guess what; I just spent 5 minutes making sure that the distance was equal, instead of the normal 30 seconds.

 

The same goes for everyone. We all have our inner perfectionist weighing us down.  What are your OCD habits that prevent you from being more agile?

3) Enjoy the TimeBox

Another way to be more agile daily is just by enjoying and respecting the “timebox”. So what is this timebox?

A timebox is a fixed duration which individuals and teams would operate under normal circumstances. It is a length of time which you or your team sets so that they could get stuff done. For example, my daily timebox for waking up and preparing for work (eg. taking a shower, getting dressed, eating breakfast, etc.) would be 6 to 6:45 am.  I know that if the clock hits 6:45, it’s time to go. I don’t do any chit-chat, check my emails, or cook food after 6:45. I relish and enjoy all my morning activities within that 45- minute timeframe.

What makes it more fun is this word: consistency. I know it’s not one of the most exciting words in the dictionary, but guess what: it works. And you get stuff done in a breeze. As creatures of habit, it is this timebox that gets us going and productive within the day.  It also helps us not to overthink and be overly- OCD, because we are constrained by a specific timeframe. It helps us focus on what truly matters so that we can easily get stuff done.

That is why Scrum ceremonies are based on timeboxes: the daily Scrum is strictly 15 minutes, the Sprint Planning has a maximum length of 8 hours for one- month Sprints, and so on… This simple trick would allow you to achieve your most important goals on a timeframe you wouldn’t even think was possible.

If you wanna know more, read “The One Thing” by Jay Papasan and Gary Keller, the CEO of Keller- Williams Realty. They go in- depth about setting your priorities and timeboxing those into your life.

So what do you think about these 3 ways? Do you have more ways to that we can be more agile in our daily lives? Comment below and let’s discuss some ideas.

 


About the Author:

Vittorio “V” Rendor,  is an Agile Coach who loves to run, travel, and transform teams to be at their highest level. He also loves to learn, collaborate, and share ideas with fellow coaches, peers, and anyone wanting to achieve positive change. You can connect with V through his email vnrendor@gmail.com or through LinkedIn.

 

He is also active in helping out and solving problems in the Scrum Alliance forums.
Daily Scrum vs. Daily Planning – An open letter :)

Daily Scrum vs. Daily Planning – An open letter :)

Reading Time: 2 minutes

An open letter to the authors of Scrum, asking, no, imploring for a change to be considered during the next revision of the Scrum Guide.  Inspect and adapt my friends!  Many thanks for the consideration…

Dear Jeff and Ken,

Long time listener, first time caller.  I am reaching out to ask for you to consider a change for the next revision of the Scrum Guide; can you please replace “Daily Scrum” with “Daily Planning”?

Throughout the last year or so, I have been partnering with Mike Stuedemann to deliver CSM courses.  This has been an extremely valuable opportunity, certainly learning a lot about the nuance of framework (Thanks Mike!).  As part of observing and co-training, I recently listened to him dissect the logic behind this proposed change.  Initially, I was somewhat dismissive of the suggestion, there is no reason to change the word “Scrum”, we are literally talking about “Scrum”!  Over the course of the next several days, the importance of this change was solidified through multiple encounters with the team; each instance hurting me a bit more than the prior…

-“Andrew, I have to skip daily stand-up, here are my status updates.” 

-“Our daily stand-ups take too long, that was almost ten minutes, we should go faster.”

-“I don’t see why I need to hear everyone’s’ updates, I am not working on that stuff.”

As a passionate and enthusiastic Scrum Master, I spent time working with the team to help everyone see the value in the Daily Scrum and reinforce the purpose and value to this daily planning event.  The conversations were very beneficial for everyone involved.  However, I am sure that conversations on this topic have had to happened thousands of times across thousands of teams. 

I, and others (large sample size of 2), feel like this minor word choice change may help reduce the need for these conversations by increasing the transparency to the purpose.  Daily Planning, as a title, speaks bluntly to the value of the event, the purpose would be in the title, planning for the day!  No confusion!  Reduce agile anti-patterns!  The term Daily Scrum is fun, and I get all of the great links to teaming and moving together, that is great, I get it, however I think there would be more value in the transparency and clarity over the metaphorical aspect.

I appreciate the consideration gentlemen, good day.

Your friend in Scrum,

Andrew Sherwood       


About the Author:

Image result for Andrew Sherwood MBA MSc

 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewrobertsherwood

Andrew Sherwood, PMP, CSM, CSP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB, currently serves as the Director-MBA with Midland University as well as working with software development teams at Mutual of Omaha as a Sr. Scrum Master.