Almost three years into building this community, I believe we might now have achieved the critical mass to organize a great conference — the Hands-on Agile 2019 Conference. Currently, I would target the second quarter of 2019 for the first Hands-on Agile conference. To reduce complexity, I would plan for Berlin as its location although London might be an alternative.
Update 2018-08-12: The survey results are in — it is Berlin, see below.
“Accelerate” [advertising] is a must-read book for anyone involved in building agile organizations and teams. It lays out a path to success based on a statistical analysis of data. It also puts an end to the popular narrative that ’becoming agile’ is somehow a fuzzy process. The data shows that there are patterns at all levels that successful agile organizations share.
Scrum Master Duties: supposedly, a great scrum master serves only one scrum team — that's at least a popular narrative in the scrum community. Nevertheless, there is also a loud voice that doubts that approach: what would you do the whole day - with a single team? Aren't they supposed to become self-organizing over time? And if so, does the scrum then need a scrum master 24/7?
As I worked for years as a product owner on scrum teams without a dedicated scrum master-which was working well-I was curious to learn more about that question, too. Hence I ran a survey in late June and early July 2018, the results of which are presented here.
In total, 261 scrum masters participated in this non-representative survey in the two weeks before July 5th, 2018. 19 participants chose not to provide their consent to Google processing and to store their answers. Hence their contributions were deleted, resulting in a sample size of 242 responses.
Master autonomy purpose — in this article, I present a slightly different way of viewing agile maturity, through Dan Pink's lens of Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose; as a simple and useful way of fostering conversations and ensuring all relevant perspectives are considered.
Scrum Master Hiring: Demand Creates Supply and the Job Market for Agile Practitioners is No Exception
Maybe, “Agile” in general is a management fad and not trend at the moment. But what we can say for sure is that Scrum has become very popular for software development purposes. A seasoned Scrum master is nowadays in high demand. And that demand causes the market-entry of new professionals from other project management branches, probably believing that reading one or two Scrum books will be sufficient.
If you are looking to fill a position for a Scrum master (or agile coach) in your organization, you may find the following 38+9 interview questions useful to identify the right candidate. They are derived from my ten years of practical experience with XP as well as Scrum, serving both as Product owner and Scrum master as well as interviewing dozens of Scrum master candidates on behalf of my clients.
Learn how individual incentives and outdated organizational structures — fostering personal agendas and local optimization efforts — manifest themselves in scrum stakeholder anti-patterns which easily can impede any agile transition.
TL;DR: Agile Failure Patterns — Why Agile is Simple and Complex at the Same Time
Agile failure seems to be increasingly more prominent nowadays despite all the efforts undertaken by numerous organization embarking on their journeys to become agile.
The funny thing is: Who would disagree that the four core principles of the Agile Manifesto —
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
— are derived from applying common sense to a challenging problem? Moreover, that the application of those principles might be suited to fix numerous organizational dysfunctions and reduce an error-prone and complex social setting to maybe just a complicated one?
Scrum Master Anti-Patterns: The reasons why scrum masters violate the spirit of the Scrum Guide are multi-faceted. They run from ill-suited personal traits and the pursuit of individual agendas to frustration with the team itself.
Read on and learn in this final post on scrum anti-patterns how you can identify if your scrum master needs support from the team to up his or her agile game.
TL;DR: 28 Product Backlog and Refinement Anti-Patterns
Scrum is a practical framework to build products, provided you identify in advance what to build. But even after a successful product discovery phase, you may struggle to make the right thing in the right way if your product backlog is not up to the job. Garbage in, garbage out – as the saying goes. The following article points at 28 of the most common product backlog anti-patterns – including the product backlog refinement process – that limit your Scrum team’s success.
TL;DR: 42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions That Will Benefit Your Organization
This second publication in the Hands-on Agile Fieldnotes series provides 42 questions and answers for the Scrum Product Owner interview.
Co-authored with Andreea Tomoiaga, 42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Hiring Agile Imposters represents the most important learnings of our more than 20 years combined hands-on experience with Kanban, Scrum, XP, and several product discovery frameworks. We have worked as Scrum Product Owners, Scrum Masters, agile coaches, and developers in agile teams and organizations of all sizes and levels of maturity.
We have each participated in interviewing dozens of Scrum Product Owner candidates on behalf of our clients or employers. The questions and answers herein are what we have learned.
Suitable agile metrics reflect either a team’s progress in becoming agile or your organization’s progress in becoming a learning organization.
At the team level, qualitative agile metrics typically work better than quantitative metrics. At the organizational level, this is reversed: quantitative agile metrics provide better insights than qualitative ones.
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #155—shared with 18,683 peers—focuses on effective team building, how agile data can support your storytelling during an agile transition, and why the change agent needs to be ahead of the game at any time.
We also have a look at the silent estimation technique and why it may replace planning poker, and why professional product backlogs have the shape of an iceberg.
Lastly, we ask ourselves: is ‘lean startups’ probably nothing more than a failed ideology, a useless tool if your organization is looking to improve its innovation game?
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #154—shared with 18,591 peers—focuses on agile’s many faces, be it the progress of business agility, mob programming, or descaling the organization to ‘scale agile.’
We also have a look at Scrum.org’s brand-new advanced scrum master class, and share a reading tip — Jez Humble’s recent book on building and scaling high-performance technology organizations is eye-opening.
Lastly, we applaud Peter Casinelli who advocates that developers should conduct user tests, we learn six principles of modern product discovery, and we take to heart that no one is immune to cognitive bias.
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #153—shared with 18,517 peers—focuses on agnostic agile as a critical element for successful agile transitions and the havoc a dogmatic use of any of the agile frameworks may cause. Which leads to the question of whether we need all the ceremonies anyway? (There is a Spotify experiment that may help to answer this question.)
We also get back to team building—starting from scratch or starting over—, and we cherish a free book on continuous innovation from InfoQ.
Finally, we address the odd couple again—(UX) design and agile—and try to make things work for everyone.
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #152—shared with 18,406 peers—focuses agile estimates: are they always waste or are there situations where agile estimates are useful? Moreover, in the latter case how to make sure that you provide the right estimates?
We also enjoy a sample chapter from a good book on product design, listing nine critical tools, and shed light on the questions whether infrastructure teams need product management, too.
Finally, John Cutler shares his observations on how coaching engagements often start and also come to an end. (Let’s create a list of these signs — so we can prepare yourselves for next time when it is our turn.)