How to Create an Agile Community of Practice

TL;DR: Creating an Agile Community of Practice

Creating an agile community of practice helps winning hearts and minds within the organization as it provides authenticity to the agile transition — signaling that the effort is not merely another management fad. Read more to learn how to get your agile community going even without a dedicated budget.

How to Create an Agile Community of Practice — Age of Product

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Webinar #5: Sprint Planning Anti-Patterns — June 5th, 2018

TL;DR: Webinar Sprint Planning Anti-Patterns — June 5th, 2018

Join the fifth Hands-on Agile webinar sprint planning anti-patterns and learn how to keep a simple scrum ceremony effective by avoid popular anti-patterns. The webinar starts on June 5, 2018, from:

  • 06:00 to 07:00 PM CEST (Central European Summer Time)
  • 12:00 to 01:00 PM EDT (Eastern Daylight Time)
  • 09:00 to 10:00 AM PDT (Pacific Daylight Time)

Webinar Sprint Planning Anti-Patterns — June 5th, 2018

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Webinar #1: Product Discovery Anti-Patterns

TL;DR: Webinar Product Discovery Anti-Patterns — April 10th, 2018

Scrum has proven to be a practical product delivery framework for digital products like applications or apps. However, Scrum is equally suited to build the wrong product efficiently as its Achilles heel has always been the product discovery part. What product discovery part, you may think now. And this is precisely the point: The product owner miraculously identifies what the best way to proceed as a team by gating and prioritizing the product backlog is. How that is supposed to happen is nowhere described in the Scrum Guide. Consequently, when everyone is for himself, product discovery anti-patterns emerge. I believe it is time to address this issue with the webinar product discovery anti-patterns.

From sunk costs, HIPPO-ism, my-budget-my-features to self-fulfilling prophecies — learn more about the numerous product discovery anti-patterns that can manifest themselves when you try to fill Scrum’s product discovery void.

Hands-on Agile Webinar Product Discovery Anti-patterns

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Scrum Stakeholder Anti-Patterns

TL; DR: Scrum Stakeholder Anti-Patterns

Learn how individual incentives and outdated organizational structures — fostering personal agendas and local optimization efforts — manifest themselves in scrum stakeholder anti-patterns which easily can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.

Scrum Stakeholder Anti-Patterns by Age-of-Product-1650

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Webinar #4: Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 — May 22nd, 2018

TL;DR: Webinar Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 — May 22nd, 2018

Join the fourth Hands-on Agile webinar agile failure patterns 2.0 and learn why ‘agile’ is not the quick fix for dysfunctional organizations. The webinar starts on May 22, 2018, from:

  • 06:00 to 07:00 PM CEST (Central European Summer Time)
  • 12:00 to 01:00 PM EDT (Eastern Daylight Time)
  • 09:00 to 10:00 AM PDT (Pacific Daylight Time)

Hands-on Agile Webinar Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 — May 22nd, 2018

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Product Backlog Defense

TL; DR: Product Backlog Defense

Product backlog defense — make no mistake: Your product backlog is the last line of defense preventing your team from becoming a feature factory. Figure out a process that creates value for your customers. Moreover, have the courage — and the discipline — to defend it at all costs.

Product Backlog Defense — Age of Product

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Scrum Master Trends Survey 2018 — Join Scrum.org and Age of Product

TL;DR: Scrum Master Trends Survey 2018 — An Anonymous Poll by Scrum.org and Age of Product

The purpose of this the anonymous Scrum Master Trends Survey is to create a clear, data-backed benchmark that allows everyone in the agile community to get an understanding of Scrum Masters, their background, how they got there and where their compensation falls in comparison to others in the community.

Scrum Master Trends Survey 2018 — Join Scrum.org and Age of Product

By the way, the report will cover Scrum Masters as well as Agile Coaches, both employed and freelancing.

Join Scrum Master Trends the survey now: Scrum Master Trends Survey.

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Sprint Planning Checklist

TL;DR: Scrum Sprint Planning Checklist

A sprint planning checklist? How dare you: Agile is a mindset, not a methodology. It is a journey, not a destination. There is no one-size-fits-all-and what else could you possibly cover with a checklist, the mother of all standardized processes?

Well, it always depends on the purpose of a tool's application. Read more why scrum checklists are a handy tool if applied at an operational, hands-on level, reducing your cognitive load and freeing up time for more relevant things.

Scrum Sprint Planning Checklist — Age of Product

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Agile Failure Patterns in Organizations 2.0

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

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. 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?

Age of Product: Agile Failure Patterns in Organizations

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Hiring: 38+9 Scrum Master Interview Questions to Avoid Agile Imposters

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.

38+9 Scrum Master Interview Questions, Fourth Edition 2018


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Reverse Retrospective — Aligning Scrum Team and Scrum Master

TL;DR: The Reverse Retrospective

Are you—as a scrum master or agile coach—experiencing more communication kerfuffles with “your” team? Is its speed of improvement stalling? Are you under the impression that the team is slipping back into old habits and patterns? Maybe, it is time to run a reverse retrospective where your share your observations with the team.

Learn how to run a reverse retrospective to realign with your scrum team.

Reverse Retrospective — Aligning Scrum Team and Scrum Master

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Agile Audit: How Is Your Agile Transition Progressing?

TL;DR: Agile Audit

Supposedly, becoming agile is a journey, not a destination. Which is a convenient narrative if the viability of your consultancy depends on selling men and materiel. The fuzzier the objective of an agile transition the less likely there will be an agile audit addressing the return on investment question the customer might have.

Moreover, a fuzzy objective such as ‘we want to become an agile organization’ is probably the reason for applying the same methodologies indiscriminately to every organization—a one size fits all approach for agile transitions.

However, what if not every organization embarking on a transition to agile practices is meant to become a teal organization or a holacracy? What if being late to the agile transition party is instead a deliberate choice than a manifestation of hubris, ignorance or leadership failure?

Read more on why feedback loops in the form of an agile audit are beneficial for organizations and teams alike.

Agile Audit How Is You Agile Transition Progressing

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13 Signs of a Toxic Team Culture

TL; DR: 13 Signs of a Toxic Team Culture

What looked like a good idea back in the 1990ies—outsourcing, for example, software development as a non-essential business area—has meanwhile massively backfired for a lot of legacy organizations. And yet, they still do not understand what it takes to build a decent product/engineering culture. Learn more about typical anti-patterns and are signs that the organization has a toxic team culture.

13 Signs of a Toxic Team Culture — Age of Product

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Lipstick Agile — 13 Signs You Probably Need a New Job

TL; DR: Lipstick Agile — Happiness in the Trenches?

Have you noticed how many people in the agile field are unhappy with their work situation — caught in a lipstick agile situation where an organization already struggles doing agile? (Not to mention ‘becoming agile.’)

Scrum masters, and agile coaches who are close to either burnout or indifference. Product owners who “own” the product by name only, and developers who are questioning why Scrum a) skips all the practices that make XP work, and b) often turns out to be just another form of micromanagement.

Lipstick Agile — 13 Signs You Probably Need a New Job by Age of Product

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Scrum Master Anti-Patterns — 20 Signs Your Scrum Master Needs Help

TL;DR: Scrum Master Anti-Patterns

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.

Scrum Master Anti-Patterns — 20 Signs Your Scrum Master Needs Help — Age of Product

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Product Owner Anti-Patterns — 31 Ways to Improve as a PO

TL;DR: The Scrum Product Owner Anti-Patterns

If you are working as a product owner, there is — very likely — room for improvement. I curated this list of the most common product owner anti-patterns to help you up your game.

If you like to improve on those you recognize why don’t you ask the scrum master and the team for support? The product owner anti-patterns list is a good starting point for a retrospective.

Product Owner Anti-Patterns — 31 Ways to Improve as a PO by Age of Product

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The Scrum Master Salary Report 2017

TL;DR: Download the Scrum Master Salary Report 2017

Every now and then, the position of the scrum master is revealed as one of the top paying jobs in the United States. However, few have ventured to investigate the state of this career path on a global scale. The Scrum Master Salary Report 2017 is the first salary survey of its kind.

Download the free ‘Scrum Master Salary Report 2017’ and learn more about one of the tech industry’s best career choices.

The Scrum Master Salary Report 2017 by Age-of-Product

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The Scrum Product Owner Theses

TL;DR: The Scrum Product Owner in 56 Theses

The following 56 scrum product owner theses describe the role of the PO from a holistic product creation perspective.

The 56 product owner theses cover the concept of the product owner role, product discovery, how to deal with external and internal stakeholders, product roadmap planning, as well as the product backlog refinement. The theses also address the product owner’s part in scrum ceremonies such as sprint planning, sprint review, and the sprint retrospective.

Product Owner Theses: Scrum from Product Discovery to Product Delivery

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28 Product Backlog and Refinement Anti-Patterns

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.

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Hiring: 42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Agile Imposters

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.

42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions Avoid Hiring Agile Imposters by Age of Product

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.

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Agile Metrics — The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

TL;DR: Agile Metrics

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.

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Food for Agile Thought #142: Corporate Innovation Failure, Flow Metrics, Bad Behavior, Design Thinking, JTBD Canvas

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #142—shared with 17,322 peers—covers corporate innovation failure patterns, dives into flow metrics for Scrum, and asks: does more planning make the team more successful?

We also shed light on systemic issues that may trigger bad behavior in people and try to understand better whether design thinking is indeed “BS.” (Some do not think so, a Danish toy manufacturer, for example, check their case study on running design thinking at scale.)

Lastly, we like to invite you to participate in the Scrum Master Trends Survey 2018 — a joined-venture of Scrum.org and Age of Product.

Have a great week!

Food for Agile Thought #142: Corporate Innovation Failure, Flow Metrics, Bad Behavior, Design Thinking, JTBD Canvas

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Food for Agile Thought #141: Agile & Taylorism, Outcome Debate, NIH Syndrome, Team Self-Selection

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #141—shared with 17,129 peers—analyzes why ‘agile’ is the most important social technology since Taylorism. Although, the proxy discussion of ‘outcome vs. output’ raging in many organizations signals that organizational debt is still a wide-spread issue.

We also cover the latest opportunities that innovative technology provides—unless your organization suffers from the not-invented-here syndrome, of course. (We also feature a list of 50 epic corporate innovation failures.)

Lastly, we get into the trenches and ask: why should teams not select themselves?

Have a great week!

Food for Agile Thought #141: Agile & Taylorism, Outcome Debate, NIH Syndrome, Team Self-Selection

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Webinar #3: Product Backlog Anti-Patterns

TL;DR: Webinar Product Backlog Anti-Patterns — May 8th, 2018

Join the third Hands-on Agile webinar product backlog anti-patterns — from out-dated and oversized tickets to the part-time proxy product owner and his or her idea repository. Learn more about the numerous product backlog anti-patterns that can manifest themselves when you try to create value for your customers and your organization on May 8, 2018, from:

  • 06:00 to 07:00 PM CEST (Central European Summer Time)
  • 12:00 to 01:00 PM EDT (Eastern Daylight Time)
  • 09:00 to 10:00 AM PDT (Pacific Daylight Time)

Image from age-of-product.com

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