Tag Archives: agility

Review Intention

Two weeks ago, I received a blurb request. “I saw on your blog that you reviewed Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, and I’d like to ask whether you’d be willing to consider giving a blurb to a similar book”.

The book ‘Intention: Building Capabilities To Transform Your Story’ is written by Dr. Ian D. Brooks. This book provides direction for leveraging our greatest ability to realize change by expanding our personal awareness and taking specific action. This is a book outside my comfort zone but a training class was rescheduled due to Covid-19 regulations, so I started reading.

Business agility is key, and many organizations started some years ago with the implementation of Scrum. Soon it became clear that when working with more teams you need some form of coordination and these organizations started to implement a scaled agile framework to manage e.g. the team dependencies. But the results were for many organizations still disappointing. Study after study showed that for those organizations, among other factors, their organizational culture was at odds with agile values. New frameworks popped up to use together with the scaled agile frameworks to work on this agile culture. In my ‘bird’s eye view on the agile forest’, I already covered more than 80 agile ways of working including those culture targeted frameworks. But it looks like we still haven’t found the silver bullet, agile transitions fail in many cases. I see for example management teams struggling with the product owner role. And then a senior manager said to his colleagues … ”Yeah sure PO, you have a mandate” and they started laughing. They don’t trust the teams, they don’t empower the teams, they aren’t willing to decentralize decision-making, and facilitating leadership doesn’t belong to their vocabulare. And that brings me back to this book. Will this be the missing piece to help senior managers to transform themselves towards a manager that supports an organization on its agile journey? It could be the case, but only when these managers pick up the gauntlet to work on themselves.

In this book, the author helps you to make your own personal transformation. This can be work-related as mentioned earlier when you are part of your journey to more business agility but could also be a much more personal non-business-related goal, e.g., losing weight.

The author defines intention as a state of mind with which an act is done. It’s having the mindset, attention, or personal will to concentrate on something or some end or purpose. Intention provides a priority of wants and needs that offers us direction, but it is flexible enough to meet changes in your environment, circumstances, or life.

Changes are important individual actions, but also lead to bigger behavioral outcomes and results. Changes tend to be event-driven. Transformations are the collection of changes that lead to a broader outcome. Thus, the actions become a newly adopted lifestyle, a new way of life.

He uses a framework to help you to make the necessary steps to transform yourself in the direction you set for yourself based on five capabilities to use iteratively:

  1. Discovery: The intention is to expand your awareness beyond the challenges presented, exploring deeper into what you wish to solve.
  2. Principle of You: What we identify as targets of change usually overlook acknowledgment of who we are inherently and the symbols we associate with our pasts.
  3. Direction: Here, you will intentionally plan a transformation specific to you and practice forethought toward developing behaviors and routines that will move you forward.
  4. Experience: This capability is usually where changes first become noticeable. It focuses on acting in the now and regulating emotions that may arise at the moment.
  5. Attunement: This allows you to reflect on progress and learn from adjustments for building consistency in new behaviors. 

It is important to realize, however, that the building and refinement of your capabilities will occur over time, not in a singular moment. To build capabilities over time, transformation requires management of your P.A.C.E. (patience, accountability, commitment, emotions).

There will be times when the emotion from what you discover is daunting and you will rush to quick conclusions. To address these thoughts and manage your P.A.C.E. You need to operate with intention: pause your time, process, and reflect for self-awareness.

Conclusion. If you want to transform your behavior, e.g., move away from a command-and-control management style to a more facilitating leadership style or non-business/private personal behavior, this book offers you a framework, steps to take, points of attention, advice, and many real-life examples to support you in your journey. For sure you will have thoughts and actions you want to change but always postpone and then this book could be the trigger to make your next move.

To order: Will be available in March 2021

Remote Agility Framework

Just published the New bird’s eye view on the agile forest (PMWJ) and I can already make an adjustment (will it ever stop?).

Designed for all levels of business (enterprise, team of teams and teams), Remote Agility Framework (remote:af) is an evolution to your ways of working to overcome the modern challenge of distributed teams. 

  • Enterprise: Make strategy accessible to enable autonomous decision making with directional alignment. 
  • Team of Teams: Align teams with data for effective planning, governance and delivery.
  • Teams: Design teams to evolve to fit the nature of the problem that they are solving (mission, product and operating teams).

remote:af is designed to enhance existing frameworks, enabling remote working while providing lightweight guidance for those new to agility.

It’s based on the following principles: enterprise principles (trust in people, strategy evolves, clarity is king, and remote but responsible), team of teams principles (all teams are equals, pass things gently, help each other, and measure what counts) and teams principles (respect circumstance, work smaller, further, but closer, and tool the F up).

In the framework we see enterprise-based events (strategy and scoring), team of teams-based events (all hands planning, review and retrospective) and team events (team planning, review and reflection).

More detailed information can be found on their website https://www.remoteaf.co/.

This framework can be positioned in the culture-targeted box in my bird’s eye view on the agile forest. See: https://hennyportman.wordpress.com/2020/10/11/new-birds-eye-view-on-the-agile-forest/

A new bird’s eye view on the agile forest

Happy to see my A new bird’s eye view on the agile forest article in the October edition of the Project Management World Journal (PMWJ). It’s less than a year ago when the first edition of this article won an award. At that moment it contained 50 agile ways of working. In this new version I added 30 new ones which brings it to a total of 80 agile ways of working (including links to websites with more detailed information).

Portman, H. (2020). A new bird’s eye view on the agile forest; PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue X, October

The following article is a modified version of the published article on PM World Journal (already 95 frameworks):

  • V2.8 2021-02 Added The Digital Transformation – 11-Step Ticking Clock Model (Culture-targeted)
  • V2.7 2021-01 Added Obeya (Team level)
  • V2.6 2021-01 Added TOAH (Portfolio level)
  • V2.5 2021-01 Added eduScrum (Team level)
  • V2.4 2021-01 Added FLEKS (one-time projects/programs), Flawless Execution (Culture-targeted)
  • V2.3 2021-01 Added COIN (Portfolio level)
  • V2.2 2020-10 Added Agile 2 (Team – Culture-targeted)
  • v2.1 2020-10 Added Remote Agility Framework (remote:af) (Culture-targeted)

Review Blue Striped Frog – The agile community – Magazine (1st edition)

Last week I received a few copies of a brand new magazine from Vincent Snijder, the editor in chief. A magazine for the Blue Striped Frog community of professionals who are engaged in transformations towards increasing organizational agility. At this moment there aren’t that many physical magazines focussing on project management, agile, or agility anymore.

I am probably old fashioned but I still prefer a physical edition above a digital edition. Looking at the overload of online blogs, articles, complete magazines etc, I often start reading but in many cases not finishing the digital magazine. When it’s a physical edition, it’s on the table, waiting to be read completely. For this magazine both options are possible (see below).

The editors sees the blue stripe frog as a cool name (I agree and I assume it has nothing to do with the poisonous blue stripe frog you can find in the rain forests of South America).

Let’s look at the content.

The editor in chief opens the magazine with some froggy talk about transparency, the theme of this first issue.

Hans van Leeuwen and Henk Venema were privileged to speak with Kate Collins and Andrik de Jager, both Global directors IT at royal BAM Group. In this interview we see how they constructed an agile future. A future where multiple disciplines are working together efficiently towards shared goals. An agile future that enables BAM to quickly adapt to  changes, attracting and retaining talent and facilitates transparency.

Tim Wiegel takes us in the world of the Obeya concept. Obeya is a big room where goals, performance and activities are visualized and physically displayed on walls to make others aware of the context in which they are working. A bit confusing is the fact that the author talks about himself in the third person and makes a little bit too much advertisements for his upcoming book and training. On his website you can download a copy of the Leading with Obeya – Reference Model. https://www.leadingwithobeya.com

Hélène Propsma, Ilse Tacoma and Jos van Oost put leaders of organizational transformations in the spotlights. Leaders often underestimate their own resistance of uncertainties. What does change mean to those leaders and do they know it from themselves? Do they trust the method? How do they handle pressure? Do they dare to let go? How agile are they? How do they react if their teams make mistakes? And can and do they do they want to be responsible for the results that are not completely defined in advance?

Henk Venema talks about the power of aligned autonomous teams. How can you achieve faster time to market, improved, customer experience, higher productivity and a great place to work? What to do if your organization operates in silos, with many managerial layers, where bureaucracy is in the driver seat and staff feel like a cog in the wheel and the focus is on efficiency and costs. Are you take a step-wise transformation (e.g. in line with the SAFe implementation roadmap), an all-in approach (compare ING transforming their entire organization, not only product and IT, with obeys-rooms and QBR’s to align) and the emergent transformation.

Marcel Riemersma makes the analogy between organizations and some animals. Will you be the rabbit or the leopard. Will you stay put and wait for the ‘hype’ to pass by? Or will you act and chase the opportunity to become an agile organization? Are you a rabbit staring in the headlights of organizational agility and thinks, not my cup of tea or do you become the leopard. The predator who openly hunts for the customer and the competition despite the efforts involved.

Henk Venema shows, based on the results of a questionnaire, that agile organizations are better equipped to adapt to a pandemic disruption due to the rhythms and routines, scaled processes, transparency, motivated teams, organizational layers and facilitating leadership.
In the final article, Hans van Leeuwen elaborates how an agile way of working can be of use during a restart of organizations after the lock down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the tip and myth pages, brief explanations of the tips to create remarkable transparency, and communicate frequently and the myths that agile organizations do not need leadership, and by putting sticky notes on the wall things get better.

Conclusion I like this new magazine. It contains a mix of best practices, interviews, real life cases, a little bit of philosophy, some tips and myths and a cartoon at the back. Looking forward to the second edition.

If you want to receive all the upcoming issues of the Blue Striped Frog Magazine for free (physical or digital edition) you can subscribe at https://www.bluestripedfrog.com 

To become part of the Blue Striped Frog community you can join the community on LinkedIn to be inspired, to learn and to share: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8762445/

Review Moose heads on the table

If you want to make the transformation to a self-managing organization the book Moose heads on the table – Stories about self-managing organisations from Sweden by Karin Tenelius and Lisa Gill is a good starting point.

This book gives you insights, stories, lessons learnt from six different small Swedish companies who transformed towards self-managing companies.

In the first three stories Karin, one of the authors, was acting as a consultant or interim CEO, the last story is about their own training company and in the other two case studies they bought the companies and gave away the authority.

For those who are not familiar with the Swedish culture a short explanation about the title. A ‘moose head on the table’ is what we call the ‘elephant in the room’. A metaphor for an issue that’s becomes infected in the team (unresolved from the past, relationship dynamics or an individual or individuals’ way of being).

In the first case study we see Freys Hotel and a manager who wants to give the employees a sort of energy injection. Self-management brings the surprise boost. What does it mean to coach the owner to be a more empowering leader and step back, and on the other hand to coach the employees to step into their new authority?

In the second case we follow Komanco. A company in crisis with chronic losses and after the transformation a company with big wins.

In the next case regarding Excosoft we see a spiral of profit and loss. It’s possible to get great results withing a short time span with self-management but also how quickly this way of working can be undone when a new CEO takes over if they aren’t a coaching, empowering leader.

In the case about Elisabethgården we see what it means to create a climate of openness and new-found autonomy.

In the case about Mötesbokarna we follow a very old-fashioned call center making the transition. The big challenges in this case were the working climate and the business model. At the end the business was shut down.

The last case is about the authors’ own company Tuff Leadership Training. This company was created from scratch as a self-managing organization.

Throughout the text you get pop-out boxes giving some theory behind the used approaches.

You get an explanation of the three pillars for developing an effective self-managing team or organization:

  • a coaching mindset and way of being: relating to people’s potential, placing responsibility with the group, clarifying and distinguishing, being able to be with it, and not having your own (active) agenda.
  • a focus on working climate: 1) ask for the mandate, 2) describe the current working climate and identify the desired working climate, 3) distinguish, clarify and listen, 4) coach the group to become constructive.
  • a culture of mandate and involvement. Use cooperation coaching process: 1) clearly state the purpose of the activity, 2) distinguish how it will be and what they’re ‘signing up to’, 3) give the group the opportunity to ask clarifying questions, 4) give them the opportunity to choose.

This means moving from a parent-child to adult-adult dynamic, from a manager or leader being responsible, to the team being responsible and to be able to talk about what’s underneath the surface (feelings, emotions, ways of being, mindsets) and to tackle these things first before addressing surface or operational issues.

Besides the three pillars you get five useful insights you can use:

  • Concordance decision making: in order to reach a concordant decision in a group, you need to create a safe space for people to express their feelings and develop adult to adult communication.
  • The gold in listening: practicing your ability to listen is the most important task for a coaching leader, and a crucial part of being an effective team member in a self-managing organization.
  • Transparency and self-set salaries: an individual without information can’t take responsibility. An individual with information can’t help but take responsibility.
  • Accountability culture – a mindset shift from power over to power with and a skillset upgrade: fostering a culture of both high psychological safety and high motivation and accountability is key to an effective team.
  • Core quality quadrant (quality – pitfall – challenge – allergy). To help people ’turn reactivity into creativity. 

ConclusionThe book is easy to read and shows what it means to coach management and/or coach the team to become a self-managing organization. The three pillars and five insights are definitely helpful in your own journey. The focus is mindset, leadership and culture. Are you looking for practices, structures and processes, you have to look for different sources.

To order Moose heads on the tablebol.com, Amazon

Additional reading

Ricardo Semler, Maverick! The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workshop, 1993 to order: bol.comAmazon

Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, 2014 To order: bol.comAmazon

Recensie Platformrevolutie

Martijn Arets, platformoptimist, -realist en -criticus biedt met zijn boek Platformrevolutie – Van amazon tot Zalando, de impact van platformen op hoe wij werken, een masterclass platformeconomie aan de hand van voorbeelden van 135 verschillende platformen. Inzichten en voorbeelden die de auteur heeft verzameld aan de hand van meer dan vijfhonderd interviews en gesprekken tijdens ongeveer ‘zestig’ expedities binnen en buiten Nederland.

Het boek is onderverdeeld in vier delen. In het eerste deel – To platform or not to platform – wordt ingegaan om de (on)begrensde mogelijkheden van de platformeconomie. Wordt uitgelegd dat platformen tweezijdige marktplaatsen zijn en wat platformen anders doen. Tenslotte worden platformen in een breder maatschappelijk perspectief geplaatst. In het tweede deel – Platformen voor niet-startups – wordt ingegaan op de kansen voor bestaande organisaties, de strategische vragen die die organisaties zichzelf moeten stellen en een checklist die deze organisaties kunnen gebruiken om vast te stellen of een platform voor hen toegevoegde waarde op kan leveren. In deel drie – Overheid en platformen – wordt enerzijds ingegaan op de rol van de overheid in de platformeconomie en hoe platformen kunnen bijdragen aan de doelstelling van de overheid en nationale overheden en anderzijds de overheid zelf als platform (Estland). Het laatste deel – Toekomst – gaat in op de potentie van de platformeconomie, de inclusieve platformeconomie en hoe platformen zich gedragen in crisistijd.

De kracht van platformen zit hem in het aanbieden van een nagenoeg oneindig aanbod aan zijn gebruikers. Maar wat platformen echt onderscheidt, is dat ze het aanbod niet zelf in bezit hebben (bijvoorbeeld Airbnb, Youtube, Uber, Peerby, …). Platformen worden dan ook vaak ‘marktplaatsen’ genoemd, en meer specifiek: tweezijdige transactionele marktplaatsen waarbij de gehele transactie, inclusief betaling, via het platform verloopt. Een platform groeit juist door niet zelf in de assets (bijvoorbeeld vastgoed, auto’s, chauffeurs, …) te investeren, maar in te tappen op bestaande assets en dienstverleners.

Platformen zijn marktmeesters en bepalen de regels van het spel. Ze hebben een belang én verantwoordelijkheid bij en voor iedere transactie. De auteur onderscheidt de volgende vier kenmerken:

  • Platformen reduceren de informatieasymmetrie en verlagen zoekkosten
  • Platformen verlagen en verleggen transactiekosten door gebruik van data, algoritmes en kunstmatige intelligentie
  • Platformen creëren een omgeving van vertrouwen door reviews, verzekering en een sterk merk
  • Platformen faciliteren de transacties, prijsmechanismen en betalingen.

Platformen worden vaak gezien als een puur technologische innovatie (denk aan de Uber of Airbnb app) maar niets is minder waar. Denk hierbij aan afdelingen strategie en marketing en deze afdelingen zijn een stuk minder schaalbaar dan de relatief goedkoop schaalbare afdeling technologie. Bij Booking.com zijn circa 14.000 mensen in dienst, waarvan de helft zich bezig houdt met customer support. De groei van een platform is in drie fasen onder te verdelen: problem/solution fit, product/market fit en opschalen van het product. 

De meeste platformen die niet smal maar breed begonnen , zijn mislukt. Staat de basis van een platform, dan brengt het extra aansluiten van nieuwe gebruikers weinig kosten met zich mee. Dankzij netwerkeffecten groeit de kracht van het platform naarmate er meer gebruikers zijn aangesloten. Maar er komt natuurlijk een moment dat de groei uit het platform is. Dan zijn er verschillende opties: internationaliseren of de diepte of breedte in.

De meest belangrijke platform specifieke vraagstukken zijn marktmeesterschap, het algoritme als baas en data en portabiliteit. Mag een platform zowel als marktmeester als aanbieder op het platform acteren? Op het platform is er geen persoon, maar een algoritme dat jou aanstuurt. Of je nu aanbieder of klant bent, dat maakt niets uit. 

Ook voor bestaande organisaties bieden platformen kansen (en bedreigingen). In het boek worden tien strategische keuzes of strategieën aan de hand van vele voorbeelden toegelicht. De tien strategieën zijn: investeren, overnemen, niets doen, eigen (of nieuw) product ontwikkelen voor in het platformecosysteem, bestaande resources beter benutten via platformen, samenwerken, externe platformen gebruiken voor de eigen organisatie, eigen diensten en producten aanbieden, krachten van bestaande organisaties bundelen en zelf doen. Daarnaast wordt in het boek dieper ingegaan op de voorwaarden voor platformen om toegevoegde waarde te leveren. Hierbij wordt een soort checklist geboden om aan de hand van tien vragen te bepalen of het wel of niet interessant is om een platformstrategie te verkennen.

Daar het zelfregulerende vermogen van de platformeconomie beperkt is zal de overheid samen met maatschappelijke partners de publieke waarden moeten borgen met het belang van het collectief voor ogen. Ook moet het mogelijk zijn dat platformen en platformtechnologie kunnen bijdragen aan de doelstellingen van landelijke en lokale overheden en samenleving. Tenslotte wordt uitgebreid ingegaan op Estland. Een overheid die agile processen, MVP, snelheid maken en onzekerheid omarmt. Een extreem digitale en open overheid die als een platform georganiseerd is. 

Het boek sluit af met een toekomstvisie. De auteur beschrijft onder andere de volgende trends:

  • Een verschuiving van ultra gefragmenteerde naar meer stabiele aanbiederskant
  • Van interpersoonlijk naar institutioneel vertrouwen
  • Van eenvoudige naar complexe processen
  • Platformen van een losse entiteit naar een SaaS-oplossing
  • Van platformdenken naar ecosysteemdenken
  • Van ‘enfant terrible’ naar een volwassen platformeconomie

In de bijlage nog een korte omschrijving van de vijftig meest genoemde platformen: Adyen, Airbnb, Amazon, Amazon Flex, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple, BKSY, BlaBlaCar, Bol, Booking, Brenger, Charly Cares, CoopCycle, Deliveroo, Didi Chuxing, DoorDash, Etsy, Facebook, Fietskoerier.nl, Fiverr, Flexport, Floow2, Funda, GearBooker, Github, Goboony, Google, Grab, Green Taxi, Helpling, Jellow, Lyft, Marktplaats, Microsoft, Peerby, Roamler, Seats2Meet, ShareTribe, Sjauf, SnappCar, Stocksy, Temper, Thuisafgehaald, Thuisbezorgd, TopShoe, Transferwise, Uber, Werkspot, YoungOnes, en Zalando.

Conclusie. Een masterclass in de platformeconomie. In ruim 350 bladzijden krijg je aan de hand van vele aansprekende voorbeelden van 135 verschillende platformen een objectief beeld van de wereld van platformen. Het boek leest lekker vlot weg en bevat geen ingewikkelde theoretische beschouwingen maar heldere verhalen over verschillende platformen. Als je onbekend bent met de platformeconomie dan is dit het boek om je te verdiepen. Verwacht echter geen ‘how to’ boek over hoe je een schaalbaar platform bouwt.

Bestellen Platformrevolutiemanagementboek.nl of bol.com

Verder lezen (verdieping):

Bouw een succesvolle online marktplaats

Bouw een succesvolle online marktplaats – Handboek voor entrepeneurs en intrapreneurs: managementboek.nlof bol.com

The Lean Marketplace: a Practical Guide to Building a Successful ...

The lean marketplace – A practical guide to building a successful online marketplace business: bol.com

Afbeelding met schermafbeelding

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Platform Revolution: bol.com

Afbeelding met teken, vrachtwagen, zitten, verkeer

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

De platformsamenleving – Strijd om publieke waarden in een online wereld: managementboek.nl of bol.com

Afbeelding met teken

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Uber voor alles – Hoe de on demand-economie ons leven beïnvloedt: managementboek.nl of bol.com

Verder lezen (verhalen over platformen):

Afbeelding met tekening, teken

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Bezonomics: managementboek of bol.com

De Airbnb Story

De Airbnb Story: managementboek of bol.com

Afbeelding met teken, shirt, person

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Het geheim van bol.com: managementboek of bol.com


Facebook, The Inside Story: bol.com

Structural Agility, a next tree

Schermafdruk 2020-08-02 08.35.00The quest to find more trees for my agile forest continues. Structural Agility is again a way of working that fits in the culture targeted box of my The bird’s eye view on the agile forest overview and complements ‘frameworks’ like Scrum, SAFe, Less, disciplined Agile, et cetera.

Structural Agility (author Jardena London) supports business agility and rests on the core concept that structure enables flow; specifically, the flow of information, energy, and resources inside an organization. Understanding how Structural Agility enables flow begins with three key terms: structure, boundaries, and rules.

  • Structure is anything that creates boundaries and rules to organize people and activity towards a shared purpose.
  • Boundaries are the borders where things start and end, and help the human mind see complexity more clearly.
  • Rules are a set of formal and informal directives that support the boundaries.

Structural Agility uses nine principles that are based upon three existing disciplines: Living Systems, Systems Thinking, and Dynamic Tensions (polarities or tensions between processes, practices, business outcomes, mindsets, emotions, and so on):

  1. We view organizations as living, human ecosystems, inherently interconnected and able to flourish
  2. Continuous design allows the organization to evolve
  3. Agility only exists when we create conditions for it, instead of directing activity
  4. We thrive by leveraging dynamic tensions
  5. We enable flow through hierarchies which are naturally in service to each other
  6. Adaptations for how we organize emerge from within the organization
  7. At every level, the organization has a way to shed and spawn from within itself
  8. Intentional development, both individual and collective, fosters organizational evolution
  9. Shared identity allows for trust and self-organization.

More information and a download of the Structured Agility article can be found on https://businessagility.institute/learn/structural-agility-using-structure-to-enable-the-flow-of-value/

See the latest, updated version of my Bird’s eye view on the agile forest.Agile Myths Busted (webinar PMI Bulgaria, Belgium, IPMA NL, 200429) v1.0

Review People Over Process

51Y04ZWZE5L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Michael K. Levine wrote with People Over Process – Leadership for Agility a very pragmatic and down to earth book about leadership and agile projects.

The classic formulation of agile in the Agile Manifesto has no role for leadership. In fact, it is explicitly anti-leadership, encouraging self-managed teams, reliance on motivated individuals, leaving them alone and trusting them to get the job done. Furthermore, neither agile or scrum contemplates how the agile team should be connected to a larger organization and to external partners who will likely have differing development processes and cadences.

The book is divided into four sections. The first section introduces facilitative leadership for agility and introduces the facilitative leadership triangle rigor, efficiency and alignment (REA). Next we get an explanation of the three major frameworks (architecture, plan and team structure) and the meetings to create them. In the third section we get an overview of some routine meetings like the daily scrum, demos, governance meetings and teleconferences. The final section focusses on project retrospectives.

You could also say that the book contains a theoretical explanation of the facilitative leadership model and a business novel where we follow a consultant Mary to help Pacifica Bank with their agile project. By following Mary, we see the facilitative leadership model in a ‘real life’ case to make it really easy to understand the theory. Theory and the Pacifica case alternate.

As stated, the facilitative leadership model contains the triangle rigor, efficiency and alignment (REA). And in the middle, we see the three major frameworks (architecture, plan and team structure) and meetings to create them. See the Quick Reference Card leadership for agilty.

Rigor: Clearly define each decision to be made, gathering and considering facts, thoroughly considering options, and making clear decisions. Making good decisions: right talent, experience, skills, and roles, team composition, options considered and evidence for decisions.

Efficiency: Respecting the time of all team members as a valuable commodity not to be wasted. Respect for people’s time: balance “Agile” and “Planful” management, frameworks to provide context, extensive preparation for meetings and tools and techniques.

Alignment: Teams must work in a way that gets the best input from all members, and gains understanding and commitment around common goals, schedules, methods, and decisions/directions of all kinds. Heads in game and moving together: right involvement, information available, input enables, value consensus and someone to decide.

Extraordinarily well-prepared and conducted meetings use the following pattern:

  • Preparing for a meeting: set a simple and achievable objective, lay out a path to achieve the objective (agenda, activities), roles and responsibilities, the physical setting, the paraphernalia, and ensure alignment on the way in.
  • Conducting a meeting: make the path visible and start down it and control the dialogue.
  • Concluding a meeting: checking for alignment, agree on communication of results, and set immediate next steps.

Architecture simulation meeting (event). The architecture simulation event is a proven mechanism to discover and build alignment around architecture. It can be used in many situations and at various stages of a project. It puts the focus on the software and the related business processes in a powerful way by using different scenarios. It’s a participative learning event.

Project Planning meeting. The project planning meeting is a proven mechanism to develop an effective project plan. Several subgroups are brought together around a timeline from the planning meeting through productive use to plan forward and backward.

Team configuration meeting. The team configuration meeting helps teams to adopt existing mechanisms in their organization (silos). Next, team members, their managers, and stakeholders work together to define specifics for each varying initiative (connectors, bridges between the silos) and finally, the team members (extended) retrospect and adjust.

QRC (Leadership for agility, 200725) v1.0To download: QRC (Leadership for agility, 200725) v1.0

Throughout the Pacifica case we get 25 leadership and 15 meeting tips. To mention a few:

  • By failing to prepare for a meeting, you are preparing to fail – Ben Franklin (Agile is not an excuse not to plan!)
  • Be sure the meeting participants at all times understand the meeting path, and where they are on that path
  • Bring vendor partners into your agile projects as soon as you know they will be an important part of the solution
  • the “self-governed team” agile principle is a valuable but incomplete concept. Applying hard-earned expertise to team configuration and process and exercising the power to mobilize an organization matter
  • Use the RAE test when deciding on an idea. Would it have impact on the rigor, is it needed for alignment, is it efficient. If the answer is no, don’t do it
  • Integrating events give much greater routine focus to ensure completion, and take the place of demo prep in many scrum projects
  • If you plan on sharing an important decision with the team for rigor and alignment, don’t be satisfied with a half-hearted attempt
  • When the going gets tough, double down on in-person relationships
  • Write the major elements of the meeting objectives and the agenda up on the wall so participants have a visual shared guide
  • Get people away from the protection/separation of a big table
  • Have the right time of party
  • The earlier in project planning that you can set specific dates for integrating events the better
  • When a topic is raised in a meeting that doesn’t quite fit, take it offline
  • it is very difficult to both participate in and facilitate a complex exercise as a project retrospective.

And as stated many, many more.

The book ends with tips to use tools like the Kaizen A3 – one page problem solving tool, agenda, alignment checking tools (fist of five, thermometer), dot voting, evaluation matrix, failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA), five whys, more of/less of, nominal group technique, tool advertisement and two by two matrix.

On the corresponding website www.TheTalesofAgility.com  you can find some information about the author’s Lean and Agile Software trilogy. People over Process is the third book. The two other books are: A Tale of Two Systems: Lean and Agile Software Development for Business Leaders and A Tale of Two Transformations: Bringing Lean and Agile Software Development to Life.

 Conclusion. A pragmatic, down to earth book when using agile ways of working and the case makes clear that scrum is not the magic bean or silver bullet for all projects. The book offers the facilitative leadership model for agility based on rigor, alignment and efficiency around major meetings or events like architecture simulation, project planning and team configuration to support you in having more successful projects.

 In my opinion the author mixed up the concept of minimum viable product (MVP) and minimum marketable product (MMP). See my blog for a short explanation on MVP and MMP. And, if I am correct there is not such a thing as a Scrum release planning. Also, Scrum doesn’t talk about User Stories but backlog items and that will solve some issues in the book too. But these are minor things. I would say this book is definitely worth reading!

To order: People over Process

To order: A Tale of Two Systems

To order: A Tale of Two Transformations

Recensie Testautomatisering wendbaar organiseren

9789401806510-480x600In mijn overzicht met agile frameworks en werkwijzen (My bird’s eye view on the agile forest) laat ik zien dat op teamniveau o.a. gebruik gemaakt kan worden van Scrum of Kanban. Teamleden volgen hiervoor vaak één of twee daagse trainingen en denken er dan te zijn. Niets is echter minder waar en dat laat ik, in dat overzicht, tot uitdrukking komen in een onderliggende engineering laag. Hierin zitten veel technieken zoals test driven development, behaviour driven development, continuous  integration (CI), continious testing, continuous deployement (CD) en nog veel meer. Om dit onder de knie te krijgen en de omgeving hiervoor geschikt te maken moet je niet denken in termen van dagen maar van jaren. In dit boek Testautomatisering wendbaar organiseren – klaar voor de toekomst geschreven door Jos van Rooyen, Danny Greefhorst en Marcel Mersie staan deze engineering praktijken en technieken centraal.

Dit boek neemt je mee in de wereld van testautomatisering. Wat is het? Waarom zou je het toepassen? Waar bestaat het uit (architectuur) in termen van mens, organisatie, proces, data en technologie? Wat is de waarde van testautomatisering in termen van een business case? Hoe ziet een groeimodel eruit en wat is de impact van testautomatisering op mens, organisatie en proces? Wat is testdatamanagement en welke technologie en onderliggende tools spelen bij testautomatisering een rol? Tenslotte krijgen we een voorbeeld van de opbouw van een testautomatiseringsarchitectuur en een drietal cases (situatieschets, aanpak, lessons learned en resultaten) over herbruikbaarheid bij een organisatie in het gemeentelijk sociaal domein, over overdraagbaarheid bij een grootbank en over herhaalbaarheid bij een internet en telecom provider.

In het boek staat een architectuurgebaseerde benadering van testautomatisering centraal. Aan de hand van principes, richtlijnen en modellen kan testautomatisering toekomstvast ingericht worden (herbruikbaar, overdraagbaar en herhaalbaar). Bij testautomatisering hanteren de auteurs de aspecten mens (rol, competenties), organisatie (doelstellingen, visie, beleid en architectuur), proces (overdraagbaarheid, afweging tussen risico en inspanning), data (testdatamanagement, informatiebeveiliging en privacy) en technologie (herhaalbaar, herbruikbaar, modellen en tools). Deze aspecten worden ondersteund door de volgende testautomatiseringsprincipes:

  • Past bij de doelstelling van de organisatie
  • Gebaseerd op een heldere visie, beleid en architectuur
  • Houdt rekening met de menselijke maat
  • Is overdraagbaar
  • Vraagt om weloverwogen afweging tussen risico en inspanning
  • Vraagt om testdatamanagement
  • Houdt expliciet rekening met informatiebeveiliging en privacy
  • Is herhaalbaar
  • Testgevallen zijn herbruikbaar
  • Gebruikt beschikbare modellen
  • Testautomatiseringstools zijn noodzakelijk maar niet leidend.

Testautomatisering is een belangrijke investering in de professionaliteit van de organisatie. In het boek wordt uitgebreid ingegaan op de onderliggende business case voor het implementeren en operationeel houden van testmanagement (Kosten: inrichten processen, aanschaf en inrichten tools, opleiding, medewerkers. Baten: snellere feedback, verhogen efficiency, verminderen risico’s, voorkomen verstoringen). Daarnaast wordt een groeimodel beschreven dat inzicht geeft in de belangrijkste zaken die aanwezig zouden moeten zijn voor het structureel en toekomstvast inrichten en uitvoeren van testautomatisering. Binnen het groeimodel worden vier niveaus onderscheiden (ad-hoc, specifiek ingericht, organisatie breed ingericht en continue verbetering) en uitgesplitst naar de dimensies mens, organisatie, proces, data en technologie.

Specifieke aandacht wordt gegeven aan testdatamanagement. Gaat men werken met synthetische testdata of productiedata? Welke kwaliteit heeft de testdata in termen van compleetheid, consistentie, plausibiliteit en vertrouwelijkheid? Hoe gaat men om met vertrouwelijkheid (de belangrijkste consequentie van de AVG voor testdatamanagement is de noodzaak tot anonimiseren of pseudonimiseren van persoonsgegeven)? Hoe wordt testdata opgevoerd en na een test weer teruggebracht tot de uitgangssituatie?

Technologie die nodig is om testautomatisering te ondersteunen staat centraal in een afzonderlijk hoofdstuk. Naast testscripts komen tools aan bod voor testmanagement, testdata-generatie, testuitvoering en testbeoordeling. Om testautomatisering toekomstvast in te richten wordt een drielagen-model beschreven. Een functionele laag met daarin logische testgevallen in de taal van de gebruikersorganisatie, een configuratie laag als verbinding tussen logische testgevallen en geautomatiseerde scripts en de technische laag met daarin de geautomatiseerde scripts die specifieke functies uitboeren. Afsluitend wordt een referentie-architectuur toegelicht (sturing, testdefinitie, testdatamanagement, uitvoering en evaluatie) en bijbehorende voorbeeld criteria ten behoeve van toolselectie.

Conclusie. Een vlot leesbaar en praktisch boek om een helder en compleet beeld te krijgen van testautomatisering. Het boek laat zien dat zonder testautomatisering het bereiken van business agility een moeizaam traject gaat worden. Het continu in productie geven van wensen en wijzigingen van klanten is zonder testautomatisering een onpraktisch, bijna onmogelijk proces. De auteurs laten zien dat testautomatisering geen eenmalige exercitie is, maar een proces dat stap voor stap doorgevoerd kan (moet) worden. Het beschreven groeimodel biedt hiervoor een duidelijk kader.

Naast het boek is ondersteunend materiaal (o.a. een spreadsheet met het groeimodel) te vinden op een begeleidende testautomatisering website.

Bestellen (managementboek.nl): Testautomatisering wendbaar organiseren

Bestellen (bol.com): Testautomatisering wendbaar organiseren

Review Leading the transformation

81UHq59ZetLThe book Leading the transformation – Applying agile and DevOps principles at scale written by Gary Gruver and Tommy Mouser gives a refreshing look how to start your agility transformation.

While most Agile implementations start with a focus on applying Agile principles at the team level, the approach presented in this book focuses on applying the basic principles of Agile and DevOps across the organization. How teams come together to deliver value in large organizations is the first-order effect, while how individual teams work is a second-order effect. Therefore, this book primarily focusses on how to transform the way the teams come together to provide value to the business by integrating all their changes early and often in an operation-like environment.

Transforming development and delivery processes in a large, traditional organization requires a lot of technical changes that will require some work, but by far the biggest challenges are with changing the culture and how people work on a day-to-day basis.

The approach to rolling out an enterprise-level Agile transition should focus on the business breakthroughs the Agile principles are intended to achieve while taking into consideration the capacity of an organization to change.

In several chapters we follow the steps you have to take when transforming the organization.

  • Business objectives and crucial first steps. Once you have a clear set of business objectives in place, the next step is determining where to start the transformation. You can’t do everything at once and this is going to be a multiyear effort, so it is important to start where you will get the biggest benefits.
  • A culture of continuous improvement at the enterprise level is important for any large successful transformation (mini-milestone objectives, cascading objectives to track progress, conversations, learnings and agile adjustments).
  • Agile enterprise planning. Organizations need to decide whether their primary objective is to deliver long-term accurate plans to its executives or if it is to deliver business value to its customers. Break the planning process down into different planning horizons, don’t eliminate flexibility, don’t lock in all of your capacity to long-range commitments, just-in-time creation of requirements details.
  • Business objectives specific to scaling DevOps. Applying DevOps and Agile principles at scale in the enterprise requires developing processes that will enable the organization to economically release smaller batches of code on a more frequent basis. There are five main objectives: improve the quality and speed of feedback for developers, reduce the time and resources required to go from functionality complete or release branching to production, improve the repeatability of the build, deploy, and test process, develop an automated deployment process that will enable you to quickly and efficiently find any deployment or environment issues, and remove the duplication of work that comes from supporting multiple branches of similar code.
  • Creating a culture of trunk development. One of the most important cultural changes for aligning the work across the organization is having all the teams continually integrating and testing their code in a production-like environment. From a technical perspective the team will have to learn development practices like versioning services, rearchitecture through abstraction, feature flags, and evolutionary database design techniques.
  • ensuring a solid foundation. The first fundamental is clean architectures that enable smaller teams to work independently in an enterprise and make it possible to find defects with fast running unit or subsystem tests. The second is build and the ability to manage different artifacts as independent components. The third is test automation.
  • Continuous Delivery is a fundamentally different approach to development and operations that automates as much of the configuration, deployment, and testing processes as possible and puts it all under a revision control. The core pieces of Continuous Delivery you need to know are continuous integration, scripted environments, scripted deployments, evolutionary database design, test automation, deployment pipeline, and orchestrator.
  • Designing the deployment pipeline. You need to design a deployment pipeline that moves as close to that ideal state as possible but accommodates the current realities of your traditional business. Building up a stable enterprise system is a key component of the DevOps or Agile principle of enabling more frequent and smaller releases. Even if your business does not require or support more frequent releases, it helps with developer productivity and takes uncertainty out of the endgame.
  • Improving stability over time by using build acceptance tests and the deployment pipeline.
  • getting started. The key is starting the process of continually improving. The first step is making sure you have a clear set of business objectives that you can use to prioritize your improvements and show progress along the journey. Next is forming the team that will lead the continuous improvement process. The team should include the right leaders across Development, QA, Operations, and the business that will need to help support the priorities and lead the transformation.

Conclusion. After reading this book it becomes clear that moving towards business agility has nothing to do with the implementation of an agile way of working at team level. It’s the organization’s culture that has to change and this book is a great start to understand what that cultural change means from a developers’ perspective and which steps you need to take.

To order: Leading the transformation