3 tips and an 8 second habit that will change the emotional climate of your team

Scrum Masters, are you a natural servant LEADER, or do you struggle to be the inspiring coach that creates high-performing teams?

The following blog is inspired by Scott Watson’s work, an emotional intelligence speaker and trainer. I hope they will complement what you are already doing well and help you create a tactical plan to improve your own emotional intelligence and the emotional climate in your team. You might find that focusing on how your behavior is impacting others can change the emotional climate in your team – and positively impact your career. (Think the issues on your team are all the Product Owner’s fault? Share my Emotional EQ for Product Owner’s article.)

1. Physician, Heal Thyself

We teach people how to treat us

As a leader, you must overcome any of your own emotional insecurity and speak up, even if you might have a personality that shies away from conflicts. It’s not about standing up to others; it’s about finding your voice. If you cannot speak up for yourself, how can you defend your team?

Continue reading “3 tips and an 8 second habit that will change the emotional climate of your team”

ProductCamp GulfCoast

ProductCamp is an unconference that brings talent from the entrepreneurial, product, and IT space together in an exciting day of collaboration and networking. This event is held in several regions nationwide, and now we want to bring it to Tampa! Please visit ProductCampGulfCoast.org 

This site currently hosts a very short survey that will help us gauge local interest and shape a venue that will bring the most value to our participants. Please share! #ProductCampGC

Creating a Modern PMO… Empower People; Enable Flow

Stop being good at process and start being good at business! Evolve your PMO from process-centric to people-centric with what I call the the Minimum Viable Artifacts. These are three actions, with outputs, that I believe are the 3 ingredients to a Lean PMO.  Interested in learning more? I’m speaking about this at Orlando’s ProjectSummit, in April 2017, and again in May 2017 at the Tampa Agile Meetup. Contact me for more information, or view my slides on SlideShare.net here.

@ProjectSummit

Motivation, not Medication

Once I got a $30,000 raise. It was the worst job I ever had.

In order to get a raise, I had to leave a good job. (More thoughts on that later.) As a single provider, the overnight increase put me in a state of near ecstasy. It was The Motivating Factor to leave that good job – and of course, I thought I was going to a great opportunity.

For the professional standpoint, I successfully delivered a multi-million dollar agile program that had C-suite visibility. We delivered on time and under budget; I had alignment with the executive sponsor, clearly identified outcomes, and a team of top performers. It was a huge win for the organization.

But the relationship I had with my manager was incredibly rocky. There was a chasm between him and I that we would never close. It was if we didn’t speak the same language, and certainly, we didn’t act as if we were on the same team. He would question my wording, he would second-guess my decisions; he would challenge me in front of my team on a daily basis. I would get defensive; I shut down; once, on the verge of crying, I left a meeting.

I felt I was at a professional all-time low. It seeped into my personal life, and people closest to me started to comment on the negative changes in me they observed.

I found myself debating every day if I needed to stay in order to learn a lesson, or if I needed to leave in order to survive.

Continue reading “Motivation, not Medication”

6 steps to agile outside of IT

Agile – it’s not just for IT anymore.

The technology arena is saturated with agile – particularly in software development with the maturity of Scrum and the lean method of Kanban. The momentum created by the successes of collaboration, transparency, and adaption in a technology group naturally seeps into the rest of the organization. It’s not uncommon to see leadership decide to take those same frameworks and apply them outside of technology to other divisions such as Business Intelligence, Marketing, and Creative Services. There are often some early successes, particularly in the beginning. But many non-technology teams experience challenges that are not answered through the application of the same frameworks that created the successes in technology.

I am a proponent of the popular frameworks and models. They provide safety in an agile transformation so we have a playbook to guide us through the labyrinth of change management. So why not just pick a framework and start with where you are at? Because to fully harvest the benefits of agile at a team level, it is best to start with fertile ground – create an agile environment.

In this blog, I take a practical look at six steps that help nurture and grow agile at a personal level (what you might describe as the agile mindset); a team level (including those pesky managers who don’t know what self-organizing teams will mean to their job); and an organizational level (how do we do more and how do we do it better.) Continue reading “6 steps to agile outside of IT”

How to lose ten pounds in a Sprint

[Disclaimer #1: Warning: strong Scrum language ahead. If you don’t speak Scrum, you can make it through this blog, but you might need to review the Scrum Guide. For example, I use the Scrum term Product Backlog Item (PBI) which can indicate any requirement in the backlog. The PBI might be in the form of a User Story, but a PBI can be non-functional requirements, technical debt, or anything the Product Owner wants in the backlog.]

Symptoms

  1. You are <anyone on the Scrum Team.> You are half-way through Sprint Planning and tasking stuff out but realize there is a major dependency that cannot be mitigated. Everything is blocked. Sprint Planning starts over with a new Goal.
  2. You are the Product Owner (PO). You bring your beautifully written PBIs to Sprint Planning and start planning but you can’t come to a consensus on a Sprint Goal because the Development Team keeps interrupting with things they need to do before they can build what you want.
  3. You are a member of the Development Team. You are ready to dig in and task stuff out, but the PO hasn’t had time to prepare. The whole team spends the day writing PBIs.
  4. You are the Scrum Master. You are texting all your buddies asking for a diversion phone call because this train wreck is just too painful to watch.

It needs to be said: Poor Sprint Planning leads to a heavy, bloated, wandering Sprint. A Development Team that just can’t take flight. Work gets blocked for days because the team is waiting on another team or resource to do something important – but they have their own important stuff to do. PBIs blow up, they don’t get finished, everyone is frustrated, and then there is the great rationalization to let stuff slide into the next sprint because it is “almost done.”

If the following scenarios sound familiar, this blog is for you. Continue reading “How to lose ten pounds in a Sprint”

Kanban – it’s not just lazy Scrum

Me: I’ve fallen in love with Kanban again.

My friend: Um, yeah… Who is Kanban, again?

From David Anderson, the founder of the Kanban movement: “with Kanban we’re using visualization, a working progress limit (WIP), and a quantitative measurement to stimulate Kaizen (Japanese for “improvements.”)

Me: In Kanban, we show all of the work in the system on one board, control how much we work on at any one time, and use data to improve the flow of the work through the system.

My friend: And they pay you to do this?

Me:

Are you happy? Tell your face!

When I was first introduced to Kanban in 2009, it was this funny sounding thing, (which I didn’t really know how to pronounce) and while I understood the whole “controlling WIP” concept, I have to admit, I felt like it was just lazy Scrum. But, as I get to know Kanban more, I’m realizing all I didn’t know.
Continue reading “Kanban – it’s not just lazy Scrum”

Agile < Lean < Systems Thinking

Agile Subset Low Detail I’m working with a colleague on a client’s organizational design issues. So I started to refresh my thinking with industry resources and reading. I call it “spring training” (even though as  I write this, we are in the dog days of summer in the Sunshine State right now, with a hurricane or two thrown in for fun.) I think of it as the same thing that a pro baseball team does in the spring – making the investment to hone my craft. It’s the third part of my coaching kata: practice the principles, uphold the values, continually improve. (Don’t have a coaching kata? Here’s how to get yours.)

My spring training has validated a core belief. To borrow from Oprah, there is one thing I know for sure:

Low Trust = High Process
Process kills Innovation

Innovation is the life blood of any organization that wants to exist more than 15 years, the average age of a company today. And for innovation to be in the bloodstream of a company competing in our global business world, we can think of cultural agility as the heartbeat, the regular cadence of responding and delivering, responding and delivering. Cultural agility sounds sexy, and for a start-up, it’s as natural and necessary as breathing oxygen into that bloodstream. But for those of us working with mature organizations to move the cultural needle, it’s darn hard.

My spring training also taught me something new. I came across this quote on the agile insights blog:

“Agile is a subset of Lean principles and practices which are in turn a subset of Systems Thinking.”

As an agile consultant, I help organizations understand the different frameworks such as Scrum, Extreme Programming, or Kanban all share agile tenets, and which one to use for their problem. However, I often thought of Agile and Lean as friendly cousins, if you will, borrowing favorite outfits from each other on their way to delight the customer. I’m taking my thinking one step further, and I really want your feedback. Do you find the below to resonate?

Continue reading “Agile < Lean < Systems Thinking"

What does cultural agility look like?

birdsinnovationTo borrow from Oprah, there is one thing I know for sure.

Low Trust = More Process. Process kills Autonomy. Autonomy = Innovation

Innovation is the life blood of any organization that wants to exist more than 15 years, the average age of a company today. And real innovation requires cultural agility. I recently published a blog on the difference between enterprise agile versus scaled Agile which helped me form my thoughts that business agility is founded in cultural agility. When I published the blog, someone then asked me to describe an organization with cultural agility.

Here’s my vision of cultural agility:

Continue reading “What does cultural agility look like?”