How One Group used Agile, Lean, & Scrum for Social Good

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Today I saw a link on Twitter that intrigued me. It was a video of WikiSpeed’s Joe Justice at TEDxRainier. Sure, the video is 10 minutes long. But, I guarantee it will leave you inspired. I get challenged all the time by people saying Agile is only good for Software Development. Well, watch this video and see if you don’t agree that the horizon has expanded. If you don’t want to click the link above, I’m adding an embedded video below.

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When PMI Introduced the Elephant – Part 3

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This post concludes my 3 part series about when PMI Introduced the Elephant in the Room.  It’s the basis of my talk at AgileDC on October 26. The elephant I am referring to is the mainstream adoption of Agile.  In part one of my series, I introduced the idea that Agile was about to cross the chasm.  The chasm I’m referring to is based on the “Technology Life Cycle Adoption Curve” concept from Geoffrey Moore’s 1992 book Crossing the Chasm. I see parallels between a technology life cycle adoption curve and a methodology life cycle adoption curve.  Though waterfall may be at the far right, with the laggards and skeptics, I see Agile as being embraced by the innovators and visionaries for the last 10 years.  But within the last view years, the earliest adopters and visionaries started to get traction.  It took real leadership to follow a few “lone nuts” and brave ridicule.

There comes a time within the adoption curve that the tipping point occurs.   If the original Agile leaders were the flint, the first followers were the spark that made the fire.  With PMI creating the PMI-ACP certification, there is going to be a lot of fuel on the fire.  After teaching my first PMI-ACP class over the last few days, I asked my students why they were pursuing this certification.  What made it different?  Their answers were both enlightening and similar.  The common answer was that their organizations see the PMI endorsement of Agile methods as the legitimizing of Agile.  Until PMI got involved, Agile practices were “undisciplined ideas from those on the fringe”.  Even with the certification being in the pilot stage, it has rapidly become a viable alternative to other processes that just aren’t working.  Though Agile isn’t for everyone, I find it amazing that so many have not adopted it, merely because it wasn’t supported by the status quo.

I’m actually not sure where we are on the adoption curve.  But, from listening to my students, the fear of ridicule is being stripped away.  I do believe we are crossing the chasm.

Watch this 3 minute video.  If you are a version of the shirtless (Agile) dancing guy at your organization, all alone, remember the importance of nurturing your first few followers as equals, making everything clearly about the movement, not you.

Be public. Be easy to follow!

There is no movement without the first follower.

(Link to Video on YouTube)

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Write the same but different words

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It’s all in how you say it. Or, in the case of this video, how you write it. In less than 2 minutes, this video will send a powerful message. It’s about writing from perspective.

After watching it, I immediately thought of how a user story can communicate a message differently, compared to a standard “shall statement” requirement.

Here are as few formats for you to compare. Which would you use?

As a <role>, I want <goal>

As a <role>, I want <goal> so <reason>

Given <dependency/constraint>, as a <role>, I want <goal> so <reason>

Do you have a preferred user story format that you use?  Please include it as a comment and have a beautiful day.

Motivate Your Team

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You should be looking for ways to motivate your team every single day. You could bring them donuts or bagels. You could give out monthly awards or public recognition. You could also give them a pep talk.  All it takes is one minute of encouragement to change their day for the better.  So, here is your pep talk for today.  Take 55 seconds, watch the video, and I challenge you not to have an awesome day.  This kids could be the next Tony Robbins!    

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I Got a Feeling

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I was sitting at my desk when this song by the Black Eyed Peas called “I got a feeling” came on Pandora.  My son rushed over yelling to turn it up. I attribute turning up the volume to the resulting earworm that has lasted the last few days.  There could be worse things in the world.  Each time I hear it, I think of the flash mob that danced in Chicago for Oprah.  It amazes me how so many (strangers) came together to create something that brings a smile to my face every time I see the video.

As I was preparing for day zero for LitheSpeed (I don’t officially start until tomorrow), I found myself singing the song and thinking about “the feeling”.   After taking a week off, I was able to break the cycle that had me feeling a bit numb for so long.  Just a few weeks ago, I felt like I was trying to keep control of an uncontrollable situation.  That can become exhausting.  But today I felt completely different.  This morning I felt excited about what I was about to do.  I felt an entrepreneurial drive I haven’t felt for a long time.  It’s that feeling when you play offense not defense.

Tomorrow is day one.  I have my Kanban loaded.  I have my WIP limited.  I got a feelin’ tomorrow is gonna be a good day.  Let’s do it.

Intro to Value Stream Mapping

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The Critical Path

The Critical PathI’m in the process of doing a Current State Value Stream Mapping (VSM) for the PMO. The big questions are, based on the current state, are there areas we can improve? Can we eliminate any waste (or increase efficiencies) from our current processes? The answer to both questions is YES.  Everyone should be reviewing there processes on a regular basis, giving themselves opportunities to become more profitable.  Though I’m advising a Federal Government project, the American people still deserve the most bangs for their bucks.

Today is the last day for one of my projects.  It is done.  Now is the time to see what worked and what did not.  We now need to do a retrospective and see if we learned any lessons from the last go-around. I will give the vendor credit on this particular project. This small cross-functional team did a better job than others, in part, because we had a daily 15 minute status meeting. (otNay allowedway otay entionmay Agileway). One of the other program teams wastes so much time because they only communicate once a week in a 3 hour meeting.  I hope my VSM will change that.

For those new to Value Stream Mapping, I included a 5 minute video that does a pretty good job of explaining its value.  See how a process that took 140+ days to complete was shortened down to just 30 days.

If you don’t have your current process documented, you need to do it!  As the saying goes, “What cannot be measured cannot be improved”.  Don’t be complacent and accept the waste.  Times are tough and we need to think lean!

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