Application Development

Correct Context for an Agile Transformation

A few weeks ago, I spoke at the Heart of Agile conference up in Philadelphia. The conference was a two-day conference dedicated to educate attendees on Alistair Cockburn’s new methodology, The Heart of Agile. The Heart of Agile is focused on getting back to the basics of Agile. In the last 15 years, Agile has been weighed down with frameworks and practices of many shapes and sizes. At the Heart of Agile are 4 key concepts: Collaborate, Deliver, Reflect and Improve. From this center we can branch out to all of the principals, practices, skills, and tools.

The two-day event offered:

Opening and closing keynotes by Alistair Cockburn focused on the “Heart of Agile” Speakers - presentations and discussion tracks for Collaborate, Deliver, Reflect, and Improve: Tutorials - Speakers provided presentations and facilitated conversations on hot topics and key trends on Agile principles and practices. This was an opportunity for experienced practitioners to demonstrate and share their knowledge in a specific topic, solution, or technique. Collaborative Conversation - Joint problem-solving with other experienced participants in a topic. A facilitated peer-to-peer event, where everyone had something to contribute to the topic, though may not have been an expert at the topic. The coordinator proposed a topic and a facilitation structure, the attendees worked in small groups (typically 4-8 people), and mutually exchanged and collaborated their outputs. Experience Reports – Experience reports contained first-hand information and reflection: “We saw this…,” “Our team did that…,” or “We learned the following from our experience…” Experience reports served as an exchange opportunity for practitioners to learn from others. Focus of these discussions was to share successes, failures, and lessons learned. Open Space – Ongoing facilitated discussions of topics that were suggested by the attendees.

Experience Report

I was asked to present a report on one of my recent experiences.

Instead of presenting the below embedded deck about the correct context for an Agile transformation, I drew everything on a flipchart. If you know your content, you don't need a PowerPoint deck! I wanted to make the original presentation available for others who were not in the room (and those who were).

Correct Context for an Agile Transformation

If there is one question I would ask, to know if you should view/download this presentation, it would be: Are you exactly like Spotify?  If you are not Spotify or your company business goals do not align with Spotify, then this would be a good presentation to view or to talk with me about.

Get a free copy of the presentation from Derek Huether

Agile Engine Metaphor

carI recently published a post over at the LeadingAgile website. I compared and agile transformation to a carburetor engine. It was based on an interesting exchange I had on Google+ about Agile process transformation successes and failures. Here is one of the comments from the other person. Tell me if it sounds familiar.

My previous employers had big problems with Agile. Attempted to use it multiple times and had a nice failure rate of 100%. As far as I know, they are trying again. I’m rather curious. Would be interesting to know how it turns out this time.

If you like it or not, I can pretty much guarantee that company mentioned above will fail again, if they don’t have the proper organizational structure, governance, and clearly defined criteria for progress and success. In other words, their agile process engine is going to stall.

If you've never started a car built before 1990, you need to realize that just turning the key won't get the engine running. All it will do, especially if it's cold, is crank away until the battery is dead as a door nail. Instead, you need to set the choke to allow the engine to suck in lots of raw gas so some of the vapor will ignite.

Read the complete blog post...

Image Credit: Pictofigo

Barriers to Agile Adoption

We’ve all seen it happen. Though we try to show organizations the benefits of using a mature agile delivery framework, we still run into roadblocks. Though the status quo is killing their organization, some barriers to further Agile adoption happen way too often among organizations that need it most. I recently had a client ask me to introduce the elephant in the room. I was asked to actually list some common barriers others have dealt with. I want to thank our friends over a VersionOne for distributing an annual survey of the Agile space. One of the questions? What is preventing you from further agile adoption? Within the last published survey, 4048 people responded and they were able to vote for more than one barrier. The responses may sound familiar.Barriers to Adoption

Barriers of Agile Adoption

[table align="center" caption="" width="500" colwidth="25|25|450" colalign="center|center|left"] #,Percentage,Barrier 1,52%,Ability to change organizational culture 2,41%,General resistance to change 3,35%,Trying to fit agile elements into non-agile framework 4,33%,Availability of personnel with right skills 5,31%,Management support 6,26%,Customer collaboration 7,26%,Project complexity 8,22%,Confidence in the ability to scale 9,14%,Perceived time to scale 10,14%,Budget constraints [/table]

Did they miss any in the list?  How did you overcome your barrier?


Originally posted at LeadingAgile

ACP Community Guide vs AgileBOK

The Community Guide of the PMI-ACP (login required) is an initiative of the PMI Agile Community of Practice to provide ongoing support for the PMI-ACP agile certification. PMI Today recently highlighted the importance of community volunteers to create the certification, so it only follows that our community be the ones to mature it into the future.

What about the AgileBOK?

There will be no Agile Body of Knowledge (AgileBOK) supported by PMI.  PMI does not own, maintain, or support ANY web presence that lives outside of  There is not, and never should be an authoritative standard for Agile.  Having an AgileBOK would invite all PMI project managers to rigorously follow a standard and never adapt, tailor, or innovate their processes. This counters what we as Agilists stand and strive for.

How can you contribute to the Community Guide?

Team members will work as individual contributors within the Community Guide project. Their involvement may vary based on the nature of the work and their availability. If you are interested in creating or maintaining articles for the 'Community Guide', contact the current co-leaders of the ACP Support Team: Joeseph Flahiff and Derek Huether

Who is the Community Guide for?

The Community Guide is intended to be the authoritative source for all the stakeholders in the PMI-ACP ecosphere, including

• A study reference for those pursuing the PMI-ACP credential • A training reference for REPs and trainers • A technical reference for exam writers

What does the Community Guide cover?

The Community Guide is a unique community resource, offering you

• Links to relevant PMI documents regarding the certification • The original intent of the PMI-ACP creators for each topic on the exam • The current community consensus on how each topic works on "most agile projects, most of the time"

Image Source: Pictofigo

MVP for PMI Agile Exam Flashcards

With the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) exam celebrating its first month in the wild, I am sure you are already seeing a lot of study aids and prep courses being offered.  Full disclosure, I do offer ACP prep courses and I also offer PMI Agile Exam flashcards.   Wait, did you read that correctly?  Yes, you did.  I want to ensure there is a source of relevant study material available to the masses so I created the PMI Agile Flashcards website and have an iPhone app (that needs to be submitted to Apple for approval). As a co-lead for the PMI ACP support team, we are tasked with creating a knowledge base of relevant information for the ACP exam.  Think of it as a Wikipedia for the PMI-ACP but within the website.  Though that's all well and good, creating a glossary for both trainers and certification aspirants is not a study aid.  I still see the need for things like study guides and exam prep tools.  I think back when I was preparing for the PMP.  Reading the PMBOK Guide was a wealth of information but I needed something to put it into context.  It wasn't until I read Rita Mulcahey's book that it all made sense to me.  I also created a deck of flashcards for myself to help me prepare for the PMP exam.

Fast forward to today, for those of you who are looking for a study guide for the ACP, Mike Griffiths (the other PMI ACP support team co-lead) has just completed his ACP Exam prep book. I am releasing my Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for my PMI ACP Exam Flashcards. If that combination worked for me to prepare for the PMP, I hope it works for you for the ACP.

If you are wondering what I mean by MVP, I got the term from the Eric Ries book The Lean Startup.  I knew that I needed to get something out there now, get feedback from customers, and iterate the product.  The good news is, I know the questions and answers on the flashcards are relevant to the exam.  All I needed was to get something out there that people could use.


1. The first 75 flashcards loaded

I have loaded 75 flashcards into the database.  I know they are all relevant because I took (and passed) the ACP exam and because I have been involved during the certification development and am now involved to support it.  I've been involved in the Agile and PMI communities for a while now.  I want good quality prep materials made available to people. I don't want them to just pass the exam.  I want them to learn something.

2. All flashcards map to one of the six domains

  • Value Driven Delivery
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Boosting Team Performance Practices
  • Adaptive Planning
  • Problem Detection and Resolution
  • Continuous Improvement (Product, Process, People)

3. All flashcards map to the two areas you will be graded on

  • Tools and Techniques
  • Knowledge and Skills

4. 20 free flashcards to view without login

I figure you'll know if this product has value for you within 20 flashcards.  After that, you'll probably want to create a login so you can keep track of your progress.

Agile Exam Flashcards

5. 20 free flashcards with progress tracking with login

So, you created a free account.  You'll now be able to visualize your progress as you go.  By navigating to the progress screen, you'll be able to navigate back to cards that you got incorrect or skipped earlier.  Since you're still using a free account, you'll have access to 20 flashcards.

6. Access to all flashcards with paid account

This is where we wrap it all together.  The goal is to have a few hundred flashcards in the system.  You can get started now with the first 75.  As the database grows, random flashcards will appear as "unviewed".  Just check your status before you begin and you know where you stand.

What is next?

  • Add more flashcards
  • Make some changes in the User Interface to make it easier to navigate
  • Get feedback from customers
  • Refine the product or pivot
  • Get the iOS and Android versions completed

Note: A few of the links are Amazon affiliate links.