P in your Network

Welcome to our oolI've recently been paying more attention to signs and indicators. Though Stop signs or Yield signs are a given, I'm talking signs that you find around homes (Welcome to our ool. Notice there is no "P" in it. Let's keep it that way) and businesses (Drink coffee. Do stupid things faster with energy). Last night, I attended the monthly APLN DC (Washington DC Chapter of the Agile Project Leadership Network). When friend and colleague Manoj Vadakkan kicked off the event last night, he announced that both the name (APLN) and logo had changed.  It will now be known as the Agile Leadership Network.  After telling people for the last few years that they could leverage agile principles and values in areas other than software development or just projects, I'm happy to see the change.  It should certainly help reinforce concepts like servant-leadership, outside of the application development world.  I went to the "new" ALN website and read a message on behalf of the board of directors.

In keeping with the agile spirit, APLN has continued to evolve since its inception. Over the last year or so, the national board has had an ongoing discussion about “getting the ‘P’ out”. That’s ‘P’ as in ‘Project’; as in Agile ‘Project’ Leadership Network. Why do that?

As agile practices for software development projects have become more prominent, broader application of agile principles and values has come more to the forefront. It is not that we no longer want to talk about these projects; we do and will. But we also want to talk about more than projects and we think the 10-year anniversary of the Agile Manifesto is an appropriate milestone to recognize that evolution.

Let this be notice to everyone out there to start updating their websites or documents listing APLN.

APLN DC with Lyssa Adkins

Last night I attended the monthly Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) DC event. Once again, the organizing team was able to get a really great guest. The guest last night was none other than Lyssa Adkins, known in Agile circles as an amazing coach and inspirational force. She's also the author of the book Coaching Agile Teams (link goes to Lyssa's website ).  Lisa's presentation was titled "What is an Agile Coach, Really?"Lyssa Adkins at APLN DC Listening to Lyssa made me think about where I am and where I want to take Agile with my current or future customers and teams.  She stated during her presentation

Excellent agile coaches know how to help their teams get more and move from the mechanical application of agile into a world where teams deepen their experience of agile practices and principles and then go further, to take up their deliberate and joyful pursuit of high performance.

Yes, you read the right "deliberate and joyful pursuit of high performance"

A big shout out goes to David Bland, Richard Cheng, Manoj Vadakkan, Max Keeler, Nimat Haque, Dave Nicolette, and all of the others in the DC area who came out last night, had some pizza, and talked Agile. You don't realize you're part of a tribe, until you come to an event like this and see those familiar faces.  

Jeff Sutherland & APLN DC

Last night I had the honor and privilege to listen to Jeff (co-creator of Scrum) Sutherland speak. There were roughly 95 of us attending the APLN DC event. It was great to see faces of the local Agile community. I have to keep this post short. My plane is boarding for Salt Lake City. I just wanted to prove I could write a blog post on my Droid X.

Busy Week Ahead

If you don't hear from me for a few days, here's why.  Tonight I'm headed to the Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) Washington DC Area Chapter event. The topic? Using Scrum to avoid bad CMMI Implementations (Presented by Jeff Sutherland). Yes, that's right! Jeff "creator of Scrum and signer of the Agile Manifesto" Sutherland. I don't sound too excited, do I? I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of people from the Agile community there. Tomorrow, I fly out to Salt Lake City to make an appearance at the Work Management Summit.  Follow it on Twitter with hashtag (#workout11) I don't know exactly what is in store for me.  I'm a special speaking guest of AtTask and I will be interviewed by @tykiisel and @RaeLogan in a live video webcast.  My instructions for my appearance: Please wear something that exemplifies your personal brand.

I will be the guy with spiky hair, horn-rimmed glasses, Doc Martens, and jeans (yes, I am wearing a collared shirt).  It's a bit of a departure from my normal office attire.  This includes, monogrammed cuff-linked shirts, wingtips, and a tie.  Though I'm much more of the Doc Marten guy, I understand C-Levels and SES don't always get it.

I'll be flying back to Washington DC on Thursday, due to time constraints.  Though I only get to spend 1 full day in Utah, this will be a great experience and I'm looking forward to meeting Ty and Raechel.  I will take plenty of pictures of the Grand America Hotel and try to blog while I'm there.

If you want to meet up for a drink, send me an email or direct message me via Twitter.

Like the image? Find it at pictofigo

Conflict in Value Perception

Deployment StartThis weekend I witnessed a true conflict in value perception.  We're not talking values like: - We treat others with respect - We are humble

Rather, it's about what the Customer (Product Owner), the Vendor (Core Team), and the I (Facilitator) believe has value.  I see direct value, like actual delivery of product, and indirect value, like mitigating risk by facilitating communications.

We started a deployment cycle that is going to take some time.  The team activities are clearly defined and level-of-effort have been estimated.  Dates in which potential risks could arise have been identified.  This is all good.  Until an activity begins, we won't be certain if a risk will be fully realized.  This is why I'm a really big proponent of daily communications.  Every morning, we have a 15 minute (status) meeting.  (The culture demands that we call it a status meeting so I'm good with it.)  The extended team is distributed (3 locations) so this is a little challenging.

Though I stressed to everyone the importance of daily communications (at a minimum), this weekend I was a little shocked at what happened.  Deployment activities were taking place over the weekend.  There was a trigger point for a risk that had been identified.  During the Friday status meeting, the Customer informed the team that they would not be on the status call.  Though I had agreed to be on the status call, this was a bit of a paradox.  I am a facilitator.  Per the contract, I can not act on behalf of the customer.  IF the team ran into a roadblock over the weekend, the customer would not know until Monday morning.  We could potentially be delayed by two days until the customer could provide feedback and direction.

So, what happened over the weekend?  The team did indeed run into a roadblock.  But, they were empowered enough to get the work done.  Because risks had been previously identified, a mitigation strategy was in place.  The team was able to bring in team members, over the weekend, without having to consult with the customer.

I still believe if the deployment is going to be a success, all parties must be fully committed.  We're all in this together.  I'll never ask a member of my team to do something that I wouldn't be prepared to do myself.

Something David Bland said at the APLN DC meeting really resonated with me this weekend.  He said,

When dealing with distributed teams, keep the feedback loops tight.

David could not have been more right. We dodged a bullet this time around. Empowering the team allowed us to do this. But, the customer took an unnecessary risk, by intentionally lengthening the feedback loop from 24 to 72 hours.

Like the image? Find it at Pictofigo