Leading Remotely: Webinar

Our theme for April was Leading Remotely, where we teamed up with our trusted partner, Geoff Watts from Inspect & Adapt, who kicked off the month with a video interview. Geoff is the UK’s leading ORGANIC agility® leadership coach. In his interview, he shares his observations on how organisations have been impacted by COVID-19 and particularly how leadership has been affected by the shift to remote work. He also gives advice about what to focus on to better lead remotely.

In the second part of our "Leading Remotely" theme, ORGANIC agility® leadership coach Andrea Tomasini shares his insights of the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on organisations, addressing why some companies have fared better. He also gives tips on how leaders can increase effectiveness when working remotely whilst finding ways to reduce stress levels amongst employees.

To sum all of this up, we hosted a webinar on the 22 of April, which recapped the month and the general discussions, both on social media and also in our Community. Both Andrea and Geoff shared their thinking live, and the amount of people that joined us was fantastic. 

Since the topic is very broad, we chose to have a poll in the beginning of the session, to see where we should start the conversation. The options were: 

  • Trust
  • Well-being when working/leading remotely
  • Practices

The majority of people wanted us to talk about “Well-being when working/leading remotely” and that became the natural starting point of the discussion. However the conversation did cover all three points, as they do go hand in hand. 

Leading remotely is a big topic, and our audience contributed with both good questions, as well as sharing their own valuable thinking and ideas on how they tackled this situation. The webinar was hosted more as a discussion this time around, and the engagement was great! 

If you missed out on the live session, don’t panic! We have the recording for you here to share around with your network. 

For any questions, you are always welcome to contact us!
Hope to see you again next month, for a new theme and new discussions! 

Manage flow, not people!

Flow is King. Agility is a side-effect.

Flow is King! Succinctly put, Flow is the movement and delivery of customer value through a process. Without Flow, our organizations simply cannot endure long enough to deliver value to our customers. I will relate from my own experiences of how to see Flow in your organization, as well as tips and tricks to identify and eliminate impediments to Flow.

I have worked as an Agile Coach for over 15 years now. More and more, I am seeing organizations that want to install The Agile! The promise is that we will get greater visibility, more delivery, better quality, delighted customers and happier more engaged employees. Sounds great! Sign me up!

The recipe for “installing The Agile” usually looks something like this:

  1. Agile training for everyone — it’s important that people understand the principles and practices.
  2. Reconfigure the workforce into small cross-functional teams — a cross-functional team doesn’t depend on others?
  3. Each team works from a backlog of work items or stories, and tracks their velocity in story points; competing for the accolade of highest score!
  4. The backlog of work-items is prioritized by a business person, who is often too busy with “business stuff” to spend any quality time explaining the “why?” with the team. I’ve been that person. I feel the pain!
  5. Coach the teams to become more effective through the use of stand-up meetings and retrospectives — short learning cycles.
  6. Sum the velocities of all the teams and we get the organization’s velocity! A measure of productivity!
  7. Continue coaching teams to increase productivity!

Is this good stuff to do? Maybe. Does this mean we are Agile? Sadly… not really. The upside typically results in small pockets of improvement around the organization, but seldom if ever delivers on the promise of Agile. In fact, there are almost always undesired side-effects of change in this fashion e.g. losing experienced knowledge workers who don’t want to be “changed”, or disgruntled project managers.

If we view our organization as a bunch of teams that deliver stuff, then we might be missing the bigger pictureDr. Russell Ackoff coined the phrase, “A system is never the sum of its parts. It is the product of the interactions of its parts.” Ackoff suggests that there might be a bigger “system of delivery” than the teams themselves. Ever heard of the “D” word? No, not “done”, although that is important. “Dependencies”. While we may have many teams effectively delivering pieces of value, it is near-impossible to have more than a few teams in an organization without the existence of cross-team dependencies. Another word for dependencies is “waiting”.

Work items that are waiting usually require some kind of extra-team interaction in order to get unstuck. Meetings! Since we don’t trust that the teams will initiate these interactions, we employ Project Managers who try to ensure that the right teams are talking to the right teams at the right times. In large matrix organizations, there is usually a many-to-many relationship between Project Managers and Teams which in turn results in teams receiving conflicting priorities a.k.a. “Everything is urgent!”

We know from Lean Thinking that “waiting” is one of the 7–8 deadly wastes. Waste, being something we do that contributes nothing towards delivering value to the customer. Perhaps, if we truly keep the customer in mind, we need to focus on more than just the delivery teams if we want to minimize the real wastes that exist in our organizations.

What is Flow?

One of the six practices of Kanban, suggests simply that we “manage flow”. Sounds OK, but what does it mean? In Dan Vacanti’s book Actionable Agile Metrics, he suggests that:

flow is the movement and delivery of customer value through a process.

Recommended Reading: Principles and Practices of Kanban

Think of a request that comes in, a new feature for development or a customer inquiry. If this was the only request the organization had, it would probably flow quickly from team to team, person to person, activity to activity. It wouldn’t sit waiting, because people would be waiting, ready to contribute to getting the feature built, or the customer request fulfilled.

Notice the distinction above! Workers are waiting. The work is flowing. This is utopia for the customer, but often not for the organization. Idle resources (idle “people” in my book) = waste. As we add more concurrent requests into the organizational system, the amount of time that workers are waiting to do something decreases.

Good! Busy workers = higher ROI, right? Not necessarily. If we keep adding more work, we eventually optimize for 100% busy workers. A side-effect of this is that work queues start forming in front of teams and individuals (the proverbial in-tray). The work requests sit idle in these queues and evidently take longer to deliver. So the corollary of the above statement is true, “Workers are busy. Work is waiting.” — a somewhat counter-intuitive reality.

Waiting Work is the opposite of Flowing Work. The time that it now takes for value to reach the customer is increasing. I have seen organizations where time from request until time delivered is in excess of 700 days! Is delivery of items in this scenario even important anymore? But the teams are Agile! I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t feel very Agile to me, and it makes me sad.

Queued Work is Waste

We have agile teams, so why bother about queues? We have backlogs!

Backlogs are good — as long as they are small. The smaller the better! And, backlogs are not the only queues in organizations. The backlogs I see in organizations usually represent the work in front of a single team or at best, a number of teams working on a product. But where do backlogs come from?

Usually, there are queues of big hairy ideas (BHI’s) like projects or initiatives that are forming ahead of the team/product backlogs. These are often invisible to teams busy with execution. Deciding which of these large items to start next can be a difficult task — remember I spoke of the business person who was too busy to spend quality time with the delivery team? Each BHI often has a senior stakeholder behind it, who carries weight and influence in the organization i.e. all BHI’s become important.

So we start many of BHI’s at once. The more we start, the longer it takes for any of them to finish. But we continue to add more. Middle management, teams and individuals are 100% busy, but delivery is crawling! Queues are forming in-front of individuals, teams, projects, strategic initiatives. At all levels of the organization. Longer queues mean less Flow. Everything is taking longer and longer to deliver. So…

Make the teams work Smarter! Faster! Better!

People need to take ownership!

We don’t have capacity! We need to hire more people!

The sooner we start, the sooner we finish!

If we follow these mantras instead of solving the real problem, we end up spending a lot of money and amplifying the pain, while decreasing job satisfaction and employee engagement. Or we move the pain to another area of the business. Typically, these attitudes towards improving delivery are far from sustainable in practice. I think you’ll find reference to sustainability in the principles of the Agile Manifesto. ;)

How am I contributing to the DOF — Death of Flow?

In your work do you, or have been asked to:

  • regularly fast-track new items over completing planned work?
  • spend time waiting for someone outside your team or organization to unblock what you are working on? and then,
  • start new work to keep yourself busy while you wait?
  • work harder and get more done — burn the midnight oil?
  • hire more specialists?
  • structure the workforce into knowledge/skill silos?
  • focus on the new features, and leave defects until later?
  • transfer a call to another department (assuming you’re not the receptionist)
  • code-freeze, stabilize and release once per year?

While at times we need to do these things, deciding to do any of them regularly will lead to snowballing queues of idle work items and a conspiracy to create longer wait-times for all work items — the death of flow.

So how do I manage Flow?

Consider the statement: Starting work costs money. Finishing work makes money.

It would seem that the more work we start, without finishing, the more money and time will be held up. The more work that we are finishing, the more money is coming in.

  1. Decide the level in the organization where you are trying to improve Flow i.e. strategic, portfolio, program, product, team, individual. The higher up in the organization, the bigger the impact of the change. i.e. focusing with individuals or teams, has the lowest impact on the organizational FlowKlaus Leopold, the author of rethinking AGILE and founder of the Flight Levels Academy, has a model to help you to identify the kinds of problems to solve at different levels of the organization. The model is aptly named Flight Levels.
  2. Visualize the work in flight at this level — Sitting with other people in the delivery system to co-create a workflow visualization is an essential step to seeing where the problems are. Too often we rely on fancy tools, configured by someone clever, which serve a purpose but are typically great at hiding problems.
  3. Using the visualization, identify the large queues, and flush them out — this will mean starting less work initially and will lead to more even flow (aging of items) and therefore higher levels of predictability.
  4. Measure the age of work items — we want to at least see if the average age of items in the work flow is decreasing over time, otherwise, we haven’t fixed anything! Where specific work items are getting too old, catalyze conversations about how to finish them.
  5. Measure the duration that work items spend waiting — If we want to increase flow, we need to decrease wait times (of the Work, not the people).
  6. Stop starting, and start finishing! — pay more attention to finishing work that starting it.

Optimize your organization to keep people busy if you want to get busy people. How about optimizing for delivering value to customers instead?

Want to learn more about how you can manage flow in your organization!? Contact us today.


How to work remotely as a team – Part 2

If you have read our first article on working remotely, and your team has successfully established a digital persona, created rituals and revised their working arrangements, you are already well on your way to re-establishing your productivity.

Now is a good time to dig a little deeper to keep your teams moving forward.

Working Virtually

Working in a distributed environment requires discipline and attention to the actual work getting done. Tracking work and making it visible is key to communicating outwards and highlighting impediments. There is, of course, more to it than that. The habits teams form around pulling work in, handing work off and tracking work-in-progress, differentiates great teams (that exceed expectations) and poorly performing teams (that work hard but somehow miss the target more often than not).

Track progress

There are so many tools out there for tracking work. Whichever one you choose, avoid tools that depend on assigning work to individuals; just because work has been assigned to me does not mean I’m working on it now (or perhaps ever). Choose tools that allow teams to pull work in as and when work starts on the activities tracked.

Make work activities small

Small enough that there is a reasonable expectation that you will finish them within the day. This means that every day, something should move.

You should also meet briefly, as a team, every day to update the tool. Meeting every day to simply say “I’m still working on X” gets boring really fast. Highly effective team members have a goal they commit to completing each day. These team members will say, “I am working on X and plan to have it done by 2:30 today then I’ll video call my peer buddy for a review”. This helps other team members coordinate their daily deliverables.

The beauty of the small daily commitment enables team members to say,  “I should have finished X, but Y and Z stopped me”, provides the opportunity for other team members to assist with support or escalation.

Rally around a goal

In Scrum, this would be the sprint goal. In any remote team, having an objective for the week will spur you on and give you a single point around which to discuss the work done during the week. There might be a couple of things the team has to complete, but keeping this front of mind helps the team stay focussed and allows the team to enjoy the feeling that comes with completing work.

Asynchronous communication

Open a Slack channel or group chat somewhere. It is inevitable that when you do something (check in the new feature) that impacts others, they will be away from their desk at that moment. A single channel to update the team on key happenings allows everyone to see what they need to see when they need to see it.

Push decision making into the team

On remote teams, more than face-to-face teams, those moments when decisions have to be pushed outside the team cause delays and slow momentum. Work hard to move decisions into the team that might reasonably be made quickly in an office environment but that can slow down in a remote environment.

Maintaining Attention

Teams need to collaborate together. In a face-to-face meeting, it is obvious when attention is waning and the group needs a break. In virtual workshops and meetings, this is much harder to manage. There will be many meetings that take time, require many people on the call, and have important outcomes.

Perhaps the greatest risk in remote workshops and meetings is losing peoples’ attention. As soon as that attention is lost, the attendees might appear to be there, but they are no longer listening or contributing and any decisions or agreements you might have made are likely not taken on board. A waste of time for everyone involved!

Cardinal sin #1: Losing time bringing late comers or technical challenges up to speed

I’ve turned up, prepared and raring to go. Now I lose eight minutes waiting while other less-prepared and less-raring folks stagger in.

Be respectful to those that do come in. Prepare the technology well, set a start time understood by all, and then get going. You don’t have to start on the hour but might announce a start at 5 minutes past the hour. But then get going. Work with a moderator or co-host to solve the connection problems that invariably arise.

Cardinal sin #2: Expecting the people on the call to do a lot of heavy lifting for you

If you want to whiteboard a solution, prepare a starting point so that breakout rooms can immediately start discussing the problem at hand, rather than how they will capture the results. Ease them into the exercise with pre-filled templates. Never leave them with a blank whiteboard/collaboration board on which to find their feet. They will take too long and focus too much time on the wrong things.

Cardinal sin #3: Forgetting to build movement into your workshop or meeting

In our new reality, team members are sitting continually. Meetings take place in one place, so there’s no opportunity to get the blood moving by walking from one floor to the next.

Respect this, and build in a little movement to your online activity. Ask attendees to fetch something, to stand up and turn around, to grab a cup of water. Anything to get them up and moving around.

The same applies to the content you are sharing. Shake it up a little! Switch between screens. Use hand-written slides rather than Arial 12pt bulleted lists all the time. Create variation and movement in how you facilitate the workshop.

To help you create the perfect working environment for your remote team, we’ve created a Don’t Panic list for you. If you have other ideas or questions, let us know in the comments.

How to work remotely as a team – Part 1

We have been working with our clients to help them establish strong working teams as they rapidly adapt to working remotely. While the immediate focus is on technology, creating high-performing remote teams requires more attention to the soft skills than many may think.

Distributed teams have to spend more time setting up an environment for successful online collaboration. The technology, while essential to making remote working possible, can be clumsy to set up and work with. While there are many resources for making the barrier to utilize technology lower, we typically invest our time on soft skills; building rapport and understanding on a newly remote team.

The first agile value, ‘individuals and interactions over processes and tools’, reminds us that tools only get us so far. In our conversations, we have learned to break down the individuals and interactions into three key steps: connecting socially, working virtually and maintaining attention.

Connecting Socially

High-performing teams are much more than a group of individuals working on their tasks. Every team member depends on the others not only for support in getting the job done but also for social connection. Establishing this social connection between remote team members must be a priority, but this is often overlooked.

Remote work requires a much deeper sense of connection. Each member needs to feel comfortable reaching out without being able to gauge feedback from visual cues. In this way, everyone appears more vulnerable when asking, what might seem to be a daft or obvious question. Just as critically, some might also miss out on the connection points they used to have, including the after-lunch coffee or regular walk to the snack box with a colleague.

Remote teams need a sense of normalcy, and creating (or re-creating) a team identity can be a fun way of doing this.

Establishing a Digital Persona

Human beings are social beings and we all want to belong. In Fact, Simon Sinek’s book Leaders Eat Last, says that great teams have an inherent safety that strengthens safety and connection.

Once we are remote, that belonging is even more important. We no longer share a common workplace, and need to create something that makes us smile, and is something that we secretly want to share, even if we don’t.

Here is an activity to try: As a team, create a wild and funky digital persona that everyone relates to so that the team can create a team spirit for working together online.

  • Have a simple team identity (name, graphic) that we can explain to others
  • Every team member has their own avatars and online persona
  • Understand a little about every team member and their *new* work reality
  • The team mission is written in 1-2 sentences and shared with the whole team

Creating Rituals

The social aspect of face-to-face working can get swamped when working remotely, by the need to present results and simply get things done.

This social fabric is important. It builds rapport and empathy. It allows teams to decompress and individuals to take a break. And good social rituals and traditions make you smile and create unexpected connections.

Try this exercise: As a team, work together and formulate online rituals and traditions that mirror your offline rituals and traditions, so that you have a framework for our working day.

  • Define a new ritual for taking a break and reconnecting as a team during our working day
  • Create two new traditions for recognizing our teammates
  • Create a new social tradition to end the week

Revisit Working Agreements

How we operate as a team – the working agreements that allow a team to function – are invaluable in the new remote context. Different communication channels will probably be needed, and there are decisions and responsibilities that may have changed as a result of moving online.

Here is something to try: As team members, articulate how to work together as a team, so that you have working agreements in place before you start working together.

Create a page for the Team’s Working Agreement, including:

  • How do we reach agreements/make decisions?
  • When and where do we do standups?
  • What do we value most?
  • What will we not do? What will we always do?
  • How do we share learnings across the team?

Maintaining Focus

Working remotely, especially under non-ideal conditions (such as balancing child care with work, or sharing a working space with other family members) makes staying focussed hard. Online buddies help stay connected and share a little of the load. Buddies are not managing work or judging what goes on, but rather providing a little light relief and validation of the absurdity of daily life at times.

Here is a tip: Find one or two buddies to stay close and share your working day with, to help stay connected and stay focused.

  • Every team member has 1-2 buddies they connect with daily
  • The buddies may be outside of their team
  • How they connect and about what is left to the buddies to figure out

In summary, social connection forms the foundation from which high-performing teams can work together. Just as online collaboration requires more time than face-to-face collaboration to establish rapport and allow for sufficient communication, so remote teams need extra attention on the human connection to allow social connection.

For other key skills on remote teams, stay tuned for our next post. It will focus on working virtually and maintaining attention.

To help you create the perfect working environment for your remote team, we’ve created a Don’t Panic list for you. If you have other ideas or questions, let us know in the comments.

Dave Sharrock at Argyle Secondary, North Vancouver

Agile in the community

Last week, we spent a morning introducing agile practices to the high school teachers of Argyle Secondary in North Vancouver, BC Canada. In British Columbia, schools have Professional Development (Pro-D) Days that are used as a “time to work with colleagues to further their skills and engage in a broad range of professional development activities”. This is time spent outside of the usual classroom space to learn and retrospect on what is working and what needs to be done differently.

Led by Dave Sharrock, the teaching staff learned about the empirical process and how continual inspection and adaptation leads to improvement. With over 40 people in the room, the ball game led to some high scores and learning how to improve scores. They also learned how limiting their work in progress and visualizing their work can decrease completion time of tasks.

Unlike more traditional agile workshops, there was no focus on software releases or DevOps.  Instead the discussions were centered around how agile methodologies could be used in their setting. The session was highly interactive, and small groups practiced planning their work on Kanban boards for the first time.

Agile Strategy at Women in Tech Africa 2020

I am happy to be a speaker at Women in Tech Africa will be taking place on 18-19 March 2020. The two-day exhibition and conference is hosted at the Century City Conference Centre (CCCC) in Cape Town, South Africa.

I will talk about Agile and agility, for me, is the ability of the organization to react to change with speed and ease. In ten years of working with organizations, I have come to learn that agile development teams are not enough and that we need to take a more strategic view of agility and approach it from an organizational level. Our strategy is our first step to agility.

In my session, we will, therefore, take a high-level view of agility and then a deep dive into the Agile Strategy Map as a tool for exploring and visualizing strategy in an agile way.

The Agile Strategy Map is both a true map and a living, responsive tool that adapts to exactly where you are. Your goal is your true North, giving you direction, and the elements of Past, Present, and Future help to orient you in time and space. You can also track the progress of your experiments in real time, connect related factors, update the status of the factors influencing your strategy, and much more.

It will be a real workshop with these key takeaways:

  •   A high-level overview of agility
  •   What makes a difference to organizational agility
  •   The Agile Strategy Map, a tool for mapping and visualizing strategy at different levels of granularity
  •   Some ideas for how to operationalize the strategy

Join me in the session “How to become an Agile Master” on March 18th. Please note that this is a workshop that requires pre-registration.

The Number 7: Why is it so important?

Team size is often talked about when it comes to establishing a high performing team.

How many people should be included in a software project? If you are using agile methodology, The Scrum Guide will tell you that your scrum team size should be 3-9 members.

But why should this be the case?

Think of the teams you may have worked on in the past. What size were they?

Maybe your family is a team of 2, or if you have kids then 4.

In sports, baseball teams have 9 active players at any one point, and football has 11 on the field at once.

In a chamber orchestra, your team has 50 people and up to 90 in a symphony orchestra.

Work teams can exceed all these numbers at larger organizations.

What’s so special about 7?

The number 7 has a long history, so let’s skip the ancient history and move forward to the modern era.

In 1956, a psychologist named George Miller had done some experiments to explore the capacity of human memory. He published his work in a paper called The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information.

What was found is short-term human memory, sometimes referred to as working memory, has a limit on the amount of information it can hold and a time that it can be held for. Various tests showed that most people can retain 7 digits as they thought about things. Some could hold a little less (5) and some a little more (9) but the average came out to 7.

This has affected all kinds of things, like the fact that phone numbers are 7 digits long in North America, because it’s the longest sequence that humans can easily recall. It also relates to our ability to distinguish musical tones, food tastes, and the size of group board games.

It is also relevant in social settings.

Think of the last time you went for lunch or dinner with a group. How did the conversations go? Did you notice who became involved in certain conversations? According to The Dinner Conversation, larger groups will naturally split into smaller conversations because after that, members become excluded.

From these studies, we have begun to understand that our brains have a “social channel capacity”, or an upper limit, after which we have to start dropping detailed information about people.

What Does This Mean for Teams?

When it comes to the teams we work on, we want to be as effective as possible and enjoy the relationships we develop with our colleagues.

In order to do this, we have to choose team sizes that make it easy to communicate.

Usually, smaller teams have lots of bandwidth to communicate, but it becomes much harder to communicate with everyone on the team as the size of the group increases. Eventually we get to the point where we can no longer maintain good communication with everyone.

At what size does communication begin to break down?

Not surprisingly, a team size of 7 seems to be the sweet spot.

More than that proves difficult to maintain, and anything above 9 or 10 has proven to be impossible to keep everyone up to date and information begins to slip. As illustrated in the image below (source: Lighthouse), lines of communication become increasingly complex as team members are added.

Lines of communication

Want a generalized rule that gives a bit of flexibility?

Try the 2 Pizza Teams from Amazons, Jeff Bezos. The concept is simple. A team should be no bigger than you can feed with two pizzas. Larger than that and you should split your teams or risk that they will become ineffective.

Here’s one more thing to consider:

Research has shown that people will add their effort to a group, but as the group becomes larger, they will contribute less. In an interesting experiment with a rope pulling game (think tug-o-war) it was found that as people were added to the team the overall pulling force increased, unsurprisingly. However, the individual force per person actually decreased! People began to rely on their team members to do the work for them.

This became known as the Ringelmann Effect, named for the researcher who discovered it, and later expanded to include other studies that generalize into a psychological phenomenon called Social Loafing.

So how can you avoid social loafing on your teams? Make sure the team is not too big! 5 to 7 members seems to be the ideal.

Great teams, that perform on an elevated level, depend on a number of factors. Team size is one of them.

Stay tuned for more articles about team performance and how to get desired achievements.

What size is your current team? Is it working effectively? Share your comments below.

ORGANIC agility makes impact in Croatia

CROZ is the agile42 partner for Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia and they have an active base of followers in a growing market. 

Last week Andrea Tomasini and I traveled to Zagreb to discuss ORGANIC agility with the local community of Agile practitioners and developers. One of the key things Andrea mentioned was that an organization should behave differently depending on the maturity of the market in which it operates. 

Read more on the CROZ blog.

Keep in touch for more ORGANIC agility community activities starting next year.

Meet the Coach: Magnus Kollberg

For our series of interviews, we sat down with Magnus Kollberg, a Mid Sweden University graduate who has recently joined the agile42 Sweden team as an Agile coach. He is a Certified Scrum Professional and a Certified GDQ consultant who has educated hundreds of people in agile methodology and has mentored and coached individuals and teams for several years. Magnus is also the host of the Meet the Coach webinar series aiming to support individuals working in an agile context who wants to grow their understanding of agility and related methods and practices.

What was your path leading you to Agility and to agile42?

After university, where I graduated with an MSc in Computer Engineering I spend some years as a software engineer in the pulp and paper process industry, did a lot of traveling as well as some teaching, all in all very interesting times. I then consulted in the telecom industry for a couple of years before I started at a software developer at a company called Stoneridge Electronics in 2002.

Stoneridge developed embedded systems for the automotive industry and in 2006 I was working as a project manager and developer for a team developing a graphical platform consisting of electronics and software. We come across the book Extreme Programming Explained by Kent Beck and started to apply the practices. This turned out to be very successful, and I was amazed about the productivity this team achieved, as well as the satisfaction of the customer and the team. 

I think what appealed to me was the human-centric approach and the focus to continuously improve which is in line with a growth mindset, that you always can get better on what you do.

I continued working with development of different products at the company, formally as project manager for multi-team projects but acting as a Scrum Master coaching teams, other Scrum Masters and Product Owners. Every assignment added pieces in my learning puzzle, different practices and methods, multi-team setups, team dynamics and how to deal with hard deadlines, all with an agile mindset growing along the way. I spent the last two years coaching a product development unit of 40 software, hardware and production engineers to shift from a waterfall approach to an agile one. The result from this shift was substantial and still serves me as an example of performing teams and a great Product ownership.

Eager to continue to grow and share what I had learned, I joined Swedbank in 2013 as the first Agile coach and over the years we grow into 15 coaches. We supported all levels in the organization through training, coaching, facilitation and mentoring teams and individuals. We developed a training portfolio and over the years I conducted 1200 hours of training for around 700 people. Along with already great colleges, we got support from two coaches from agile42, Martin von Weissenberg and Giuseppe De Simone, and I worked together with the latter for three years which developed me a lot. I started to think of what company that breaded those people and in September 2019 I decided to join agile42.

Have you read or discovered something great recently?

A lot of things and they tend to keep coming more frequent the more I learn, which is pretty interesting in itself. I think one experience is about flow and it started out three years ago when I attended a Professional Coach training and one of the course literature was a book called The inner game of Tennis by Tim Gallwey. Last year I participated in a training where we applied some of the ideas from the book on a tennis court and I suddenly realized the connection between flow and performance and how coaching help achieving this. I got some keys to why my performance, both in sports and profession, sometimes has been good and other times less good even though the preconditions were the same. I found this very useful when coaching individuals and teams, both in my professional life and also as a football coach for children, which I have been doing the last six years.

The agile world is growing and evolving, do you see a clear direction for future years?

For natural reasons, the ability for companies to respond fast to changing market conditions including unexpected events will be more and more important. This will put the spotlight on how to grow this capability as well as the competence needed to help them do so, I am not convinced that the scaling frameworks out there today will help out with this. This is one of the reasons I decided to join agile42 which I think has an approach for guiding organizations to improve this capability through ORGANIC agility.

Do you have a favorite recommendation for the teams you coach?

I would ask them how is it going with the retrospective actions they have decided on. Secondly, I would ask them about their goal, what they are trying to achieve as a team. For the team members to have a shared understanding of their common goal is crucial for their collaboration and ability to be productive. Having a productive team conversation about work-related things, for example, refining an item in the backlog, is difficult if the underlying team dynamic is broken.

What is the main inspiration for what you do?

I would say to make work fun! We spend a lot of our time working and it would be sad if the majority of that time is not enjoyable. Happy people do great stuff which makes this important from an effectiveness point of view as well, workplaces should provide the environment for people to enjoy what they are doing. Leaders have a big responsibility here to nourish such an environment, work with the intrinsic motivators of individuals and help them grow.

Another version of that, a bit more egocentric perhaps, is to improve the workspace of companies so that my children do not have to work at uninspiring places. This goes hand in hand with my eagerness to learn, and get better on what I am doing so that I can help out even better.

Definition of Done vs Acceptance Criteria: a Meet the Coach Webinar

Coaches at agile42 Sweden have started a Meet the Coach webinar series aiming to support individuals working in an agile context who wants to grow their understanding of agility and related methods and practices.

The events will be hosted by agile coaches who will present different topics followed up by conversations and reflections.

The first webinar is taking place on Wednesday, October 16 at 1 pm Central European Time and the coaches will discuss “Definition of Done vs Acceptance Criteria”.

What is the Definition of Done and why should I care?

What are Acceptance Criteria and do they relate to the DoD?

These are to questions that we get frequently when working with Scrum teams. So, if you are working in an agile context and are a bit puzzled about this, join us in this one hour where we will try to shed some light on this.

We’ll run this as a webinar this time so unfortunately there will be no coffee but we are planning on improving this for the future.

Register by using the following link on Zoom: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_mhInyH7_TWyX0SBA_oU12A

You will get a confirmation email with instructions on how to join the webinar.