Moving Motivators

Disclaimer: ¬†I might have fallen a little in love with this exercise ūüôā

DSC_1069I’ve run this in a couple of teams, and each time the results and responses are so different, but each time I find it amazing how people are surprised by their team mates’ motivators.

I’ve found that the exercise gives quieter people in the team a voice, to explain why certain things are important to them, and why they do things the way they do. ¬†I’ve also found people who loved experiencing the¬†liberation of realizing that different people are motivated by different things, and that it’s OK!

I’ve got 10 sets of these cards in my¬†goodie box, and they’ve been so useful. ¬†Whenever a group of people have to work together, there are frustrations in the group. ¬†Looking at the frustrations from the angle of what DRIVES people’s behaviour based on their motivators has a huge impact on a team, and creates a safe space to discuss our differences in a respectful way.

If you’d like to learn more about the exercise, and how you can run with it in a retrospective, here’s the link to the Moving Motivators website


Agile mindset, the only true way to get to business agility?

I find myself in the midst of really interesting discussions lately.  Most recently I attended a talk by Verna van Schaik changing to an agile mindset.

Mindset, culture, values…

This “world” which people dream and teach of, really resonate with me. ¬†But how do you REALLY go about changing stuff like that? ¬†There’s no framework for “fixing” people’s mindset and values. I know that starting with myself is the best answer, but I just feel that sometimes that might not be enough.

How do we, as scrum masters create the opportunity to delve into those “touchy-feely” areas, without freaking out our very non “touchy feely” developers, and even business managers.

I’ll be pondering this a while longer before jumping to action, before bringing this into my retrospectives. ¬†In the meantime, I’m going to change the way that I interact. ¬†The questions that I ask. ¬†The language that I use. ¬†As for changing mindset, that might take a while ūüôā

Kanban Love

Disclaimer: I’m a huge kanban fan, and have been for a while. ¬†However, my pet peeve is when people think that kanban is easy. ¬†I guess they think it’s easy, because they only ever get to stage 1 – mapping out the current process – visualizing¬†it. ¬†And there it stops.¬†

I’m in the process of moving my one team from scrum to kanban (again). ¬†In an environment where our stream of work is highly unpredictable (almost support type work items), we have found it incredibly hard, perhaps even impossible to serve the business in an efficient manner, and sticking to a 2 week timeboxed iteration with committed work.

For this reason, and some others, we are currently experimenting with kanban.  For me, one of the toughest parts of kanban is to observe the entire workflow system, and identify one area to improve and monitor to check success.

First of all, when initially mapping our the workflow, ¬†my teams have more often than not, started somewhere in the middle of their actual workflow, and ended before stuff was really done. ¬†This causes people in the team to be busy with stuff aside from our visible tasks on the board. ¬†At first it might not be too noticeable, as it’s small little admin jobs which don’t take up that much time. ¬†In the long haul, these items chew up time without anyone even realising, and before long, your team is probably spending a significant amount of time on these nitty gritties.

What I’ve tried to do to avoid this, is to include these in lane policies, where possible. ¬†Sometimes this doesn’t make sense though, and you have to adapt the entire board.

Another anti-pattern which I’ve come across, is that a lot of people have the idea that the lower your WIP limits, the better. ¬†The effects of different WIP limits are interestingly illustrated in this video – you can quite clearly see the effect of having your WIP limit set too low.

  • What have your experiences been while implementing kanban?
  • How have you and your teams decided on – and perfected – WIP limits?
  • How do you identifies areas that need change and improvement?

Manifesto for software craftsmanship

Disclaimer:  For those not familiar with the agile manifesto, this post might not make too much sense.

I’m prepping some training material for 2018, and was wondering how I can enhance the training from being pure process driven, to actually providing values to my teams. ¬†Most of my teams that this is aimed at are techies, and unless if we can talk about practically implementing changes and ways of work, there really isn’t much point.

In my quest, I found the¬†Manifesto for software craftsmanship, and I’m so keen to share this with my teams when we kick of the training on the 17th of January. ¬†I think it’s a great addition to the Manifesto for agile software development.

If anyone else has done some interesting exercises on this topic, please be so kind as to share, as I’d love to have some different viewpoints by the time I attempt this.

Here is the manifesto

Image result for Manifesto for software craftsmanship

Some more about the questions…

Still on the topic of my current audiobook (Change your questions, change your life), I thought it good to share this choice map

Image result for change your questions change your life choice map

What I found most liberating was that even though all of us sometimes go into judger mode, it’s so important to recognize when you are pulled into that trap, and switch to learner – before you fall in the muddy pit. ¬†The trick is do observe your own actions and responses, recognize it for what it is, and the choose to switch.

Judger mode isn’t useful for anyone, and actually cost us something. ¬†Whether it be a company’s money, or even a relationship with a loved one. ¬†For me, this was a wake up call, as ¬†I want to be efficient, and provide the most profitable solution for my company. ¬†How have I been missing this for so long? ¬†And how can I start questioning in such an effective way, that I move myself, and my team mates into learner mode.

These questions are still dangling over my head as I’m working my way through the book. ¬†I’m sure I’ll be back with more enlightenment soon ūüôā



A Brand New Year; 2018!

I suppose at some point in my life I gave up on the idea of ever reading a book again, as my “mom duties” have just about gobbled up all my spare time. ¬†By the time I actually have some peace and quiet at night, I’m so exhausted that I just cannot keep my eyes open to read a book.

In 2017 I discovered the life changing effect of Audible, and so I started listening to some pretty amazing books whenever I had “dead time”. ¬†When doing makeup, when I’m in the bath, or whenever else I could spare a few minutes.

My first book was the 7 Habits of highly effective people, and I found it inspiring to say the least. ¬†It was as though I could finally understand the patterns that I’d been spotting for a long time, and couldn’t properly explain for myself. ¬†I listened to this book while I was also attending a crucial conversations course, and found that the principles in both of these were so simbiotic and complimentary to one another.

The next noteworthy book which I stumbled upon (Based on recommendation I received from a former colleague) and started listening to is¬†Change your questions, change your life, and WOW, what an eye opening experience. ¬†It’s like looking at the world with a different pair of glasses.

A few years ago I was at a training workshop, and one of the pieces of advice which I got was about judgement, and my inability to see past my own judgement. ¬†So often I go into “judger” mode, and don’t try to learn more about the situation, or the other people’s intentions. ¬†¬†This book ties in perfectly with that, I just wish I’d found it sooner.

In this new year,  I really want to work on my character and my interactions with people.  I want to grow myself so that when I look back, I can feel like a really made a difference in people lives.  And in that I include all team members, not just the easy going likable ones.  I really want to seek first to understand, and build a good working relationship with every individual that I interact with.

Here’s to a GREAT 2018! ¬†May we all learn from our mistakes, and recover from the quicly.


Scrum Master vs. Agile Coach

I’m fast approaching the 10 year mark as a scrum master, and I honestly cannot remember what it felt like not to do this. ¬†If I look back, I’ve had some pretty amazing coaches, mentors and trainers, and I’m incredibly thankful for all the opportunities that I’ve been given.

“So what’s next?” I’m often asked, especially during some of my not so recent job interviews. ¬†What is life after scrum master’ing? ¬†Mmm… I try to be cautious when answering this, because I honestly don’t mean to offend (…and then the big bad BUT sneaks out), BUT, I cannot help but notice that some of my peers, and fellow scrum masters have recently “converted” themselves, or dubbed themselves to be agile coaches.

This leaves me with so many questions… “How the hell did that happen?” ¬†Probably being the most pertinent. So, perhaps I missed a memo, or some criteria by which you suddenly cross over into Agile Coach-hood? ¬†I don’t know? ¬†I wish somebody could enlighten me.

By all means, a scrum master’s job does involve some facet of coaching, but certainly you cannot just go from scrum master one day, to agile coach the next? I’m also pretty sure that a coach has some access to management, and coaching on that level. ¬†And I don’t mean talking to management, just to raise issues and complain on their teams’ behalf. ¬†I mean working WITH management, actively planning a transformation, or, at the very least, an improvement road map.

From what I’ve seen, scrum masters dubbing themselves as agile coaches are either bored with what they do, they need more money, and the scrum master salary bracket doesn’t allow for growth beyond a certain amount, or they feel like they need more recognition, aka STATUS in their agile community.

I know I’m sounding very harsh, and I’m sure that I’ll get some people who will totally disagree, but I can tell you that all those examples that I’ve used, I’ve actually encountered in the work place.

So… for those who are content being scrum masters, for now, how do you plan on growing? ¬†Are you furthering your knowledge as a specialist, or do you need to move into a different (higher level) role to feel like you’re successful?

I’m curious to learn the true motivation behind the “coaches movement”, and also the prerequisites that you feel are needed to be dubbed a coach.