Top 10 Differences Between Managers and Leaders

This short video from @ScottWilliams provides 10 clear distinctives to help understand the difference between a manager and a leader.

Be a leader...

 

When you rush to to get work done

I really like the following 2 min video. Message is simple - you get what you invest. If you push your teams to get the work done to meet timelines then work may be completed but results will be below average.

Enjoy the video!

 

Agile Momentum Part 1 - Dealing With Friction

Agile Momentum - Dealing with FrictionIn 1930s, automobile industry introduced agile in the form of lean manufacturing. With its growing popularity, other industry segments started realizing that agile principles are not limited to any industry segment or functional group. Over the past decade, software industry has also adopted agile principles and it has become a popular product development methodology. Core of agile is to structure organizations in such a way that they can embrace change and adapt quickly to service the customers in their ever changing needs. However, taking a big bang approach to agile is not a viable option for many organizations, as most successful adoptions of agile are tailored to the strengths and limitations of the specific organization.

Like any other change, agile adoption is not welcomed right away and faces resistance. Organizations observe many types of frictions which reduces the momentum during agile implementation. These frictions absorbs energy because of the resistance at various levels. Friction is not a fundamental force but occurs because of the turbulence caused by the change. First part of the "Agile Momentum" series is focused on "Agile Friction". There are three main types of frictions which are applied to the organization, process, and technical agility. You may visit "Beware of Scrum" to get a detailed context for these types of agility.


Types of Agile Friction


  • Static Friction: This is the force that must be overcome before agile can be implemented in a non-agile organization e.g. friction observed before piloting first agile project. 
  • Dynamic Friction: This is the force that must be overcome to maintain uniform agile motion e.g friction encountered when people don't see immediate results after a new agile implementation. It is important for the agile leader to constantly communicate value of "inspect and adapt". Once an organization learns to manage incremental value driven by agile process, dynamic friction starts diminishing by itself.  
  • Political Friction: This is the force resisting agile progress because of organizational politics. A good agile leader can influence negative politics by persuasive communication in agile's favor.

Types of Agile Friction


Organizational Maturity and Levels of Agile Friction

In the initial phases of agile adoption, organizations experience

Beware of Scrum

Scrum is one of the biggest process invention but it does not guarantee success. Even creators of Scrum accept that more than half of the Scrum implementation does not go well. Why is that? Scrum is critical but what is more critical than Scrum? Moving from waterfall model to Scrum is a welcoming change that makes people think in the right direction. So what is the right direction?

If a person with ongoing back pain visits the doctor then doctor certainly suggests to do exercises or yoga to make body agile enough to get rid of pains. If that person is wise like me then he starts doing exercises and pain disappears. Exercises don't cure pain overnight. It requires a regular routine. Isn't it common to see pain appear again when exercises are stopped?

In this example "routine is Scrum" and "exercises are agility". A healthy person needs routine as well as exercises. Similarly, a good projects or organizations need both Scrum as well Agility.

Let's extend our example little further and review the root cause of the pain. Main reason behind this person's pain is routine of sitting in a chair with bad posture for a long time. Similarly, root cause for failed Scrum project is routine of not practicing agility for a long time.

In a nutshell, Scrum forces people to think in the right direction i.e. agility. As you can understand, routine is important but exercises are critical. Hence, Agility is more critical than Scrum. The following video depicts relationship of Scrum and Agility in great details with an creative analogy. Here are the key learning objectives:
  • What makes Scrum successful?
  • Are you failing because you are overdoing Scrum?
  • When not to use Scrum? 
Presentation slides are available here in the pdf format.


Agile Strategy Manifesto


Agile product development is growing fast with intense focus on perfecting Agile execution. However, the business strategies developed by many organizations are still non-agile. For example, Agile product development teams are pushing business owners to prioritize the product backlog to deliver the highest value features in each iteration. However, business owners are not necessarily providing prioritization based on the organization's business strategy.

A successful business strategy involves making choices throughout the value chain that are interdependent. For an organization to realize the full benefit of it’s business strategies it must develop and maintain them using an Agile approach. The following video explains Agile Strategy Manifesto. You can also watch it on youtube.




KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF AGILE STRATEGY

Agility Explained - Back To The Basics

It is easy to deviate from the goals we set. If you are on a agile journey then take a step back and try to validate if you are going on a right track. May be you are too busy in implementing a process that is not really agile. It doesn't hurt to validate.  Do you know types of agility? What are agility drills? How can agility drills help you in successfully implementing strategy?

The following video provides a fresh perspective on agility and explains it with the help of real life examples. I really enjoyed making it. I hope you will find it valuable. Here are the key learning objectives:
  • What is agility?
  • Types of agility - Programmed and Random
  • Agility drills - preset, reaction, quickness
  • Where does Scrum fit in agility?
Presentation slides are available here in the PDF format.

    6 Levels of Agile Planning

    One of the misconception is that agile process doesn't do enough planning. In reality, Agile does lot more planning and risk mitigation than traditional processes. Agile focuses on planning very often instead of doing comprehensive and assumption based planning once. Agile Planning (a.k.a. planning onion) has 6 levels - Strategy, Portfolio, Release, Iteration, Daily, and Continuous.
    The following video blog peels off each layer of planning onion to provide details of planning at each level.



    Agile - A Perfect Partner

    Over the last decade, Agile has emerged as a charming leader and a shining star. More and more teams are interested in Agile but they are not sure how to get there. Taking a big bang approach to Agile is not a viable option for most of the organizations. Most successful partnerships with Agile are tailored to the strengths and limitations of the organization. This article is aimed at providing an innovative approach for Agile partnering with real life story.



    Partnership Phases
    As described in the “Figure A”, Agile partnership consists of 4 phases: Explore, Commit, Transform, and Expand.


    1. Explore: If a team is new to agile then the best way to test its compatibility is by getting their feet wet. New teams can pick a project and experiment using various agile ideas to get the feel of the process.

    Agile Planning - Backlog Management

    Agile has not only reinforced the interest in project management, but also challenged the conventional ideas about such management. It focuses on project management institutions where it is difficult to plan ahead with mechanisms for empirical process control, such as where feedback loops constitute the core element of product development compared to traditional command-and-control-oriented management. It represents a radically new approach for planning and managing requirements a.k.a. backlog management, bringing decision-making authority to the level of operation properties and certainties.

    The following video not only compares Agile backlog management with traditional backlog management, but also explains agile planning process in detail.


    Agile Retrospective: Journey of an Agile Team

    Agile brings a lot of behavioral and process changes, hence, adoption does not happen overnight. It takes a considerable amount of time for teams to iteratively understand and experience agile concepts. As a matter of fact, 2-4 weeks iterations (sprints) attract most of the teams wanting to be agile. Teams start iterating without clearly understanding value of other key agile concepts e.g. burndown charts, backlog management, definition of done, estimation practices etc. These teams start appreciating implementation problems through retrospectives. This appreciation for the problems also makes it easier for teams to learn agile techniques to solve problems incrementally.

    Each team is different and there agile journeys may differ too. There are no silver bullets for perfect implementation. Retrospectives play a key role for the sustained adoption. This video case study represents a typical journey (milestones) of an agile team that I have experienced in various agile adoptions. You may find it useful too.

    Click below to watch embedded video.