The Reluctant Agilist

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About this Blog


Recent Posts

Probabilistic Forecasting with Troy Lightfoot

The Perfect Product Owner w/ Richard Cheng

Successful Distributed Agile Teams w/ Johanna Rothman and Mark Kilby

Insights from two days of Personal Kanban training w/ Amitai Schleier

How Buzzwords and Jargon Impact Your Team w/ Tyler Grant

Probabilistic Forecasting with Troy Lightfoot

Trying to figure out when you will be ready to ship is incredibly challenging. Many Scrum teams track historic velocity, or story points completed in a Sprint, and then use the average number of points completed per Sprint as a way of making an educated guess as to when they could deliver when they’d expect to deliver a certain number of story points in the future. There are, however, many who feel that this approach is no better than just making a completely random guess, and there is evidence to support the value in taking a different approach. 

In this episode of The Reluctant Agilist, Troy Lightfoot explains his approach to Probabilistic Forecasting, what it is, why it matters, and how it is a better way of planning than using a more traditional approach. 

Books Recommended In the Podcast

Tools mentioned in the podcast

Agile Uprising

Contacting Troy 

Posted on: May 24, 2019 03:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Perfect Product Owner w/ Richard Cheng

What does it take to be a great Product Owner?

On Wednesday, May 22nd at the North American Global Scrum Gathering, Certified Scrum Trainer Richard Cheng will be leading a session called "The Perfect Product Owner". In this interview Richard and I discuss some of the material he will be exploring in his session, some of the organizational conditions needed to enable a Product Owner to deliver value for the organization, and some Product Owner anti-patterns to watch out for.

Towards the end of the podcast we also offer some tips for Scrum Gathering first-timers to help them get the most out of their experience in Austin.

Here are the details for Richard’s session in Austin:

The Perfect Product Owner
2019 North American Global Scrum Gathering - Austin
Wednesday, May 22, 2019 2:45 PM - Room E
To check out the full program for the Scrum Gathering, click here:

If you’d like to contact Richard:

Posted on: April 30, 2019 08:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Successful Distributed Agile Teams w/ Johanna Rothman and Mark Kilby

This podcast features an interview with Johanna Rothman and Mark Kilby about their new book "From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams: Collaborate to Deliver"

* Update - you can download a transcript of the podcast here.

Distributed Teams present challenges for any group of people trying to work together. This is true in a traditional approach to project work, but maybe even more so in an Agile approach, where many of the frameworks are based on the idea of co-location. The challenges distributed teams face are present regardless of whether you are separated by 12 time zones or by a single flight of stairs. It can absolutely work, and there can be many benefits to working distributed. The big question is how?

In their new book “From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams: Collaborate to Deliver", Johanna Rothman and Mark Kilby deliver the practical answers we all need to help our distributed teams succeed. During the interview Mark and Johanna explain who they wrote the book for and how it can help. We also walk through a few of the most critical practices that help distributed teams work well together, and the authors share some tips that they did not include in the final version of the book.  

Now... I generally try to remain objective in this blog/podcast, but...


As someone who works with and on distributed teams, I have questions of my own with respect to steps that can be taken to foster a distributed team's success. This book had answers/strategies for all my questions and it is sure to be an invaluable resource for anyone working on or with distributed teams. 

Links mentioned in the podcast

"From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams: Collaborate to Deliver" can be purchased on:

Dave interviews Johanna and Mark about writing as a Distributed Team at Agile 2018

Johanna and Mark will be speaking at Agile 2019

Mark will be speaking at Mile High Agile

Contacting Johanna

Contacting Mark

Posted on: April 15, 2019 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Insights from two days of Personal Kanban training w/ Amitai Schleier

A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of taking a class put on by Modus Cooperandi called “Individual, Team, & Project Success: Personal Kanban" with Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria, authors of the book Personal Kanban. Even though personal kanban is a system I am very familiar with, I was psyched to be able to take the class because I was confident that spending two days with Jim and Toni was going to have a deep impact.

One surprise benefit was that I finally got a chance to meet Amitai Schleier in person. Both Amitai and I had a lot of valuable takeaways from the class. In this episode of The Reluctant Agilist, we share what we learned from our time with Jim and Toni and some of the challenges each of us face day-to-day in dealing with limiting our WIP and managing flow. Both of us highly recommend taking any training you can with Jim and Tonianne. They are brilliant and come from diverse backgrounds, which is part of what makes their classes so insightful.

Upcoming Modus Leadership Class in NYC: 

Leader Standard Work in the Office: How to Be a Lean / Agile Leader or Work...…ets-58671636444

Amitai’s Upcoming Events

Contacting Amitai

Modus Cooperandi Links

Contacting Jim and Tonianne

The Reluctant Agilist is hosted on This podcast may not be copied or reused without their permission.


Posted on: March 31, 2019 11:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

How Buzzwords and Jargon Impact Your Team w/ Tyler Grant

What we say matters.

One of they keys to being a successful ScrumMaster is language. It’s not enough to just put the message out, you need to encode it in a way that allows it to be received and decoded in a way that will deliver the message you intended. 

Tyler Grant is a ScrumMaster who is concerned with how buzzwords and jargon can create divisions within teams, and is generally less precise than other, more technical language.  These words often lead to poor communication habits, misunderstanding, team members feeling alienated, not to mention the myriad of ways it can impact the deliverable. 

During this podcast, Tyler and I talk through why this topic is so important, how to become more aware of it, what to do if you find yourself communicating using less than precise language and what to do if you are on the receiving end of it. 


If you’d like to contact Tyler, you can reach him in the following ways:

The Reluctant Agilist is hosted on This podcast may not be copied or reused without their permission.

Posted on: March 24, 2019 10:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something."

- Plato