The Reluctant Agilist

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About this Blog


Recent Posts

Using Improv to Improve Your Listening Skills w/ Jessie Shternshus

Melissa Watts - Tips for ScrumMasters

Chris Bailey - Hyperfocus and Optimizing Your Productivity

Scott Ambler on PMI's Acquisition of Disciplined Agile

Making the Case for the Role of Agile Project Manager w/ Mike Anderson

Using Improv to Improve Your Listening Skills w/ Jessie Shternshus

Jessie Shternshus founded The Improv Effect to help businesses reach their full potential by means of interpersonal-communication skills training. Her work includes leveraging tools and practices from improv to help individuals and organizations improve the way they interact and problem solve.  Jessie is also the author of the book CTRLShift: 50 Games For 50 ****ing Days Like today

In this interview, Jessie and I discuss ways in which improv practices can be used to improve your listening skills, develop your ability to read the room, and find more effective ways to respond. 

Personal Note: Jessie is brilliant, kind, and extremely patient. During the latter half of the conversation, I asked Jessie about one of the ways I often try to emphasize certain points in class or when I am presenting. In a supportive, kind, and patient way, she helped me see how that "habit" can impact the folks I am working with. I got completely schooled and I am grateful to her for the lesson. 

For more information on Jessie, her upcoming classes and speaking engagements:

Posted on: November 18, 2019 11:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Melissa Watts - Tips for ScrumMasters

This episode of the Reluctant Agilist features an interview with Melissa Watts. Melissa works for Major League Baseball as a Technical Project Manager and acts in the capacity of ScrumMaster for a Scrum Team. During the interview, Melissa shares some of the experiences she has had working as a ScrumMaster over the last two years. 

In this conversation, we explore things like how hard it can be to move from being a member of the Dev Team to being a ScrumMaster in addition to how to run experiments and find different ways to get the members of your Scrum Team to gel and reach that high-performing state we are all aiming towards. 

Melissa and her team work in a very complex environment on a product that has to perform on a wide range of platforms and is not allowed to have any downtime. They are also faced with the added challenge of dealing with legacy systems and a significant amount of technical debt. 

If you are working as a ScrumMaster or curious about what the job is like, this podcast offers real-life stories and examples of the day-to-day challenges of the job, how to work through them, and how to pick yourself up and put yourself back together at the end of one of the bad days.

If you'd like to contact Melissa with follow up questions:

Posted on: November 10, 2019 02:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Chris Bailey - Hyperfocus and Optimizing Your Productivity

" The state of our attention determines the state of our life"

This summer at Agile 2019, author Chris Bailey kicked off the conference with his keynote session “How to Manage Your Attention In a World of Distraction.” Chris has invested years of his life exploring productivity, distraction, and how to find the best possible use of the one thing no one has enough of—time. Chris shares his experiments and their results on his website and in his first book The Productivity Project, which recounts his first year of testing productivity hacks. His new book Hyperfocus explores understanding and managing our attentional space so we can be truly present and engaged (or hyperfocused) in work, as well as how “scatter focus” can enable us to be more creative and connect different ideas. 

In this interview, Chris and I talk about his productivity experiments, what worked and what didn’t, and the critical role meditation plays in becoming more focused and engaged in the most important work.  


Agile 2019 Keynote

Chris’s website:

Chris’s Books on Amazon:

Chris on Twitter:

Posted on: October 21, 2019 10:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Scott Ambler on PMI's Acquisition of Disciplined Agile

In August of 2019, The Project Management Institute announced that it had acquired Disciplined Agile. According to Mark Lines, who together with Scott Ambler created Disciplined Agile, " The Disciplined Agile approach recognizes that every organization is different, and within each organization, there are different ways of working. The Disciplined Agile approach meets you where you are and allows you to tailor solutions for the way that you and your organization need to work.”

The acquisition of DA is part of the PMI's continued effort to bring valuable tools and methods to the hands of people whose work involves management, enablement, support and delivery of projects and products. 

In this episode of the podcast, Scott Ambler who co-created Disciplined Agile together with Mark Lines, shares his thoughts on what this change means for those who practice a Disciplined Agile approach, those who follow a more traditional approach and why the PMI and DA have so much to offer each other. 



2019 PMI Global Congress

Mark Lines will be presenting at PMI Global Congress on Sunday, October 6 at 10:05 AM. Click here for more info

Contacting Scott

Posted on: October 05, 2019 08:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Making the Case for the Role of Agile Project Manager w/ Mike Anderson

For a long time now I have held strongly to the opinion that there is no such thing as an Agile Project Manager. There are Project Managers and there are ScrumMasters but the value systems they serve are different and at odds.  I am comfortable playing either role, but I cannot do them both at once. (That is based on personal experience as well as observation.)

When I saw that the PMI NY Chapter was going to have someone give a talk on Agile Project Management, I was skeptical, but I thought it would be worth checking out.  Unfortunately, the event was sold out before I could get a ticket. Obviously, this is an important topic to the community. 

Fortunately for me, Mike Anderson was willing to have a conversation with me about his presentation. That conversation had a huge impact on me and completely changed the way I felt about the topic of Agile Project Manager. Thanks to Mike, that opinion I mentioned above … not held so strongly anymore.

In this interview, Mike Anderson makes a logical, thoughtful case for what an Agile Project Manager is, why we need this role on our teams, and what stage of Agile Transformation you need to reach before you give this role a try. And this is not just theory—Mike is heading up the Agile Transformation effort at a company where they have successfully made the switch from Scrum Master to Agile Project Manager. 

This could be the next step in the evolution of Project Management.

During the podcast Mike and I refer to the slide deck from his presentation at PMI NYC. You can find it here.

After you listen to the podcast, please share your thoughts on the topic in the comments area below.


Contacting Mike Anderson

If you'd like to reach out to Mike with follow up questions, you can reach him via LinkedIn:

Posted on: October 01, 2019 04:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

"Four be the things I am wiser to know: Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe."

- Dorothy Parker