Recorded live at the 2019 North American Global Scrum Gathering, this episode of The Reluctant Agilist features a conversation with Scrum Alliance Chief Product Owner Howard Sublett. During the course of the interview, Dave and Howard discuss Dan Pink’s opening keynote at the Scrum Gathering; the Scrum Alliance Labs and volunteer work that have been done to create a free library of material aimed at helping to develop a more mature and more highly-skilled agile coaching community; an update on how things are going with the recent shift in Scrum Alliance leadership moving to a Chief Scrum Master and Chief Scrum Product Owner instead of a traditional leadership model; and the video series Unscripted, which features updates from Howard and Melissa Boggs, the Scrum Alliance Chief Scrum Master.
Note from Dave: at 15:38, something really important in this interview happens. Howard refers to a question he asked Melissa during the first episode of Unscripted. The question was “How are WE doing as a LEADER?” It is a subtle thing, but language is a virus and words matter… “WE” is plural, while “LEADER” is singular. The way the question is encoded demonstrates a very subtle, but important aspect of an Agile mindset. Howard and Melissa have complimentary but different roles in the Scrum Alliance and the two of them together function as a single Leader.
Failure Bow: I got The Wonder Twins (Zan and Jana) a little confused during the interview. I have brought shame upon my family and apologize to any comic geeks who were listening. If you are not clear on who the Wonder Twins are: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonder_Twins
Links from the Podcast
Contacting Howard Sublett
You go to conferences… and there are moments when you pick stuff up that can help you do your job. But, once and awhile, there are those special moments when people share things in sessions that permanently change how you look at the work you do. It’s rare… but it’s awesome.
That happened for me this September in Memphis at the 2018 Digital PM Summit. I attended a session led by Abby Fretz called "Sustaining the Project Honeymoon Phase: How to Build Effective Client Education.” In the session, Abby drew a connection between the relationship we have with our clients and the relationships students have with teachers. She reminded everyone that all of our clients are not just emotional humans, but they are also family members, friends, and experts, and that we need to care for them as a teacher would care for a student. Moreover, she reminded everyone that as much as we are the teachers of our clients, they are our teachers as well.
I wish someone had said this to me 20 years ago.
In this podcast, Abby and I discuss her session from the 2018 Digital PM Summit, what led her to her metaphor, and how it has impacted her work. There is some powerful stuff in this interview and I hope it will be as valuable for you as it was for me. I am very indebted to Abby for teaching me something that seems like such common sense— I’m a little ashamed I had not though of clients this way before.
Here are some of the links mentioned in the podcast:
The 2018 North American Global Scrum Gathering kicked off with a keynote presentation that was incredibly unique and inspiring. Billy McLaughlin is a professional guitar player who spent his life working to reach a level of success most musicians only dream about. But just as he reached the top, the tools that got him there began working against him.
Billy suffers from focal dystonia. You may not be familiar with this condition, but for a professional guitar player, it is one of the the worst things that could possibly happen because it means you can’t do the one thing you have spent your life mastering.
While something like this might cause a lot of people to give up on their dreams and find something else to do, Billy found a different path. He learned to play the guitar left handed instead of right handed. (Just for frame of reference, imagine learning how to write again, using your opposite hand, but having to write everything backwards… what Billy had to do was harder than that.)
In this interview you’ll hear Billy explain what focal dystonia is, how it impacted him and how he worked through relearning to play guitar all over again.
The story is inspiring all on it’s own, but for me, there is something deeper in this story. In the interview you’ll hear Billy talk about the struggle of working through all the relearning and how he stayed motivated and kept at it. While it doesn’t touch the level of complexity that Billy had to work through, there are some parallels to what traditional PMs go through when they have to relearn how to do their jobs using Agile. For me, that journey felt like I was being forced to unlearn everything I had spent years trying to master, and then start over from scratch. Maintaining some level of motivation and not giving up hope was one of the hardest parts of the transformation. This is something Billy and I discuss in the interview, and for any of you who need inspiration from time to time, my hope is that his story will help.
There is contact info for Billy below, but if you’d like to check out his keynote presentations from other events, you can find them here.
Links from the Podcast
Last week, at the 2018 North American Global Scrum Gathering, the Scrum Alliance and Scrum co-founder, Dr. Jeff Sutherland, announced the creation of a new joint venture to train, coach, and promote Scrum@Scale. Scrum@Scale is an extension of the Scrum Framework that is designed to deliver business Agility across an entire organization.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to to sit down with Jeff during the Scrum Gathering and ask some questions about his partnership with the Scrum Alliance, Scrum@Scale, and how it can help organizations achieve greater business Agility.
Links from the Podcast
If you’d like to read the press release on the joint venture, you can find it here: https://tinyurl.com/yc5z4w3p
Here is a link to the Scrum@Scale Guide
Here is a link to Jeff's latest book, "Scrum, The Art of Doing Twice The Work In Half The Time".
Contacting Dr. Jeff Sutherland
If you’d like to contact Jeff you can reach him at:
This podcast features Michael Tibbert and Dhaval Panchal helping me out with a question submitted by a student that focused on implementing Agile in a traditional supply chain organization. We also address the question of whether or not it is easier to implement Agile in a band new organization than it is in an existing one.
Oh - and also… The Parable of the Watermelon
And if you want to read more about the Parable of the Watermelon
(And in 2 weeks, when he gets his website sorted, that will be added here as well.)