What kind of projects don’t fit with Agile?
This is a very common question in the CSM and CSPO classes that I teach. My answer is always that while there are some types of work that are better suited to an Agile approach than others, it really comes down to the organization and the people involved. With the right mindset, an iterative approach that is focused on inspect and adapt can be valuable in pretty much any situation… including building a bar.
Alex Brown is the Founder and Principal at Glaessel Ventures, a Boston based firm that combines strategic consulting, agile training, and co-investment to help innovative companies of all sizes bring new products to market successfully.
In this interview, recorded at the 2019 North American Global Scrum Gathering, Alex shares his story of “Boozy Scrum," or how he used Scrum to build a bar in his basement. It offers a great case study of how Scrum can be used for personal projects that fall well outside the realm of technology. (Check below the podcast for pictures.)
Here is a before and after picture of Alex's bar
If you'd like to reach out to Alex to follow up with questions on his Boozy Scrum project, here is his contact info:
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
In this episode of the Reluctant Agilist, Certified Scrum Trainer and Agile Coach, Eric Tucker, and I talk through two related questions that came from students in my classes:
- What is the best way to inject defects into a sprint?
- How do you reset expectations with stakeholders if you are going to fail a sprint?
During the interview Eric and talk about why adding/removing work from a sprint is generally not something you want to do, but what you should do if it is unavoidable. We also touch on what to do if the team discovers that they will not be able to deliver on their sprint forecast, why you want to make sure the stakeholders know ahead of time and what some other options might be.
If you’d like to reach Eric with follow up questions, here is his contact information:
The Reluctant Agilist is hosted on ProjectManagement.com. This podcast may not be copied or reused without their permission.
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
In preparing for my How to Hack Agile for Digital Agencies at the 2017 Digital PM Summit I did a lot of research and conducted a lot of interview. This conversation, with Lance Hammond and Robert Sfeir from HUGE Atlanta was the last one I did before the Summit. During this discussion Lance and Robert share many of the lessons they’ve learned in bringing Agile to HUGE and they provide clarity on what it takes to make Agile work in a Digital Agency.
LINKS FROM THE PODCAST
Agile in Digital Agencies - Dave and Lance from the Atlanta Scrum User Group Meeting
(there is some static that persists until the interview begins at about 1 minute in)