Project Management

The Reluctant Agilist

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About this Blog


Recent Posts

In Defense of Frederick Taylor with Christine Li

Story Points are Good AND Evil with Ryan Ripley

Value Stream Management with Derek Huether

Improving Value Delivery In Your Organization with Gil Broza

Getting Your First Scrum Master Job with Richard Cheng

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)

Communication Tips for Distributed Teams - from Agile 2018 w/ Johanna Rothman and Mark Kilby

In this podcast interview which was recorded live at Agile 2018, Johanna Rothman and Mark Kilby offer some tips on how to improve communication in distributed teams. 

Many of the tips were discovered while writing their new book "From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams" which they've co-written AS A DISTRIBUTED TEAM.


If you'd like to pick up the book you can find on LeanPub using the link below

If you'd like to get in touch with Johanna:

If you'd like to get in touch with Mark:

Posted on: August 13, 2018 02:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Johanna Rothman at Agile 2017 - Creating Your Successful Agile Project and 1 Day User Stories

In this Agile 2017 interview Johanna Rothman talks with Dave about her new book “Create Your Successful Agile Project Collaborate, Measure, Estimate and Deliver” and how teams that are struggling to make Scrum work may want to adopt an approach that focuses on continuous flow in order to deliver value for their customers with greater frequency.

The interview includes a conversation about working with User Stories that are sized to only take the team a single day to complete and how this may help teams that are struggling with estimation. Dave and Johanna’s also discuss her approach to writing (she averages about 1 book a year in addition to posting to her blog every few days) involves writing for just 15 minutes a day.


Posted on: September 26, 2017 01:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Book Review: Agile and Lean Program Management

One of the biggest challenges faced by any organization is figuring out how to to cope with Agile at the Program and Portfolio level. And if you are charged with providing guidance on how to help Agile not crash headlong into your organization’s  governance model, you may have taken to thinking of Sisyphus as “that lucky bastard who at least made it all the way up the hill some of the time”.

Never Fear! Help is on the way!

Johanna Rothman’s new book, Agile and Lean Program Management provides a pragmatic explanation of how to enable Agile at the Program and Portfolio level. Rothman is a seasoned and well respected expert in the Agile space but she got her start in traditional project management. This is something that pervades all of her work. She stands firmly in the Agile camp, but provides advice and guidance that offers a variety of options as well as her preferred approach as an Agile coach and thought leader. 

Agile and Lean Program Management provides great coaching advice and tips for dealing with the challenge of transforming your organization. The way the book is broken down will also make it easy for you to turn to specific portions in your time of need. A great example of this is in Chapter 9 which focuses on Estimation. Rothman goes beyond the usual advice of t-shirt sizing or story points. She begins by exploring why your organization is looking for estimates in the first place and offers guidance on how to approach questioning senior leadership about what they need the estimates for in the first place. She explains the estimation discussion from the Agile side, but takes care to stay rooted in idea of helping your organization get the information it needs to make decisions.  This section should be very enlightening to anyone from the traditional side of the house who is struggling with Agile estimation (at any level).

In additional to tactical advice, Agile and Lean Program Management also digs into the soft-skills that are necessary to help an organization cope with Agile and offers tips on topics like “Problems You May Encounter with Architects” and teams who are trying to multitask. 

My favorite part of the book is the last few chapters because I believe that offers some of the most valuable advice for anyone working in an organization that is struggling with Agile at it scales up the food chain. Johanna Rothman offers chapters on Troubleshooting Agile Team Issues, Integrating Agile and Non-Agile Teams and What To Do if Agile and Lean are Not Right for You. This is where Rothman stands out as an thought leader / ambassador who is focused on helping those from the traditional side begin working towards a more Agile state. Without judgement she simply offers practical advice and suggestions on how to begin with a few simple steps. 

Agile and Lean Program Management is available on 


If you’d like to check out a recent podcast interview with Johanna Rothman on her new book and the Influential Agile Leader workshops she is doing with Gil Broza, you can find it here.

And if you’d like more on Johanna…

Johanna’s website

Johanna on Twitter

Posted on: April 12, 2016 01:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Agile 2014 Interview with Johanna Rothman and Jutta Eckstein

Agile 2014 is under way and we'll be posting interviews throughout the week. This one is with Johanna Rothman and Jutta Eckstein who are co-presenting a session called Diving for Hidden Treasures: Finding the Real Value in Your Project Portfolio.

In the interview Jutta and Johanna talk about their session together, their new book "Diving for Hidden Treasures" and the sessions they are leading individually as well.

Check out Johanna's work on Project Portfolio Management and her book Manage Your Project Portfolio. You can also find a full listing of her books here.

And follow these links for Jutta Eckstein's new book Retrospectives for Organizational Change and her books Software Development in the Large and Agile Software Development with Distributed Teams.

Posted on: July 28, 2014 10:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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