Times are weird in the land of Agile. More and more big companies are letting go of the people they’ve brought on to help them adopt agile practices, or replacing their Scrum Masters with Technical Program Managers, or creating a homegrown version of Agile by taking an established framework and bailing on the practices they don’t like. Is this just business accepting that what they’ve been trying to do for the past 10+ years was just too hard, have they achieved a level of agility that they are happy with, or have they decided to place different bets on what it will take to carry them into the future?
In this episode of the podcast, Jesse Fewell joins me to explore different ideas about what is happening, why it is happening, and what this means for people who’ve spent years trying to establish a career in agile. The conversation came about as a result of a post that Jesse made on LinkedIn. He’s doing research on the topic and I asked him to join me to talk through some of the ideas. If you have stories to share, he’d love to hear from you. You can find his original LinkedIn post here: https://bit.ly/3EjRUf9
Towards the end of the podcast we also discuss a question that came up in one of my CSM/CSPO Lean Coffees: If you are hired as a Scrum Master into a mostly waterfall organization that still has traditional project managers, and the engineers are trying to treat you like a secretary, how do you establish your role and the value you can provide?
ChatGPT was used to create the blog post to go with this podcast...
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In this episode, I am joined by a very special guest, Christine Li, for a conversation I have been waiting to record for quite a while now.
I am closing in on 30 years of work in Project Management and for most of that time, I, like many of you, have been talking smack about Frederick Taylor. My opinions were based on the things I learned from others along the way and were (obviously) deeply informed by moving from traditional PM over to Agile. As far as I was concerned, this guy was the birth of work misery.
But over the past few years, I’ve started to develop this weird compulsion to stick up for the good bits that came out of his work. I mean, literally, no one working in project management or agile would have a job without this guy. You can also make an argument that without him the United States never would have made it through WWII.
Even though I was willing to have Taylor’s back in an argument, there was one thing missing…
I had never actually read his work.
CUE ALL THE PM SHAME!
So I did. I read The Principles of Scientific Management. And, to my shock, not only was it easy to read, but it was fun to read how this guy figured out the things he figured out. Yes, there are a few critical issues with his approach (and they are big issues), but there is a TON of good stuff in there that we all ignore because he’s such an easy target.
(And I really want to go back in time and get hired as SPEED BOSS)
After reading it, I was at a lunch and happened to mention my newfound Taylor Fanboy-ness and Christine Li showed up like Yoda, deep with the PM history geek. She took me to school and that is where this conversation starts.
My hope is that even if you think Frederick Taylor is the Sauron of Project Management, you’ll give this a listen. Maybe it will challenge your understanding of him and his work. Maybe it will (I hope) entice you to read his work. And even if you’ve read his work and can see the good in it, the things Christine shares will level up your understanding as well.
I am very grateful to her for making time for this. It was a really fun conversation.
This episode features Troy Lightfoot who is a Business Agility Coach and Consultant as well as a Professional Kanban Trainer. The interview starts with a discussion about the basic differences between Scrum and Kanban and then digs into four of the metrics recommended in the Kanban Guide. We cover WIP, Throughput, Work Item Age, and Cycle Time, talking through what each of these is, the value these metrics provide, why they are so much more valuable than simply looking at something like velocity, and what these metrics can do to help you develop a better level of predicting when work is likely to finish and how they can show you and your team ways to identify and address the things that are holding you back from delivering value for your client.
Troy also has a few ProKanban Certification classes coming up. In the back half of the interview, he explains what to expect if you sign up for a Professional Kanban 1 (PK1) Certification class or his Applying Metrics for Predictability (AMP) Certification class.
Troy’s Upcoming Classes
Links from the Podcast
Adam Weisbart is back and this time we’re taking on a tragically common problem. Teams who do not have clarity on how the organization defines value. This can happen for a variety of reasons. In some organizations it is simply an oversight… management has achieved clarity and alignment around what is valuable to the organization, but they have not communicated it to the team. In other organizations, there may be an individual or a small group of the leadership team who likes to “go with their gut”, or maybe there are just a lot of assumptions and no one has checked to see if there is agreement across different levels of the org. Whatever the reason, if you have teams that do not have clarity around how leadership defines value for the company, how can they be expected to make choices that align with that definition of value?
In this episode of the podcast Adam Weisbart and I take on the topic of how you can get clarity on value, how can you make sure your backlog reflects that understanding of value and how can you ensure the team has awareness of what “value” means to the organization.
During the interview, Adam also shares some details about his upcoming Agile Virtual Summit (Bite Size) which is taking place on October 14, 2021. The event is free and there are going to be some great speakers, including people like Jim Benson, Richard Cheng, and Melissa Boggs who have all been guests on the podcast. You can learn more about the Agile Virtual Summit (Bite-Size!) and sign up using the link below.
Agile Virtual Summit (Bite-Size)
If you’d like to contact Adam: