Scrumptious

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Scrum is the most popular framework used within an agile environment to convert complex problems into valuable products and services. In this blog, we will examine all things Scrum to shed light on this wonderful organizational tool that is sweeping the globe. There will be engaging articles, interviews with experts and Q&A's. Are you ready to take the red pill? Then please join me on a fascinating journey down the rabbit hole, and into the world of Scrum.

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Recent Posts

Avoid a red card in Scrum

Q&A with Chief Project Officer - Peter Moutsatsos

What should Scrum look like in 2019?

Distance makes the heart of Scrum fonder

The Scrum Certification Factory

Avoid a red card in Scrum

Categories: Agile, SAFe, Scrum, Scrum Team, Scrumian



When I started this Scrum blog over a year ago, I was encouraged by all the positive attributes of Scrum, and its scalable parents such as LeSS, DaD, SoS, Nexus, SAFe etc. SAFe is what I have been working with since 2018. Having said that, the benefits of Agile and Scrum can only be realized if they are being implemented correctly, and by correctly I mean in terms of the process, regularity, and consistency. In my experience, this is not the case with almost every organisation I have been exposed to.

Here’s some basic examples specific to Scrum. In my own workplace, standups dropped from daily ceremonies to twice a week. Not everyone stands up. The timebox is rarely met (in one case it went twice as long). It is not encouraged to ask questions nor discuss topics at any length during a daily standup, and yet they often are. Almost every participant talks about what they have on today, but rarely anything about yesterday or what they have been working on. This becomes even more important when the daily standups have been reduced to (in our case) twice a week. There are team stand-ups at the program and portfolio level, but very rarely at the project level, where the delivery of value actually takes place. Some critical team members have never been invited to team/project standups, such as testers who are so crucial to governance. The customer is involved to some degree in PI (Program Increment) planning sessions, but rarely throughout the sprint. Retrospectives per value stream are either not held or ineffective, and there is no review ceremony that involves customers to see the progress of incremental delivery, other than the occasional status report or update over the phone or email. I could go on, but I want to end on a positive note.

As my Scrumptious blog bio states: “Scrum is the most popular framework used within an Agile environment to convert complex problems into valuable products and services”. I still hold to this view. But it is up to us as project and Scrum professionals, or team members in a Scrum environment, to pick up the ball and run it through the goal line. When something is not right, call it out. It is for the benefit of the team, project and organization as a whole.

Don’t get a Scrum penalty. Kick a Sprint goal instead.
    


Thank you for your interest in the Scrumptious blog. If you have any ideas for Scrum topics, please message me here. Until next time, remember, projects can be Scrumptious!
Sante Vergini Signature

 

Posted on: February 28, 2019 05:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

Q&A with Chief Project Officer - Peter Moutsatsos

Peter Moutsatsos

Recently, I have been thinking about the relatively recent role of the Chief Project Officer in organizations. How do they stack up against other CxO's and how do they assist organizations provide real value to customers compared to a CIO or CTO? To answer these and other questions, I went in search of a senior project management professional who holds that CPO title for a major organization.

Peter Moutsatsos, Chief Project Officer for Telstra, Australia's largest telecommunications company, joins us for a very revealing and fascinating Q&A session. Please welcome Peter to our Scrumptious blog.

1. Why do some organizations need a CPO?

When you consider the accountabilities that all other C-suite executives hold, there is no single accountable person who is on the hook for successful project delivery.  Sure, most CEOs, COOs and CFOs are accountable for the outcomes of major projects, especially how these projects contribute to the financial performance of the company.  However, the delivery of these projects and the advancement of professional project practice are the lead indicators that ensure these successful outcomes are met.  That’s where the CPO can add a lot of value.  The CPO can focus exclusively on successful project delivery, developing project talent, and effective project sponsorship.  A CPO helps an organisation to shine the light on project delivery as a critical skill within an organisation.  CPOs know that corporate strategy is achieved through the execution of successful projects.  A CPO can make sure that the right people have the right tools and skills to work on the right projects that will maximize strategic outcomes.

2. What sets a CPO apart from a CIO/CTO?

I have met and spoken with a number of CIOs on this topic.  The main differences are subject matter expertise, their strategy lens and their place in the corporate value chain.  A CIO/CTO tends to be more upstream in a value chain.  They are mainly accountable for information technology strategy and defining the future information and technology architecture of a business. The CIO/CTO role has become increasingly complex over the years as more companies struggle with accelerating advancements in technology, digitization and cyber-related challenges.  This has meant that their focus has had to change in order to be effective in navigating these challenges. This involves a certain level of strategic thinking, information technology know-how, global connections and technical skills in order to be successful. A CPO tends to be downstream from the CIO/CTO.  The CPO’s contribution is to work with the CIO/CTO to frame project alternatives, select the right projects, help prioritize programs and projects, identify and develop key talent to lead major technology initiatives, develop and maintain project methodologies and to provide quality assurance over project delivery. This way, the CIO/CTO does not need to worry about delivery sufficiency and project management competency.

3. How does a CPO differ from a head of Portfolio Management?

The difference between a CPO and a Head of Portfolio Management is more complex to define.  This is because most companies have a Head of Portfolio Management before they create a CPO. The main difference between the two roles would be separating genuine portfolio management and planning from project portfolio delivery. The different roles would emerge because a business has grown large enough to warrant the Head of Portfolio Management to focus on optimizing the corporate portfolio, balancing trade-offs and priorities within each business unit and ensuring that the right mix of projects are funded.  These high stakes trade-off and portfolio re-balancing activities would detract from the same person also focusing on how well each of the funded projects are performing.  In companies that have many projects in-flight at any one time, the CPO becomes a critical function to monitor the delivery aspects of these projects, without also having to be concerned with optimizing the project portfolio.

4. Is Agile one of the skills a CPO needs in their toolkit?

I know there is a lot of debate at the moment about agile.  I like to frame the debate as being about agile as a mindset vs agile as a method.  I believe a CPO needs agile as a mindset in their toolkit, not so much agile as a method. Of course, knowing about all project methodologies is very useful for any executive to have.  However, a CPO, or any project professional, will be more effective if they can demonstrate flexibility and agility in how they approach a particular project.  Methodology alone is not that important.  What’s more important is knowing how to be an effective leader, understanding your customer and knowing which combination of tools in your toolkit will get the best outcome.

5. How do you see the future growth of CPO's?

I believe every decent sized organization needs a CPO.  I feel that there are quite a lot of CPOs out there at the moment, however, they are probably operating under different role titles.  As these people start to become more valued in their organizations for their ability to advance project delivery and to drive successful outcomes, we will see their roles relabeled to CPO, which will give the impression of a sudden increase in this critical function. The same thing happened in the mid 90s with CIOs.  Before CIO became mainstream amongst the C-suite, they were IT Managers.   The IT Manager role elevated to CIO when these IT managers started to have a greater say over company strategy and technology became an increasing factor in strategic objectives.  The same will happen with the growth in CPOs.  Increasing digitization across all industries, disruption from an increasing number of start-ups and greater pressure on CEOs and Boards to deliver greater returns to shareholders will result in new strategies to combat these challenges. These strategies will be achieved through successful project delivery, so you will see more projects in future and hence a growing need for a CPO.  

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You may be asking what does the role of the CPO have to do with SCRUM? I am happy you asked. The answer may exist in one of the answers from Peter himself. One of the key competencies in the CPO's toolkit is an Agile mindset, and while he stresses mindset over method (quite rightly so), most organizations apply a framework for delivering Agile projects. The most popular framework being SCRUM of course. In fact, Telstra adopts SCRUM which I guess is the cherry on top.

So fellow Scrumians, thank you for reading this latest blog post, and a personal thank you to Peter Moutsatsos (LinkedIn profile) for his great responses and contribution to the project management world.
 


Thank you for your interest in the Scrumptious blog. If you have any ideas for Scrum topics, please message me here. Until next time, remember, projects can be Scrumptious!
Sante Vergini Signature

 

 

Posted on: January 29, 2019 02:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (24)

What should Scrum look like in 2019?

Categories: Agile, Scrum, Scrumian

Happy-New-Year-2019-Scrum

This will be a short blog post, but one that I think is an important topic to think about. A lot of people make New Year resolutions. Perhaps it's to lose weight, get healthy, travel to some exotic destination, or achieve some career goal.

But what are the New Year resolutions for Scrum? How can 2019 influence Scrum's progression as the dominant Agile framework in the world? We can take a look at some of the comments Scrum professionals made during 2018 in this very blog to get an idea of where Scrum may be heading in 2019:

Ken Schwaber
"To deal with greater complexity, we may develop infrastructures that describe how to manage risks and better tolerate R&D. Scrum will be right in the middle as meaningful possibilities emerge."

Mike Cohn
"I hope we see an end to methodology wars; Scrum vs. Kanban, SAFe vs. LeSS, Disciplined Agile, Enterprise Agile and every other scaling framework. Instead of arguing about methodologies, we need to focus more on agile as a large set of practices, some of which work well in combination."

Dave West
"I expect to see Scrum surrounded with more and more amazing practices and technology."

Mike Griffiths
"It would be great if Scrum and all the agile approaches were just wrapped into a better commonly accepted framework for collaborative development. Or replaced completely by something better."

...and our very own

Kiron Bondale
"Agile purity should focus on values & principles - those are too often lost when attempting to be purist about methods and frameworks."

Rami Kaibni
"If Scrum is to survive in industries other than software, then it should be flexible so we need to be realistic about this."

Sante Vergini
"I call on all Scrum advocates to go beyond their certifications, beyond the clock-on and clock-off usage of Scrum at work, to embrace all the richness that Scrum has to offer, and radiate it throughout the world."

What do you think? What New Year resolutions should Scrum make to move it to the next level?
 


Thank you for your interest in the Scrumptious blog. If you have any ideas for Scrum topics, please message me here. Until next time, remember, projects can be Scrumptious!
Sante Vergini Signature

 

 

 



 

Posted on: December 31, 2018 10:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

Distance makes the heart of Scrum fonder

Heart of Scrum

One of the hallmarks of Agile teams is colocation. This refers to people being located together in the same working space in order to collaborate more effectively, increase transparency and leverage from osmotic communication. But what happens when projects have distributed teams? Do we lose all the benefits of colocation? Can we even call these teams Agile?

Some big questions here. But at the heart of the issue is distance between our human resources on a project. As our friend Archimedes quite rightly postulated, the best way to overcome distance is to find a way to get there faster. The way to do that with distributed teams is transparency and technology. Transparency in Agile projects is about sharing truthful details about a past, current, or expected future state, and making this available to all stakeholders. Technology allows distributed teams to collaborate and communicate in real time. The first (transparency) is a direct line through honesty. The second (technology) is a direct line through clever software platforms and internet speed.

Once the issue of distance is resolved, through transparency and technology, then we need to tackle the issue of collaboration and motivation. These are issues that can affect teams whether they are colocated or not, but they present a greater risk for distributed teams.

In a recent article I wrote for KnowledgeHut, I suggested some ways to ensure that distributed teams can remain motivated and collaborative. There are of course many ways to do this, but I will mention a couple of them here. Feel free to add ways you handle this issue in the comment section below.

The "Now Me"
I coined this a few years ago when I was dealing with a bunch of remote resources (70+) within the same transformation program. The "Now Me" is an acronym for a special weekly NO Work MEeting. As the name implies, the meeting must not involve work-related topics. Instead, it is an opportunity for the team to discuss anything they want. This event gives a temporary respite from work but should still be facilitated to ensure one person doesn't dominate the session. One suggestion is to ask each team member to talk about what they did that week that was personally meaningful for them.

The Virtual Coffee Cup
I may not be the inventor of this, but since I first did this 19 years ago, I will claim ownership in the absence of any other claimants. In 1999, when I was managing a subset of the Y2K program for Australia's largest retailer, we had some remote team members that we were dealing with on a regular basis. It was the first time I used video conferencing for remote teams, using the trusty old QuickCam and I believe it was ISDN in those days. In one of the meetings, the overseas team member joked that he wished he could have whatever it was that we were all drinking in the meeting room here in Australia. The discussion quickly turned to what each of us was having to drink: coffee, tea, hot chocolate. The overseas team member said he loved hot chocolate. I don't know what possessed me, but for the next meeting I bought a large mug and placed his name on it in large letters, then filled it up with hot chocolate from the staff canteen. When we had our next meeting, I made sure there was one empty seat at the meeting table with his mug in plain view of the QuickCam. I can't tell you how happy he was when he saw his seat at the table along with his hot chocolate mug waiting for him. I have repeated this in some distributed team meetings whenever possible for the last 19 years. You would be surprised just how appreciated a team member feels when they have a seat at the virtual table with their beverage of choice. Remember that all Scrum team members are equal, regardless of location, so every effort should be made to ensure everyone feels equally appreciated. The Virtual Coffee Cup is just one way to achieve this.

Scrum is the most widely used framework for Agile projects, but it is also the best framework for communication and collaboration. From its values, principles, ceremonies and artifacts, the heart of Scrum is all about leveraging communication and collaboration to provide the highest value for the customer. Particularly with the ceremonies and artifacts, they softly force teams to engage frequently. If the Agile project manager or Scrum Master is a good leader, they will ensure that each team member feels a part of team even when they are located on the other side of the world. Give them some respite from work, load up their virtual coffee cup, and watch their motivation and velocity indicators move upward.

"The shortest distance between two points is a straight line."  - Archimedes
      


Thank you for your interest in the Scrumptious blog. If you have any ideas for Scrum topics, please message me here. Until next time, remember, projects can be Scrumptious!
Sante Vergini Signature

 

 

 

 

Posted on: November 28, 2018 05:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (40)

The Scrum Certification Factory



I noticed recently that a few more Scrum certifications were introduced to the world of professional development. Normally this would go unnoticed, but it suddenly dawned on me that the number of Scrum certifications may in fact be outnumbering all other certifications on the planet. There is something about Scrum that seems to warrant a certification every other month, and I can't put my finger on exactly what that is. What I do know is that we may be in danger of reaching a critical mass where the law of diminishing return comes into play as we add yet another Scrum certification.

After thinking about it for a while, I came up with the following possible reasons:

1. Scrum certifications are "small" enough to study for and pass within a reasonable time and budget. So the certification bodies figure why not add another flavor of Scrum certification which they are confident their existing body of certification holders will jump on.

2. Scrum is by far the dominant framework for delivering Agile projects. Therefore, the certification bodies must feel that there is a demand from the huge supply of thirsty Scrum certification seekers.

3. Scrum transcends just the delivery of its framework through Scrum Masters to incorporate coaches, trainers, product owners, developers, and...who knows!

Don't get me wrong, Scrum still rocks. But Scrum on the rocks only leads to a dilution of quality certifications when the ice starts to melt!

"Curiosity is only vanity. We usually only want to know something so that we can talk about it."  - Blaise Pascal


Thank you for your interest in the Scrumptious blog. If you have any ideas for Scrum topics, please message me here. Until next time, remember, projects can be Scrumptious!
Sante Vergini Signature


 

Posted on: October 31, 2018 02:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (32)
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