Monday, December 30, 2013

Setting your new year goals with agile - Happy Agile New Year!!

The last few weeks of the year are already upon us. The end of the year, for many also means a time for a resolution and setting new year’s goals. Let’s reflect on how some basic Agile principles and tools can help us set and achieve our new year’s goals and keeping our resolutions.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Team Working in Virtual Environment-Collaborative Challenges and Tips.

Nowadays it’s rare for companies not to have teams dispersed across countries, time zones and cultures. Since this environment is the present and will be the future we work in, managing global virtual teams becomes a necessity to helps the companies be more effective, make a real impact and maintain or even increase productivity. Virtualization is here to stay, and solutions are emerging everywhere. Here are some problems and solutions that will assist us to succeed with managing remote teams. Getting real with virtual teams should be easy otherwise it won’t work.

Change is the new habit – Personal Coaching with Agile

Shirly Ronen Harel and Avi Naparstek

Something is happening for several years now in the high – tech industry. An evolution called Agile. Agile is a working approach that entered the high-tech world in around 2001. It entered into the day to day activities of the industry employees and introduced an agenda of working with simple tools that leverage their natural abilities, empowering them and giving them motivation to continue to grow. Tools that have inspired, directed action that brings quality results. One of the growth engines of this change is the ‘Agile coaching’ that Tangent to the life coaching, professional coaching, business coaching or in fact any other coaching method that leads to growth. 

One of the biggest problems in high-tech is the astronomical cost - each project is costing a fortune, every delay costs money and risking on losing potential customers or business opportunities - sometimes bungling of such an opportunity could cause the Company to fade completely.

"The need to develop study habits and adapt to changes is the root of many coaching methods - if it is that the programmer needs to deal with new operating systems, or a parent that has to deal with changes in the needs of his children"

In addition, the pace of technological change is one of the highest ever for the history of the industry - techniques and methods which we experts only a year ago may no longer justify themselves today.  There is a constant need for learning new things, standing at the forefront in technology and business. You cannot even wait a few months to produce your products, you need to work fast. You need to get use to change, and not just get used to it, in order to survive in this industry you should embrace change as a way of life, as your new reality. Customers are not waiting; they change their minds because their reality changes as well. Manufacturers must recognize that and develop methods to get used to the change.

One of the things we're working on in agile coaching is reducing these risks and teaching the agile teams’ new ways to respond quickly to change, Improve and internalize practices that change rapidly. The pace of change in the world is only growing. We'd better get used to it!

The need to develop study habits and adapt to changes is the root of many coaching process - if it is the programmer that needs to deal with new operating systems, or a parent that has to deal with changes in the needs of his children and his role as a parent, or if we need to take on a diet, quitting smoking, changing business dealing and so on.
Change and the human need to deal with, is universal.  As coaches we all recognize this need, particularly the difficulty that our coachees , learn and understand what they need to change , and mostly the need to preserve this change, so it will not dissipate within a week and a month, but will become a habit of a new life. Which is exactly what agile coaching does - helping coachees to change old habits effectively and quickly, to leave the comfort zone and make a habit of dealing with the new change.

So what can we learn from agile that can be related to personal coaching? Among other things:

●  Create constant Heartbeat Or constant pulse -  Agile teaches us to produce a pulse of constant action - setting objectives, walking towards the goal immediately, collecting feedback from the environment and learn from them and setting a new destination. And back again, creating a uniform and constant ‘doing and reflecting’ rhythm. This type of “Rotation" (of placing a goal – moving toward the goal – collecting feedback - and a setting new target) is usually set to be from 1 week to four weeks, while the tasks are relatively small - sometimes the whole process takes an hour or even a few minutes.

The 'secret' that enables persistence over time is to maintain a constant Heartbeat. A team that finds that it work for them with the rhythm of the round of every two weeks, would be good if they continue with the exact same rhythm over time.  The team should not be tempted to "change the pace" - even if there is pressure to finish something just in a week and a half. Using Agile We have learned that changing the rhythm of things is like changes in a human heart rate – the price we pay in the long term is greater than the immediate shock that we may make.

 Visibility - Is key . Things happen when you see them. We will visualize all that stands in front of us and we will manage it. In some cases we will place big whiteboards and sticky notes that will symbolize the road a head and the goals we see and though create full transparency for ourselves and our friends to the journey.

Using agile teaches how to reflect clearly in a way that cannot be ignored-(processes, mindsets, priorities, problems and solutions)  . Using big visual boards) Information Radiators) Has become commonplace in agile teams. You will not find them looking at a computer screen, looking for a file with a list of tasks, but standing together in front of a huge board on the wall, where you see the tasks, failures, obstacles, strengths of the team and their shared vision.  The entire team related information is large and clear for all to see, in an atmosphere of trust, mutual support and joint motivation for action (Team Spirit).
In Agile personal coaching we use similar tools to help the coachee manage the process of his transformation. Using the board’s visibility allows the change to become a sustainable habit over time.

●   Kaizen - Routine of continuous improvement - The idea of continuous improvement is first of all, do it all the time, and in small doses. It is particularly effective when adapting a routine or (the way we like to call it) a pulse, which we examine our doing all time.
Agile holds a structured processes called Retrospective- This is an hour of  "coaching session", held once a week / two weeks (depending on the rhythm of the team), the session is run by a coach (or by a Scrum Master). The purpose of the meeting is to allow the team - together -to define goals and objectives of improvement – related to the process of their work, interpersonal conduct, dealing with obstacles and problems, and basically anything they see as contributing to or interferes with their effective conduct together as a team.
In agile Personal coaching we also employ similar methods to create a pulse of progress, improvement and problem solving in the coachee. Make the improvement itself - a habit for life

●  Value Focus- Value as a motivator in order for me to be able to recognize the value generated for my own benefit, its best that I will embrace an approach of which I think of myself as a customer that his money is important to him and his quality requirements are high, and also think about myself as a provider, and provide myself the best service I can.

A very important agile principle is placing myself in my client's shoes (as a product manager or as someone that is responsible in any way to provide a service). This allows us to think like a customer and make decisions - sometimes not easy decisions – that will ultimately serve the customer, and will allow us to deal better with pressures directed against us from management, other stakeholders, and most importantly - ourselves.  Agile developed structured tools and techniques to define customer needs from the perspective of the customer himself. Sometimes (and highly recommended to do it as a routine ) we will seek our customer real feedback.
In agile personal coaching we apply the same principle -we Identify the true value for the coachee in every decision or in any progress direction, in order to get to the bottom of it (and quickly), and realize what the coachee really want and need in life.

●  Baby Steps  - walk in small steps   - Smaller is easier to control, easier to make a mistake and easier to fix.

In our experience, Effective change and the ability to make things happen  - Better be happening gradually and Incrementally. Using Feedback Loop will allow a proper understanding of the events in the changing reality.
An agile Heartbeat (mentioned above), in small doses produces the ability to cope with changes, react to them and learn. This pulse, in small doses, creates a flow of action, and routine, but a kind of routine that creates special feeling of success. Once we get used to it, this routine will become a part of us and embrace the change as a habit.

●  I am my own organizer and director, and I learn to do it well even after the coaching is long over and not just as part of a coaching period.
The concept of self-management and self-organization Is fundamental in agile -  It enables employee empowerment, allowing him to discover and invent for himself the best way he could function.  It's not as simple as it sounds - it is necessary to create supporting frameworks and set clear boundaries. The role of the manager is turning at 180 degrees here – from a manager that decides for his employees their tasks to a manager that defines responsibilities, supports, protects workers against interference and allows them to maximize their abilities (Servant Leadership).
The principle of self-organization, decision making and taking responsibility for them and for your own actions (both over the successes and over the failures) - is also an essential part of the agile personal coaching – it’s the accountability and responsibility the coachee in the coaching process, to his own life and those around him
There is so much more to write about agile ... so much .... There is an entire infrastructure in the heart of the agile practices that ultimately enables action and constant growth,   Continuous improvement in work habits and life.

So what's next?
We wish to take the knowledge, methods and concepts of agile into the world of personal coaching – we initiated a project called Jelly – agile coaching. This is the first article in the series.

And best of all .. Do not forget to enjoy the way - it's also one of the most important agile principles. **

Shirly Ronen Harel and Avi Naparstek - both personal trainers and activists for many years in the high-tech industry. Members of the Agile Life group  Whose goal is to take the agile into other areas of life (education, art, society, etc.) and project partners Jelly - Agile coaching- designed to bring the world of agile into the  personal coaching area.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Stattys - Write & Slide

Meet Stattys, solves many of the issues we encounter while working with post-its.  Among other things Stattys can be easily used as a task board of any kind, taken to workshops, training, Lectures and team rooms.

Team Foundation Reporting

A new Feature was turned on that allows you to create charts from your work item query results. Each query now has a new Charts view.  One can quickly view the status of work in progress by charting the results of a flat-list query. You can create several types of charts — such as pie, bar, column, or stacked column — for the same query. Enjoy!

Agile Business Value Handbook - Connecting the business to IT

A full lecture ,Matt VanVleet  explained how to connect the Business with the IT. Using agility we need to figure out how to get value software as fast as possible to production. If all we are doing is focus on agility it will not be enough. Agility is just a tool, it’s not the end goal. The real thing is that we need to make sure we also solve some crucial point’s problems to the organization, and we need to think how we get the business side and the IT connected. Whoever figure this out has an enormous business advantage over others. 

The Need for Agile Coaching Ethics Code Conversation

In November 2011, Dan Mezick initiated a discussion about the need for a formal code of ethics for “agile” coaches. A subsequent article on InfoQ, spurred further discussion by additional people. But This conversation in my opinion about Agile Coaching Ethics is just starting. You may find some lists and tips here and there (included in this Roojoom) but still unfortunately the most fundamental ethics as a philosophy and an ongoing debate has yet begun and many important questions has yet to be addressed. What do you think Should be our code of ethics?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Kanban 101

Recommended reading list and references about Kanban i am using when introducing Kanban to new agilists.

Visual Thinking With Mind-Map Apps

Mind Maps are diagrams containing a central idea with branches for related topics.  There are a million and one uses for mind mapping. So if you need to solve a problem, study for a big exam,  brainstorm, plan the next big thing, one of these Mind Mapping Apps may be just what you need.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Agile Christmas inspiration -Have a very Mary ‘Agile’ Christmas!

We love Christmas and few of us like to recommend, celebrate the Christmas or even work the Christmas in the agile way.
So , here are some nice agile stories inspired by Christmas collected around the web …from an agile holiday mindset , to an office state of Christmas; Some Christmas inspirations over agile techniques,  Agile Santa stories.. and some post it Christmas ideas. . . Mary Agile Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Business Value Game

"Agile teams want to deliver maximum business value. That’s easy if the Onsite Customer assigns business value to each story. But how does the Customer do that? How can you estimate business value?

How do you decide between stories? How do you decide between projects? How do you decide between clients?

This game gives you some simple business value estimation techniques that are “good enough” for everyday use."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Are you solving the right problem? Agile Business Value Calculation

Agile teams want to deliver maximum business value. How do we do that? How do we know what’s more valuable and what’s less valuable? How do you decide between stories, projects or clients? And how do we actually assign it? Well, Assignment of the business value points is as much an art as it is a science.

Monday, December 16, 2013

As A coach, how do you prepare for your first coaching session?

Making your first coaching session efficient and effective without wasting both your client (and yours) time and money demands some preparations. Having a good and ‘just enough’ base of information about the client, the process and the related environment in advance is therefore essential. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

As a Coach, How Do You Get Through the First (Personal) Coaching Session?

"You will never have a second chance to make the first coaching meeting successful. Get it right and it’s half the work done. But get it wrong and the chances are you will never see your client again." (~Eyal Pavell)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Daydreaming Employees- Great Cognitive and Productivity Booster

When do you get your best ideas? When you're sitting at your desk striving for an answer, or when you're doing something off-task like driving, walking, or puttering around the house? Humans are a daydreaming species. A daydream is that fountain spurting, spilling strange new thoughts into the stream of consciousness. And these spurts turn out to be surprisingly useful. Those who are more prone to mind-wandering tend to be better at generating new ideas. 
If this all sounds like scientific justification for afternoon naps, long showers, and Russian literature, you’re right.

How Agile Deals With Complexity?

Over the past two decades, we view the rapidly increasing levels of complexity and uncertainty in the environment that all organizations have to respond to. Becoming an ‘agile organization’ seems to be working in complexity environment. This kind of organization has high speed of response to change and its focus on the customer which calls for customized rather than standardized offerings. It ‘s a good application for software development but not only. So How? How does agile deal with complexity?

Friday, December 13, 2013

SAFe for Small Value Streams

By @agiletrailblazer
In this article series Brian  will explore a  deeper dive into describing the pattern of a Small Value Stream delivery model, Similarities in frameworks between SAFe and the framework we developed at the financial services company – for the purposes of this article series, let’s call this SVS-AF or Small Value Stream Agile Framework, and Potential execution modifications for SAFe to account for the SVS-AF shortfalls and benefits.

Scalable Agile Estimation (SAFe) - By VersionOne

As agile projects need to scale up from a single team agile project to a multi-team (team of teams) agile program to an agile portfolio of coordinated agile programs to an entire agile enterprise managing a set of coordinated agile portfolios, agile estimation becomes much more challenging.  We need appropriate estimation methods that can scale up to handle large agile projects consisting of several tens of agile teams involving several hundreds of team members.   story points need to be normalized so they represent the same amount of work across the space and time dimensions. (VersionOne)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

SAFe Visual Collection (Posters)

One of many things i love about SAFe is it's creative way to visualize flows, procedures and idea. Here’s a fine collection of posters i sue when dealing with SAFe

'A' is for Agile : Scaled Agile Framework Applied by Mark Richards

"“Now how do I make it work in my special situation?”  Like any good framework, it is designed on a set of principles.   Implementation requires leveraging your understanding of the principles to tailor the detail to your situation.

In this series of posts, Mark will endeavour to illustrate with working examples the fashion in which it has been applied in the group he has been guiding for the past 9 months. "   It is  not yet describing a full enterprise-level SAFe implementation.   It is being actively explored.

Team Foundation Server 2012 Reporting

Scaled Agile Framework Metrics

"Although the primary metric for agile is whether or not working, market-relevant software is actually delivered, SAFe™ metrics can be used to gain insights and pursue continuous improvement." (Version 1)

Saturday, December 7, 2013


PSI is a development time box (uber-sprint) that uses cadence and synchronization to facilitate planning, provide for aggregation of newsworthy value, and provide a quantum unit of thinking for portfolio level consideration and roadmapping. PSI (Release) Objectives are defined in Scaled Agile Framework as a key alignment tool that teams use within the agile program. Here’s a review over the basics of PSI, objectives and process. Enjoy!

The Scaled Agile Framework Explained With Video's Collection

Friday, December 6, 2013

Too big to be true? Nothing's Impossible.

Are you releasing into production every two weeks, but need to build a feature that's going to take Four months to complete?  How can you do it? Either using grooming methods or Continuous Integration to keep everyone working, or user stories brackdown , or testing? How?

SAFe Foundations

SAFe provides the basis for building a truly lean and agile software delivery organization.
In this Roojom I will present  a collection of an introduction items to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) Foundations and how it can help successfully scale lean and agile practices across teams, programs and portfolios to optimize value flow.

Portfolio Management With SAFe

“Program Portfolio Management represents the authority for oversight of strategy and investment funding, program management, and governance for a specific portfolio of programs in the enterprise. SAFe prescribes a number of transformational patterns which empower teams and programs, decentralizes decision making and speeds time to market, thereby helping deliver the business benefits of an always improving, Lean|Agile software enterprise.” In this Roojoom you may find a review over the various elements of SAFe portfolio including lectures and tools implementation.

SAFe HIP -Hardening | Innovation | Planning Abstract

HIP sprints provide cadence-based opportunities for Hardening | Innovation| and PSI/Release Planning. is whatever you need to do to Make the System Ready for Production. 
 On one hand we may hear that Hardening is very important, and absolutely needs to be called out explicitly, otherwise there is absolutely no chance to reduce it or even get rid of it in the future. On the other hand , it sounds overly waterfall’ish, representing an additional phase in the process. So lets review what is HIP , how its done and what others and SAFE people think about it.

The Deployment Production Line - Continuous Deployment

Agile introduces the idea that the team should get their software ready for release throughout development. The principles and methods of Continuous Delivery are rapidly gaining recognition as a successful strategy for true business agility. Small changes are constantly tested and that are deployed and released to Production immediately upon verification.  What is it really? How is it Done? What its relation to DevOps ? and some examples.. Here it is :

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It’s Show-Time! The Show and Tell Meeting

This is a key meeting. The purpose of this session is for the development team to present back to the customer or product owner what it is that they have delivered during the previous sprint. its about standing to our commitments and present them, Its also about feedback and its also the principle of demonstration. When we can actually see and experience something, it becomes real to us. And its also a great opportunity for the team to pat yourselves on the back and brag a little. Here’s some more tips on how to get this one done.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

SAFe Release Planning

In large scale agile development projects, product backlog management and release planning are crucial activities to enable successful deliveries.The larger the project, the more important it is to perform look-ahead planning. SAFe recognize the importance of release planning. Her's how its done.