#Sanantonio agile meetup: Meeting #agile leaders of the future

Our June session lead Craig Patrick was speaking about setting up a sprint  workflow.  San Antonio Agilists Chris and Clint joined us.

As I listened to Chris and Clint, it  became quite clear to me that:

“I was interacting with agile leaders of the future”. 

This awareness helped  me listen, question and respond to them differently. Their issues revolved around identifying tactical solutions. Their energy and passion to learn, and to adopt the principles of agile in its truest sense was quite gratifying.

They understood root cause of issues;  Their questions to Craig and I regarding retrospectives, feedback loops, sprint lengths, releases, features was from “a place of we are here right now… how do we solve this?” and “we have solutions, let us validate”

In addition they believe in story boarding, feature driven delivery and above all they believe in their teams.  They had the right mindset. They did not attend the session to complain. They came to validate their home grown solutions;  They came to share their experiences and to be acknowledged and accepted by their agile peers!  They are forging ahead as leaders in their own right. Will the agile community accept their solutions? Will the community allow them to lead?

Both Clint and Craig will be presenting at our meetup in July and August. Join us to acknowledge their intelligence, solutions and recognize them as part of our community of future leaders.


Where experience speaks:

Craig walked through the 3 levels of scrum adoption with his teams, and level #3 is the ultimate statement “We want to adopt scrum”, “because that is the right thing to do”.

Level 1:  Lets do something. Let us move away from waterfall

Level 2:  We are not ready to let go of the chaos we are in. That is our comfort zone

Level 3:  Yes, let us adopt scrum

Craig will revisit his topic in September as a follow-up to his presentation in June.

(If you hear Craig using the word “dinosaurs”, he probably speaks of IT veterans with more than 3 decades of experience, including himself!)




Take a few seconds to look at the link above and read the caption! I follow Paul Salopek’s walkathon with great interest and awe. I wonder : What is he in pursuit of?  What paths is he trying to redefine or figure out. Maybe he is an old soul that has come back to complete his journey 🙂

The camel’s nose is attuned to smell water. Smell life. That is their survival kit. Their survival mechanism. They smelt the packed alfalfa grass in Paul’s luggage.  Isn’t that beautiful. I have a smile lurking as I imagine how it would have been when they felt the Camel’s breadth on their sleepy faces!

This particular photograph that he tweeted made me think of my Scrum Masters. I would love our Scrum Masters to be intuitive. Focused on survival of the team. Always going where they know the solution exists. Or where there is a reasonable cause for a problem to start.

How do you smell trouble?

By being aware:  Developing awareness of team members success factors and what pulls them down. Knowing and helping them with their constraints. Being aware of unspoken language. Understand why certain events happen. Be attuned to events and people and know “why stuff happen”. By being patient, and practicing the art of delay. By negotiating. By taking steps to have meaningful conversations.

It takes time to develop this art of sniffing trouble! Weeks. Months. Maybe years. That is why in Agile teams we like our team members to work together as much as possible. It makes it easier for problems to be sniffed out. Make them go away. Or completely start from scratch.

These practices cannot be developed overnight when one is “given the role of a Scrum Master” or “Asked to be an Agile coach”.  These are formed as part of our individual persona that has developed over the years..maybe through friendly play in the neighborhood patch, or socializing with family and friends; Or just being aware of our own needs and wants;  Else sometimes “awareness” is thrown on to you like a Tsunami crashing on your sleepy soul.

#Agile #ProductOwnership: Their thought process on Iteration Demo

What are they thinking / feeling / wanting to share quite light heartedly:


It was interesting to observe one persons dichotomy on “questions” and why would that be? – There is a need to show their work and wanting feedback.  There is also a need to ask everyone in the area to allow for the flow of the demo to be completed before speaking up.

This is again a sign of  “Can you please listen until I am done. And when you are listening, do not form questions or opinions. Be with me. Absord whats happening. Be in a state of suspension. Understand why we are here”



#productownership #scrum #agile “Product Ownership Persona”


” Here are some peacock feathers just for you”  and I gave them to her.  She snorted and punched me with a friendly grin. “Yeah right!”

“No, seriously” and then I gave these. Her looks said it all!Image



Then I brought these out for her.  “Now thats’ my gal” she said and took them to examine the beautiful eyes made of blue, green and brown feathers.


Obviously, she is an end user with no level of expertise on how the product came into being or the lead time (delay) or iterations or even the diet of the peacock. She was happy to receive the feathers.

But what if she was someone who was interested in the health of the peacock from the beginning?  She could have found clues embedded in the first or the second set of feathers and would have been engaged from the beginning.

Does the first few sets of feathers show good health? Good nurturing?  Are the feathers falling too quickly?

That is exactly how we want our product ownership to be.

An amazing product ownership team is engaged from early on. Their eyes and ears listen. They feel. They are in love with the product.  Their passion runs deep.  They are the product persona.   They know the earliest possible moment when a products’ health can be identified.  They need not wait for the demo or an iteration.
They develop an innate sense of “product smell”.

They have a raging passion for the product, but they are like air and water. Everywhere and nowhere.  They should be able to come and go as they please, and cause as little damage as possible.

#kaizen #change #transformation: What non-IT , non-agilists share with us

This afternoon we had an interesting discussion about  #kaizen.  The only thing that was new for my group was the word #kaizen. 

Here are some thoughts that were discussed:


1. Change is inevitable – flow with it, not against it

2. Change is nothing more than creating new habits

3. Change is the ability to adapt

4. Change can cause physical stress and irritability. Be aware of why it occurs.

5. Change is not always a choice, but is a necessity

6. Change is never complete

7. Change is the opportunity for personal growth

8. Change is instinctive and intutive

9. Change is very subtle

10. Movement is not change

11. Change is survival

12. Change is never done

13. Internalized change cannot be seen

14. Change is developing new patterns

15. Why does change need patience? -Relearning, New learning



#agile #scrum #understandingpatterns : Map vs Terrain

During a introduction session for Scrum Masters,  they were given many quotes / phrases and oneliners  (mostly from  #gapingvoid,  some by me, some from earlier participants). 

Invariably people attending a Scrum Master training session are a mixed bag. They represent various groups in an organization, would have been curious to know about Scrum, or have practiced Scrum in an earlier engagement and so on…. and understanding their thinking and interpretation of Scrum is a beautiful discovery process.

Here is the interpretation for the words “Map vs Terrain”


One group had used roles and other related verbiage in scrum while the other two groups used their own interpretation. 

Group 1 had a huge problem with Agile coaches!!!!. They were a large organization with endless constraints.  And now here were coaches bringing in theories and past experiences, some wanting to be treated as gurus or create a cult like following within the organization.  Teams could not cope with it.  More often, coaches see the organization that they coach through their own lens, their own expectations of themselves and the skills they bring, their need to be visible, and their theories being implemented.

As coaches we should aim at not falling into such traps

Their take away from the specifics of Map vs Terrain was “someone please listen to us and our problems!”

The second and third groups were much younger  and looked at “map vs terrain” more humorously than the first group

My purpose of facilitating this exercise was met and the coaching intent, coaching approach to these teams  was revealed and taking shape in my mind in this quick intensive exercise.






#scrum #agile : Identifying risks through games

Image I met a new group of people with the intention of discovering the right coaching approach for them.  There was a large population of youth in this group and I decided to keep the introduction to a dot game that I thought would be relevant.

Though they believed their maturity level was quite high, I wanted us to discover the patterns on how they interpreted their roles and the ceremonies.

As the picture indicates, I taped a large note pad on the wall and identified  the  ceremonies that they were practicing and asked them to rank them on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being the least important to 5 bringing in the highest value!

Then as they placed their dots on the ceremonies, they were themselves surprised that for their level of maturity they found retrospectives the least important ceremony as a group.

Ouch! that hurt for someone like me who believes that retrospective is the most important ceremony of all.

Intent of doing this exercise:

People reveal a lot about the system without being asked to. We understand how they interpret. They allow a small window to their world of thinking.

And now that the pattern was revealed, we dived into action.

Our decision:

We decided not to focus on the most important or the least important ceremonies… but to start somewhere in the middle.  As a group we decided that we would focus on why they felt planning was a non event for them and work on it.   Because this group was large, and they had been practicing Scrum for over 2 years when I met them initially, acknowledging that they needed change was the first step.  The rest followed in due course.