Nine levels of Agile Hell... and how to get out!

Our Agile transformations can feel like Sisyphean efforts – but do not abandon hope! In this talk we will discuss nine circles of Agile Hell. Each hell is an example of a common problem programs encounter.

We'll ask the audience to prioritize their pain points, and focus on the six Agile hells closest to their experience. We will discuss real examples for “escaping” out of each Agile Hell - from Agile Coaches that the Dave(s) know.

By attending this event, Agilists will expand their toolbox of techniques to help their organizations.

 
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Outline/Structure of the Talk

    1. Here are the nine Agile Hells (4 min)
      1. describe the nine levels (1-2 sentences each)
      2. POLL EVERYWHERE:of these nine hells - what do you want to hear about?
    2. Introduction (4 min)
      1. I’m Dave - an Agile Coach, Geek, Dad
      2. I’m also Dave - an Agile Coach, Geek, Dad
    3. CIRCLES OF HELL… (discuss the top six based on poll) (32 min)
      1. Transformation hell
        • Real example of a program which just went through the motions of Scrum but never progressed
        • The solution: coach worked with a number of teams in turn, leading with why and training a agile advocate within each team
      2. Too Fast hell
        • Real example of a program trying to pivot too fast, always breaking sprints with the "emergency" of the day.
        • The solution: coach worked with both customer and team to make visibile the trade offs involved in interrupting flow to address emerging priorities
      3. Technical issue hell
        • (we'll provide examples and solutions for each remaining hell; see the presentation to hear them!)
      4. No Trust hell
      5. P’Owners hell
      6. Too Big hell
      7. Collaboration hell
      8. Stove-piped hell
      9. Leadership hell

Learning Outcome

A memorable tour of organizational anti-patterns, covering specific solutions to each in a short window of time.

Target Audience

Anyone in an Agile transformation, particularly large organizations.

Prerequisites for Attendees

No prerequisite! Please bring a smart phone for interactive questions.

schedule Submitted 11 months ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker
  • David Fogel
    By David Fogel  ~  10 months ago
    reply Reply

    We will be giving this presentation on 8/21 at the "Agile NoVa" MeetUp and on 9/15 at the "Southern Fried Agile" Conference 

  • David Bujard
    By David Bujard  ~  10 months ago
    reply Reply

    George, excellent feedback on the proposal. We updated the description, and added a link to video of our session at Agile NOVA on 8/21. We committed to covering the five hells most highly prioritized by the group, with a sixth "stretch hell". This helped us focus on what most interested the audience. 

  • George Dinwiddie
    By George Dinwiddie  ~  10 months ago
    reply Reply

    Who are you trying to attract with that short abstract? What benefits will they get from the session?

    I like having stories from real life. They must be really short to fit within 4 minutes, including any transition time. Will people understand the nuances, going that fast?


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    • Servant Leadership - Deep understanding and desire to enable success for the teams and the organization

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    • Did we discuss the impact?
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    • Have we tried the solutions?
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    Elevator Pitch:

    Agile Transformation is harder than it needs to be because we often find ways to consciously or subconsciously sabotage our efforts if we can recognize this behavior it is possible to intervene and make a change for the positive.

    Abstract:

    Have you ever been on a project where it seems like team members are preventing the team from getting better? Why do they do that? I don’t know either- a psychologist might have to answer that. What I can tell you about is my experiences in seeing teams become their own worst enemies and unwittingly sabotaging the projects they are trying to make successful. My goal is to help you realize when you or those around you are behaving in a way that is going to lead the team plateauing or even failing. I have often found that many teams can get stuck, or plateau, at a certain point along the continuum of agile maturity. These teams can meander around without getting better or even changing anything for long stretches of time. I have also worked with teams that put so many hurdles in their own way that they had no option but to fail. They often fell back into old patterns and gave up hope that things can get better. As an Agile Coach, I have often felt that one of the most valuable things I can share with the people I coach are my failures. I have worked on Agile projects for a long time, and I have failed in many different ways. Having been through failure, I have learned that to keep getting better you have to recognize the things that you do that lead to plateaus and failures to overcome them. This talk is for coaches and team leads who want to make sure their team isn't getting stuck in a rut, or who are trying to get out of a rut with their health and sanity intact.

    Failure signs and examples

    No process is defined and followed

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    Process practices are ignored or removed with no compensating practices

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    Automation is not valued or planned into work

    • ex. We will automate tests later. Often that later never comes and the team is left with a code base that is hard to maintain and change because you don’t know what your changes break.

    No stakeholder expectations management

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    Quality and testing practices are an after thought or short changed on schedule

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    No negotiation allowed in deliverables and or schedule

    • ex. Executives that dictate all of the terms of a project before a team is even selected.

    The team doing the work didn’t estimate the work but are held to an estimate

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    Part time team members are in the critical path

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    Heavy team turn over

    • ex. Heavy turn over is a sign of a project that isn’t on track, even if it hits its deadlines the quality and output will suffer.

    Political motivations more important than team’s ability to do work

    • ex. If the team is setup to fail for reasons outside the team, they will most likely fail.

    Distraction from issues outside the work that needs to be done

    • ex. Scrum Masters that don’t shield the team from issues outside the work that needs to be done during a sprint will end up with a team that doesn’t hit the mark.

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    Focus on shielding the team from outside influence

    • Have the team focus on the things they can control and prevent outside issues from distracting the team.

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    • The team can develop an understanding of what it can deliver. Trying to make the team do more is going to lower quality and potentially make the project take longer.

    Management of stakeholder expectations

    • Stakeholders always want more, that is their job. Let them ask for anything but set their expectations on what is really going to happen.

    Focus on technical excellence, quality, and automation

    • If you want your teams to get better, have them focus internally on things they can control like technical aspects of the project including quality and automation.

    Hire motivated team members and make it possible for them to work

    • People who care about what they are doing will always be better than the cheapest people that don’t care. Hire people who care.

    Maintain a progressive planning pace for getting requirements ready

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    Workshop
    Intermediate

    The best way to learn Scrum is by doing, but it can be difficult to simulate Scrum and see how well Scrum helps team overcome technical hurdles without actually building something technically challenging. Lego's have always been a fun option for introducing Scrum, but it's difficult to recreate technical impediments, the need for spikes and managing technical debt with our tried and true friend, the box of Lego's.

    Arguably, a better alternative might be Snap Circuits, a toy designed to introduce children to electronics in a fun and easy-to-understand format. Like Lego's, adults gravitate toward Snap Circuits because they are colorful, quickly understood and snap together with ease.

    But, Snap Circuits have the added advantage of requiring a small amount of technical learning during the simulation that make it a closer match to the technical obstacles faced by a typical Scrum team.

    In this workshop, you'll learn one "Scrum in a Snap" simulation exercise. In addition, we'll provide you with a few other "Scrum in a Snap" ideas and encourage you to experiment on your own. Four lucky attendees will also win their own Snap Circuits kit so they can develop their own Scrum games.

    Past participants in "Scrum in a Snap" have said "The best Scrum exercise I've ever done", "I can't believe how much it's like coding - without actually coding", "What a blast - I'll never forget this activity!" and "Where can I buy one?"

    Attend this workshop to see why.