Growth mindset: becoming a learning organisation

Agility in Mind’s thoughts and reflective insights into the world of digital transformation, agile transformation, agile product management, agile coaching and agile training. Return here for our thought leadership agile insights, or sign up to our newsletter for regular updates.

Checklists Save Lives

For many years when teaching these concepts, we have compared this practice to the Surgical Safety Checklist advocated by the World Health Organisation. This was established as a sanity check …

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Who should interview a scrum master?

Am I a bad interviewer?
Despite my attempts and desire to be a good and fair interviewer no doubt my judgement can be clouded by bias. Several different cognitive biases …

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I’m a product owner not a feature owner

 
“The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Development Team.”
The intent behind agile frameworks such as Scrum is …

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How to visualise an agile programme

Visualise an agile programme
The approach I am advocating is suited to when you want to look at a single agile programme. It allows the programme to be managed in …

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How to start an agile product delivery

When they told the whole story of how they got off track, it seemed totally avoidable. If anything, it was simply down to a lack of preparation. They were so …

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Scrum vs Kanban – there’s no big difference

Are you part of the Scrum vs Kanban debate? Now, as an attendee of these conferences and an enthusiastic participant in discussions on pull systems; time boxes; empirical process control; …

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Do you own your product?

1. Your developers define the order the work is done irrespective of value
a) TRUE
b) FALSE
2. You’re not sure what’s in the backlog because your BA did all …

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Dealing with unfinished work in Scrum

Claim some of the points? I generally don’t encourage teams to try and take partial credit for unfinished work. If it’s done in the current Sprint, then claim the points …

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Self organising teams at The Times

Rather than dictate to the teams the PLT agreed they wanted to develop a culture of ownership.  The hypothesis was: if the teams have some stake in defining the work …

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Agile Objectives

Agile objectives are best if they describe the intention of the functionality of the system rather than prescribing a specific technical approach. For example, rather than the objective describing the …

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5 Tools for Building Trust

Teams that lack trust waste time and energy by engaging on political behaviour that reduces the likelihood of the team achieving their goals.
One of the activities spoken about in …

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Growth mindset: becoming a learning organisation

Since then I have seen Microsoft’s Tony Reeves give a fantastic talk on the subject at an innovation summit where we were both headline speakers. After Tony and I had …

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Being the newbie at Agility in Mind

In advance of my first day, Michelle, business manager extraordinaire, sent me an Induction Checklist outlining everything we would cover on my first day. This immediately put me at ease …

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GDPR: What will happen next?

This has already had one noticeable effect: a dramatic increase in emails from companies ranging from the amateur sports club you play for, to the online garden furniture specialist you …

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How to Innovate

Innovation is not just about new technology, although it can be. Digital innovation can be about leveraging new or existing technology, it can be about making the process lean or …

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Team Formation Tips

Diana Larsen (author of Liftoff: Launching Agile Teams and Projects) suggests that for a group of people to come together as a team they need to:

Understand what they …

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Introduction to Change Management

I usually apply change management during “Agile Transformation”. Anywhere something needs to happen differently can benefit from change management.
There are a lot of change management models. I will be …

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Getting to ‘no’ – better products through disagreement

Great product teams have a growth mindset
I would go so far as to say in many cases teams with the best cultures make better products than the teams of …

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Culture eats strategy for breakfast. So, what’s your team eating?

“Flatland”, a novella by Edwin Abbott Abbott, describes a world that exists in 2 dimensions. The male inhabitants of this world are polygons while the females are a single line. …

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Line Management is not “Agile”

Well, maybe. On the other hand, having someone relatively experienced and influential on your side, to help shape your career and keep you off the annual redundancies list might actually …

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Where to start with Agile Programme Management?

The phases of a traditional programme are:

Programme Identification.
Programme Definition.
Programme Execution.
Benefits Realisation.

In the traditional model the benefits realisation phase is the last phase, after …

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How to help your agile teams find the better way

The hardest teams to coach to success often are those that have a pretty rigid, established view of what ‘agile’ either is or isn’t. This is pretty understandable and there …

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Don’t give up on remote teams!

How it all too often is…
I’ve worked on/coached/observed remote agile teams for over ten years now, from India to Finland, Israel to Japan. Whatever the makeup of the team, …

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Why is Innovation and Entrepreneurship important?

Harry Warner was not ignorant when he offered that advice, he was an expert in his industry, but he failed to recognise that he needed to “jump to the next …

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Three things that make a daily scrum a waste of time

The trouble is that in the real world, there is an awful lot that can get in the way of this self-organised utopia. We regularly work with teams that see …

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How to create the perfect size team

The Surgery Team (approx. 6)
In an operating room there are several key players. Each essential to the successful outcome of patient care:

Surgeon
Resident Surgeon
Anaesthesiologist
Scrub tech
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Secret Santa’s agile Christmas reading list

 
 

Agile Christmas reading list: Book 1
One Mission: How Leaders Build A Team Of Teams by Chris Fussell and Charles Goodyear. Building on from the “Team of teams” recommendation from …

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Scrum is often a waste of money

 

This is not free: taking a whole team away from their work for several hours a month is an overhead. The Scrum framework caps the time allocated to …

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Good scrum master versus bad scrum master

Good scrum masters have a deep understanding of Scrum and operate from a strong basis of confidence and knowledge. They are responsible for the successful implementation of Scrum within their …

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Seven top delegation tips for business leaders

 
Success, whilst hard won, isn’t guaranteed to stay. Successful businesses often grow quickly, with lines of communication getting more and more complex. The original team is joined by new …

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5 ways the PMO can support agile teams

The role of many PMOs can be broken down into 5 key functions:

Governance: ensuring that decisions are taken by the right people, based on the right information. The …

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Definition of done – when is it really, really done?

Although the Scrum Guide does not dictate this, in practise a lot of scrum teams include “product owner sign-off” as part of the definition of their done and/or have product …

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High Street Law Firms in the UK

High street law firms aren’t big corporate entities located in the capital but are often comparably smaller outfits with offices situated in hubs all over the country. Here, they serve …

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Backlog refinement

A team are planning their next sprint.  One of the developers looks anxious:
“What do you mean we are changing the way we list items? This is going to be …

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Lavington School take on Three Peaks Challenge

Pupils will be joined by staff and parents as they attempt to complete the three highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland within 24 hours*. This will be a gruelling …

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Top Tips for Negotiating With Stakeholders

Secure Your Home Base First
We know from his ‘Commentary on the Gallic War’ that Julius Cæsar, a highly successful general and politician, adopted as a primary strategy the maxim …

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Top 7 books for agile teams – Spring reading 2017

 

Top 7 books for agile teams – Book 1: The Coaching Habit
The promise this book makes is that you can work less hard and have more …

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6 top tips for creating better leadership teams

Here are six simple, impactful, actions which I often start with when helping leaders, teams and individuals shift their cultures, build better products and outpace their competitors.
Walk the floor
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Do you consider yourself an agile tourist?

We all like to be tourists, safe in the knowledge that we can try something new, returning to the comfort of what we know in just a few weeks.
For …

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Could BDD have prevented Judgement Day?

Ant has been sent back in time from 2029, by the leaders of the human resistance, to save the human race from Judgement Day. Ant is no killing machine …

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Three simple steps to make distributed teams work

Real life is about compromise
Designing an effective IT product delivery capability is a complex problem involving compromise. It will never match up to the perfect world described in the …

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What is Scrum?

When should I use Scrum?
When you want to deliver a product of known quality, have some predictability on upcoming work, and have people who can fulfil the three roles …

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Going up – achieving flow – less is more

By encouraging all customers to ride the escalator in both streams they were able to use the full capacity of the system, reduced turbulence of customers trying to get into …

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Behaviour driven development (BDD) in a day

New features were coming thick and fast, so we thought it was time to build on our development process with behaviour-driven development (BDD). Here’s what we were hoping to achieve:
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Outcome based agile coaching

Quickly closing in on how the product team was working, we agreed that the correct focus was to help make product delivery effective again, because improvement in that area would …

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Kanban – when, where and how

When should I use Kanban?
In any situation where you want to manage a flow of work, whether for a team or as an individual and regardless of the nature …

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Product delivery style impacts your customers

 
Subway and Dominos are two popular fast food joints. They both have a reasonably similar product. They both target a similar kind of target customer. They are well known …

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Don’t write “Duncan”; call me “Long Black”

Making a purchase can feel great when you’ve developed a rapport with the salesperson. Regardless of the product; from a tasty treat at the farmer’s market to a major purchase …

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Can rituals help agile teams bond?

Years ago I was complimented on “improving the group dynamic” by bringing in a cafetiere for the my agile team to use.  We developed a bit of a ritual around …

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Why business leaders need to embrace agility

As a sector, IT was late to the party when it came to adopting the Lean principles that came out of heavy industry in the 1950s. To make up for …

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Product development with BDD

What is required? – User Stories supported by Scenarios.
At the beginning of an agile product development or while discussing potential new features, discussions about what is required will take …

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Achieving business agility

Beginning in the software or product domain, there is a belief by some that a software team or organisation can attain 100% agility and become x% agile by a given …

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Simplicity

Just get Sam to do it
The simplest way to build software is to find one talented engineer and get them to devote all of their time to building the …

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Who makes a good Scrum master?

Organisation
The scrum master is an organiser. They don’t have to run ceremonies like planning sessions or daily stand-ups, but they need to make sure they both happen and happen …

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From dog food to champagne

We wrote about our experience in developing our own website back in October 2012 – time flies. We ate the dog food – we used the principles and practices our …

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Agile fixed price contracts – can they work?

Fixed price, fixed scope contracts seem like a great idea if you have an idea for a new product and you want to limit your exposure to escalating costs. By …

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UX driven development

The scenario
The head of product is senior in the organisation. They do a good job, guiding a large and talented multi-disciplinary team. They also manage stakeholders, liaise with other …

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Scaling Agile – It has the Wrong Intent

The agile movement came out of a desire to improve the way software was developed. The agile manifesto is clear in this intent:
“Working software over comprehensive documentation”.
The desire …

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Choosing Processes and Tools

Agility in Mind recently launched a new version of our Behaviour Driven Development (BDD) workshop. I worked with Ed to deliver the early sessions and develop the course content, and …

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High Level Estimates

On a recent visit, I was asked to help them plan a new release. They had a bunch of user stories, a wireframe to help show where they fitted in …

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Kanban principles for sales management

Good sales management is all about identifying new opportunities for work early on, achieving dialogue with clients and progressing the right opportunities through to commitment from the client in a …

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Assessments and certifications – the right balance

I’m currently working towards my Scrum.org Professional Scrum Trainer certification and part of the process involves achieving 95% in the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) II exam.  To do this I …

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Agility and Dev Ops

Dev Ops teams use a lot of tools. It’s part of the trade, so it’s natural that there is focus on the best ones to use. However, it’s not …

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Premiere Screening in Leicester Square

The culmination of three years of hard work by a group of media students from Greenwich University was the screening of their films at a private cinema in the heart …

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Video: Standing up for ourselves

 

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Agile Compass

My experience and understanding has shown that the best way to deal with these situations is to adopt a principle based stance, and use these principles to evaluate the choices …

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When opportunity knocks

I used to let it frustrate me and then I came to accept it. Now, I am becoming increasingly intolerant of it – the attitude that it is up to …

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Minimum – the least understood word in IT?

 
I was having a friendly grumble on twitter with @dunc_smith about things that people don’t understand when it comes to delivering software. My comment was that minimum is the least …

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Commercial case for incremental delivery

In a traditional approach to product delivery a specification is written and a development team formed.  They work on the product for a number of months (sometimes years) and then …

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Environmental Change

I am currently trying to grow some tomatoes. It’s not really working out. They are struggling on, but whatever I do seems to just make things worse for them. I …

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What is a Value Driver?

 
I have been doing some work for a team that is struggling to deliver. They are established, have a vision that is okay and backlog that looks organised. On …

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Honesty is the best policy

 
It can be difficult to face up to the truth.
Sometimes the way that truth is told comes across as abrupt and direct and can have the opposite effect …

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Shared Vision

 
Quite often, it can take a long time before you get to ask those other questions, because you get stuck at the first one. I know it sounds crazy, …

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Exit criteria saves lives

Back in 1935 the Boeing Corporation developed a new fighting machine that became known as the Flying Fortress.  In a demo flight to the senior people of the USAF, the …

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Doing Scrum ‘right’? You’re probably doing it wrong

Really, this is a daft question – because agility is about flexibility and responsiveness in pursuit of delivery. It is not about getting Scrum right or being the best at …

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What’s happening upstream?

 
More often than not, the development teams that I meet are really pretty good. In fact I can’t ever remember walking in to a business where the development resource …

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The map is not the territory

 
There is sizable minority of people who now believe that agile methods fail.  Not having performed an extensive survey it is difficult to tell precisely what evidence there is …

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The Power of Conversation

 
At the end of all of our training courses we always get a request for the slide deck to be emailed to the participants. Of course we are happy …

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Kanban at the BBC: “Stuck in the Middle”

 
 
 

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Learning to drive and agile adoption

 
Before you can drive on your own, you have to have someone with 3 or more years experience with you. You have to pass a theory and a practical …

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Kanban at New Broadcasting House

 
The BBC’s New Broadcasting House, overlooking the impressive BBC Newsroom, was the venue of the Kanban Meetup on 15th November 2012. Hosted by The BBC Academy, the event was organised …

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Agility in Action at the BITS Foundation

It was a pleasure to be part of the BITS Foundation forum hosted by Takeda in central London, last week.
At the July 2012 meeting, I ran something a bit …

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Blog Strategy

When we were gathering requirements for our new website, we naturally prioritised our blog pretty high on the list. It was the second most important thing after the homepage. We …

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The broken link between Managers and Teams

Companies want to make fantastic products. Their leadership teams and managers want to impress their customers with great experiences, products and customer support. They invest loads of money in to …

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Achievement Awards – BBC Business Analysis

The BBC Academy has a deserved reputation for the quality and range of its training and development programmes, which benefit the BBC and the wider broadcast industry.
It has, therefore, …

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We ate the dog food and we liked it

There was clear need for a change to our web presence.  The business has developed nicely, along with a strong reputation for making a lasting difference in organisations, not being …

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Test Driven Meetings

 

People turn up late because another meeting overran
We all sit and wait for all the attendees to arrive
The meeting kind of starts, usually with who ever …

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Agile Banking? Whatever next …

The increase in price to call these guys is, in the grand scheme of things, not that big. The number has gone from and 0845 number (2p/min) to an 0844 number (“no …

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Agile Governance

Interestingly, and as some observers have already pointed out, the report makes significant reference to private sector agile adopters. As far as I can see, there is no reference to …

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Is BA just a team assistant?

 
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit with a group of BAs and ask them what is was that they did – specifically I asked them “As a BA …

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What’s sacrificed by Government in name of agility?

For existing organisations with a strong brand and reputation to protect, there is more at stake than the initial investment required to get the first product to market. Getting it …

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Can Government IT be truly Agile?

 
The government has committed itself to using agile methodology for software development in 50 percent of IT projects by 2013, in its recently published cross-government IT strategy[1]. The possible …

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I’m a product owner not a feature... By Paul Grew

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