Achieving Business Buy-in for Agile

This is the slides and materials from my hands-on workshop at Agile Cambridge 2015 on 2nd October 2015 on Achieving Business Buy-in for Agile: Overcoming Objections, Obstacles and Opposition.

Agile within an IT team only takes us so far, especially if the wider organisation uses waterfall processes for product/project management, traditional budgeting and siloed manager-heavy hierarchies.

During this hands-on session we’ll collaboratively explore 12 common objections and obstacles to growing Agile beyond IT teams.  Using the power of the group, we’ll uncover a range of practical ways to win hearts and minds, overcome opposition, transform non-technical understandings of Agile and get broad-based buy-in for change.



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Video: Cutting to the heart of Agile

This is the video of my talk from Radtac’s Evening Briefing on 12th May 2015 where I spoke on Cutting to the heart of Agile.

Cutting through methods to the heart of Agile: people, work and the nature of collaboration.

In this talk we get beyond the specifics of different methods, the narrow box of IT and cut to the heart of Agile. Through some examples we explore how it enables different approaches to valuing, motivating and investing in people, how it changes the management of work and how it drives the spread of collaboration and cooperation; moving competition outside the organisation where it most healthily belongs.


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Video: The secret of smooth Scrum sprints

This is the video of my talk from ACCU 2015 on 25th April 2015 where I spoke on Investing Upstream: The secret to smooth Scrum sprints

It’s great when teams reach delivery maturity with execution at speed and high quality.  It’s no surprise that there’s so much emphasis on doing Sprints well because that’s the heart of Scrum.

Paradoxically though, the secret to making it work well is actually investing time and effort upstream of Sprints to ensure that the Product Backlog is prioritised and broken-down into small items, that User Stories are well formed and that the Scrum team doesn’t meet items for the first time during Sprint Planning.

This ties in with solving the very difficult challenge of effective Product Ownership. Often the very people most valuable to the Scrum team are also the most valuable to the wider business, creating a conflict over their time. Many teams struggle with an absent Product Owner or one who is not sufficiently senior to make quick decisions.

The Scrum Guide says little about how to implement effective Product Ownership and how to get the Product Backlog into good shape. Most Scrum training focuses on the Sprints, so also misses this bigger picture.

Join us on our journey through a series of examples anchored in practical experience as we explore a range of tools and approaches to solve these problems. We’ll learn how to make Scrum function well in a way that meets both the Scrum team and Product Owner’s needs.


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Video: Challenging the Orthodoxy

This is the video of my talk from Service Design in Government 2015 on 20th March 2015 where I spoke on Challenging the Orthodoxy: How Cultural Change enables Citizen-Centric Services.

An exploration through examples of how implementing truly radical service redesign needs organisations to first undergo a cultural change and revolution in their thinking.

Budget cuts are forcing many of us to re-think how services are provided. Despite the pain, this challenge is also an opportunity to dramatically improve services for the modern world. The dash to digital in the UK has driven an IT-led service design culture that embraces modern agile practices, new technologies and open solutions. This is a welcome break from the past.

But to make really dramatic improvements, we need to go beyond technology and completely re-imagine how services are provided – and that’s first (and foremost) a people problem. We need to change cultures by breaking down silos between departments and bringing people together to deliver a consistent, coherent and human service. The front-line needs to deal with all the needs of each citizen in one place instead of a series of frustratingly splintered transactions.

Change should lie in the hands of those who face citizens; engaging their experience, creativity and insight into people’s needs. We need to deliver the same qualities of experience we all value in the modern world: speed, convenience, clarity, effectiveness and choice.

Join me for a tour of surprising and unorthodox alternatives as we explore how conventional thinking takes us down the wrong path and how people around the world have created innovative solutions for their public services. Guaranteed to be thought-provoking and suitable for anyone involved in service design.


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90% of Organisational Change is about People, not Process

90% of the change work I do in organisations is about people, not process or tools. It’s navigating the politics, building relationships, overcoming barriers and helping people work together to solve common problems.

I know from when I arrive in an organisation that the people working in it are the experts on what they do. They already have the answers they need between them but the fragmented and siloed system in which they work makes accessing those answers impossible.


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Video: Investing in Upstream Flow

This is the video of my talk from KCE London on 8th January 2015 where I spoke on how to invest in upstream flow by landscaping a smooth river from idea to execution.

It’s great when teams reach delivery maturity with execution at speed and high quality. It’s no surprise that there’s so much emphasis on this because there are still so many people struggling. But it’s important that we don’t just learn how to do the wrong things well.

Organisations need a smoothly functioning upstream system that can take in good ideas from anywhere, triage and decide which get investment. Then safely shepherd and grow them through to adolescence until they are ready to be implemented. This is key to doing the right things well. Together with some examples, we explore a range of tools and overall approaches that can build this upstream flow and open the session out to leverage the experiences and ideas of the group.


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My KCE talk on 8th January: Investing in Upstream Flow

I’m speaking on Thursday 8th January at the London Kanban Coaching Exchange on Investing in Upstream Flow: Landscaping a smooth river from idea to execution

It’s great when teams reach delivery maturity with execution at speed and high quality. It’s no surprise that there’s so much emphasis on this because there are still so many people struggling. But it’s important that we don’t just learn how to do the wrong things well.

Organisations need a smoothly functioning upstream system that can take in good ideas from anywhere, triage and decide which get investment. Then safely shepherd and grow them through to adolescence until they are ready to be implemented. This is key to doing the right things well.


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Video: AgileMK – The Agile Organisation and People

This is a talk and interactive session that I ran with Dan Rough at Agile:MK on 1st September 2014.

We speak about The Agile Organisation and its effects – the effects on people, how work is managed and on organisational culture.

We follow up with a practical exercise in small groups – asking participants to list the people and organisational challenges that they have with Agile in their organisations and then to work together to design a time-boxed experiment that they can run to start solving the problem.



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