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: 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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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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Video: TDD for Business Strategies – Developing Business Strategies Test-First

This is the video of my talk from Agile on the Beach 2014 where I spoke on how to apply agile test-first principles to the development of business strategy.

Many businesses struggle with the strategy chasm between their business goals and product pipelines – what should we do? how should we approach it? what strategies will work?

Through case studies and examples, I show how the power of a meaningful mission, clear vision and measurable goals can be combined with a test-first approach to business strategy to create better strategies that deliver more quickly with lower risks – and with far less political and opinion-driven pressure.



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Video: Cultivating Culture Change with Tom Sedge

In this video, we take an example-led practical tour of Cultivating Culture Change within organisations using the metaphor of gardening. This draws on my experience to include a range of techniques and tools that you can use in your organisation. We explore what a workplace can look like when it has undergone a cultural transformation and where to get started.

Traditionally people approach culture change as an engineering problem or by telling their people what to be. But it just doesn’t work like that. Culture is different: it’s an emergent property and that requires a different approach.



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Lean Product Development: Sleepwalking to Electric Sheep

The original book behind Blade Runner, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was set in 1992.

When it comes to modern change approaches – particularly those that come from IT, like this reference from ThoughtWorks – then I believe in 2014 we’re not only dreaming about electric sheep, we’re designing and building them.

It’s time to wake up and realise that change is first and foremost about people and the work they do. And so we need to fully involve them in shaping that work and changes to it. Technology is essential to delivering change but isn’t a good way to lead that change.


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