Interview with Brendan Marsh of Spotify

Interview with Brendan Marsh of Spotify

This is me hearing Spotify. Yeah the man in the suit… If you know Spotify only for its music and its company culture then you are missing one more perk. Yep, it’s their agile culture! In Agile Greece 2015 we had  Kristian Lindwall & Cliff Hazell presenting our keynote on “Why autonomy is at the heart of Agility” and we got a whiff of Spotify’s agile culture.  Missed the last one? This year we are proud to have Brendan Marsh from Spotify! Brendan is Product Owner for Spotify’s Desktop Infra team and IMHO one hell of a person to talk to and learn from him. And what a session that will be: Spotify Running: Lessons learned from building a ‘Lean Startup’ inside a big tech company. We are really excited to have Brendan in Agile Greece Summit 2016 and looking forward to his keynote session. Did you get your ticket?   Q: Could you briefly introduce yourself? My name is Brendan and I’m a Product Owner for Spotify’s Desktop Infra team. In the 3 years I’ve been working at Spotify, I’ve spent most of that time as an Agile Coach, coaching various teams ranging from Data Infrastructure to Spotify’s Running experience. I’m the guild coordinator for our Innovation Guild and I’m passionate about Innovation, Product Discovery and all things Agile/Lean. Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic? I’m going to talk about how I coached a cross-functional team to build Spotify Running. Specifically, how we discovered what to build and what my learnings were from essentially trying to build a Lean Startup within a big tech company. I believe Product Discovery...
3 necessary management mindshifts in a fast-changing world

3 necessary management mindshifts in a fast-changing world

Changing an organization (irrespective whether big or small) into being Agile and Anti-fragile in a world changing at an exponential pace requires such a radical paradigm shift that no successful transformation can happen without a top-down approach, in terms of Company values, Management culture, Vision and Business goals. Nevertheless it is far too easy and far too common to fall into temptation that becoming an Agile organization means making a bunch of development teams work with Scrumand that managers, well, they are clever enough that can handle themselves. But, given the importance of the top-down part in the enterprise change, the very first step is actually starting from managers, for them to understand the why, be able to share and communicate the Vision, embrace the Agile values and be ready to support people with a new leadership style. Based on the empirical evidence I collected both in the organizations I coached and in others I observed, below are the three top management mindshifts needed to create the right conditions for people and teams in the trenches to succeed and get astonishing results. I will also offer some hands-on suggestions to change agents and coaches about how to trigger the different mindshifts. 1. FROM Excluding themselves from the change TO Taking onwership of the change Many managers (especially senior managers) think that Agile and Scrum is just for development.They seems not to understand all implications, especially what for instance Scrum really means for them. They often think that transitioning to Agile is just the umpteenth process improvement program, which can be delegated to process people: they have just to allocate...
Interview with Jurgen Appelo

Interview with Jurgen Appelo

Agile Greece Summit 2015: Level Achieved Agile Greece Summit 2016: Booting up! Have Jurgen Appelo as Keynote speaker: Pure Awesomeness!   Great Tony… Now tell me who is Jurgen Appelo? Jurgen is a top keynote speaker and writer, pioneering management in creative organizations. Inc.com has called him a Top 50 Leadership Expert, a Top 50 Leadership Innovator and a Top 100 Great Leadership Speaker. He is the author of the book Management 3.0, which describes the role of the manager in agile organizations. The rest I will leave it for him. We are really excited to have him in Agile Greece Summit 2016 and looking forward to his keynote session. Did you get your ticket? Now that you are done with it, let’s proceed to Jurgen’s interview then. Q: Could you briefly introduce yourself? My name is Jurgen Appelo, I have been a manager for many years and I’ve learned a lot about how to manage agile organizations. First as CIO of a web development company, now as CEO of Happy Melly, my own little global company. Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic? I will discuss managing the system for happiness. I find it important that employees enjoy their jobs. Because only when they are happy, they will play, run experiments, learn, innovate and create meaningful products and services. Q: What do you think could be the main gain for participants in your session? I offer some concrete examples of practices that you could try with your own teams. But more importantly, I will try to inspire people to come up with their own experiments. Q: Can you give some...
Where do we religiously follow Scrum

Where do we religiously follow Scrum

First of all the title is wrong! You either do or do not follow Scrum religiously. After a 2 year experience in Scrum, our organization has inevitably slipped from Scrum many times and most of the times we regret it and switch back to discipline. There are some things though that we never compromise: Steady Cadence We started Scrum with one week Sprints and when the teams matured we switched to 2 week sprints. So in 2 years most of the teams have only changed their Cadence once. Changing the Cadence is a decision that came organically from the teams not necessarily in the same period. But having a standard day and time when the events take place is non negotiable, even when stress and pressures comes from above. Scrum Events Every sprint ends with a Sprint Review followed by a Sprint Retrospective and starts with a Sprint Planning Meeting. Sometimes, many team members think its better if we skipped this sprint’s retrospective. In this case I choose to make the meeting much shorter and ensure that we get out of it with at least one action item that most of the team agrees is important to deliver. Daily Scrums (standup meetings) take place on the same time and place every day and never last more than 15 minutes. When valuable conversations arise, we arrange a meeting right after the stand up which most of the times does not need to include the whole team. When someone doesn’t appear in stand up, they have to send an email to the team answering the Daily Scrum’s 3 questions. Well I’m pretty confident that breaking...
CSM, PSM, PMI certifications explained

CSM, PSM, PMI certifications explained

In our agile work, we all hear acronyms about CSM, PSM, PMI certifications. What are these acronyms, do I need such a certification, how can I get it? A short and sweet post by Dimitris. There are two well-known Scrum Master Certifications in the Global Market + 1 and some smaller initiatives. Certified Scrum Master (CSM) by Scrum Alliance Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) by Scrum.org Project Management Insitute’s ACP (Agile Certified Practicioner) Lets see them in more detail: Certified Scrum Master (CSM)  by Scrum Alliance Prerequisites: Attendance of a CMS course by a certified Scrum Alliance partner Cost: Included in seminar cost, which is rather pricey (last course in Greece in 2014, cost 950 Euros) Certification test type: Online Passing score: 24/35 Questions (69%) Duration: No time limit Expiration: Two years from test Renewal prerequisites: None Renewal cost: 100$, for 2 years. Market perception: CSM was the first Scrum Master Certification on the market and had the ‘first mover’ advantage. Until March 2012, the certification was awarded to all course attendees regardless of score. The certification is still considered ‘very easy’ to obtain and, I believe, is perceived by the job market more as a ‘certificate of attendance’ of a Scrum Alliance course, and less as a professional certification. Nevertheless, it is by far the most popular. At the time this article was written, Dec 2015, 319.385  CSM certifications had been awarded. Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) by Scrum.org Prerequisites: None Cost: 150 $ Certification test type: Online Passing score: 68/80 Questions (85%) Duration: 1 hour Expiration: Never Renewal prerequisites: N/A Renewal cost: N/A Market perception: PSM I was introduced...
Learning to See, Learning to Lead: The Vanguard Method with David Joyce

Learning to See, Learning to Lead: The Vanguard Method with David Joyce

Systems designs put people at the heart of service delivery and the impact on culture and morale is palpable: culture change becomes free! The Vanguard Method starts with unlearning: through studying their services as systems, managers learn that much of what they believe to be ‘good’ management is anything but. Studying reveals the folly of scale; front-office / back-office designs drive costs up and worsen service. Studying reveals the damage caused by conventional arbitrary measures (targets, SLAs, standards etc). Studying reveals that ‘people management’ practices amount to working on the 5% (only 5% of performance can be attributed to the people). But, most of all, studying reveals the opportunities for improvement. It is to move from working on the 5% to working on the 95%. During the talk I will illustrate the method in action with case examples. You will see how service organisations have made extraordinary improvements through changing the system – the way work is designed and managed; you will understand what it means to work on the 95%. Those who use the method achieve extraordinary improvements in performance and morale. But following the method leads to abandoning much of what we consider to be normal. Therefore, prepare to be challenged and inspired. Rather than just nice words, here are some leaders of organisations talking about their own experiences, and the remarkable improvements they have achieved through using the Vanguard...
Μια μέρα στην χώρα του Kanban (a.k.a One day in Κanban land in Greek)

Μια μέρα στην χώρα του Kanban (a.k.a One day in Κanban land in Greek)

Ένα από τα πιο συνηθισμένα ερωτήματα πλέον στον χώρο του Agile είναι “Τι είναι το Kanban”. Ένας από τους καλύτερους σύντομους οδηγούς είναι το One day in kanban land από τον Henrik Kniberg. O Nίκος Μπατσιος, ενεργό μέλος της ομάδας του Agile Greece είχε την ευγενική διάθεση να κάνει την Ελληνική μετάφραση (σε ελεύθερη απόδοση 🙂 ) Είναι ένα πολύ ωραίο intro για το Kanban. ευχαριστούμε Νίκο. (Twitter / Linkedin). Άλλα ποστ για το Kanban: What is kanban? One of the most common questions around Agile. One of the best explainers though is from “One day in kanban land” of Henrik Kniberg. Nikos Batsios member of Agile Greece was kind to translate it in greek! This is a great visualized intro to understand how Kanban works! Nikos Batsios is Scrum Master at Intracom Telecom and organizer at Agile Greece...
Is your next meeting a discussion or a dialogue?

Is your next meeting a discussion or a dialogue?

Having your day packed with meetings is a common scenario in business today. Most likely, many of these meetings, are unproductive, for many – if not all – of the attendees. There is a lot of bibliography of tips and tricks you can do, in order to improve the quality of your meetings and these will not be provided in this article. Instead the different aspects of conversation types will be analyzed, as a structural element of meetings. Discussion is the act of people talking in order to reach a decision. When discussing, people defend their position trying to convince the group for the direction that should be taken. In a discussion, the position or title of the members within the organization, affects the gravity of their arguments. Towards the end of the meeting decisions have been taken and the team proceeds accordingly. Dialogue (greek διάλογος, δια: through, λόγος: speech, reason) is a free flow of meaning that comes through the words being spoken. When dialoguing the group has left their positions/titles outside the meeting room. What is being said is important, not who said it. At the end of a dialogue session the group has identified the deeper causes of why a system reacts the way it does. Therefore the group has gained more insight to improve predictability and take more solid decisions later. A meeting can switch between dialogue and discussion. An example of such a meeting in Scrum is the Sprint Retrospective, an event that occurs at the end of each Sprint that aims to improve the way the Scrum Team works together. This event is...
Interview with Andy Hiles – Water-Scrum-Fall, Unicorns and Rainbows

Interview with Andy Hiles – Water-Scrum-Fall, Unicorns and Rainbows

Andy comes from a proud name of the computing industry, IBM. Andy has experienced full software lifecycles in both an Agile and project management driven context, and has spent the last seven years managing and facilitating multi-discipline teams within Agile environments. He is Lead Agile Concultant for IBM and is driving Agile transformation. This September at Agile Greece Summit we will have the chance to hear him speak about: “Water-Scrum-Fall, Unicorns and Rainbows“. Here is his small interview. Q: Could you briefly introduce yourself? Hi , I am Andy, I’ve been working with software development teams for 15 years. I am Agile process coach specialising in teams and organisational flow. Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic? Why this topic? My talk will be about my experience of an Agile transformation opportunity which didn’t go the way I expected. Its important to understand what didn’t go well and why as opposed to the glamorous success stories that dominate our practice. Q: What do you think could be the main gain for participants in your session? Though provoking with humour. I hope that by coming along and getting a feel for the pain I had, attendees will get some good thought provoking topics. Q: Can you give some advice to teams/organizations that are transitioning to agile? Pick your path carefully, but invest in the change. Once you start to notice the pain don’t turn around and go back. Good things will come from the transition. Q: How do you see the evolution of Agile in the future? I hope by its nature it will evolve and new frameworks and practices...
Interview with Ralph Jocham – Scaling Scrum, the Swiss Postal Services case

Interview with Ralph Jocham – Scaling Scrum, the Swiss Postal Services case

I met Ralph in one of our meetups, where he presented Scrum. He is one of the best trainers I know, with expert knowledge on anything Agile. This September at Agile Greece Summit we will have the chance to hear him speak about: “10 Months, 7 Teams, 18 Apps – Scaled Scrum at Swiss Postal Services“. Here is his small interview. Q: Could you briefly introduce yourself? I started my career with ISO GmbH 1997 in Germany where I worked as a programming consultant for START in Frankurt and Siemens Medizintechnik in Erlangen. In 1998 I joined Oracle Corp. in Reading, United Kingdom working on JDeveloper. Two years later I moved to the USA and consulted in downtown Manhattan for Spherion Technologies. I later relocated to Silicon Valley to help Applied Biosystems (now Thermo Fischer, before Life), a leading biotech life science company to transition to Agile. Early in 2007 I joined ThoughtWorks in San Francicso, a worldwide leading agile consulting company as an agile coach. During my time at ThoughtWorks his clients included, The Gap, Inveneo, LinkedIn, Google and Roche Pharmaceuticals. In late 2009, I moved to Bern, Switzerland and joined Zühlke Engineering to help kickstart their agile offerings. In 2011 I founded Effective Agile[1] to walk my own talk – to see if my ideas will work. I am a lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences in Bern, where I teach an agile living case in the medical technology department. This autumn I will start teaching introduction to software engineering at the University of Applied Sciences FHNW Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic?...