Friday, April 20, 2012

Video of The Marshmallow Challenge at Agile Games 2012

Agile Games 2012 conference in Cambridge.

"The Marshmallow Challenge is a remarkably fun and instructive design exercise that encourages teams to experience simple but profound lessons in collaboration, innovation and creativity."

David presenting the challenge at Agile Games conference.

Watch Tom Wujec's talk about his many experiences with this exercise.

 Agile Games 2013!

See Also:  Results Oriented Web conference Marshmallow Challenge workshop

Don't mistake the Marshmallow Challenge with the Marshmallow Test by Walter Mischel.  One is a design challenge - the other is an experiment designed to see if personality traits such as self-control are malleable.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Product Owner Scrum Immersion Workshop

Pictures from a recent Product Owner Scrum Immersion workshop.
Agenda for Scrum Immersion workshop

Here are some Panoramas of the simulated sprints (also see photosynths).

what do you want to get out of a Scrum adoption by the team?

Scrum Immersion simulation roadmap
What we learned at the Global Sales Conference

Clients - Wish list (that's not a backlog)

Management "launches" a new team

Project plan - simulation of 2 product releases

What is Agile Release Planning
Release Planning - a simulation
Product Backlog (has Size & ranked for business value delivery)

Sprint Planning (the What & the How)

Sprint 1 - Bootstrap team's capacity to forecast unknown velocity

A schematic of a 5 min. Simulated Sprint

15 sec. for a simulated Stand-up meeting

The prime directive - DO IT!

5 min. for Simulation Sprint review meetings

2 sprints then Release 1 - demo with Customer feedback

the Rock Stars sprint scorecard

Release 2 - demo to customer - builds upon R1 and feedback

the Mavericks scorecard

Once you start then you can really gather data - but
you have to start first - just do it!

Two teams sprinting on the product backlog.

Compare Titanic to Costa Concordia

Compare Titanic to Costa Concordia :: 100 yrs apart - what have we learned?

Titanic has 19th century tech but barely able to use it to the fullest ( wireless radio - morse code - very small message payload - poor distress procedures & discipline in industry).  Used 18th c. tech - flares to signal distress - but ignored by closest vessel.  Left the ship watches binoculares in port (I've done that).  Capt'n made errors in judgement - full steam ahead through known ice flow with no binos on watch... stupid move.

The Costa Concorda's captain made several big blunders in judgement.  He may wish he had gone down with his ship, as Capt'n Smith of the Titanic did.

While both captains made blunders of judgement, the state of the art of sea distaster has changed in 100 years.  The two disasters are not very comparable on the environmental factors - icy north atlantic waters vs. Mediterranean sea close to shore.

On the Titanic no one had a personal communication device.  Quite frankly by today's standard it would be hard to call the ship's radio room a communication command center at all.  I would assume that passengers on the Costa Concorda made personal distress calls.

In any type of emergency the ability to communicate is the number one priority and the highest value assest to insure safety and assistance.

Here's a good spot for a plug for the Divers Alert Network (DAN) it's not just for scuba divers.

So what have we learned in 100 years.  To use our power of communication - over long distances - in real-time (not async like morse code or twitter) - oh, and don't leave idiots in charge.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Scrum Masters valued higher than Project Managers by some

So I hear someone say:

My company is not thinking of hiring Scrum Masters for the current Scrum adoption initiative that is underway. We appear to have plenty of Project Managers (yet that community believes they need more "heads"). Yes, "heads" is the unit of measure for our "resources."  So the apparent logic that I have explained to me - because I'm just too illogical to arrive at the obvious is ... we will just let the PMs do the SM roll. Right, no problem there. It shouldn't take too much time to do the Scrum Master's job... just a few meetings and that silly 15 minute stand-up each day.

Yep - that's the plan.

So now lets look at one metric and ask ourselves why this trend is happening.  Let's compare salaries of Scrum Masters to Project Managers.  You can get the  latest info via

 data from Indeed Salary survey 

David Bland (Scrumology) did this some time back and reported that a SM in 2009 averaged $88K/yr, when a PM was earning more. Then again in 2010 when the SM was averaging $95K while the PM was at $91K ($7K delta).  Now the delta is $10K.

So we should ask ourselves - why does the market supply & demand for Scrum Masters out pace the market for Project Managers?  What could possibly create this trend?  Could it be that the job of the SM is different that the typical PM job?  And that the rapid overtaking curve of the SM salary is a result of the market realization that it takes a unique skill set to perform the role well.  Hence the premium paid for a Scrum Master in today's market.

Update July 2014

See Also:

Yes - you need a full time scrum master.

What hiring process do you use?  & How to ACE the behavioral interview ...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Recreate to Improve

How frequently do you revise the training that you give people?  I try to change something each time I present.  Purposefully mutate the presentation, then reflect on the outcome.  These are not scientific experiments, more intuition based  learning - which I believe is very worth while.  So one technique that helps me to change the presentation is to not use computer generated slides (Power Point).

With slide decks - one may change an individual slide an assess if it was better or worse; however when one creates unique artifact each time it will naturally mutate.  Some times for the better, sometimes for simplicity, and at times for the worst.  Yet with a flip chart artifact, if it is unclear, you can just pull out a marker and fix it in real-time.  And you may learn what will improve the artifact the next time you use it.

Some people don't like the high amount of time required to create posters for a course each time.  Yet it is a great time to think about the class.  I believe this preview of the event to come is a great form of future visioning.  It is a practice session, much like an olympic athlete that visions their event going well minutes before they start.

Here's a MS Photosynth of a training with lots of custom posters.  They get a little better each time.  I encourage you to try this technique.

See Also:

Why I use Flip Charts not PPT Slides

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Leadership Paradox

Are the capabilities of a CEO leader similar to the leadership needs of a ScrumMaster or Agile team leader?  I think they are very similar.  And if so then the risk factors that are associated with CEO succession planning would also effect the Scrum team's succession planning (assuming anyone is concerned about the leadership changes to a Scrum team).

So let's look for the fractal nature of self similar systems within the Agile company.

Here are the top risk factors for CEO succession planning.
"Of the top 11 factors HR executives cited as the most common causes for CEO succession failure, eight pertained to deficiencies in interpersonal skills -- failure to build relationships and a team environment, a mismatch for the corporate culture, inability to win company support, being egotistical, not flexible, poor management skills, poor communication and lack of political savvy." 
(p. 51, Chief Learning Officer, Apr. 2012 Source: Chally Group Worldwide - Global Leadership Research Project 2010.

One conclusion what that selection criteria for CEOs may focus too little concern for the human collaboration side of the equation.  Something that Agile values and principles embrace.  I feel there may be a systemic problem with leadership Emotional Intelligence (EI).

See Also:

The Tenth Man Principle how the Israeli PM combats institutional group think to save the nation. - by Patrick Anderson