Agile Chicago Style Podcast

Helping UNLEASH the Agile Community in Chicago

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Drag, it’s what naturally keeps everything from going faster. You can call it friction. You can call it resistance. You can call it a force (sometimes to be reckoned with). All of these are correct. But, I like using Drag. I think it puts the appropriate negative connotation on the thing that keeps us from freely increasing speed in any direction.

I took the picture above at a Potbelly’s this morning. If you aren’t familiar, Potbelly’s is a casual (read, fast-food) sandwich chain. I pass this sign at least once every workday, as the shop is my first stop after getting off the train every morning. I’ve seen this sign before, and I’ve even read it a few times. But I’ve always wanted to tell other people what I like about it. So, here goes…

The sign reads as follows:

Fresh Great ingredients, prepared in a shop, made the way you want.

FAST 8 minutes the the line, max.

Friendly Hang out, leave happy.

So, let’s look at this with an eye for what we want out of our organizations.

Fresh. Our ingredients are the technologies we use to create our product(s), the way we use those technologies, the tools that help us use those technologies, and the processes that we force ourselves to follow to provide the product(s) to our customers.

FAST. It’s probably self-explanatory, but I’ll do it anyway. Potbelly’s comes right out and specifies just how fast you will get through their line. More to the point of our product development, they are declaring just how long (maximum) you will have to wait for your product. The whole thing. Not just the bread and meat. Not individual ingredients. The whole thing.

Friendly. Stay here and eat our food. We provide music, sometimes live music, and a friendly atmosphere for you to have an enjoyable meal.

Do you expect this promise from all restaurants you visit? Seriously. From all of them? The last time you went to a major fast food chain restaurant (store, as headquarters often refers to them - because they have products for sale, and customers buy them), did you expect to receive a meal made of all fresh ingredients, quickly, and in a friendly atmosphere? Or did you expect a warmed over, highly efficiently manufactured, version of a meal, served by a human being receiving minimum wage (and sporting the attitude to reflect it), only after being corralled in an area to the side of the money collecting pit?

Now, put yourself in your own customers’ shoes. Do they expect an impersonal experience, a warmed over version of a product that satisfies, without delighting, on a schedule that is not of their own choosing. Or are you offering a personal and inclusive experience in delivering a delightful product at a time when it is most beneficial to them?

It’s not a dream state. It CAN happen with products like the one your are building. It CAN happen with businesses/companies as big/small as yours. It CAN be done. And if you don’t do it, someone else will.

I know all of the employees at the Potbelly’s. None by name, and only one of them knows my name. But, we know each other, and they know what I want coming in the door. I get a personalized experience, because I’m a customer that has chosen. I’ve chosen to frequent the restaurant because of their Promise. Does that seem paradoxical? It should.

This paradox is common. But there needs to be an initiator. From both sides the initiator could be identified differently. I decided, one day, to visit Potbelly’s - to me, I’m the initiator. From Potbelly’s point of view - “Look, there’s a customer! Let’s implement our Promise!” - they are the initiator, because of their Promise. Either way, as long as the Promise is upheld, the relationship gets better with every delivery.

Common conversations with Potbelly’s employees, while I’m waiting for my breakfast, are relationship building conversations. We talk about our weekend, the weather, work, relationships, etc. What does this do for Potbelly’s? It gets them more invested in their customers’ satisfaction with the experience of patronizing their establishment. What does this do for the customer? It says to me that they are more interested in me as a person, than in the money I will soon give them.

Can you say you have the same relationship with your customers? Why not? What’s your Promise?

At the Agile Professional Learning Network - Chicago Chapter’s first Conference, I caught up with Doc Norton. He spoke about the Host Leadership model and its role-based examples, instead of character based traits of Servant Leadership.

Listen as Doc explains several of the roles that anyone can take on in Host Leadership.

Doc also has a book on Lean Pub right now, Escape Velocity, where he explores more useful metrics than Velocity.

From national elections to ditch digging, Matt and Rick use the recent US Presidential election results, to springboard into some great examples of how national politics and business events can mirror each other. Moreover, how do we, as Agile professionals, react to internal politics.

With Mike Marchi and Sandie Behrens

If you’ve been around Chicago long enough, at least in the Agile community, you would know that the company currently known as HERE (formerly NAVTEQ and then Nokia) has a great reputation for being an Agile organization through and through. The truth is, the Agile movement there started as an experiment – as most things in Agile should.

I tag along while Allen Rutzen and Jorgen Hesselberg describe the best example of a true Agile Transformation and an organizational Agile Mindset.

The ever-controversial Tom Mellor discusses the differences between ‘Being Agile’ and ‘Doing Agile.’ Tom talks quite a bit about Frederic Laloux’s organizational paradigms (categorized by a color spectrum), and gets us started down a road that leads to differences in what we are taught about the basic elements of Scrum – or at least what we thought we were taught.

Tom also qualifies and stands by his statement “I think the ScrumMaster was the worst thing ever created in Scrum” by answering the question “If you don’t have a ScrumMaster, how do you expect [a new Scrum Team] to become a team that practices Scrum?” — You have to listen to get his answer

I recently got the most wonderful opportunity to talk with a couple of legends in the Agile Community – Chet Hendrickson and Ron Jeffries! They’re partnering with Brian Levy to bring a 5-Day, dual certification, public CSD class to Chicago for the week of 14-18 March, 2016.

Ron, Chet and Brian discuss many of the XP Practices we grown to love and integrate into our Scrum implementations. Brian also adds a dash of SAFe to the conversation.The class, in downtown Chicago, combines a 3-day Certified Scrum Developer (CSD) class and a 2-Day SAFe ScrumXP class. Class attendees will be awarded the CSD via Scrum Alliance (assuming they already have other pre-requisites covered), and the Scaled Practitioner (SP) via Scaled Agile.

Just Matt and Rick

Matt Beam, new co-host of Agile Chicago Style Podcast

Join me as I query Jack Walser, of AIM Consulting, on DevOps. Before Jack spoke to the Agile Professional Learning Network (APLN – Chicago) in June, I didn’t have a great idea of what DevOps, in the Agile space, really was.

Jack breaks down the components of a DevOps environment needed to succeed.

In July 2015, Maria Matarelli and Harvey Wheaton presented the results of Scrum Alliance’s State of Scrum 2015 survey. The survey returned 4400+ responses that led to some very interesting results.

I was able to get Maria and Aakash Srinivasan (both veterans of this podcast) to discuss some of the more interesting analysis of these results.

Vivek and Rick discuss many different topics in this conversation ranging from Governance to Training certification, Agile industry diversity to Release Planning, etc. We briefly touch on our career goals of CST and CSC, and where we are at in our journeys.

Recently, I had a wonderful time talking with Angela Johnson about modifications to Scrum that make us cringe. Sprint 0 and Story Authors topped the list. Please give Angela’s article Are You Transforming the World of Work, or Confusing It? for more on these subjects.

Aakash Srinivasan is an Agile Coach and Trainer, in the Washington DC area, who speaks quite often at Agile events, conferences and Gatherings. Aakash and I sat down last month and talked about a great range of topics.

Besides name-dropping (Mike Cohn, Dhaval Panchal, Roger Brown, Catherine Louis, Maria Matarelli, Dave Prior, Mike Vizdos, Arlen Bankston, Tom Mellor), We actually talk about topics like why Agile Coaches are needed when ScrumMasters are intended to be the team coaches; ‘Pure Scrum’ vs Reality; DAD, Scrum, Scrumban, and Kanban comparisons and where/when they fit; training, co-training, and being CST candidates; Scrum Gatherings and Agile conferences.