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Managers: Are You Responsible “To” or “For” People?

A manager said to me, “I’m responsible for this department of people.” I asked, “What does that mean?” He said, “I’m responsible for managing the people. I also define the products and what the people need to deliver.” I said, “That seems like a lot of work.” He nodded. “I’m exhausted. I work all the time and can’t ever finish.” ...

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The Focus of Every Agile Coach: Support How the Business Creates Value

How should agile coaches work? I’ve heard several questions and problems around what agile coaches should and should not do. Should agile coaches focus on: How well the teams use their pre-determined agile framework. (For example, how good is their Scrum?)Enroll (or somehow persuade) the managers in an agile mindset. (As an example, how agile do the managers think?)Removing some ...

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Want a Successful Agile Project? Start with Why Before How

I’ve been speaking with several possible clients. They’re having trouble with Scrum. The managers don’t believe the teams need product owners, so the teams don’t have POs. The managers think a Scrum Master can support at least four teams. The teams start a lot and finish very little. The teams think they have too many meetings. And everyone works alone—the ...

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Words I avoid using: should, empower, commitment

For the record, there are a few words I avoid using if I can. Should: “we should feed the starving millions”, “we should create world peace.” Should is useless. It is also a declaration of what should be but also an admission of defeat, we give up immediately, we don’t even try. Empower and empowerment: “I will empower the team” ...

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Orienting to Value

Orienting to value – every team, every person does it differently.  How you orient to value limits how much value you can create.  People with a naive orientation can only scratch the surface, cogs in someone else’s machine; those with a refined orientation to value, well, there is no limit to what they can do. How Teams Orient to Value ...

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Failure Is Always An Option

I’ve been working with teams that feel a ton of pressure. On top of the pressure, a senior manager says these words:  “Failure is not an option.” When managers say that, they ignore all the possibilities for success. They put their heads down, ignoring ways to manage risk. When managers don’t collaborate to manage risk, we increase the failure risk. Here’s ...

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Multiple Short Feedback Loops Support Innovation

Several of my clients have intertwined problems. Everyone agrees they want innovation: Which products and services the organization offers. (The project portfolio)What features the product offers, or the problems the product solves. (The product roadmap)In the team, to solve the problems in a way that will attract users/buyers/customers. (The team’s backlog and how the team works.) Strategy and Product Feedback ...

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