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Image of some of the cards from the Essence based Method Agnostic Agility Cards used to help people learn about some key agile principles.

The following blog provides a set of free, downloadable agile coaching cards that can be used by Agile Coaches, Scrum Masters and teams working in many different contexts. These cards have been developed while working outside of software and product development with government Defence teams and I’ve used these cards to teach agility and help develop an agile mind set.

As Agile Software Development practices become more and more popular both customers and suppliers are looking to find ways to have more agile contracts. Contracts that reflect and exploit the benefits of an agile way-of-working on both sides of the relationship. This hands-on workshop introduces and applies a number of simple but powerful tools to enable customers and suppliers to establish effective contracts that reflect their level of agility without constraining or compromising that of their partners.

In EM360's Podcast interview, Ian speaks about his experiences of specialising in large-scale agile adoptions. Drawing on his expert knowledge, Ian has worked with hundreds of projects to introduce iterative and agile practices in sectors as diverse as government, telecommunications, finance, and internet start-ups.

Many teams struggle to let go of their waterfall, silo mentality when they first transition to agile ways-of-working. In particular they shy away from collaboratively working on the definition, evolution and implementation of their backlog items insisting on up-front definition of Features and Stories, and clean handovers between the Product Owners and the Development Teams. This is an issue that we see with all the various agile methods but which always seems to get compounded whenever teams try to scale. So what are the worst things you can do to compromise the agility of your program when using Features? In Part 4 of this series, Ian Spence provides some practical tips to avoid waterfalling your features.

Many teams struggle to let go of their waterfall, silo mentality when they first transition to agile ways-of-working. In particular they shy away from collaboratively working on the definition, evolution and implementation of their backlog items insisting on up-front definition of Features and Stories, and clean handovers between the Product Owners and the Development Teams. This is an issue that we see with all the various agile methods but which always seems to get compounded whenever teams try to scale. So what are the worst things you can do to compromise the agility of your program when using Features? In Part 3 of this series, Ian Spence provides guidance on what it means for a Feature to be Ready.

ABC of Essentialization

To be agile as teams, we need to adjust our approach to meet our immediate challenges and needs. To be agile as an organization, we need to learn collectively and evolve our approach over time to support our evolving mission, so that we continue to excel in an ever-changing environment. We would not call a TV set “adaptive” if, in order to adjust the volume, we had to throw it away and replace it with a model with a different volume setting. So why are we prepared to accept process frameworks that leave us in a similar predicament every time we want to improve our product development performance as an organization?

Key to realizing benefits from agile is strong customer representation through empowered Product Ownership – to guide the team in delivering a solution that maximizes end-user value. But this is also often the hardest agile practice to get working effectively, because of its novelty for many stepping into the role, and because of the challenges in balancing time commitments with existing business responsibilities, and combining incisive decision-making with broad-based stakeholder representation and negotiation. Download the infographic and post it on your wall as a daily reminder of what's needed or better yet, download our Product Ownership Health Check Guide.

Agile Team work

We must work as a team! Teamwork is critical! There’s no ‘I’ in team! These mantras are plentiful and many Agilists believe that success at the team level is the foundation to success at the organizational level. But what does it really mean to work as team and is there a common recipe to build and grow a successful agile team? Agile believes in principles before practices and in multi-disciplined, self-organizing teams. All teams need direction and guidance, but with an agile approach no one should be telling the team how to do their job. Teams need to be empowered to make choices rather than be told exactly what to do. But sometimes things can start to unravel and too much time and energy can be wasted arguing about the basics. You can forget about scaling agile if your team is unable to clearly demonstrate the value of agile at the team level. But, get the basics right at the team level and engaged, highly motivated, cross-functional teams of teams can follow.

5 Tenets of Fostering Sustainable Change

Change. This simple word has been used to create communities, build businesses, and promote adoption within a myriad of other actionable objectives. It is as common as the air we breathe and as revolutionary as any invention. Yet in all of its grandeur, it has incessantly stumped many businesses and individuals along the way. Software has taken a front seat in several organizations. It has become the core to any business, and change initiatives have sprouted and evolved to provide better solutions, be they faster, smarter or more affordable. Furthermore, for those organizations that adapt to change well and continue to sustain said changes and evolve over time, the rewards are exponential and in many cases, lasting. As new companies emerge in markets offering innovative solutions that can ultimately disrupt the market, those organization that cannot and or will not adapt and change, and perhaps more importantly, sustain change will lose. As a result, software development teams are adopting agile development techniques to shorten development times, decrease risk, all whilst developing solutions to become more responsive to the needs of the business.

This presentation was originally given as a webinar by Dean Leffingwell of Scaled Agile.

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