Troubleshooting Agile

Troubleshooting Agile

www.conversationaltransformation.com/troubleshooting-agile-podcast
Troubleshooting Agile is a problem-solving sessio…


Fear: The Original Sin of Unproductive Conversations
Jun 3 • 18 min
We’re up to chapter 4 of Agile Conversations: “Fear: The Default Feeling”. We look at why defaulting to fear was a successful adaptation for our ancestors and why it serves us poorly now, for example leading to the phenomenon of “greenshifting” that can…
A Sense of Security, Gained & Lost
May 27 • 17 min
We reflect on chapter 3 of Agile Conversations, all about building trust as the first step to a successful agile team. We respond to a reader who had an interesting understanding of the “Test-Driven Development for People” technique and relate the Trust…
How To Improve and Why You Won’t
May 20 • 18 min
Continuing our tour of our new book Agile Conversations, we come to our chapter on the foundational method for conversational analysis, the Four Rs. We briefly explain the value of conversational analysis, and share our observation that even highly…
Software Factory to Feature Factory
May 13 • 20 min
The first chapter of Agile Conversations is all about people-centred development, and we tell the story of our own journey from over-determined software factory to today’s feature factories, with similar Taylorist theories of management in both. In…
Project to Product with Mik Kersten
May 11 • 25 min
Once again we speak with a fellow author - Mik Kersten. His book Project to Product explains, among many other things, why you shouldn’t assign developers to more than one value stream—and what a value stream is, anyway! SHOW LINKS: - Mik Kersten:…
The Road to Agile Conversations
May 6 • 30 min
Our book Agile Conversations is nearly out (publication date is 12 May 2020)! We reflect on how we struggled with agile adoption and accountability in our teams and how we learnt to study and improve our conversations to get dramatically better results…
Team Topologies
Apr 29 • 23 min
We reach into the archives for an interview with Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais, authors of the definitive guide to optimizing software team structures: Team Topologies. SHOW LINKS: - Team Topologies book: https://teamtopologies.com/ - Webinar:…
The Cultural Negotiator
Apr 22 • 28 min
We welcome a guest today - Mark Davis, the Cultural Negotiator. He uses a “cultural intelligence framework” to suggest how one might approach difficult negotiations with customers and team members, in a way that is sensitive to their values and…
Pandemic Productivity
Apr 15 • 27 min
What we’re doing these days is not “remote working”—we have people ill, kids at home, and no option to work from a cafe. But even more than this, most of us haven’t put in place alignment and accountability mechanisms, and we’re operating on shared…
Missing Affordances for Remote Working
Apr 8 • 27 min
Switching to remote working means big shifts in the communication patterns of our teams, and the tools we use to do that make some things harder and others easier—they have different “affordances”. We explore these differences and suggest strategies for…
Active Listening for Remote Working
Apr 1 • 26 min
Active Listening is very useful for normal conversations and meetings, but even more valuable when everyone’s remote. We describe the technique, give listeners a chance to practise it, and give refinements like the Active Listening Relay for group…
Cynefin: Sense-Making in a Time of Turmoil
Mar 26 • 31 min
With a pandemic raging around the world, how can you and your agile team make sense of the world around you and adjust accordingly? The Cynefin framework gives you a way to categorise known and unknown information and figure out how to approach and change…
Do Release On Fridays
Mar 18 • 19 min
When a client tells Squirrel “of course there are no releases on Fridays”, it’s a red rag to a bull. After Squirrel rants for a bit, he calms down and we argue strongly for releasing often, even when it hurts—in fact particularly when it’s difficult!—to…
Gaining Emotional Awareness
Mar 11 • 25 min
Following up from last week, we propose some ways to become emotionally aware, which we argue again is a key skill for success in an agile team. We suggest enriching your feeling vocabulary, self-distancing through disciplined recording of your…
Walking the Line: Emotional Unawareness
Mar 4 • 26 min
Prompted by a listener, we look at a tool from Jim Dethmer called The Line. This leads us to discuss the value of being emotionally self-aware with a variety of examples from our recent consulting practise and bringing in several tools for increasing this…
Measuring Teams
Feb 26 • 16 min
How do you know if a software team is any good? How can you compare teams and the commercial value they are producing? And what are metrics good for anyway? We discuss these, especially the latter, concluding that metrics are triggers for questions not…
Multi-Sprint Stories
Feb 19 • 25 min
A listener asks us what to do when a story takes longer than one sprint. Our suggestions involve turpentine, slicing elephants and walking skeletons. SHOW LINKS: - Story splitting: https://agileforall.com/new-story-splitting-resource/ - Elephant…
Big Bang Badness
Feb 12 • 14 min
We tell the story of a company demanding that developers finish a huge project “so they can test it just once”, and then explain why this is only a good idea if you intend to shield yourself from all learning. SHOW LINKS: - The Goal:…
Escaping the Room of Pain
Feb 5 • 14 min
Squirrel tells the story of the most painful manual testing experience he’s ever been part of, and we discuss the value of manual testing, how humans differ from machines, and approaches to application verification that don’t involve torture. SHOW LINKS:…
Handling Constraints
Jan 29 • 11 min
Squirrel’s client is struggling to deliver because product managers are a bottleneck. The Theory of Constraints gives us a framework for addressing these problems - and typing faster or adding developers are not part of the solution! SHOW LINKS: - The…
Withholding Information
Jan 22 • 16 min
No matter how safe you make your retrospectives and other discussions, if your team don’t have the skills to share information, you’re running a substantial risk that someone will withhold information and you’ll make a less than informed decision. We…
DevOps for the Modern Enterprise
Jan 15 • 23 min
We talk to Mirco Hering about agile dogmatism, the value of diversity, how to experiment with your processes, using stories to drive change, and his book Devops for the Modern Enterprise. SHOW LINKS: - Crossing the Chasm:…
Conversational Transformations - Las Vegas
Jan 8 • 30 min
A special episode - audio of our talk on “conversational transformation” at the Las Vegas Devops Enterprise Summit. Practical steps you can take today to get your team on track to a successful digital/agile/devops transformation, using effective if…
Non-Functional Requirements - From Rant to Agreement
Jan 1 • 33 min
After Squirrel argued passionately in a previous episode that non-functional requirements should be eliminated, we invite medtech expert and portfolio CTO Alex Hudson to visit and describe why he finds NFRs helpful. It turns out that the two positions are…
Staying Agile Over the Holidays
Dec 25, 2019 • 14 min
We review our holiday reading and watching plans for listeners who might want to join us in exploring lean and agile ideas over the break. We also list our top 5 episodes from 2019 and preview a few events planned for 2020. SHOW LINKS: - Ed Catmull on…
Nonfunctional Requirements Considered Harmful - A Rant
Dec 18, 2019 • 19 min
Squirrel gets hot under the collar about non-functional “requirements”, and after he gets his rant off his chest, we discover NFRs are all too often just excuses to avoid a conversation. In addition, we touch on the “ilities”, security, and ethical…
War and Peace and IT
Dec 11, 2019 • 22 min
Mark Schwartz, author of War and Peace and IT, describes his experience in the CIO trenches, where low trust between “the business” and IT bogs the organisation down in lengthy acquisition processes and contract negotiations rather than delivering…
Making Output Visible
Dec 4, 2019 • 19 min
Last week, Domenica DeGrandis talked with us about making work visible. Today, we distinguish that idea from a related one, that of making your *output* visible. How can your team show its results frequently? What symptoms indicate that this might help…
Making Work Visible with Dominica DeGrandis
Nov 27, 2019 • 24 min
Sunday is the new Monday, and that’s a bad thing - says our guest today, Dominica DeGrandis, author of Making Work Visible. How can you move from default yes to an effective, smooth flow of work? Dominica addresses this question while touching on queueing…
The Bozo Bit and Duelling Ladders
Nov 20, 2019 • 17 min
Have you ever “flipped the bozo bit” on someone, concluding that he or she is completely clueless and communication is hopeless? We tell some tales of bozo bits we’ve seen flipped, describe some causes and consequences including the idea of “duelling…
John Willis on DevOps Past, Present, and Future - Part II
Nov 13, 2019 • 18 min
Today we finish our conversation with author, podcaster, and DevOps expert John Willis https://twitter.com/botchagalupe . John covers a wide variety of topics at lightning speed, including: SHA - a hash algorithm, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SHA-1…
John Willis on DevOps Past, Present, and Future - Part I
Nov 6, 2019 • 20 min
Today we speak to author, podcaster, and DevOps expert John Willis https://twitter.com/botchagalupe . John covers a wide variety of topics at lightning speed, including: SHA - a hash algorithm, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SHA-1 CAB - Change Advisory…
Feature Factory Revisited: Lower WIP
Oct 30, 2019 • 14 min
Listener Jamie let us know about a sequel to one of our favourite blog posts, John Cutler on the Feature Factory. We focus on just one of John’s well-made points, the idea of lowering Work In Progress to improve throughput. We tell a story about on “death…
Conversational Transformation
Oct 23, 2019 • 21 min
Our new book is all about what people miss in their digital/agile/lean/devops transformations: cultural changes that underlie human-centred development and the conversations that can lead you to those changes. Inspired by the book Accelerate!, we look at…
Agile is Dead, Long Live Agile
Oct 16, 2019 • 20 min
Alistair Cockburn gets us thinking about how agile methods are spreading, even to non-software teams like sales. Further, we bring in the idea of Wardley Mapping to see how, ironically, this very spread can lead to the conclusion that agile development is…
Scoring Briefing and Back Briefing
Oct 9, 2019 • 18 min
Following on further from Avery Pennarun’s intriguing article on “what executives do”, we ask how, exactly, executives (and others!) can trigger action, if they are not themselves going to carry it out? It turns out we’ve covered our favourite technique…
What Are Leaders Good For, Anyway?
Oct 2, 2019 • 18 min
We respond to an intriguing and dense article from Avery Pennarun about what executives do. He takes us back to Andy Grove’s classic High Output Management and we reflect on the leverage leaders can use, how they and their staff can fool themselves into…
Ryan Singer on Basecamp and Shape Up, Part III
Sep 25, 2019 • 26 min
We conclude our conversation with Ryan Singer, Head of Strategy at Basecamp and author of Shape Up, by asking him how the team functions without requiring code reviews or QA checks. Then he goes on to describe in detail their “hill” metaphor for progress…
Ryan Singer on Basecamp and Shape Up, Part II
Sep 18, 2019 • 29 min
We continue chatting with Ryan Singer, Head of Strategy at Basecamp and author of Shape Up. Ryan explains the “shaping” and “betting” processes in more detail, including who does the various roles and what is crucial to get right when you set up a…
Ryan Singer on Basecamp and Shape Up, Part I
Sep 11, 2019 • 20 min
We start our conversation with Ryan Singer, Head of Strategy at Basecamp, by asking him to help us understand how their Shape Up process works and how they developed it. He explains how the fear of not shipping drove their movement to frequent delivery of…
Mining for Conflict
Sep 4, 2019 • 13 min
Squirrel adds to last week’s story, describing how being transparent and curious helped him uncover a conflict that helped lead to insight and better alternatives. SHOW LINKS: - The HiPPO effect:…
Boosting Emotional Signals
Aug 28, 2019 • 14 min
Squirrel tells a story in which digging for emotional signals helps a technical team find alternatives to an arbitrary-looking initiative. Jeffrey explains how nonviolent communication provides a framework for seeking emotional understanding first. SHOW…
What is Agile, Anyway?
Aug 21, 2019 • 16 min
We saw last week how inflexible implementation killed checklists at hospitals - and the same disease affects agile development, we’ve found. Do you think there’s a single “recipe” for agile, like our friends at Basecamp who claim they’re not agile because…
Troubleshooting Checklists
Aug 14, 2019 • 23 min
Troubleshooting Checklists Checklists are a great way to capture learning in any organisation, but sometimes they don’t work - why not? A recent study of hospitals with varying levels of success in adopting checklists helps us reflect on similar adoption…
Meltdown, Part IV
Aug 7, 2019 • 12 min
Our first interview ever! We welcome to the studio Chris Clearfield, co-author of Meltdown, a book all about system failure and the reasons for it. Chris explains ideas like tight coupling (not the OO kind!) and system complexity, and we explore how they…
Meltdown, Part III
Jul 31, 2019 • 16 min
Our first interview ever! We welcome to the studio Chris Clearfield, co-author of Meltdown, a book all about system failure and the reasons for it. Chris explains ideas like tight coupling (not the OO kind!) and system complexity, and we explore how they…
Meltdown, Part II
Jul 24, 2019 • 19 min
Our first interview ever! We welcome to the studio Chris Clearfield, co-author of Meltdown, a book all about system failure and the reasons for it. Chris explains ideas like tight coupling (not the OO kind!) and system complexity, and we explore how they…
Meltdown, Part I
Jul 17, 2019 • 26 min
Our first interview ever! We welcome to the studio Chris Clearfield, co-author of Meltdown, a book all about system failure and the reasons for it. Chris explains ideas like tight coupling (not the OO kind!) and system complexity, and we explore how they…
Software for Humans
Jul 10, 2019 • 33 min
This week, Jeffrey and Squirrel discuss the history of “software for humans”, the agile, lean, and devops movements. No links this week as the book deadline looms, but feel free to ask us if you can’t find a reference. Normal service will resume shortly!…
Learning Through Action
Jul 3, 2019 • 16 min
A listener question about running a Troubleshooting Agile study group inspires advice on keeping your learning from becoming lunchtime entertainment, as well as surprisingly relevant stories about a pottery class, a management seminar, and the Israeli…
Greenshifting
Jun 26, 2019 • 16 min
The engineers know the project is in terrible trouble, but the executives think it’s going great. This “greenshifting” anti-pattern occurs at NASA, software companies, and everywhere in between. We tell a few related stories, including a fable, and…
Predictability - Productivity Axis
Jun 19, 2019 • 19 min
You can invest a lot of your time in making your software delivery predictable (a la NASA) or in making your team productive (a la early stage startups). Which is best? We introduce the idea of a “tilted slider” to explain this tradeoff, and the “gravity”…
Learning Faster by Failing More
Jun 12, 2019 • 15 min
How are you briefing your team? What measurements are you using to help them learn? Today, we discuss cases where giving the team incentives to make more mistakes produces positive results, and others where urging them to make fewer is catastrophic. SHOW…
Briefing and Back Briefing
Jun 5, 2019 • 19 min
Today we describe a technique for avoiding micromanagement and promoting autonomy - first pioneered by the Prussian military! We describe how briefing and back briefing help Boeing build airplanes and how the method increases efficiency and reduces drama…
Why Can’t We Ship Today?
May 29, 2019 • 18 min
Today we relate three great stories we heard or told at CITCON in Ghent, all starting with different answers to Jeffrey’s question, “Why can’t we ship that today?” The answers lead us to different suggestions for helping teams to move faster and get…
Values of the Give Up Control Model
May 22, 2019 • 17 min
After the Mutual Learning and Unilateral Control models, this week we examine one more model for working with your team, perhaps the easiest: giving up! This one feels the best, since everyone is involved and gets to express his or her feelings. But…
Values of the Unilateral Control Model
May 15, 2019 • 19 min
After our series on mutual learning values, we look at those of an alternative, the Unilateral Control Model, which match our default behaviour but don’t normally lead to the type of learning your team is probably looking for. We look at why convincing…
Mutual Learning Model: Accountability and Compassion
May 8, 2019 • 23 min
Third in our series on using the Mutual Learning Model to improve your agile team. We look at accountability as a frightening prospect and as a route to ease at work (thanks Kent Beck). Then we consider how you might benefit from compassion - not only for…
Mutual Learning Model: Transparency and Curiosity
May 1, 2019 • 18 min
Agile teams do better, we find, when they are transparent (“here’s what I did last sprint”) and curious (“what business problem are you trying to solve?”). Most people we meet claim they are both transparent and curious in their conversations and…
Mutual Learning Model: Informed Choice
Apr 24, 2019 • 17 min
First of a series on using the Mutual Learning Model to get better results in your agile team. Today, why informed choice can help us avoid mistakes as minor as missing a requirement or as major as launching a rocket with a fatal flaw. SHOW LINKS: - The…
Meeting “The Business”
Apr 17, 2019 • 13 min
When your team talks about “what the business wants”, do they know who they mean? Do they have evidence for the wishes of this amorphous group? It’s impossible to negotiate with an undefined entity, but we offer some not-too-surprising ideas for making…
Triggers and Tells
Apr 9, 2019 • 14 min
Triggers and Tells We explain how to use observations of your own and others’ behaviour to understand how to improve your conversations and get better agile results! SHOW LINKS: - Previous episode on learning from observations:…
“Why” Is a Trigger, Not a Question
Apr 3, 2019 • 12 min
In response to Michael Bolton’s comment on last week’s episode, we discuss genuine questions, reminding yourself to be curious, and converting your internal “why” to a more constructive question. SHOW LINKS: - Tweets from Michael Bolton and Brian Deyo:…
What comes after why?
Mar 27, 2019 • 20 min
What Happens After Why Last week we explained how asking the simple question “why?” can help you make big improvements in your agile team - and this week we prove it, with two examples from Jeffrey. In one case his company landed a big client, and in the…
Becoming Mr. Why
Mar 20, 2019 • 13 min
In which we meet Squirrel’s client Mr. Why, who wants to know the reasoning behind requests he gets but never actually asks, and we describe how this pattern holds back agile teams and how to break out of it. Surprisingly, lawyers feature prominently in…
Learning through Case Studies: The 4 Rs
Mar 12, 2019 • 24 min
Last week we emphasised the importance of practise to help you have better agile conversations and negotiations, and this week we describe two ways to practise - Argyris’s two-column case studies and Dr. Burns’s relationship journal - and a framework to…
The Value of Learning to Talk
Mar 6, 2019 • 19 min
Today, we explain that when you learn a new skill - whether it’s playing the piano, kitesurfing across a lake, or negotiating with others inside and outside your agile team - it’s vital to practise to develop your abilities. Don’t jump onto the double…
Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Your Brain
Feb 27, 2019 • 18 min
Your brain has two halves - not called left and right, but System 1 and System 2. Today we explain how these two halves of your own brain wind up fooling you and your team into believing things like “New York decided to do this”, “customers don’t want…
A Tale of Two Change Models Part II: Getting Better by Getting Worse
Feb 20, 2019 • 14 min
The agile principles talk about empowerment and autonomy, but do we have to make a complete switch from our current centralised-decision culture to a fully autonomous one? The Satir curve, six thinking hats, and a theory of Tic Tac change (really!) from…
A Tale of Two Change Models Part I: The Uncanny Valley of Theory X
Feb 13, 2019 • 16 min
Theory X organisations don’t trust their people - or do they? To be agile we have to move our organisations to a Theory Y model with empowerment and autonomy - or do we? Organisational change has to be painful - or does it? And what does all this have to…
Greatest Hits : Engagement and Joy in Agile Teams
Feb 6, 2019 • 24 min
Due to illness and travel, Jeffrey and Squirrel present one of their greatest hits of the past! *** Squirrel and Jeffrey look at a recent article by Luke Tomas on the “employee engagement industry” (we didn’t even know it *was* an industry!) Jeffrey…
How to Detect Agile BS - Part 2
Jan 30, 2019 • 14 min
The US Defense Department (yes, the huge bureaucratic government body) recently released a brief and readable guide to troubleshooting your agile team. We have a look at three more of its key recommendations for figuring out whether you’re agile team is…
How to Detect Agile BS - Part 1
Jan 23, 2019 • 14 min
The US Defense Department (yes, the huge bureaucratic government body) recently released a brief and readable guide to troubleshooting your agile team. We have a look at three of its six key recommendations for figuring out whether you’re agile team isn’t…
From Agreement To Action
Jan 16, 2019 • 18 min
Once you’ve been vocally critical and identified areas to improve in your agile team, what next? “We should” too often turns into “We won’t”, so good intentions aren’t enough. Jeffrey tells the story of teaching TDD and the tools he learnt and developed…
Earning Trust at Amazon
Jan 9, 2019 • 13 min
Inspired by a listener comment, we look at one of Amazon’s leadership principles, which describes how leaders are expected to earn trust in that organisation. It seems to us that the principle lays the foundation for effective psychological safety for the…
Overcoming Normalisation of Deviance
Jan 2, 2019 • 17 min
In our one-year anniversary episode, we start with a story about “flickering” tests and generalise to look at the idea of normalisation of deviance. We suggest that psychological safety lets you hear from those who see the deviance but aren’t speaking up,…
Be Predictable to Build Trust
Dec 26, 2018 • 14 min
We’ve been talking about building trust in agile teams by aligning your stories; an important ingredient for this is being predictable, so others can believe you actually have a story they can align with. We tell an extended story about a developer with a…
The Sit-Down Standup and Other Woes
Dec 19, 2018 • 11 min
We answer a listener question about standups for feature teams, but we think the problem is actually a larger one of disengagement. A common symptom is people sitting down for their standup (oxymoron alert!) We recommend some ways to overcome…
Introspection with the Ladder of Inference
Dec 12, 2018 • 22 min
Last time we talked about sharing reasoning and building trust in your agile team using TDD for People, one way to use the Ladder of Inference. Today we look at how the Ladder can help you discover your own reasoning as well, to discover ways to promote…
Test-Driven Development for People
Dec 5, 2018 • 24 min
As promised, we start describing our favourite trust-building technique: the Ladder of Inference. Our take this week is on using the Ladder to understand someone else’s reasoning and align your stories, creating trust as a foundation for further…
The First Thing to Build is Trust
Nov 28, 2018 • 17 min
We start previewing the ideas in our forthcoming book on using conversations to improve your agile results. First up: why you need trust before you do anything else (including hold a standup, write unit tests, or move your desks together). Next week, a…
How to Fail by Acting Unilaterally - Part V
Nov 21, 2018 • 15 min
We cap our five-part series on undermining your agile team with the pinnacle of ineffective behaviour: the belief that you are not contributing to the problem. Inaccurate estimates, useless meetings, directionless standups - so long as you’re sure all…
How to Fail by Acting Unilaterally - Part IV
Nov 14, 2018 • 14 min
Why listen to team members and peers when your feelings and behaviours are obviously justified? We continue our how-to series on undermining your agile team with two stories about people who, believing they are clearly correct about how to improve their…
How to Fail by Acting Unilaterally - Part III
Nov 7, 2018 • 14 min
Another in our top tips for ensuring your agile team does not achieve its goals - assume you have pure motives and others are actively malicious. We describe several helpful biases that, if adopted, can help you take up this mindset, and describe a…
How to Fail by Acting Unilaterally - Part II
Oct 31, 2018 • 16 min
More this week on ways to fail with agile by making unilateral assumptions - this week’s tip is to believe you are right and everyone else is wrong. In fact, even the underlying assumption that there is a single right answer should get you a long way to…
How to Fail by Acting Unilaterally - Part I
Oct 24, 2018 • 11 min
Turning our usual subject on its head, this week we start a short series on how to make sure your team does NOT improve. The first assumption to this end: the belief that you understand the situation while others don’t. The change that’s needed is…
Engagement and Joy in Agile Teams
Oct 17, 2018 • 23 min
Squirrel and Jeffrey look at a recent article by Luke Tomas on the “employee engagement industry” (we didn’t even know it *was* an industry!) Jeffrey rapidly links this to Brian Marick’s idea of Ease and Joy at work and we all agree that engagement,…
The Post-It Factory Game
Oct 10, 2018 • 11 min
A Squirrel-only show since Jeffrey’s away. Squirrel described the Post-It Factory Game which illustrates both work-in-progress limits and the more general notion of “Throughput over Utilisation” - as well as making your colleagues fall over themselves…
Fowler’s State of Agile - Part Three
Oct 3, 2018 • 25 min
Last (for now) in our series responding to Martin Fowler’s State of Agile 2018 speech. This week we look at Fowler’s third claim - that software projects should be replaced by software products - and go further, arguing that organising around user…
Fowler’s State of Agile - Part Two
Sep 26, 2018 • 25 min
We continue our series responding to Martin Fowler’s State of Agile 2018 speech. This week we look at Fowler’s second claim - that agile software development has forgotten that it’s about software, and that technical excellence in practises like…
Fowler’s State of Agile 2018 - Part One
Sep 19, 2018 • 24 min
Martin Fowler gives us lots to chew on in the form of a speech on the state of agile software development in 2018. We start a series responding to Fowler by examining the Agile Industrial Complex - proponents of the “one true way” of agile development and…
Learning Vs Design
Sep 12, 2018 • 20 min
A listener asks us how we reconcile the perceived conflict between learning and design - if you’re iterating fast, how can you also build solid, scalable architecture? With examples from OO and Domain-Driven Design, we describe how early agile adopters…
Ways to Learn Continued: Capturing Learning with Checklists
Sep 5, 2018 • 27 min
Once you have a bunch of great ideas from your reflection, how can you make sure you and your team actually use what you’ve learnt? We illustrate several variations on one of our favourite learning-capture methods, the humble checklist - including…
Ways to Learn Continued: Pre-Planned Actions
Aug 29, 2018 • 14 min
We continue our mini-series on how to learn by considering ways to realise your learning - that is, how to convert what you’ve learnt (say, from a retrospective) into changed behaviour. We discuss how and why to create pre-planned actions in response to…
Types of Reflection Part 2: Double loop learning
Aug 15, 2018 • 24 min
Second of two episodes on reflection. We often say that learning is horrible and suggest you do it anyway - but how exactly can you learn? We use a model from Chris Argyris - single-loop and double-loop learning - and concentrate today on the double-loop…
Types of Reflection Part 1: Single loop learning
Aug 15, 2018 • 21 min
First of two episodes on reflection. We often say that learning is horrible and suggest you do it anyway - but how exactly can you learn? We use a model from Chris Argyris - single-loop and double-loop learning - and concentrate today on the single-loop…
Learning from “You Don’t Need Standup”
Aug 8, 2018 • 20 min
We have a look at Jason Palmer’s “You Don’t Need Standup” with a mutual learning, curious attitude. What can we learn from Jason? What information does he have that we don’t? Where do we agree with him? We conclude that indeed some teams may be better off…
Alignment Coda
Aug 1, 2018 • 19 min
A few more thoughts on alignment, inspired by a list of “XP Mistakes” from the great J. B. Rainsberger. We look at some of the antipatterns and lessons learnt and, as usual, tell a few of our own stories about mistakes we’ve made and observed. SHOW LINKS:…
Objections to Alignment
Jul 25, 2018 • 24 min
The final episode of our mini-series on achieving alignment. We list five different objections we hear to the goals or process of alignment, and suggest ways to address them. We also tell a success story based on achieving alignment. SHOW LINKS: - Theory…
Steps to Alignment
Jul 18, 2018 • 19 min
Episode 3 of our mini-series on achieving alignment. This week, we finally explain some methods for aligning with your team, your boss, or your peers. Methods include Test-Driven Development for People (aka the Ladder of Inference) and a creative use of…
Alignment and Resistance Part 2: Obstacles to Alignment
Jul 11, 2018 • 19 min
Our next instalment on alignment as a tool for agile success. If alignment is as valuable as we claimed in the previous episode, why doesn’t every organisation have it? We use ideas from Dr. David Burns to classify resistance to alignment into “outcome”…
Alignment and Resistance Part 1: Why Alignment Matters
Jul 4, 2018 • 22 min
Today, the first instalment of a little series on a big problem affecting agile teams: alignment. What does it mean when your team or company isn’t aligned? How does misalignment show itself and what effects does it have on your progress? Jeffrey and…
Setting Goals in a Kanban Team
Jun 27, 2018 • 16 min
How do you provide focus and drive for a team using kanban? There’s no natural “sprint” unit to hang a goal on, it seems. Jeffrey and Squirrel answer this listener question and explain how to create a product narrative, avoid the feature factory, and…
The Frustration of Learning
Jun 20, 2018 • 14 min
This week, Jeffrey and Squirrel address a common frustration: “With all these retrospectives and planning games, when do we actually get some work done?” They cover single and double loop learning, the mundanity of excellence, and how to avoid learning in…
What Agile Practises Have We Left Behind
Jun 13, 2018 • 24 min
This week, Jeffrey and Squirrel answer a question from CruiseControl founder Paul Julius about what agile practises they’ve left behind. Surprising answers include iterations, predictability, and planning. SHOW LINKS: - PJ: http://www.pauljulius.com/ -…
Design in an Agile Team
Jun 6, 2018 • 16 min
This week, Jeffrey and Squirrel help a listener with the role of design and architecture in an agile team. The answer involves arcane-sounding but fun concepts like elephant carpaccio, evolutionary design, and YAGNI. SHOW LINKS: - YAGNI:…
Learning by Failing
May 30, 2018 • 12 min
This week, Jeffrey and Squirrel look at how to learn new skills in your agile team or elsewhere, and recommend frequent failure as a useful heuristic. SHOW LINKS: - Graham Lee blog post:…
Roadmap to Improving Agile Skills
May 23, 2018 • 15 min
This week, Jeffrey and Squirrel describe some of the methods they used to improve their own skills in implementing and troubleshooting agile methods. They describe techniques from rubber ducking to doppelgängers. Enjoy! SHOW LINKS: - CITCON:…
Removing the Blame Frame
May 16, 2018 • 14 min
This week, Jeffrey and Squirrel discuss how to avoid blame - adopting a frame of ownership or problem-solving is a useful concrete action to try to achieve this - and tell a story about replacing one problem with a much bigger one to achieve team…
Dealing With Deadlines
May 8, 2018 • 17 min
This week, Jeffrey and Squirrel each tell a story about how teams they’ve worked with handled deadlines. SHOW LINKS: - The 12 Agile Principles: http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html - Theory X and Theory Y:…
An Agile Hero’s Journey
May 2, 2018 • 24 min
This week, Jeffrey and Squirrel are on the road at CITCON Vienna, interviewing Lydia Tripp about her journey through a wide variety of agile software development teams and her evolving approach to improving delivery and quality. SHOW LINKS: -The 12 Agile…
Agile Outside Software Teams
Apr 25, 2018 • 10 min
This week, Jeffrey and Squirrel are on the road at CITCON Vienna, interviewing participants about how they use agile techniques and principles outside development. SHOW LINKS: -The 12 Agile Principles: http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html -CITCON:…
Finding the Motivation to Learn - & Stay Agile
Apr 16, 2018 • 18 min
In this week’s podcast we move on to the final Agile Principle, number 12: “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.” The hard truth is that learning is horrible. It means…
The Squirrel Test
Apr 10, 2018 • 12 min
This week we take a short break from the Agile Principles to discuss The Squirrel Test - 12 questions to help founders improve their scale-up company’s performance. We also find out if Squirrel, in creating the test, has practiced what he’s preached…
Inspire a Mutiny and Become a Self-Organizing Agile Team
Apr 3, 2018 • 27 min
In this week’s Podcast we’re on to the penultimate Agile Principle, number 11: ‘The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.’ Amongst much more, we discuss: -How what should actually constitute a team is the sharing…
The Art of Agile Simplicity
Mar 27, 2018 • 14 min
We’re on to Agile Principle 10 this week: “Simplicity - the art of maximizing the amount of work not done - is essential.” In comparison to the dark old days when the Agile Manifesto was written, the way projects are simplified and broken down seems a…
Enhancing Agility Through Technical Excellence and Good Design
Mar 20, 2018 • 21 min
This week on the Troubleshooting Agile podcast it’s Agile Principle 9: “Continued attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.” The dark old days of big up-front design may send shivers down the spine, but the Lean Startup ‘move…
Indefinite Sustainable Pace Vs Crunch Time Cramming
Mar 13, 2018 • 15 min
In this week’s episode of Troubleshooting Agile we are on to Agile Principle 8: “Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.” Drawing on sport psychology, Al…
Working Software is the Primary Measure of Progress
Mar 6, 2018 • 17 min
It’s Episode 9 of the Troubleshooting Agile podcast! This week we’re discussing Agile Principle 7: “Working software is the primary measure of progress.” Some of the topics we cover are: -The importance of “moving past the ‘phase model’ or the…
Efficiency & Effectiveness Through Face-to-Face Conversation
Feb 27, 2018 • 22 min
In Episode 8 of Troubleshooting Agile it’s Agile Principle 6: “The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.” A few of the things we discuss: -The pros and cons of different…
Motivating Individuals and Trusting Your Agile Team
Feb 20, 2018 • 23 min
This week, in Episode 7 of Troubleshooting Agile, we discuss Agile Principle Number 5: “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.” Talking points this week include:…
Agile Principle 4: Business & Developers Working Together Daily
Feb 13, 2018 • 19 min
In Episode 6 of Troubleshooting agile we talk about the Fourth Agile Principle: ‘Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.’ Some of the topics discussed are: -Why this is the only principle containing the word MUST.…
Delivering Working Software Frequently & Continuously
Feb 6, 2018 • 24 min
In episode 5 of Troubleshooting Agile we discuss the Third Agile Principle: ‘Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.’ Evolution in our thinking, since the Agile…
Embracing Change & Maximising Validated Learning
Jan 30, 2018 • 26 min
In this episode Squirrel and Jeffrey discuss the Second Agile Principle: ‘Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.’ We hear how the principle is closely related to…
The First Agile Principle: Delivering Fully
Jan 23, 2018 • 19 min
In this third episode of Troubleshooting Agile, Squirrel and Jeffrey take a look at the first of the 12 Agile Principles: “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.” As Jeffrey point out,…
The Importance of the Agile Principles
Jan 17, 2018 • 11 min
In episode 2 of Troubleshooting Agile, Squirrel and Jeffrey look at what to do when you’ve adopted good agile practices but are not seeing good business outcomes; how the most beautiful kanban board on earth doesn’t necessarily mean results; and why the…
The Blameless Postmortem Approach
Jan 1, 2018 • 7 min
In this week’s podcast Jeffrey tells us a story about the dangers of blaming human error in the workplace, and we discuss root cause analysis, the blameless postmortem approach and how these are essential components in building productive systems and a…