Be an Expert in a Year – Growing the Agile Way

The guys over at Expert Table Tennis had a great idea. What would it take to become an expert?

Dedication? Heart? Perseverance?

The Expert in a Year Challenge took part during 2014 and followed the progress of novice table tennis player Sam Priestley, as he attempted to go from beginner to expert in just one year and break into the top 250 players in England.

Sam (the subject of the experiment) has been playing recreational ‘ping-pong’ in his kitchen with his flatmates for a few months. He then decided to buy himself a table tennis robot to practice with. He then, with the help of his friend Ben Larcombe, started a challenge…

You can find the whole story here.

What I find most fascinating about this story is the fact that there is almost a universal truth in all of this: As we increase investment in experience, we will become (over time) more productive and efficient. 

This is at the heart of what we do here at Agile for All.

Agile for All Consulting Philosophy

  • Training – to start the agile adoption by setting up the framework which will be used. We like to teach Scrum as the basis, but we include many ideas from other agile processes and lean thinking.
  • Coaching – to cement the training into a permanently changed way of thinking and doing things.
  • Practice – continuously reinforcing the training with correct practices which lead to high quality results.
  • Patience – remembering that change takes time and also requires a settling of ideas into solid and repeatable patterns for the organization.

The practice and patience is where the organization is taking on all of the “hard work” in the sense that they must invest time in experience “being Agile” rather than just “doing Agile.”

I find, that one of the most powerful conversations I often have with people from all levels of an organization is around the art of possibility. Vision casting the (very much real) potential of the company to do great and extraordinary things.

It takes time, dedication, perseverance, and heart. The heart… that’s where we start.

Agile and Scrum training the Agile For All way

Take a moment to consider the last time you were in any sort of training environment. Were the tables set up “classroom style” so everyone faced forward in rows? Did the instructor read a lot of PowerPoint slides? Perhaps the room was even dark so everyone could see the PowerPoint better. Maybe you were lucky and you even had a workbook that was 500 pages long to go along with the training! <please feel free to gag at this point> Yes, we’ve all been there, and it’s horrible. It is one reason why many adults avoid any sort of educational opportunities – it’s just too horrible to ponder going through that again!

Well, people in our courses experience something completely different from what happens in a normal classroom. That didn’t happen by accident. [Read more…]

Life Change Starts with Clarity

Clarity starts with understanding YOU first... then the problem.

Clarity starts with understanding YOU first… then the problem.

There are moments where each one of us have wished for significant life change – this could be related to our current circumstances, our jobs, our vocations, our relationships, and even something about ourselves.

Our constant desire for improvement and life change is a natural consequence of being human as all of us desperately want to see forward momentum and progress. We want to see that “breakthrough” because there’s something within all of us that speaks to us deeply about how things today are not as good as they possibly could be.

As a result we’re willing to put ourselves at risk, to try new things and new relationships for the hope and the chance of obtaining that which we do not have yet but believe that we can have soon. That’s why the “self-help” and “self-improvement” industry is a billion dollar industry – in 2008 it was estimate that it would scale beyond $11 billion (and that was 4 years ago)!

Despite the changing economic tidal waves which we’ve all experienced the market is continuing to expand and grow. Although I’m not a fan of everything that I see sitting out on the shelves at your local Barnes and Noble I do encounter occasional gems that remind me why I love the industry that I’m a part of.

[Read more…]

The Value of Planning Together

Yes! I love hearing great stories like this from our clients and students!

Yes! I love hearing great stories like this from our clients and students!

If you’ve taken part in any of our Scrum classes, then you know we highly value the power of face-to-face communication. The emergent power of real-time collaboration allows us to uncover one of the most detrimental nuances of the work we do in software development: ASSUMPTION.

We begin with the idea from the Agile Manifesto (principle #5), which reminds us that,

“The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”

To be clear, at the end of the day, we can all readily agree that “the most efficient and effective method” … … IS face to face… so how do we deal with this in the real world? (And yes, I live there too…) [Read more…]

Viktor Frankl’s Meaning Triangle for Organizations

Viktor_Frankl2Viktor Frankl was an incredible human being, having survived the Holocaust and establishing logotherapy, a type of psychotherapy. His book, Man’s Search for Meaning, details his development of his theory around meaning and suffering.

And he was a student of suffering as he and his fellow prisoners walked through horrifying conditions. What he discovered, though, was how some of his colleagues were able to not only survive but grow in the process.

His conclusion – that the most basic human motivation is the will to meaning, and as Nietzsche put it,

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.

Frankl outlines further what he calls the “Meaning Triangle” as a way of processing the growth that some would face in seemingly hopeless circumstance: [Read more…]

3 Requirements for Creating a Culture of Leadership & Innovation

Innovation begins with the heart... the heart of leadership

Innovation begins with the heart… a heart of leadership

The Hay Group, a global management consulting firm, released their findings that identify which organizations have the best leadership practices and what we can learn from them.

According to Hay Group’s study, the Best Companies for Leadership create workplace environments and processes that enable innovation to thrive.

In fact, all of the Top 20 companies reported that their leaders regularly celebrate innovation, compared to just 49 percent of other companies.

But you knew that already right? The most fascinating discovery, though, is how this innovation is brought to light and attention and the management and flow of idea generation. You see, 90 percent of the Top 20 companies reported that if individuals have an excellent idea, they can bypass the chain of command without the threat of negative consequences, compared to only 63 percent of other companies.

Bypassing the “chain” of command without “negative” consequences is huge – does this cultural dynamic exist in your organization? Or do you face significant tension, roadblocks, or even discouragement when bringing attention to newer ideas?

[Read more…]

Splitting Stories in Chinese (or, 用户故事切分招数)

Thanks to Bob Jiang for the translation (with feedback from Evelyn Tian and Daniel Teng).


This poster is also available in English, French, German, Russian, and Spanish. You’re welcome to print copies for personal use.

For more information, see our story splitting resources page.

Running Agile at Home

Agile is merely a philosophy of how to change the way we think about delivering value. Powerful ideas have grown from the original philosophy, namely frameworks, like Scrum and Kanban.

Manufacturing, product development, service development, sales, marketing, and yes, even management can benefit from the ideas espoused from Agile. Having helped all sorts of companies use the backbone of Agile to help them transform their delivery mechanisms has been not only one of the most fun things to do as a career, but we can take this stuff home too!

[Richard Lawrence has written on this before: Agile Homeschool and Agile Homeschool Update]

How to Run Agile at Home

What you’ll need (oh yes, it’s that simple):

  • Wallspace for a wallboard
  • Stickies
  • Sharpies/Pens
  • Painters tape

What you’ll need to decide:

  • How complex you want your wallboard to be
  • How to begin introducing the idea to your spouse/kids

My experience:

We’ve been running Agile at home for many years now. Here is our first idea for my office years ago:


You see the Product Owner? She ENABLES me to do great work!

My wife loved the idea. She even made a wallboard for me immediately…

I always de-prioritize VAC & STEAMING the floors... because I hate doing it...

I always de-prioritize VAC & STEAMING the floors… because I hate doing it…

Benefits of Running Agile at Home

The power of running Agile at home are exactly the same of running Agile at a company level:

  • Overall transparency where work effort is going
  • Tracking progress in real-time (we use the terms “physical accountability“)
  • Focus time for work (no interruptions)
  • Organizational (family) alignment
  • Delivering highest-priority and highest-value first
  • Negotiating execution order (I lose willingly most of the time :)
  • Negotiating value

Running Agile with Your Kids

[Read more…]

On 2015 and Beyond!

Agile in 2015

AFA-LogoAs we look into 2015, there is a lot of excitement, a lot of opportunity, and a lot of fun ahead of us. I’m glad to be a part of it as I begin rolling into the Agile For All fold.

We have a lot of great stuff happening, obviously our retinue of services have now been bolstered by even more expertise and our service offerings will continue to grow for our current and future clients.

Here’s what you can expect from us moving into 2015:

Peter Saddington‘s Take on 2015


The Agile For All family planning for 2015!

I’m super excited for what 2015 will bring. For those that don’t know the newest addition to the wonderful Agile For All crew, you can find more information about me here in the Agile For All bio, and more here in an expanded version.

A couple of things I’m excited to bring into the fold:

  • Helping our clients understand the complexities of systems at scale. – Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you overlay scaled processes. This can (and often will) make the complex even more complex…
  • Bringing a deeper understanding of the sciences behind organizational agility, human capital, and cultural optimization.
  • Growing education in and within organizations – Kaizen (continual improvement) should be a business strategy, not just an afterthought.
  • And even more…

Let us know what you’d like to see, hear, or even experience as we continue to partner with many of you into 2015!

Thank you all! Here’s to a kick-booty 2015!

Why You’ll Want to Attend Humanizing Work 2015

Every year, we put on a conference just for agile practitioners who’ve been in one of our classes. Check out this 90 second video to see what makes the Humanizing Work Conference so special:

We hope you’ll join us at the next Humanizing Work Conference in July 2015. If you haven’t been in one of our classes yet, there are plenty of opportunities to attend a public CSM or CSPO, or contact us about a private Agile for Teams class for your organization.

Sign up for our conference newsletter to keep up with the latest news and to be notified when registration opens in January: