Announcing Mrs. Davis

For those of you that know me by more than iamagile or allpowerfulstephanie, my name it is a changin’ … I am now “Stephanie Davis” as a result of marrying the super, extraordinary Sean Davis.  Thank you and goodbye.


Testimonial Time: “Agile and I Know It!”

When I walk to the standup (yeah), this is what I see (ok)
Everybody stops and they staring at me
I got passion in my veins and I ain’t afraid to show it, show it, show it, show it

I’m Agile and I know it
I’m Agile and I know it

[Adapted from LMFAO "Sexy And I Know It"]

Remember how I told you about our Agile Enterprise efforts back in May?  Well, since then Agile has been spreading like a plague all over the enterprise.  I’ve compiled for you a collection of testimonials, if you will, from across the enterprise.  Keep in mind that none of these testimonials come from within IT where we first started Agile in October 2011.  These are all business-side folks beginning to apply Agile values, principles, and practices within their work lives and in some cases beyond.

 Our Strategic Partnerships team …

“Our team started with a Kanban  board and has progressed to Target Process for our pilot and syndication projects. Sydney also uses a personal Kanban board. We have  utilized the principles for other projects. For example Killian used a Kanban board for multiple teams to use to plan the Keep It Weird workshops for Coupon U.  Also the Diversity & Inclusion council has adopted the electronic version to keep track of committee projects.”

Our Marketing Research team …

“From Marketing Research, which includes the combined teams of the Category Research Center (CRC), GIS, List Data Services and Research Services:

  • Each team has a huddle daily or bi-weekly  to review roles/responsibilities for current and upcoming work efforts.
  • Three out of four teams have a  board that outlines current/upcoming projects and who has been assigned that they review during their huddle and update as needed throughout the week.”

Our Security team …

“Not only have we used the Kanban Boards as a way to give the Record Coordinators a way to organize and track their department’s progress during the Records & Information Management project, but we also created a spreadsheet that contains the same 8 steps, which tracks the overall project by department.  It is our Kanban Project Board.  This has made understanding next steps, next departments to start and overall project progress very easy… The Kanban boards, while a simple tool, are very visual and really do help track the progress of tasks and projects.

… I will admit that I shared this outside the company also.  I am the President of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Safety Council, and in a recent meeting with their Executive Director, I recommended they use Kanban boards for tracking the status of their strategic plans and all of its associated tasks.  Once I explained to her how this worked, she was very interested and we both felt this would improve engagement and awareness for her entire team.  It provides high visibility and can be used in conjunction with their regular update meetings provided by the various teams (similar to Scrum teams), which would be held at the Kanban Board.  Taking it to the community!”

Our National Sales team …

“The Sales Support Team gathers at the What’s Happening Right Now Kanban Board each day at 9:15 to discuss what is being worked on that day, and any impediments that may be slowing up progress.  Each Account Manager has been assigned a different color card. Each card represents a campaign that is being worked on.  Cards detail Client Name, Campaign Dates, Elements of the Campaign as well as Vertical.  Cards move horizontally across the board via the following lanes : Pre-campaign Activities, Contracting, Ready to Mail (or Deploy), Mailing/Deployed, and Post-Sale/Historical Reporting.

The team has been using the board since the beginning of June, and it has helped to open up the lines of communication not only between individuals on the team, but with others not on the team, but who may be wondering what the status of a current job may be.”

Our Manufacturing organization …

“The Operational Analyst team at the Valpak Manufacturing Center is using a Kanban board to prioritize, track and manage workload. We set the board up after collaborating with Cara on best practices and used some of her suggestions and made other enhancements specific to what we wanted. We used to use a list of tasks that needed to be done and would review it each month for progress. Progress was slow on some tasks and other items came up over the course of a month that were started and completed with very little planning. Once we completed the Kanban board and backlog cards, even using some volunteer kids from Take Your Son/Daughter To Work Day to help out, we had to analyze all the tasks on the backlog and prioritize them. The board made it easy to see the interaction between some of the tasks and dictated which ones rose to the top of the list. We’ve been using it for 4 months now and have found that is it helping the team stay focused on a few, important tasks at one time that get driven to completion faster than in the past. We still have items that come up unexpectedly, but now expedite those on the Kanban board for better tracking. Overall the Kanban board approach has worked well for our team giving visibility of the work coming up to the team and anyone else who wants to see it.”

“… the Collation team, as you mentioned, has switched to the Kanban for their CPI team which is on 2nd shift.  The 1st introduced it and then transferred it to them. In addition, the folding project that is underway is utilizing the Kanban (electronic) method also.  It is going well and they have adapted it to fit their needs.  Additional discussion are taking place on how other families may be able to incorporate it in their CPI teams.”


Valpak Agile Flyer … “Livin’ an Agile life”

My boss (CIO of Cox Target Media, Chris Cate) came looking for a one-page “media kit”, as he called it, to give to people interested in our Agile story.  This is what I came up with.  Any feedback is welcome!

Valpak Agile Flyer

 


Coming Down Off The Agile 2014 High

agile2014_banner_home

I’m just now finding time to blog after coming down off my Agile 2014 high.  In one word, Agile 2014 was filling … a week full of knowledge, introductions, and yes, food.  Oh, and I Tweeted my ass off!  I gained a few new followers and even met some old ones (although the guy that showed me my pic on his phone did kind of creep me out a bit).

I was thrilled to meet …

  • The Agile Alliance (Global) board as well as the Agile Alliance Brazil board (well, except Samuel who sadly couldn’t make it due to visa issues) … Very awesome people with good hearts and a strong passion for all that is Agile.
  • The man himself, Mike Cottmeyer of Leading Agile … Somewhere along the way he became somewhat of an Agile celebrity in my mind because he is such an up-and-coming thought leader in the space and I must have watched his “Blending Scrum and Kanban to Create an End-to-End Agile Enterprise” on loop when we were trying to figure out how to scale.  I’m even more thrilled that he is going to bring his Agile 2014 talk to the Tampa Bay Agile Meetup in October.
  • Mr Zombie Project Management, Derek Huether  … Finally!  We’ve been Twitter buddies for a while, but it was a long time coming to finally meet since we missed each other at Agile 2012 in Dallas.  I missed his talk on Personal Kanban on Friday, but I’m a firm believer that every time a Kanban goes up, an Agile gets its wings.
  • Diana Larsen, author, keynote speaker, and an altogether extraordinary human being … This woman knows how to have a good time!  I not only got to see her dance on stage and at the conference party, but I also got to spend a few quality moments, just her and I when we were waiting for the conference party.  Not to mention she co-authored the “Agile Retrospectives” book which has been an extremely good resource for getting us out of the retrospective rut.
  • 6 people from sister companies … Valpak is one of the many companies that are part of Cox Enterprise.  I was surprised to meet fellow Cox siblings from AutoTrader, Kelley Blue Book, and Manheim Auctions.  In fact, one of the Manheim Auctions guys actually gave a talk on Monday of the conference.

A few of the takeaways and observations I had from Agile 2014:

  • Apparently there is something called “naked planning” but you actually keep your clothes on … go figure!
  • I’m not crazy after all … WIP Limits at the Portfolio Kanban level are crazy-impossible.  Instead, I learned about something called “WIP Limits by Conversation” at Pawel Brodzinski’s talk on “Successful Evolutionary Change of Portfolio Management” which is essentially what we do here at Valpak (yeah, us!).
  • Commitment is still alive and well!
  • A common theme I heard was about the need for executives to get more engaged in Agile.   No, it’s not just that thing your teams do to be more productive … it is so much more!  Executives have an important role in Agile and it is about time they step up.
  • Apparently, SAFe is a 4-letter word to some folks; SAFe, as in Scaled Agile Framework.  The SAFe debate is hot right now! There was a lot of debate around whether or not SAFe is the Agile anti-Christ due to it’s very detailed structure.  I’m happy to say that I’ve taken a very pragmatic approach to implementing SAFe here at Valpak, as should everyone.  Use what you want and disregard the rest.  Do what works for you and your organization.  There is no one-size-fits-all Agile!  In fact, our implementation of scaled Agile is more a blend of SAFe and some Mike Cottmeyer inspirations.
  • There are indeed #womeninagile!  And, I’m happy to be one of them!  There was definitely a good showing of womankind at the conference.  I hope to see this continue and meet more of my fellow Agile sisters.
Even though you can't see it very well, that's me holding up my Agile 2014 badge that says "Board Member"

Even though you can’t see it very well, that’s me holding up my Agile 2014 badge that says “Board Member”

I can’t forget to mention the most awesome news of all! I was elected to the Agile Alliance Board of Directors for the 2015 to 2017 term.  After spending a week getting to know the rest of the board members, I know I have much to learn but I feel I have equally as much to contribute.  I am super excited for what the next few years will bring!  In fact, I’ve been jotting down ideas left and right and couldn’t help myself but pitch them now, even though my term doesn’t officially begin until January.   I’m on this train for 3 years, so this means I will definitely be seeing some of you at Agile 2015 in Washington DC.  Until then … May your Agile be fun and fulfilling!


Reflecting on Agile Open Florida

Stephanie Davis:

Mark summarizes the Agile Open Florida well. Can’t wait for next year!

Originally posted on A servant leader's lessons:

It’s been over 2 weeks since Agile Open Florida happened and I’m still buzzing with the possibilities of where Florida can go next.  Not only did we hold our first state-wide open space for agilists, but we were able to have one of my favorite OST facilitators, Ainsley Nies, hold the space for us.  Thank you Ainsley for your guidance in planning and your servant leadership in facilitating.  If you want to see photos and session notes, please go to http://agileopenflorida.com/2014-recap/

Ainsley Nies starts off Agile Open Florida - thanks to Dan Feldman for photo

Ainsley Nies starts off Agile Open Florida – thanks to Dan Feldman for photo

Me (orange volunteer shirt) with the SFAA agilists.

I also wanted to thank my co-organizers, Ryan Dorrell and Stephanie Stewart.  This was the first time Agile Orlando and Tampa Bay Agile collaborated on an event and I look forward to future opportunities.  I also want to thank members of the Agile Orlando community who…

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First Person Retrospective Idea

One of my Agile Project Leaders got creative and came up with special categories to use with with her Scrum team for their latest sprint retrospective.  She said it went over really well with the team.  Sharing with you all … feel free to borrow.

  • I should’ve…but I didn’t
  • I wanted to…but I couldn’t
  • I did…but I wish I didn’t
  • I wish I did…but I didn’t
  • I need help with…
  • Hey Man…thanks
  • Hey…Get off my back

Agile Open Florida 2014

Stephanie Davis:

Yes, Agile Open Florida 2014 was indeed a success! Thanks Ryan for posting your inspirational intro and summarizing the feedback.

Originally posted on ryan_dorrell:

The reviews are in – Agile Open Florida 2014 was a huge success!

I wanted to share my opening remarks that I made as we got started. I’m sharing these because I firmly believe in what I said, and wanted to repeat myself.

Welcome to the first ever Agile Open Florida! This is the first event of its kind in the state of Florida! I would like to begin by saying that I’m am thrilled to see so many people here today. If you are here today, it is because you value uncovering better ways of developing software, and want to help others do it. You are here because you value individuals and interactions. You value collaboration. You value continuous improvement. And you value community. Our industry is special. Software is everywhere. It runs our transportation, our commerce, our health care. Nearly everything we touch today has software in it…

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