We all talk about working ourselves out of a job, but do we ever really do it? I did! I’m excited to announce that effective April 1st, I will no longer be with Catalina Marketing as their Executive Director of the Enterprise Agility Office. In my 2 years with them, I built an awesome team (truly my dream team), established the most effective delivery & execution process they’ve ever seen, and essentially worked myself out of a job. Over the next several months I will be exploring opportunities looking for my next big adventure. Let’s go!
Two years ago this month Catalina went full bore, head first into Agile, applying the Scrum methodology, to deliver and execute on the top priorities of the company. Now, two years later, we continue to embrace and uphold the Agile values and principles.
We’ve made it all the way to Sprint 53, but who’s counting? In fact, you might think of us as Baby Yoda right now. In the past two years, Catalina has delivered thousands of valuable stories to our stakeholders including retailers, CPGs, and corporate. We continue to scale Agile up and across our enterprise. And, we’ve got our senior leadership team applying Kanban at the portfolio level to manage Portfolio Epics as part of our Agile Portfolio Management process.
While we are at the end of our transformation, we are only at the beginning of our journey. As we begin to roll (or shall we say sprint) into year 3 of our Agile journey, we continue to work towards being a truly Agile enterprise. The cultural change to be an Agile enterprise is constantly a work in progress and the journey never really ends. Each day, we just try to be a little more agile than we were the day before.
I’ve created a petition to prevent future hot car deaths by asking that child car seat manufacturers include an alert as a standard safety feature. I need all the help I can get to SIGN and SHARE this petition to create a groundswell of social influence that can not be ignored. It takes just a moment of your time and could save a life. Please sign and share the petition here.
And now for a kind ask … I’ve created a petition to prevent future hot car deaths by asking that child car seat manufacturers include an alert as a standard safety feature. I need all the help I can get to sign and share this petition to create a groundswell of social influence that can not be ignored. It takes just a moment of your time and could save a life. Please sign and share the petition here.
I have been asked (and somewhat unwittingly and reluctantly agreed) to speak at the upcoming poweredUP Tampa Bay Tech [virtual] Summit on the topic of “Agile Portfolio Management at Catalina“.
At scale, agile requires a well functioning portfolio management process to make the system truly hum. In agile, there is no one right way to do portfolio management. Take a tour of Catalina’s Agile Portfolio Management process to see from top to bottom how we manage priorities and make progress to deliver great value.
Those that know me well know that this must have been an extroverted moment for this introvert as it’s a rare occurrence that I’ll do a talk. I’ll participate on panels all day but a stand up talk is different. I guess I figured virtual and only 20 minutes, so why the hell not? Sign up here.
Join me and 300+ agilists from across the state of Florida and beyond for our 6th annual Agile Open Florida on Friday October 25th at Polk State College in Lakeland, FL. Our theme this year is Livin’ La Vida Agile! Celebrating The Values & Principles. This is a community celebration of all things agile and the values and principles that make us so.
Agile Open Florida will be facilitated using Open Space Technology (OST), with the ultimate goal being to connect, learn, and share. Using the Open Space Technology (OST) approach, Agile Open Florida encourages agile practitioners to self-organize around topics that are most important to them. Participants with common issues and interests share their experiences and learn from others. There is no preset agenda or presentations for the event, rather, sessions are created “live” by the participants at the start of the day. In order to get the most out of this event, reflect on our theme and come prepared with topics that are of interest to you, either to learn more about or to share your experiences.
I look forward to seeing you there. Let’s party!
As I set out to establish the agile portfolio management process for Catalina, I searched for any new methods around how to best express value. All I could find were complicated formulas or different variations of Value Points. I wanted something simple for my diverse portfolio team, mostly leaders but from all over the world and from all sorts of backgrounds. I wanted something that required no real knowledge of agile. I was hoping to find something as simple as t-shirt sizes for Story Points. I didn’t … so I invented a new method: Relative Value. Relative Value is to the portfolio what Story Points are to the work of the team. In other words, Relative Value is basically analogous to Relative Effort for which Story Points are used.
After thinking through the concept of Relative Value, I knew I wanted to keep it simple. That meant coming up with something so obvious that even your mom would get it (note: my mom is an agile practitioner, so of course she got it). Inspired by the Periodic Table of Elements, here’s what I came up with:
- Oxygen: Without question must be done to keep the business alive. Think compliance, essential infrastructure to run the business, or whatever will prevent a catastrophic loss to the business.
- Platinum: The most valuable of all, but won’t be the downfall of the business if it doesn’t come to fruition. Think competitive advantage, attracting new clients, or something for which clients are willing to pay.
- Gold: The second most valuable of all. Think improved customer usability, quality, time to market, or delivering on functionality frequently requested by customers.
- Silver: The least valuable of all but still has value at the portfolio level. Think more internal value vs external value.
This Relative Value method has been in use all year and has served Catalina well. Gone are the days of vague labels like high / medium / low or over-engineered scoring systems that only serve to confuse. Now there is a clear understanding across the business of the value of our 200+ portfolio epics. The main challenge with this method has been distinguishing Platinum from Gold. Oxygen and Silver are quite obvious, but Platinum and Gold not so much. Ultimately, you can defer to any revenue and savings ROI numbers that you have available to make a final call.
With Relative Value we are further able to simplify our Quarterly Portfolio Prioritization (QPP) process by creating discrete value buckets across our four rolling quarter plan for which to further stack rank (prioritize) the portfolio epics. I’ll leave an overview of that process for a future blog post.
Tell me what value method is working for your portfolio or how this Relative Value method might work at your company.
Please join me and my family in supporting the Walk to End Hydrocephalus. Either walk with us or make a donation. Your donation will go towards someday ending Hydrocephalus. My baby has already had three brain surgeries and dozens of MRIs. People with this condition are known to have many brain surgeries over their lifetime. No more brain surgeries!
Starting a new job after 13 years committed to Valpak was indeed strange. I hadn’t had a first day in 13 years! On the other hand, starting a new job in the same industry made things feel very familiar. In many ways, it was like I was at the same company but working with new people with similar opportunities to pursue and challenges to overcome.
My start at Catalina was filled with surprises. Within the first two weeks, I lost both my bosses, my boss and my boss’ boss. It was a shock to the system, especially for someone that had worked for the same person for 13 years. After an adjustment period, I quickly came to learn that this was the best thing that could have happened to me and my organization. I now report direct to the COO (along with my org) as the Executive Director of the Enterprise Agility Office, a chance happening that the COO himself calls “serendipitous”. I’ve since come to appreciate Catalina’s culture of change and plan to take full advantage of it to guide them through their agile transformation.
As I made my rounds and started to learn the people, the process, the products, and the problems, I heard a lot of … “we have a resource problem” (we all know an agilists pet peeve is calling people “resources”). I was quick to observe that there was no “resource problem” but rather a prioritization problem. There were hundreds of demands coming at the development teams and everyone had their #1 that they needed NOW.
With further exploration, I was pleased to see that there was definitely some semblance of agile across the entire Tech organization and even in some areas of the business. Teams get an “E” for effort for doing and trying some version of Scrum or Kanban, even if most is really just “I use Jira and therefore I’m agile”. It was evident that a big dose of training was needed along with a healthy serving of coaching and a lifetime of nurturing.
With all that said, you’re probably wondering if I’ve managed to get anything accomplished in these first four months at Catalina. Indeed I have!
- I rebranded and reinvented the PMO as the “Enterprise Agility Office”, complete with the Agile Project Leader role I originally conceived at Valpak. I’m now fully staffed and organized for success!
- I established an Agile Transformation Roadmap and an accompanying Kanban by which to manage it.
- We got in place what I consider the first and most important artifact of any agile transformation, the agile org design (aka, “Agile Teams”), which lays out all the Scrum and Kanban teams, their scope, and who’s who.
- A Common Sprint Schedule was established to put the entire enterprise on the same 2-week cadence, beginning on Mondays and ending on 2nd Fridays. We are all currently on Sprint 11! You can definitely expect a big celebration when we get to Sprint 100.
- Our first wave of agile training including a Scrum 101, Scrum for Product Owners, and Scrum for Scrum Masters was conducted in March.
- We’ve brought in an enterprise agility tool, Target Process, that is near and dear to my heart having worked with it for several years at Valpak.
- Using a lot of muscle memory and throwing in a few new tricks (remind me to blog about how we’re doing rank prioritization and relative value), I stood up a proper Agile Portfolio Management process complete with roadmapping, relentless prioritization, and a Portfolio Kanban with weekly standups.
- We kicked off several tribes to share, learn and grow together for Scrum Masters, Products Owners, Agile Project Managers, and even one for Agile Leadership.
So, what’s next?
- One of my Enterprise Agility Directors, Robert Shaw, is an experienced Agile Coach so together him and I have divvied up the agile teams to begin some hands on agile coaching.
- With a Common Sprint Schedule in place the next step is to establish a Common Sprint Review where all teams would come together to demo their sexy stuff and celebrate their accomplishments.
- We’ve got some heavy lifting to do to get all the teams in two different Jira instances moved over to Target Process before the end of the year.
- I’ve got high hopes of establishing more physical boards here at the St Pete headquarters beginning with the Portfolio Kanban. Maybe an agile tour will be possible some day.
- A second wave of agile training is on the way, this time including Kanban, Agile for Leaders, and eventually Agile for All.
- Last but not least, a passionate focus on growing my team, the Enterprise Agility Office, to be passionate practitioners of agile like myself.
All in all, I’m in a very happy place right now, making new friends, doing what I love, and taking an organization to the next level. I’ve got good traction on all things agile and this company and my leadership wholeheartedly believes in it. This is most certainly the beginnings of a transformation.
Turn and face the strange
– David Bowie, “Changes”
Changes they are a happening!
After 13 years at Valpak (all working for the same man, I might add), I have resigned my position as Senior Director of Enterprise Agility. It’s been a good ride but now I must move on. My work there is done and there is not much more I can do for Valpak, nor Valpak can do for me. Beginning January 22nd, I will be joining Catalina Marketing as the Executive Director – Global Head of Enterprise Agility & Delivery Excellence. I’m excited about the future but, for someone who specializes in adapting to change for a living, change has always been hard for me personally.
Three other changes to mention that aren’t quite as dramatic as the first.
- I ended my stint on the Agile Alliance board after serving a 3-year term. It was an experience of a lifetime that took me all over the world working with many different people on all things agile. I will always be grateful for that experience. With baby on board now and his Hydrocephalus condition (I know, a whole other blog post unto itself), the travel commitments were just too much. However, even though my time on the board has come to an end, my service to the Agile Alliance has not. I’ve been asked to serve on the Conference Steering Committee where I can best represent the OnAgile virtual conference which has been my baby from my time on the board.
- I’ll continue to serve on the executive committee of the Tampa Bay Tech board (previously Tampa Bay Technology Forum). However, this year I’m stepping up as Community Committee Chair (last year I was Co-Chair). I’ll be joined by the very driven Gina Volmuth of The Praxsys Group as Co-Chair. This year, we’ll be focused on continuing to grow the Tampa Bay Tech Meetup Pro, a co-op of almost 50 tech user groups comprising almost 15,000 unique members, as well as some exciting D&I initiatives.
- Last but not least, my partner in crime on Tampa Bay Agile has changed. Ryan Dorrell retired as co-organizer and Becky Hartman graciously stepped up to help me out. Ryan will be greatly missed! Together, him and I (along with a slew of sub-group event organizers, volunteer presenters, and generous sponsors) grew the group from less than 100 people about five years ago to almost 2,300 members today and one of the largest and most active tech Meetups in the Tampa Bay area. Last year Tampa Bay Agile was named “Meetup of the Year” at the 2017 Tampa Bay Tech Awards.