Mother of Dragons: Adapting To Agile Org Changes

I’m sure the title caught your attention wondering who will die next.  And, certainly Game of Thrones might be considered a metaphor for organizational politics, but that’s not necessarily where I’m heading.  No one will die and I certainly don’t have the power to free anyone from slavery.  Okay, now that I have your attention …

We had some organizational changes here at Valpak recently and I am now Mother of Dragons.  Okay, maybe not Mother of Dragons, but I now have the Business Analysts and the IT Release Manager reporting to me.  So, for those keeping count, that makes …

  • 4 Agile Project Leaders
  • 5 Business Analysts
  • 1 IT Release Manager

Together, we are the Agile Leadership Office, which is like an Agile PMO (except that “PMO” is a four-letter word around here).

At first I had to come to terms with the fact that I’m going to have ten 1-on-1’s in the same week and be required to perform ten annual performance reviews all in the same time period (that’s right … even though we are Agile, we still have an annual performance review process to comply with).  After that, I came up with a growth and development plan for each of those roles that I can share with you now.

For the Agile Project Leaders (which were already under my leadership), each of them will be taking the PMI-ACP exam before the end of the year.  I got mine; they should have theirs (good for the goose …).  Also, we’ve started a book club with Lyssa Adkins “Coaching Agile Teams” to further us along as Agile Coaches, not just ScrumMasters.

For the Business Analysts, we are first starting to get to know one another better through a bit of sharing and caring … what I’m calling Analyst Process Show & Tells.  Each Business Analyst has 30 minutes to talk the rest of us through their process … supporting a sprint, serving their POs/teams, documenting (or not), and so on.  Next up, we’ll start a book club with the Business Analysts too.  As of right now, I’m considering Dean Leffingwell’s “Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and the Enterprise” unless someone has a better suggestion. By the end of this year I hope to use what we’ve learned in the Analyst Process Show & Tells and the book club, to collaborate on an updated job description for them that better incorporates their role in Agile.

For the IT Release Manager, we’ve revised her job description and she is doing her own book club with Paul Swartout’s “Continuous Delivery and DevOps: A Quickstart Guide”.  I know … a book club of one isn’t much of a book club at all.  Regardless, that should help us with our roadmap to Continuous Delivery (CD).  Speaking of CD, the IT Release Manager has also created a very lovely Kanban board to help the development managers make progress towards the CD roadmap and to bring greater visibility to all that is going on in that space.

Well, that’s that … bigger Agile kingdom, less violence than Game of Thrones.  What more could you ask for?  If you have other ideas for how to grow and develop these roles, please feel free to post a comment.

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About Stephanie Davis

Stephanie is Executive Director - Enterprise Agility Office at Catalina, driving lift and loyalty for the world's leading CPG brands and retailers.  Most recently, Stephanie was Senior Director of Enterprise Agility at Valpak. She was with Valpak for 13 years, most of which were focused on leading their agile transformation to what became a world renowned success story published in case studies and demonstrated to over 50 different companies through the years via agile tours.  Prior to Valpak, Stephanie held past positions in the project management domain with AT&T and IBM. Stephanie's academic credentials include a BS in Marketing from the University of South Florida and an MBA in International Business from the University of Bristol in England. She also maintains the Project Management Professional (PMP), Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP), and Certified Scrum Master (CSM) credentials. Stephanie is big on tech community involvement!  Most recently, she served as an elected board member to the Agile Alliance, a non-profit organization with global membership, committed to advancing agile development values, principles, and practices. In addition, she serves her local community as an organizer for Tampa Bay Agile, the largest and most active tech Meetup in the area, and the annual Agile Open Florida event. In 2016, Stephanie was awarded Tampa Bay Tech’s Technology Leader of the Year and the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s BusinessWoman of the Year (Tech) and Emerging Technology Leader of the Year. View all posts by Stephanie Davis

5 responses to “Mother of Dragons: Adapting To Agile Org Changes

  • Mark Kilby

    Stephanie: I can say from experience that that book club idea is a fantastic way for a group to learn together. Not sure about the “club of 1”, but you might consider opening it up to others in your local agile community so no one is learning in isolation. Also, you might consider a lean coffee or even a virtual lean coffee. Ping me if you want some tips on getting that started. I find it a collaborative and easy way to share knowledge and for anyone to bring questions to the table.

  • chuckc3

    Congratulations, Steph!!

  • Ainsley Nies

    Hi Khaleesi – I second Mark’s lean coffee suggestion. I’ve been an LC fan for several years now and spread the word when ever I seen an opportunity. I recently facilitated 15-20 PMI folks (who wanted to try “something agile”) in using lean coffee for their project requirements gathering. Although unsure of the format to start, they worked in several groups, produced the desired outcomes and had an enjoyable experience. Biggest takeaway – the surprising amount of work that can be done by timeboxing.

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