The more popular this blog gets, the more calls I get from Agile consulting companies wanting to “help”. That’s sweet and all, but we already work with an Agile coach here in Tampa Bay. Since 2011, we’ve partnered with AgileThought. They have “Agile” in their name so they must know what they’re doing! But seriously, we’ve got their CTO, Ryan Dorrell, as our Agile coach. He has the best bedside manner we could have hoped for and is always the voice of reason on all things Agile. And, Ryan will forever be my Agile phone-a-friend. Our arrangement consisted of customized training, coaching, and strategic guidance, among other things. In fact, our relationship has been so successful that we are submitting for a local collaboration award as we speak. Wish us luck!
Now that that is cleared up, I do want to take a moment to express the importance of having an external / independent Agile Coach to assist and guide your transformation. Attempting to DIY (Do It Yourself) Agile can sometimes backfire. In my experience, money spent on an Agile coach is definitely money well spent! You need to spend the money to bring on an Agile coach for at least 6-months to train the teams and support the process. As human beings, we can laugh about the notion that we are more willing to take advice from a stranger than from a family member. This is true in the business world as well (and that’s why consulting is big business). Companies often tend to appreciate the advice of an independent expert more than a trusted member of the company’s own staff. Also, an Agile coach can really have your back when it comes to resistance at any level.
Now, where I could use some help is if you are an Agile speaker and plan to be in the Tampa Bay area. The Tampa Bay Agile Meetup group is always in need of speakers. It might just be your way of reaching other companies that do indeed help with their Agile transformation. Leave a comment if that opportunity interests you.
Last week, we had three tours in three days around here. Yes, I said “tours”. “A tour of what?”, you may ask. A tour of our Agile transformation! Now, understand you-me that tours are typically reserved for our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility (not a plug, just a reality). At first, I didn’t realize there was much of a show to be had with all our old cubicles and dingy carpet, but apparently I was all wrong. The tours were such a hit that we’re now making a video! Yes, that’s right, a video… an Agile transformation video.
We gave tours to three different groups, two stakeholder groups and one VIP. Each tour began at our local copy of The Agile Manifesto where we explained the values and principles that guide us. Then, the tour moved into our beloved Scrum Pit (a.k.a., “The Pig Sty”) where we used the 9 Scrum Boards to visually eplain how Scrum works. Last but not least, we walked the tour groups through the bullpen areas for 6 of our 9 Scrum teams to demonstrate the open collaboration environment we’ve established.
The mere fact that we had three tours in three days really demonstrated two things to me: 1) Our leadership is proud of what we’ve accomplished with our Agile transformation in just 8 sprints and 2) we’ve really done well by way of “visible information radiators”. Like the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, a Scrum Board is worth a thousand words too! Our towering walls of magnetic whiteboards with index cards seemingly-chaotic, yet intentionally-placed really seemed to leave quite the impression with our tour groups. I know now that having handed them a document or an illustration or shown information buried in some tool wouldn’t have nearly the impact. Our visible information radiators worked! At the time of the tours, we were mid-way through the 8th sprint across 9 Scrum teams, and progress (or lack thereof) was clearly visible within a 360° view of the Scrum Pit. I guess what I’m getting at here is simple … When your hand gets tired of writing story after story or task after task and you’ve got paper cuts on both hands, just remember that a well-constructed, well-maintained Scrum Board is the ultimate visible information radiator and worth a thousand words.