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Agile Leadership Articles

Why Coaching is the Number One Skill for Leaders in in an Uncertain World

It is often said that everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to change themselves. There are few groups for which this is more apt than senior leaders. It was once thought that leaders n…

5 Levers for Changing Organisational Culture

Organisational culture is one of the most powerful, and misunderstood, concepts around. Leaders and coaches alike understand the power of culture to make—or, more likely, break—an agile transformation…

On Agile & Mastery

I’m lucky enough to find my job professionally satisfying. That’s because I think that the line of work I’m in actually matters—not just to me, but to anyone who works in teams or with processes that …

Creating Alignment and Autonomy

We know from Dan Pink’s work that high levels of autonomy are a powerful contributor to motivation. For start-ups and small, independent teams this can be straightforward to create. But it presents a …

There Are Sabre-Toothed Tigers in Your Office

An ancient part of our brains that existed to keep us alive in a world of danger has evolved. But rather than evolving by toning down its power to cope with the much safer world of today, it has found…

The SCARF Model – How it affects agile teams

In the post ‘There Are Sabre-Toothed Tigers In Your Office‘, we discussed how our brains have evolved, and that the primal response that helped protect us from sabre-toothed tigers had cha…

Agile Coaching Capability

I’m a bit of a rugby fan and often find myself wanting to run out with the lads, moving through the field like a wrecking ball and scoring the winning try as the opposition lies in my wake, sobbing wi…

Innovation versus Protectionism

The last time we suffered a global pandemic that brought the world to its knees was in 1918. A little over a century ago. The Spanish Flu collided with a transitional world that had just been through …

I’m in a Theory X Team, Get Me Out Of Here!

For 20 years, ITV’s “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” has been a staple of the UK pre-Christmas entertainment schedules. A group of celebrities are isolated from society, originally in the Austral…

Where did you get that hat?

In my previous blog post “Where are all the managers in Agile?”, I discussed why agile doesn’t need the kinds of management that is often present in organisations and suggested some alternatives that …

Where are all the managers in Agile?

The heart of agile is described in the few words of the Agile Manifesto and its accompanying principles; the dominant agile framework is Scrum and its derivatives. Yet, amongst those core references, …

Bring rigour to your thinking

“Belief is so often the death of reason” – Lord Varys, Master of Whisperers – Game of Thrones The Agile Manifesto, created in Snowbird Utah (2001), is a work of Genius inspired by a team of bril…

Covid Hack – Intention Versus Strategy

Small, cross-functional teams working closely together to frequently and consistently deliver features that delight customers are a cornerstone foundation of Agile. For some, a question arises as to h…

The History of Hierarchies

For 95 percent of the 200,000 years modern humans have walked the earth, there was no such thing as hierarchy. We lived in small bands of hunter-gatherers consisting of a few dozen people at most, The…

Covid Hack – Resilient versus Robust

Many of the corporations we work with are inherently designed to be robust. A concept that permeates every element of that business, from the processes that dictate workflow in each department through…

Covid Hacks – Hiring

In a recent Zoom session with Laura Howie, CEO of Reel Media Africa, we chatted about the importance of having the right skills, the right mindset, and a culture that embraces excellence. Sometimes yo…

Management versus Leadership

5 Weeks ago, our revenue streams dried up, literally overnight. The Covid-19 fairy waltzed in the front door, waved her magic wand, and *poof* our lives were irrevocably changed in a matter of hours. …

The Coaching Imposter #2

When I last posted something, before life changed significantly for all of us, I was coming to terms with the so-called Imposter Syndrome, but 5 months on from the inception of my Agile Coaching role,…

Customers and Developers in the same room. WTF?

At the turn of the 20th Century, the father of modern Business Management – Frederick Winslow Taylor – discovered that he could significantly increase production output and decrease labour…

First they ignore you

‘How do I get the senior leadership team to buy into Agile?’ is a question I’m often asked. It’s a great question if the leadership team value the principles and values upon which Agile is built. It’s…

We didn’t do anything wrong

‘We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost.’ – CEO of Nokia There’s a moment where the CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop, ends a press conference in tears. He’s gutted. ‘We didn’t do anything wrong’ …

Building bridges amidst disruption

The Case for Business Agility As an Agile coach, consultant and trainer, I pretty much live in a world of disruption, uncertainty and volatility. It’s par for the course. That said. If you’d asked me …

Coronavirus and The Corner Shop – A Portrait of Agility?

If ever one wanted the ultimate portrait of a VUCA world – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous – the current crazy time through which we are living is it. The novel coronavirus, kn…

Exploring & Exploiting: Striking the Right Balance

In 1913, Henry Ford implemented one of the greatest innovations ever seen in manufacturing: the moving production line. Before this change, workers would move from car to car within Ford’s factory, pe…

Agile Bootcamp #4 – Using Story Mapping to Teach Agile

User Story Mapping is a great technique to help teams explore their product scope and plan how they can deliver value to their customers as quickly as possible. Even for large and complex problems, te…

Agile Bootcamp #2 – Behind The Scenes at an Agile Bootcamp

The bootcamp is planned, the travel arrangements made and suitcases packed. Now, the hard work starts! After a long day travelling and a chunky time-shift, we arrived at our accommodation well into th…

The opportunity of IR35 for organisations and start-ups

The recent announcement from HMRC that IR35 and Off-Payroll Tax would come into effect on the 6th of April 2020 as a means to combat ‘disguised employment’ presents a significant threat to companies a…

Meteors, VUCA, and Business Agility

Once upon a time, two-ton wombats lumbered across the Australian Outback. Around the same time, sabre-toothed cats and woolly mammoths roamed freely across Europe and North America. Millions of years …

The 6 Enablers of Business Agility

  When I first started my journey as a Scrum Master, I devoured books on how Scrum worked. I learnt all about Scrum and its commonly applied processes and practices. I thought I had it nailed. Th…

Agile Project Management

To say the words ‘Agile Project Management’ in front of Agile purists falls somewhere in the spectrum between ‘not cricket’ and ‘blasphemy’. Why? Because Agile doesn’t in any way focus on Project Mana…

What is Project Management?

Project Management, as both a profession and specialised discipline, is relatively young. From the dawn of time, humans have been pretty good at setting objectives and organising people, skills, tools…

Don’t look back in anger

Continuous improvement is a core agile principle. The retrospective is an important event in all agile methods and an ideal time for teams to identify improvements. Yet too often, retrospectives are i…

Ethics and morals

Anyone whose profession involves advising others needs to be concerned about ethics. In a more general sense, of course, all humans should be worried about this―but when you work as a coach, the matte…

Metaphor, Simile and Analogies

Communication in all its aspects is of vital importance to effective coaching. Getting the most out of the spoken and written language you use sharpens your coaching. Comparative and figurative speech…

Body Language

As important as the spoken word is, body language may convey even more information than speech. As a coach, you need to be aware of how body language works. It is essential that you be able to read cl…

The Trust Equation

Trust relationships are vital to the way we do business today. In fact, the level of trust present in business relationships, whether internally with employees and colleagues or externally with client…

Introducing Certified Agile Leadership® (CAL1)

Throughout my years as a Scrum Master, Agile Coach and Scrum trainer, there has been a common and persistent theme. It is a theme that I have encountered as a practitioner and tried hard to overcome a…

Active Listening

Active listening is a communication technique that requires the listener to feed back what he or she hears to the speaker. This communication can be in the form of simple repetition of what the s…

Levels of Listening

For a coach, there can surely be few skills more important than listening. Hearing what your client is saying, with attention and compassion, is key to being able to understand that person’s desires a…

The GROW Model Explained

The GROW model is a solid, time-tested coaching tool that can help coaches ensure efficient results for their clients. GROW stands for: Goal Reality Options (sometimes Obstacles) Wrap-up (sometimes Wi…

What do Agile and Electricity have in Common?

In February, it will be 17 years since the writing of the Agile Manifesto. Much was, and still is, promised by those who espouse Agile frameworks. There is still a great excitement and appetite for in…

The Responsibility Process® in Action

Recently I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days with Christopher Avery renewing my practice of responsibility. The workshop was on The Responsibility Process and how to lead and coach others in …

Enterprise Scrum as a Language of Choices

The purpose of Enterprise Scrum is to give organisations the ability to become more resilient in the modern business climate with rapidly occurring disruption in products, markets and audiences. …

The Productivity Myth

I am often asked if using Scrum can make software developers more productive. My response is always the same; ‘Can you please define productivity in a software development context?’ Often people canno…

No Framework Will Save You

It is often said, by those in the personal training industry, that you cannot out-train a bad diet. What is meant by that, is that you could run 10 miles per day, then spend another hour in the gym pu…

LeSS is More

It’s the age old debate. ‘I want self-organising teams, but I need to set some constraints. I want some level of prescription, but how much is reasonable? When does it start disempowering the te…

A People Business

Let’s face it: People skills is not an area in which the software development community has traditionally excelled. The very traits that can help a developer excel at technical problem solving can oft…

Being the change you want to see — in the office.

Gandhi didn’t say, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” But the sentiment, whoever first expressed it, is a worthwhile one. It’s a more elegant way of saying that if you don’t like something,…

We all know what kindness is, surely?

There’s no end of well-intentioned articles about feelings and conduct on the internet. We have all kinds of movements and “isms” and philosophies available to us, and we pay varying degrees of attent…

Who’s responsible here?

I talk to many people about the concept of responsibility at work, especially as so few people see it as their responsibility to make sure things happen, trotting out the good old “it’s not in m…

Earning trust the other way

We learn from an early age that to earn trust you need to show you’re trustworthy. It is earned over time. But is this always the case? What if there was another way to build it between people? …

Role retrospectives

I’ve been at my current client for roughly a month. The role isn’t that clear but I’m here to serve, lead and coach the team and business. To gain more clarity of what the team …