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Agile Angel Monthly(ish) Newsletter
Issue #6 – February 2014
“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
- Warren Buffet
Long time no see!
What can I say? I’M SORRY! No issues since May 2013, even though I promised to launch in November and December… 2013 was a strange year in fact. I committed to send my new book, ‘Agile Kaizen: Continuous Improvement Far Beyond Retrospectives’ to my editor by February, and I couldn’t manage to send the first draft until December. This, added to the many conferences I attended last year, explains the blank in my other writings until now – including the Newsletter. Final edition of ‘Agile Kaizen’ is taking place right now and the book should be available somewhere mid-2014 – you’re gonna love it, I promise!
In the last issue I was just back from Scrum Gathering Las Vegas, which was a real blast. Since then, I’ve been to quite a lot of conferences (you can check them here). You can find links to videos and Slide decks later in this very Newsletter. A special mention to CAS2013, the Spanish Agile Conference, where I got to deliver the opening Keynote and I met Tobias Mayer amongst some other amazing people.
2014 has started fine. You might be aware about the situation in Spain – if not, I’ll summarize: no good. This year everything seems to point out that recovery is sloooo-ooo-ooowly taking place, but macro-economic recovery will take a while until it reaches micro-economics. Still, many companies are contacting us in order to train, improve and prepare for a complex future. We have scheduled a full training week in May (Madrid, Spanish), including Management 3.0, Scrum, Advanced Scrum and Agile Kaizen courses; and, for the European guys, I’m delivering a Management 3.0 seminar in Mallorca with my dear friend and M3.0 Fellow trainer Michael Leber. That’s Mallorca like in “MALLORCA, BABY!”. We even plan to rent a boat for the weekend and do some kind of Leadership Retreat – how cool is that?
I keep receiving reviews of my first book inAmazon, every single one counts to make the book more visible, so if you feel like doing something for me and you’ve read the book, go comment! Jurgen Appelo rated it four stars in good reads, and said it was “a good overview and funny too”
Mmmm… What else? Oh, yes! I Started Sketchnoting and drawing after Scrum Gathering Las Vegas and I have plenty of doodles up in Tumblr – Learning To Sketch . I even conducted a “Drawing 101: mastering the stickman” workshop at ALE 2013 and it was reaaaaally fun! Some people even started to illustrate their blog posts and books since then – check Fabian Schiller’s ‘Agile Planet’, for instance. Sketchnoting is really trendy right now, and it’s lots of fun, be sure to check it.
Upcoming conferences! This year I want to cut my conference schedule a little, but I’m available to any conference organizers who will cover flight + hotel (this is a must now). I will probably be at Mix-IT 2014 (Lyon, France) and then my Schedule is clear, although I’m in conversations with a couple of events – stay in touch.
As always, I’m looking for new companies to work at this year. If you need Agile training (Scrum, Kanban, Agile Leadership and Coaching, Agile Product Management, Management 3.0, Continuous Improvement, Lean Startup, you name it) or you need someone to assess your Agile transformation, boost change through your company, take your teams to next level or just make your company more Agile, why don’t you drop me a line or two? I’d love to hear about your situation
Please, refer us!
Our Agile Advice:
A couple of flash-style reflections to look at your environment from outside the box
The old, boring question keeps coming to me every once in a while: ‘what electronic tool do you recommend’. My first answer is to always stick to physical boards. Physical boards have so many features that electronic tools will never be able to replicate, starting with the physical gathering of all team members around them – thus becoming a team ‘Totem’ or even a team’s identity ‘Avatar’ – and including the stimulation of your neurons when you perform something manually. But if you really, really, really need some tools, go for the well know ones (Jira being an obvious option) and be sure to use them as a backup addition to your physical boards.
What have you changed in your company in the last six months? Change does not always mean improvement, but improvement always means change – better processes, better tools, better people, better products. If nothing really changes, chances are that you are not improving!
When was the last time you read the classics, the sources of all – I mean, “No Silver Bullet”, “The New New Product Development Game”, “Peopleware”, “The Mythical Man Month”, “Scrum and XP from the Trenches”, “The Scrum Papers”… Even if you read them time ago, you are not the person you used to be then any more, and a new lecture will give you new insights.
Is there any part of your company where you could be applying Agile principles and methods? Is there anyone willing to try stand ups, post-it notes, iterations, retrospectives…? Have you asked? Why not?
Are your products or projects conceived in an “all or nothing” way? If so, there’s little chance of reaching real, full Agility. Evolutive, iterative and incremental design is at the heart of Agile Product Management. Prioritization has small value when you have to wait for the whole pack of features.
Agile Books of the Month:
- Not exactly an Agile book, but I’m using Peter Amstrong’s “Programming for Kids” (Mac edition) to teach the fundamentals of Ruby to my 8 years old kid, how cool is that?
- ‘Gemba Walks’ by Jim Womack is an amazing book about continuous improvement and how to look at Status Quo with the Kaizen eyes. Kindle edition was not available for purchase when I checked it today, but I swear I have one.
- Haven’t read it yet, but ‘The Year Without Pants’ became very popular amogst Agilists last year. Specially recommended if you are working with remote, geographically dispersed teams, but also recommended to anyone who wants to get a glance at modern corporate cultures and environments.
Non-Agile, but still recommended book:
- ‘Running with the mind of meditation’. Two awesome practices for mind and body in one easy to read beginner’s guide – for nine bucks! Who could ask for more?
Some of the best Agile articles out there:
- Be sure to Check Vasco Duarte’s series of articles about #NoEstimates and new managerial approaches.
- How to Hire an Agile Coach – terrific blog post by Jason Little
- 10 Things to drive your Product Owner crazy, by Marc Löffer
- Top 10 lessons learned from practicing the Toyota Kata, Tom Lombard, great post from a health care organization perspective
Sorry, but this time I’m going to include a lot of my own videos that I did not share yet in this newsletter… :-/
- ALE Hangout : Agile Management, with yours trully. This is me talking an awful lot about my stuff, with terrible light, so only recommended for hardcore fans
- Shorter one – why write a book, with Jurgen Appelo and me.
- Product Tank Berlin – Control vs Trust – With Stefan Haas
Just not to make this too egomaniacal:
- Agile Product Ownership in a Nutshell, by Henrik Kniberg – really cool!
- All the Slides for the above videos are available as usually at Slideshare.
- ‘Some things I’ve learned about facilitating Workshops’, by Sacha Chua. Be sure to check her other slide decks, she’s awesomic.
- ‘Adapting to Agile’, by Mike Cohn
- ‘Hiring or Growing the Right Agile Coach’, by Lyssa Adkins and Michael K. Spayd
Conferences and Training Courses
- Not my cup of tea, but more and more people keep asking me about the Play4Agile events, some even say it’s fun and worth it. You might want to give it a try.
- Remember we are offering the following (Spanish) training courses in Madrid, mid May 2014:
- Management 3.0
- Agile Kaizen Workshop
- Basic & Intermediate Scrum
- Advanced Scrum
- Be sure also to check our Mallorca Management 3.0 and Leadership Retreat
That’s all folks!
If you have something you’d like to see, promote or recommend on next Agile Angel’s newsletter (mid November, probably), be sure to send me an email or tweet . Until then, may the Agile Force be with you!