Agency Product Owner Training Starts in August

We have an interesting problem in some projects. Agencies, consulting organizations, and consultants help their clients understand what the client needs in a product. Often, these people and their organizations then implement what the client and agency develop as ideas. As the project continues, the agency manager continues to help the client identify and update the requirements. Because this a limited time contract, the client doesn’t have a product manager or product owner. The agency person—often the owner—acts as a product owner. This is why Marcus Blankenship and I have teamed up to offer Product Owner Training for Agencies. If you are an agency/consultant/outside your client’s organization and you act as a product owner, this training is for you. It’s based on my workshop Agile and Lean Product Ownership. We won’t do everything in that workshop. Because it’s an online workshop, you’ll work on your projects/programs in between our meetings. If you are not part of an organization and you find yourself acting as a product owner, this training is for you. See Product Owner Training for...

Why Managers Ask for Estimates and What They Need to Know

In many of my transitioning to agile clients, the managers want to know when the project will be done. Or, they want to know how much the project will cost. (I have a new book about this, Predicting the Unpredictable: Pragmatic Approaches to Estimating Cost or Schedule.) Managers ask for estimates because they want to know something about their ability to recognize revenue this year. How many projects can they release? What is the projected effect on revenue; customer acquisition and retention; and on service revenue (training, support, all that kind of service). We pay managers big bucks so they can project out for “a while” and plan for the business. You need to know this in your life, too. If you are an employee, you know approximately how much money you will make in a year. You might make more if you get a bonus. You might make less if you get laid off. But, you have an idea, which allows you to budget for mortgages, vacations, and kid’s braces. Remember, in waterfall, there was no benefit until the end of the project. You couldn’t realize any benefit from a project until it was complete: not revenue, not capitalization, not any effect on what customers saw. Nothing. When you use agile, you have options if you can release early. Remember the potential for release frequency? If you can do continuous deployment or even release something more often, you can realize the benefits of the project before the end. If you are agile, you don’t need to estimate a lot to tell them when they can first receive value from your work....

Four Tips for Managing Performance in Agile Teams

I’ve been talking with clients recently about their managers’ and HR’s transition to agile. I hear this common question: “How do we manage performance of the people on our agile teams?” Reframe “manage performance” to “career development.” People on agile teams don’t need a manager to manage their performance. If they are retrospecting at reasonable intervals, they will inspect-and-adapt to work better together. Well, they will if managers don’t interfere with their work by creating experts or moving people off project teams. The manager creates a trusting relationship with each person on the team. That means having a one-on-one weekly or bi-weekly with each person. At the one-on-one, the manager provides tips for feedback and offers coaching.  (If the person needs it or wants it from the manager.) The person might want to know where else he or she can receive coaching. The manager removes obstacles if the person has them. They discuss career development. When managers discuss career development, each person needs to see an accurate view of the value they bring to the organization. That means each person has to know how to give and receive feedback. They each have to know how to ask for and accept coaching. The manager provides meta-feedback and meta-coaching. If you, as a manager, meet with each person at least once every two weeks, no problem is a problem for too long. The people in the team have another person to discuss issues with. The manager sees the system and can change it to help the people on the team. Now, what does this mean for raises? I like to separate the...

Agile Misconceptions: Agile is Just a Project Management Framework

If you read least week’s post about agile misconceptions, There is One Right Approach, you will like this one. This week’s article is Agile Misconceptions: Agile is Just a Project Management Framework. If you would like more common-sense approaches to agile, sign up for the Influential Agile Leader. We’re leading it in San Francisco and London this year. We offer discounts for multiple people from your organization. Sign up...

Agile Misconceptions: There Is One Right Approach

I have an article up on agileconnection.com called Common Misconceptions about Agile: There Is Only One Approach. If you read my Design Your Agile Project series, you know I am a fan of determining what approach works when for your organization or project. Please leave comments over there. Thanks! Two notes: If you would like to write an article for agileconnection.com, I’m the technical editor. Send me your article and we can go from there. If you would like more common-sense approaches to agile, sign up for the Influential Agile Leader. We’re leading it in San Francisco and London this year. Early bird pricing ends...