Friday, September 25, 2015

We are neither Jira administrator nor gate keepers

I was having dinner with few hard core developers (yes!!! they eat, breath and drink technology) yesterday and as per them they don't need any scrum master/lean delivery agent/ agile coach/ manager in their team. They don't see the value of having them.

They have a board, they do daily morning standup and collaborate beautifully with customers/domain experts/sales people and above all deploy in production 3 times a day.  So thought of summarizing our role for them. 

What we are not:

  • We are neither gate keepers nor quality control representatives
  • We are neither managing team members nor their schedule
  • We are neither there to schedule meetings for team nor to make sure they show up on time
  • Our job is also not to facilitate meeting for team 
  • We are neither a lead developer nor a project manager
  • We are not responsible for their personal development as well
  • We are not Jira administrator as well
Now! you must be thinking, what we do, Am I right?


  • We are people who observes events and behaviors for long period of time to provide focus and direction for improvement. We look for what is possible in a given scenario. This is not always seen from the Visual board, one has to observe and pay attention to it.
  • We should be able to understand a situation to come up with actions out of them. 
  • We should be able to cultivate trust-factor between management and team about each other capability and involvement. 
  • We should be able to suggest an improvement focusing on whole vs. part. Development is just one piece of entire puzzle.
  • We are there to ensure, we fail as fast as possible and organization should be ready to experiment and pivot. Imbibing this culture sometime takes months if not years. It is not processes that drives improvement but it's people's initiative.  
  • We should provide right information at right time to help team or organization take good decision faster
  • We should help team to identify fastest way to deliver value
  • We should take responsibility for improvement ideas
  • We should separate observation from learning, to apply them appropriately. Leading using long-term thinking is our trait, by making small sustainable improvement over time in culture, technology and leadership. 
  • We should make sure people have curious mindset. Any thing they try is an experiment. Try for a period of time and evaluate the result. 
  • We should be able to learn from outcome, which is more meaningful and valuable than checking off improvement actions. 
  • YES! We are their to help team / guide team / coach team if we feel the need of it.
GOSH!! I knew, I can do it. We are like bee on the wall, nobody can see us but are there :). I am sure this list is can be extended by many other colleagues of mine. Please feel free to do so.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Is Agile or Lean really common sense?

I always hear, "Agile or Lean is not a science but mostly common-sense. If you apply your common sense you will get it right. " 

I am not disagreeing with the fact that some part of Lean and Agile is common sense but with common sense we will achieve 20% success. To be 100% successful we need to understand, in which areas common sense can be applied i.e. face-2-face conversations should get preference over email or chat, it is easy to build small artifact vs. giant one and many more. 

But when it comes to building a process, which will lead to effective and efficient delivery and happy customer, not to sure if common sense would be sufficient ingredient. To me, we need to understand culture, values, people and THE PROBLEM (they are facing).  


I try to understand the culture from its employees.
  • How respectful they are when they are talking about other teams?
  • How managers are presenting their peers?
  • Are people always complaining about situations around them and saying, "You don't know how hard it is or how bad it was? Vs. we are not perfect and it may take little time and effort to be there. 
  • How comfortable people are talking to their senior management? Are they worried when they are sitting next to them? 
These are few things from a fairly long list, which helps me understand in which kind of environment I am in.  It plays very important role in designing the improvement or learning cycles. It helps in choosing the wordings for the organization as well.


Values are very important aspect of an organization if done right. I try to watch below things when it comes to designing a process around value.
  • How well Values and Goals are interwoven together? 
  • Does everybody understand the purpose behind those values and why they are important?
  • Do they have values for employee personal development? 
  • Do Values drive their day-to-day work?
Knowing values obviously will gives me confidence in coming up a solution which will work in that organization and is aligned with them and not some out of box solution.


What to say here? This is for sure common sense :D. This is most difficult albeit most important aspect for anything and every things. YES THEY are the CORE of the system. I like to watch out wording used in team rooms. i.e.
  • I give up vs. I am sure we can find something, would anybody like to help
  • I don't understand this vs. I am missing something and need sparing partner
  • It's okay should be heard more often vs. gosh I don't know what to do now? 
These are just tip of an iceberg but something in those direction tell me whether people are positive or afraid towards changing or adapting new things. It lots depends upon CULTURE and VALUES. They are the driving factor of "IT'S OKAY" culture. 

Solution to Solve the Problem

This is no brainer that any solution should solve some problem which we are having. Don't adapt something because you heard about it or you thing it is cool but always start with WHY. Why are we doing this and what problem are we trying to solve. Propose a solution to solve the problem. Don't be process slave but be a change agent. 

SO it is lot more than common sense after all!!!! I will try to cover each topic in detail in next blogs.