The Dumpster fire of SAFe!

Martin HinshelwoodJun 25·2 min readThere is no cookie-cutter approach or blueprint that will result in your company being successful. SAFe is the death star plan that will ultimately be your demise.The Dumpster fire of SAFe! SAFe has done irreparable damage to many companies like Volvo & Fitbit. Do not take their case studies at face value, they are mostly smoke & mirrors.𝘍𝘪𝘵𝘣𝘪𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘤𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘤𝘢𝘴𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘶𝘥𝘺 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘚𝘈𝘍𝘦, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘪𝘵𝘴 𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘪𝘯 2016, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘴𝘶𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘰𝘵𝘩 𝘤𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘤 𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘥𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘣𝘰𝘵𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘦. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘯𝘰 𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘤𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘸𝘴.SAFe may well have worked somewhere, built iteratively and incrementally from scratch inside a single company. However, there is no way to be successful at scale using someone else process, essentially copying their homework for a different assignment. Every company is unique because of the niche that it grew to fill. Those unique niches were slow-moving in the past, allowing the ability to change to atrophy and eventually become stagnant. This stagnation is organisational cruft or, more commonly, bureaucracy. The pace of change is relentlessly increasing, and your organisational cruft is slowing you down.𝗬𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗻𝘆’𝘀 𝘀𝘂𝗰𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝗱𝘂𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗯𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗮𝗱𝗮𝗽𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗮𝗱𝘃𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝘆𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗰, 𝗳𝗮𝘀𝘁-𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗮𝗿𝗸𝗲𝘁𝘀 𝗶𝘁 𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘀.You need to allow the right practices to emerge over time and build a unique set of systems that allow you to maintain your niche and adapt to new niches as they arise. Leadership, not Management will help you get there.“Value is the real goal. In these increasingly uncertain times, having the technical excellence and business flexibility to quickly and deliberately respond to change will be the differentiator between the business that thrive and those that struggle to survive. The forced adaptations from Covid demonstrated the need to trust and empower your people. How will monolithic bureaucratic practices support that?” — Simon ReindlA leader’s job is to foster a lean-agile mindset and then get out of the way and allow folks to get the work done.𝗦𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗲𝘀:The Results of Companies Migrating to heavy-weight Scaled Frameworks and off-the-shelf platformsHow large successful companies achieve agility at scale.USAF Memorandum: Preferred Agile Framework

What is Taylorism, and why Waterfall is just the tip of the iceberg!

Martin HinshelwoodJan 18, 2021·11 min readFor many people the traditional project management methodologies (see PMI / PRINCE2) are the root of the problems that birthed Waterfall. I assert that this is the tip of the iceberg. These methodologies are just a symptom of a greater problem that has its roots in the changes made during the industrial revolution. These changes, while they generated great amounts of wealth and many jobs around the world, dehumanised work and destroyed the essence of value and discovery that brought humanity to where it is now. It created processes that turned people into little more than sophisticated robots and enshrined that thinking into the very core of how we do things.These practices, which spread like cancer, have been seeded around the world by the Master of Business Administration (MBA). These practices have been calcified in the malignant bureaucracy that can be likened to an iceberg that may very well sink your company.Reviewer(s): Russell Miller PSTWhat is Taylorism, and why Waterfall is just the tip of the iceberg!Prior to the industrial revolution, goods were made in small cottage industries and people worked close to their home. Customers were local, and both the producer and the consumer knew each other well. Mastery in ones chosen profession was paramount and rewards for the master craftsman were earned through increased money, or more time to pursue other interests.When the industrial revolution came along, massive mechanisation was needed to produce goods at scale. However the technology of the time was unable to automate at that scale, so the only available “machines” were people. When, in pursuit of higher production volumes, you take away from people their autonomy, mastery, and purpose in your pursuit, you take away their soul. When you take away the essential elements of rewarding work, people become mindless automatons.Frederick Winslow Taylor is a controversial figure in management history. His innovations in industrial engineering, particularly in time and motion studies, paid off in dramatic improvements in productivity. At the same time, he has been credited with destroying the soul of work, of dehumanizing factories, making men into automatons.Vincenzo SandroneTraditional management practices were born out of the disengagement of the workforce. With the outcome controlled and repeatable, management focuses on best practices and incentivising people to work faster and harder. They wanted to remove thinking from the work since thinking creates ideas, and ideas create deviations from the pre-defined optimal way of working.The thinking goes like this: Ideas and innovation from your workers were a risk to your business and thus must be eliminated. We need to remove thinking!When you remove thinking from work and turn people into automatons:People don’t care about the work — and your workforce disengages, so their interest in the work and empathy for the customer also wains. Your workforce doesn’t care about the work, and workers primary concern is no longer the success of the company. They are instead concerned mainly with the output of their repetitive operation and maintaining or increasing their levels of remuneration.People become replaceable cogs — Indeed the company comes to see an uneducated workforce who just do as they are told as easily replaceable resources. They don’t have any discernable skills and the company has many people waiting for those jobs that can be easily slotted in. The company now no longer cares about the individual and they become resources to be allocated and replaced.These two outcomes result in an erosion of trust between the workers and the company.These working practices have resulted in:This was the advent of the age of bureaucracy.If you think about the school system in most countries, especially if you are over 30; we all sat in rows, did the same thing at the same time, were forbidden from talking, and teachers used incentive based learning! I assert that there is no difference between this and the treatment of factory workers. The modern school system was developed during the industrial revolution to train factory workers.The end result is that many people have been trained from an early age to be factory workers. However very few of us will end up as factory workers today. We will more likely be office workers, solving cognitive business problems.Is Taylorism ingrained in the way we work today?If you are lucky enough to work in one of the small numbers of companies that have already transitioned away from departments, hierarchies, headcount, work breakdown, best practices, and individual bonus systems then you are fortunate, or maybe selective.Most people are not so lucky.The trouble with departments & hierarchiesIn the days of the industrial revolution, employees were perceived as untrustworthy. Managers were needed to tell workers what to do and how to do it. As our organisations grew we needed managers to manage the growing number of managers and incentivise those managers to increase productivity in our employees through any means that they could.“ Put people in competency based groups “The Scientific Management MethodUsing the Scientific Management Method the Business Owners should identify each problem domain (e.g. Sales, HR, Marketing, Engineering, Testing) and come up with the “one true way” to do that work within the domain. The Business Owners can then hire managers and workers that will be trained in the “one true way” of doing that work, and minimise deviation from the Business Owners control.And so we created departments so we could centralise training and knowledge on a single topic. If you were hired for sales, you ended up in the sales department: Completely disconnected from the makers, the designers, and the implementers. There would be no need for communications between Sales and the other departments since we have planned all of their work methods and need only follow the script.As the world became more complex and sales became a creative endeavour the imposed departmental isolation model became a negative impact. Sales personnel started making decisions in the complex world only taking sales concerns into account; that, by design, was all they knew. Creation and delivery had no bearing on closing deals, so they were ignored except in the most general terms. To close the deal and get ones bonus sales personnel only needed to get the customer to sign, it mattered not if you could actually deliver.Often the result of this relationship was animosity between the departments, and unhappy customers when either quality, money, time, or features had to suffer.An example of this was the Microsoft Azure Platform. Salespeople were measures and bonuses paid based on the amount of Azure that customers bought. This measure resulted in salespeople pushing output over the outcome. They sold millions of dollars of Azure to companies that never used it. This resulted in unhappy customers and declining sales. Customer failed to see the value in what they were buying.Then Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft) changed the measure for Sales from the output based measure to one based on the customer’s outcome. Salespeople were no longer bonused based on how much they sold, but instead on how much a customer used. This change was revolutionary for sales of Azure. They were no longer focused on the short term ( to get executives to sign) but on a much longer engagement model with customers. It became critical to encourage customers, with direct help, to move towards DevOps practices. Microsoft provided ( and continued to provide) consultants and coaches to help create better outcomes for customers. This has paid off hugely for Microsoft as they are now the largest cloud computing provider despite starting late.This seemingly small change in how people are measured changed behaviours greatly. Many salespeople left Microsoft as a direct result as they were only interested in the short term, and not the long term investment in customer success.Microsoft also restructured how Sales personnel work so rather than it being one huge department each product was responsible for their own Sales, Marketing, Engineering, and Support. With Sales now a skill within the Product teams instead of a separate organisation, Product Groups can leverage the combined knowledge of all disciplines to encourage customers to use more azure.How will you break siloed departments within your organisation and move towards more holistic and aligned Product teams that can deliver value to your customers?The trouble with Best PracticesIn the days of the industrial revolution, employees were perceived as unskilled. Business owners needed to create standard operating procedures for every facet of work within each problem domain. The work of the time existed within the simple space. The work being performed may by categorised as “simple”, with relatively few unknowns. Manufacturing created a large volume of pre-defined work in a low variance environment where the outcomes of the work were known before the work was performed. Output was the only control and correlated directly to profitability.“Create standard practices and train workers in those practices”The Scientific Management MethodSince there was a low variability in the work we could plan it all out beforehand, and simply follow that plan. We could hire managers to maintain order and compliance with defined methods, and treat employees as simple replicable cogs.Business owners created best practices for creating products and expected everyone else to follow them.As the world became more complicated and we were able to create automation using machinery with software to control it. The simple, low variance work could be automated. This allowed workers to focus on more complex cognitive tasks, but the management practices more suited to repetitive, low-variance work persisted.Although the work had changed, the belief in predictive planning prevailed. There was a belief that if people just followed the detailed work breakdown and Gant chart, then everything would be fine.Best Practices, Centers of Excellence, and Innovation Labs are all constructs of the Tayloristic practices designed for simple, low-variance work. These practices seek to exert more control over the new complex modern world of work.Even in the simple, low-variance domain, the old Tayloristic practices based on the Scientific Management Method destroy the soul of work. These practices create workers that hate the work, their managers, and the company.We need a new way!In the simple world, the Toyota Production System is the poster child of innovation and discovering new ways of working. Optimizing the workspace and creating good practices became the job of the employee and they were encouraged to periodically stop and reflect on how to do things better.In the complex world of Sales, Marketing, and Software Development we also needed new ways of thinking that would power the same ideas from Toyota and Lean into the high variance world of complex cognitive work. This was the birth of the Agile movement with the Scrum Framework (1993), the Agile Manifesto (2001), and later Kanban (2004).Instead of coming up with best practices, we realise that there are only good practices for the situation at hand. A good practice, today might not be quite so good tomorrow, and thus we need to be a lot more flexible. No longer is the business owner (or manager) the best person to define these practices since they are no longer close to the problem.We are uncovering better ways of developing “products” by doing it and helping others do it.Agile Manifesto, 2001The best people to make decisions and define practices are those with the most information. Today that is the people doing the complex cognitive work.We need to accept that our practices are imperfectly defined. With this in mind, we need to push responsibility for defining those practices down to the people doing the work: they have the information required to make better decisions about which actions are more likely to yield the desired outcomes.The trouble with Task and Bonus systemsIn the days of the industrial revolution, employees were perceived to be lazy. It was perceived that revenue was lost due to this lazy, malingering workforce and so business owners needed to figure out how to minimise downtime and maximize output. Since managers were keeping people with the same ability in the same group, and planning everyone’s work, the one remaining thing to be controlled was the worker’s focus.“Reduced wage based on expected low performance and bonuses for increased output”The Scientific Management MethodManagers used various methods to incentivise workers to work harder and faster:The Task and Bonus system is by far the most prevailing practice today, however, all of these systems were designed to create the same outcome and have a similar negative impact on workers.Developed by Henry Gantt, the Task and Bonus system is an augmentation to the Taylor Differential piece work system and was intended to pay workers a low wage, since we expect them to have low performance, and then have a bonus that takes them to a potential high wage.Taylor, Gantt, and Emerson all created different “Carrot and the Stick” approaches to management.There are other ways to try and incentivise people, rather than just how they are remunerated:The idea that you need to dangle a carrot in front of the employees in order to get them to work more efficiently is a logical outcome of the practices we have been discussing throughout this article.There have been many studies done at universities around the world on financial incentives for employees. All of them agree that higher pay and bonuses only resulted in better performance when the tasks were basic mechanical tasks. More money works for tasks that have a pre-defined set of steps with a single answer.If a task involved even a small amount of cognitive skills, decisions making, or creativity then more money resulted in lower performance. This is contrary to the common understanding of wage incentives.If you are managing people you should pay them enough so that they feel that they are compensated fairly and not struggling to meet their basic needs. You should pay them enough to take the issue of money off the table.There are three key areas that Leaders need to focus on that will increase the performance of your workforce:If you and your business only focus on profits without valuing your employees need for autonomy, mastery, and purpose then you may end up with unhappy employees and poor customer service. I don’t know about you, but I do not do my best work when I am unhappy!The trouble with TaylorismThese Tayloristic practices worked well for employers during the industrial revolution. However, even factory work has progressed in the shadow of the Toyota Production System and the lean movement. People are no longer cogs in a machine that can be replaced at a moments notice. Each employee brings a unique skill or ability to your product discovery and product development story. That story will be unique because of it. These Tayloristic practices kill ingenuity, focus, and enthusiasm.Foster ingenuity, focus, and enthusiasm and stop killing it with Taylorism. Bring the soul back to the work.Originally published at on January 18, 2021.

Story Points & Velocity are a sign of an unsuccessful team

Martin HinshelwoodJan 4, 2021·6 min readStory Points and velocity have been used for many years in the Scrum community and have been engrained so much in the way that things are done that most folks believe that they are part of Scrum. The accepted wisdom is that Scrum Teams are supposed to use User Stories, Story Points, and Velocity to measure their work.Accepted wisdom is wrong!Reviewers: Steve PorterVelocity and Story Points are not ScrumThere are a number of things that we collectively believe are required to do Scrum, and these have been perpetrated by the long-running perseverance of trainers teaching to the lowest common denominator and keeping things as simple as possible. There is the general consensus in the trainer community that folks that attend Scrum training are not smart enough to do anything else. However, if you go have a look at the Scrum Guide and see how many time common things that you believe are mandated in Scrum are referenced:Velocity: 0Story Points: 0Burndown: 0User Stories: 0Original Estimate: 0Bug Count: 0Actual Completed: 0The answer to all of these searchers is zero! These are complementary practices that may or may not work within the bounds of your organisational complexity, and all of these are an indication to me that your organisations are only just starting its evolution towards agility.Managing the unknown is hardIt’s ok for a team to start with Story Points and Velocity. There are many things that change when a team moves from the traditional project management practices of the past to the empirical practices of the future, and sometimes we need to pick our battles. One such battle is that of story points and velocity and in fact all of the gubbins surrounding it.Perhaps you need to appease other parts of the organisation that are not yet ready for change. Perhaps you have a long journey and this is just somewhere to start.Story Points & Velocity can be a good starting point!I am not saying that there is no value in Story Points or Planning Poker. When a team is just starting out they need to keep things simple and iterate towards better outcomes. We often start from typical traditional practices and Planning Poker becomes a good learning point. Story Points use rough sizing as a way to analyze the work and break it down.Because really, the scores are made up and the points don’t matter. It’s the conversation that is a valuable thing. The shared understanding that the participants get by having some way to know when they don’t understand the same things. That is awesome.However, agile teams try to use Story Points and Velocity for future predictability and this is a fallacy. While I would be OK with a team using it for a while, if an Agile Team is still using Velocity and Story Points after they have 5 or 10 sprints under their belt then I would have serious concerns about their ability to adapt to change and their sincerity towards that change. What I mean is that they just don’t understand their work or its nature; This is what I mean by immaturity, and not that something else is a sign of maturity!Indeed as the Scrum Team using Story Points really has no consistent reference they are just shooting in the dark the same as they were before.While they have gained an understanding of the goals, they still don’t have an understanding of the predictability and thus no confidence in their predictions. We need concrete data to build trust with stakeholders that we know what we are talking about.We need confidence!Velocity was a way to assert that confidence with a plot of our delivered story points, and along with some clever calculations we asserted that we were likely to deliver about 20 story points. This was such a wholly improbable assumption that the vast majority of Scrum Teams talk about “carry-over” points and quiz me about how to represent that. Do you re-estimate and stick it on the backlog, does it move to the next sprint?Scrum Teams have been basing their confidence to stakeholders on an agreed consensus that cant be compared and is susceptible to any change from the makeup of the team from the estimation room.We need confidence!Confidence Through TransparencyConfidence is gained by truly understanding the uncertainty of delivery and factoring it into our projections. How sure are you that you will be able to deliver? No really! what is your statistical level of confidence?In the empirical world where more is unknown than known, we don’t plan all of the work (it will change) and we cant tell you when things will be done.Except when we can!The Increment is the Confidence of Transparency of the Future — If we have a Scrum Team then I should be confident in saying that we will have a usable increment at the end of every Sprint. If that is true, then we can have 100% confidence that we can deliver the output from the last Sprint. It works, and it’s done!The Product Backlog is the Confidence of Transparency of the Future — Since we have a backlog that has been ordered by the Product Owner, who is accountable for maximizing the value delivered I can be confident that what we have Done represents the most valuable things that we could have done.With both of these being true we can have 100% confidence that we have the most valuable items that the business needs to be completed and ready to deploy. Every additional Sprint just adds to the quantity of value.Using a cycle time scatter plot we can assess and find our confidence levels, and even create a Service Level Expectation, that allows us to measure progress against.You can use this range of confidence levels to determine your current levels of predictability, and monitor the effect of changes that you make to your system on it. If you have an 85% confidence level of 16 days and you’re on 2-week Sprints then you have a problem.This data is not hard to collect and find a full list of awesome metrics in the Kanban Guide for Scrum Teams from published at on January 4, 2021.

Agile in Nigeria 2020: The Inevitability of change

There is no such thing as an Agile Transformation, Digital Transformation, DevOps Transformation, or any of the Whatever Transformation that you can think of or have been sold. You can’t buy agility, and you certainly can’t install it. There is no end state, no optimal outcome, No best practices. We are no longer factory workers. […]

Evolution not Transformation: This is the Inevitability of change

Martin HinshelwoodJul 13, 2020·8 min readThere is no such thing as an Agile Transformation, Digital Transformation, DevOps Transformation, or any of the Whatever Transformation that you can think of or have been sold. You can’t buy agility, and you certainly can’t install it. There is no end state, no optimal outcome, No best practices. We are no longer factory workers.Instead, you have to grow, nurture, and prune agility as it grows organically inside your organization and eventually, you too will be able to take advantage of business opportunities as they arise in the ever-changing marketplace. This is continuous change…It’s an Evolution, not a transformation.Due to the long timelines, it is easy to see the change that happens over a long period of time as a transformation, as a caterpillar transforms into the butterfly. The idea of a defined start and end state is an illusion that lures us from the realities of how things successfully change; through a continuous set of experiments. The successful experiments succeed and do well in a niche, the unsuccessful ones fail and die. The more experiments that you run, the more likely you are to find something that fits a niche better or opens up a new niche.During the Industrial Revolution, when traditional management practices were developed, the ebb and flow of niches was a slow and deliberate endeavour, usually driven by a single educated visionary. The pace of change was much slower, both communication systems and education systems were weak, and niches that companies found were long-lived, often tens if not hundreds of years; they only needed to adapt once, and then optimise for the current state. The change was no longer necessary, and the competition was weak and slow to disrupt markets. A company, once established, could own a niche, seemingly forever. Bureaucracy was born as a way to solidify the newly found market and optimise the product delivery with best practices. We could own that space!Today the world flows faster; due to the increase in education levels and the advancement of technologies, and it’s not slowing down. As things flow faster so our need to react to this new pace of development increases. Thus a virtuous cycle of increasing change perpetuates. Many organisations, rather than embracing this new reality, incorporate change in large and expensive fits and starts, rather than as a continuous flow. They only change when they feel threatened, and just change one bureaucratic system for another just as static. This inability to evolve in a continuous flow means that many organisations die; Where is Blockbuster, or Kodak.Ask yourself, would your organisation would have survived COVID 20 years ago, or even 10. With 100% of your employees working from home, how has your infrastructure coped? If you are still operating on a traditional “employees must be controlled” management mindset, then you were still running centralised VPN, which could not cope with the new load. You had neither the bandwidth nor the licences to support 100% remote workforce. However, if over the last ten years you had adopted cloud services, then you would have felt less of a pinch. Your employees likely felt that speeds were faster as they no longer needed to share the finite office bandwidth with their colleagues. That change you made from on-premises to the cloud may have saved your business, but did you adopt it by evolution or transformation?I often hear “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but this is a phrase of the past. Today the pace of change in the world means that we need a new mantra, one not steeped in traditional management practices or weighed down by the baggage of the past. We need to embrace change, and that means accepting a higher degree of risk, mitigated by a higher degree of competence. Evolution is about embracing that risk and learning from its failures. Success is the result of continuous experimentation at a sustainable pace that is able to take advantage of current business opportunities as they arise.This is the Inevitability of change.Orienteering towards your intended outcomeThe best analogy for this continuous state of evolving, refining, improving, adapting, enhancing, and changing that I have encountered is Orienteering. Orienteering is a technique for map reading and direction-finding developed by the military to train soldiers to find their way. Today it is a sport, and is often taught in schools; at least, it was in mine.In Orienteering, like with any corporate endeavour, you should have some kind of vision or intended goal in mind. This is your current destination. You then use a compass and a map to figure out which direction, next steps, you need to take to get closer to that destination. As you take each step you may encounter obstacles or impediments that challenge you, and that you have to figure a way around. You may need to take a large detour in order to traverse an obstacle or impediment, so you need to reassess your next steps by consulting the map and compass.The bit where I feel that orienteering as a sport does not fit is that it generally has a fixed route with prescribed checkpoints along the way. This is a little more analogous to traditional project management rather than modern practices. However, orienteering in its original military context would have been a lot more fluid, with changing tactical realities as you progress towards your vision, and this is exactly what we are looking for. Your end goal will evolve over time as the business conditions change and you may have to reassess your tactical direction and doctrine as you discover more.Always remember that this is your business, your organisation, your people, and their livelihood. You are accountable for your organisation’s success or failure. In order to change it effectively, you need to create leaders inside your organisation that understand these modern management techniques and know why we need to change.To do that you, not some external coach or consultant, need to be in the driver’s seat, making the decisions that are necessary to evolve your organisation. External people can help you learn these new techniques and coach you and your leadership team towards dismantling the bureaucracy that has built up over many years. They can help facilitate new interactions and fuel engagement and enthusiasm for the new practices and techniques, but you need to own them. You as a leader need to embody evolutionary practices with your organisation and foster it internally.While there are some well-known practices, like self-organising teams, that help almost everyone, many of the practices you create will be your own. The difficulty is creating an environment within your organisation where these new techniques don’t become the new bureaucracy, but instead create a continuous state of evolving, refining, improving, adapting, enhancing, and changing processes, practices, and tools that help you succeed.You as leaders need to understand why you are making each decision, and what you expect the outcomes for the organisations to be.You!As you take each step you may realise that you were wrong, that this direction leads not to your intended outcome, but somewhere else. Decide if that somewhere else is a better place than you envisaged, and then figure out where you need to go next. Be free to experiment, accept that any processes and practices will be imperfectly defined, and adapt to what you discover along the way.Checkpoints: Known outcomes that indicate progress towards agilityI mentioned that there are some common known checkpoints along the way that that you can use to orientate yourself. Here are a few to get you started:Are Teams delivering a working product to real users every iteration including the first and gathering feedback?Is there a clear product vision laying out the strategic goals and do all team members understand how they contribute?Is feedback from real users turned into concrete work items for delivery teams on timelines shorter than 1 month?Are Teams empowered to change their process based on what they learn?Are Teams empowered to change the requirements based on user feedback?Is the full ecosystem of your project agile; Agile Teams followed by bureaucratic, linear, delivery is a failure. I have has some feedback that this is overly critical, that many organisations get value even within “bureaucratic, linear, delivery”. I don’t disagree that they have gotten value, I just disagree that it is agility. One of the key tenants of agility is feedback, and the sudo-feedback of pre-production is no substitute for real feedback from real users that are using your system for production activities.I stole and adapted this initial list from the Department of Defence white paper Detecting Agile BS that was sent out to all of their procurement officers to help them spend their $800+ billion budget more effectively.ConclusionI want to be clear; the new state of modern practices that continuously adapt to change requires everything to change. Every business process you currently have is built on the bureaucratic ideas of the past! They are impediments to being able to effectively take advantage of market opportunities as they arise. This type of change is not something that you can import wholesale from the outside, it takes time, focus, and effort. It must be organically and iteratively grown from the inside. You may hire many consultants, or coaches, or trainers along the way, but they must be driving your vision and work for you.You as the leaders in your organisation need to come up with your vision for the future, some checkpoints that would indicate progress towards that vision and lead your organisation forwards. Along the way you need to continuously inspect your vision and checkpoints for validity and adapt as needed.Inside out is the only effective way to change. It can not be imposed from the outside by folks that don’t understand your culture or your people.#leadership #agileleadership #daretochangeDo you want to write for Serious Scrum or seriously discuss Scrum?Originally published at on July 13, 2020.Watch Instead :)Hi, my name is Martin Hinshelwood and I and the owner at naked Agility with Martin Hinshelwood. I’m a Professional Scrum Trainer with, Microsoft MVP and I have been delivering software for 20 years and working with organizational change for over 10 years.Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I will hopefully have time to answer them. Failing that, you can ask me at anything on Linkedin and you can find many videos of mine on naked Agility TV.

Many organisations are lured to SAFe by the song of the Sirens

Martin HinshelwoodJul 1, 2020·3 min readThese Sirens take advantage of the lack of understanding of what business agility is trying to change and lures unsuspecting C-suite executives into parting with their cash for what is effectively someone else’s business process. They are changing their entire organisation, not because of a business challenge, but because they are told to.The lure is strong! They can spend a few million dollars and pow, their organisation is agile, and our business is saved. They make sweeping changes to their lexicon and organisations of their business. We have installed agility!I’m not saying that SAFe did not work, or that some organisations don’t get value from it. Just like traditional tayloristic practices, many organisations were able to thrive in spite of the choices that they made.Many large organisations are waking up to this reality and are evolving instead of transforming. Transformation implies an end, a final stage, and the reality of today’s businesses is that nothing stays still for long.Organisations have a lot in common with the animal kingdom. Animals evolve to fill a niche and thrive until that niche changes and they can either evolve again or die. In the past evolution of companies and the changing ecosystem of niches were slow, giving even the largest organisations time to adapt. However, those days are gone now.The world is changing faster and faster and your organisation needs to embrace evolution. You need to be able to change to take advantage of new business opportunities as they arise and to do that you need a level of business agility that may astound you.Fundamentally, the main “goal” of Software development is NOT to be “ SAFE “, it is to INNOVATE and CREATE. You do not create by not taking risks…Scaled Agile Framework is just Taylorism with an Agile lexiconI talk often of the tyranny of Taylorism and the rigidity that it has instilled over many generations and constant bombardment of this is the way this should be done. This rigidity of the “best practice” or “we always do it that way”, or “we can’t do that here” is a symptom of that old thinking that was designed to manage disengaged factory workers.SAFe does not change the thinking in the organisation, in fact, it solidifies rigidity by saying “this is how you do agile”. That’s the very antithesis of the intent behind the agile movement. You cant take someone else’s framework that worked in their organisation, like SAFe or Spotify, and install it in your organisation. You end up with fake agile, false security that you are embracing change while enshrining in the bureaucracy of the “way that we do things here”.Scaled Agile Framework is just replacing one bureaucracy with another. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.Do you want to write for Serious Scrum or seriously discuss Scrum?Originally published at on July 1, 2020.

80% of communication is non-verbal | naked Agility with Martin Hinshelwood

Martin HinshelwoodJun 28, 2020·6 min readIn light of the new normal and the last 20 years of technological progress, we need to re-define co-location as we no longer need to be in the same room as each other to get the 80% of communication that is non-verbal. If we are participating in an online event, we should try our best to keep our cameras on so that we can all read those non-verbal queues.TLDR; If you are participating in an online event you should be transparent and commit to being open & respectful by having your camera on and engaging the topics and outcomes at hand as best as you are able. While we show commitment to our fellow participants by keeping our camera on, we should in turn respect a participants need to sometimes turn their camera off.Just as you would not take a phone call in a meeting and disrupt everyone, the same social conventions for meetings should be respected. Let folks know in the chat, turn your camera and mic off, return when you can focus again. If you are unable to use the camera due to bandwidth it may be better to attend an in-person event.Note: Rules are for the guidance of wise people and the obedience of fools.Co-location definedThe idea behind co-location is that with 80% of communication being non-verbal we need to be able to be in the same room, space, to be able to read each others body language and facial expressions.Have you ever been able to tell exactly what the car in front of you will do next when you are driving?When I was a teenager I was in the car with my grandfather and he said: “You need to keep your eyes on all of the cars so that you know what they are going to do”. I scoffed at that idea, but then he said: “See that car, it’s going to change lane”. I scoffed again, but then looked on in incredulous wonder as the car moved. I could not understand how my grandfather knew, but now that I am a drive I do the same all of the time.-Jessica Baez Calderin, Strategic Director, naked Agility with Martin HinshelwoodWhen we are driving we have a learned understanding of driver intent that is built over years of driving experience so that we know when the car in front is going to change lane even before the signal, and especially when they don’t.We look for micro-changes in the driver’s seated position, the road position of their car, and the other cars around them. Maybe we also get some official and standard notifications thorough the brake lights and indicators; if they work. You unconsciously take no account the apparent age of the driver and the age and condition of the car. We process all of this together and as an individual driver, we partake in an intricate non-verbal dance of lane, signals, and speed that take us safely to our destination.Another example is my wife’s family is in Cancun, Mexico City, and Puerto Rico, as well as elsewhere. Every Sunday they have a family video-conference with between 20 and 35 people participating all with video and chatting away. Technology is awesome.This is like a physical team room, except we can also add the other 20% with verbal-communication as we engage in our activities. Awesome! Right.Well, it would be if many agile practitioners were not suffering from cognitive bias and stuck in the thinking that co-location means in-person. Yes, the Irony is not lost on me! This definition of co-location is over 20 years old and technology has changed a lot in that time.Co-location re-definedIts been 25 (1995) years since the first Scrum project and the average internet speed was 56kbps! Here is a list of the important dates since then and the average internet speed in brackets:1995 — First Scrum project (56kbps)2000 — First video Conferencing (280kbps)2001 — Agile manifesto signed (280kbps)2005 — First HD video (980kbps)2020 — COVID (26Mbps)Today I, along with most folks in the technology industry, have internet speed in excess of 200Mbs. Today it is generally no problem to have both kids on Netflix/Xbox, and both parents in full HD video conferencing at the same time. What a world we live in.While we need to re-define co-located for the general usage of the word I have always used the following:Co-Location:Co-location is a complimentary agile practice where all members of the same Scrum Team work daily in the same room, within visual sight of each other.-Martin Hinshelwood: What is your perspective on collocation?This definition encompasses both in-person and virtual events as long as we can see everyone. We need to see folks express and posture to in order to gain a greater degree of transparency over what they are thinking, how they are absorbing the information and how we need to adapt the material to increase understanding. How do you expect the facilitator to understand what you as a participant get or don’t without being able to see you?For 2020 I would like to update my own definition of co-location to be more inclusive of the virtual world that is part of the new normal.Co-Location:Every member of the team can see every other member of the team’s posture and expression.-Martin Hinshelwood, 2020Participation requires PresenceFor any online event you should be just as present as you would be in-person, and to do that you should have your camera on as much as possible. This provides feedback for both other participants and the speaker.Do you believe that this group is focused? How would you know? As a participant do you feel empowered to call upon ML? Will they reply? Are they even there?These are all questions that can be easily answered by enabling the visual presence that is your camera. If you are uncomfortable with your camera then there are options available. I have used FaceRig which gives at least some of the 80% that is non-verbal while hiding your bad hair.If you are going to be participating in an organized event that will be held online then you should consider being somewhere with good bandwidth, with a usable background.Presence can also be fun!ConclusionWith the advancement in video-conferencing, camera quality, and internet speed over the last 20 years since agility became a named thing, there is very little excuse for not having video-enabled, and to participate with your team or any other group.Having your camera on enables as much as 80% more knowledge transfer between you and the other participants. Having it off inhibits high bandwidth communication.So if you are participating in a video-conference:Be respectful, and open with other participants, and use your camera.Give the event your full focus and commitment and pay attention or leave.Have the courage to participate and speak up.All of this together will create the transparency required by your host and co-participants to see your participation, how you are reacting, and modify the event to make it better.If you don’t want or can’t have your camera on it would be better for you and the facilitator that you attend an in an in-person event.Do you want to write for Serious Scrum or seriously discuss Scrum?Originally published at on June 28, 2020.

Live Virtual Classroom’s and the new normal

Martin HinshelwoodJun 18, 2020·3 min readWith the change in business model in the current crisis, many training organizations have had to do the unthinkable and move to Live Virtual training options. Existing wisdom was that training online, just as running teams virtually would be a disaster and reduce the student’s experience.We were Wrong!In-person pass rates are slightly lower 6% looking only at students from Assessment ResultWhen Scrum and Agile were first conceptualized the idea of colocation meant that we had to have everyone in the same place in order to get that extra 80% of communication that is non-verbal.However today this limitation does not exist for much of the world. With modern and secure video conferencing systems like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, & Webex we can create an almost perfect approximation of co-location while being distributed.Timezone becomes the inhibitor rather than physical presence.I, along with almost all of my colleagues at, have been running all of our classes as Live Virtual Classrooms using a verity of technologies and we have found that the experience for students is as good as, if not better than an in-person class. The trick is that we judiciously use breakout rooms and structured exercises with only a small amount of lecture to facilitate the greatest amount of learning.I for one have found that it is much easier to create interactive experiences in the virtual world, and have found that participation is just as high as in in-person classes. In a physical room, it is hard to get 20 people to participate in a big-wall exercise without jostling, crowding, and taking turns. In the virtual space, we can make the wall as big as we like.The New World of Virtual DeliveryWow, it is now so much easier to run a class. I don’t have to worry about flying, hotels, and transport, and neither do my students. It is better for the environment and its better for our sanity and family life. While it will take a little time for folks to spin up their home office this seems to be the new normal. I’m not sure many folks want to go back to many hours of commuting, and seasonal sickness, among other issues.I think this especially makes sense for the world of product delivery. Why go to the same place just to all work at a desk, in a cube, while all participating in the virtual world of our computer.Welcome the New NormalI am sure that an extrovert might have a different opinion initially, however, once we are out of lockdown and able to socialize in-person again I am sure that they can find their fix. For those of us in the knowledge industry, this is a new era. Embrace it, adapt to it, or it may just leave you behind!Originally published at on June 18, 2020.