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This episode features Troy Lightfoot who is a Business Agility Coach and Consultant as well as a Professional Kanban Trainer. The interview starts with a discussion about the basic differences between Scrum and Kanban and then digs into four of the metrics recommended in the Kanban Guide. We cover WIP, Throughput, Work Item Age, and Cycle Time, talking through what each of these is, the value these metrics provide, why they are so much more valuable than simply looking at something like velocity, and what these metrics can do to help you develop a better level of predicting when work is likely to finish and how they can show you and your team ways to identify and address the things that are holding you back from delivering value for your client. Troy also has a few ProKanban Certification classes coming up. In the back half of the interview, he explains what to expect if you sign up for a Professional Kanban 1 (PK1) Certification class or his Applying Metrics for Predictability (AMP) Certification class. Troy’s Classes Professional Kanban 1 (PK1) Certification June 23-24, 2022 Applying Metrics for Predictability (AMP) Certification July 21-22, 2022 Links from the Podcast The Kanban Guide My interview with Troy Magennis on Probabilistic Forecasting My interview with Colleen Johnson on ProKanban and ProKanban Certification Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability by Dan Vacanti When Will it Be Done by Dan Vacanti Contacting Troy Email:
Distributed Teams are never easy. It doesn’t matter if you are separated by one flight of stairs or 12 time zones. Forming and maintaining a cohesive, collaborative team that can support one another, consistently deliver, and continuously improve is always just a little bit tougher when you are not in the same physical space. The pandemic has offered all of us plenty of “opportunities” to find ways to improve how we form and function in a distributed way. But here’s the thing, even when you’ve been doing this stuff for years, it is tough. Experience can help guide you and show you some things to try to avoid, but each team is its own puzzle. In this episode of the podcast, Mark Kilby has joined me to utilize the Five Lenses of Humane Management to talk about distributed teams. There are three important things you need to know before you listen. 1. Mark Kilby and Johanna Rothman wrote the book “From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams: Collaborate to Deliver”. If you are looking for a tips on what makes distributed teams work, this book is an amazing resource. 2. Mark and I are on a distributed team together with two other people. Collectively, we bring over 70 years of experience of not only working on teams, but in coaching others on how to do it well. 3. We are struggling mightily During the interview, Mark and I unpack some of the things we’re experiencing in the forming storming stages of our distributed team. We share some of the insights and struggles we’ve had along the way. This interview is intended to offer a kind of retrospective/case study on challenges that even seasoned pros have when working remotely. For those of you who are having similar challenges, we want you to know that you are not alone and hopefully, one of the takeaways you’ll get from this interview is that even when you and your distributed team are struggling, there are probably some amazing things happening, you just need to keep an eye out for them and appreciate them. Links from the interview From Chaos to Successfully Distributed Agile Teams by Mark Kilby and Johanna Rothman The Five Lenses of Humane Management Interview with Jim Benson Lean Agile Visual Management Contacting Mark:
This podcast was originally recorded as a video interview. To view the video version, please go to: This special video podcast features Jim Benson who is back to talk about the Five Lenses of Humane Management. When human beings work together they form a system. That system runs according to the culture created by the people who are gathering together and collaborating. That culture may be designed with intent or it may happen organically, it may support the people working together in the system or it may work against them and the system. The Five Lenses offer a way of examining the system and the culture it creates to understand the ways in which it is fostering an environment that allows the people in the system to rise up together and thrive in a collaborative way. They will also help you see when and how the opposite is happening. The Five Lenses of Humane Management are: 1. Communications 2. Relationships 3. Respect 4. Flow 5. Continuous Improvement I asked Jim to join me for this podcast because I’ve been studying the lenses and incorporating them into my work for about a year now. They have had a deep impact on me, the way I engage with teams, and the way I show up to collaborate with others. If you are interested in understanding how and why the groups you are working with are high-performing (or perhaps the opposite), you will find valuable insights in this interview. If you’d like to learn more about the Five Lenses of Humane Management or Lean-Agile Visual Management: And if you’d like to reach out to Jim Benson directly: LINKS FROM THE PODCAST: Personal Kanban: Lean-Agile Visual Management on Modus Institute: Jim’s Books on Amazon: CONTACTING JIM BENSON: Web: LinkedIn: Twitter: Email:
When people talk about Agile you’ll hear them talk about certain ideas, topics, or “laws” that are just mentioned as if they were universally known truths, almost like gravity. In “Agile Physics - the Math of Flow”, a new FREE course offered by Troy Magennis, you can start to learn the math behind some of these truths. The course focuses on a number of these ideas and breaks them down in a way that provides clarity on why they are considered to be true. What I found in going through the course was that even with subjects I felt deeply schooled in, the way Troy breaks things down helped me see some of the basic concepts that I had not totally grokked. In this interview, Troy joins me to explain why he developed the course, how it works, and the tools he provides to add clarity to the concepts. Later in the interview (21:30), we also discuss Monte Carlo Simulation. Until recently, my understanding of Monte Carlo Simulation was based on what I learned early in my PMP journey, and what I saw from vendors demo’ing their Monte Carlo tools in the early 2000s. My understanding of Monte Carlo is now very different. Troy was kind enough to walk me through how it actually works, the benefits it provides, and why what I originally learned about it is no longer a “thing”. Agile Physics - The Math of Flow - Contacting Troy Web: LinkedIn: Email: Twitter:
This interview was originally recorded with video. If you'd like to check out that version you can find it here: Jim Benson is finishing up work on a new book The Collaboration Equation and in this episode of the podcast, the creator of Personal Kanban joins me to talk all about why we often resist collaboration, and why it is a necessary element of everything each of us does. Working through a number of real-life examples we discuss some of the ingredients you need to design a system that supports its participants and fosters a culture of collaboration. This interview is going to challenge your understanding of collaboration, offer you a lens to see collaboration in a deeper, more lasting way, and offer you a sneak peek of what is coming up in Jim’s new book. Links from the Podcast: Personal Kanban: Lean-Agile Visual Management on Modus Institute: Jim’s Books on Amazon: Contacting Jim Benson: Web: LinkedIn: Twitter: Email:
Jessica Katz is an Agile Coach and Trainer who is on a mission to help the community of Agile Coaches "...empower ourselves with better rates and more appropriate rates." When she became a freelance Agile Coach Jessica became aware of how difficult it was to understand how much an Agile Coach could expect to make as a full-time employee, how much they could charge as freelance, and how much those freelance coaches were paying themselves for the work they do. The first edition of The Agile Coaching Report came out last year and she recently finished collecting data for the second version. Since then she's been hard at work sorting through the details she has collected. During the interview, she shares some of the key learnings she has had in working with the data. This includes things like which segments of the coaching demographic get paid more, how do race and gender impact your pay, who is better at negotiating salary, and factors that can influence the amount you can earn as a coach. She also shares stories about how individuals have been able to use this data to successfully negotiate being paid at a rate equal to their peers within the organization. The audience for the report is anyone working in a coaching capacity within Agile Teams, on an Agile Transformation or Change Management project and it includes a variety of related information like how much people are getting paid for public speaking, as well as common attributes of those paid the most. If you are trying to figure out whether the amount you are earning is in step with the rest of the coaching field, if you need help figuring out how to negotiate for a higher rate of pay, or if you want to know if you are paying your coaches enough, this interview with Jessica Katz on her Agile Coaching Income Report has the details you are looking for. THE AGILE COACHING INCOME REPORT You can download a copy of the 2021 Agile Coaching Income Report here: Keep an eye out for the 2022 Agile Coaching Income Report on Jessica's website LADIES GET PAID During the interview Jessica mentions Ladies Get Paid (, which can be a very valuable resource for anyone (not just women) who needs to get better at negotiating salary. CONTACTING JESSICA if you'd like to reach out to Jessica directly Web: LinkedIn: Twitter:
Dan Eberle is the Agile Coach at the New York Times. He’s been a guest on this podcast in the past to talk about coaching stances and what to do when your team members are working on more than one team. This week our focus is on an Agile Certification program Dan has been developing at the New York Times. While obtaining professional credential certification (like CSM or CSPO) is a great investment to make in the people who work in your organization, those certs may not be right for everyone AND your organization may have developed its own approach to Agile by implementing practices from a number of different frameworks/methodologies. If that is the case, an internal training or certification program centered around your specific approach or one that is intended to offer participants enough learning to make intentional informed choices about what practices to adopt may be an ideal way to go. During the interview, Dan explains why he developed the program, the different areas it focuses on, and how employees of the New York Times will evolve through the different levels of certification. Contacting Dan LinkedIn: Twitter: To sign up for Dave's in-person CSM/CSPO classes in Atlanta: CSM (April 5-6, 2022) CSPO (April 7-8, 2022) * Use the discount code DPM10 to get a 10% discount off the list price
Career Refactoring - Find the Gig that Sparks Joy w/ Luis Garcia The pandemic has been tough on everyone. Some have obviously felt the impact deeper than others. But there have also been positive things that came about as a result of the change Covid has brought to our lives. For some, it provided an opportunity to step back and reassess their goals, how they were spending their days and the way they wanted to live and work. For many, this has meant leaving their jobs entirely. For others, like Luis Garcia, it’s meant taking stock, realizing what work sparks joy in your life, and Kondo-ing the rest of that noise right out of your system. This podcast features an interview with a colleague of mine who started out as a project manager and spent years working his way up the ladder only to find it give way when he got laid off early in the pandemic. Rather than rush right back to work, Luis took advantage of the break, spent more time with his family, and reevaluated his career. He’d been successful at working his way up the food chain but realized that at some point, he’d left behind the parts of the job he enjoyed the most. Luis joins me in this episode to talk about that journey and how he’s made a deliberate choice to go back to being a Scrum Master so that he can spend his time doing what brings him joy - working with teams to build products that impact the lives of others. Contacting Luis Twitter: LinkedIn:
In the book The Journey to Enterprise Agility - Systems Thinking and Organizational Legacy, Daryl Kulak and Hong Li focus on the disconnection that often occurs between various parts of the enterprise and how that creates challenges during Agile adoption. Taking a systems thinking approach, Kulak and Li make the case for re-orienting the enterprise in a way that is better suited to an agile way of working. A big part of this is taking a more human-centric view and valuing the contribution individuals bring to this difficult journey. In this interview, the two authors share stories about their experiences working with organizations that are on the journey towards agility and explain how this shift in approach works, why so many organizations fail at adopting agile, and how the changes they recommend impacts the way we think and work with people at all levels of the enterprise. If you’d like to check out the book: The Journey to Enterprise Agility - Systems Thinking and Organizational Legacy Contacting Daryl Kulak LinkedIn: Email: Twitter: Contacting Hong Li LinkedIn Email:
When Mike McCalla, President, and Founder of Lean Agile Intelligence was looking for feedback on some ideas he had around enterprise agile transformation, he posted his thoughts on LinkedIn and asked if he was oversimplifying what he had started referring to as Object-Oriented Data-Driven Change. One great thing about agile folks who spend time on the interweb, if you ask them for feedback, they are more than happy to provide… often more than you want, and often about things you weren’t asking for feedback on, but, they do respond. Mike’s post kicked off a very spirited conversation. In this episode of the podcast, he joins me to share his thoughts on why taking a data-driven approach to introducing sticky change in the enterprise is an important part of delivering on the promise of change in large organizations. You can find Mike’s original LinkedIn post here: If you are interested in learning more about Lean Agile Intelligence and how it can help you and your organization continually assess how you are progressing in your transformation journey and what next steps are likely to help the most. Contacting Mike LinkedIn: Twitter:
This interview was originally recorded in video. You can find the video here: In April 2014, Derek Huether started leading a monthly Lean Coffee meeting for Agile Baltimore. Early in 2022, the group will hold its 100th Lean Coffee! In celebration of that, Derek joined me for an interview all about Lean Coffee - what is it, how does it work, how to get set up to run one, and what are the benefits of leading a Lean Coffee. If you aren’t familiar with Lean Coffee it is an agenda-less meeting format developed by Jim Benson and Jeremy Lightsmith that relies on the people who show up to collaborate on the agenda and then cover them together. Even if you are a seasoned Lean Coffee veteran you will probably find valuable ideas here. Both Derek and I came away from this conversation with new things to try out. Also, at the end of the podcast, there is an additional brief conversation about Jira. Derek works for Atlassian and he shares a number of resources that you and your team can use to get answers to all your Jira questions. 1:00 Who is Derek Huether 2:10 What is a Lean Coffee 10:00 What do YOU get out of running a Lean Coffee 13:00 How does a Lean Coffee work 27:45 Using it to run meetings 35:15 How to Contact Derek 35:45 How to get Jira help Links from the podcast Agile Baltimore Lean Coffee Website Metrics Cookbook by Derek Huether How to Have Great Meetings: A Lean Coffee Book by Adam Yuret Lean Coffee Table (App to run Lean Coffee Meetings) Jira videos on YouTube: Atlassian Community Site: Atlassian University: Contacting Derek Web: LinkedIn: Twitter: Instagram:
Change is difficult. Figuring out what to change is often the hardest part. Whether you are looking for different outcomes within your organization, or you are simply trying to create a change in how you live your life, one of the first steps you need to take is to determine what it is you actually need to change to see different results. Braden Cundiff has developed a method to FLIP old behaviors and create new ones. The FLIP approach is defined in Braden’s book Flip: Projects to Products: A problem playbook ( This is the second in a series of podcasts where we are breaking down the steps in Braden’s approach and exploring how to make it work for you on a personal and organizational level. In this interview, we explore how to find the problem, why you need to name that problem and create a definition around the scope of it, and then how to assess whether or not it is a problem you can, and should take on. If you’d like to learn more about FLIP you can check out Braden’s book, Flip: Projects to Products: A problem playbook (, or you can check out the first podcast in this series, which gives an overview of the FLIP model for creating change, why it works, how it works, what the model is based on, and how you can get started using it, you can find that here: Contacting Braden LinkedIn:
In this episode of the podcast Sustained Agility’s Eric Tucker, CST, joins Dave to talk about common sense and Agile. When it comes to adopting Agile practices and frameworks like Scrum, there are missteps people and organizations make that could be easily avoided if they would just use common sense. Eric has put together a talk highlighting some of the common sense mistakes that frequently occur and during the interview, he and Dave unpack a few of the more common, common sense mistakes. They explore why they occur in the first place, and how two avoid them. To check out a video of Eric’s Common Sense talk: If you’d like to contact Eric: Linkedin: Web: Email:
Assumptions are often the Achilles heel of any development effort. These are the things we’ve unintentionally decided are true and unfortunately, far too often, our assumptions are wrong. If you’ve based the success of the work you are doing on incorrect assumptions… VERYBADTHINGS. But, if they are things we’ve unintentionally decided are true? How do we find them in the first place? And if we can find them, what do we do about them? This episode is all about understanding the assumptions we are making when we develop new products and services. Precoil Founder David Bland has joined me to talk about why we need to pay attention to assumptions and how to use Assumptions Mapping to determine which of our assumptions present the biggest threat and need to be addressed first. During the interview, we review how to use the Assumptions Mapping approach that is included in Testing Business Ideas, the book David co-wrote with Alexander Osterwalder. Links from the Podcast Testing Business Ideas By David J. Bland and Alexander Osterwalder: Strategyzer Virtual Masterclass in May: Contacting David Precoil: Twitter: LinkedIn:
In this episode of the podcast, Agile Coach Dan Eberle is back to help me respond to a student question that is complicated, confusing, and more common than it should be… Ivan (not the person’s real name) explained the situation like this… Six Product Owners/Developers oversee 20 reports within the org. Each of the reports has a specialized role. They are broken up into teams that range in size from 1-5 people, and the team size tends to fluctuate. Some of the Product Owners/Developers oversee teams and are also the people managers of the individuals on the team. Some of the team members report to people managers who are Product Owner/Developers of other teams, team members of other teams, or people completely outside the grouping of 6 + 20. There is competition for the attention/efforts of team members who are allocated to more than one project and/or reporting to a people manager who has different priorities than the PO/Dev they are assigned to work with. Basically, everyone is over-allocated and the people on your team, who you need to do the work you are responsible for, are being pulled in other directions either by the person they report to, or the other projects they are assigned to. I tried to draw a picture of this. Ivan confirmed this was pretty accurate. During the conversation, Dan and I discuss the challenges this situation creates, potential responses, what the root cause of this problem might be and how to pursue solving that, rather than simply finding a coping strategy To Learn More about the Lean Agile Visual Management course Dan and I are taking with Modus Cooperandi -> Contacting Dan LinkedIn: Twitter:
In June of 2020, I posted an interview with Karim Harbott about his Business Agility Canvas. During the interview, he mentioned that he was working on a book, The 6 Enablers of Business Agility: How to Thrive in an Uncertain World. The book was released earlier this year and I recently started reading it. Karim does an excellent job of breaking down the 6 different areas he has identified as being critical to successfully adopt the practices necessary to achieve business agility. I am truly enjoying the book and I highly recommend it. Even if you are a seasoned transformation coach, you are going to find value in this book. I came across one passage in particular recently that stuck out to me so I reached out to Karim to ask if we could do another podcast on it. The passage is below and it identifies a conversation that I wish more organizations would have. All too often senior leadership declares that Agile is “the way”, they train teams, and then completely fail to provide them with an environment in which they can be successful. The question is, why does that keep happening? Here is the passage: "What I do find surprising is that many organizations that embark on an “agile transformation” have strong Control and Compete cultures as their current profile, and seem to have no desire to change. What this says to me is that the things they value most are stability and control. Why, then, try to adopt a model designed for the exact opposite, adaptability? Is it any wonder, in such cases, that there is friction, resistance, and an unwillingness to make the necessary structural changes? These places do not make the necessary changes because they do not truly value the outcome those changes will deliver. By moving toward flexibility and adaptability, they are moving away from stability and control, the things they value most. This is not an acceptable trade-off to them, and that is when the organizational antibodies, as I think of them, move in to destroy the change agents. This is why so many transformations fail. Agile transformation without corresponding cultural transformations will create nothing but frustration." (Harbott, Karim. The 6 Enablers of Business Agility (pp. 102-103). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition. ) During the interview, Karim and I dig into why this occurs, why it is such a big deal, and steps you can take to try and protect yourself and your organization from falling into this trap. LINKS FROM THE PODCAST - The 6 Enablers of Business Agility: How to Thrive in an Uncertain World - Interview on Business Agility Canvas with Karim Harbott Contacting Karim - Web: - Email: - Karim's YouTube Channel: - Twitter: - LinkedIn:
When all the testers have joined self-organizing, cross-functional Scrum Teams, do we actually still need a QA Manager? Joel Norman joins Dave for this episode of the Reluctant Agilist.
Adam Weisbart is back and this time we’re taking on a tragically common problem. Teams who do not have clarity on how the organization defines value. This can happen for a variety of reasons. In some organizations it is simply an oversight… management has achieved clarity and alignment around what is valuable to the organization, but they have not communicated it to the team. In other organizations, there may be an individual or a small group of the leadership team who likes to “go with their gut”, or maybe there are just a lot of assumptions and no one has checked to see if there is agreement across different levels of the org. Whatever the reason, if you have teams that do not have clarity around how leadership defines value for the company, how can they be expected to make choices that align with that definition of value? In this episode of the podcast Adam Weisbart and I take on the topic of how you can get clarity on value, how can you make sure your backlog reflects that understanding of value and how can you ensure the team has awareness of what “value” means to the organization. During the interview, Adam also shares some details about his upcoming Agile Virtual Summit (Bite Size) which is taking place on October 14, 2021. The event is free and there are going to be some great speakers, including people like Jim Benson, Richard Cheng, and Melissa Boggs who have all been guests on the podcast. You can learn more about the Agile Virtual Summit (Bite-Size!) and sign up using the link below. Agile Virtual Summit (Bite-Size) If you’d like to contact Adam: Web: LinkedIn: Twitter:
Before the pandemic hit, one of my favorite parts of the summer was going to the Agile Conference and doing podcast interviews with the speakers and thought leaders who were there. Each year, one of the very best moments of each Agile Conference was when I would get to sit down and talk with Troy Magennis. It’s been two summers. I miss talking to Troy. So I reached out and he was kind enough to spare some time for an interview. During the conversation, we cover a number of topics, including: Is it actually possible for a team to become predictable? What gets in the way of predictability? What is BlockedApp and why did he create it? Which constraints are the most important ones to start with? Who is responsible for acting as the scientist of flow? Why are we still so focused on utilization and output instead of results? Why do we all need to know CPR? There is more, but you get the idea. Even if those aren’t questions that keep you up at night, I promise that you are going to learn something valuable by listening to this podcast and that it will keep you engaged the whole way through because Troy is brilliant. Links: Focused Objective: BlockedApp: This is Lean by Nicklas Modig and Par Pär Åhlström Contacting Troy: Focused Objective: LinkedIn: Twitter:
In a class recently, a student asked a question that caught me by surprise. He asked if Scrum Master was a necessary role. If the team was fully engaged in approaching the work with an Agile mindset, inspecting, and adapting from one Sprint to the next both with respect to the deliverable AND the way they work together, AND they were self-organizing, then why would they need a Scrum Master? And, if management was imposing a Scrum Master on a team that was functioning this way, wouldn’t that indicate a lack to trust in the team? These are good questions, and while we discussed the topic during class, I found myself returning to it over and over. What I love about this question is that even though I have an answer to it in my head, the asking the question challenged that. In this episode of the podcast, I’m joined by the person who asked the question, Kyle Macey, who works as a Senior Backend Engineer at Chow Now. And, because I wanted to do my best to keep my bias in check during the conversation, I asked a friend, Bjorn Jensen, if he’d be willing to lead the discussion. Bjorn and I volunteer for the Scrum Alliance TAC together. He’s not only a CST with a background in development, Bjorn has a level of openness and calmness that I only wish I could achieve. Contacting Kyle Macey Twitter: Web: Contacting Bjorn Jensen Twitter: Web: Email:
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