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scrum

Are today’s Product Manager Agile enough?

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Are today’s Product Manager Agile enough?

On June 20, 15, I had the pleasure to give an inspiration speech at the Zurich University of Applied Science (ZHAW) as part of the Master’s degree studies in Product Management & Innovation. This was exciting for me as well, to understand what of the Agile values already arrived n practices of Product Manager?

To make it short, I have encountered very inquisitive and agile Product Manager on "there Way". A few, only just 7-14% (with a class size of 14 students) were previously already in touch with Scrum or Business Model Canvas. Actively in their daily lives nobody was usung these tools.

Thus, my thesis had unfortunately confirmed that there is a great need to catch up with. Or in the words of Rainer Fuchs (Director of Product Management Center) I should show my with inspiration Speech as following current trends such as Lean Canvas combined with Scrum / Kanban / etc today Innovation and product management is operated.

The Slides to will find below or under SlideShare.

The main findings were:

  • Minimum Valuable Products (MVP) by Lean Canvas facilitate sharpening of business cases in an effective way, see Ash Maurya "Running Lean"
  • This MVPs  that is quickly tested in the market increases Time-to-market by factors and provides valuable customer feedback for further development of the business idea
  • Scrum is an effective method to increase the communication and cooperation in an x-functional team

I thank all those involved and who wants to know more about it don’t hesitate to contact me.

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My speech about "The future of …“ Collaboration - How agile cooperation models substitute classical client/vendor relationships

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My speech about "The future of …“ Collaboration - How agile cooperation models substitute classical client/vendor relationships

Last two days I was at conference ONE and "The future of.." in Zurich while  I gave a speech about „The future of collaboration: How agile cooperation models substitute classical client/vendor relationships“.-There were several other very interesting speeches about newest trends in technology, biology, culture, etc! I'd like to share with you some impressions and tweets, over 150 attendees came to me speech. While the whole cause within that two days (ONE-Experience, The future of.., E-Commerce-Connect, Topsoft) had several thousands of registered visitors and exhibitors.

future-of-speech-mirko-kleiner
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Find below the presentation at slideshare and don't hesitate to contact me in any case of questions. I'll answer you on any channel, like twitter, comment to that article, email, etc.

[slideshare id=34468771&style=border:1px solid #CCC; border-width:1px 1px 0; margin-bottom:5px; max-width: 100%;&sc=no]

REVOLUTION - How agile cooperation models substitute classical client/vendor relationships

from

Mirko Kleiner

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How important is consideration of cultural differences in Scrum Teams?

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How important is consideration of cultural differences in Scrum Teams?

One of most important thing in Scrum is forming a self organized team. Do you consider cultural differences while social integration of team members and how do you know them in advance? Especially in distributed Scrum Teams the local and delocated team members have differences in culture. But even local scrum teams might have team members with another cultural background. So it’s important to be aware of that while forming a team and while running scrum of course too.

For social integration we usually bring the delocated team members together. Over a longer time at the beginning and later on for short time on periodical base at one or the other location, e.g. for an on site sprint retrospective-, sprint demo- or planning meeting. As I’m working together with my team members already some years I know them very well. However, I'm sometimes asked by potential customers about cultural differences and if we’ve issues cause of those?

life-in-a-matrix-7-cross-cultural

This always was a difficult question for me, because I could give them just my personal perspective but no educated data. I’m happy to present you the solution: „The Hofstede Center's research into national and organizational culture“. They offer a great 

FREE 

country comparison tool 

on there website 

National Culture, Countries

.

The tool makes a culture comparison using the following 5 dimensions:

  • Power distance (PDI): This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us. Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
  • Individualism (IDV): The fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty.
  • Masculinity / Femininity (MAS): A high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner / best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organisational behavior. A low score (feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (masculine) or liking what you do (feminine).
  • Uncertainty avoidance (UAI): The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways.  The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score.
  • Long term orientation (LTO): The long term orientation dimension is closely related to the teachings of Confucius and can be interpreted as dealing with society’s search for virtue, the extent to which a society shows a pragmatic future-oriented perspective rather than a conventional historical short-term point of view.

Thanks to The Hofstede Center for publishing this data and for the open access of the tool!

Example 1: Nearshoring in Serbia

As my team consists of team members from Switzerland and Serbia I’d like to show you an example culture comparison using that tool:

chsrb

Basically the 5 dimensions are very general, but I must say it’s surprisingly accurate and was helpful for understanding some of issues we had. Find some of my thoughts below:

  • PDI is very important dimension in Scrum, you have to bring team members to similar level to become a self organized and proactive team.
  • Regarding IDV we didn’t encountered problems, but we will more focus to this dimension in regards to inter-team cooperation.
  • MAS could become problem in case of e.g. demanding Product Owner in Switzerland, that is not challenged by team members abroad.
  • UAI, the avoidance of uncertaincy is helpful from point of view of quality and delivery aspects. But could be challenging to find the balance between certaincy and innovation.
  • Tradition (LTO) is strong in both countries, that was a good base for long-therm oriented teams.

Example 2: Big „Canton“ Germany

Interesting might be also the comparison with the big „Canton“ Germany. As Swiss people often think we are so much different :-).

chde

All in, consideration of cultural differences matters a lot in scrum teams. Especially while forming a self-organized team the educated data of  The Hofstede Center could help.

Feel free to make a cultural comparison with your current or future scrum team. I’m interested into your results?

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Are Scrum Members compatible with line Organization?

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Are Scrum Members compatible with line Organization?

Scrum changes working culture of the team members fundamental, or as Henrik Kniberg from 

Spotify.com

 said: „Scrum Teams are designed to feel like a mini-Startup“.

But is this still compatible with traditional line Organization?

All companies I know, that run Scrum, still have a line organization. Idea of line organization is 

to link organizational units, with the help of managing relations, to a hierarchical organization system. In other words e.g. all Scrum Masters are part of a Scrum Master line, developer of a developer line, etc. By today there are

 a lot of  organization types known and hybrid implementations possible too. Don’t take the models in following graphic to serious, but it shows up „modern" implementations :-).

BZCJ685CQAA3TA_.png-large

But isn’t that hierarchical thinking incompatible with the self-organized multifunctional approach of Scrum?-Do we really need a managing role that has the last word and decides e.g. about strategy, salary, etc?

May be we find a solutions thinking about, what Henrik said

:

 How we’d organize a mini-startup, where all employees are company owners?-I personally like to be part of a team, where all are equal partners, similar to a Scrum Team. Of course the roles have to be shared, somebody has to take over product owner hat, another scrum master hat, etc. Depending at personal interests this could be fixed- or rotating roles. Critical decisions would be taken as team, well known in Scrum as team commitment. While base for decision would be worked out in team as well, as we do with a story. Planning meeting would help to structure our tasks in mini-startup, we would set Team goal for next time boxed sprint and would review result, but also continuously improve ourselves through retrospective’s.

If our mini-startup is getting bigger, we split team in two to minimize overhead. From my point of view 3 things would be important during scaling:

  1. Product Owner is working with both teams
  2. New Team members getting equal partners too
  3. Teams are building guild’s depending at topics

Now you’d say Product Owner is getting manager of mini-startup, but this is not true. He’s still equal partner to team members, but he has other focus. Decisions are still taken in team or by team representatives depending at topic. The more we scale organization the more important Guild’s will become. Those would be the glue to keep independent teams together, to exchange best practices and to take decisions within guild’s topic.

Wouldn’t that be more compatible company organization for Scrum Teams?-Or how you’d design your agile organization?

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Shared vs. dedicated Scrum Master in distributed Teams

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Shared vs. dedicated Scrum Master in distributed Teams

No matter if you’re running a distributed Scrum or not you’ve to find balance of sharing most experienced Scrum Masters over multiple Teams and facilitating a scrum Team the best.

Each team has to have a Scrum Master in Scrum. One approach is 

to share t

hese rare resources over multiple Teams, another to have a dedicated Scrum Master per Team. Lets compare both options and think about what is best for distributed Scrum Teams.  

Shared Scrum Master

Especially if a company is new to Scrum experienced Scrum Masters are very rare. Often those are expensive external Scrum Consultants, so it’s a good approach to share these Capacity and Costs over multiple Teams. One disadvantage I see in sharing Scrum Master is, that from point of view of team Scrum Master looks like an external assessor. This needs a lot of investment in trust and social integration. The advantage of a shared Scrum Master is, his personal distance and objectivity.

It’s getting tricky in a distributed Scrum Team, where you might have 2 or more 

parts of team at different locations handled by same Product owner. In that case it’s best practice, that each part of team has a local Scrum Master. Main reason is, that just if Scrum Master is on site he could take over responsibility of Done and facilitate the team the best. Now this mean in a distributed Scrum Team we don’t need just one-, but one shared Scrum Master per location.

Dedicated Scrum Master

Another option is to have a dedicated Scrum Master per Team. This often is a regular Team Member, that is actively e.g. developing too, but has additional role of Scrum Master. This has advantage that he knows them personal, with there strengths, problems, etc from daily work and could facilitate the team very easy. On the other hand fully integrated Scrum Master won’t  have personal distance to team, that could generate other problems. Especially for companies that are new to Scrum this could be a very 

challenging option, cause the learning curve will be much longer in that approach if no experienced Scrum Masters are already available within company.

In a distributed Scrum Team this has advantage that we don’t need additional resources. It’s just covered within multifunctional team.

Conclusion

Both options have it’s advantages and disadvantages. In distributed teams it’s recommended to have dedicated Scrum Masters per location. Depending at team size this could be covered by an existing team member in personnel union. However, as we know that a distributed Scrum is the most complex thing in Scrum it needs most experienced Scrum Masters available. If there are no experienced Scrum Masters in Company yet there is option to take the longer learning curve, or to add a shared external Scrum Coach, that is consulting all the dedicated Scrum Masters.

Scrum-master-distributed-team

We at youngculture.com made exactly this several years ago. By today very experienced Scrum Masters are still rare, but we established a guild meeting (something like a retrospective Meetings over all Scrum Masters

), were we meet and exchange latest experiences, pitfalls, tools, etc. So less experienced Scrum Masters are facilitated and external in-team coaching time was reduced to zero. Furthermore this Scrum Competence Center is responsible for:

  • Internal Standards and best Practices 
  • Initial Training of new Team Members and Scrum Masters in Scrum and Tools 
  • Internal & External Scrum Consulting (Coaching in Scrum Setup/Implementation/Meetings, overtaking Scrum Master or Product Owner Role, etc)

 This gave us flexibility we needed to add new distributed Scrum Teams very easily and shortest possible learning curve. But also to consult our internal team and our Customers in best Practices continuously.

How you solved Scrum Master Implementation with what experiences?

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Does Scrum generate a Project Overhead?

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Does Scrum generate a Project Overhead?

In project negotiations I'm sometimes getting told that Scrum is not an option at customer side as cooperation model. From Customer point of view Scrum generates a management overhead, by a lot of additional meetings and customer doesn’t have whether capacities, nor won’t pay for.

 Of course such statements came from Scrum Newby’s, however lets make an example calculation of "overhead

“ and find my conclusions from the field about.

First let’s imagine we do a one-week sprint. As you know all rituals in scrum are time boxed relatively to sprint length. Only exception is 

daily Scrum Meeting, that is always 15 minutes in maximum.

 I’ve visualized below possible schedule of all rituals, while light gray area’s is "productive" implementation time.

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Already according the painting above it’s visible that there is just a minimal „overhead“. However, lets make a example calculations: 

  • a development team of 5 Full-time Employees (FTE’s)
  • a day has 8 working hours
  • Scrum Master is attending all Meetings, that is covered by a Scrum Expert of the 5 Developers 
  • Product Owner is as much as possible accessible by team and will attend all meetings of Scrum

Topic

Capacity [Hours]

Description

Total Capacity of Development Team

200

[COUNT OF FULL-TIME-EMPLOYEE] X [8 HOURS] X [5 DAYS]

Scrum Master „Overhead"

- 4.75

[PLANNING] + [ALL DAILY SCRUM’S] + [REVIEW]

 + [RETROSPECTIVE]

Team "Overhead"

- 19

([COUNT OF FULL-TIME-EMPLOYEE] - 1) X 

[PLANNING] + [ALL DAILY SCRUM’S] + [REVIEW]

 + [RETROSPECTIVE]

„Real“ Team Capacity

176.25

Product Owner „Overhead"

4.75

[PLANNING] + [ALL DAILY SCRUM’S] + [REVIEW]

 + [RETROSPECTIVE]

Find below my conclusions related to the calculations of various "overhead’s" above:

Team

Using Scrum the team has in general a 

productivity time of 88.1%

. From experience everything more than 80% is 

very good 

comparing to traditional approaches

. As Scrum keeps Product Backlog Items ready in advance, continous delivery and high workload is guaranteed. If we break down „overhead" for one employee we’re talking about 4.75 hours per week. If we reduce this by 3 hours of planning/review meeting, that could be counted to productive time too, a team member just „looses“ 1.75 hours. This could be explained as a regular weekly status meeting in a traditional approach, without benefits of Scrum in general.

Scrum Master

The Scrum Master won’t usually attend to all the meetings, but he ensures that those take place. However, there are other tasks e.g. removement of impediments, facilitation of team members, etc that need additional time. From experience 1.9% time usage for Scrum Master could be realistic for a 

well rehearsed scrum team. On the other hand development teams in traditional cooperation models are not self organized and need a team leader in area of 20% similar to a technical project manager, that will be for sure more than time usage of a Scrum Master.

Product Owner

Even if Product Owner needs additional 10% of his time for direct clarifications an

 experience Product Owner could work it out with 11.9% of his time. This is far away better than usual time needed for Project Management (usually 20% in minimum), Business Analyses (30% of all project time), etc. This contains just cooperation with team and obviously time for stakeholder management, product refinement, etc have to be added. However this customers often forget to count in traditional approaches.

In general Scrum generates a smaller overhead for additional meetings, than traditional approaches. But those meetings ensures continous communication and delivery. Together with the short delivery cycles and the daily Scrum Meetings Scrum reduce risks and ensure business success. On top Scrum could improve delivery performance 2 - 8 times and spare additional costs by delivering faster. 

Sorry Newby's, don’t denounce Scrum if you don’t know it :-). 

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Why Scrum is that successful - Another perspective

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Why Scrum is that successful - Another perspective

I recently talked with a Scrum Newby about why scrum is that successful and what makes the difference. I explained him that based at an instrument he knew, the task force.A task force is a temporary grouping of best resources for the accomplishment of a specific objective within shortest possible time. In IT it’s usually to solve a business critical incident.

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If we compare a scrum team with a Task Force I see a lot of overlappings. We put together a multi-funtional team, containing of best resources each to accomplish fastest possible our objectives. While this process the scrum team has full management attention with direct communication to. Outcome has to fulfill highest business value, otherwise company looses time-to-market and it will become a problem. Only difference is that a Task Force will be disband after incident is solved. In other words we also could say:

"Scrum Teams are ongoing Task Forces"
Mirko Kleiner, 11/2013

Interesting point thinking about Task Forces is, that this is not new -but used very rarely- and just in extreme situations. Question is why, it’s approved and one of multiple reasons why Scrum is that successful.

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Double O Model - How a Product Owner can escape the hungry Beast Scrum

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Double O Model - How a Product Owner can escape the hungry Beast Scrum

As Richard Stinear mentioned  recently  "Scrum is a hungry Beast, that wants to be feed constantly by Product owner". Lets see how Product Owner could escape this end-less-loop.

Gabrielle Benefield recently published by Twitter the Double O Model (see graph below). As I understood it will be part of her new Book, that comes out soon :-). It shows the 2 O's, where on the left hand side Product Owner is creating new Options and Innovations that will bring valuable Outcome. On the other side we see the delivery cycle, that runs experiments with common Output like Stories, Bugfixes, etc. Those impact are measured/adapted and flow back to Create Options O.

BWH1fK3CYAAtvQ4.png-large

By Alistair Cockburn @TotherAlistair

What is danger now if a Product Owner is fully occupied in the delivery O, without any time left for Innovation.

Some Product Owners are captured in delivering Output, instead of caring about valuable Outcome

Gabrielle Benefield, 10/2013

In other Words Team and Product Owner are just focused to deliver fast, but wrong, non-valuable Output. To get back to the left O it's recommended to constantly do a  critical review of your current top Backlog Items and check there Outcome. As Alternativ go back to your stakeholders, the team and ask for the 2 most valuable Requests each and try to calculate the costs if Item wont be Done.

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My Talk about distributed Scrum @CodeCamp Romania

Today I held at Developer Conference CodeCamp in Isai, Romania a talk about our experiences in setup and run a distributed scrum. I'd like to share with you some impressions, over 150 attendees came to me speech. While the whole event had 600+ registered visitors.

1383447_578133535557745_2126878009_nFoto-11

Find below the presentation at slideshare and don't hesitate to contact me in any case of questions. I'll answer you on any channel, like twitter, comment to that article, email, etc.

[slideshare id=27100393&style=border:1px solid #CCC;border-width:1px 1px 0;margin-bottom:5px&sc=no]

Download Link:

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Checklist to become a good Product Owner

What does the profile of a good Product Owner cover, what are his duties and how he could achieve those? Bild

Image Source: http://inspiretilyouexpire.files.wordpress.com

Most of you might know Michael James' ScrumMaster Checklist, which already mentioned some tasks regarding improving Product Owner from Scrum Master perspective. Recently Lare Lekman posted a checklist to become a good Product Owner.

2013-10-04_16-21-12

Download product-owner-checklist-september-2013-v2

I will for sure use it. What I personally like is that Lare tried to cover Product Owner's role 360° and with the point system  at the bottom "My current Product Owner Score is ________ / 28 points." you have a neutral KPI as base for discussions.

[polldaddy poll=7449444]

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