16TH AGILE MONTH Agile Month Spring 2023

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What are the Top Skills of an outstanding Certified Product Owner?

„We practice improvement through work, work through improvement, one sprint at a time!“ – Jon Ker, co-author of Agile Manifesto

It’s inevitable that these turbulent times inspect our ability to adapt to a certain situation. Agile is quite a logical answer in these circumstances. Let’s say that you’re searching for an ideal solution and ideal vocation that has become more and more valuable in almost every business. Have you considered becoming a Product Owner? In the previous article, we talked about what skills are needed in order to be a fantastic Scrum Master.

But, what about Product Owners? Here is the most frequently asked question:

What skills do I need to have in order to become a Product Owner?

Well, before that, let’s talk about some of the myths about this role: Anybody can become a Product Owner. Doesn’t it? According to Scrum.org, a Product Owner is responsible for maintaining the entire Product Backlog. Is this really true? The keyword here is “responsible”. Ask yourself this – can a Product Owner maximize the value of work done by the Scrum Team if they are not involved in what goes on in the Product Backlog and in what order? From this perspective, it makes no sense to treat the Product Owner as the only person who can create items for the Product Backlog and prioritize them. Product Owners should work closely with the Development Team to create items for the Product Backlog and prioritize them to maximize the value of work done by them.

To become a real Product Owner Sensei you need to consider Scrum certification that is nowadays mandatory by many companies. In our ten years of experience in Product Owner courses and certification, in cooperation with Scrum Alliance as a world-leading organization, we have educated more than 1500 participants.

Imagine two different persons. Two individuals, ready to invest in their Product Owner careers. But, wait, what’s the difference between them? Answer: their skills.

#1 Always in high demand for Hard Skills

Through proper Certification, it’s easy to find out what skills are mandatory for your career as a Product Owner. But, it is truly challenging to adopt them. So, technical skills are really essential. According to Scrum Guide, Product Owners aren’t a part of the Development Team. So, if and which technical skills a Product Owner requires depend on how the role is applied, right? Actually, they will pick up an understanding of how products are made and be familiar with architectures, languages, and build cycles. Remember, they’re not building the product, they’re just collaborating with the people who are. On the other hand, organizational skills are inevitable for this role. For example, for Product Owner being a decision-maker is correlated with having analytical and negotiation skills. Many conflict situations may occur during work on creating a product. But remember, Product Owner is not only a „messenger” who does everything that the stakeholders intend to say. He/she must also have the ability to process information – discover hidden needs that even the customer or user could not imagine.

#2 Soft Skills are mandatory

These skills are somehow coming before gaining hard skills, right? Communication, as well as being an amazing storyteller is something that is nowadays mandatory for each position, not only Product Owner. Enthusiastic, assertive and excellent planner are something that you naturally adopt and also learn through Certification with your Trainer and the rest of the group.

#3 Conflict and Problem Resolver

We had to single out these skills because they’re essential for successful collaboration with Scrum Master. Remember – Scrum Masters and Product Owners are friends. They complement each other in current projects. Scrum Master should support the Product Owner in decision and empowerment issues and also help with tools and techniques. Also, Product Owner should have a global perception of the clients’ demands. For these reasons, the Scrum Master needs the Product Owner. And this is one long, unbreakable circle. As a Product Owner, you have to have the courage and the capability to engage when things get difficult. And know this: you generally have to go through conflict to get to a solution. You’ll need to be collaborative to minimize the negative, and you’ll need to mediate.

#4 And, what about the Product Leadership?

Leadership is the key to 99% of all successful efforts, right? Product Leadership is something you’ll learn continuously. But, here are some great tips that great leaders say every day:

a) “What do you need?”

This is crucial for two reasons. First, people need to know that you care about them on personal and professional levels and that you want them to succeed. Second, if you put together a great plan, you need to leverage every person’s abilities to the maximum extent possible.

b) “I trust you.”

If you can’t trust the people on your team, then they shouldn’t be in your team. You need to trust their integrity, judgment, confidence and their passion – and you need to ensure that they understand how much you depend on them.

c) “You can count on me.”

If your team can’t trust you, they shouldn’t do you the great honor of letting you lead them. So tell them you’ve got their back, and then work like hell to fulfill the promises you make.

And these are just small pieces of a great puzzle called Product Owners’ skills. Organization, empathy and a sense of community are also crucial, and we assure you that through certification, especially working with different people and their mindset, you’ll notice these significant aspects faster and smarter. ☺️


Don’t be shy and join us on this unusual journey. 🎯 

Product Owner skills are easy to find but very challenging to learn. If you’re at the beginning, maybe you are looking for Certified Scrum Product Owner Course with Petri Heiramo (24th – 26th April 2022) with Petri Heiramo. He will be your trainer, teacher, coach and true support during this important journey.

Are you with us?

Photo sources:

www.romanpichler.com

www.uxdesign.cc

Digital Marketing Specialist.

Who are we?

Agile Serbia, a part of Puzzle Software, an agile educational centre, official Scrum Alliance representative and the first Agile Certified institution in Serbia. We have certified more than thousand professionals with worldwide recognized certificates, helped numerous companies in developing their organization and teams and provided trainings and entire educational guidance for better understanding of agile methodologies and development lifecycle.

Who are we looking for?

Digital Marketing Specialist.

Is that you?

We hope so. But let’s shed some more light and see if we are a match.

Who are you?

You are an experienced marketer, who has strong communication and organizational skills. You are systematic, analytic, creative and result-oriented individual with a degree in Marketing, Communications, Business Administration or a related field highly proficient in spoken and written English. You are a pro in various marketing and analytics tools such as Google Analytics, WordPress, MailChimp, CRM. You are familiar with video advertising and you are characterized by a high online and TV affinity.

What would you do?

• Design and oversee all aspects of our digital marketing department including our marketing database, email, and display advertising campaigns.
• Plan and manage our social media platforms.
• Identify the latest trends and technologies affecting our industry.
• Evaluate important metrics that affect our website traffic, service quotas, and target audience.
• Work with your team to brainstorm new and innovative growth strategies.
• Analyze and report on the performance and efficiency of campaigns;
• Collaborate with other internal teams (e.g. product and sales) to develop and monitor strategic marketing initiatives;
• Write, proofread, and edit creative and technical content across different mediums;
• Strategizing with Marketing team about which channels to launch and when, and implementing launch plans

Why would you join us?

We offer you an opportunity to work in a small team, within a stress-released and fast-paced environment. You will enjoy in self-organization without micro-management, with great opportunities for promotion and self-improvement. Your ideas are welcomed and appreciated. We work to succeed and have fun in between.

So, what do you say?

Do not hesitate to contact us, apply at email scrum@puzzlesoftware.rs. We are already waiting to meet you!

Why, what, and how to measure?

Author: Vladimir Kelava

Measurement helps the organisation establish a baseline figure of where they are at a single point in time and it gives them the ability to identify any change in the future. It also plays a crucial role in translating business strategy into results. Still, the problem is that the way people measure performance in organisations is often simply wrong. Most people have no idea how to get good measurements. They run the organisation blindly, measuring very little or almost nothing, and still in the end they are surprised when they end up in an unwanted situation. Paving the way to success depends on the company’s ability to be well-informed about its own condition. This knowledge is achieved by developing and using effective metrics.

If we have data, let’s look at the data.
If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.

– Jim Barksdale

You’ve probably been in a situation at some point where no data was being tracked and it was hard to tell if you were on the right path. For this reason, it was hard to know if you were getting more efficient as you went along. In such a situation, opinions play a major role in decision-making, and usually those decisions are made by HIPPO (the Highest-Paid Person’s Opinion). Decision-making which is based on little or no data is unfortunately widespread in organisations. Making decisions not based on information is very risky and usually results in poor outcomes. Through the decision-making process, organisations can achieve unimaginable results, so it is very important to make decisions based on the right information, instead of just following your intuition or going with opinions.

The most important reason why organisations should use metrics is to drive improvement and to focus people and resources on what’s important. Good metrics will help you make decisions, drive performance, provide focus and drive strategy and direction of the organisation. Ultimately, metrics should help organisations see where they’ve been, where they’re going, whether something’s wrong, and when the set goals have been reached.

Vanity Metrics. They might make you feel good, but they don’t offer clear guidance for what to do.

– Eric Ries

So which metrics matter and how to choose them? The only metrics that organisations should invest energy in collecting are those that help them make decisions and drive improvement. Unfortunately, a majority of data available in off-the-shelf analytics packages is useless because it offers little in the way of actionable value. It might make people in the organisation feel good, thinking – “Look at us being busy!” or “We’re going fast!” but it doesn’t offer clear guidelines for what to do. Such data is  called vanity metrics because it makes organisations look good and offers nothing more than a false sense that they are moving in the right direction. Vanity metrics don’t help organisations improve, and as we’ve said before, one of the main reasons to have metrics is to help organisations drive improvement.

If you have a piece of data on which you cannot act, it’s a vanity metric… A good metric changes the way you behave.
This is by far the most important criterion for a metric: what will you do differently based on changes in the metric?

– Lean Analytics, Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz

There is no silver bullet when it comes to measurements. The best we can do is follow some guidelines or even rules. Management 3.0 offers twelve rules of good metrics. These rules should serve as a guide and they should help organisations establish a culture where people see measurements as a way to learn and improve, and to create an environment where all workers participate in the measurement ecosystem.

Rule 1 – Measure for a Purpose


You must always understand why you are doing the measuring. The metric is not a goal in itself. Never forget that it’s just a means to an end. It all starts with why. We should measure things in order to make a decision toward the purpose.

Rule 2 – Shrink the Unknown


A metric is just a surrogate for what you really want to know. Always try to reduce the size of what is still unknown. We should measure from multiple perspectives and not jump to conclusions.

Rule 3 – Seek to Improve


Don’t only measure things that will make you look good. There is plenty of data around, but you must focus on what enables you to do better work. Not all metrics are useful; use the ones that help you learn and improve.

Rule 4 – Delight all Stakeholders


Your work depends on others, and others depend on you. Never optimise for just one stakeholder. Instead, measure your work from multiple perspectives. Everything depends on everything; don’t focus on just one client’s goal.

Rule 5 – Distrust All Numbers


Observers usually influence their own metrics, and they suffer from all kinds of biases. Have a healthy, sceptical attitude towards any reported numbers. The observer effect and the biases in human minds make metrics very suspicious.

Rule 6 – Set Imprecise Targets


When people have targets, they have an inclination to focus on the targets instead of the real purpose. Avoid this tendency by keeping your targets vague. Give direction to support the goal, and don’t focus on one precise end-point.

Rule 7 – Own Your Metrics

Everyone is responsible for their own work, and metrics help us improve that work. Therefore, everyone should be responsible for their own metrics. Everyone should measure for themselves; don’t measure someone else.

Rule 8 – Don’t Connect Metrics to Rewards

Rewards often kill intrinsic motivation and lead to dysfunctional behaviours in organisations. Don’t incentivize people to do the work they should like doing.

Rules 9 – Promote Values and Transparency


Human beings are smart and able to game any system. To prevent gaming, be transparent about values, intentions, and the metrics everyone is using. Shared values and transparency reduce people’s desire to game the system.

Rule 10 – Visualise and Humanise


Numbers tend to dehumanise everything. Replace digits with colours and pictures, and keep the measurements close to where the actual work is being done. Give metrics meaning by connecting them to real work and people.

Rule 11 – Measure Early and Often


Most people don’t measure often enough. Measure sooner and faster to prevent risks and problems from growing too big for you to handle. Measurements fail when you don’t measure soon and often enough.

Rule 12 – Try Something Else


It’s rarely a good idea to do the same things over and over. The environment changes all the time. The same should apply to how and what you measure. Don’t let metrics get stale; keep experimenting with different metrics.

Measurement can be easy, fun, and motivating, and it’s one of the most important activities for any organisation. What gets measured gets managed, and what gets managed gets done.

Join us at the Management 3.0 Foundation workshop if you want to learn more about The Twelve Rules for Metrics and how they can help you to create a healthy Metrics Ecosystem. You will also have the opportunity to hear and learn how all this connects to OKRs practice.

Kako se u Srbiji širi globalni biznis sa razvojem softvera?

Guest post by Schneider Electric

Razvoj IT-ja u Srbiji je proteklih deset godina krenuo vrtoglavom brzinom. Srbija se pozicionirala kao jedan od važnijih IT centara za globalne kompanije koje ovde zapošljavaju stručnjake za razvoj softverskih rešenja. Ovo je dovelo do potrebe za sve većim brojem razvojnih centara, ali ne samo to već i do decentralizacije industrije. Za developere ne važi pravilo – dođi u Beograd da bi uspeo, jer se i sama industrija seli i van Beograda u potrazi za novim kadrovima koji žele da ostanu u svojim gradovima. Niš, Zrenjanin i Novi Sad samo su neki od primera da veliki IT hub-ovi mogu funkcionisati i u drugim sredinama.

Decentralizacija IT industrije

 

Upravo o ovom trendu, kao i o tome kako se u Srbiji širi globalni biznis sa razvojem softvera razgovarali smo sa jednim od najvećih svetskih igrača – Schneider Electic-om.

Naime, kako kaže Vladan Krsman, VP Operation management League Schneider Electic-a, “Novi Sad je za Schneider Electric razvojni centar već nekoliko godina gde se timovi bave istraživanjem, razvojem i softverskim inženjeringom u oblasti elektroenergetike. Na osnovu uspeha ovog tima, doneli smo odluku da se proširimo dalje, da naše znanje, kompetencije, IT ekosistem, upotrebimo za širi portfolio softverskih proizvoda koji suštinski omogućuju efektivnu dekarbonizaciju i elektrifikaciju planete.”

Kod njih smo uvideli jedan specifičan fenomen – proširenje iz Novog Sada ka Beogradu. Odlično uspostavljen sistem rada i odlični uslovi omogućili su proširenje iz HUB-a u Novom Sadu na Beograd gde su pre pandemije otvorili kancelarije.

 

Rad na projektima koji utiču na život

 

Globalno je u porastu trend da developeri traže da rade na projektima koji imaju zaista značajnu namenu na život oko nas. U Schneider Electric-u su upravo developerima pružili priliku da učestvuju u projektima čija primena će uticati na naše okruženje. Prateći trendove, uvideli su da će dramatičan porast električnih automobila, kao i obnovljivih izvora energije, značajno uvećati potrebe modernog društva za energetskom stabilnošću, a ovo postojeći elektroenergetski sistemi ne mogu da izdrže. Upravo ovde u Novom Sadu i Beogradu, developeri imaju priliku da rade na razvoju najboljih rešenja za digitalizaciju elektroenergetskih sistema.

 

 

Misli globalno, razvijaj lokalno

 

Schneider Electric je najveći uspeh doživeo upravo okretanjem ka internom razvoju rešenja za globalno tržište. Njihov tim u Novom Sadu napravio je softversko rešenje ADMS (Advance Distribution Management System) koje je sedam godina zaredom proglašeno za najbolje u Smart Grid IT oblasti. Pored ovog razvili su i rešenja AGMS (AdvancedGas Management System), kao i DERMS (Distributed Energy Resources Management System), koji su prepoznati u svetu kao napredna rešenja u energetici. Ovime su dokazali da je moguće na developer tržištu Srbije napraviti rešenje koje će imati globalnu primenu. Na primer, ovo rešenje se koristi u više od 100 zemalja širom sveta, omogućava upravljanje sistemima za distribuciju električne energije i obuhvata razne analitičke funkcije za proračun i optimizaciju rada elektrodistributivnih kompanija, i ostvaruje velike uštede ne samo u energiji i vremenu već i u činjenici da se neprekidno prilagođava cilju koji je svima važan, a to je održivost.

 

Permanentan razvoj kao pravac održivosti

 

Greška koju veliki broj kompanija pravi jeste da nakon kreiranja jednog dobrog proizvoda zapostave razvojni put same kompanije. Ovo dovodi do stagnacije, ali i gubitka zaposlenih jer developeri vole da rade na značajnim projektima i time dobiju priliku za razvoj. Samim tim iz Schneider Electric tima su rešili da rade na proširenju ne samo tima, već i razvoja samih prozvoda. Od ove godine otvaraju se nove mogućnosti jer će u Srbiji razvijati veći broj softvera za globalno tržište iz domena Smart Grid-a. Naravno odlična informacija za sve one koji žele da rade na razvoju novih globalnih softvera jeste da planiraju proširenje tima konkretno u oblasti softverskog inženjeringa.

 

Koja su to nova rešenja iz Schneider Electric kuhinje?

 

Na čemu se to u Srbiji radi što može biti plasirano na globalno tržište? Koje tehnologije se koriste? Odgovore na ova pitanja pružaju nam upravo iz Schneider Electric-a i daju sneak-peek u ono šta planiraju i razvoju kakvih projekata će raditi developer koji u njima vidi perfect match.

Smart metering i srodna grid edge rešenja. Radi se o softverskim rešenjima za prikupljanje velikih količina informacija sa mernih uređaja na granici infrastrukturne mreže (na primer elektrodistributivne mreže) kao i iza merača protoka energije (raznih uređaja unutar zgrada, industrijskih postrojenja i sl.), analizi tih podataka i optimalnim upravljanjem uređaja. Ovo rešenje koristi .NET i Java tehnologije i u ranoj fazi je migracije na cloud.

Grid Asset Management rešenja za praćenje i optimalno održavanje različitih asset-a povezanih u infrastrukturnu mrežu (na primer transformator u elektroenergetskoj mreži). I ovde su zastupljene Microsoft tehnologije, pre svega .NET i ova rešenja su već u poodmakloj fazi cloud-ifikacije koristeći Azure platformu.

Microgrid rešenja za optimalno upravljanje „malim“ eletkroenergetskim mrežama koje mogu biti nezavisne ili priključene na distributivnu mrežu. Ova rešenja omogućavaju veću robusnost napajanja električnom energijom (ukoliko dođe do kvara distributivne mreže, mogu da funkcionišu samostalno), omogućavaju elektrifikaciju mesta na zemaljsko kugli gde je to do sad bilo preskupo (na primer usamljena farma u Australijskoj pustinji miljama daleko od bilo kakvog naseljenog mesta) i savršeno se uklapaju sa sve dostupnijim zelenim izvorima energije kao što su solarni paneli, vetrogeneratori i male hidroelektrane uz podršku sve dostupnijih baterija i drugih „skladišta“ električne energije. Ovo rešenje je zasnovano na open source i java tehnologijama, od starta je koncipirano na cloud (multivendor – AWS, Azure, Google) i sastoji se od dve komponente – on premise kontroler i cloud analitika.

Autodesk Revit modul za dizajn električnog podsistema zgrada i izradu digitalnog modela. Autodesk Revit je vodeći softver za BIM (Building Information Management), a mi smo prepoznali šansu da korisnicima Revit-a ponudimo znatno unapređeni modul za dizajn električnih instalacija i uređaja. Zgrade u pogledu električnog podsistema postaju sve zahtevnije, one više nisu pasivni potrošači električne energije već se u njih ugrađuju i obnovljivi izvori energije, baterije i sistemi za optimalno upravljanje ukupnim energetskim otiskom (footprint-om). Optimizacija se vrši po dva osnova – smanjenje emisije CO2 i optimizacija troškova. Tehnologije koje se koriste ovde su .NET, Web, Cloud.

Energysage je web portal koji spaja individualne vlasnike kuća sa pružaocima usluga instaliranja solarnih panela i omogućuje korisnicima da dobiju najboljeg raspoloživog izvođača po najboljoj mogućoj ceni. Pored toga portal pomaže vlasnicima kuća da izračunaju uštede koje mogu da ostvare instaliranjem solarnih panela i savete kako da ih optimalno koriste. Postoje velike ambicije za daljim razvojem i unapređenjem ove platforme, a što se tiče tehnologija koriste se Python/Django, Javascript, cloud i hosting platforma je AWS.

IGE-XAO je softversko rešenje za dizajn električnih razvodnih kutija/panela za bilo koju namenu (stambene i komercijalne zgrade, industrijska postrojenja, brodovi, avioni, automobili …). Koriste se Microsoft tehnologije .NET C# i Azure platforma.

 

Više oovoj i sličnim temama možete saznati na Schneider Electric društvenim mrežama: Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin.

The truth about dysfunctional teams – PART 1

PART 1 Why does the “dream” team become dysfunctional?

The idea of ​​organizing people into teams to create a product or provide a service seems pretty simple. What happens in practice that makes the implementation of this idea complicated?

We often see the promotion of successful teams, and after a while, that team falls apart. This applies not only to business teams but also to all others – musicians, sportsmen, friendship. The famous author Patrick Lencioni identified five team dysfunctions and presented them in the form of a pyramid:

 

 

 

1) Absence of trust is the basis of any team’s poor functioning. Mistrust can occur in any organization, at any time. What is worrying is the trend of falling trust, according to a global survey by Edelmans Trust Barometer, because more than 63% of respondents in 2022 believe that business leaders deliberately mislead people.

2) Fear of conflict arises due to a lack of trust and because the other party’s bad intentions are assumed. Controversial topics are skillfully avoided at meetings and all controversial situations and mistakes that could cause conflict are kept silent. In such an environment, employees care more about corporate policy and how to protect their positions than how to solve a business problem.

3) Lack of commitment is expressed when teams avoid conflicts, give up the constructive exchange of ideas and enter a phase of disinterest. According to the Gallup Institute “, only 21% of employees are “engaged” at work, because they do not feel appreciated enough. The work is then “done” and executed according to the superior’s instructions.

4) Avoidance of responsibility is characteristic of employees who do not see the meaning of their work, are not motivated, and then move along the line of least resistance, withdraw and protect their position by trying to transfer responsibility to other team members. This slows down the entire work process and reduces productivity.

5) Inattention to results occurs when teams do not have a clear vision of a common goal, lose focus, and cannot set the right priorities. Then, team members become stagnant, distracted, frustrated, and introverted. Sectoral “silos” are created and intersectoral communication is reduced, and transparency becomes selective. As a justification for unrealized results, excuses are invented or other sectors are blamed.

 

New workforce trends and HR agility

The whole world is facing the “Great resignation” phenomenon when more than half of the employees are looking for a new job or are planning to do so in the near future.

Why is this happening?

The pressure for results is transferred to all hierarchical levels and no matter how much you want to be a good employee; you can’t manage to complete all the tasks. This creates stress and the famous “burnout”, which is cited as the main reason for mass resignations, even in conditions of inflation and uncertainty caused by the pandemic. There is also a shift in perception about life, values, and life priorities, fueled by a harsh awareness of the speed and transience of life. Many, who had lost their closest family members, and friends, or had severe symptoms of the disease had experienced an “awakening”. People are re-examining their lives and do not accept that the dominant segment is work. “I don’t live to work, but I work to live”.

What should employers do to adapt?

Everyone knows what the word agile means – fast, nimble, swift, dexterous. That word is gaining value nowadays when changes are happening so fast, that this trait has become not only desirable but necessary for survival. And we all had the real test during the Covid 19 pandemic, which taught us that both the system and the people must be adaptable. It was this global crisis that gave birth to a “new reality” and new trends in the labor market.

All this means that the time has come to change the relationship and the way of working, to make the system sustainable. Employers face a new challenge – how to find and retain a quality workforce? Due to new life priorities, employees have now become more demanding, pickier, and less tolerant. That is why it is not unusual for them to change employers even in periods shorter than a few years. It is a long pastime that one should wait for retirement in one (first) company because now the dominant belief is that “new blood” in the organization brings new experiences, a new perspective, and new energy.

This process of adapting to the new demands of employees will last until it is shown in practice which model is the most acceptable. New employees value themselves, and their time. That is why “remote” work, flexible working hours, private health insurance, and the like appear more and more on the list of desirable benefits. The focus is on results while accepting different work styles i.e. accepting diversity, and if this is not recognized in the form of promotions or rewards for achieved results, the option of changing the company is open. It is important to understand that employees are replaceable, but also employers if they don’t fulfill the initial agreement and promises.

Inevitably, trends in the labor market are changing and the question is how to organize in the future?  The solution lies in the new business paradigm that continuously adapts to new requirements. The good news is that there is a model according to this principle, but the bad news is that the success of the implementation depends solely on the team that implements it.

Why does HR need to be agile?

The agile business was born precisely because of the rapid changes and the development of technologies so that they need to deliver “value” in shorter periods appeared. The project, which is defined for two years, becomes the “big picture” that is still being pursued but is broken down into shorter periods in which a “sub-project” that can live independently should be implemented. To make it clearer, we will compare it with an example familiar to everyone: if a music album is being prepared, the artist will not wait to record all 10 songs but will release singles one by one. The point is to create wholes that have value for the user and deliver successively those small values ​​in stages. Thus, on the one hand, the development towards the realization of the big goal is monitored and problematic delays in parts are solved on the fly, and on the other hand, costs are optimally managed (because you are already earning from the delivered parts). Sounds good?

The future of successful organizations is to be Agile, i.e. less hierarchical – more cooperative, less reactive – more proactive, and for that the teams need to be empowered, independent, and ready for continuous personal improvement and learning. Because the greatest value to the company is provided by enthusiastic employees.

 

Learn more about Agility in HR from  excelent HR consultant, Facilitator & Agile Coach  Ilija Popjanev at double-certified Agility in HR (ICP-AHR) certification training.

 

Boost the learning and experimentation mindset with Celebration Grid

Author: Vladimir Kelava

What should we celebrate? Should we celebrate success? Or failure? Or both? The answer is not so simple. I believe it is clear why we should celebrate success, but what about failure?

You can often hear things like – “Create a safe-to-fail environment” or “It is OK to fail sometimes”.
So, does this mean that we should celebrate failure in some cases?

We really need to understand the full extent here, because it is not that we want to concentrate on failure, but rather on learning. After all, failing without learning really provides no benefit.

 

We should celebrate learning, not successes or failures.

 

Agility enables us to approach and deal with complex problems. In order to find the best approach to a complex problem, you are well-advised to think empirically. This means you have to create transparency via the data available to you, inspect your findings and use the newly gained knowledge to adapt your next steps as necessary. Therefore, you should start experimenting and consciously generate data to enable you to inspect and adapt….and to learn.

 “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
– Albert Einstein

Based on the writings of Donald Reinertsen [ Principles of Product Development Flow ], learning is optimal when we have a 50/50 chance of succeeding or failing. In other words, when your experiments have a good chance of succeeding and a good chance of failing, they generate the most information for you to learn from. We learn the most when we can’t predict whether our experiments will lead to good or bad outcomes.  When all we do is repeat established practices, it is hard to know if we could do any better. Likewise, if all we do is make the same mistakes, then we’re not learning much either. Optimal learning happens somewhere in the middle.

We can be successful by following the best practices, but again we have not learned anything. Ok, sometimes a good practice fails and that will lead us to some learning. These types of learning occur rarely, and they are certainly less likely. The “trick” is to find the right balance between exploitation (best practices) and exploration (experiments).

Innovation is more usually successful when an autonomous unit is charged with exploring a disruptive, innovative idea. However, in the rare cases where organizations are able to combine exploration and exploitation, the successes are usually larger.”

– Jens Maier, The Ambidextrous Organization

A good way to check the balance between exploitation and exploration within your team is to use Jurgen Appelo’s Management 3.0 “Celebration Grid”. Celebration Grid can help us organize the talk around success (best practices), mistakes (bad practices, not to be repeated), and learning!

 

 

 

Celebration grid makes it very easy to identify and discuss behaviours versus outcomes and success versus failure. As you can see in the illustration above, the grid is divided into three columns: Mistakes, Experiments and Practices, and three rows: Success, Failure and Learning. In terms of colour coding, green and red obviously mean success and failure, grey is kind of neutral, and yellow represents learning.

Practice – if you do the right things in the right way, you are likely to be successful. Unfortunately, even the good practices sometimes fail. But that’s not necessarily a reflection of an underachieving team. It should be seen as an opportunity for learning, and to see how to avoid similar kinds of failures in the future.

Mistakes – usually lead to failure, but sometimes something that goes wrong can actually lead to success. And for as long as we reflect on our failures and try to understand them, we will learn from them and probably be successful later on.

Experiments – as you can see in the illustration above, both success and failure are green. Basically, experimentation means trying something new without knowing whether the outcome will be successful or not. There is a fiftyfifty chance of success: either you try and succeed or you try and fail. But regardless of the outcome, you always learn something new.

 

Celebration Grid in practice…

 

While working with one Scrum team with the intention to help them find room for improvement in their day-to-day work, I noticed that they were very focused on execution in each sprint. They mostly relied on practices and ways of working that were already well-known to them, without trying to find out if there was anything they could do differently. Also, quite often at the end of the sprint they would simply state that behind them is another sprint in which they spent very little or no time learning ( trying ) new things.

This whole situation gave me the idea to suggest that for the next retrospective we should change the format a bit and if that’s okay, I can do the facilitation. Fortunately, the team accepted my suggestion, which gave me the opportunity to introduce the Celebration Grid at the retrospective. Although it looks simple, it is a powerful tool to use for Sprint Retrospectives and it can give the team a  break from the ordinary “What went well?” and “What needs improvement?” retrospectives and changes the team mindset from concentrating on failure and success to the one of experimentation and learning.

 

At the beginning of the retrospective, I explained the Celebration Gird to the team and asked all team members to reflect on the mistakes they made, the good practices they used, and the experiments they tried during the sprint. Each team member did this independently and wrote down the insights on sticky notes ( one insight – one sticky note ). I encouraged the team not to overthink and suggested that they just start, and once they wrote the first note, more would follow. Also, the timebox for this activity was 10 minutes.

 

After the timebox expired, everyone shared their notes by placing them in the appropriate field on the Celebration Grid and briefly explaining them. Questions were welcome, but I tried to avoid deep discussions at this point. When all the team members had put their notes on the Celebration Grid, I invited the whole team to reflect on the big picture. Basically, I asked them questions like: How are the notes arranged? In which part of the grid are most of them? Did we make a lot of mistakes or did we stick to our familiar practices? Did we even undertake any experiments?


Using the Celebration Grid to face the current situation…

 

It’s interesting that what I assumed before the exercise would probably happen, actually happened in reality. We had some notes in the Mistakes and Practices columns, but there were no notes in the Experiments column.
Having this in front of them, it was clear to the team that in the last sprint, they did not try anything new, they didn’t try a single experiment. At that moment, someone from the team said: “ We all somehow feel this from sprint to sprint, but after this exercise it has become painfully clear.  We have to change something, we have to find the time and space for new things that will bring us learning.”

All other team members nodded in approval, which resulted in further discussion about what things we can try right away in the next sprint.

 

At the end of the retrospective, we chose one experiment that we wanted to try in the next sprint. In the next few retrospectives, we used the Celebration Grid again with the idea of reinforcing the way of thiking that it is necessary to find a balance between exploration ( doing experiments )  and exploitation ( using good practices ).

My takeaways as the facilitator…

 

All this experience of using the Celebration Grid in that team produced a few major takeaways for me as the facilitator, and one of the biggest is how, at first glance, simple tools used in the right way and at the right moment can be very powerful and can bring the initial trigger for a change. In this case, use of the Celebration Grid raised awareness that the team was stagnating and simply going from sprint to sprint. The retrospective in which the tool was first used encouraged the team to start discussions that would help them become aware of the current situation and look for room for improvement.  Finally, I would like to emphasize that once again, it was shown that the use of visualization is a very powerful thing to better understand the problems we face in our daily work.

Using the Celebration Grid in a team retrospective is just one way you can make advantage of it. As with everything, it’s up to you to be creative and get the most value out of it. So, it’s perfectly fine to use it, for example as a “living artefact” that remains permanently visible/available to the team, allowing team members to add notes at any time. In a way, it will be an open invitation to the team to do experiments and to have discussions surrounding what is posted on the grid. The Celebration Grid is meant to boost your experimentation, so do just that and feel free to experiment with it. Remember, it’s all about continuous learning!  Progress is dependent on learning. Develop a learning mindset and follow the path to knowledge!

 

Learn more about it at Management 3.0 Foundation Workshop.

The role of HR in Agile transformation

The role of HR in the transformation of the organization is significant. There are two aspects that we can consider and discuss: Agile for HR and HR for Agile.

Agile HR deals with the application of agile principles, methods, and ways of thinking within its teams and projects.

At the global level (primarily in America and Europe) Agile HR is accepted in more and more organizations that are on the path of agile transformation. The implementation of this concept records success with the formation of a self-organizing multidisciplinary team. This kind of organization in which greater powers and responsibilities are given leads to greater employee satisfaction and consequently (a good voice is heard far and wide) attracts new talents.

Based on the successful Agile experience, the Agile HR manifesto was defined with six key values:

  • Collaborative networks over hierarchical structures
  • Transparency over secrecy
  • Adaptability over prescriptiveness
  • Inspiration and engagement over management and retention
  • Intrinsic motivation over extrinsic rewards
  • Ambition over obligation

The benefits of the Agile way of doing business are visible very quickly if the basic recommendations are applied in daily work. Agile HR enables experimentation, and step-by-step progress, tolerating mistakes and learning from them. Each team needs to find a framework that works for them, depending on the number of people, industry, culture, and business needs. Sometimes, different tools can be combined to constantly improve. The best approach should be originated through a cycle of testing and learning.

Agile HR does not have to work in an Agile organization to apply this operating model to modernize the profession.

But, if the entire organization is ready for an agile transformation, then the HR for the Agile aspect is applicable. In this case, HR helps and supports a complex business transition.

An agile business is a set of values and principles and includes various concepts, i.e. “framework” that can be chosen depending on the teams and needs. The most well-known and accepted is the Scrum framework, which helps teams generate value through adaptive solutions to complex problems. This framework had the greatest application in the IT industry, back in the eighties of the last century, but it is unstoppably expanding into other industries: finance, insurance, telecommunications, manufacturing industries, etc. The idea is simple: when you define a goal, you need a TEAM, which joins together to achieve the goal with each member contributing to the progress. It is important to note that teams must be able to self-organize and make independent decisions in their domain, and synchronize with other members at (usually) bi-weekly meetings called “sprints”, when a “review” or overview of achievements and planning for the next period.

Companies that had successfully implemented the concept of Agile business have specific organization charts. New positions and roles in the Agile company are Scrum Master and Product Owner (currently “top-in-demand” globally), which HR should include when planning a new organizational scheme.

 

 

However, the implementation of the “framework” is only part of the Agile transformation. What is often a deal-breaker is the culture of the organization. Behavior, leadership style, structure, and organizational processes require change and the application of comprehensive “change management” for this way of working to be successful. The key and critical element of the satisfactory application of agile practices is open communication, which HR advocates. It is known that HR helps employees to honestly (not just declaratively) feel supported, secure, and free to take initiatives so that they are motivated to express their full potential.

Since there are different types of organizations in Serbia, before deciding on Agile transformation, it is recommended to perform an assessment of the company climate and the maturity of the teams. The good practices certainly speak in favor of the Agile way of doing business, whether at the sector or corporate level.

Start with a small test, learn and let the Agile way of doing business modernize you and move you forward.

Learn more about it at Agility in HR (ICP-AHR) certification training

Trust is the foundation of real Teamwork

Author: Vladimir Kelava

It’s only natural that we trust the people who are close to us, but the ramifications of this go far beyond our personal life. In business, too, trust is the cornerstone of successful collaboration, which is why teams need to actively work on building bonds based on trust, openness, and empathy if they want to achieve top results. In some teams, sharing and bonding happens spontaneously, but other teams may need help and facilitation to establish relationships of trust. At work, people should get closer to others to better understand what is going on, and decreasing the distance might also help increase communication and creativity. If you want to better understand people you work with, Personal Maps popular Management 3.0 practice can come in useful, and they can also help teams get to know each other better and forge deep bonds based on mutual trust, openness and empathy.

Trust is the foundation of real teamwork.

In his 2002 book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” Patrick Lencioni wrote the following:

Trust lies at the heart of a functioning, cohesive team. Without it, teamwork is all but impossible. Unfortunately, the word trust is used—and misused— so often that it has lost some of its impact and begins to sound like motherhood and apple pie. That is why it is important to be very specific about what is meant by trust. In the context of building a team, trust is the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. In essence, teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another. This description stands in contrast to a more standard definition of trust, one that centers around the ability to predict a person’s behavior based on past experience. For instance, one might “trust” that a given teammate will produce high-quality work because he has always done so in the past

Building Trust with Personal Maps

A while ago, I had a chance to work with one team in order to help them grow and develop as a team. After a relatively short time of daily observation and interaction, I realized that they did not manage to develop true trust and were often unwilling to admit that some aspects of work were not going in the right direction. On top of that, they would quickly come to conflicts that would last very briefly, followed by a hiatus and a superficial sense of artificial harmony. For me, this was a sign that they weren’t able to handle a constructive debate, which prevented them from dealing with conflicts adequately. Mutual trust and vulnerability in front of others were lacking, which are normally built by allowing the team to learn more about each other and establish a sense of empathy.

At the end of one sprint, I invited people to an informal get-together I named “Sweets and Learn”. I put sweets on the table and right at the start, I told them that I had been with them for a while but that I felt the need to present myself to them properly. I shared my Personal Map with them (leading by example) and I asked them if they wanted to make their own maps. There were volunteers and they encouraged others to make their own maps too and share them with the other team members. What was amazing to me was the fact that the people had been working together for months but they didn’t know some basic things about each other. By making Personal Maps, they had an opportunity to learn more about each other, which in turn encouraged active communication. They found out that they have shared interests and they started to develop a relationship of empathy, which largely changed the team dynamics, which came to light during the second get-together already. Sharing the Personal Map with team members was the first step towards building mutual trust in that team.

The “Sweets and Learn” session produced a few major takeaways for me as the facilitator, and one of them is that people will bond with greater ease if provided the opportunity and tools to do so. Let’s face it: there’s much more to work than just work, but if people are not encouraged to bond and open up, they will hardly step out of their comfort zone. By creating room for bonding, the facilitator can considerably improve the functioning of a team as a whole as the newly-forged ties will allow for smoother collaboration and increased levels of understanding and trust among individual team members.

Learn more about it at Management 3.0 Foundation Workshop.

Reasons to attend Regional Scrum Gathering 2022

This year, the Regional Scrum Gathering ℠ “Agile in IT and Beyond” will be organized in Belgrade! This is one of the biggest Agile events in the SEE region and it will be two full days of learning, networking, inspiration, and fun. So, book your dates: 17 – 18th of November.

If you were a previous year’s participant, you don’t need too much persuasion. Therefore, let us remind you briefly:

#1 Live Event
RSG conference will be a live event this year – we all know that contact in person is irreplaceable, so YES to continual networking!

#2 Interact with great Agile Minds
RSG conference is a place where you can meet and talk with the greatest Agile Stars, so YES to interactive practical conversations with all Agile Superstars!

#3 Career boost
RSG conference will help you grow your Agile career because you will learn valuable and useful lectures and

panels and you will collect SEU points, so YES to continual professional improvement.

#4 See & Be seen
Mingle with like-minded people and enjoy during interactive workshops and fun breaks! So, YES to interactions and energy exchange.

#5 Fun
After official conference time, explore Belgrade tourist attractions. So, YES to Belgrade

Check out our speakers and topics: Regional Scrum Gathering 2022 Belgrade

#networking #agileserbia #belgrade #scrumalliance #agile #regionalscrumgathering #agilemindset

Experience Serbia and Belgrade