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SPaMCAST 465 features our essay on re-booting teams. Not every team issue can be solved with a standard pallet of techniques. However, nearly every consultant (internal or external) will have set of tools that they have ready just in case. We discuss techniques and impacts!

We will also have a column from Kim Pries (The Software Sensei).  Kim discusses why software structure can be a blessing and a curse. While Kim tends to favor structure there are times when it does not deliver the benefits promised.

Steve Tendon  brings Chapter 20 of Tame The Flow: Hyper-Productive Knowledge-Work Performance, The TameFlow Approach and Its Application to Scrum and Kanban  (buy a copy here).  Our discussion of Chapter 20 was passionate and in depth.  It will be released in two or 3 parts.

A promo!
I am participating in the Agile Online Summit

30 Oct – 3 Nov 2017

At the summit, I talk about the power of storytelling with Tom Henricksen!


For other events SPaMCAST team members will be attending check the recent blog entry titled Upcoming Conferences and Webinars!

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we re-read Action Metrics for Predictability Chapter 1 of Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: An Introduction by Daniel S. Vacanti. Chapter 1 of  Daniel S. Vacanti’s Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability. Chapter 1 is titled Flow, Flow Metrics, and Predictability.  Vacanti jumps directly into the deep end by suggesting a way to answer the age-old question, ”when are you going to deliver?”  Buy your copy today and read along!

Previous Installments (more…)


There are signs something’s not going to work before failure occurs.

A recent note from a reader asked: When is a team dysfunctional, and what does it mean to to reboot a team? It should be noted that The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni is a great source to sources and solutions for team dysfunctions (check out the Re-read Saturday feature).

When is a team dysfunctional?

The simplest answer is that a team is dysfunctional when it can’t deliver on its commitments. The problem with that answer is that it would be better to see the problem before it impacts commitments.  A more useful question might be: what are the attributes of a potentially dysfunctional team that can be used diagnose problems before they fail to deliver? Three common dysfunctions and some ways to identify them early are:   (more…)

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 437 features a discussion of our recent re-read of  The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, Copyright 2002, 33rd printing) with Steven Adams.  Steve has participated on nearly all of the re-reads, providing his unique wisdom.  It was a great talk that helped me understand why the book has (and continues to have) such a large impact on how I view Agile and software development. Steve also has some advice on how to get the most out of the re-read feature.

Steve lives in the San Francisco Bay Area (a.k.a, Silicon Valley) where he has a successful career in software development.  Steve has worked for Hewlett Packard, Access Systems Inc,, Trilliant Inc., and Sony Mobile Communications; plus has consulted at Cisco Systems.  Steve has a computer science degree from California State University at Chico, learned software project management at Hewlett-Packard and, in 2009, started his Agile journey with Sony Ericsson.  Steve enjoys listening to technical podcasts, and SPaMCAST was one of the first and is a favorite!  Steve is also an avid bicyclist (road) and is on track to log over 3,500 miles in 2016.


Twitter: @stevena510

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we begin our read of Holacracy with a few logistics and a review of the introduction.  We have a short entry this week that will give you time to buy a copy today and read along!  If you have not listened to my interview with Jeff Dalton on Software Process and Measurement Cast 433, I would suggest a quick listen. Jeff has practical experience with using the concepts of holacracy in his company and as a tool in his consultancy.  

Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World by Brian J. Robertson was published by Henry Holt and Company in 2015.  The book is comprised of a forward, 10 chapters in three parts, notes, acknowledgments, and an index.  My plan is to read and review one chapter per week.  We will move on to a new book in approximately 12 weeks.

Visit the Software Process and Measurement Cast blog to participate in this and previous re-reads. (more…)


Leading the way!

Participative management styles are often used by Agile teams.  Participative management styles are perceived to be more flexible. Flexibility allows teams to immediately react to the feedback they receive as they work rather than wait until it is too late to react. Flexibility is a core principle of Agile; however, scaling Agile requires trading some of the flexibility of participative management styles for more control.  More control is needed due to the increased size of both team and work and the increased level of risk large pieces of work typically represent.    (more…)

A pile of empty pizza boxes!

WIP limits are needed to stop waiting in queues.

Recently a long-time reader and listener came to me with a question about a team with two sub-teams that were not participating well together. In a previous entry we began describing how kanban or Scrumban could be leveraged to help teams identify issues with how they work and then to fix them.  We conclude with the last two steps in a simple approach to leveraging kanban or Scrumban: (more…)

Pi(e)-shaped person?

Pi(e)-shaped person?

Many Agile discussions talk about team members as generalizing specialists.  Generalizing specialists are individuals that have a specialty; however, they also have broad levels of experience that can be applied.  Tim Brown of IDEO coined term ‘T-shaped people’ (or skills) to describe this combination of specialization and experience.  There are a number of other letter- or symbol-based metaphors, sort of an alphabet soup of metaphors, that describe the type of person you might find in a team. (more…)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat’s the difference between an Agile coach and a scrum master? A quick internet search returns a variety of competing opinions (and a lot of ads for training classes).  This is not an arbitrary question – these terms have a great deal of power to set expectations for behavior. While some of the components of the roles are similar, the two roles are different in at least one major way –  scope.

Both Agile coaches and scrum masters help teams.  Both roles are tasked with helping Agile teams use Agile values and practices to deliver value to the organization.  Agile coaches and scrum masters use similar techniques to guide, facilitate, and coach teams so that they learn and use Agile techniques, confront delivery problems as they occur, and work together as a well-oiled unit.  If we stopped here the two roles would be the same. However, the scope of the two roles is different.

Agile coaches typically pursue the implementation of an organizational vision of Agile, or are tasked with delivering external knowledge and expertise to a team.  In both cases the coach is external and is not a member any specific project team. In order to effect change from the outside the project, the coach needs a broader exposure to Agile roles than a typical scrum master.  A coach should have played all of roles on an Agile team multiple times. They have the gravitas to influence without direct authority and from outside the team. They interact with a team or teams, and then let the team synthesize and internalize the advice. The Agile coach is typically the voice of Agile at an organizational level.  This generally requires broader exposure and experience with Agile techniques, which is why many organizations use external consultants to play this role. The need for an Agile coach is generally transitory, specifically they are needed when external injections of knowledge or energy is necessary to help ensure the application of Agile continues to evolve.

On the other hand, the scrum master is the team’s tactical coach (scrum defines the team as the scrum master, product owner and the development team). He/she facilitates the team’s use of Agile techniques and helps to protect the team from the outside world. Scrum masters are the voice of the process at the team level.  Scrum masters are a critical member of every Agile team. The team’s need for a scrum master is not transitory because they evolve together as a team.

The role of an Agile coach and that of scrum master have similarities, but also significant differences.