There are four leadership concepts that can double the chances that your agile transformation will be effective. These four concepts are not new, but they require a degree of passion and constancy of purpose that are often missing.  The constancy of purpose was the first point in W. Edward Deming’s 14 points for management (Out of The Crisis – 1982 MIT Press) that has rewritten management and leadership philosophy across the globe. Deming’s philosophies form the bedrock for the Agile and lean revolution in which we are currently engulfed, so we ignore Deming at our own peril.  Agile delivers great benefits, but those benefits require leadership and vision to provide motivation and constancy of purpose. The first two of the four cornerstones that define agile leadership that delivers are: (more…)


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SPaMCAST 459 features our essay on resistance.  Organizational change is a common, almost ubiquitous, feature in today’s business world. Change is known under many monikers ranging from transformation to creative destruction.  The variety of names is a portent to the one constant in any organizational change: resistance.  Some resistance is inevitable, even if everyone is involved in the plan.Organizational change will always foment some degree of resistance that unless recognized can fester and lead to failure. This essay will help you find and mitigate the risk of resistance!

The second column this week is from Gene Hughson and his Form Follows Function column. Gene discusses his essay titled Innovation, Intention, Planning, and Execution. One of the gems Gene delivers in our discussion is that effectiveness requires reasoned, intentional action. While we might all agree, why is it so hard to remember that when push comes to shove in a project?

Jeremy Berriault brings his QA Corner to the cast in order to discuss testing packages.  Jeremy weighs in on whether testing a package is any different than testing any other piece of code.

A promo for 2017 Agile Leadership Summit:

Mark your calendar for an entirely new class of business conference. More “business theater” than conference, the 2017 Agile Leadership Summit (September 22nd in Washington, DC) is sponsored by AgileCxO ( It features an integrated mix of six vignettes on Agile leadership, two fantastic industry keynotes, and onstage jazz musicians who are demonstrating agility, iteration, and excellence throughout. Learn more at

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 Steven dives into Chapter 8 of Paul Gibbons’ book The Science of Successful Organizational Change.  Change is a central activity of every organization.  Three more weeks are left Steven intends to spend two weeks on Chapter 9 and then we will have a grand finale.  Remember to use the link in the essay to buy a copy of the book to support the author, the podcast, and the blog! (more…)

You Better Ask Questions!

The role of a coach often centers on diagnosing problems and helping people come to an understanding of how their behavior or feelings are affecting their team and organization. Rarely is an issue so obvious that simply observing behavior and then sharing observations generate organizational or self-awareness. Questions are an important tool in any coach’s data gathering arsenal. Some questions are useful to expose management or leadership behaviors while others are targeted to generate knowledge at the individual and group level.  A sample of questions useful when working with individuals or groups (outside the earshot of their managers).

  1. Is it harder to get out of bed to come to work than it used to be?

This is a fairly blunt question that can be used once you have established a rapport with a team or group.  It establishes an admission that something has changed and that the respondent is less motivated. (more…)

Sign - Door Blocked!

A locked door is a sign of resistance.

Over the years I have collected a set of questions that are useful to determine whether resistance is festering below the surfaces or is raging out of control (whether obvious or not).  They are a mixture of closed-ended questions, open-ended questions and questions that elicit stories.   A sample of questions that I ask managers and leaders include:

Questions to Leaders or Managers (more…)

The Science of Successful Organizational Change

The Science of Successful Organizational Change

This week Steven dives into Chapter 5 of Paul Gibbons’ book The Science of Successful Organizational Change.  Cognitive biases are a topic that the Software Process and Measurement Blog has explored multiple times.  Cognitive biases are important decision-making tools.  Gibbons’ words have helped to crystallize our thinking on cognitive biases and logical fallacies in this chapter.   Remember to use the link in the essay to buy a copy of the book to support the author, the podcast, and the blog!   – Tom

Week 7 —

Week-7 re-read of Paul Gibbons book “The Science of Successful Organizational Change” (get your copy) is about “Cognitive Biases and Failed Strategies” and packed with useful information.  This chapter also concludes Part II of the book – Change Strategy. (more…)

Moving Toward The Light!

The fact that leadership is critical in an Agile transformation should not be too shocking. As noted in Leadership: A Cycle to Deliver Transformation, leadership is a critical component to attaining any goal.   Leadership provides a focus for an organization in transition.  The phrase “providing a focus” doesn’t refer to a single simple skill, but requires that leaders guide organizations in many ways, all of which are important to facilitate change.  In order to generate focus, leadership provides:

  1. Vision – Leaders provide a picture or manifestation of the future which helps the organization understand why they are being asked to change and the rough parameters of the of the future state.  Developing a tangible understanding of the destination is very useful in overcoming resistance. Tony Manno, Premios Group, when asked about the importance of leadership quoted the following definition of a leader to drive his point home: “An effective leader is a person who creates an inspiring vision of the future.  They motivate and inspire people to engage with that vision.”
  2. Adaptive management – Leaders use adaptive management to reduce uncertainty.  Adaptive management uses an iterative process of decision making to break down the events that create uncertainty.  Adaptive management is most effective for addressing change when leaders take a systems perspective and leverage input from the whole system to guide decisions. A leader leveraging adaptive management breaks the ground so that transformation can follow.  Andrew Schreiber, HHMI, described the role of leaders as “master navigators or way finders for the teams.”
  3. Systems/Lean Management – Leaders own the organization’s internal eco-system and workflows.  Transformation requires changing the environment in which work gets done.  Leaders own the creation of an environment in which respect for people and their time exists.  This includes simple items such as demanding that people are on time for meetings or ensuring that decision making is pushed down and individuals are empowered to make decisions inside the workflow.  Steve Woodward, Cloud Solutions, described the leader’s role as including “assuring right amounts of governance is in place while still embracing the agile manifesto.”

Leadership exists in many places and layers in an organization.  The leader enables change by getting everyone on the same page and making sure the organization’s eco-system isn’t acting like an antibody, actively working to reject the change. Michael King of Halfaker and Associates (interviewed on SPaMCAST 455) stated: “an Agile organization without strong leadership can spin their wheels without clarifying of focus/backlog.” For an organization to have any chance of transforming with Agile, senior and executive leaders must step to the forefront and make stuff happen!  


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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 403 features our essay on Agile practices at Scale. Scaling Agile is a contentious topic.  Frameworks and techniques for scaling are often lambasted as semi-Agile or perhaps even backdoor waterfall techniques. Occasionally you still hear that if a piece of work is too big for one team to complete in a reasonable period of time it should be broken down or just not done. Rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater, many organizations have taken a more pragmatic approach and adopted techniques to scale Agile. We discuss the issues and some of the steps that can be taken to address them!

We will also have a visit from the Software Sensei, Kim Pries. Kim discusses making real transformations using his experience learning Tai Chi.  Kim points out that change like deep learning is not instantaneous.

Gene Hughson anchors the cast with an entry from his Form Follows Function Blog. We discussed his article titled,  NPM, Tay, and the Need for Design.  Gene points out that being forewarned is forearmed. While it has always been true, in today’s dynamic environment, an architect needs to be forearmed.

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we continue our re-read of Kent Beck’s XP Explained, Second Edition with a discussion of Chapters 8 and 9.  Chapter 8 changes gears and provides advice on how to get started with XP.  Beck suggests that there is no single place to start for everyone. Where you start depends on where you are beginning.  Chapter 9 provides a list of corollary practices that build on the primary practices discussed in Chapter 7.  

Use the link to XP Explained in the show notes when you buy your copy to read along to support both the blog and podcast. Visit the Software Process and Measurement Blog ( to catch up on past installments of Re-Read Saturday.

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