Presentations from #MusicCityAgile & #MusicCityCode

This week I was fortunate to participate in Music City Tech conference in Nashville, TN. The event encompasses 3 conferences in 1, with sessions on code, data, and agile topics.

Yesterday I spoke on the lunch panel about People, and the questions from the audience were excellent. I enjoyed hearing from the other panelists and sharing my thoughts with the group. Today I presented 2 topics, and the slides for each are available below:

Talking and Not Talking—Finding Balance as a Coach

Oops, We Inflicted DevOps on our Business

Thank you to everyone who came to my sessions. The interaction was fantastic, and I always learn from the discussions myself. I’d love to hear how you apply learnings from the sessions!

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Agile and Metrics – Measurables or Miserables?

Photo by alev adil

Photo by alev adil

Years ago, I talked to a COO about helping his organization adopt agile, and he asked about metrics. How would he know how teams and products are performing? Part of the desire for agile was to address their current lack of visibility into the teams’ work and to establish KPIs across IT in particular.

What metrics could the COO expect to see? Great question. Agilists often talk about using empirical process control—namely transparency, inspection, and adaptation. Yet we’ve seen issues arise when metrics that are useful at a team level are exposed to managers and stakeholders outside the team. Unfair comparisons of teams and assumptions about how to intervene can pop up. Education about the metrics and how to use them can help. Recognizing what kinds of decisions and support may be needed from those outside the team may encourage tracking and discussing additional metrics.

Ken Howard and I created a presentation about metrics a team might find useful and metrics executives might be interested in; it’s called Agile by the Numbers: How to Develop Useful KPIs and was a popular session at AgileShift in Houston. Slides are available online here. If you’re interested in us presenting for your group, please contact me.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Technical Excellence Doesn't Just Happen

Photo by Peter Casier

Photo by Peter Casier

Mike Rieser and I recently co-presented at Houston TechFest, and a recording of our presentation is now available. We talk about why technical excellence matters and some of the things we did as coaches to help an organization avoid technical bankruptcy.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

How to Communicate and Recognize Appreciation

Photo by jen collins

Photo by jen collins

Cherie and I presented at the UT Dallas Project Management Symposium this week, and it was a lot of fun.  We once again presented Beyond Removing Impediments: Scrum Master as Team Coach and also had the opportunity to do a second session on Motivating People Through the Language of Appreciation.  It was our first time presenting that topic, and the positive feedback was tremendous.  Then again, when you're talking to people for an hour about appreciation, they know how to practice it when you're done.  ;-)

Honestly though, feeling appreciated is rare for many people--70% of employees say they receive no praise at work.  That hurts the individuals and the organization.  People who are undervalued are less likely to go above and beyond at work and they are more likely to leave for another job.  Here's the real kicker: your organization might be trying to show some appreciation for employees, but they are not recognizing it!

Each one of us has certain things that we look for that tell us we are valued by others--different reference points that tell us, “I value and appreciate you.”  When people speak to us in the way that speaks value and appreciation to them--and it is different than they way we say it--we don’t receive the message.  Why?  Because we don’t recognize that they are saying it.  For example, a manager might give an employee a gift card in recognition of his hard work and long hours in completing a project successfully, but the employee sees it as an empty gesture because he would really like someone to tell him how valuable he is to the organization.

We speak different languages of appreciation, and understanding the different languages of appreciation helps others to receive what you are trying to offer them.  If we can understand the language we are expecting to hear and how others might possibly be expressing appreciation and value, then we can both send and perceive the appropriate messages.

The 5 languages of appreciation are:

1.     Quality Time – Quality time includes focused attention and quality conversation.  A person who speaks this language feels valued when they perceive that someone displays a genuine interest in them.  This language focuses on hearing the person receiving the quality time and about participating in the conversation with them.  Quality time also includes a sharing of life together.  So, working side by side or going to lunch together also qualifies as quality time.  

2.     Words of Affirmation – Words of affirmation include specific words of encouragement or praise for accomplishment and for effort.  It includes saying, “thank you.”  Words of affirmation can be given one on one, in front of someone the person views as important (such as a supervisor or the team), or publicly.  This appreciation language focuses on the words being said to the person receiving the words of affirmation, and it is about them and their contributions or character traits that are valuable and appreciated. Can be written, verbal, or in some other format including music, video, etc.  The important thing is the message of praise and encouragement communicated.

3.     Receiving Gifts – Receiving gifts is the vehicle for some individuals that sends the message that says, “You are valuable to me and I thought about you when you weren’t with me because I appreciate you.”  The dollar value of the gift is not what is significant but the emotional thought about the person that drove the gift to be given.  For people who speak this language, the gift becomes tangible evidence that they are valued.  It is a constant reminder that they are appreciated.   

4.     Acts of Service – Acts of service is characterized by helping with tasks that need to be completed.  Some might call this teamwork.  Some key things to remember with acts of service are:

  • Get your own work finished before offering to help someone with theirs
  • Ask before helping
  • Make sure to do it their way if you are going to help
  • Finish what you commit to do and make it clear what you can commit to finish

5.     Physical Contact – Physical contact in the workplace is a touchy subject. (Pardon the pun) The truth is that for some people this is the language that speaks the loudest to them that they are truly valued and appreciated.  The key is to understand what is appropriate and acceptable and to adhere to those guidelines.  Depending on the culture of the organization there will be different guidelines but for most handshakes, knuckle bumps, high-fives, or even a pat on the shoulder are acceptable.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Scrum Gathering New Orleans Highlights

Photo by Scrum Alliance

Photo by Scrum Alliance

Last week I attended the Scrum Gathering in New Orleans, and I wanted to share some of unexpected yet wonderful experiences from the conference:

1. Cherie and I presented Beyond Removing Impediments: Scrum Master as Team Coach!  We were originally selected as alternates, and a peer told me to always says yes to being an alternate because there’s a high chance someone will cancel.  He was right.  We found out the Friday before the conference, and I was out of town for another meeting, so the morning of our presentation, I was at Kinko’s printing handouts.  Cherie and I changed how we did the presentation, and the overall energy flow felt much better.  Every time we talk about this topic, I discover new points to share.

Blue Tape to the Rescue!

Blue Tape to the Rescue!

2. I am a bit of a foodie, so I was quite happy to explore New Orleans cuisine.  Ty and I had beignets at Café du Monde followed by a late dinner at Luke [one of John Besh’s restaurants].  Luke was incredible, and we could see into the kitchen from our table—the chef was right behind my seat on the other side of some glass.  So cool.  Best of all, a number of us from the Dallas area had dinner together at Peche; the food was delicious, and the company was delightful.  It was really nice to hang out with folks in a different environment.

3. On the last day, I finally got to see how an Open Space is opened.  I had read about it before, and it was cool to see it in practice.  My flight home was in the early afternoon, so I didn’t have much chance to participate in the open space sessions that day.  But I did get to participate in one: we sat on the floor in the hallway because the other rooms were full, and we talked about professional coaching, certifications, and touched on hiring coaches.  Jake Calabrese and Stephen Starkey led the group, and I elaborated some of the points about CTI and the Co-Active model since I am currently taking that training.  I met Jake and Stephen at last year’s Scrum Gathering, and it was great to see them again; it is exciting to talk to other coaches about coaching and inspires new ideas.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Practicing Powerful Questions--and a Giveaway!

Card design by Kevin Baker, Improving Enterprises

Card design by Kevin Baker, Improving Enterprises

A few weeks ago, I took my first Co-Active Coaching training class, and it was incredible.  It was 2.5 days of being immersed in coaching—watching it, receiving it, and practicing it.  I’m amazed at how much I learned because it was so unlike other classes I’ve taken—I didn’t feel like I was studying, but I was absorbing knowledge throughout.   One of the fundamental skills we talked about and practiced was asking powerful questions, which is also one of the skills in my Beyond Removing Impediments: Scrum Master as Team Coach presentation.

What’s a powerful question?  It’s the type of open-ended question that makes you think.  It’s not a yes/no question, and it doesn’t ask you to explain why.  These are the questions that push your thinking beyond where you’ve been and create possibility.  They inspire and motivate and move you closer to what you desire.

I’ve been practicing powerful questions more frequently, and it gets easier each time.  The questions are relatively simple and can fit in your pocket.  Literally.  I have a mini cards of powerful questions that I gave to attendees at Keep Austin Agile 2014, and rather than tell someone what to do or ask a closed question, I can reach for a card and ask a powerful question instead.

For readers of my blog, I'm offering a special giveaway of powerful questions cards!  If you would like some mini cards to practice your coaching skills, please contact me with your name and mailing address.      

 

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Recap: Keep Austin Agile 2014

Photo by Agile Austin

Photo by Agile Austin

I was pleasantly surprised by the size and enthusiasm of the Austin agile community!  The conference was sold out with 500 people registered.  Cherie Silas and I co-presented Beyond Removing Impediments: Scrum Master as Team Coach to an engaged audience of about 100 people in the morning, and it was a great start to the day.  The ideas from our session seemed to really resonate with folks, and I heard the ideas repeated in other sessions and conversations throughout the day.   

I was also very excited to have a good-sized group from Dallas attend Keep Austin Agile—many who had never been to an agile conference before.   They were excited to be a part of the larger agile community and discover that others faced many of the same challenges as them.  Best of all, they were reminded of the successes they had achieved thus far in their agile journeys.  The conference presented them with new ideas and reinvigorated their enthusiasm for agile.  Our group went out to dinner after the conference at the Oasis and had a lovely view of the sunset—it was a perfect ending to a wonderful agile conference trip.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Presentation on Wed, Mar 5: Scrum Master as Team Coach

Photo by mwms1916

Photo by mwms1916

Becoming a Scrum Master is often a significant transition from other roles you've played, and even after attending certification classes, you may be struggling to make the transition.  What are the soft skills you need to be a great Scrum Master?  

Cherie Silas and I will be sharing our insights at the DFW Agile Community of Practice on Wednesday, March 5.  Inspired by our own journeys in making the transition from project manager to Scrum Master and our current work coaching Scrum Masters in their new roles, we created Beyond Removing Impediments: Scrum Master as Team Coach--

The role of the Scrum Master is about more than removing impediments and facilitating meetings. Scrum Masters act as mirrors for their teams and mentor team members great Scrum Masters coach their teams to high performance every day. We will share a metaphor for teams to use on their journey to high performance and teach Scrum Masters how to be coaches for their teams. Come learn how to give meaningful feedback and ask powerful questions to grow a team.

Join us on Wednesday to learn how you can become a coach for your team (and why I picked a photo of a tree for this post).  

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Eliminating Barriers: No More Us vs. Them

Photo by BenSpark

Photo by BenSpark

I have finally modified the AgileDotNet Dallas 2013 presentation that I co-created to be a little more descriptive and uploaded it to Slideshare!  The presentation was inspired by Jeff Patton, Mary Poppendieck, Diana Larsen and James Shore.  

It was a lot of work to create and a lot of fun to present.  Enjoy.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.