In Chapter 5 of my book,
Digital Trailblazer, I share several of my stories of helping organizations define their
agile ways of working. If you’re married to a framework, it’s hard for leaders to develop
agile cultures and mindsets. And while empowering self-organizing teams is fundamental to agile, it
doesn’t mean that agile leaders shouldn’t establish and adopt
In this week’s
Driving Digital Standup
video at the bottom of this post, I share the stories behind “That’s not
agile” and why I wrote the chapter.
Please watch the video for added
insights, and join the
Digital Trailblazer Community
to delve further into agile and other digital transformation topics.
Today’s challenges are less about changing waterfall to agile practices and
mindsets, even though many enterprises still have remnants of waterfall
planning and less-agile PMOs.
One scrum book with many flavors
What many agile leaders face nowadays is an agile hodgepodge of what people
have experienced and embraced in other organizations and teams. Bring 100
people together, and 30 of them may have practiced the scaled agile
framework (SAFe), 10 with Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), 10 with StarCIO Agile,
40 with very basic scrum, and 10 are completely new to agile. How should
scrum teams and agile organizations seek diversity of thought but then
define their agile practices?
Center of Excellence
programs help leaders with these challenges and create digital practices
that deliver transformational impacts. Our approach includes top-down
strategic planning and much bottoms-up work with scrum leaders and teams on
developing and cultivating standard practices where they make sense.
We do this by helping product owners, scrum leaders, and team leaders answer
common questions facing real-world scrum teams. When there’s some consensus
on the approach, we draft a standard.
Three questions for scrum leaders
Here are three examples where scrum leaders and Digital Trailblazers should provide guidance to their agile teams:
- Can the product owner and scrum master be one person?
What should we do with our commitments when a production issue disrupts
How should we handle user stories that aren’t finished at the end of a
Anyone experienced in scrum probably has answers to these questions, but ask
three leaders, and you’re likely to get different responses. For example, in
mature organizations and teams, where there’s little daily and weekly work
for a scrum master, it’s reasonable for either the product owner or team
lead to take on scrum master responsibilities. When there are new, less
experienced teams or when organizations have significant reporting
requirements, then I often recommend having a dedicated scrum master.
The other questions seem tactical but are important so that teams can
efficiently address common issues consistently.
And watch the video below for more insights on “That’s not Agile!”