Showing posts with label scrum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scrum. Show all posts

Change Management & Scrum: Gamification Perspective

Aug 16, 2018 | | 0 comments |
This is a guest post by Madhavi Ledalla.
Introduction to Gamification
I have been studying about Gamification for a while and after having been part of several change initiatives, I started appreciating how the game design concepts can be used for change initiation and management. Gamification involves using game design elements in non-game design contexts. Gamification plays a very key role in increasing the employee engagement. The gaming elements and concepts behind the game design framework used to inspire people to get to the next level of the game play can be applied to non-gaming context as well to engage and motivate teams to reach to the next levels as deemed by the organizations.
There are many games in the industry which use simple game mechanics that include extrinsic rewards like badges, points etc. However the versatility of a gamified system depends on how the intrinsic motivators are exploited by providing real-time feedback to the players to reinforce the desired behavior. The key success of a gamified system is based on how effectively the gaming elements are used for engaging, rather than a means of showcasing extrinsic rewards. The desired outcome of a gamified system directly correlates to the motivation of the players involved. The idea of gamification and the universality of its application bring in a completely different dimension of thinking!
Game Design Framework:
The game design process typically goes through six steps as cited by “Kevin Werbach”, which are detailed below:
Now let us try to understand the typical steps involved in Change management and then look at how game design steps can be used as a tool for change management.
Change Journey steps:
Any general change initiative whether it relates to agile transformation or not requires the following activities to be done at a minimum in most of the cases, though there could be exceptions depending on the context and organizations.
  • Identify the need for charge and define the desired state?
  • How will it affect the organization, leadership and teams?
  • Assess the organization readiness for the change?
  • Figure out who will lead the change?
  • How will the change initiative be facilitated?
  • How will the change participants be engaged and motivated?
  • Initiate the change.
  • The communication strategy.
  • Inspect and adapt the change initiative based on the feedback.
Change Management and Gamification
Having said this, I think that the game design process steps can be mapped to a change management process. In fact, the game design process may be used as a change management tool depending on the context, though it may not be applicable always.  Here is how I see them both map to each other as shown below.
Having worked with a couple of agile transformation initiatives, I think the game design process steps can be used to initiate agile transformations too as it is all about change management.
Gamification and Scrum
There are several agile frameworks like Scrum Kanban, XP that can be used at the team level during the delivery and execution, depending on the context and the problem domain. I have been using Scrum from few years, and was thinking of doing something different to create more engagement and fun! Since I was reading on gamification, I thought why not I gamify the Scrum framework!  As I started working on it, I was surprised to appreciate that Scrum is already gamified to a larger extent as I describe it below.
Scrum can be considered as a collaborative game play framework where team members engage with each other every sprint to deliver business value. Any game should have clear goals and rules- and every sprint has this. The gaming environment must provide constant feedback that helps players change their strategy all along the way and the sprint ceremonies are in fact meant for this! The ceremonies and artifacts in Scrum are nothing but the activity loops. For example, the burndown charts, Task boards- Daily progress indicators, Definition of Done, frequent feedback from Product Owners during the sprint, are typical examples of engagement loops used in a gamified system. Similarly the Sprint reviews, retrospectives, release burndown/burnup charts can be considered as examples of progression loops in a gamified system.
In my opinion, I think the concept of basic gamification is already embedded in the Scrum Framework to an extent. This is my comprehension based on what I read and understood about gamification, while I was figuring out avenues to apply this concept to Scrum teams.  However there is always a scope to add more elements to gamify the existing framework by using customized information radiators to maximize the team’s engagement by providing lots of feedback that will help them look at the current state and inspect and adapt!
My two cents
I would summarize by saying that we can always gamify the existing system to make it engaging by using data analytics, visual radiators, maturity levels and feedback loops. A word of caution is that too much focus on extrinsic motivators like the points, badges, rewards, levels may lead to teams getting pressurized to attain levels and may end up in misusing the gamified system and eventually start playing with the numbers!
Would be glad to hear from readers if any of you tried gamification while working with teams! Looking forward to learn from your experiences!
If you are interested in Agile, you can read more here.

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Interactions within Agile Teams- The SCARF Model

Image result for SCARF model

“In a world of increasing interconnectedness and rapid change, there is a growing need to improve the way people work together. Understanding the true drivers of human social behavior is becoming ever more urgent in this environment.”- David Rock

We talk about creating self-organizing team and encouraging team dynamics in Agile but what we forget to mention is how it should be done. This is where SCARF model comes in- Social neuroscience explores the biological foundations of the way humans relate to each other and to themselves. From this a theme emerges from social neuroscience- Firstly, that much of our motivation driving social behavior is governed by an overarching organizing principle of minimizing threat and maximizing reward.

Which simply put means we have to ensure our Lizard brain (the part which tells you not to change, take a risk and ensure you continue to live by keeping you safe from trying out unknown things) doesn’t feel threatened at any point.

Image result for agile teams

The SCARF model involves five domains of human social experience: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, relatedness and Fairness. These 5 domains will either trigger the rewards or the threat thought process.  This also means even during conversations you want to “rewards” trigger to go. This will ensure positive discussion and participation plus engagement.

Certainty and Autonomy out of the five is directly related to you. For example- do you feel empowered that you can make your decision in the current job title? The empowerment  cannot be influenced by anyone else.

The other three Status, Relatedness and Fairness are all influenced by “others”…. Like do you feel you are treated fairly?

So, this is a mix bag of social influence which allows you to feel empowered and positive or otherwise. The dynamics can be created, so if you are a team member or scrum master or manage a team- you need to ensure that these 5 fundamental cornerstones are all in the positive side of things. If by using all of these, we can ensure that a sense of fulfillment, balance and progress within team members can be created- the self-organization will start forming very soon.

Here are 3 ways to build on the improve the team collaboration:·
  • Explain the change (why) - don’t enforce without talking about the big picture.
  • Show why it matters to them(how)- how it can impact them and what usually happens
  • What is expected from a specific role (what)- being articulate about the responsibility of a scrum team/member

If we are successful in ensuring all of these are considered, the team  dynamics and communication will be positive. 

(Pic courtesy: Google images)

Scrum Master: 5 Kinds

Whether you are in an organization that follows Agile or not chances are you already have pre-determined notions about Scrum Masters- their roles and responsibilities.

In my experience of working within the Agile domain in India, there are five kinds of Scrum Masters I have come across:

  • Managers- This specially happens when the organization is moving into Agile initially. Reasons are often genuine and till a scrum master is identified in a team, the team manager in some cases will volunteer for the role. Also, managers who like to know what exactly is happening in the team so they step up into this role which always might not be a very good sign.
      • Pros- Understanding the role will eventually help the manager better appreciate the role. Boosts positive communication within the team and change in process.
      • Cons- it shouldn’t be the case where micro management is the agenda and so why not take up the role and still be the decision maker instead of allowing the team to self-organize
  • Tech Leads- Some organization focus on having adequate experience required for the role of the Scrum Master, the focus is on people who have considerable domain knowledge and its mostly been in the industry ten years or more.  
      • Pros-The vast experience of a lead could help the team manage the domain and deliver work with better quality. 
      • Cons-It shouldn’t end up being a practice that others don’t speak up because the lead is always right. 
  • Project Manager- The team project manager takes up the role as natural transition in a lot of cases. While the project will definitely be delivered with this one in charge, being a servant leader might not be something that will be easy to adopt to; where team calls the shots.
      • Pros- Communication, delivery and milestones will always be in check.
      • Cons- unless the right mindset has been achieved, you don’t want to encourage/continue with the command and control situation.
  • Functional Team Members- This happens commonly as a core team member is either assigned or volunteers to take on the role. This means a split of hours for being a Scrum Master and performing the core competency work.
      • Pros- Buy in within team is easier
      • Cons- Time management during deadlines; the time split doesn’t mean when extra hours are required you drop the scrum master responsibility and take in more hours to finish for example testing.
  • Full Time Scrum Master- Very few organizations will go ahead and hire full time members into this role. When it does happen one Scrum Master is assigned to at least two teams and the unit is very confident of the them working within Agile methodologies. 
      • Pros- Someone available and accountable to ensure the process is in places and problems are looked into and resolved immediately.
      • Cons- Dedicated scrum masters don’t mean they are administrators for the team, filling out details (like in the agile tool) that should be done by everyone themselves. Also, lack of discussion on what the role is about and the responsibilities are by management can create misunderstanding within team members. 

What have you experienced or observed?

(Pic courtesy: Google images)

Aug Wrap Up

I hope you have been doing great this month, mine has been a mish mash. While work has gotten me busier and happier with more challenging stuff everyday; my personal life has become more and more difficult to manage. My son started day care and he falls sick more often than before.

I have been trying meditation and some quiet time (if I am lucky to manage some), trying to keep sane. I think often to connect with my mentors, honestly, there’s barely anytime to even write emails. However, I have signed up for more learning (via Coursera-Standfords- Organizations Analysis), reading more books and even as a joke and dare I recorded my first YouTube (its so awful that I won’t even link it here). However I know there’s more learning coming up as I dabble in editing and understanding how to make a YouTube video and very proud to put myself out there when I know it isn’t going to be perfect.

To wrap up this month for you, here are some of the highlights, I hope you enjoy.

Good Reads (Blogs)

 New Books:

Finally, a book that changed me: When Breath Becomes Air

(PicCourtesy: Soma Bhattacharya)

Interview with Ellen Grove

Sep 9, 2013 | | 0 comments |
We are happy to have he opportunity to interview Ellen Grove, who helps teams do better work by coaching them to create the circumstances in which they can work most productively. Her Agile coaching practice with is founded in over 15 years’ experience leading software development and implementation teams in global enterprise, a passion for exploratory software testing and user-centered design, and a background in community organization. Ellen presents frequently at Agile conferences, most recently: San Francisco Agile 2012,Agile Day NYC 2012, Agile Tour Montreal & Ottawa 2012, Play4Agile2013 (Germany) and Agile Games 2013 (Boston).  She is the Scaling Agile Adoption theme chair for Agile India 2014. 

How did you begin in agile coaching/consulting?

I got my start as an agile coach while I worked for a large telecom company. My background is as a software tester, though I've done a little bit of everything except coding along the way.  My team had begun as a startup, which had been acquired by the large company but maintained the startup mentality of doing it all ourselves and trying to get things done with a minimum of process.  The company decided that they needed to introduce a standardized process for software development across the entire company; my team looked at the proposed process and realized we'd need to double the size of the team and the length of our release cycles just to handle the process overhead, which was obviously not acceptable.  

We decided that we would need to counter-propose an approach that would demonstrate some discipline in the process yet give us the flexibility we needed to do things very quickly.  Until then, we'd been playing with some Agile ideas informally, but hadn't really made an effort to work intentionally in an Agile way.  

This is when we got serious about Agile.  After arranging for myself, my boss and his boss to attend Scrum training,  I helped to organize and deliver Agile training for all the teams involved on the project: there were three teams involved, spread over 3 countries and a 10-hour time difference, as well as an external vendor who was supplying a vital component.  We were working in 1 week iterations (integrating the work of 4 teams) and learning a lot as we went along. I was playing many roles - leading the testing function, acting as Scrum Master for one team, and serving as an internal Agile coach to the larger project team.  I was also involved with the company's process team establishing an Agile alternative to the big universal process they were trying to introduce. It was crazy, but quite a lot of fun while it lasted.

When that role ended, my next gig was as a project lead on a non-Agile global network transformation project, very complicated and complex and risk.  What I learned from that experience was that I really only wanted to work on Agile projects, since Agile approaches offer some of the simplest ways to manage risk and complexity.

In a small company with less then 200 people following Agile, do you think a project managers role is as important and would be beneficial. Why?

Interestingly, in the large telecom situation there was never much attention paid to project managers, even though we had one on our team all along (even when we were still operating as a startup).  The PM was the person who updated Gantt charts, counted things and went to boring meetings that none of the rest of us were interested in.  It was quite a surprise for me to start consulting in other organizations where the Project Manager was effectively the leader of the project.

I think that many of the functions of project management are critical, but on a smaller team/project the important elements of the function can be built into the team's work and there's often no need for a designated project manager. Where I've seen real value in a PM role is in larger organizations where the PM acts as an interface (and shield!) between the development team and other functions in the company, allowing the Scrum Master (if the team is using Scrum) to focus on supporting the team's day-to-day activities and leaving the team to coordinate its work internally.  It's often very hard for people who are accustomed to a traditional PM role to make that jump and let the team have space for self-organization. 

Tell us a little more about what you do as a LEGO Serious Play facilitator.

I love doing LEGO Serious Play - I wish I could spend all my time running LSP workshops!  LEGO Serious Play is like play therapy for business.  It's a very simple, structured process that enables people to have really important conversations about how they're working as team or to share ideas about the work they're doing in a way that is designed to help them get to the heart of the conversation very quickly.  

How an LSP session works : the facilitator asks a question, the participants build a model to answer the question in a very short period of time, and then each person at the table shares their story about the model with the others. This process is repeated a few times to build up a shared understanding of the subject at hand that incorporates the viewpoints of everyone taking part. A longer workshop may involve fitting the individual models together in an integrated landscape to really create a shared view of what the aims of the group are. 

It's simple, but incredibly powerful.  Because people are using their hands as well as their brains, unexpected ideas emerge.  Time-boxing the builds forces a focus on the most important ideas.  And seeing the ideas take shape on the table results in a different kind of understanding about how the pieces fit together.  I use LSP for everything from team building sessions at the start of a project, to strategic visioning and planning, to retrospectives.  

I've written a bit on my blog about how LEGO Serious Play works.   I tend to overuse the word "magic" to describe the results of LSP, but every single time I run a session I'm blown away by what ends up on the table.  People are often very skeptical before they've used LSP to do work because it seems silly and not serious, but once they've taken part in an LSP session they realize how incredibly powerful it is as a tool for helping people to express what's in their heads and their hearts.

When working with organizations how you do come up with a strategy?

My Agile coaching strategy is fairly simple:  1) Help the organization figure out what they're really trying to accomplish, and then 2) help them find ways to get there.   This sounds easy but usually is not, especially in larger organizations where there is often ambiguity and conflict in what the real goals actually are.  With small teams/companies, there's usually a clear set of desired outcomes driving the team ('Make customers happy so that we make money and stay in business').  With larger organizations, especially in the public sector, it's often much more complicated to understand what the actual goals and desired outcomes are. "Get the project done" is a fairly meaningless goal unless you understand what the real value to be delivered through the project is and who you're delivering to, but large public sector projects often fail to communicate either of those things to the people who are doing the implementation work - the message conveyed to the team is usually "Here's the requirements, just get it done!".  It's very hard to transition to an Agile way of working in those kinds of organizations.

What are the 3 things you would suggest to all Agile project managers? 

Focus on the value being delivered through the work, not the meeting the expectations of the plan. Inexperienced PMs sometimes lose sight of this and confuse "successful delivery of project artifacts" with "a successful project".    It doesn't matter if you deliver on time and on budget if the end result doesn't please the people it's meant for. 

Trust your team to do the right things (and tailor your behavior accordingly). People tend to live up to what's expected of them, and if you want to encourage responsibility and accountability in your colleagues, you need to treat them as responsible, accountable individuals with good intentions and good judgment. Most people want to do great work - and if they don't, taking a command-and-control approach to managing their work won't result in happiness for anyone. If they do want to do great work, a controlling approach is just going to get in their way.

Make it safe for the team to fail. If you don't want the bigger effort to be a failure, you need to help create a culture (at least within the team) where it's OK for people to make mistakes and to ask for help when they need it.  I've seen too many big problems that were caused by smaller problems being ignored or hidden because team members weren't comfortable being open when things went wrong.  I'm a big fan of the "Failure Bow", because it's so much better in the long run to handle failures well instead of blaming-and-shaming so that we can learn from mistakes.

Thank you Ellen.

(Pic Courtesy: Ellen Grove)

Scrum Gathering Pune

Aug 17, 2013 | | 0 comments |

This post comes in a bit late I guess, mostly due to malfunctioning internet of my phone at the seminar and travelling next few days.

The Pune Scrum Gathering was bigger than I had expected, lots of people from all over the world and a location that was at grand as the event! 

The keynote speaker was someone I knew and had read his blog for years. To see Jurgen Appelo in person was nice and it was one of the best presentations in the 2 day event.

Most of my 2 days was spent with my colleagues, sometimes in the seminar, mostly just helping them out in the exhibition stall that was put up- just chatting up people who stopped by and answering different kind of questions.

By the way, I did manage to get an autograph from Jurgen Appelo, last one was from Elizabeth Harrin. I am still old fashioned that way!

The sessions have something for everyone- from real life case studies to new methodology to theories about latest way of using them in industries. So, whichever level you are in; you get to learn. Breakfast and lunch was good, so was the opportunity to network with hundreds of others and learn from them.

I enjoyed most of the sessions I could attend, some more than the others like that of Nancy Sharma.  She brought n the behavioral traits required in an agile team and unlike others she handled questions during the presentation, went back to it with aplomb and brought in amazing insights form the real world on how to encourage the team culture in an organization, how to handle loners and naysayers along with the so called heroes.

While this was my first visit to Pune, I loved the city and will return definitely. I enjoyed meeting up a friend over an Italian dinner after 10 years, meeting his wife for the first time and talking late into the night listening to stories on how they had met. The next day evening was spent with colleagues and client over an extended dinner.

Here are more pictures from the semnar in case you are interested.

10 easy steps to implementing Scrum

 Agile has taken over the project management world and there are more and more companies that are jumping in the bandwagon.

If you are new to Scrum, here are 10 easy steps to start implementing it (taken from All About Agile):

•Get your backlog in order
•How to estimate your product backlog
Sprint Planning requirements
Sprint Planning task
Create a collaborative Workspace
Stand up and be Counted
Track progress with Burn down chart
Finish when you said you would
Review, reflect and repeat

While you get your Scrum in order I will be away for a short break and return on April 16!

Interview with Scrum Coach- Dhaval Panchal

Dhaval Panchal is a certified SCRUM coach and trainer based in Seattle. With a background in software development, business analysis, lean office implementations, system architecture, and project management – he has moved on to become a successful coach. While his background in project management still helps him out, his greatest payback as a coach is the opportunity to interact with people from diverse backgrounds and learn from them.

You worked in IT and then moved to SCRUM coaching, tell us how this happened?
Fresh out of college I was hired by one of the tech giants in the Indian IT space. Within the first four years working with them I was completely burned out and mostly disheartened with the antiquated management practices and  “chalta hai” management approach. The morale was extremely low and many passionate intelligent peers either escaped to B-Schools or found alternative employment opportunities. I was prepared to leave the IT industry but was hopeful that there is a better way. I interviewed and got hired by my present company (8 years ago). They were pursuing scrum and extreme programming (XP) as alternatives to build software.

I started scrumming and played variety of roles in the projects that were outsourced to us. In each of our outsourced projects I actively pursued and attempted to influence my client’s understanding of scrum. So in many respects I have always been coaching. 

To me coaching is a skill and not a title. With the explosive adoption of scrum in the IT industry, for the last 5 years, I have been involved in change management helping to transition organizations to an agile business and delivery model. My coaching skills are extremely useful in helping my clients cope with the pain that accompanies any organizational change.

Do you enjoy working as a coach- 3 things you wish you knew when you started coaching.
  • Listen more talk less -We all have two ears and one mouth. It took me a while to realize that I should be using them in the same proportion. Earlier as I would engage in a conversation when hearing the other, mentally I would be calculating a response even before the other person has finished speaking. This analytical bent was a huge handicap and as I have progressed to improve on my listening skills I now tune into the person speaking and their context to appreciate their situation. Often times people talk themselves through their problem and appreciate my patient listening that helped them through.
  • Coach the person not the problem- IT is a problem solving field and the industry is self selecting for people who can solve problems. This has ironically led to a common pattern. “most people in our industry can tolerate a problem but cannot live with a solution that they do not understand.” This erodes trust and is detrimental to people’s ability to own and resolve their own problems. As I engage with my clients in complex IT  and people change management issues I intentionally stay away from prescribing solutions and focus on the person and help them sharpen their problem solving skills. It is more about teaching a person to fish than catching a fish for them.
  • I can always walk out- I take a lot of pride in my work and aspire to better myself. It took me a while to recognize that I do not have to be a good fit for everyone. Now I recognize situations and people better where I may not be a good fit as a consultant and choose not to engage.
Tell us any incident or moment of inspiration that has kept you in coaching.

Being a catalyst to help form high performing teams and great products is my passion and I have a lot of heart for enabling organizations and people to find fulfillment in their pursuit. Although there isn’t any specific moment or incident, it is an heart warming experience for me to hear appreciations from people who I had worked with many many months ago. To be remembered, recognized and appreciated for my work long after my work is done is my greatest reward.

Do you use your experience in project management for your coaching now?
Yes, my experience in project management is helpful for me to appreciate the context of PM folks who are interested in agile product delivery approach.

A lot of traditional PM style and approach is anti-agile and requires much unlearning to break away from the command-and-control mindset that fosters a belief in magic. Getting to deal with the day to day realities of product delivery and the challenges is overwhelming and the realities of innovative rapid product delivery cycles demand a high performing team of individuals as opposed to the “hero” project manager that saves the day.

Getting PM’s to abandon their heroic pursuits and collaborate as peers in a team based context is a challenge where my past background with PM comes in handy.

Where can we find more information about your coaching?

My blog:

Thank you Dhaval!


Sep 19, 2011 | | 0 comments |

Details on Scrum and everything you need to know.

Requirements include:
·         Familiarize with scrum basics
·         Attend CSM course
·         Asses your progress through online evaluation.

                Requirements include:
·         Download the application  and illustrate hands on experience
·         Send the complete application for review and approval to the Review committee.
·         On approval you pay $250  for certification fee

Requirements include:
  • Have a solid understanding of the Scrum framework, a deep understanding of the principles and values that are the foundations of Scrum, and a clarity on what belongs to Scrum and what is an extension or complement;
  • Have extensive experience of implementing and/or coaching Scrum inside organizations;
  • Be active in the wider Scrum community, through actual and virtual interaction with other Scrum and Agile thinkers and practitioners;
  • Have training experience beyond just Scrum, be willing to explore new ways of working and be committed to continuous improvement.

 experts in Scrum, both in theory and in practice. They have an in-depth understanding of the practices and principles of Scrum and have real experience on actual Scrum projects.
  • Does your ScrumMaster need a mentor?
  • Does your Product Owner need help learning how to work with a product backlog?
  • Are you having trouble breaking sprint backlog items into task lists?
  • Are your sprints consistently ending with unfinished work? 
  • Is estimating so hard that your sprint planning lasts beyond its timebox?
  • Does your management underestimate the scope of organizational change necessary for Scrum to be successful?
  • Are you facing challenges with multi-team Scrum projects?
  • Is your organization having difficulty implementing the Scrum framework in conjunction with other methodologies?
  • Is the team encountering obstacles with organizational impediments?
  • Does your organization need coaching and guidance on scaling Scrum?
And there are more, you can also be a Certified Product Owner or developer.

More on Kanban

Scrum Certification- Lessons Learnt

“Having coached many software development teams, I tend to value my contribution by what a team does when I’m not with them over what the team does when I’m with them.”
                                                         - Dhaval Panchal, Agile Coach and Trainer (source)

Trainings are supposed to be boring.

Unless something wakes you up. Or you are in a class that is surprisingly interesting.

Last week, I happened to be in one.

It was training and interesting-a scrum certification class (CSM) conducted by Solutions IQ.

If you are already certified in scrum or have taken courses you know the drill. If you haven’t, you can look over here .

You don’t have to choose either/or between a PMP and a CSM/CSP- you can be both. Scrum training actually offers you PDU’s as well for attending these classes. Cool!

I have heard so much about Agile and Scrum that I genuinely got interested and decided to go for it. You can check for nearby classes based on your location by looking into the website.

That’s how I found mine and it’s been a treat and I’m sold to Scrum. So much so, that I started my own board at work to monitor my work and see if it helps. Oh, I also have one at home for my personal goals stuck behind my study door.

Seattle based Dhaval Panchal  has been an awesome trainer for the 2 days of training in Hyderabad, India – informative, knowledgeable, patient, helpful and always approachable. Given a chance I’d train with him again.

My favourite part of the class was the Paper Ball game- it teaches you more about the team dynamics than you would think. A group of random people who met 15 mints ago  and has to abide by the rules of the game, severe time constraints and expectation of an end result can take the so called managers in for a spin. Who takes the control, who listens to whom, whose idea should be implemented, why am I being Ignored......the behavorial drama continues.

A class worth attending for sure. Thank you Dhaval.

(Disclosure: I paid for my certification; it wasn't sponsored by any organization). 

Pic Courtesy: Google Images.