Monday, August 19, 2013

The Sprint Retrospective and the creation of Trust.

I have made previous posts about the importance of the Sprint Retrospective (part of the engagement meeting in Openagile).  See... an example here.

There is another compelling reason for the Retrospective I have not shared on my blog; The Retrospective's value in the creation of TRUST.  We talk about it indirectly through various team exercises and games.  I wonder, do we specifically talk about the topic of trust?

Many people know the Sprint Retrospective as a time when the team reflects about how they are doing in relation to the Agile Manifesto, how they can improve their skills, how they can better communicate with others, or basically anything to help them "function".

I was recently reading Stephen Covey's book "The Speed of Trust" and it got me thinking..... Are we as coaches, Scrum Masters, or Process Facilitators putting enough emphasis on the importance of Trust?

Covey has an interesting formula (please don't turn this into a rule for a team to follow), where he factors in a "tax" for lack of trust at varying degrees.

The formula simply applies a negative multiplier or "tax" where trust is not present, or a positive multiplier or "dividend" where trust is present for specific topics.

Having met many companies since I started my consulting company in 1984, I can comfortably say;

You can have the best product, the best skills,
the best team members, or the best facilities, but ....
If you lack Trust, the game is over.

Trust is directly related to the speed that an organization can change or get work done. As a result, there appears to be a direct correlation between the level of trust and the cost to the organization.

For those of you who are focused on the Lean/Kanban mindset, consider the effect on time-to-market where people are permitted to work based on "trusting them".  With some effort, the difference in time to market with or without trust might be quantified.  Just a thought.

The Agile Manifesto also makes reference to this concept.  "Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done."  The key word here is Trust.

Stephen Covey suggests that trust can be created or lost.  This is a concept I share... more..

During your next Sprint Retrospective, consider having a specific "Focus" on internal and/or external trust if you feel comfortable trying this.  It might give surprising results.

Mike Caspar
Passionate About Agile


The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey -
Agile Manifesto -

Retrospective -
Trust -

OpenAgile -
Scrum -,

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Managers out there - Be selfish - Remove obstacles.

I recently had an interesting conversation with someone about a comment made to a Team:  "I removed your obstacle".

This may seem like great news on the surface.

It appears that at this company, the manager thinks it is the team's obstacle and not their own.

The reality is that if a team has an obstacle, although it may not immediately effect the manager, it will impact them.  This may be personal or financial.

Many change artists know that by showing someone how a change can help them personally increases the likelihood of acceptance.

I would argue that if I am a manager, by removing the obstacles for the team, it is actually a form of self-help.

The big realization that you are in it "together" is a fundamental mind-shift needed for a manager to switch from "manager" to "leader".  By helping my team to succeed, I am actually acting as a responsible leader.

For some reason, this message doesn't always come through as being helpful when we share it.  Perhaps this is due to our form of communication.  We may not be talking in the recipients' head space.

Many of us talk about "serving the team", "removing obstacles for the team".

Really.. is that what the manager is doing by removing obstacles!  Could we imagine they are also doing it for themselves? 

Consider the following message:

Managers out there....

Be selfish... 

Solve your own problems... 

Do this by removing obstacles for your teams.

Just a thought.

Please note;  This communication has worked well for me to explain the importance of removal of obstacles.  It has also caused me some grief.  Work out your own way of incorporating this message if it makes sense to you.

Mike Caspar
Passionate About Agile