Saturday, April 14, 2018

Killing ambiguity with OKRs

We discussed good practices and anti-patterns of organizational goal setting, the ones that create psychological safety and the ones that produce a negative impact on employee morale and autonomy. Below is a brief summary:

1. The goal of OKRs is to establish cascading organizational objectives so that everyone in the organization is aligned against the same set of priorities. It helps with dependency management and prioritization at any level.

2. OKRs differ from KPIs because they are not used for performance evaluation. This would be an anti-pattern and cause OKRs to be non-ambitious or to game metrics. It is important to establish a shared understanding that no one can use OKRs to evaluate individual or team performance.

3. OKRs are bi-directional: management establishes organizational and divisional objectives, and teams base their objectives on organizational priorities. Then there is a pass to align on dependencies and any prioritization conflict. Once this is done, the organization shares the same understanding of priorities and delivery values.

4. OKRs are inspirational in nature. Objectives are aligned with company's mission and vision, and key results contain metrics to support these objectives.

5. OKRs are self-graded. The standard scale is from 0 (blocked) to 1 (fully achieved). 1 means OKRs are not ambitious enough. Ideal grade is around 0.75 but it is meaningless as a number. The role of grading is to promote meaningful conversations about the reason for some OKRs to fail and join alignment on challenges and achievements.

6. Finally, we discussed ongoing feedback approach that Vistaprint is implementing. Each employee manages their own feedback and coordinates retrospective-style feedback sessions with their stakeholders. They define the frequency and choose the format. The feedback is actionable and received as a gift. Self-managed feedback is a way to give to employees the right to be accountable for their own professional development while supporting them on this journey. However, this data goes into HR system and is being used by managers for performance reviews and compensation decisions. There is a lot of training within the company or accepting and giving feedback, as well as on the changing role of managers who now coach and support their teams rather than command-and-control them.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Scrum — The Collaborative Board Game

Session Proceedings report:  Scrum — The Collaborative Board Game  by Tim Snyder & Derek Lane (c) 2018, All Rights Reserved

Presented as Open Space session April 11, 2018 at Agile Games 2018 in Boston for fun and feedback by David Koontz.  

With a 50 min. session, and a small group of 6 participants, I tried to speed up the learning cycle by guiding the group thru the setup and learning of the game, rather than having them read/understand and comprehend the instruction.  In the introduction I believe I made the point that the game was intended to allow participants to experience the synergies of various options that happen while doing scrum, yet not to teach the basics of the Scrum process.

I handed out the instruction sheets and quite a few questions came up referring to the instructions, so people did read and use the written instruction (specifically the PO).  To jump start the group with Simulated Sprint Planning, I asked the PO to choose 3 high value/low effort stories for the first sprint. And to quickly move to action I created a sticky with (item label, dollar value, effort size) and place it on the game board for each of the PO's 3 stories.  Then explain the game rule that a story has a task for each effort point I stuck task stickies to the board.  And then the team was instructed to roll the die (1 -3) to determine (by chance) the number of days it would require for each task.  These numbers were written on each task sticky.  We declared Sprint Planning done and started the first Daily Scrum.  In the daily scrum we decide which team members would work on which Stories/tasks, moved the daily marker on the board, and then each (all) team members working on a task drew a HappenChance card, performed the work (as instructed via the card) moved task to in process, marked tasks with remaining work required, and chatted about the results of the happen chance.  After day one, the group had the general understanding of the game's mechanics and were sprinting.

There were a few questions that came up… and typically someone had read the instructions and could point to the game rules to answer the question.  A few times this was vague and I just made up a reasonable answer… and we kept playing (or created a feedback item for Tim & Derek).  It was nice to have a few observers (not everyone in the session was playing the game) these people offered perspective and alternative ideas - as well as correcting the facilitator's misuse of common Scrumy terms (e.g. saying Sprint Planning instead of Daily Scrum).

The general feel for the open space session was positive, I believe people enjoyed the game,  perhaps the biggest challenge I heard was in discovering the purpose and intent of the game.  I attempted to elude to this while leaving open the possibility of discovery.  Perhaps that was a slight mistake on my part.  However, upon reflecting, I believe the game achieves it's purpose.  I can tell from the suggestions.  The feedback is to add other options to the game play, such as automated testing to reduce defects, to add variety and originality to the game.

The affinity grouping of written feedback (and slight editing for context):


Some mechanism to note which Task corresponds to which Product Backlog Item.
Shorter text on happenchance cards
Place on board for completed sprint backlog items
Multiplier on Tech Debt
Consider carefully the probability of getting more new problems & tech debt than work done
Don't have two pieces of the same character in different colors (e.g.  pink elephant & purple elephant)
Encourage active engagement from PO - e.g. HappenChance cards that engage the PO
More scenarios of HappenChance cards, too much repetition.
Show value of Scrum Master - Have a role, removing impediments and actions tied to burndown chart - which encourages swarming
It might help if the backlog were magnetic and could be moved around
Helpful to have chips or coins to mark items as done
If you (PO) split a story with high value it is hard to get back to that value (given rules & dice 1-3 points).  It encourage one to split a low value task.
More variety in wording identical happenChance cards
Ways to involve the PO more


Is all Tech Debt discovered?  Or does the team create some?  Does Pair Programming reduce creations of Tech Debt?
Does a practice such as Automated Testing reduce effect of defects?  Is this an aspect of SW Dev that could be added to the Game?
I'm curious how gameplay copes with pace with a full team playing?
Is there a mechanic to scale impact of Tech Debt & Defects as they mount up?


Simulation looks great on practical level.  
Enjoyed the concepts

Opening Circle

Satir Congruence Model

We talked about these following models:

SATIR Five Freedoms
SATIR Interaction Model
SATIR Congruence Model (Self, Other, Context) + 5 stances of Incongruent behavior ( Blaming, Placating, Love-Hate, Super-reasonable, and irrelevant).

We put the three stances of the KARPMAN drama triangle, Persecutor, Victim, Rescuer on the floor on post its, and had people think of a time when they held someone else on contempt about something. Where would you stand on this triangle. And then what happened? Where are you standing after that? and gently finding a way they could have gotten OFF the Drama triangle - using Congruence stances - by asking questions, finding out what you want, and expressing it in way that others can hear it.


I also touched on the PRO model and REPROCess model for noting what kind of language people are using.  Here is a link to an article about that.

A lot to absorb but the role plays made it come alive... 

Andrea Chiou, M.S., Agile Coach
Owner, Connections At Work, LLC

Dedicated to bringing effectiveness and joy to the work place through coaching, training, workshops, and retreats.

Contact Info:Tel: +1 (571) 437-4815
Skype: andrea_chiou
Twitter: @andreachiou
Clean Agile Coaching:

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Chi Gung/Tai Chi - Chinese Internal Marshall Arts & Agile Coaching

Marc Trudeau, Tyler Putnam, and Bill and Jeff (Vautour?) POs from State Street stretched their bodies, tapped their meridians, gathered their chi, balanced their hearts, emptied their minds, were truly present, and practiced Tai Chi walking and the Brush-knee Push; and chatted a little about Agility and coaching.

Senior Mgt Barriers to Psych Safety

Best Regards,

Sherri Johnson

Sent from my iPhone

No Pink Elephants: Ask Me Anything

The future of this event

Agile Amble

We took a walk and discussed bumblebees and butterflies.
Richard Kasperowski | High-performance Teams
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Test-Driven Teaming

... for psych safety and high performance 

By applying the principles of TDD, we invented new team agreements and behaviors that yield safety and performance. 

Richard Kasperowski | High-performance Teams
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