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Why the Agile enterprise must be an innovation network…

As an agile coach, I find that organisations often have a narrow and constrained view of where agility ought to be practiced. They frequently see it as an IT thing, where development teams must optimise their way-of-working to deliver value more quickly and cheaply. In truth of course, if agility is to be attained then it must be enterprise-wide and not just focused on technical delivery.

The idea of what constitutes stakeholder value in the first place that must be open to challenge, and acknowledged to be ever-changing and emergent. The ability to deal with that change in a measured and managed fashion is where true agility lies. It isn’t just about delivering localised efficiencies, where the wrong thing might be built at less cost; it’s about building the right thing at the right time, inspecting and adapting progress in a controlled way, so that uncertainty is both expected and managed.

In short, organisational agility is really about how to be innovative at enterprise scale.

And that’s the challenge. Read more


Scrum Day London, May 2016

SCRUM DAY LONDON logo (1)Scrum Day London is the first event of its kind to be held in the United Kingdom. It will explore the need and demand for Agility across the private and public sector.


Theme: Business Agility Through Professional Scrum

Scrum Day London 2016 will be the inaugural conference organised by Akaditi.com in partnership with Advanced Product Development Ltd & Scrum.Org in London. The conference brings together an international community of Business Leaders, Senior Managers, Software Craftsmen and Scrum Professionals who wish to benefit from agile and scrum practices and ideas.

Experienced executives and practitioners from all disciplines will present information and insights that have meaning for you. Our delegates are receptive decision-makers and thought-leaders in their own communities. They are eager to explore new approaches to long-standing problems.

For more information and to book your tickets, visit: http://scrumdaylondon.com/


The Subtle Difference Between ‘Doing’ and ‘Being’ Agile


I recently caught up with an old friend for a quick drink. A quick drink turned into a quick few more — then a quick few more, more! But who’s counting?

I digress — back to the story.

After a couple of drinks my friend started opening up about some personal stuff happening in his life. He was unhappy at work because he felt underpaid and overworked. And on top of that, things weren’t going too well in his marriage; in fact, they were rapidly going from bad to worser (his word, not mine).

After spending some time off-loading the things that were making him unhappy, with some strategically placed questions, I finally got him to start focusing on potential solutions to some of the perceived problems he was facing.

(That’s not to say his problems weren’t real – they were; at least from his perspective. But I’m a firm believer that what we focus on expands; and problems are only problems when we perceive them as such. Hence why Einstein said:

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”)

As far as my friend was concerned, the solutions were simple; if his wife was less argumentative, his boss wasn’t such a jerk and his company paid him more, everything would be fine; and he’d be much happier.

Listening to him talk, reminded me of the opening chapter of Steven Covey’s international best seller ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ where Steven draws the reader’s attention to two concepts he calls the ‘Circle of Concern’ and the ‘Circle of Influence’.

According to Steven, when operating from the Circle of Concern, we tend to think and speak in terms of achieving an end goal as a direct result of something else (usually outside our control) happening first. For example: Read more


Fail Often So You Can Succeed Sooner!


Many people live in fear of failure.

But what they fail to realise is that failure comes before learning; even in the dictionary.

That’s because learning tends to happen when we step outside our current comfort zone and move from the known to the unknown. And in the process, we’re likely to get things wrong before we get them right.

Accepting this as part of life and human nature,  Agile adopts an iterative approach that enhances learning and reduces the risk of failure by incorporating regular feedback loops – with the preference being shorter feedback loops.

So the next time you’re faced with a complex project or are creating new, innovative products, iterate; because the earlier you fail, the quicker you’ll learn – and the more likely you’ll achieve your objectives with minimal cost, effort and time.


Is Value More Important Than Velocity?

value-v-velocityWe’ve all heard the ‘promise’ that Agile done properly can result in reduced costs, higher quality and quicker times to market.

But what exactly does it take to realise those benefits?

And should managers/teams be focusing on velocity or business value delivered?

In this video, Agile coach Jeff “Cheezy” Morgan shares a number of effective practices and strategies for cutting costs and delivering high quality products/software faster on Agile projects.

Jeff is Chief Technology Officer and a cofounder of LeanDog. He’s been coaching teams on Agile and Lean techniques for over 10 years now, so it’s safe to say he knows what he’s talking about.

Have a watch and do feel free to share your thoughts. Read more


Never Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Can Do The Day After


A fundamental truth in life is that there’ll always be more to do than we’ll have time or money to do.


And although projects are (arguably) a part of life, some Project Managers/Customers/Clients still believe they can defy this fundamental truth by introducing Agile – and then using it as an excuse to make unrealistic demands from delivery teams/suppliers.

However, the goal of Agile is not to deliver everything that the customer wants…

…the goal of Agile is to deliver the most important things that’ll give the customer the greatest value and earliest return-on-investment. In so doing, Agile aligns with Pareto’s 80/20 Principal i.e 20% of the things we do will give us 80% of our results.

So with that in mind, the next time you’re faced with a set of requirements that do not fit within your projects times and/or budget constraints, prioritise the important ones for delivery now; and defer the least important ones until later.




Epistemic Arrogance on Agile Projects

In the book ‘Black Swan’ Nassim Taleb introduces the concept of epistemic arrogance: where what a person thinks they know exceeds what they actually know.

On Agile projects, epistemic arrogance is evident when there’s a mis-match between what we think the customer needs and what the customer actually needs – something David Hussman refers to as ‘Product Arrogance’.

Although one of the key goals of Agile is to deliver value to customers early, it’s not uncommon for ‘agile’ labeled projects to end up delivering the wrong thing on time and within budget. From a Lean perspective, anything that does not deliver value to the customer is waste; and according to Taiichi Ohno, father of the Toyota Production System, “waste is a crime” – as well as bad for business!

In this video, Product Anthropologist David Hussman shares some valuable tips, including: Read more


A Good Plan is Better Than a Perfect One


In an ideal world, things would always go to plan – but since we don’t live in an ideal world, they don’t; hence why the best-laid plans of project managers often go awry.

More often than not, detailed plans laid out on neat charts projecting months (even years) into the future, tend to describe a fictional reality; and perfect plans tend to describe fictional realities perfectly. Because no matter how much time, effort and care goes into planning a project, sooner or later, something’s likely to deviate from the plan.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t plan – we should.

But instead of trying to create a ‘perfect plan’ in detail upfront, it’s better to start with a plausible plan and refine that plan throughout the lifetime of the project; because when you refine your plans to reflect reality (rather than trying to get reality to reflect your plans), you’re more likely to achieve your project objectives.







Why Managers Should Stop Managing and Start Leading

Although companies might be having some success with Agile at the team level, scaling Agile at the enterprise level presents a new set of challenges – and therefore, requires a different approach.

For example, whereas team dynamics and customer collaboration might be key at the delivery level,  leadership becomes a critical success (or failure) factor at the enterprise level.

So how do Senior and Middle managers make the transition from traditional management to leadership?

And what’s the difference between the two? Read more


If you build a great experience, customers tell each other…


“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” ~ Jeff Bezos