April 17, 2014

All Posts Tagged With: Agile Training

Agile Coaching Blog

BigVisible Expands Agile Training Offering to Minnesota, California and Illinois

We’re excited to announce that BigVisible is now offering Certified ScrumMaster, Certified Scrum Product Owner, and PMI Agile Certified Practitioner courses in Minnesota, California, North Carolina, and Illinois! With sold out courses taking place every few weeks in New York City and Boston, we have decided to expand our Scrum and agile training offerings to Minneapolis, Irvine, San Francisco, Raleigh, and Chicago to respond to requests from the agile community for more courses available in their hometowns.

Angela Johnson (Agile Coach, Certified Scrum Trainer, and Managing Director of Public Training) identified these key areas for expansion because of the large demand for agile training and lack of local trainers in these regions.

The BigVisible coaches who live and work in those communities are Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Trainers, experts who are part of the local community and are familiar with the companies in these regions, so offering courses in these areas allows us to form long-term, strategic partnerships.

Because our primary focus is on organizational agility, expanding our training offerings to new areas allows us to reach individuals within even more companies across the country, helping them to gain a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of Scrum and agile. Organizational agility is only possible when individuals are empowered to make the changes necessary to transform the organization, and it all begins with these training courses.

Check out some of our upcoming agile training courses right in your area!

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There is No One Definition of Agile

A few weeks ago, I asked my co-workers to distill the concept of Agile/Lean to its simplest essence and do it in no more than 10 words. The statements had to clearly convey what Agile was really about and why anyone should really care about it.

There were two reasons for the request:

  1. I recently critiqued a 2-day “Introduction to Agile” class by a coach-in-training. Everything that I expected was covered in the class but I felt the lack of an underlying theme; the content didn’t seem to fit well together.
  2. I wanted to understand whether Agile meant the same thing to different people and whether they emphasized the same points in their class/presentation.

Here is a sampling of the responses I received.

  • “Deliver value frequently at a sustainable pace while adapting to business needs.” — Brad Swanson
  • “Be one with the customer.” — Steve Johnson
  • “Sense & respond quickly to changes that have measurable value.” — Skip Angel
  • “Do the right things sooner.” — Jonathon Golden
  • “Agile is about knowing what NOT to do.” — Mike Dwyer
  • “Continuously adjust our actual process to reflect our improved understanding.” — John Ryan
  • “Utilizing continuous prioritization and feedback, collaboratively develop incremental business value.” — Jim Elvidge
  • “Continually improve value delivery via experimentation, feedback, and retrospection.” — Alex Singh
  • “Do Something, Self-Organize, Inspect & Adapt” — Scott Dunn (stolen from Aaron Sanders)

Not surprisingly, people emphasized different aspects in their distillation. I assume that these are the same things they emphasize when coaching teams and organizations as well. It is important to note that everyone is right and no one definition is better than another; people with different backgrounds emphasize different things and have a different worldview.

What do you think is the intrinsic nature or character of Agile that makes it what it is? How would you define the most important aspects of Agile in no more than 10 words?

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Registration Open for PMI ACP Prep + Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) Course

The first in a new series of intensive, three-day PMI-ACPSM + Certified ScrumMaster courses is now open for registration! This combination agile training CSM course offers you a strong foundation in the Scrum framework and agile principles plus an extensive overview of the knowledge areas, tools, and techniques required for the PMI Agile Certified PractitionerSM .

The real-world experience of BigVisible’s Certified Scrum Trainers allows us to incorporate practical advice and time-tested techniques into this hands-on workshop.

After completing the course:

Register today, early bird rates end December 26th!

Who is the course right for?

BigVisible’s CSM + PMI-ACPSM course offers a solid grounding in the Scrum framework and the ScrumMaster role. Although Project Management experience is helpful, this course will enable other professionals who are cultivating their Agile and Scrum skills on the road to becoming a certified Agile Practitioner.

Learning objectives for this course:

  • Discover the basics of Scrum and fundamental agile principles
  • Understand how Scrum helps organizations cope with change, budget constraints, quality issues, and other challenges
  • Know the ScrumMaster role and how it differs from a traditional project manager
  • Agile Planning & Estimating
  • Plus a whole lot more!

On the agenda:

  • Team-based “Scrum Game” as well as additional Agile games that introduces key values, principles, and concepts
  • Discussion of the Scrum framework plus other Agile frameworks such as eXtreme Programming and Kanban
  • In-depth look at the product backlog and agile planning
  • Illustration of Scrum product development
  • Side-by-Side comparison of Scrum and Waterfall
  • Closer look at agile documentation
  • Reflecting on the Project Management Body of Knowledge to understand how this remains the same and where it changes in adopting agile
  • Experiential setting for participants to put the values, principles, and concepts into action in a safe, learning environment

Even more PMI-ACPSM + Certified ScrumMaster courses are planned for multiple regions of the United States. Look for details to be posted soon.

About the instructor:

Angela Johnson is a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), Certified Scrum Developer (CSD), and Agile Coach who provides education consulting services to clients across the United States adopting Scrum and other agile processes. Angela has successfully implemented Scrum/Agile principles in a variety of projects from web-based applications to enterprise level retail and financial projects.

Learn more about this Certified ScrumMaster Certification + PMI ACP Prep Course

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Brian Bozzuto, Bob Fischer to Speak at PMI Mass Bay Chapter Meeting

Join BigVisible and our transformation coaches Brian Bozzuto and Bob Fischer at this agile-focused PMI Mass Bay Chapter meeting on January 19, 2012 from 5:00 – 8:30pm.

Brian Bozzuto of BigVisible

Brian Bozzuto, principal Agile Coach at BigVisible


In Brian’s session, Claiming Agile for Project Managers, attendees will learn and discuss the effects of increasing agile principles and practices within numerous organizations, on project managers who are finding themselves trying to align the realities of corporate budgets and schedules with the innovative and adaptive practices of agile projects. While some may argue that project managers are not necessary – or even counter productive – in agile projects, this session will explore the real value they can offer to these projects.

The session will cover:

  • The critical role project managers can play in helping agile projects succeed
  • Growing popularity of agile within the PMI including agile certifications such as the Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) and the Agile Community of Practice
  • The impact of agility on organizations as they embrace agile practices across the enterprise

Bob Fischer of BigVisible

Bob Fischer, Agile trainer, coach, facilitator, and change agent at BigVisible


In the 2nd session, Bob Fischer will be covering the topic, How Can Managers Support a Move Towards Agility?. In this discussion, he’ll be discussing how companies often choose to adopt agile methods such as Scrum, XP, Lean, or Kanban because they want to respond more effectively to the rapidly changing circumstances in today’s turbulent marketplace. As teams self-organize, managers frequently find themselves in a position where they are no longer playing the same hands on role they did. In this session attendees will learn how managers can become an integral part of and agile transformation and how adequate support can make the transition more rapid and more effective.

This presentation will cover:

  • The role of a manager in an agile organization
  • The role of a transition team supporting the transition to agile
  • Bring your questions. This will be an interactive session where you’ll get the chance to address your specific concerns.

The PMI Mass Bay Chapter is one of the largest in the United States, and in the top 6% of all chapters worldwide by size with over 2,300 members, including over 1,500 certified Project Management Professionals (PMP®).

Find out even more information about BigVisible at the PMI Mass Bay Chapter Meeting.

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Three Simple Tools for New Agile Teams

When I am delivering Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) classes or starting up new agile teams, I share three simple tools that really help collaboration: creating a working agreement (also called team agreement), the art of the possible, and the fist of five. Based on feedback, these three items are often some of the important tools that team members take back and use immediately. Below is a simple way to introduce these by facilitating creating working agreements with your agile team.

Photo by Greencolander via Flickr.

Before you kick off your new agile team, get the team together and let them know the goal is to come up with some team agreements so that we all agree on how we’re going to work together. You might have some ideas, but first go around and hear others first. If you’re in a large group, pair up, otherwise each person can individually write down one statement about how their time together should be – everything from working hours to working conditions. Now collect these and put them on the wall, under the title “Working Agreements.” For general work, I often hear: take personal calls out of the working area, headphones on for music, keep your chat program on, put a flag or sign up if you don’t want to be interrupted (for less than an hour), shower regularly (seriously), no eating fish at your desk (yep, that too). Some common ones for meetings that I’d recommend are: one conversation at a time, start and end on time, electronics by exception (that is, no cell phones or computers unless it’s an emergency and everyone understands that), and have an attitude of the art of the possible.

The art of the possible means keeping an open mind that something covered here could work or might be true, even if you disagree, instead of an attitude of “that could never work here” (even if that is your experience). There’s always a first time, and the difference of our attitude, effort and approach differ vastly when something “just might be” possible, rather than impossible. MacGyver believed in the art of the possible.

Now that we have everyone’s recommendations, decide on what the final working agreement list will be. My preferred way of collaborating on quick yes/no group decisions is with the technique called the “Fist of Five.” When you’re in a group deciding on something (such as where to go to lunch that day), you can simply say the recommendation and then have everyone hold up one to five fingers. The number of fingers represent where they stand: 5 means they love the idea, 4 means they like the idea, 3 means they’re not that happy but they won’t get in the way, 2 means they have some questions or concerns that if answered they’ll get on-board, and 1 means “No way, ever, never!” (and make sure the one finger is the index finger…) Fist of five is a great way to hear everyone’s voice and quickly see who’s not in agreement and why (and then work to get them in agreement).
I hope these tools help your team get off to a great start.
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Avoiding Pitfalls of Agile Incorporation: Free Webinar Event

Putting agile principles into practice can take a lot of work. In order to realize the benefits of increased productivity and responsiveness characteristic of effective agile organizations, teams must be trained, new tools and infrastructure acquired, and broader areas considered.

Join BigVisible’s Brian Bozzuto and AccuRev’s Chris Lucca on Thursday, November 17th from 1:00-2:00pm for a free lunchtime webinar on Incorporating Agile Methods: Top Traps for Development Teams to Avoid.

In this session, BigVisible’s Brian Bozzuto and AccuRev’s Chris Lucca will explore several dimensions of moving to agile practices and how they can magnify the benefits possible with agile or ultimately undermine the agile adoption –depending on how they are managed.

Specifically, this webinar will explore:

  • Common hurdles a team adopting agile may experience
  • Team training needs to consider, including agile certifications like Certified ScrumMaster and Certified Scrum Product Owner
  • Criteria for evaluating or selecting agile development tools to enable agile methods
  • How Agile impacts a broader scope, such as compensation, evaluations, finance, and sales

Reserve your space today!

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Four Pillars of Agile Coaching

The Agile Super Coach

Of all the abused words in the Agile domain, none seems to be more abused than the simple word “coaching”. There are numerous people out there professing to be “agile coaches”, and while I don’t mean to denigrate what any of these people do, there is a very broad latitude in the types of things that they do. This can further confound our ability to work with organizations as there may be a disconnect between coaches and clients about what exactly they are doing.

Unfortunately, in the absence of a clear understanding, I have seen people begin to expect that the “Agile Coach” is nothing short of a super human being. The can swoop into any project, turn around the results, and simultaneously coach that group into effectively preventing all those problems from ever occurring again. Or they may have an unnecessarily narrow view of the role and try to put an Agile Coach in a box by insisting they only do training, for example. To be fair, when I encounter these missed expectations, they are usually my own fault. I did not do a good enough job of articulating what the role is I, or anyone else, would potentially be playing in that organization as an Agile Coach.

I can’t profess to be the keeper of truth on this topic, but here’s a model I’ve used to help organize my own activities and to make sure I’m articulating clearly what role I see myself playing.

[Read more...]

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