Archives for 6 Dec,2016

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Plan Your Agile Training

When it comes to Agile training, there are a limitless number of options.  It can be a bit overwhelming to decide who should be trained, what type of training they will need, and when to begin.

I’m going to list a few training options here in this blog post, but I want to start by saying that One80 Services exists because we recognized the need for customized training and individualized coaching.  We begin every contract with a conversation, to ensure your training will meet the needs of your team or organization.

Who

Reducing Silos

The first step in reducing silos is to ensure training occurs on a cross-functional team.  Simply sending a few “key members” of a team for training without realizing that every member of an Agile team is a “key member” can slow or even block your transition to Agile. 

What

Basic Agile Training

Basic Agile training creates a foundation on which to build, and goes a long way in answering the “why” behind the roles, artifacts, and events which are included in many Agile methodologies.

Advanced Agile Training

Advanced Agile training is for those who have already begun their Agile journey and are ready to figure out some of the more complex solutions and methods. 

Targeted Deep Dives

Targeted deep dives are for teams who want to improve in one area.  For example, teams who want to improve their user story writing techniques, story sizing, metrics, or improve their meeting facilitation skills.

Agile Leadership Training

Agile Leadership training helps anyone in a leadership role – from CEO to ScrumMaster – understand how leadership changes when an organization becomes Agile.

This is not a “choose one” scenario.  

Depending on your needs, we may combine one day of basic Agile training with one day of advanced Agile training, followed by one day of deep dives into relevant topics or skills.

Maybe what you need is targeted leadership training, so we’d spend a half day on basic Agile training, then move on to Agile leadership training including facilitation, team structure, and metrics.

You may have no idea where to start – that’s okay. Learning about teams and determining training needs is our speciality.

It all starts with a conversation. 

When

Agile training can occur at the start of a project, in the middle, or even toward the end.

“Lost time” in training is a common and valid concern.  We like to remind people that the time you spend in training is quickly made up by the improvements made to your process.  

It’s also relevant to point out that in our workshops, a portion of our training is often spent working on your actual project.  For example: A three day workshop may involve 1.5 days of courseware and 1.5 days of writing your user stories and grooming your backlog.

We don’t like waste – we make the most out of the time we spend with you to ensure we’re not wasting your time or ours.

Where

Typically, we come to you and teach on-site at your location. If your site doesn’t have space available for training, we will provide a location for our course.

Why

There is a method to our madness.

We do provide pre-packaged courses for companies who know exactly what they need.

But in our 20+ years of experience, a customized approach works best for most teams.

We have seen pre-packaged courses leave teams with questions and a lack of solutions. Blending our courses together to create customized learning for each client results in teams leaving us with solutions to implement immediately, as opposed to leaving teams with a few days of book learning.

How

Much of the “how” depends on your organization, team, and project needs.  

Ideally, our courses are designed for 10-20 people.

  • The minimum size would simply be due to our belief in teaching cross functional teams. Ensuring that everyone is on the same page from the beginning. Depending on team size, potentially training more than one team per course.
  • The maximum size would be due to our desire to enable personal contact and interaction with each person in our course. Group interaction improves with smaller class sizes.

That said, we’ve taught in rooms of 100+ and we’ve worked directly with individual learners.  It really is all about your individual needs.

The best first step is to give us a call.

Do you want to know more about Agile implementation strategies?  Check out our free guide here.

 

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Too Many Meetings: Recognize the Signs

We have received a lot of feedback on our post: Scrum Events – The too many meetings problem. Many people are reaching out to us and provided feedback on the frustration stemming from meetings.  

Meetings in the United States are a big problem.  Nearly 37 billion dollars is wasted annually on unnecessary meetings, and in the Agile community, Scrum meetings are getting the blame.  Our stance is that Scrum is not the issue but rather how companies are their conducting meetings.

Below is a list of the 9 top meeting “smells” to recognize and avoid in meetings:

  • Lack of clearly documented Agenda.
    • If a meeting invite doesn’t have an Agenda, I automatically question the importance of the meeting.  Why should I attend a meeting that the organizer doesn’t think is important enough to generate a clearly defined purpose?

My rule: No Agenda NO Meeting.

  • Lack of definition or goal.  What type of meeting will this be?
    • Status:  Share Information, Provide Status, Give Update.  Participants generally will restrict their participation to questions or clarification about the subject at hand.
    • Advance Thinking: Define and\or analyze a problem, planning session, evaluate options.  Participants are asked to advance the knowledge on a meeting topic.  Decision is not necessarily required.
    • Make Decisions:  Address issues, determine solutions, and bring to closure.  Decision required
    • Obtain Input:  Sponsor is looking for group input.  Decision is not required
    • Retrospective: Strengthen Relationships, Improve Process. Determine what is working? What is not working? What improvements can be implemented?
    • Team Building: Strengthen Relationships, build Mutual Understanding, build community.
    • Skill Development: Training, Increase subject matter knowledge.
  • Lack of defined roles.
    • How do you expect meeting attendees to participate in a meeting?  Are they a subject matter expert (SME), note taker, active participant, observer, or other?  Give those who will be attending the meeting an opportunity to prepare for the meeting based on the Agenda and the Role that they are expected to perform.
  • Scheduling too much time.
    • When a 30 minute conversation blocks off an hour of your day. Did the participants get off topic? Was proper preparation completed in advance before the meeting was scheduled?
  • Meetings that continually go over their time limit.
    • Did you invite the right people? Was proper preparation done? Does the meeting organizer have the necessary facilitation skills?
  • Scheduling meeting to ‘discuss’ when a quick conversation is enough.
    • “Discuss” is never a valid meeting topic.  If you just want to discuss something how about we go to coffee or sit in the break room and have quick chat.
  • Meetings with more than 8 people.
    • Meetings with too many participants can be difficult to manage.  If you are scheduling a meeting with more than 8 people check to make sure the right 8 people are invited.  Ask yourself if the proper pre-meeting preparation has been completed to make the meeting valuable for everyone.
  • Meetings that could be covered in an email or quick conversation.
    • Why waste time with a meeting that could be simply done in an email? If you are not sure, start with an email. Better yet, a quick face to face conversation.
  • Meetings to review previous meeting (rehash)
    • We have all been to meetings that rehash a previous meeting.  Why? Was the first meeting not enough? Did we not send out notes for the meeting? Did new information develop?

Always ask why

Every company has issues with too many meetings.  If you would like to develop skills to help your staff have more productive meetings, check out our Facilitation course.