Scaled Agile Portfolio Billboard

On large scale scrum programs or scaled agile portfolios it is often easy to have people come and go from the village without all of the community knowing.  Often new people are welcomed to their immediate scrum team, announced at scrum of scrums or an email is sent around.  I’ve observed that new people are often not recognised for a long while by other villagers walking past, and more commonly by the Business Scrum attendees who are often not sitting with the teams everyday. While it may seem like a small transition, eventually the newbie will settle in and everyone will know him – or will they?
The act of welcoming new people and helping them to feel settled is dependent upon the behaviours of those already here. The villagers need to actively welcome a person, not just ‘talk about’ it. Being active in welcomeing people and introducing them to the entire program helps to bring them into the culture you’d like to sustain as well as speeding up their ability to collaborate and be productive.

Agile Portfolio BIllboardWhile there is a number of more well know activities for welcoming people into the scrum team; it’s also important for the whole agile portfolio to acknowledge they are part of a bigger village.  A Town Hall or Portfolio Sprint Reviews are great places for the personal introductions however for those who work with us and aren’t regulars to turning up it’s also great to share the news at the Scrum of Scrums and Business Scrums ceremonies.  We create an Agile Portfolio Billboard as a great space for profiling information to everyone. In the same way you have a Dashboard for builds, velocity, engagement it’s great to have a Billboard as a live source of communication that maintains news, decisions and changes for the entire program.

Update the team space by adding in a persona card that includes;

  • A clear photo so that we associate the face with the name
  • Their name, their team – and their location; especially if it’s a large spread out program or distributed teams so that we have context when the newbie speaks and we have visibility of transitions that may impact the teams
  • Add in personal details that help to create ice-breaker conversations and for others to easily become familiar with the person. The more familiar we are with someone, the easier it is to have a conversation and to collaborate
  • For example;  “favourite bands now & when you we’re a teenager”, weekend passions, and of-course being a Melbourner, asking what coffee they like is a must!

New Guy Agile Ice Breaker


(due to privacy laws we couldn’t show the team photos, hence the drawings 🙂 )

It’s a simple task that creates some tangible and lasting benefits;

  • Give others visibility so they can say hi rather than just walk past
  • Remind Business Scrum we’re real people on the project, have lives and also give them some icebreaker opportunity to engage with the teams
  • Helps us old people remember the newbies names with the faces…you’ll be amazed when you work across large programs how many people don’t everyones name – we just don’t admit all the time

This is one simple step to building a welcoming, friendly and collaborative culture. There are many others available or create your own; remember to keep it simple, friendly and encouraging for people to communicate, build trust and connect with one another.

LAST Conference – 11 July 2014 Melbourne Australia

It’s on again! One of the best “unconferences” you’ll ever have the joy of experiencing. LAST – Lean Agile Systems Thinking Conference – is organised by two of Melbourne’s great agile Champions – Craig Brown & Ed Wong. The emphasis is on: LAST Conference Melbourne 2014

  • sharing of practical skills
  • real experiences of lean and agile adoption
  • the latest in systems thinking practice
  • gaining inspiration from your fellow practitioners

Key facts

Date – 11 July 2014
Venue – Swinburne University, Hawthorn
Participation cost – Affordable!
Contact – 

Agile Coach Camp Canada 2013 Snapshots from a far…

As much as I would love to travel the world only attending agile conferences and agile unconferences I simply can’t. Instead i’ll review the outputs and create learning snapshots to add to my coaching tool kit. These are some favourites from the Agile Coach Camp held in Canada June 2013.

Note: If you recognise any of your words in these snapshots please let me know so that I can assign you credt. Some of the videos don’t give presenter names.

How to teach anything;
1. The first lesson of teaching is to teach them where they are at
2. We need to discover what their hurdles are – emotional & knowledge
3. Understand what their motives – work with them to find that motivation
Motivation is where you will get the engagement
All learning is made through meaningful association

How many coaches does it take to change a light bulb?
1. Well, it depends
2. Why do you ask?
3. Who’s willing to pay, i’m tired of freebies
4. Who has the problem
5. Do you mind if I ask you 5 questions first
6. Lets visualise this
7. How do you know the light bulb is the problem
8. How do you know it’s fixed
9. We need to add some disciplines to this so we can scale
10. Do you know what your organisation culture is?

“Solve problems, real problems and don’t just focus on agile as the only solution…cause I just want to make the world suck a little less”

“What ever you are scared to do on stage – is exactly what you should do! Is there anything in your life, in this conference come up and do it. The more you get out of your comfort zone, the more you’ll get out of it.”

10 steps to proper motorcycleing cornering, and leaning into the corners of your life – using motorcycling as a metaphor

1. position yourself so you don’t catch your toe
2. prepare your body before the corner
3. use counter-force to lean into the corner
4. set your sites on the next horizon
5. and release into it

“As a coach we ask questions that allow the student to come up with the answer.” (Questions that lead to the insight needed for the student to learn.)

Kaizen Camp Melbourne 2013 – Discussing the future of work – Kaikaku

Kaizen Camp™ Melbourne 2013 is an unconference that focuses on shared learning and peer teaching to build valuable discussions and insight from Lean principles, lean practices, agile values, agile principles, agile methodologies, systems thinking practices, problem solving, business leadership, theory of constraints and of course lean manufacturing.

In this Kaizen Camp Melbourne blog seriesI’ve captured a few of the Lean Coffee sessions in my visually creative note taking style for you. My learning style is to capture insights, draw the story that’s playing out in front of me, and sometimes I just doodle while discussing because it actually helps me to remember and actively process the information.
Kaikaku – radical change in limited time of a production system
The Kaikaku session was one of the most fascinating because there was quite a lot of debate around when is it OK to create’Kaikaku’ also known as ‘Kaizen blitz’. That is, when is it ok for change agents to create disruption that forces dramatic change in a work place? The consensus seemed to be when the result of the disruption is beneficial. If it’s not a good outcome than it’s just another ‘unnecessary forced and poorly thought out change management program’.

This is all in contrast to the majority of conversations about Kaizen – incremental change that creates benefits sequentially step by step. Jim Benson – author of the book Personal Kanban – joined the conversation and gave a good example of searching for benefit to know when and what a good radical change is…’On a recent lean hospital kanban engagement with hospital clients the team were looking to understand why there are so many ‘deadly bug’ infections – staph – continuously being spread throughout the wards regardless of recent protective measures. (the protective measures were doctors wearing badges that said “ask me if i’ve washed my hands today?” – I kid you not!!)
The lean team discovered that the orderlies NEVER got infected unlike the majority of nurses and doctors, so they asked the orderlies ‘why don’t you get infected’? The orderlies said they only ever served the infected patients last.

Yes, that simple they served them last so as not to spread the infection back to other patients and that way they could essentially unwrap themselves from their protective gear and eliminate the gear; therefore, effectively eliminating any possibility to spread the infection to other patients.

Brilliant and so simple!!! I know, I laughed too at the obviousness of it. None the less the point of Jim Bensons story was when you are looking for ‘what to change’ look at who / what is successful or the abnormal in the world of normal and replicate it.

Having discussed all that this lean coffee group enjoyed hearing about the Vanto group who have created a successful business around ‘kaikaku’ and intentional kaizen blitz.

Kaikaku - radical change in limited time of a production system

Photo and stories from Kaizen Camp: Melbourne 2013 – discussing the future of work is available at