Category Archives: Scrum

Published new stuff

Since I’m not only a terrible blogger but also a terrible self-marketer, I tend to forget to mention the things I’ve published so far.

But today I want to introduce you at least to some of them:

To start with the most recent one, there is an article on Pomodoro Technique from my colleague at crealytics, Martin Mauch, and myself. It’s been published on Projektmagazin: (sorry, English folks: It’s in German only).

The second is a book which has been published last October. I had the honor to contribute a chapter to Henning Wolf’s “Agile Projekte mit Scrum, XP und Kanban im Unternehmen durchführen”, which is focused on case studies from hands-on folks. Of course, my chapter was about Agile in startups. (And: Sorry again, German only, too)

Last but not least, I want to mention a book which is on the market for quite a while, but fortunately, it seems to become a classic: The PHP QA book aka “Real-World Solutions for Developing High-Quality PHP Frameworks and Applications” (yes, finally, in English! :-)) and “Softwarequalität in PHP-Projekten” (German Edition). Also available on Kindle.
It’s partly theoretical knowledge, partly case studies. Mine was on QA with Selenium at studiVZ, together with MAx Horvath, so maybe I mention it for sentimental reasons (good old days!).
But the book itself is an invaluable compendium for any kind of testing in the PHP world – have a look at it.

Enjoy reading!

I’m a terrible blogger!

As some of you may have already noticed: I’m a shame to the blogger community. Last blog post from July… well…

Just to keep you informed what has happened since then: I was in Tokyo, Japan, as an Interim CTO for Piku, the Japanese sister company of DailyDeal. This was a very interesting experience I’m very thankful for, for several reasons: It’s great to be in a culture so different from your own and to get the chance not only to be there for holidays, but also for living and work for 2.5 months! Another fabulous thing was to be part of two companies with an identical business model but different people and a different company culture. It’s a fantastic opportunity to look around, to compare what you see with your past experiences, and so to get some “lessons learned” insights very quickly. I also loved to share them (and I’d love to go more into detail for you, but I think even my generously open clients wouldn’t be very happy about it) .

Anyway, when I came home, the next challenge was already awaiting me:

As an Interim CTO for Rebate Networks, which is the company behind Piku, DailyDeal and about 25 other countries all over the world, my days are currently stuffed with tons of fun and interesting work to do. As you can imagine, this job is pretty international. And everybody who knows me a little bit will guess that our processes are set up “the Agile way”. Besides that, there are so many technological challenges to solve that you probably won’t get bored for quite a long time :-).

Apropos “you” and “technological challenges”: If you are a real kick-ass developer and you are looking for an amazingly exciting job with lots of passion, fun and professionalism: Yes, we hire! :-)))

See you at the Backfabrik (which will be our new home in a couple of days),


Session on Retrospectives at JAX conference 2010

Well, so much to do at the moment, that there’s not much time for blogging. :-/

But I’m looking forward to first AgileCoachCamp Germany 2010 (see article below) an to my interactive session on retrospectives at JAX conference, May 3rd. What makes me really happy is the word *interactive*, because I think this the way to do sessions and even talks on agile topics.

So I hope to see you there!

Scrum Day(s) Düsseldorf

I will be speaking on Agile Leadership at Scrum Day Düsseldorf.

The event will be on Wednesday, Dec 2 at Novotel Neuss (near Düsseldorf).

The day before, Dec 1, there will be some interesting workshops. At least one of them is a highlight I want to recommend to you: Joseph Pelrine’s workshop on self organizing teams. I had a foretaste of what might come up there at “Agile2009” in Chicago. But his workshop in Chicago was one of 3 hrs. This one is a full day workshop.

Furthermore, he will also be the keynote speaker on Wednesday.

For more information, see Scrum Day Website.

I’ll publish my slides online afterwards.

XP Days Germany, Day 2 (part1)

Day two is over and I’m lying in my bed, happy but tired, and try to keep my eyes open until I’ll have clicked the “publish” button in ScribeFire.

First things first: Some people said to me that they had read my blog posting on day one. What nearly everybody told me was that they’d had the discussion about either German or English talks in the past. And that they’d had more English talks some years ago. And that it is a strange scenario if Germans talk to an audience of just German people but speak English (and some listeners have difficulties to understand it). Ok, I have to admit: In this case German may be the better option :).
Just to make it clear: I respect this decision, result of experiences in the past. I’m sure that this is pretty well thought-out. And I didn’t want to blame people who had made this decision. It was less about criticizing something or someone but more a public reflection on my own personal feelings and thoughts. Personally, I really love getting in touch with an international community and I’d really appreciate it if this also would happen in Germany. Nonetheless, even more than that I appreciate a well-organized conference with happy people on it – and that’s what XP Days Germany seem to be.

Anything else? Oh, yes, there were some sessions today – two dozens in four parallel tracks, to be precise. I attended “Creating Leaderful Teams to Achieve High Performance” by Deborah Hartmann Preuss. It was a great talk on changing mental role models – as a member of a team, but even more important: as a manager. Because that’s the topic I’ve been obsessed with for nearly one year, it was very valuable for me to hear from her insights, compare, adapt and question her points. To be honest: There is just one I question (and I needed some hours to think about it): I’m not very happy with the term “egoless team”. I know, many trainers make use of it. Maybe I’m too sceptic because of my personal spiritual background. Every time someone starts talking about “egolessness”, I become very carefully: In most cases this is the beginning of deliberation, of suppressing individualism. It doesn’t have to be used this way in Agile, but I know that talking about “egoless …” can be a mighty weapon.
Back to the point I agree with: The key thing is that the term “Agile Manager” is an oxymoron. But what is needed instead is an “Agile Leader”.
A leader as a
– Meaning Maker
– Catalyst for Growth
– Model of Integrity
– Cultural Change Agent
– Facilitator
Deborah Hartmann Preuss explained in detail how she understands each of these roles.
I could mention many details of this talk, but I’ll pick out just two more points: The meaning of retrospectives. “If you wanna do just one agile practise, choose retrospectives.”, she said. Why? Because this is the most important opportunity to step back and reflect as a team. To remind Albert Einstein: A problem cannot be solved on the same level where it has been caused. Stepping back means changing the perspective, the level. Same thing for leaders. Integrating a retrospective in the working routine of the team extends work from single loop to double loop. Single loop work means working on efficiency (doing things right). Double loop work means working on effectivity (doing the right things), because you reflect on your work and learn more. But a decision for effectivity on costs of efficiency has to be made as a top level management decision. Once again, an act which needs a step back and some reflection.

Furthermore, I had other very good talks today: “TDD with iPhone OS” by Tammo Freese and “Science Scrum: Agile Project Management in Science” by Michael Podvinec and Joseph Pelrine.
In addition to that, a very entertaining final of “TDD with the Stars” and Alistair Cockburn’s Keynote on Hard-Agile (subtitled with “Agile is for wimps!”…).

I hope I’ll find some time tomorrow to write more about these sessions. Now it’s time to close my eyes (and hopefully not to dream of Agile Jeopardy: “Was sind Haftnotizen?”)

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Neue Ufer

Unter dem Schlagwort “auf zu neuen Ufern” steht momentan ein ganzer Themenkomplex in meinem Leben.

Zum einen habe ich gerade die Entscheidung getroffen mich von studiVZ / VZnet Netzwerke zu trennen – ein Entschluss, der auch mit sehr viel Herzblut verbunden war. Doch manchmal ist es auch einfach Zeit, liebgewonnene Strukturen zu verlassen um Raum für Neues zu schaffen. An dieser Stelle noch einen Dank an die QA und das Engineering-Team – Hey, Jungs, Ihr wart großartig!!! :-))))

Auf zu neuen Ufern gilt auch für den Bereich “Agile”. Denn obwohl ich mich nun seit über zwei Jahren mit dem Thema Agile und dem Mindset dahinter beschäftige und wir auch bei studiVZ seit insgesamt über einem Jahr immer “agiler” wurden und seit mehr als einem halben Jahr SCRUM praktiziert haben, so durfte ich doch durch den Besuch der Agile 2009, der weltgrößten Konferenz zum Thema “agile Entwicklung”, noch einen riesigen inneren Entwicklungsschritt machen. Erst dort habe ich in vollem Umfang erkannt, wo in der Praxis der Unterschied liegt zwischen “doing agile” und “being agile”. Nicht, dass ich mir nicht vorher schon tonnenweise Gedanken dazu gemacht hätte. Doch manchmal kristallisiert sich die Essenz einer Sache erst mit etwas Abstand zum Alltag heraus.

Will man mit agilen Entwicklungsmethoden wirklich erfolgreich sein, so reicht es an dieser Stelle nicht, nur die Regeln und sogenannte Hard Skills zu lernen. Vielmehr ist es erforderlich,  den Geist von Agile zu durchdringen und sich kritisch mit der Frage auseinanderzusetzen: “Was steckt hinter diesem Ansatz – und warum möchte ich dies in meinem Unternehmen einführen?” Und letztendlich: “Was kann und will ich mit meiner eigenen Person in diesen Prozess einbringen?”

Sowohl Entwickler als auch Manager müssen sich dieser Frage stellen – jeder auf seine Art.

Für die Entwickler heißt das: Was kann ich im Alltag dazu beitragen? Welche Verantwortung kann ich persönlich für das Gelingen eines Projektes übernehmen anstatt mich von Verantwortung befreit zu sehen?

Für Manager, für die Übernahme von Verantwortung sowieso Teil ihrer Jobbeschreibung ist, bedeutet es zusätzlich: Wie kann ich durch meinen Führungsstil dazu beitragen, Teams zum Erfolg zu führen; sie zu motivieren, Verantwortung zu übernehmen; eine Dynamik  der stetigen Verbesserung zu erzeugen? Wie kann ich als Teamleiter mit meinem Führungsstil dazu beitragen, dass ein eigenverantwortliches Team (=> self-organizing) entsteht, das an seinem Aufgaben wächst?

Und letztendlich für alle: Wie können wir ein Team bauen, das mit Freude, getrieben vom eigenen Anspruch, jeden Tag als Chance zur Verbesserung des eigenen Potentials versteht?

Das ist meiner Ansicht nach das, das den Schlüssel zum Erfolg eines Agilen Prozesses ausmacht. Selbstverständliche Worte, eigentlich – doch ich glaube, dass viele Teams in der Hektik des Alltags vergessen sich diese bewusst zu machen und so ihre Versäumnisse an der falschen Stelle suchen. Die Agile 2009 mit ihren über 200 Vorträgen und 1300 Teilnehmern aus aller Welt hat in einer Woche dafür gesorgt, mir diese simplen Vorgänge wieder einmal vor Augen zu führen und in meinen Fokus zu rücken. Und hiermit gelobe ich, dass ich das in absehbarer Zukunft nicht aus den Augen verlieren werde. :o)

Joseph Pelrine: Self-organizing teams and Turning up the heat

Of of the most impressive sessions I had at the Agile2009 convention was Coaching self-organizing teams by Joseph Pelrine. He is a very good Agile coach with a great reputation and one of Europe’s leading experts on eXtreme Programming and Scrum, so it was a pleasure for me to join in.

During this three-and-a-half-hour tutorial (by the way: He started with Swiss chocolate for everyone – so he got us all after just 30 seconds! Simple but powerful tool… ;-)) he talked about different types of people and their different beliefs and how they influence the whole team. He showed the functioning of a team, comparing it with a swarm of birds. We had a wonderful exercise when Joseph Pelrine opened the doors of the room, and led us, “flying” as a swarm, through the hallway of the hotel. This small exercise – as well as the other ones – demonstrated to us in a very playful and natural manner the meaning of self-organization.

This is something I’ve always liked very much: Learning not only through intellectual knowledge, but also through direct experience. Even though it was an agile Conference, there were some other speakers who were not themselves very agile….

An important part of the session was dedicated to the question of how to handle teams and what would be necessary to make them self-organizing and working well. As Joseph Pelrine wrote in his abstract:
“Allowing a team to self-organize along the lines of ‘oh well, they’re all adults, they’ll figure it out’ is just as irresponsible as reverting to the command-and control school of management.” Full Ack from my side (if my humble opinion makes any difference in that case :O))!
So, he pointed out that it is always a matter of fine-tuning the dose. The image Joseph used came from cooking: If you want to cook well (=make a team working well) you have to put heat (=energy, change, etc.) into them. If you don’t, your meal (team) gets cold and solid (no evolution, no results, no enthusiasm). But if you put too much heat into it, you will burn (overstress, burn-out) it.

My opinion again: That’s an interesting insight which some managers and coaches don’t realize. Scrum and XP don’t mean “put as much change and pressure as possible onto your team”. It is always a question of the right dose, isn’t it? If you change too many things in a short period or if you want too much, you’ll burn them, guys!
It’s also interesting that, assuming the cooking theory is right, you need continuous change / energy from from outside. I wonder how this would apply to “doing agile” vs. “being agile” – but that’s another story (for a further blog article).

There was a surprising moment for me when we started representing the states of cooking when we, the participants, took up positions on a linear diagram outlined on the floor: We were representatives of different states of cooking on the scale, from “solid” to “burned”. I try to make it clear by a scribble:

cooking á la Pelrine

cooking á la Pelrine

When we talked with others representing different states (e.g. “solid” and “burned”), I felt that it should be a circle, not a linear scale, because those from the “solid” state had similiar experiences as the people from the “burned” group. Despite the teams they represented being in completely different situations, the results of “burning” and “solid” seemed to be very alike (I earned another Swiss chocolate for this observation…).

I think this model is really good, because it’s simple, a good analogy and also matches my personal experiences.

If you are interested in learning more about the heat model, please have a look at Joseph Pelrine’s blog.

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