Your How To Guide For Agile Success

Anthony Mersino
February 28, 2017

Looking for resources to help you succeed with Agile or make the transition to Scrum?  You’ve come to the right place.  Bookmark this guide and leverage it for all questions you have related to Agile Pilots, Training, and Transformation.

Whether you are just beginning to learn about Agile and Scrum and need guidance on best strategies for an Agile pilot, or a seasoned Agile Leader who is looking to create high-performing teams, we have tips, plans and strategies to help you avoid pitfalls and ultimately succeed with Agile and Scrum.

We've organized this summary of our best articles and blogs for leaders into topic areas based on what you want to know. 

Are you a Leader Who Wants to Learn More About the benefits of Agile and Scrum?

Many leaders want to understand the benefits of Agile approaches and what they stand to gain from adopting them.  They don't necessarily want the process itself, but they want the benefits of business agility.

Agile Projects are More Successful than Traditional Ones - This article talks about project success rates between traditional approaches and Agile.  The Chaos studies by the Standish Group has collected a great deal of data about project success. As it turns out, Agile projects tend to be 3X more successful than traditional ones.

Why Agile Projects are Better - I came from a traditional/Waterfall background and was not an early adopter of Agile.  I had to learn (the hard way) to let go of ineffective approaches and embrace the Agile Mindset.  Read about the 12 reasons that I believe Agile approaches are Better than traditional approaches.

How do you Measure the Effectiveness of Agile Approaches? - Most Agile measures miss the point.  In this short article, we talk about how organizations can determine the effectiveness of agile approaches for themselves. Learn how to measure what is really important to your organization.

Bank of America - Client Success Story - Read what it was like for other organizations to go through their Agile Transformations. This blog post and the detailed whitepaper that accompany it provide an in-depth look at how one very large fin-tech company was able to transform itself.

Highland Solutions - Client Success Story - This blog post and related whitepaper describe how a small consulting firm moved to Scrum.  Leveraging small, dedicated and cross-functional teams and short sprints, they set up a structure that allowed them to deliver across multiple client projects simultaneously.

Are you Considering an Agile Pilot?

Before diving in to a fullblown Agile transformation, most organizations run a low-risk experiment to test out Agile approaches for one or more of their teams.  

Things to Consider when Planning a Scrum Pilot or Transformation - Before creating your own plan, you may want to read this article on things to consider when planning a pilot.

Are You Exploring Agile Training for Yourself and Your Teams?

A Quick Guide to Agile and Scrum Certifications - This article provides a quick overview of the top Scrum Certifications from the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org, as well as the Agile Certified Practitioner certifications from the Project Management Institute.

What Makes Agile Training Effective - Learn more about what to look for in Agile Training and what makes the training effective.  Not all Agile trainers are the same!

How to Develop Your Agile Training Plan - This detailed article provides you a framework for analyzing your training needs and developing a training plan.  Training can be a major investment - start with a solid plan that provides you the hands-on training you need, when you need it.

Yes, You Really Need to Invest in Agile Training - Here is Why - Many companies try to move from Waterfall or other traditional approaches to Agile without providing appropriate training.  This can lead to problems with teams thrashing, missing out on the mindset change required for agile.  It can also result in a hybrid or cobbled up Agile process that resembles a Frankenstein Scrummerfall or worse approach rather than Scrum as it was designed.

Do You Want to Know More About the Leaders Role in Agile and Scrum?

If you are puzzled about what leaders and managers do in Agile, you are not alone.  Leaders of all stripes play a critical role in the success of Agile.  Without leadership vision and understanding, a move from Waterfall to Scrum is likely to fail.  In fact, the top 5 reasons for Agile failure are all related to lack of management support. 

What is the Leaders Role in an Agile Transformation? - This article talks about how leaders perform during an Agile Transformation. 

Leaders Go First - This post describes the importance for leaders to lead by example and learn about Agile approaches. 

How Leaders Can Use Agile to Solve Common Organizational Challenges - Scrum provides a clear lens into how things are working, and it tends to expose a lot of challenges, impediments, or organizational weaknesses.  These problems exist whether or not you use Scrum!  Smart leaders use Scrum to expose the problems, they welcome discussion about those problems, and then they use their power to remove them so that teams can be as productive as possible.

What Characteristics Are Needed to Lead an Agile Transformation? - If you are wondering if you have what it takes, this article describes some of the key characteristics that we have seen successful leaders use.  Benchmark yourself.

Are you unsure about the Difference between Agile Transition, Adoption, and Transformation?  

The terminology used is often confusing, and in particular, since people tend to use the terms interchangeably.  These articles can help clear it up for you.

5 Key Differences Between Agile Adoption and Agile Transformation -  After defining the two terms, this blog post highlights 5 key differences between Agile Adoption and Transformation. 

Do You Want Agile Adoption or Transformation? - This article speaks to the difference between Agile Adoption and Transformation, the cost of Agile Transformation, and the difficulty of succeeding with a Transformation.

Have You Already Made the Decision to Transform Your Organization to Agile and Scrum?

Planning Your Agile Transformation - 5 Questions to Ask When Forming Teams - Assuming you want Agile Transformation, here are some important questions to ask when you are forming your teams.

How to Increase Agile Adoption in Your Organization - Read this post to discover what gets in the way of Agile adoption (hint - it is under your control!) and how to increase Agile adoption in your organization.

If you are serious about an Agile Transformation, you are likely to need some outside help in the form of Agile Coaching.  Here are some articles about knowing when you are ready to hire an Agile Coach, what makes them effective, and how to know when to end the outside coaching.

When to Hire an Agile Coach - This article contains 7 different indications that it is time for you to hire an Agile Coach to support your transformation.

What Makes an Agile Coach Effective - Some Agile Coaches seem to be anxious to share all their wisdom, rather than listening and meeting clients where they are at.

What is the 'Exit Criteria' for Agile Coaching - This short blog explores whether organizations outgrow their coaches or whether there is always a need for Agile Coaching.

What are the top 10 Traits of an Agile Coach - This short blog and infographic highlights what we believe are the 10 more important traits that an Agile Coach should have. 

Are You Seeking Ways to Create High-Performance Teams?

Building high-performance teams is the goal of many managers and leaders.  No matter what the performance level of your current teams, we believe that there are things that leaders can do to create an environment for teams to perform at their best. 

How do you Motivate Agile Teams - Most experts agree that you cannot motivate other people, though you can create an environment for individuals and teams to do their best work.  Read how.

Creating the conditions for High-Performance Teams - More on creating the conditions and environment where team members will do their best work.

Creating High-Performance Teams - What I learned from Google - There were a number of factors identified by Google in their Aristotle project studying successful Google Teams.  This article outlines those factors and how you can leverage those.

On the Benefits of Long-Standing Teams - This article speaks to the benefits gained by keeping teams together - through Tuckman's stages of team development - and gaining higher return by keeping the team in a state of high performance.

How Important is it to Co-Locate Agile Teams? - Studies have shown that teams that are working together in the same space are twice as productive as those working in the same building.  Is that a sufficient reason for you to co-locate your Agile Teams?

Fear has to go for Agile Teams to Succeed - How safe is your work environment?  Read more to learn about the counterproductive impact that fear has on high-performing teams.

Want to Avoid some Common Mistakes Companies Make when Transitioning to Agile and Scrum?

How to Successfully Transition from Waterfall to Scrum - This article and whitepaper provide the details you need to plan a successful transition to Scrum.  It is our most popular resource.

Avoid Agile Shortcuts and Half Measures - A common temptation for managers and leaders who are planning for Agile is to put too much confidence in their current ways of working.  Rather than make the tough move to an Agile mindset, they try to add just a sprinkling of Agile terms and Scrum meetings to their current process.  And then they are surprised when things don't pan out as they hope!

How to Increase Agile Adoption in Your Organization - Read this post to discover what gets in the way of Agile adoption (hint - it is under your control!) and how to increase Agile adoption in your organization.

We Are Using Agile, Why Are Things Getting Worse? - Early in an Agile Adoption or Transformation, things will get worse.  People will start to say "I told you so" and pine away for the good 'ole waterfall days.  Read about how close you are to actually making a breakthrough. 

How to Thwart an Agile Transformation - Read excerpts from an actual CIA manual to see common patterns for thwarting progress, and how they might be used to undermine your Agile Transformation.

Top Reasons Agile Didn't Work for Us:  #1 - We Couldn't Co-Locate teams - The Agile Principles prioritize working together daily and face to face communications.  These fly in the face of distributed teams which are the norm today because of perceived cost savings and unwillingness to change.  Read more to learn the real drivers behind this line of thinking. 

Top Reasons Agile Didn't Work for Us:  #2 - Company Culture - As it turns out, Company Culture is the most often cited reasons for Agile to Fail.  Read the details of why it fails based on the  VersionOne Annual survey of Agile.  Also learn the specific reasons for that failure based on Craig Larman's laws of organizational behavior.

Top Reasons Agile Didn't Work for Us:  #3 - Couldn't Form Cross-Functional Teams - Cross functional teams are at the heart of Agile and Scrum.  Learn more about why they are important and how to address the functional silos and specialization you've built up over the years that will undermine the effectiveness of your Agile Transformation.

For Those That Want to Introduce Success Measures or Agile Metrics

Improve Team Productivity - Stop Measuring the Wrong Things - Often with the best of intentions, organizations set up measures for teams that backfire or cause teams to behave in undesirable ways.  This post identifies some of those inappropriate measures and contains some key takeaways for leaders looking to measure Agile teams.

Agile Teams - Deciding What to Measure - Many organizations measure the wrong things, as identified in the post above.  And frequently measures backfire as teams game the measurements or the measures incent the wrong behaviors.  This post explores how to decide what to measure.

How do you Measure the Effectiveness of Agile Approaches? - Most Agile measures miss the point.  In this short article, we talk about how organizations can determine the effectiveness of agile approaches for themselves. Learn how to measure what is really important to your organization.

10 Questions that PMOs should ask their Agile Teams - Let's face it, the PMO is here to stay in most organizations.  It would be great if they would get along with and support the Agile teams.  Rather than prompting Agile teams to produce reports that cost a lot and provide very little benefit, start with these 10 questions that any good Agile Team should be able to answer.

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About Anthony Mersino

Anthony is passionate about helping technology teams THRIVE and organizations TRANSFORM.  He loves partnering with organizations to help teams with Agile thinking and the Scrum Framework.  He teaches Agile and Scrum as well as the cultural elements that are necessary for an organization to gain true business agility. Anthony has  authored numerous articles and two books: Agile Project Management, and Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers.

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