Coming from a classical project management background, it was hard for me to discover agile methods and to develop an agile mindset.
My first contact with something agile was in 2004 when I visited a one day Scrum tutorial given by Joseph Pelrine. I was curious, but I saw that something like this would not work in the company I worked for as team lead of a development team.
In 2010, I got the opportunity to "test" a Scrum setup in a software project. Here I first got the impression that working agile might work. In 2011 I attended a Certified Scrum Master training.
In 2011, I changed to 1&1 where it seemed that a lot of development teams were already working with Scrum. To get an overview, I conducted an agile survey. The result was that most of the teams were cherry-picking from Scrum resulting in a lot of inefficiencies und ineffectivness. During that time, my job was spiltted into 50% process management and 50% keeping project managers together (because the project office was suspended right before I joined).
Somehow, classical project management practices were in a relative good shape. But agile practices and the principles required an uplift. My boss, department lead, gave me a lot of room to bring the organization forward.
One of the first actions from my side was to organize an internal Project Management Day - bringing together all project managers from my division. In the end, we were around 15-20 participants (project managers and some team leads). This was the birth of the PASK conference. PASK stands for Project-Agile-Scrum-Kanban. In 2019, we celebrated the 15th edition of this conference and we had ~200 participants, 3 tracks, ~30 speakers. This biannual, 2 days conference is the central community event accompanied with others, smaller events to foster the network and knowledge transfer.
In 2013, I co-founded the Limited WIP Society Karlsruhe - the Kanban Usergroup. Since then, with short breaks, I hosted most of the community meeting. And in 2017 I could make it happen to host the second meeting of the german speaking Limited WIP Societies at 1&1.
My second important initiative was the foundation of a division spanning Agile Coach Community. My vision was to bring together highly active Scrum Masters, Change Agents, and Coaches who are interested in giving back their knowledge and experience to the organisation - not only to their team. Giving back means: give trainings and talks, accompany teams even in other divisions, offer workshops, etc. We started in 2014 with ~10 members. Now we are ~25 on most of the german locations. We meet twice a year for two days in an Agile Coach Camp: Improving our Agile and Coaching capabilities - only Camping is missing ;-) Since 3 years, colleagues from HR and Professional Development attend as well - because of the strong intersection of activities.
One of my passions is to teach and consult. Until mid of 2020, I gave 160 trainings with ~ 1460 participants. "Isn't that boring, to give the 30th Kanban training?" I was asked. No, most of my knowledge and experience comes from this. In every single trainings, from every single consultancy, I learned a bit more about what I do. Thanks to all who gave me hundreds of learning opportunities!
After giving so many basic trainings, I felt that my colleagues gained maturity and are able to work in a Scrum or Kanban way. But in the same moment, I saw that people were struggeling with the continuous improvement in their teams. When I discussed this with them, they told me, that they are uncomfortable with retrospectives and their results. How can we change this? Until that time, I already facilitated more than 100 retrospectives. I decided to invest my time in improving the skills of our retrospective facilitators. After sharing my ideas with a couple of colleagues, I created a training program for retrospective facilitators consisting of a 1-day basics trainings and 4 half-day sessions spread over one year. After attending the basics training and between the sessions, participants have to facilitate some retrospectives before they can attend the next session. In the 4 session, we talk about the experiences and we can deepen topics from the basics training. Until mid of 2020, 90 colleagues attended the basics training and 18 passed the entire series resulting in a certificate as "1&1 Retrospective Facilitator Practitioner". To continue, I offer refresh sessions twice a year and we created a forum, where facilitators can offer themselves and team can ask for a facilitator.
By the way, until mid of 2020, the number of retrospecitve facilitated by me increased to 250!
Since three years, I'm frequently requested to facilitate workshops of all kinds. Some of them are hidden retrospectives, some to implement changes, some to improve collaboration and communication, some to work with a community of practice. Nevertheless, even here, agility helps.
I'm neither all knowing nor inerrant. I strongly believe, that the new challenge in our professional life is one the one hand the constantly speeding-up of innovation cycles and on the other hand the increasing complexity of problems and solutions. Required skills will change from a strong focus on technology to collaboration and communication. They are the new hard skills!. People need to understand this and have to become more professional here. That is my goal.
(See my blog post on this)
I'm not an Agile Evangelist (like some people already labled me) - I'm an Agile Catalyst. Like a chemical catalyst, I increase the rate of the reaction but I'm not consumed in this reaction. Often enough, I increase as well: experience, deeper knowledge, different perspectives,...
I'm not a real coach (in the systemic meaning). I'm somehow between being a coach and being a consultant. I see so many unknown unknowns in my daily work. Even a real coach can often not help the coachee to find them - they are just unknown. With my experience (known knowns) I can maybe help people to discover unknown unknowns and make them to known unknowns or later to known knowns. (See Johari Window).
I'm aware of this fine line between coaching and consulting. My formular is: Give people time to think and reflect. Nudge them if they got stuck.
I'm a resource utilization hater. The first issue is to name people resources. Well, to admit, purely economically seen, workforce is a resource. In my professional world, most people are brain workers or knowledge workers. They work collaboratively, they innovate, they learn, and they commit errors due to the character of complex work. When you force them to be highly utilized, the first 3 points will go down and the 4th will go up.
I want to quote David J. Anderson, the creator of the Kanban method in IT: "Slack is the ultimate weapon". Give people more freedom to discover, learn, innovate.
I hate estimates (#noestimates). At least in our complex work. The only benefit of estimating complex work is to get a slightly better understanding of the problem. That's why estimating is a team effort - not an individual task. BTW, estimating is waste: "Through estimating, work will not be finished earlier".
I'm a KPI hater. Our typical software KPIs are so easy to cheat. E.g. when you count bugs or unit test, and bugs should go down or unit test coverage should go up, they will! Bug are merged or simply not reported, empty unit test will appear. To avoid this, you need more indicators to hedge the KPIs - and so on... Guess what will happen? Worst case: cost of control will exceed cost of problem.