Help Agile Knoxville BE Agile – Survey says!

Let’s not just Do agile, let’s BE agile!
Transparency is the stem that everything comes out of.
Adaptation and Inspection are the other two foundation principles.


So let’s practice inspection and adaption with Agile Knoxville Meetup and help me make it better or at least get a few more people to come! 😉

Just takes a few moments of your time


Survey says….

See the results yourself below! Some initial action items I’m taking are:

  1. I’ll continue to try and find a place in West Knoxville – Cedar Bluff area mid-week and experiment with trying to start earlier as well especially if more say they want to. If anyone knows of a good place, let me know!
  2. This month’s retro will be about how to work with challenging personality types in a team setting. Please start thinking of what you’d like to learn how to handle better.
  3. I’ll be sending out reminders through Meetup, LinkedIn,, and, and Twitter and Facebook. I also post links and helpful articles and videos through all of these throughout the month. Plus, if anyone wants me to add your email to a reminder please email
  4. I’m going to incorporate more opportunities for hands on learning as well.
  5. I’ll continue to do all of the other topics as well and if anyone has anything at any time let me know – no one had any other suggestions, so we are doing the things I see the most often.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to reply – I sure do appreciate it!

Let’s Meetup and Retro Notes

The notes from this Meetup are going to be like I do notes after a retro for any of the teams that I work with. A description of what we did and relevant info on the results.

Check In – One Word

Everyone was asked to write on a post it note how you would describe 2016 with one word – you may also use one song, book, or movie title, even if it is more than one word.

Result: Great words and we got to know a little more about each other 🙂

Focus On: Being Agile vs Doing Agile

We looked at and discussed the following images








Discussion questions:

  1. Is thinking about being agile vs doing agile new for anyone?
  2. Is anyone seeing any areas where things could stand to improve at your job?

RESULT: It wasn’t exactly new for anyone but after looking at the handouts they were thinking about it in a different way and saw that there was a major difference, AND that it was often the missing link between how things “should” be and how things “are”. Everyone saw areas where things could improve at work and within ourselves as well.

Set the goal/ context (1) The goal of this retrospective is to look at being agile vs doing agile, to identify and gather feedback from each of our places of employment, and to create action items to improve challenges as well as continue to maximize what is working that any team could also use.

Energizer: Agile Principles

  1. Ask the team about the twelve Agile principles. If they know it jump to the next point, if they don’t do a brief introduction to Agile values and principles.
  2. Ask all team members to stand up.
  3. Read loud and clear the twelve Agile principles. For each one of them, any team member that thinks the team is accomplishing the principle should remain standing up, but if they think they are not fulfilling the principle they should sit down
  4. Keep reading until everyone is sitting down.

RESULT: Everyone sat down within the first 6 principles , but I continued reading through all of them and then everyone shared if they would stay sitting or not on each one.


Gathering Information: DAKI Drop, Add, Keep, Improve

While thinking about the difference between BEING Agile and DOING Agile factor in how things are at your place of employment and/or these Agile Meetups. Then think about what things you would drop and what you would add. What you would keep and what you would improve on. Please write one thing only per post it note and when you are finished go ahead and bring them up and place them where they go.


  • Negativity
  • Apathy
  • Putting past experiences into present situations
  • Drop Bottlenecks
  • Thinking having a burndown equals being agile


  • Accountability
  • Willingness to change/ grow
  • Continuous Learning Engagement
  • More understanding of agile and practice being agile


  • Perseverance
  • Communicating
  • Keep Agile Process to learn Agile
  • Doing leads to Being
  • Quantity
  • Productivity


  • Open Mind
  • Retros – self-organization
  • Embrace change
  • Deliver Working Software
  • Working with Customers
  • Environment
  • Improve communication
  • Team Problem Solving of interested parties
  • Emotional IQ/ awareness of others on team/ realize you are part of a team and don’t always get your way
  • Looking for compromise

Analyze and Create Action Items:

Since we are all on separate teams this is not the same as it usually would be but I thought we could still take a few that have several people mentioning them or are the most common and we could come up with some Action Items that any one of us could take back to our jobs and implement.

Action Items – not in usual SMART format because of the nature of doing a retro for people working in different places etc.

  1. Accountability
    • Create exposure
    • Create a process for people on the team who have to deal with other commitments
    • Work with people who go off and do their own thing individually and help them to be part of the team
  2. Show the 12 principles of Agile and help teach the team with them
  • Show one a day and discuss or do a game with it to practice it
  • Show/ discuss one per retro and go a little more in depth, it will also take longer
  • Gamify the principles
  • Teach about the value of being Agile vs being Agile
  1. For negativity/ apathy etc,..
  • Deal one on one and find the root, what are they opposed to and address it with them
  • Don’t push, nudge OK depending on who?
  • Try to find a way to cater Agile to them so it serves their interests so they see how it benefits them
  • Go slow – don’t do everything at once
  1. Companies should adjust their thinking to attract the type of people and skill sets they want to be added to their teams and acknowledge that these awesome people could also go work at other places like Google, or Facebook.

 Close Out – ROI

Vertical line with smiley face at top and sad face at the bottom. Asked for a post it note to be placed where on the scale you think it should be when thinking about your ROI on the retro/ meeting and if you want to say why good or bad just leave a note on the post it not and I will use the feedback to improve retros and you will have the opportunity to share your thoughts to make them even better.


  • Great retro
  • Your ability to maintain control over conversation while listening to responses

PS I’m aware that there are two 2’s above – there is something squirrely with the formatting and it is more important to me to get this out than make it look perfect 🙂

Comfort Zone Series – Goals II

Fear of change is another major factor that many have to contend with in order to set goals, especially as a team.

Fear – noun 1. an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
virginia-satir-change_process-by-michael-ericksonFor some people the fear of change trumps the potential benefits of the change itself, at least initially. The old status quo may need improvements but at least it is familiar, at least it isn’t change. As a member or leader of a team, it is good to keep in mind that some in your team may be resisting change because they fear it. It can be tempting to pull back when there is resistance. But resistance itself isn’t enough to make you not follow through with the change, the question is why is there resistance?


Courage – noun 1. the ability to do something that frightens one. 2. Strength in the face of pain or grief


It takes courage to push through resistance. Being able to help the team be courageous is one of ways a Scrum Master “encourages” the team. In this instance, ultimately the goal is to uncover both the logical and emotional blocks and to eliminate each one. Brainstorming on the pros and cons, and taking the time to allow everyone to have the opportunity to share any concerns helps to identify most, if not all of the issues to resolve. During this process listen closely to not only what people are saying but how they are saying it as well, to look for emotional concerns as well. Often resistance comes from a bad past experience at another job, or even where everyone is now. Sometimes it is something personal, and sometimes a group setting isn’t the place to address everything. Remember not every reason is logical, be respectful when helping people confront fears. Think the monster under the bed, allowing your child to get up and look under the bed with you and determine for themselves that there is nothing there to be afraid of, eliminates that issue, usually. Did you know you would be part counselor when you wanted to be a Scrum Master?


Every time I have been a part of a team there is a mix of people; some are eager to try new things and experiment to make things better = build windmills. Others shut down, resist, and drag their heels when it come to change = build walls. The way this usually plays out is that change happens at a much slower pace than some on the team want it while simultaneously happening faster than others on the team want it!


  • Do you have any windmills builders on your team?
  • Do you have any wall builders?
  • How do you navigate the dynamics between the two?


So how are the blocks eliminated? How can we help those afraid of change to feel better about it, to be courageous?


  1. One of the best ways is to help them to focus all of their energy on building the new, not fighting the old. This can be anything from creating a detailed plan, to daily reminders of progress, or the benefits of the goal. Think loosing weight and how much more productive it is to focus on making good choices than to sit around all day and wish you could eat a chocolate cake!
  2. Doing it as a group often helps many people by giving them a sense of camaraderie and fellowship which increases their courage knowing they aren’t taking the risk alone.
  3. If a success after a failure can be identified, reminding everyone that endings can change and just because something didn’t work once, doesn’t mean that no matter what you do, it is doomed to fail for eternity.

How do you encourage your team? How do you handle those who fear change?

Comfort zone series – Goals

One of the challenges with getting out of our comfort zones is the unknowns

  • What if it doesn’t work?
  • What if I can’t do it?
  • What do I do if I can’t sustain the change?

They can pile up and overwhelm some of us pretty quickly!

One of the first things I do with my teams to help them get comfortable (pun intended) with getting out of their comfort zones is to help them see the value of having goals.


In my experience people seem to fall into one of four camps when it comes to setting goals;

  1. Set big goals that come closer to requiring a miracle to achieve than not, and use the “long-shot” of it as motivation to keep working towards it.
  2. Set goals that they know are achievable, they may require some considerable effort but they can see the steps from a to z and with persistence, time, and hard work they know they can achieve it.
  3. Set goals that require barely any change or effort where the emphasis is building confidence because you can feel good about yourself for achieving it.
  4. Don’t set goals, some rarely make plans and live on a whim and how they feel at the moment.

I have yet to work with a team that doesn’t have a mix of these four types which makes the first challenge in helping the team get out of their comfort zone, agreeing on a kind of goal!

There are pros and cons in each of these goal setting camps.

  1. A pro of setting big goals is that it stretches you beyond what you knew you could do or go. A con is that for some people if it is too much of a long shot they will never really try for a myriad of reasons.
  2. A pro of setting goals that are achievable with work, time, and a plan is that it can motivate some people to push harder than they would without the goal. A con is that it doesn’t require much of a stretch and some need more motivation.
  3. A pro of setting goals that require barely any effort at all or something you are already doing anyway is that they can be great at boosting confidence. A con is that it can become extra work to log and track completing things that you would be doing any way.
  4. A pro of not setting goals at all is that if concentration, creativity, or something like that is helpful to accomplish the goal than “feeling” creative sure helps to do it. A potential con is that it is increasingly difficult to accomplish much in life with out any goals and only doing things when you “feel” like it. Some still seem perfectly happy about this, others, not so much.
  1. What camp do you fall in when it comes to goal setting? Do you go big? Go safe?
  2. Can you name your team members and what camp each of them fit in?

If not – have a discussion about goals and find out where everyone is, it will help later…


Other factors can also play a part in the challenge of setting goals, we’ll discuss those next time.


Comfort zone series

com·fort zone noun
1. a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress. “times when we must act beyond our comfort zones”
When I see the image above, I think of the old adage below,
images-2 As a Scrum Master, your job (or part of it) is to help the team get to where the magic happens. And yet as a Scrum Master this insanity is one of the main things that I see again and again. So many teams want the benefit of change but when it comes to acting and thinking differently they often resist! There is plenty of talk about the benefits of increased productivity, satisfaction, and creativity but it seems few mention that 90% + of the time the team will have to get out of their comfort zone in order to truly accomplish these goals.

One of the things I’ve noticed about effectively implementing Agile is it always seems to require that at least one, if not several team members get out of their comfort zone. And while everyone usually wants the benefits of implementing Scrum or some other Agile methodology, it is rare to find a team member that is actually willing to cheerfully get outside of their comfort zone.

It reminds me of how many of us want to lose 5 lbs (or more!) but don’t want to watch what we eat and get more active because it takes us out of our comfort zone. It is easier to give in to the craving and not push ourselves past where we are comfortable and so we remain in the same ole’ place. Sometimes there is fear associated with the resistance as well. Using the weight example, I may know what I like to eat that has caused me to be overweight but what will I eat if I don’t eat what I’m used to? What if I don’t like it? What if it takes too long to prepare or is more expensive?  Change can be scary for some people, so in a team setting we also need to manage the different time frames that various team members are able and willing to adopt change.

  • Do you agree that the magic happens outside of our comfort zone?
  • Do you have any tools to help your team get out of their comfort zone?
  • Could you use some coaching on how to coach your team to get out of their comfort zone?

I’m going to do a series on how to help your team get out of their comfort zone with practical exercises, tips, and experiences from what has and has not worked for me.
Stay tuned for more!

Using current events in retros – Olympic Retro

Even though the Olympics have wrapped up across the world, they produced some great quotes and pictures – this one inspired an entire retro and the creation of a new way to Gather Info!


Here is the Olympic themed retro

  1. Goal
    1. Look at the value of focus
    2. Identify and gather feedback
    3. Create action items
  2. Focus ON – awesome Olympic quotes on the power of Focus. We discussed them and I asked if people agreed or disagreed, if people thought it took focus to become an Olympic athlete, and what are the benefits of focus.9e208a258510cac84ca520cf222cb8c5largeEverything is vague
  3. Energizer – Olympic Team Charades – to get everyone in the competitive spirit we broke into two teams and played charades. The learning points were; listening, creativity, focus, teamwork, and competition, plus laughter of course 🙂
  4. Gathering Data – Olympic Retro
    1. Trophy = success, things that are working great – keep it up!
    2. Medal = things, people, processes that are working but need improvement.
    3. Stink eye (use the pic of Michael Phelps giving the stink eye) = things that are not working BUT improvement is possible
    4. Foot in boot kicking = things that need to be disqualified, stop doing them

Olympic Retro

5. Analyze and Create SMART Action Items

6. Close-Out – Story cube question? “If this sprint had been an Olympic competition it would have been…..

Summary: The team enjoyed the current event connection in the retro, the actual Gathering Info section worked well and I’ll definitely use it again. The addition of a game was also helpful to get everyone in the right frame of mind for the Gathering Info section.

Let’s Meetup Open Source Style


Special thanks to Arash for facilitating this meeting 🙂 The goal is to continue to have people in the group share in the presenting, so please always feel free to share your ideas to make this is team effort!

Here are the notes from the Open Source Meetup on Monday, Sept. 26th.

Topic #1: How do you bring Agile concepts into other departments of business/ non software areas
1. Add a retro to get meaningful feedback and then use it to create action items and make things better/ maximize what is going well.
2. Daily Stand Up – determine the best way to do it for your team/business.
3. Take goals and break them into milestones/ smaller pieces so that they can more easily fit into sprints.
4. Use Kanban – take your list of things and put them into a Kanban board to show the status –
not started, ready, in progress, done.
5. Look for bottlenecks in the process and remove them.
6. Take a goal and break it down in planning so that it can be done.

Topic #2: How long should Backlog Grooming/ Planning Meeting be?
1. Think refinement to help narrow the scope of the goal of the meeting – complexity, details, scope – work with Product Owner and team.
2. Observe the team during meeting and cut it off when they appear close to pulling the F#$@ It Switch.
3. Estimate in buckets of size rather than a set number, think range – it might not be a 13 but if it won’t fit in the 8 bucket without overflowing then go with 13.
4. Scrum Master may need to be liaison between technical and non-technical.
5. Scrum Master may need to do coaching with Product Owner, team, and management.

Stay tuned for a survey and update on the October Meetup.

Let’s Meetup and talk Scaling Professional Scrum aka “Nexus”


Recap about the MeetUp

  • My take of Scaling Scrum is that it is like Scrum on steroids – everything is magnified – the good and the not so good. Richard did a fantastic job of detailing the what, why and how using real world examples and enthusiasm.
  • To see his notes on the presentation click here

Info about the MeetUp

  • What is Scaled Professional Scrum?
    When multiple development teams cooperate on the delivery of a single software product, they face unique challenges: dependencies, integration issues, and quality differentials. Even if those teams are high-performance Scrum teams, the communication pathways in Scrum won’t suffice. The Scrum framework wasn’t designed to support more than a single team. The Scaled Professional Scrum framework (a.k.a. the “Nexus”) was designed to handle these higher level functions.
  • Details about the Presentation
    In this presentation, Richard will introduce the Nexus and its new roles, events, and artifacts that provide an “exoskeleton” to existing Scrum teams, enabling them to scale effectively. Even if you have evaluated or adopted other scaling frameworks and methodologies or are just starting to experience the friction of software development at scale, come and be part of the conversation.
  • Read more about the Nexus here:
  • Richard’s Bio
    Richard Hundhausen is the president of Accentient – a company that helps software teams develop better products by leveraging ALM tools and Scrum. He is a Professional Scrum Trainer, author of the book “Professional Scrum Development with Microsoft Visual Studio” and is the co-creator of the Scaled Professional Scrum framework. As a software developer and consultant with over 30 years of experience, he understands that software is built and delivered by people and not by processes or tools