The 3 waves of Agile

In januari we published two articles on the Bits & Chips  website. This month the two parts are published in the hardcopy magazine as one integrated story. I think it looks great! In the article I describe how I see the role of the agile coach evolve from a Team Coach into that of a Business consultant/ Delivery coach or Councillor. Using three waves I describe the challenges that organisation have in their agile journey. Of course it is a model, and the real world is more complex, still I believe the article enables us to better explain to our organisation what they can expect and why, given the wave we are in, we focus on one challenge and not on the other. In the article I added a table that gives an overview of the challenges for each wave. I trust it serves as a checklist and can help agile coaches to explain why they focus on certain aspects.

You can find the article on you doormat when you subscribe to the magazine. But for your convenience I share it in PDF: also: Coaching in the 3rd wave of agile

I like to encourage you to comment on the article. Do you recognise the challenges and what are your experiences?

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Scaling Agile with SAFe – An experience story by Randy Soet

Yesterday we organised a Squerist Agile Knowledge Session at our office in Veenendaal. With 25+ colleagues we gathered for diner and a story on the agile journey of Randy Soet from Achmea. Randy is MT member and manager of three Product Owners. He is responsible for IT & Change from a business perspective. He also acts as Product Manager within the SAFe framework where he forms the leading coalition together with the Release Train Engineer.

In a loose setting Randy enthusiastically explains how they took the first steps to SAFe in 2016. He shares the problems they wanted to solve with this, how they did the implementation and what lessons they learned. It was an inspiring story about scaling Agile based on the SAFe framework.

Randy stated that the SAFe framework fits his organisation quite well. He explained the way they planned their releases, their focus on preparing not only the next ART but the advantages of looking further ahead. Luckily, he took time to answer our questions on how they organised their PI events about the evaluation of the completed Epics. According to him, the success of the transition is due to the combination of Lean and Agile, with the real drive of individuals to achieve together. It was great to hear a practical story from the trenches and share experiences with fellow colleagues. An evening well spent.  Thanks, Randy, for sharing your experiences

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Built-in Quality @Tesena Fest Vienna

Yesterday I was in Vienna for the Tesena Fest Conference. After organising this conference in Prague and Brno, the conference was held in Vienna for the first time. Despite the corona virus many participants joined to listen to some great talks and attend the afternoon workshops by a.o. Rik Marselis, Jennifer Bonine and Dominique Schildorfer.

I gave a keynote on Built-in Quality. I shared challenges that we encounter during our agile transformations and linked them to quality measures that you can take on a team level. I referred to the ebook that I wrote with Mette Bruhn-Pedersen and the tips the SAFe framework gives. In the second part of the presentation I explained how the testers role can evolve towards a test coach and Built-in Quality (BIQ) Ambassador. I introduced a BIQ Maturity model and explained how we can use this model to design feedback loops that help us to overcome some of the challenges that I introduced at the start of the presentation. I got nice feedback and had nice discussions afterwards. It has proven to be a valid and rich topic.

Below an impression of the talk:

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Rik and I talking about our contribution to Tesena Fest in Vienna

Watch this video and find out what my presentation and Rik Marselis’ workshop will be about. We will both be at the Tesena Fest in Vienna on the 5th of March. The question is where will you be? We hope to see you at the front row.

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18 Questions to Ask for Better Backlog Refinement

Refinement is time spent during the current sprint discussing and elaborating product backlog items so that they are ready for future sprints. Unfortunately, many teams do not unlock the full potential of refinement. Backlog items should be sliced, and a solution should be proposed, reviewed, and discussed. For Agile Connection I wrote an article with 18 handy questions that you can use trigger refinement discussions.

You can read it on Techwell’s Agile connection:

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The role of the Agile Coach in the 3rd wave of agile – part 2

Two weeks ago Bits & Chips published the first part of my new article on agile transformations: The role of the agile coach in the 3rd wave of agile – part 1. I am pleased to share the second part of the article. In this article I describe the 3rd wave. If you want to know what organisations that are in the 3rd wave of adoption have on their mind, you should read this.

I’ll describe how I see the role of the agile coach evolve from a Team Coach into that of a Business consultant or Councillor. In order to complete the article I added a table that gives an overview of the challenges for each wave. I trust it serves as a checklist and can help agile coaches to explain why they focus on certain aspects.

You can find the article on the bits&chips site: The role of the agile coach in the 3rd wave of agile – part 2.

I like to encourage you to comment on the article. Do you recognise the challenges and what are your experiences?

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The role of the agile coach in the 3rd wave of Agile

Bits & Chips published the first part of my new article on agile transformations. Analysing the various organizations I’ve worked with, I distinguish three separate waves, each with its own challenges and scope. Understand the three waves of agile enables us to have a better grip on Agile transformations and helps agile coaches to explain why they focus on certain aspects. It puts our interventions in perspective and provides a roadmap for the organisation. But last but not least I trust the article will provide insight into how the role of Agile coaching is developing.

Part one of the article describes the first two waves. In two weeks time we’ll publish part 2 that will describe the 3rd wave and contains a table that summarises the challenges for each wave.

You can find the article on the bits&chips site: The role of the agile coach in the 3rd wave of agile – part 1.

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Speaking at Agile Amsterdam

The 4th edition of Agile Amsterdam will be held in September 2020. The conference aims to nourish and cultivate the agile mindset. The conference program consists out of a warming-up evening, a full day of talks, workshops and open space sessions that are followed by masterclasses on the second day.

Although the event seems still far away in time the first speakers are announced. Confirmed companies and speakers to date are Mary Poppendieck, Dave West (CEO Scrum.org), Bloomberg, Booking-com, Shell (tbc), and more

I am utterly thrilled to be part of the speaker line-up for Agile Amsterdam next year. More information about my contribution will follow.

More information about the conference can be found at the Agile Amsterdam website

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Leading Quality – Review of the book by Ronald Cummings-John and Owais Peer

I recently obtained myself a copy of Leading Quality by Ronald Cummings-John and Owais Peer.  The black book cover contains five stars and a subtitle: “How great leaders deliver High Quality software and Accelerate Growth”.  Being extremely interested in agile leadership and built-in Quality, I was sold. I read the book and believe it was a wise decision to but the five-star rating already on the cover. I thought it a valuable read.

Although the book is a book for testers, the book does not explain how you can do your tests. As Neil Brown states in the foreword. Being just good at testing is no longer sufficient. Quality is key to business success and test-leads must impact teams throughout the organization, align with business teams and work within the overall goals and directions of the business. The authors introduce the quality narrative, you can talk about the responsibility or ownership of quality, the right way to test or focus on the value of testing. In the following chapters they discuss topics that help to build a quality strategy and shape testing so it adds value.

For example, the discussion on Continues Testing helps to understand why you do certain tests. It is more than automating tests. Ronald and Owais rather define continues testing as the ability to test an application in every stage of its development cycle. The table by Elisabeth Hendrickson (page 66) links test questions with types of tests and invite you to think about testing on a more strategic level. What do you want to learn from your tests?

I liked the approach explained in chapter 5. The authors explain how a new product evolves and the testing purpose shifts accordingly. A clear example is given of a game manufactory that initially doesn’t care that much for quality, but rather validates whether the product is the right product. Predictability and scaling are relevant but later product life cycle. Conclusion: the quality strategy follows the product life cycle.

In the rest of the book automation, infrastructure, Growth Metrics and Persona’s are discussed. In the last chapter all previous topics are combined into one quality strategy. Great leaders start with a clear vision, but you need not only to know where you are going, but also where you currently are. The example of Ashley that mapped the development pipeline and overlaid the testing process on top of it, is one more inspiring example and I believe in the value of this practice.  The rest of the chapter refers to the preceding chapters that form the ingredients of the quality strategy. A good quality strategy is one step towards built-in quality, so I am pleased that now there is a book on this topic available. Personally, I think the last chapter could have been a little more elaborated, but for me, the book earned all five stars that are already printed on the cover.

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Keynote at Tenesa fest Vienna

I am excited to announce that I will be keynote speaker at Tesena Fest Vienna on March 5th 2020. I’ll be talking about Built-in Quality, a topic that I am really enthusiastic about. I believe it is a topic that rightfully is gaining more attention. Although Built-in Quality is a core principle in Lean and the Scaling Agile Framework, for many it is not clear how you build quality in. I have been publishing and talking about embedding Quality in SAFe (see e.g. ebook Q in SAFe) and BIQ is part of our Test managent workshop. But think there is more to tell. I am looking forward to bringing my insights together in one inspiring keynote.

More info on the conference and the call for papers, see the conference website

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The Challenges Ahead- Keynote at the AgileTD 2019

This week Jan Jaap Cannegieter and I had the honour to present a keynote at the Agile Testing Days in Potsdam. In our keynote “The challenges ahead we discussed trends that we see around us and how these challenge us. One conclusion is that we are more likely to be confronted with new technologies and applications of these technologies and we are more likely to be in a situation where we do not know how to test it. So adoption new skills and knowledge and learning are crucial. During the keynote we also looked at this years conference program, to highlight sessions that relate to the challengers that lay ahead….

Please find the slides below:

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EuroSTAR workshop: Planning and Testing your releases

The last year I became aware of a growing ‘flying shame’. Did you hear other people apologize that they take a flight or maybe you yourself searched for alternatives that are more environmentally friendly….

I used this setting for a new case: “The green traveler.”  I will use this case as basis for my workshop at the EuroSTAR conference this year. In the “Planning and Testing your releases” workshop we will prioritise our backlog, define valuable releases and make a roadmap. See more details on the conference website.

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Conference season

The conference season has definitely started, I realised as a was checking my schedule. Today I was,

  • Uploading my slides for EuroSTAR
  • Making slides
  • Signing a speaker contract
  • Reviewing proposals for the Agile Testing Days USA
  • Preparing the hand-outs for ATD Germany

A lot of things happening….

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The 24th Testing Retreat was Awesome

The Testing Retreat is an international peer conference that aims to discuss relevant test topics and inspire its participants. During this 24th edition we had 13 participants from the Netherlands, UK, Belgium, Poland, Denmark and even the USA. During normal conferences there is mostly little time to have the in-dept sessions of the kind that the retreat hosts. This weekend we gathered in Friesland to discuss:

  • The role of the tester in Agile development
  • Scaling agile and the the place of the test manager
  • Feedback driven testing
  • DevOps and Testing
  • Test automation research
  • Metamorphic testing in non determinant systems
  • Updating the 2012 Mapa Testi

During the breaks dinner and time-of moments we discussed a lot of different topics as well. It was a very nice, inspiring weekend, that I trust enables participant to improve their value as test professional and to see developments in right perspective. I am already looking forward for next year’s edition, which will be the 25th edition.

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New Job! A great opportunity that I love to embrace.

This week I started with Squerist. The last 9+ years I have worked at Valori and did many beautiful, interesting and fun things. Things that stand out among these are embedding the quality into development, setting up test strategies and helping organizations with their agile transformation.  I will continue to do so within Squerist. Squerist is a Dutch consultancy company that is specialised in progression. Their mission is to continuously improve and develop their employees, their customers and their expertise. They already offer services on Software testing, Business transformation and Security. Together with Squerist I’m going to see how we further grow our agile services and make it into a fourth group of services. A great opportunity that I love to embrace! I believe my passion for quality and agile practices fits right in.

Choosing something also means saying no to something else. Unfortunately, I have to say goodbye to Valori. But I hope to meet you all in my new context, as Test Manager, Agile Coach or at one of the conferences to which I contribute.

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