Category Archives: Modern Agile

Don’t forget the culture

When talking about continuous integration it is easy to get blind by all the technical stuff. However without a good culture even the most efficient release pipe will quickly decline and become useless. I have listed a couple of behaviours that I think indicates a good CI culture.

Icon - Deliver Value Continuously Alt

  • People are making small check-ins frequently.
  • People are continuously monitoring the release pipe and reacts quickly when it gets broken.
  • People are feeling responsibility for the quality of their check-ins and doing their best to avoid  breaking builds and releases.
  • People do not accept that builds or releases are staying red.
  • People are holding their check-ins when builds or releases are broken.
  • People are rolling back changes quickly and making a new build before doing the fix when they have broken a build or a release.
  • People are announcing when they are working on fixing a broken build or release to prevent other people from doing the same job.
  • People are not leaving work without making sure that the last check-in didn’t break the build or release.
  • People are writing tests that verifies their checked in code.
  • People are using feature toggles to hide features that are not ready for release to users.
  • People are making sure that broken builds or releases leads to cooperation instead of blaming.

Amplify your awesomeness

I was planning the retrospective for the team and wanted an exercise that had a really positive spin to it. I didn’t find what I was looking for so I put this exercise together. (At least I think I designed it, but I have read a lot during the years and might just as well have stolen something and put my name on it. Who knows? Many of the retrospective formats are just variations of the same thing anyway.)

Instead of just looking for pain points I wanted to see what we do well and find ways to amplify the good things and try spread it to other areas. We had a great meeting and came out with some really good actions that can further improve our team. I hope you can find this useful too.

Purpose of the excercise

To find possibilities for improvement by looking at what we are doing well and find ways to reinforce that. We are also looking to apply the successful patterns in other areas.

Preparations (Set the stage)


Board example

Set the stage by asking someone to read the retrospective prime directive and perform an icebreaker exercise. I tend to like to perform some kind of game. Mostly I find inspiration from kids party games and such. Often silly, but it gives good energy to the meeting.

Draw the three categories on the whiteboard.

Hand out post-its and pens to everybody.

Describe the purpose of the exercise and go through step by step how it will be performed.

Find the awesome things around you. (Gather data)

Let the participants individually write down on stickies things that they find awesome. When people  have stopped writing tell them that there is three minutes left to push out the last ideas. Let people one by one put up their stickies in the awesome things column and making a brief explanation of each stickie. When done cluster similar items.

Find out what the awesome things have in common (Generate insights)

Brainstorm and try to find the driving forces for  making things awesome. What do the awesome things have in common?

Note the inputs in the second column. Nothing is wrong. Have a discussion of the result and filter if needed. Debrief the participants with open questions.

How do we amplify it (Decide what to do)

Ask the participants “What can we do to amplify the forces that are making us awesome?”. Write down the results in the third column. Make sure that they are described in actionable way. If you get more than 2 or 3 results let the participants vote on the actions. Ask for volunteers that will be making sure that each action will be done (They don’t necessarily have to be the ones doing the job!).

Closing of the retrospective

Do a little retro of the retro to find out how to improve the meeting.

If you try this out please get back to me with some feedback. What was good? What was bad? How could it be improved?

Workshop: Safety Scan

One of the four principles in Modern Agile is “Make safety a prerequisite”. The reason for that safety is not seen as a priority is that priorities may change, but safety will always have to be there.

Modern Agile Wheel
If we take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs we can see that safety is the second step towards self-actualization. If we want high performance teams creating software in a way that makes people awesome we need to make safety happen first. Only people that are safe will have the guts to do the experiments needed to create products that really stands out. We must have people that are safe enough to handle a failure, learn from it and then conduct a new experiment based on the new knowledge gained. If we want people to do their best they must be able to bring their whole self to work, without fearing to be punished in any way.

In order to put this topic on the agenda we have created a workshop called “Safety Scan”. In the workshop we look at safety from several perspectives (psychological safety, technical safety and fail safety) related to your team’s daily work. We will together discuss what safety means in your context and you will also have a possibility to rate the current level of safety in your team by doing a Safety radar. We will not suggest any actions in the workshop. It is your team that must come up and own the actions that needs to be performed. If needed we can of course guide you or facilitate exercises that will increase the safety in your team. When performing the workshop, Vegas rules will be applied (“What happens in Safety scan, stays in Safety scan”). You can be absolutely sure that the content of the session will not be shared with people outside your team.

A made up example of a Safety radar(Vegas rules remember… 🙂 )

Would you like to have us perform a Safety Scan on your team, contact me or Leif Ershag.