Meet Alex Jones

Why are Agile/Scrum practices helpful to an organization?

There are really two “business results” that an organization should expect to get out of Agile.  The first is a fast, predictable cadence of value delivery.  A traditional “waterfall” project might spend lots of time up front specifying, designing, and producing the output before anything is shipped to the customer.  In contrast, Agile frameworks place emphasis on fast, frequent delivery of small increments of value to the customer.  These small, incremental deliveries of value enable the customer to start taking advantage of the product sooner, and (as importantly) enable much faster and richer feedback loops from the customer.

The other key result that an organization can expect from Agile is a predictable cadence of continuous improvement.  The same iterative approach to value delivery also enables a fast, iterative “inspect & adapt cycle” for the organization itself.  What is working?  What is not working?  How can we get better?  A typical scrum team in an organization will have this “retrospective” conversation once every couple of weeks.  This rapid cadence of continuous improvement is incredibly valuable for an organization.

Lastly, Agile frameworks empower the teams doing the actual work.  We talk about enabling teams to “self-organize” – making decisions for themselves on how to do the work, who will do the work, and how much work they can commit to.  This self-organization and empowerment tends to make for much more engaged team members.  In fact “happiness” is a key metric in Scrum, and over time in an Agile system we expect the happiness of our teams to increase.

“The other key result that an organization can expect from Agile is a predictable cadence of continuous improvement. What is working?  What is not working? How can we get better?”

What are the signs that my organization could use AJC’s Agile/Scrum Consulting?

Organizations often look to Agile/Scrum to realize improvements in delivery predictability, employee engagement, continuous improvement, quality, and customer satisfaction.  Agile/Scrum frameworks are particularly effective in knowledge work settings or settings where customer requirements and implementation details may change frequently.

Tell us about the importance of Agile/Scrum in an organization.

A scrum master is first and foremost an agile coach to a team or teams.  The scrum master has three essential components to their role.  First, they help the teams they work with “do good Agile”.  That includes teaching and mentoring on the mechanics of Agile frameworks, whether scrum, kanban, extreme programming, or any of the other frameworks.  

Second, a scrum master helps the team see the reality of how it is working.  A scrum master is interested in what the team is producing, but is more intensely focused on how the team is producing that product.  Many times a team will stop seeing the problems in how they are working.  I like to draw the analogy to a messy garage (which always seems to be the natural state of my garage!).  If your garage is always messy, and you go in there daily, pretty soon you stop noticing the mess.  It’s just the normal state of the garage.  It’s the same with a team – if they have problems or impediments that are always part of their work processes, sooner or later they will stop noticing them.  It’s the scrum master’s job to make sure the team notices those impediments and acts to remove them.

Lastly, the scrum master uses their organizational influence to help the team remove the impediments in their work.  A scrum master doesn’t have to personally own fixing all the teams’s problems, but they should give the team guidance and help where appropriate to help break down barriers to improvement.  If there are multiple scrum masters in an organization, those scrum masters can work together to help remove larger organizational impediments or problems that are beyond the scope of any one team.

“A scrum master is interested in what the team is producing, but is more intensely focused on how the team is producing that product.”

What weird food combination do you really enjoy?

Peanut butter, jelly, and cheese sandwiches.

What’s a fun fact about you that people probably don’t know?

I have a pilot’s license.