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Steve Holyer on Collaboration, Culture & Teams


In this podcast Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Steve Holyer about collaboration, culture and teams, and the state of the Agile Fluency projects.

Key Takeaways

  • Diverse lived experiences make people better individuals and team members
  • How important psychological safety is for teams
  • We all have unconscious biases and our language reflects this
  • The value in the Agile Fluency Model is the outcomes we can produce by using it
  • The Agile Fluency Model helps teams and organisations figure out how to identify value and prioritize work
  • The product owner as the facilitator of conversations so the shared understanding of value can emerge
  • 0:25 Introductions
  • 1:27 The themes in the Collaboration, Culture & Teams track at Agile 2017
  • 2:13 How diverse lived experiences make for better agile teams
  • 3:26 We all have unconscious biases and language reflects this
  • 4:25 Even when we are aware of what we are saying or writing unconscious bias slips in to our language
  • 4:50 The importance of psychological safety for teams
  • 5:20 Having the courage and creating a safe place to explore gender and sexuality at the Agile 2017 conference
  • 6:05 Other topics included mob programming, dynamic reteaming and self-selecting teams
  • 6:20 Steve’s work with the Agile Fluency Project
  • 7:02 Working with practitioners to figure out ways to use and apply the Agile Fluency model
  • 7:08 The value in the model is the outcomes we can produce by using it
  • 7:35 Quoting Diana Larsen – when you put a model out in the world it comes around and teaches you new things
  • 7:58 The model goes beyond teams and implies how companies can become agile
  • 8:20 Product (ownership) people need to understand value and reflect that to the teams they work with
  • 8:35 Defining value – is one of the hardest questions to answer
  • 9:34 Value is dependent on context, it is what the customer and the business both need to be mutually successful
  • 10:30 Customer value needs to also provide value to the business owners – these concepts are tightly interrelated
  • 10:51 Understanding product value through the lenses of the three classes of product partners – business, customers, developers
  • 11:32 Design Thinking from both the outwards customer focused viewpoint as well as the internally focused viewpoint
  • 12:15 The Agile Fluency Model helps teams and organisations figure out how to identify value and prioritize work
  • 12:50 Inexperienced product people tend to make decisions based on who shouts the loudest – not a very effective approach
  • 13:25 There is no one ideal way to prioritise work but there are a number of approaches which can be used, weighted, shortest job first (WSJF) is one approach  
  • 13:50 WSJF sounds simple but is in fact very complex because so many factors can influence it
  • 13:29 The product owner role is being set up to fail
  • 14:49 Product ownership is hard and needs to please a wide range of stakeholders
  • 15:05 The challenges of the lonely product owner
  • 15:32 The “three amigos” of product ownership
  • 16:02 The product owner as the facilitator of conversations so the shared understanding of value can emerge
  • 16:31 Working in South Africa and seeing agile ideas being adopted enthusiastically there
  • 17:05 Living in Switzerland and seeing agile adoption happening because it has been proven over time
  • 17:35 People in South Africa who are progressing the adoption of agile in their community
  • 18:32 How agile adoption is happening in large corporations in Switzerland
  • 18:40 Holacracy and Sociocracy both gaining footholds in some Swiss companies
  • 19:10 How the Swiss values of neutrality, quality, community and self-organisation can be applied to the global agile community to work together more effectively
  • 20:01 Inviting the listeners to get in touch and to form the community which explores ways to be more effective together


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