Archive for 2010/02/07

What is the difference between a takeway and a giveaway?

I can gladly admit that I’m not into football. Not even American football. But sports in general is interesting when it comes to leadership and success. Athletics are also special since they act in front of colleagues and fans during the winning and loosing. If my software development team fails a sprint, most people have no idea. But if a football team looses unexpectedly, the whole world knows at once. Many means that this results in a resistance to making big changes to strategies and methods. If you try a innovative strategy and looses, you’re a disaster but if you’d at least stuck to standard strategies, you’re probably better of in fan and media attention.

That’s why this story about The Saints and how they clarified their leadership, changed their vocabulary and focus intriguing. Words are important. Leadership is crucial, clear objectives a winner and sometimes you have to have a go at something radical.

If you want the short answer of how the Saints went from being a 7-9 and 8-8 team in 2007-08, to this year’s “turnaround” 15-3 NFC champions, it has everything to do with Williams and his relentless emphasis on creating turnovers. …

“He came in and he made us obsessed about takeaways,” Saints strongside linebacker Scott Fujita said. “Obsessed.Every day in practice we’re the crazy team that’s picking up every loose ball, every incomplete pass, and returning it for a touchdown. If opposing teams could watch the way we practiced, they’d probably think we absolutely lost our minds. But now the obsession has become a habit.” …

“It was my No. 1 job when I came in the door; we had to do a better job of taking the ball away,” Williams said … “And remember this: They call them takeaways. They don’t call them giveaways. I don’t want to hear that. It’s not a turnover. It’s a takeaway. If you take that approach, you go try and take the ball all the time. It’s not something you just do half the time.”

Categories: 7 habits, Leadership

Open agile = Scrum meets 7 habits?

2010/02/07 1 comment


After having experimented with waterfall, MSF for Agile, scrumbut, scrum and now kanban, I’ve still not gotten hooked on one of these methods.

What I don’t like with scrum is

1. the terms – business people don’t understand what a scrum master is, etc

2. Incapacity to react to quality issues, changes in the sprint. When I read Henrik Kniberg’s excellent work on Scrum and during Mike Cohn’s product owner training, it became all but too clear that scrum has a hard time reacting to bugs and quality defects. Not to mention sudden changes to priorities.

3. Problematic when the resources and the number of resources change. A key value is velocity, but which value does this have when the team changes every sprint or perhaps within a sprint?


When it comes to kanban, I can see that we address these problems but other arise. My team members have felt that they don’t see the long term objectives and there is no celebration of when we’re done. The sprint review makes a clear finish line and with kanban lacking this, many feel that they don’t know what we’re working with.


A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon Agile Advice’s description of the differences between Open Agile and Scrum.

Oh no. Not another methodology.

Not that I don’t think we should improve our processes and methods, but I’ve spent too much energy debating methods when the problems have been elsewhere: lacking leadership, quality focus and programming skills. I probably need to clarify what I mean. When the leadership has been failing, the quality has been poor and the programming skills have been too poor, people owning these problems have turned to pseudo discussions concerning the methodology and spent the energy on the method instead of fixing the core problem.

But back to open agile. I left the page open in my browser, trying to find the time and interest to read it and this morning, having woken up before everyone else but the dog, I did.

First, I felt that this was just scrum with other terms and even if I don’t like the scrum vocabulary, I would never consider a new methods just because of this reason. But there were some lines in the description which caught my eye. Especially the values and the ability to react to quality defects during cycles. So, I actually took the time to read the Open Agile primer.

Again, a positive surprise. After landing in an organization with active leadership and value driven objectives and strategies, inspired by 7 habits and Lean, I’ve found that there is more to a method than just terms, process diagrams and artifacts.

I’m not sold on Open Agile. Yet. Because I’ve never tested it and I my experience is that all methods have their flaws and draw backs. But perhaps I get a chance to test this is an upcoming project.