Archives: December 19, 2019

Agile Coaching Exchange 80th Session– 7 Years old!!

Last night we hosted the Agile Coaching Exchanges 80th Session. When you think about it, that’s 7 years! Pretty much the whole time I have worked for Ripplerock.

We took the opportunity to celebrate last night along side our usual festive fun. Here are some fun facts about the ACE from our slides last night


Here are some of the venues who have supported us over the years, with ASOS hosting over 30 sessions!


So where did it all start?


Todays ACE Crew (Me, Ben and Vlad)

With our long term sponsor – We worked out how much money we spent on pizza and it is obscene!


We have had some AWESOME speakers – Thank you so much. We could not do this without you!


We also have 8!!!!  sister groups in:

  • Vienna
  • ACE:SoCal
  • ACE:MidTN
  • ACE:Atlanta
  • ACE: Silcon Valley
  • ACE: Dallas
  • ACE: Chicargo
  • ACE: New York

No other group has that feature Smile 

It has been an amazing ride and we have met soooo many fantastic people along the way. Many of them who are still regulars today.

For me meet ups are invaluable. They provide a free community event where people can come to learn about different things, that will help them and their organisations evolve. Not everyone has the luxury of an Agile coach, and so these are their life line of knowledge and support.

I believe that if you do good things, good things will happen to you. I hope that all these Agile people of the future continue to pay it forward for generations to come.

I am extremely proud of the Agile Coaching Exchange and will continue as long as there is a need.

Finally I want to say thank you to Vlad and Ben for being the best co-organisers for many many years.

Merry Christmas from the Agile Coaching Exchange


Here are a few snaps from last nights fun

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Wheel of Retrospection

I was asked to run a retrospective this week for a team that needed something a little more light hearted. Been a tough kind of month!

Most of the teams in my current client have a distributed element, be it people in another location or flexibility to home work.  So I needed to come up with something that would work and be fun!

My scan of the online retro tools was very disappointing, most of them just looked like a trello board with headings of retros from 10 years ago. After 10 years in the business and a highly creative streak I needed something more than these!

So I thought what would be fun, simple, light hearted and something that can be run across sites.

I often use the tool :  to run competitions and thought I could incorporate it some how. So I thought I could create topics on the wheel and then associated questions with it. I want the team to bond and so many of my questions were about getting to know each other.


The tool is funny as it makes a round of applause every time the wheel stops.

Here are the questions I used:

Get To Know You

  • What is your favourite colour?
  • What was your nick name at school?
  • How many siblings do you have?
  • What is your secret super power?
  • What is your favourite food?
  • If you could have one wish, what would it be?
  • Favourite movie?
  • Favourite Band?
  • Tell is something about you that no one else knows

Thought Provoker

  • Would you rather sit in a bath of Beans or Peas?
  • Would you rather put your hand in a bowl of spiders or cockroaches?
  • What three items would you take to a dessert island?
  • If you could be any animal, what would you be?

Wild Card

  • Can you rub your head and tummy at the same time?
  • ·Share with the group your favourite party trick
  • Show some one the last photo you took
  • What will your new years resolutions be this year?
  • Can you sing your home countries national anthem?

Something Good

  • What do you think the team does really well?
  • What do you think was our biggest achievement this year?
  • If you could say thank you to anyone in the team, who would it be and for what?
  • What do you love about working in this team?

Something To Improve

  • Name one thing the team could do to improve?
  • What was our biggest mistake this year?
  • What do you think the team is lacking?
  • If you had one wish to change something, what would it be?

Personally I loved it when we had the Russian and the Romanian national anthem sung. 

I then finished up the group by getting everyone to say thank you to each other for something that they are grateful for. We often focus on the improvements, but it is important to share the good as well. Gives us that warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

So a very simple and fun retrospective that got everyone in the team buzzing. I certainly know more about them now, and that can only but help team cohesion and fun.

Merry Christmas


The Mega Dojo ..

I have been running a coaching programme with my latest client for about 7 months now and it has been going down very well.  These aren’t new things as I have been running them for a while in my previous places.  Take a look at a previous blog on the subject if you want to know more. Though I have changed the curriculum and added more things in over time. These are a great source of enjoyment for me and it warms my heart when I hear old coachees have been taking this programme to their new places of work. My legacy lives on! <Hums the titanic theme tune>

So my latest programme was coming to a close and feeling festive I wanted to get the Delivery Manager community together to do something fun. I don’t need an excuse for this if I am honest. Even my boyfriend says that I always seem to get to do the cool stuff. So I came up with the idea of a MEGA dojo… for the full effect you have to do a dramatic voice and put in an echo.  THE MEGA DOJO  <dojo dojo dojo>  You get the picture.

So I invited all the delivery managers to London and planned the session with a great coach called Tom Bray here at my current client.

Our Agenda was:

  • Welcome – Naturally a motivational speech from moi Smile
  • Getting to know you ice breaker  – We did unknown fact and what you would do with this object. The object was a little brown bag. Looked like santas sack to me
  • Break out groups to draw me what is a ‘Coach’ along with skills and attributes – We covered this in the programme and so was a refresher
  • Call out all the techniques we have learnt – Again this was to get them to think about how far they have come

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  • Dojo One – A 45 minute session where they could practice any of the techniques on each other in triads.
  • Dojo Two – A further 45 minute timeboxes with different people

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  • We then closed it up with Clean feedback. This was important as in the Chapter Health check they said we don’t take time to give each other feedback. So we used the final 15 minutes of the session giving each other positive or negative clean feedback. This is so important in any community.  One I received certainly made me feel valued.

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The feedback was resoundingly positive and just what we needed as a community.  I am super excited for 2020 as I am now looking to hand over the programme to a couple of talented coaches here. Plus I want to offer it wider to anyone who wants to learn.  This was just the cherry on the cake to see how far they had come.

Naturally any team day is followed by the celebratory 2 hour lunch.


Love these Agile Delivery Managers – Such an awesome bunch!

So that’s it from me, just wanted to share  cool things I have been doing.  I’ll tell you about my other cool thing around insights soon.

Merry Christmas


Christmas Retrospective – Pass the Parcel

Tis the season to be jolly..fa la la la laaaa, laaa la la la!

It is certainly starting to feel like Christmas now and it makes me want to do really fun things.   Christmas is my absolute favourite as everyone is happy and everything is twinkly and sparkly.

At the weekend I went festive wreath making and I really enjoyed it. Thank you to my good friend Lois who bought me this activity as a treat.

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In other news,  a few of us were hosting a festive guild last week and we decided to bring back the party classic pass the parcel.

The premise being we wrap loads of cool prizes with questions and then press play on spotify Smile  

We wrapped:

  • Haribos (Veggie and none veggie)
  • Big ole bar of diary milk
  • 2 packs of planning poker cards
  • Barefoot everyday coaching cards
  • Turn the ship around book

The questions were themed around the Agile Guild and how we could make it better. They were:

  • What could we help you with, for you to be able to attend Agile Guild sessions?
  • Are the sessions too frequent?
  • Is there a better way we could communicate information on the Agile guild sessions out to you?
  • If you could choose a topic for a guild session in the new year, what would it be and why?
  • What can we do to make the Agile Guild better?

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To add more complexity my client is split across two sites and so we had to be really creative and have the same parcels in both locations and co-ordinate the music. It all got very rowdy, which is my favourite type of session.

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All in all everyone seemed to have fun, and who doesn’t like getting a prize Smile Thomas even said this was the best guild ever!

The fun didn’t stop there though.  We threw in an Agile quiz for good measures..even I struggled to answer some of the Scrum ones!  There was two questions in particular that made the group kick off and we had to cool their boots Smile  Maybe another guild session to answer those bad boys! I think it’s more to do with the phrasing than anything.

So a quick and simple idea that you can play with your teams that is different to the ‘normal’ retrospectives. You don’t have to have flashy prizes, simples sweet treats will do.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Team Canvas

I love building teams! I cannot lie…I have always had a passion for this and something I take great enjoyment in. It can be any team ranging from a guild, a chapter, leadership to development teams.  To me these are all little eco systems that have to be shaped to achieve the goals of the people and organisation. Kicking off teams correctly forms relationships and set the working agreements to help shape us.

Earlier this week I told you that I was hosting an ADM away day. Well I used this opportunity to run the canvas exercise once again.

What is the Canvas?


So how did I run this session?

So my thinking has really evolved in the last 6 months and I now run it completely different, but hey that’s evolution! I started off the team thinking about their individual values through  the Real Deal exercise I blogged about earlier in the week.

I then got them to think about what they bring to the team or super powers as I like to call it. Also what their aspirations are and who they most admire.  To make this easier for them I created a handy little template.

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I gave them a few moments to have a think about content and then I give them a time box to go around as many people in the group and share this knowledge.  This part gets really noisy and is super fun!

So by this point in the session they now know a good chunk of information about their fellow collaborators and have really started or deepened the team cohesion.

From here I used to take them to the purpose statement, but I found even the best teams struggled to do this straight away,  and so instead I ask the to brainstorm the values they want within the team.  Now …they will come up with many and so use techniques such as dot voting to pick the ones that are most pertinent.  I usually create this into a word cloud and include in the write up.

Next we brainstorm all of the goals we want to achieve. Simple brainstorming and de-duplication works well here. Remember they are goals and so the team needs to be able to measure them.

Then the purpose Smile By now they understand who they are, who the team are and what we want to achieve.  I find the old classic diverge and merge works well. I literally gave the 5 minutes per group per round.  Amazing what you can achieve in such a short time.


After a bit of final word shuffling..we had our purpose! Success!

Finally we moved onto the way we want to work.  You can facilitate this in a number of different ways but I have been favouring a good ole user story of late.  Let them know the problem statements and who we are serving and then let them decide for themselves how they want to work. Then set the terms of the experiment and give it a go!

All in all I can typically get teams to define this in 90 mins max. Usually 60 minutes if they are an existing group.

After this we then write up and make really visible to absolutely everyone. Sadly I cannot post a fully completed one, but here is the style I usually use to make it fun and engaging.


I typically get large posters of these printed  (£10) and get everyone in the same room together. If I am distributed I find the tool Miro works the best.  In fact, Miro is awesome for retros too! #notsponsored

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With anything, as a group you will need to evolve this overtime.

So I hope this has given you another tool to put in your box. Go out and experiment! If you can think of any other cools techniques to facilitate this session. Drop me a line.



The Real Deal–A Values Technique

72 Days till Christmas! My favourite time of the year

Last week I was helping my current client organise an away day for the ADM community. This was really important to me as it was the first time we had come together for a such thing. We finished off the event with some Axe throwing… which was epic!  I can really recommend it as a team building activity. Here are a few photos of the fun.

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I wanted to share with you a kick of exercise I completed. The history of this exercise dates from when I was working at AVIVA. It was one of those things I remember doing wondering what the hell was going on! It was not until many years later I realised the powerful value of this to teams. I have done this at many clients now and always get positive feedback and learn a little something along the way.

The exercise is called the Real Deal. It comprises of a deck of cards which each contains a word. You lay these cards out and ask each team member to pick 4 cards that represent things that are important to them at work. Card examples include things such as trust, autonomy, rewards etc.

You then ask them to each pick a deal breaker. This card represents the one thing that is most important to them and that if this thing is broken, then they effectively checkout.


Let me give you an example of mine:

  • Autonomy – I like the freedom to be able to innovate and get on with my work. I don’t need to be controlled or monitored. When I am no longer delivering value, I don’t hang out my contracts I leave. This is closely linked to my second choice.
  • Integrity – I have strong values in myself and my approach to work. I can only be myself.
  • Respect – For myself and others.
  • Learning – I like to continue to learn. If I am doing the same ole things over and over again, then I will lose interest.

My deal breaker has to be:

  • Fun – You spend so much time at work, when did have to be so serious?!? So I like fun, laughter, social events and spending real time with people getting to know them. This helps break down barriers, but can also help you make some friends for life.

As part of the exercise we discuss:

  • How will we know if your deal breaker has been breached? What will we see or hear?
  • What can we do to change this situation? What would you like to have happen?

I typically run this exercise with the whole group standing in a circle so we can give each other the full attention we deserve. At the end of each contribution I take the opportunity to thank them for sharing.

I find that this exercise helps to form teams by getting to know each other at a deeper level. Understanding each others core values will show how we are all in fact different and need to be treated and respected differently. Maybe someone needs more praise than others, maybe someone needs to feel more empowered than they currently are. The result being a more close knit and aware group of individuals.

So this is a really simple exercise that can support groups that need to work together for any goal.  You don’t need any fancy decks of cards, you could write these words on post it notes and achieve the same effects.

Surprisingly my values have changed very little over the last 7 years (since I first did this technique).  Fun has always been my deal breaker. Remember this the next time we meet

Why not give this a try and let me know your results.



Being A Product Owner

I know, I know..I promised not to leave it so long. Where do the days and months go!?!  Here are a few photos from things I have been up too.

Running Kanban University Train the Trainer Classes

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Running Conference sessions at London Lean Kanban Days (Soon to be at Agile Lean Brighton)

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Running Public Kanban Training Classes

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Coming up with Crazy Retros

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Attending more pure coaching Conferences (with my buddies)

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Starting an AWESOME new client

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And turning 40!!  What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…

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There is more, but I will spare you my full years history. Other amazing news – You might have seen that I have now achieved my Certified Enterprise Coach license through the Scrum Alliance. This was super exciting for me, but I will not lie and say it was easy. That Barefoot coaching course certainly came in handy there. Finally I made it on to the top 50 shortlist for the ‘Most Influential Woman in UK Tech’ for the third year running. I am honoured Smile I don’t need to win, the fact I am on it is enough for me.

Anyway, that’s enough about me.

A while ago I wrote a blog called ‘Being A ScrumMaster’ and it’s only now I have got round to thinking about ‘Being A Product Owner’!  Most of my blogs are sparked off by someone asking me something in a training class or with a client. This one came about because I was asked to present at a Product Owner Guild the role I thought Product Owners played. I obviously have my views but I wanted to take the opportunity to have a refresh on the Scrum Guide and see what they say. In my opinion it is rather lacking in detail, but understand it is up to the organisation to interpret this and do further study. I did validate my thinking with my good friends Mark Summers and John Barratt. John said he would score me an A- which I thought was a bit harsh!

As I like to share all my thinking with my lovely blog followers,  here is my work. Feel free to use this and share, but also tell me anything you think I am missing.

Your First Day, Week or Month!

Happy New Year everyone and apologies for not blogging in such a long time. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea where 2018 went!  It seemed to speed past so quickly..

I have been busy with a relatively new client and was due to be there a couple of days the other week when ‘The Boss’ called up proclaiming  ‘man flu’, and wanted me to support him on his Certified ScrumMaster Class. Now, I don’t really buy into ‘man flu’ but he was a pitiful sight to behold, and so went along to do some of the heavy lifting. It’s been a good few months since I last trained Scrum, but it all came flooding back to me Smile  It was while there that I got the inspiration for this blog. I met a man who was literally starting as a ScrumMaster 9am the day after the course, and he wanted to know what needed to be done in his first few days and weeks.   So I reeled off a few things for him to consider and then wrote him a nice poster with all the details on to take away. 

Things to think about

I have not heard from him since the class, but I am hoping everything has worked out for him!

I thought other people might be interested in this and so here I am blogging about it.  I have taken the liberty to expand on some of the points. I was going to make a mind map, but all the ones I tried would not let you export an image for free Sad smile 

Stage 1 (First few days and weeks)

    • Meet the team and get to know them and what they want to achieve. Agree regular 121’s to keep the conversations flowing.
    • If the team is already up and running, spend some time observing.
    • Organise a team building event. Encourage team members to get involved in the organisation.
    • Has the Team used Scrum or Kanban before? Do they need to have some sort of training?
    • Meet the Product Owner. Get to know them, their history and what they want to achieve. Discuss both of your roles and what you expect from each other. Discuss what to do if you do not agree with each other.
    • Discuss the product with the Product Owner. Understand the Vision, roadmap, commitments, issues and risks.
    • Review the Product Backlog. If it does not exist, we need to help facilitate creating one. Do we need to complete user story mapping?
    • Set up regular sessions with the PO to keep collaborating. Encourage them to sit with the team.
    • Does the team sit together? If not organise this. Ensure that the team has either a TV or visual board.
    • Create an initial board to start putting work on. This can be refactored as you get the team up and running.
    • How does the team store information? If some form of wiki, SharePoint or other doesn’t exist. Think about creating one (after discussion with the team)
    • Facilitate getting a team Definition of Done.
    • Set up Sprint or Cadence structure in diaries. Plan for more refinement sessions if the team has to create the backlog from scratch.
    • Set up a holiday chart and make visible in the team space.

Stage 2 (Coming weeks and months)

    • Understand ‘other’ teams, people or third parties we might have dependencies with. Meet these people and agree ways of working.
    • Create a stakeholder map and plot all of the key people on. Plan how you can meet all of these people.
    • Understand Staff Liquidity. Implement knowledge share as needed.
    • If using Scrum, think about creating calibration stories for referring to in estimation sessions.
    • Set up team metrics (CFD, Burnup, Burndown, Lead time Distribution, Defect ratio, Waste, Work in progress, Net flow, Live status, Bugs, time to deploy, % automation, % fails of automation, build times, ticket age, throughput rates.
    • Consider if we need to create ‘End of sprint one page’ report for stakeholders.
    • Refactor the Board. Think about how to visualise: Blockers, Avatars, waiting, dependencies, issues and risks, different types of work, expedites, defects, WIP limits, capacity allocations, abandoned work, external teams collaborating with you (to name a few)
    • What engineering practices do we need to consider and implement? Understand what is done now and work with the team to define where we want to be.
    • Understand what the release process is, and the frequency of this. If people are involved outside of the team. Become their friend!
    • Understand current state of play for : Tooling, environments, levels of automation, CI/CD strategy, testing strategy, Source control, coding standards, online tool such as VSTS or JIRA.
    • Work with the Product Owner to create a Release Plan and any metrics they need to help manage flow of stories, value and delivery.

I am sure there are things missing and so feel free to leave comments for other people to get the benefit of your knowledge as well. I can then add them in for an AWESOME list!

I will try and not leave it as long next time.

To quote Jerry Springer ‘Look after yourself, and each other’