Andrea Provaglio

Strategic IT Consultant, Agile Transformation Coach

I help IT organizations to implement better ways of doing business; and I coach executives, managers and teams who want to improve technically and relationally.

My main focus is on helping companies to transition to organizational and cultural models that are better suited to the kind of knowledge work that’s so typical of software development — which includes, but it’s not limited to, Agile and Lean.

In over 20 years of professional experience, I had clients in three different continents and I worked with organizations ranging from the United Nations to small and dynamic IT companies.

Currently I work in Europe. I’ve also worked in the USA on a O-1 visa for “extraordinary abilities in Sciences”.

As part of my regular activities, I enjoy sharing what I know by speaking at major international conferences.

WORKSHOP: “Agile Leadership and Self-organization”

Keywords: agile, teams, leadership, self-organization, cynefin, culture-change

As Ken Schwaber, co-creator of Scrum, blogged back in 2011:
“Scrum without self-organization and empowerment is a death march, just like waterfall, but an iterative, incremental death march without slack”.

So team empowerment – and therefore a modern approach to leadership – is key for a beneficial adoption of the Agile principles and practices.

That’s even more important if we consider that, still today, many organizations moving into Agile — and even some of its practitioners — focus much more on the “Processes and Tools” part of the Agile Manifesto values, rather than on the “Individuals and Interactions” one.

This workshop is intended to bring more balance into the equation and to help people get closer to the Agile values of self-managing, self-organizing and empowerment.

However, self-organization is an elusive concept (how can we organize something that is supposed to organize itself?) which has profound business and organizational implications.

It taps into the collective intelligence of the team, so that people can come up with better solutions in a shorter time; it distributes control, to avoid decisional bottlenecks and let the project move faster; it relies on the socio-relational skills of the team, but it also relies on transparency, clear processes and shared goals to define the boundaries of delegation; and the greater autonomy promotes engagement and team learning.

Agile leaders who really understand these dynamics will provide the necessary support and resources; they will offer guidance and help define a shared goal by talking more about the “why”and the “what”, and less about the “what” and “how” of the goal should be achieved; and they will be able to create an ecosystem where the business advantage of effective self-organization can manifest spontaneously.

To reap the full benefits of Agile and Lean you need to understand these subtle dynamics and be able to implement them effectively in your organization.

Information for Program Team:
This is a shorter version of the full-day Leadership and Self-organization workshop that I’ve been presenting and refining for the last three years. For this half-day version, I decided to focus primarily on the different ways to approach leadership to support self-organization as well as the team’s responsibilities.

Maximum number of attendees
I can easily handle up to 50 participants. The only real constraint is the size and layout of the room, since people will need to have enough space to walk freely among the tables and to create different groups for the practice.
However, the ideal size of the group, for people to get the most out of the interactions, is between 7 and 21.

How the workshop will be conducted
This is an experiential workshop where people will participate and interact, with as little frontal training as possible.
The workshop lies on the paradox of leading a workshop that’s suppose to teach people how to lead themselves.
I therefore decided to facilitate it not only by explaining self-organization, but by making that happen during the workshop. I also frequently ask the attendees to pay attention to and than discuss what I do to promote a self-organizing environment.
This is a form of meta-learning which is on top of the direct learning they receive from short lectures and practical activities.
I don’t do games in this context, because I want people to have a direct involvement in the learning activities, not mediated by the level of abstraction provided by a role game.
People will however be involved in discussions and activities, explaining to each other their learning and in creating their own training artifacts during the exercises.
I don’t use slides in this case. I will create a few posters on the fly (on flip charts) and more will be created by the attendees as exploratory or consolidation exercises.

Main Topics

  • The business case for self-organization
  • Self-organization fundamentals: transparency and trust
  • Seeding a local culture: working agreements and visualization tools
  • A leader’s systemic view of self-organizing teams
  • Feedback loops in self-organizing teams: Inspect and Adapt
  • Managers as leaders, facilitators and enablers
  • Promoting engagement through autonomy and mastery
  • The mechanisms for safe and effective delegation
  • Diversity as a success factor for smarter teams
  • Positioning leaders at the proper guidance level

Room Setup

It’s critical that the room has tables that can easily moved around and that provides some extra space for stand-up activities.
The tables will be arranged in a cabaret setup with groups of 5-7 people at each table.
Each table will need to have its own flip chart, markers and possibly sticky notes. I will need one extra flip chart (two would be nicer) for myself, to present some of the contents.
A projector is useful but not mandatory. If available, I’ll use it mainly to project a countdown timer for the exercise sessions, or for sharing some extra information.

Prerequisite Knowledge:
This is an advanced subject. Direct, professional experience and involvement in an Agile software development project is required to appreciate the concepts presented and to contribute to the practical exercises.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Learn the principles of self-management, leadership, complexity, trust, empowerment, motivation, personal responsibility
  • Create a learning environment where knowledge is shared, and reduce the risk of operational bottlenecks
  • Promote alignment to the organization’s business goals and get more focus on the most valuable activities
  • Leverage diversity (gender, nationality, background, personality, etc.) to create smarter and more efficient teams
  • Learn practical activities to create and sustain a self-organizing ecosystem on the workplace Increase the productivity of your teams by greater participation and simpler decision-making processes

Тема доповіді: “Value”
A voyage into the multidimensional, systemic and subjective nature of Value in software development, with the intent of providing ways to create a shared understanding of what’s “valuable” for all stakeholders.

Тези доповіді:
In Agile we like to deliver valuable software to our customers on a regular basis. However, while it’s pretty clear what “software” means, we cannot really say the same about “valuable”. The definition of Value in a project (with an uppercase “V”) is frequently fuzzy and confused.

Even within the same project, asking different stakeholders what Value means to them produces different answers; and the same stakeholder will likely provide different definitions of Value, depending on their perception and role in the project.

Most stakeholders will naturally associate Value to money, sometimes through surprisingly creative correlations; but there are other dimensions, equally valid, such as strategic positioning, company image, innovation and learning, and so forth.

Understanding the multidimensional nature of Value becomes therefore critical to drive the project to success.

However, the traditional approach to defining value stems either from a financial mindset or from and engineering mindset, and both may turn out to be incomplete or inadequate to address the complexity of the Agile projects we face and of the ecosystem in which they exist.

In this talk we’ll address what Value means in Agile for different stakeholders; how to map and categorize the stakeholders; how to describe Value on different dimension and how to track it; how to bring system awareness to your project’s definition of value. We’ll also see what happens when we don’t do that.

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