Quotes from Ben Linders: an Independent Consultant in Agile, Lean, Quality, and Continuous Improvement, based in The Netherlands. Author of Getting Value out of Agile RetrospectivesWaardevolle Agile RetrospectivesWhat Drives Quality, Problem? What Problem? and Continuous Improvement. Creator of the Agile Self-assessment Game.

General Quotes

Agile is a journey. Don’t pack too much, travel light and be flexible!

No time to improve? Do it anyway – no time to waste!

When I say that the team knows best how to do their work, I mean the whole team including the Scrum Master and Product Owner

Results matter. When working in an agile way, focus on outcome and value, not on output and cost.

Agile isn’t binary, and you’re never finished. Keep on working on your agility, every step on your agile journey matters!

Imposing change on people isn’t just ineffective, it’s also unethical and inhuman.

Work on the conditions to establish an environment where people feel safe to try out new things using the strengths that they already possess.

Quality is not just about how the code is written, it is closely related to the process used to develop the product.

Quotes from Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives #RetroValue

cover-getting-value-out-of-agile-retrospectivesMy first successful book Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives: A Toolbox of Retrospective Exercises is available in paperback on Amazon and many on-line book stores. You can download the eBook at InfoQ and Leanpub. The translated editions are available in my books. The book is bundled in Great Agile Retrospective BooksAgile Practices and Tips, and Books by Ben Linders.

Before starting a retrospective, you need to think about which exercises would be most suitable.

With agile retrospectives, teams drive their own actions!

Getting feasible actions out of a retrospective and getting them done helps teams to learn and improve.

The goal of retrospectives is helping teams to continuously improve their way of working.

Agile retrospectives give the power to the team, where it belongs!

Agile retrospectives are a great way to continuously improve the way of working.

Retrospectives can make your organization faster, more efficient and innovative.

We need to uncover better ways to improve and retrospectives can provide the solution

Quotes from What Drives Quality #DriveQuality

I published my second book in September 2017. What Drives Quality explores how quality plays a role in all of the software development phases, it takes a deep dive into quality by listing the relevant factors of development activities that drive the quality of products. This book provides a lean approach to quality, which analyses the full development chain from customer request to delivering products.

If the quality of a software product is insufficient according to the users then they will not use it If customers or stakeholders do not get enough value from the product, then they will not buy or support it.

Forcing people to live up to what they have committed to has high quality risks. Under stress, people tend to make more mistakes and take shortcuts, which results in products with insufficient quality.

Defining all requirements up front is challenging and often impossible, unless the product is very small. Striving toward completeness is a waste of time.

My advice is to find out and verify what needs to be delivered first. I usually ask the stakeholders the question “What do we need now?”

The Definition of Ready (DoR) is not intended as a sign-off, hand-over, or phase check for requirements. As any agile practice, it should be done in an “agile way”.

You don’t need to have a commitment on everything in the backlog for developing products. It is unfeasible, too expensive and takes too long to get.

Commitment does matter and can work in many situations but it also tends to put pressure on teams which can lead to non-intended effects.

It is essential to have frequent in-depth communication between development teams and the product owners or managers and (future) users about what the software should do to ensure that the right products are developed.

I consider the “Definition of Done” in agile to be a process. It is the way that teams agree to work together to deliver value.

Roadmaps created by multidisciplinary teams often have higher quality. Having people with different views who collaborate and challenge each other’s thoughts leads to fresh and better ideas for products.

Quotes from The Agile Self-assessment Game #AssessAgility

This book explores The Agile Self-assessment Game, a card game that I created and that is now played by teams all over the world. Teams use it to reflect on their own interworking and to agree upon the next steps for their agile journey.
I’m aiming this book at Scrum masters, agile coaches, consultants leading agile transformations, developers and testers, project managers, line managers, and CxOs; basically for anyone who is looking for an effective way to help their agile teams improve and increase the agility of their organization.

The values and principles from the manifesto for agile software development state that you have to find your own way, by reflecting how you are doing and finding out where you need to improve.

With agile self-assessments, teams are free to decide what to do and how to do it. Neither the assessment nor the results are imposed on the team.

Gamification is a great way to engage and involve people.

Where many games have winners and losers, I prefer to play games in such a way that people don’t feel like they have “lost the game”. For me winning is not the main objective to have people play games, it’s sharing and initiating change that I aim at.

Agile coaches use self-assessments in agile transformations to guide teams and help them learn about agile to find their own way.

Agile teams use self-assessments to find out how well they are performing.

Agile methods and frameworks like Scrum, Kanban, SAFe or Less, don’t tell you how to increase your agility.

Gamification focuses on the intended outcome and the results, where games give attention to the rules and the processes.

People like to play games, it brings out their natural desires to socialize, self-express, and collaborate.

You can play the Agile Self-assessment Game in your retrospective to guide your agile journey and increase agility.

If you want to monitor how your team(s) are improving, then health checks can be a very powerful tool.

Teams can ask their stakeholders to join the game so that they can decide together and get their support and commitment where needed.

Agile is not a destination, it’s a journey of questioning, exploring, and sharing ideas, in order to uncover better ways of developing software.

Teams can play the Agile Self-assessment Game as a sailboat futurespective to find ways toward their goals before they take off.

The role of the Angel’s Advocates is to explicitly react positively to ideas, thus rewarding the submitter for her/his contribution.

Agile Self-assessments help teams to see where they are to decide on the next steps to increase their agility.

Quotes from Problem? What Problem?

This is the first book specifically about dealing with impediments using agile thinking with problem-solving practices. In this book, I explain why dealing with impediments matters and provide approaches to deal effectively with impediments in teams and beyond the teams. I’m also sharing experience stories from my work as a team member, Scrum master, project leader, consultant, coach, adviser, and trainer.
This is a practical book with many techniques and ideas to apply in your specific situations. It aims to support professionals that want to improve their impediment handling skills.

Impediments need to be dealt with. This can be hard. Having the right skills and applying them using suitable practices can make a significant difference.

Many things cause impediments. To solve impediments you can explore the root causes. For instance, if your technical debt is increasing, architects and developers can investigate what is causing it to grow and what is blocking people from reducing it.

Over the years I have learned that handling impediments is a key value for all teams and organizations to increase their agility. Regardless of the methods or frameworks used or how it’s called, problem-solving is an essential skill for all employees.

Having the authority to decide comes with a responsibility; agile teams are responsible for doing their work in the best possible way, and should always be on the lookout for things to improve their way of working.

My advice to managers is to not solve problems for teams, but instead, be available and offer help. Leave it up to the team to decide how they want to solve their problems.

Scrum masters shouldn’t be the ones removing all impediments. Team members themselves should solve problems, instead of having their Scrum master do it for them. This enables self-organization throughout the whole team.

Team members can reach out to the Scrum master for help, but they shouldn’t depend on the Scrum master for solving impediments.

I strongly argue against discussing team problems in the sprint review. Product reviews are there for teams to get feedback, not to report. Information should be transparent and accessible at all times. You don’t need meetings to share information.

Raising impediments to the level where they can be dealt with effectively makes sense. Not all impediments need to be raised. Allow teams to solve those that they can solve themselves. Teams can also work together to solve an impediment, supported (but not directed) by managers.

Invest time in deeply understanding the impediment before taking action to solve it. Once you really know what is happening it becomes much easier to do something about it.

Facilitators guide people through their problem-solving process. When people jump into action too soon, the facilitator can reflect on this to them and check if they know enough about the problem before starting to look for solutions.

Create a culture where people listen to people and where their concerns are seriously considered. Use their feedback to improve the team’s solution, or to look for a better one.

Managers should stand with people when things go wrong. Even if you expect that something will fail, as a manager it’s better to support people to try out their ideas for themselves and get better in what they are doing by learning from their own experience.

Take the first step of your improvement journey today. Pick one thing that you feel you can do better, do it, and improve it.

Self-organizing agile teams prefer to take action themselves. They do not rely on managers telling them what to do or how to do their work.

When organizations structure into product-based end-to-end teams this often increases their capabilities to handle impediments effectively.

Prevent impediments from becoming accepted as the norm. True agile teams have zero tolerance for impediments and they focus on continuous improvement for the future, not just on getting things done now.

It makes sense to devote plenty of time to recognizing and understanding the impediments. A good shared understanding of impediments often makes it easier and cheaper to come up with solutions and get actions done.

It is key to establish a collaborative culture during the whole process of spotting and analyzing impediments, and coming up with solutions and deciding on the answers. If needed, make sure that there’s an independent facilitator who can guide the people involved through the process steps.

Quotes from Continuous Improvement #ContinuousImprovement

This book makes you aware of the importance of Continuous Improvement, explores how it is engrained in agile, and provides suggestions that Scrum masters, agile coaches, well everybody, can use in their daily work to improve continuously and increase team and organizational agility.
This is a book about continuous improvement in agile software development. Continuous improvement is what makes agile work. It’s at the heart of agile, whether you use Scrum, Kanban or any other agile framework.

Continuous improvement is a mindset and a way of working where people always look for ways to do things better.

Continuous improvement is what makes agile work. It’s at the heart of agile.

It’s not being, but becoming Agile and Lean that brings you benefits. The continuous improvement journey is more important than reaching the destination.

If you want to get quicker benefits, my advice is to use what is there already, and start your journey today!

More Quotes

You can also find some of my quotes on Wise Famous Quotes, Goodreads, Agile Scrum Group, Best Scrum Quotes, and 10 SUPER CRACKER quotes on agile change management.

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 Ben Linders

 Ben Linders Consulting

Icons-mini-icon_home  Tilburg, The Netherlands