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Todd Lankford

And what I write about on Medium.

About me — Todd Lankford
About me — Todd Lankford

My top posts

On Medium, I am the Editor and Writer for Serious Scrum and Simply Agile, Writer for The Startup, and a Medium Top Writer in Leadership and Productivity categories. I have written over 90 experience-based articles on Agile, Leadership, Product Management, and Productivity.

Get a flavor for what I write about in my most popular posts below.

  1. The Best Metric for Your Product Team
  2. How transparency can kill productivity in Agile teams
  3. Nine Proven Ways to Make Your Scrum Team Hyper-productive
  4. We Need Managers to Become Agile Leaders
  5. The 9 stances of terrible Scrum…

Photo by patricia serna on Unsplash
Play the audio above to listen to the post as read by the author

A few weeks back, I had a conversation with a peer coach who was introduced to me. As we chatted, we discussed several aspects of coaching. At one point, he asked me a question that has proven difficult for me to answer.

Well, to clarify, I gave an immediate answer, but I have since changed my mind about it. The question has been weighing heavy on my mind for the past few weeks. I keep coming back to it. …

Managers can find an important place in Scrum and Agile.

But you would not know it by reading The Scrum Guide or the Agile Manifesto. Neither mentions “manager” even once. And if you expand your search, you will not find much help — we have left managers behind when it comes to Scrum and Agile.

Managers are key for Agile adoption and momentum
Managers are key for Agile adoption and momentum
Managers are key for Agile adoption and momentum — Image by ar130405 from Pixabay

Without any guidance to follow, managers hold tight to what they know. And what they know is often rooted in traditional behaviors of predictive control. Their reliance on plans, status, standards, and control cripple the Agile mindset.

What often results is the “frozen middle.” Middle…

The outcome of high-value Agile coaching — Photo by Lino Ogenio on Unsplash

I recently received this inquiry: “What value have you provided as our Agile coach? How many teams have you touched?” My first reaction was, “…[gulp]…” A clear answer was not forthcoming.

I had been deep into coaching a product area for five months. In this time, I focused on three Scrum teams and a management team in their Agile journey.

There were at least thirty teams on the coaching backlog across the organization. Looking at the small number of teams I had coached so far, my value was negligible if looking only at the numbers. Ten percent progress falls flat.

The 9 stances of terrible Scrum Masters
The 9 stances of terrible Scrum Masters
#6 — The watermelon-syndrome Scrum Master. Photo by Hkyu Wu on Unsplash

Can the Scrum Master accountability be any more misguided, misinterpreted, and misapplied?

“We have to get our points.”

“That’s not what the Scrum Guide says. See, it’s called the Daily Scrum, not a standup.”

“We have no choice; we’re part of the system. It’s the way we do things here.”

“Team, you need to have a stretch goal this Sprint.”

“I don’t know what the team is working on.”

“We need to get good at output before we focus on outcome.”

“Even though the developers are not speaking up, I can speak for them. They can do it. …

With all the misguided attempts at Agile and Scrum flying around, it’s easy to fall into the same common traps.

To capture true value from Scrum, you must modify your organization to fit Scrum rather than modify Scrum to fit your organization. Read that again. Most do the latter and wonder why Scrum doesn’t work.

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

If you are an Agile Leader, you must support your teams. To do this, you will need to change long-held beliefs in your organization running contrary to the Agile mindset. And trust me here, you will find many of these.

Watered-down Scrum results by not…

I hear many reasons for not facing change head-on.

But every once in a while there is a bright spot. Out of the blue, someone asks for help in taking a vulnerable step into the unknown. One recent example stands out.

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

To me, a director said, “We would like to build safety for our teams to feel comfortable raising problems. Can you help us with this?”

In my mind, I thought, “What? Wow! Did you say what I thought you said?” With enthusiasm, I replied, “Yes, I can. When do you want to start?”

I’m sure you have heard how…

I had tried everything in my coaching arsenal to no avail.

My team started its journey in January of this year. The team now has several Sprints under its belt. One behavior has been difficult to adopt: achieving focus and flow.

Photo by Todd Lankford: A Coach Calling for Help

It feels great when I make a compelling argument that convinces others to try a new way of working. But all the methods I tried were falling flat with this team.

How I tried to sell my team on focus and flow

My team started its journey by attending Agile and Scrum training. Following the general training was team formation, chartering, and deep-dive training exercises. …

The perfect way to start your Scrum journey
The perfect way to start your Scrum journey
Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash
Click above to listen to the post as read by the author

Procrastination. Everyone does it, and falling in love with creating the perfect plan is often the culprit.

For instance, I spent two days thinking about how to write this post instead of simply taking action. I deliberated on the title, planned points to cover, and thought through arguments. And this cycle continued as I researched and built my writing plan of attack.

Most of my delay tactics result from being afraid of writing something that sucks. I fear my post will not resonate and will fall flat. …

Photo by Melani Sosa on Unsplash

When I was in school, I never got an “A” for messing up and breaking the rules.

This drove me to cautious behavior. I was fearful of trying anything extreme that would tarnish my report card. I — like everyone else I knew — played it safe and did what would get me a good grade and little else.

This “playing it safe” behavior continues for most of us as we enter the workforce. My chosen profession as an Agile coach puts me face-to-face with it daily. …

Todd Lankford

I help organizations simplify their Agile journey by building cultures to emerge better products.

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