Thursday, 27 September 2018

Boxing - Scrum analogy

On 22 Sep Anthony Joshua (AJ) had to defend his heavyweight champion titles against Alexander Povetkin. I decided to watch the fight, and analyze it from Agile mindset and Scrum perspective, and the crazy analogy follows:

Pre-fight / Release planning
Joshua have planned to defend his titles and advance his career by defeating Povetkin. He adjusted the training by prolonging his sleep time, scrapped the early-morning runs and started doing coordination exercises (eyes and movement). The other side of his training was focusing on heavy sparring sessions, he did over 200 rounds in eight weeks.

Povetkin has also planned for victory. Together with his team he planned a couple of training camps. A released video footage captured him hitting the punch-bag barehanded and doing pull-ups in a sturdy and decisive manner.

Round one / Sprint one
Back to the fight, Joshua started cautiously, pacing himself and was more on the defensive to probe and study the opponent’s strategy.

Povetkin’s goal for the round was different. He started strong, trying to get into close fights as much as he could and by the end of the round managed to catch Joshua with a great uppercut-hook combo, shaking his opponent backwards with a bleeding nose.

The sprint one goal was achieved by Povetkin, while Joshua left the round damaged.

Round two / Sprint two
Joshua seemed uncomfortable starting round 2. His opponent proved dangerous and managed to hurt him. Joshua was up to a stabilization and not letting the opponent do more damage.

Povetkin, encouraged by the sight of his hurt opponent, was going forward with explosive attacks, looking to do more damage and finish the job.

Although Povetkin won the score in round two, his sprint goal failed, as he didn’t manage to establish significant supremacy and deliver more punishment. On the other side, Joshua managed to stabilize and adequately defended himself.

Round three / Sprint three
There was a slow but confident start by Joshua. He was still more on the defensive but looking to punish every mistake of his opponent. After the mid round/sprint he got more aggressive and attacked with speed and precision.

Povetkin seemed to be discouraged. He tried hard but couldn’t find a way to do more damage and establish leadership. He couldn’t dominate and seemed a little tired, also lost in score.

Joshua sprint’s goal to come back strong and decisive was completed.

Round four / Sprint four
Joshua damaged nose was in control, his speed and movement regained. He managed to inflict a cut over Povetkin’s eye.

Povetkin felt desperate by his initial strategy failing, although he did not give up on going forward and looking for a close fight.

Sprint goal to slowly establish control completed by Joshua.

Round five / Sprint five
Joshua was getting more and more confident, his jab was finding the target’s body more often, and as annoying it could be, it exhausted Povetkin.

Povetkin seemed to try again sneaking in for a close fight, but unsuccessfully.

Joshua’s sprint goal for range dominance achieved.

Round six / Sprint six
Joshua managed to establish the desired tempo. His straight punches find the opponent’s head and body more often.

Povetkin seemed to be out of gas and was just accepting his opponent’s rhythm and style, which was devastating for his game plan. His guard was down more often.

Sprint goal completed for Joshua leading the tempo and the rhythm.

Round seven / Sprint seven + demo
Joshua started strong, attacking and probing his opponent for closure. At the middle of the round/sprint his cross found Povetkin’s chin. The Russian has been staggered and with a quick combo Joshua put him down.

Povetkin was slow and exhausted by Joshua’s never-ending precise jabs. His guard slipped and a heavy cross got him staggered. And… it was just a matter of seconds for him to go down for good and lose.

Sprint and release goal completed successfully by Joshua.

Post-fight / Review and Retrospective
Joshua’s demonstrated his cheerful and relaxing attitude over the press-conference. Confident, humble, respectful and grateful to his team effort. He shared lessons learned and retrospected on his boxing journey so far. Joshua revealed his ambitions and plans of becoming a boxing legend.

Povetkin was devastated by the lost but remained humble and respectful to the opponent.

And just like in software development, the more sprint goals achieved the more of the ‘big picture’ is completed successfully. In this fight it was AJ who managed to inspect and adapt, after a slow and cautious start and achieve the ultimate victory.
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Friday, 14 September 2018

Agile and Scrum training for the future generation

Renovated building, infrastructure, completely refurnished and equipped with modern hardware. Welcome to the new Professional High School for Computer Programming and Innovations in Burgas.

Myself and Smilen were commissioned to deliver Agile and Scrum training for 120 fresh students.

It was intensive, but engaging and we all had a lot of fun. We presented very little, mainly about Scrum values and how we use them @EPAM and our teams. The main event was a workshop to encourage the students to use the Scrum framework and produce real value and products in a couple of short sprints.

Let the pictures speak

Monday, 27 August 2018

Interview with me @EPAM

 (image by EPAM Bulgaria)

Recently EPAM’s InfoPortal published my interview about the most recent training ‘Mastering ScrumMastering’, and hopefully it would be useful for all of you who wish to develop as trainers.

Simeon Kisyov have successfully delivered several training sessions on Scrum in Sofia. Today, he shares the ‘backstage’ of a trainer’s activity, the secrets to delivering a good training, and plans for the future.

EPAM: What was the reason behind your wish to contribute as a trainer?
Simeon: That’s what I do. I love conducting trainings and delivering talks, sharing experience and inventing amazing games and challenges so that participants can learn and grow quickly while having fun. Supporting people to get out of their comfort zone feels great.

EPAM: What training have you already conducted?
Simeon: I’ve delivered ‘Agile and Scrum Foundations,’ ‘Mastering ScrumMastering’ in a series of trainings, a couple of talks, e.g. ‘Self-organizing teams’, ‘Empower your decisions,’ and a lot of other 'Agile training' events. Some of those we developed together with Bogoy Bogdanov.

EPAM: What was the most challenging thing for you while preparing trainings at EPAM?
Simeon: Innovation is always a challenge. I ask myself, ‘If I am to attend the training, what would keep me interested in it, what would be the ‘wow’ moments to keep me engaged and hungry for more, what would be useful to practice, without being boring.’ Based on these, I develop games, talks, presentations, and practice sessions, keeping in mind the mantra: ‘Engage with the audience to influence a change.’

EPAM: What to your mind is the most interesting during your training sessions?
Simeon: Most of the games were fun. Probably the ‘out of the box thinking’ game ‘Still picture’ when we all used our bodies to create and evolve pictures. Very creative and cool scenes we got there.

EPAM: What changes have happened in your daily activities/personality after training conducting?
Simeon: Surprisingly, I had to cover the Product Owner role in the team for some time. (laughing)

EPAM: Your training has very good feedback from participants. What’s your personal secret for good training? How do you create a high-quality educational event?
Simeon: Innovation, a lot of practice and always sticking to ‘Deliver value in an easy-to-understand/practice and interesting way.’ The formula is useful + interesting(fun) = valuable.

EPAM: What inspires you for daily work and conducting trainings?
Simeon: I love sharing knowledge and experience and helping others growing.

EPAM: What would you recommend to trainers preparing their first training event?
Simeon: Delivery is everything (not materials, neither expertise, nor even the content). You have to inspire and keep it on emotional level to engage. Don’t copy anybody else style/materials/games. Try to come up with ‘your stuff’, delivered in ‘your way.’ We all value authenticity and passion more, compared to conservative (just logical) sharing of information.

EPAM: Do you plan to create new training sessions soon? What topics are you going to cover?
Simeon: There is demand for ‘Agile Scaling in Software Development’ and ‘Product Owner advanced’ we will cover soon.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Mastering ScrumMastering

‘I am playing a bear attacking ‘poor Tsanko’ (while he is pretending scared), Georgi is a hunter to hunt the bear. The rest of the trainees improvise on different roles: a pickpocketer is trying to rob Tsanko at the same time and another tourist is taking photo of us to complete the picture… It’s all part of the improv ‘Still picture’ game, included in the ‘Thinking outside of the box module’… and we had so much fun, creating scene after scene, after scene…’

It’s been amazing six weeks. Together with Bogoy Bogdanov we delivered ‘Mastering ScrumMastering’ training @EPAM BG

The training (in workshop format only) is complete focused on improving the skills of the participants and consists of 95% practice to 5% theory. No lectures, no ppts, no long and boring talks – just gamified challenges to improve skills in the following areas:
  • Communication
  • Coaching & Mentoring
  • Agile team dynamics
  • Delivering talks

Our main goal was to innovate a training encouraging everybody to practice:
  • Body language & paraverbal communication
  • Soft skills, building emotional connection & rapport
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Organizing Scrum events and ensure they run smoothly + facilitation skills
  • Removing impediments efficiently
  • Influencing decisions
  • Presentation skills + teaching techniques (engage the audience)
  • Creativity and thinking outside of the box

Each training day, a different topic was covered:
  • Starting a new team & persuasion
  • Coaching. One-to-One coaching
  • Team level coaching & mentoring (Daily standup)
  • Team level coaching & mentoring (Scrum events)
  • Talks: deliver to engage
  • Improvisation in Agile (Thinking outside the box)

And it worked amazingly well. The participants outdone themselves, had a lot of fun, and performed on top of their abilities in each session.

The feedback was also very positive (hopefully we would be able to share the video feedback too):
  • 'Fun, engaging, different points of view, a lot of practice'       
  • 'Very interactive, full of funny moments, very dynamic & interesting approach'
  • 'We covered different topics but not strictly following a traditional way of training. We were put into different situations, where we had the chance to challenge ourselves and improvise'

To enjoy more pictures check the EPAM post.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Begin with the end in mind… shall we?

So, we’ve been reviewing the ‘Agile thinking’ training, together with my friend and lead trainer Jonathan Moss and we jumped into a short philosophical discussion.

At the beginning the training itself teaches that in Agile thinking we should:
1. ‘Begin with the end in mind’ (a well know ‘habit of highly effective people’)
2. ‘Understand the context’

My challenge to Jonathan was, that both of those could be wrongly interpreted by the trainees. The point is - when we adopt Agile mindset and values, we rarely think about the end, I would even argue that there is no end at all. The beauty of our mindset is that we only need a vision and short-term goals in order to deliver value, again, and again, and again. We start seeing our products, services, achievements, even our life goals as a journey, and not as a destination anymore... gotcha, there is no end anymore. Yes, we agree we have a long-term vision. And that’s it – more we see as a waste, as a subject to a change in the future anyway… so why bother?

On the opposite we have the visualization techniques and principles, which are indeed extremely powerful.
First you need to imagine your dream -> (then) visualize it in details -> believe in it -> work your a** off – in order to achieve it
Conor McGregor’s achievements are great example of how far such thinking & believing could lead you in life:

Bending the reality, objecting the facts, trying to tame the Universe so it obeys and supports us in achieving our dreams in details are indeed amazing, extraordinary and powerful tools and mindset…  But those could also lead to a life dedicated to chasing illusions…

And as Agile-thinking-monkeys, most of us are a little bit more practical. We know that ‘Only the ladder is real… the climb is all there is :)’ (by Petyr Baelish's Chaos is a ladder)… And so often we are fine, to bend our dreams, our products, even change our vision in order to deliver value and satisfy our users and clients – here and now. And it is something to be clearly communicated over the ‘Agile thinking’ training. We don’t expect to visualize/understand/know ‘the end’ in our mind in order to start delivering value and get feedback…

Pretty much the same goes to the ‘understanding the context’ principle. We do not expect to understand everything, or even the majority of the surrounding area (the context). We only need to understand the context for the next iteration (step), to work our way through the darkness, just to illuminate more and more of the context with each delivery and feedback.