Monday, 28 January 2019

Agile trainings and coaching @EPAM Czech Republic

Prague, ‘the City of 100 Spires’. I and Bogi were invited to deliver Agile related trainings and coaching for EPAM Czech Republic. ‘Agile thinking’, ‘Self-organizing teams’ and ‘Product Owner basics’ trainings, along with coaching on different topics were requested. Unfortunately, our stay in Prague clashed with the coldest Jan days and the freezing wind, impeding any tourist-wanna-be attempts. Nevertheless, the experience with the Czech Agile enthusiasts was great enough to compensate for the impolite weather.

(photos courtesy of EPAM)

Agile thinking

Our opening show was ‘Agile thinking’ delivered in two consecutive days. It covers all the stuff needed to adopt the mindset, the values and the principles. We went through all the advantages of being adaptable, nimble and improvements hungry. Covered the difference between vision and goal. Experienced setting a goal, understanding the context and delivering in iterations to get continuous feedback as soon as possible. In the end we briefly covered Scrum and the incorrect implementation when the thinking & beliefs (mindset and values) are missing or not adopted

Self-organizing teams

Designed as a half-a-day experience we let the audience self-organize and self-manage ‘in order to save the Earth’. It was a brilliant-gamified event in which the participants went through different stages, experiencing the depth and dynamics of self-organization, and created efficient and performing team(s). The journey, I am certain, none of the participants will ever forget - the common goal, the consistent endeavor, the stages, the challenges, the learning and the overall performance. The audience was mesmerized and totally engaged from the first minute until the very end.

Product Owner basics

It was the cherry on the cake. We concluded our ‘trainings sprint’, delivering for the current and future ‘business folks’, who would like to challenge themselves and become great product owners. Covering the role, the mindset, and the skill set, the participants took part in consistent gamified events, and practiced ‘gathering info from the stakeholders’, ‘creating artifacts’, ‘presenting to and refining the backlog items with the development team,’ and ‘reviewing the completed/incomplete work over a comprehensive review with multiple scenarios’.

During our visit, we were dragged into interesting conversations and coached the fellow colleagues into topics like ‘advanced Scrum-mastering’, ‘how to adopt Agile with Waterfall mindset clients’, ‘what is the role of the manager in Agile environment’, etc…

Exhausted, and happy we landed at SOF airport at the last day of our trip, recalling the amazing moments and feeling grateful for the whole experience. Thank you EPAM Prague!
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Monday, 31 December 2018

'Agile thinking' training

It's been an amazing year. Myself and Bogi prepared, polished and delivered a great number of talks, trainings and events @EPAM. We ran sessions on Agile, Scrum, Public speaking, Creative thinking, Soft skills and more. Over December we ran a couple of sessions of the revamped 'Agile thinking' training. A group of young and motivated enthusiasts practiced their skills and learned about: setting up vision & goals, understanding the context, delivering in iterations, getting feedback, teams collaboration, reducing waste, kaizen, and Scrum. It was great, we had a lot of fun and enjoyed every minute of talking and doing with the awesome trainees.

Let me share the experience and spirit, using a couple of photos (courtesy of EPAM Bulgaria)

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.

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.