Seriously Snarky AgileInACan

Have you seen the Seriously Snarky AgileInACan? Have you used it? Did it work?

I really admire the people behind this initiative. They are serious coaches and thought leaders helping people be productive and most importantly, think!. They emphasize: there is no easy fix called ‘agile’.  In promoting their AgileInACan, they are inviting you to a real discussion of how they can help you in your work when prescriptive solutions fail.

Their idea caused me to do some creative thinking of my own. I wanted to see what it might take to prevent the need for AgileInACan.  My solution is admittedly team-focussed. It is a recipe but it isn’t fixed in stone. It is flexible for you, the chef, to modify as you see fit. If nothing else, create your own recipe from scratch. Use this template.

Since the ingredients are expensive, the line managers or business owner should sign off on it as they will need to provide the funding to implement this recipe.  This requires a major investment in some high quality facilitated, experiential training for team building, as well as infrastructure. As Esther Derby says of thriving teams in her article about the 60, 30, 10 rule, 30% of team effectiveness depends on the kickoff of the team. So that’s one area my recipe emphasizes. Get started on the right foot.  The recipe also contains a few pinches of methodology and process improvement training and assumes a very qualified team doing intense knowledge work (i.e. programming or the like).


Main ingredients: 1 team of 5 to 7 people, selected for ripeness, and skill sets appropriate for the product or technology

Directions: Apply this team to the the following secret sauce;

Apply these spices to above mix, as needed:

  • Many teaspoons of various technical and agile practices (you decide which, based on context)
  • 1 tablespoon or more of Kanban\ Lean Thinking training
  • 1/2 pinch of Scrum training for good measure, if necessary
  • Coaching sessions (individual or agile oriented) can be carefully applied.

Note: Rub the spice on the team periodically adding new technical practices as needed.

Let the rub set

  • To let the rub set, the team will need to be mindful all the time. This means that their awareness of what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how they are improving must be at the forefront of their thinking. In order for this to happen, their environment must have the physical space to help them use mind/body integration practices, such as yoga, light office exercises, and meditation. Spaces to relax the brain are vital.  The kitchen area should include healthy snacks.  The purpose of their work should be palpable and they should all be in alignment. The environment should remind them of this and make them feel whole.
  • The team library needs to be filled with Books – digital and paper. The library must include all the seminal books on agile, kanban, organizational learning, as well as all the best and most recent books on technical practices and leadership. A librarian must be there to operate the library and be available to do research including finding relevant blogs and people to network with on topics of interest to the team. The team must be given time to read. eReader loaners might work!
  • The team room should be setup with all the whiteboards, wall space, stickies and markers needed. The workspace should be easily configurable for pair programming. Sufficient private space for individual work away from the team should be available.
  • The line manager for the team must ensue all other infrastructure and tooling for the project is available in a timely manner when requested.
  • If main ingredients and the spice rub have been applied properly and the team has its space, fabulous results should ensue.  For periodic boosts to teamwork, send team members to Amplify Your Effectiveness training or Problem Solving Leadership workshops.

Corrective Actions.

  • Invite in a caliber high-caliber retrospective facilitator and other specialists as needed to reboot the team.
  • Spray on some AgileInACan (or call their 1-800-RESCUE number, if they have one). Keep it under the kitchen sink, just in case.
  • If these don’t work, you are likely in need of some Organizational Therapy. For that, dial @flowchainsensei on Twitter or read his blog.
  • Other options may include 21st Century management training: Management 3.0 (Jurgen Appelo) or Radical Management (Steve Denning)

Recipe Disclaimer:  The ingredients in this recipe may be altered as you see fit.  This is based on my own exploration, training and reading in the past few years and has NOT been tested in its entirety. I have attended many but not all of the linked trainings and workshops. I have no financial interest in any of these.

[please perfect this recipe in comments.]

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3 Comments on “Seriously Snarky AgileInACan”

  1. […] thanks to Chris Matts, Paolo Nusco Perrotta and Andrea Chiou for reviews and valuable feedback! Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail Tagged with: […]


  2. […] and Olaf ran an experiment out of which this session design emerged with the help of Paul Boos, Andrea Chiou, Ken Furlong and Tucker […]


  3. […] and Olaf ran an experiment out of which this session design emerged with the help of Paul Boos, Andrea Chiou, Ken Furlong and Tucker […]


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