5 + 1 Questions to... Ryan Ripley

Ryan Ripley, author of “Fixing your Scrum: Practical solutions to common Scrum problems” and the host of “Agile for Humans” podcast. He’s also a Scrum Master trainer for Scrum.org and worked as a software developer, manager, director, and Scrum Master at various Fortune 500 companies in the medical device, wholesale, and financial services industries.

In “Fixing your scrum”, Ryan and Todd Miller discuss how broken Scrum practices limit organizations to take the full advantage which scrum could bring. Many organizations are implementing an Agile way of working but too often elements are missing or wrongly implemented. Ryan and Todd share their experiences and wisdom for identifying problems and offer practical solutions with a positive, encouraging voice.

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Ryan is also the host of “Agile for Humans™ “, a weekly podcast dedicated to the individuals and interactions that make agile work. The goal is to help create safe and collaborative working environments where people are empowered to do their best work.

1.What is Agile or the Agile Mindset for you?

Agile is the Manifesto of Agile Software Development. The 4 values and 12 principles can lead to both behaviours and a mindset that empowers individuals and teams to experiment, explore, and discover better ways to deliver products that delight their customers. I think that “mindset” isn’t enough. I had to search for a word that combined mindset and action and I landed on Habitude – a combination of habit and attitude. If we adopt the mindset described in the Manifesto and habitually apply the principles during the course of our work, we have a real shot at achieving agility.

2. What’s your favourite tool or method you use during your coaching?

I love team boards. I think that 3×5 cards, post-it notes, tape, and sharpies can all come together in a meaningful way to help teams make their work visible, collaborate and plan better ways to work together and deliver value to customers. There’s just something powerful about moving a post-it. The development team member gets a sense of accomplishment as progress is physically expressed. Other team members could also notice the progress as something physical happens in the room (the movement of a post-it) and that triggers an opportunity to discuss the work. Done well, team boards make things visible and bring people together.

3. What book or website would you recommend?

I have to recommend my new book that I co-authored with Todd Miller – Fixing Your Scrum: Practical Solutions to Common Scrum Problems. Todd and I captured every Scrum anti-pattern that we’ve encountered over the past 20-years, but we didn’t stop there. We also described all of the things that we have done as Scrum Master’s to help teams break these patterns and fix their Scrum. We’ve provided a free sample chapter here:  http://ryanripley.com/fixing-your-scrum/

4. What is essential for you during an Agile transformation?

What’s most essential to me is removing the word “transformation” from the discussion. I believe that the industry needs to move towards the idea that we are always changing, improving, and looking for even better ways to work. And this process never ends, unless you fail to change. Then a disruptor eats your lunch and ends your business. The word “transformation” implies that there is an end-point to the change process and this just isn’t true. All that we can guarantee is that change will always happen.

5. What is 1 Aspect of coaching Agile teams you like the most?

I love seeing teams solve difficult problems and remove impediments from their work that they initially didn’t believe they could handle. It’s really this servant leadership aspect that I enjoy the most. I want to help people be successful. When I’m able to do that, I actually enjoy their success far more than my own individual wins.

+1. What was the trigger to write the book “Fixing your Scrum”?

Todd and I realized that we were seeing many of the same problems within Scrum teams over and over and over again. We decided that we didn’t want to do yet another introduction to Scrum book. Instead, we decided to capture all the negative patterns that we’ve seen and also provide a set of ideas, practices, and techniques that could help teams move towards a more positive and productive Scrum practice. Selfishly, we both secretly hope that now we’ve shared everything that we know about solving these problems that companies will move on to even more complex issues for us to solve. 🙂