Monday, December 30, 2019

2019 Retrospective - 10 Years as PMPs Working in Agile with Jesse Fewell

It has been ten years since Jesse Fewell and I became Certified Scrum Trainers. During that time a lot has changed in the space occupied by PMPs who work in Agile. To close out 2019, Jesse and I did a retrospective on how things have changed, how the work we do has changed, and what kinds of things PMPs who are interested in Agile need to prepare for as we head into 2020 and beyond.

You can find the interview here.


Friday, December 27, 2019

The Italian Dinner - How work flows from Release to Story to Task w/ Judy Neher, CST

In the CSM and CSPO classes I teach I often get questions about how work moves from the Release Plan into PBI's like User Stories and eventually into Tasks. Even though this is covered in the class, for some, it sometimes seems a little murky. In an effort to address this, I asked Judy Neher (a fellow CST) to help me talk through this flow of work by using the metaphor of traditional Italian dinner.

You can find the interview right here on project

Saturday, December 07, 2019

What people think of my CSM and CSPO classes...

LeadingAgile put together a cool video with feedback from students in my CSM and CSPO classes...


 If you'd like to learn more about upcoming CSM and CSPO classes, click here.

What to do when no one is talking in your Retrospectives... w/ Adam Weisbart

I class a few weeks ago a student asked a question about what to do when you can't get anyone to share during a Retrospective. In this episode of the podcast, Adam Weisbart joins me to talk through different tips and techniques that might help you get your team to be more open in your Sprint Retrospectives.

The podcast also includes a link you can use to download a free copy of Adam's Agile Adlibs. 

You can find the podcast here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Using Improv to Improve Your Listening Skills w Jessie Shternshus

Jessie Shternshus, Founder and CEO of The Improv Effect, was kind enough to share some of her time and talk about how Improv techniques can be used to improve your skills as a listener and deepen you ability to read a room when you are teaching or presenting.

Talking to Jessie is always a lot of fun and very educational, but in the latter part of this interview, she completely schooled (in a kind, supportive and patient way) on how one of my "habits" when teaching is maybe not helpful in the way I intended and it is something I definitely intend to change.

You can find the interview here

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Melissa Watts - Tips for ScrumMasters

Over the past two years, Melissa Watts, who is a Technical Project Manager at Major League Baseball, has been making her bones as a ScrumMaster. She and her team work  in a very complex environment, tightly coupled with external and legacy systems, supporting a wide range of platforms, in which downtime is not really an option.

In this episode of the Reluctant Agilist, Melissa shares some of her experiences over the past two years, offers advice for those dealing with similar challenges and explains why cat meme's are so very critical to her survival.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Chris Bailey - Hyperfocus and Optimizing Your Productive Time

If you ever wonder whether the various productivity hacks you read about on the interweb work or not, Chris Bailey is someone to pay attention to - he's basically a productivity hack stuntman. Chris gave the opening keynote this summer at Agile 2019. We weren't able to connect for an interview at the conference, but he was kind enough to make time for one afterwards. Chris has been running experiments, testing out the different productivity techniques for several years. You can read all about them on his website and in his book The Productivity Project. His more recent book, Hyperfocus, explores how to optimize your attentional space so you can get the most our of each hour of the day.

My interview with Chris is up on The Reluctant Agilist. It includes tips on how to optimize your time each day, why it is so critical to plan for time to let your mind wander, tips on meditation and some advice on what to do when your attempts at being more productive falter.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Scott Ambler on PMI's Acquisition of Disciplined Agile

In August of 2019, The Project Management Institute announced that it had acquired Disciplined Agile as part of its ongoing effort to find ways to introduce Agile tools and methods to the members of the Project Management Institute.

In this interview on, Disciplined Agile co-founder, Scott Ambler, shares his thoughts on what this acquisition means for DA, PMI and the Agile community in general.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Making the Case for the Role of Agile Project Manager

For a long time now I have held strongly to the opinion that there is no such thing as an Agile Project Manager. There are Project Managers and there are ScrumMasters but the value systems they serve are different and at odds.  I am comfortable playing either role, but I cannot do them both at once. (That is based on personal experience as well as observation.)
Mike Anderson gave a presentation at a PMI event in New York where he made the case for the role of Agile Project Manager as a next evolutionary step. Mike makes a compelling argument and he completely changed my opinion on the topic. I think this is an important conversation that I hope will continue to grow.

You can check out the interview here. (And after you listen, please post comments - I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this topic.)

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Scrum Fieldbook w/ JJ Sutherland

Scrum Inc, CEO, JJ Sutherland’s new book The Scrum Fieldbook: A Master Class on Accelerating Performance, Getting Results and Defining the Future offers a compelling collection of stories breaking down what makes Scrum (and other forms of Agile) succeed or struggle in organizations. The book will be released on October 1.  It offers a wide range of case studies exploring different aspects of what is needed to make Agile work for an organization.

Podcast Interview

Click here to check out my podcast interview with JJ on his book, the Renaissance Enterprise and some tips on steps you can take to help Scrum and Agile succeed in your company.

The Scrum Fieldbook

Sunday, September 15, 2019

7 Rules for Positive, Productive Change w/ Esther Derby

Esther Derby is one of the most inspiring people I get to interview. She draws on four decades of experience in helping individual, teams and organizations figure our how to introduce positive change that helps create a better environment for people to live and work in.

This summer Esther released her new book 7 Rules for Positive, Productive Change: Micro Shifts, Macro Results. I had the chance to interview Esther about her new book, some of the most important lessons it offers as well as a number of other new projects she is working on.

You can find the interview here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Motivational Interviewing w/ Zach Stone

Zach Stone is an agile coach with a background that includes organizational change management, conflict transformation, and behavioral science. He leverages these experiences in his work helping organizations, teams, and individuals adopt an agile approach to work. One of the primary techniques in Zach’s toolbox is Motivational Interviewing. In this episode of the podcast, Zach explains what motivational interviewing is, how it works, and why it is such a powerful approach to helping individuals move towards choices that can better help them achieve the outcomes they are looking for.

You can find the interview here:

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Agile 2019 Podcasts

Agile 2019 was amazing. I learned more in that one week that I probably will the remainder of the year. The people I got to talk to in the interviews were awesome, but I had just as many incredible conversations during the networking events as well.

You can check out all the interviews I did at Agile 2019 on the LeadingAgile Facebook page:

They've also begun posting higher-res versions on YouTube and will be adding a few each week for the next few weeks.

Here is a link to the SoundNotes post with the interviews from Day 1:

This includes interviews with:

  • Troy Magennis
  • Rachel Howard
  • Matt Smith
  • Chris Papadakis and Yaton Bowens
  • Natalie Warnert
  • Erika Massie
  • Johanna Rothman
  • Heather Dunning
  • Dennis Stevens
  • Mike Cottmeyer

Monday, August 05, 2019

Live from Agile 2019!!!!

This week is Agile 2019! It's the biggest, busiest Agile week of the year and I'll be doing live interviews from the LeadingAgile booth, talking with speakers and Agile thought leaders who are attending the show. It's going to be an amazing week!

So if you can't make it to the show, keep an eye on and you'll be able to get a sense for all the amazing things happening at the conference this year.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Core Agile Product Development Lifecycle

Urs Reupke is a Certified Scrum Trainer and Agile Coach who works for the Hamburg-based Agile Consultancy It-Agile. A lot of Urs’s time and attention is focused on the work he does coaching management and providing leadership consulting as they move towards adopting a more Agile approach to work.

One specific area Urs is passionate about is the Core Cycle of Agile Product Development. In this interview, Urs and I talk about what the Core Cycle of Agile Product Development is, why it is so critical to the success of your product, and why his desire to help others produce better products is what motivated him to move out of his development role and into a role where he could achieve that goal.

You can check out the interview by following this link to

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Mid Sprint Review w/ Dhaval Panchal at 2019 Scrum Gathering

At the 2019 Scrum Gathering in Austin I had the chance to interview EvolveAgility Founder Dhaval Panchal about how he uses Mid Sprint Reviews to create transparency around the Scrum Team's level of confidence in its' ability to meet the Sprint commitment.

When I have heard people talk about Mid Sprint Reviews in the past it has always been about doing a demo part way through the Sprint to get feedback on partially completed work... which always sounded like two Sprints to me. But Dhaval's take on this is very different and it has proven to be a very effective tool for the teams he works with.

You can check out the podcast here:

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Art of Mentoring with Brandon Brown

One of the things a Project Manager and a ScrumMaster have in common is that at times, they are both called upon to act as a coach and act as a mentor. For anyone in a leadership role, creating clarity around the difference between the two can be challenging. And even for seasoned pros, knowing when to act as a mentor and when to act as a coach is not always easy.

In this Reluctant Agilist podcast I had the chance to interview Brandon Brown, who has spent his career mentoring others. His personal mission, in his words, is "creating, ensuring and sustaining safe places for young people to flourish and ultimately replace me." During the interview Brandon and I discuss what mentoring is and how it is different from coaching, what it takes to be a mentor and a mentee, and why being a mentor is not the right choice for everyone.

You can find the podcast here:

Monday, July 08, 2019

Updated Capacity Calculator Link

There was a broken link to the Capacity Calculator. I've updated it...

Boozy Scrum with Alex Brown at 2019 Austin Scrum Gathering

At the 2019 Austin Scrum Gathering I had the chance to interview Alex Brown about how he used Scrum to manage a project to build a bar in his 200 year old house.

So if you are looking for a great example of how Scrum can be used outside of software, or if you've been aching for a decent excuse to  set up a pub in your basement - this is the podcast for you...

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

The Language of Persuasion w/ Nic Sementa

One of the most interesting conversations I got to have at the 2019 North American Global Scrum Gathering was with Nic Sementa of Formula Ink. We started talking about Nonviolent Communication and the conversation was so compelling that I asked Nic if we could do a podcast on it.

You may be familiar with NVC, but you might not have thought about it, or communication the way Nic does. I learned a lot from the conversation we had in Austin and even more when we recorded the podcast. If you'd like to check it out, you can find it on my Reluctant Agilist blog on

The Language of Persuasion with Nic Sementa

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Ilker Demirel on The Leadership GIft Program at the 2019 North American Global Scrum Gathring

One of the amazing people I got to meet and spend time with at the 2019 North American Global Scrum Gathering was Ilker Demirel. Ilker is a Certified Scrum Trainer and a  Certified Leadership Gift Coach. In this podcast we talk about how The Leadership Gift Program and The Responsibility Process has impacted his life and work.

Click here to listen to the podcast

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Jason Tanner Is On A Mission To Fix Your Daily Scrum!

At the 2019 North American Global Scrum Gathering, I had a chance to sit down with Applied Frameworks Founder and CEO Jason Tanner in order to talk about what is wrong with the Daily Scrum and what we can do to fix it.

You can find the podcast on

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Carol McEwan and Scrum at Scale at NAGC 2019

My interview with Scrum at Scale CEO and Chief Product Owner, Carol McEwan, recorded during the 2019 North American Global Scrum Gathering in Austin, TX.

The podcast can be found on here.

If you'd like info on Scrum at Scale, you can find it here.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Scrum Labs - An Interview with Howard Sublett from the 2019 North American Global Scrum Gathering

I had the chance to sit down with Scrum Alliance Chief Product Owner, Howard Sublett, at the 2019 North American Global Scrum Gathering. During the interview we discuss Dan Pink's keynote at the Gathering, the amazing work being done by volunteers to create a free library of agile coaching resources as part of the Scrum Alliance's Scrum Labs initiative, the Unscripted videos that Howard is making with Scrum Alliance Chief Scrum Master Melissa Boggs and, of course, The Wonder Twins.

The interview can be found here.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Probabilistic Forecasting with Troy Lightfoot

If Story Points are not doing it for you, maybe Probabilistic Forecasting will help you figure out when you’ll be able to deliver. Check out my interview w/ Troy Lightfoot on how to stop guessing when stuff will be done. 

The Perfect Product Owner w/ Richard Cheng

My interview with Richard Cheng on his presentation "The Perfect Product Owner". Richard gave his presentation earlier this week at the 2019 North American Global Scrum Gathering.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Sprint Planning - How it works.. Why it works

This is a SoundNotes podcast that we just put up on LeadingAgile. The intent is to provide a basic foundational explanation of what Sprint Planning is, why it is so important, how it works, etc. (And why no one should be trying to do it before the Sprint starts.)

Click here to check it out

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

System of Delivery vs. System of Transformation

Click here for the podcast

When people talk about Agile, they often talk about the approach they are taking: Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming, SAFe, LeSS, DAD, Nexus, etc. These and the other frameworks and methodologies that could be considered to fall under the Agile umbrella are Systems of Delivery because they are techniques for delivering.

There's often an assumption that if we adopt the System of Delivery, our organization will Transform to Agile. Sometimes this happens, but often, organizations need more than a System of Delivery. They need a way to go about helping their organization evolve into a state where it's capable of realizing the benefits of the various Systems of Delivery. This journey from your current state, into a state that's capable of fully leveraging the System of Delivery, may actually require a System of Transformation.

In this episode of SoundNotes, our CEO & Founder, Mike Cottmeyer spends some time with Dave digging into what a System of Transformation is, why this is different than a System of Delivery, how the two are connected, and why having a System of Transformation is such a critical part of your organization's ability to realize the benefits of taking an Agile approach to delivering work.

Click here for the podcast


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Insights from two days of Personal Kanban training w/ Amitai Schleier

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to take a Personal Kanban training with Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria. It was an incredibly insightful two days. 

Here is a post and podcast where Amitai Schleier and I talk about the class, what we learned from Jim and Tonianne, insights and takeaways from both the class and Personal Kanban in general,  and why we are both continually working on refining the systems we use to plan and manage our own work.

It was super cool to get to meet Amitai in person.  I had previously only met him virtually when he and Troy Lightfoot taught Rachel Gertz  and I how to do Mob Programming. If you'd like to check out that podcast, click here.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

How Buzzwords and Jargon Impact Your Team w/ Tyler Grant

I have a new episode of The Reluctant Agilist that features Tyler Grant in a conversation on how using buzzwords and jargon can negatively impact your team members and their ability to deliver.

You can find the podcast on my Reluctant Agilist blog on

What is the worth of a good Product Owner? w/ Tim Wise

Tim Wise and I responded to a question from a student who worked in an org that saw no benefit from having Product Owners. Tim and I talk through the likely impact, how to cope with not having a PO, and why an engaged Product Owner is so critical to your team's ability to deliver.

You can find the podcast interview on LinkedIn.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Reluctant Agilist - Student QA: Changing the Sprint Commitment / Failing Sprints w/ Eric Tucker

In this episode of the Reluctant Agilist, Certified Scrum Trainer and Agile Coach, Eric Tucker, and I talk through two related questions that came from students in my classes:
  • What is the best way to inject defects into a sprint?
  • How do you reset expectations with stakeholders if you are going to fail a sprint?

During the interview Eric and talk about why adding/removing work from a sprint is generally not something you want to do, but what you should do if it is unavoidable. We also touch on what to do if the team discovers that they will not be able to deliver on their sprint forecast, why you want to make sure the stakeholders know ahead of time and what some other options might be. 

You can find the interview on my Reluctant Agilist blog on

How Do I Use Scrum on Data Warehouse Projects? w/ Dave Nicolette (3/14/19)

Dave Nicolette shared some time in this episode of SoundNotes to talk about how to use Agile practices when you are working on projects like enterprise data migrations.


Prioritizing the Work to Maximize Return w/ Dennis Stevens (3/7/19)

Part 3 of 3 of my interviews with Dennis Stevens on how to maximize the return produced by teams within the organization.


Coordinating Work with Agile and Waterfall Teams in a Mixed Environment w/ AJ Sanford (2/28/19)

This episode of SoundNotes features LeadingAgile's AJ Sanford. It came from a common question in CSM and CSPO classes. How do you coordinate work when you have waterfall and Agile teams within an organization that depend on each other. (2/28/19)

Designing an Organization that Manages Value w/ Mikkel Ladegaard (2/21/19)

LeadingAgile's Mikkel Ladegaard sat down for an interview about favor economies and how to establish clarity throughout the organization on what work takes priority and what work presents the greatest value for the business.

Letting Go of the Waterfall, Embracing Agile, and Mixed Martial Arts w/ Brandon Dudley (2/14/19)

A SoundNotes interview with LeadingAgile Senior Consultant Brandon Dudley on his transition from waterfall to Agile and how Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has impact his approach to working with clients on Agile transformation. (2/14/19)

The Language of Loss and The Language of Gain w/ Mike Cottmeyer & Andrew Young (2/7/19)

How you talk about transformation can have a big impact on how people approach the work. This interview with LeadingAgile's Mike Cottmeyer and Andrew Young focuses on the language of loss and the language of gain. (

The Value of Improving Your Technical Practices w/ Rich Dammkoehler (1/31/19)

This episode of SoundNotes features, LeadingAgile Technical Consultant, Rich Dammkoehler in a conversation about why it is so important to make sure your organization is focused on improving their technical practices.

Measuring the Impact of Change in Agile w/ Jeff Howey (1/14/19)

An interview with LeadingAgile's Jeff Howey on how to measure the impact of change in an Agile organization. (1/14/19)

Agile Estimation - A SoundNotes Tutorial (1/17/19)

A quick tutorial on the LeadingAgile site on how to do Agile Estimation (1/17/19)

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Meet Chief Scrum Master Melissa Boggs!

I had the opportunity to interview the Scrum Alliance's new Chief Scrum Master, Melissa Boggs. If you'd like to learn more about Melissa, her background and what it is like to be the first Chief Scrum Master at one of the world's largest Agile organizations, you can find it here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

How to earn Scrum Educational Units (SEUs) w/ TJay Gerber

If you have questions about how to earn Scrum Educational Units (SEUs) in order to maintain your Scrum Alliance certification you can learn all about it in my interview with TJay Gerber, Global Certification Manager and Education Department Product Owner for the Scrum Alliance which is available on and can be found here:

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Jason Tanner - Becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer

I've posted a new episode of the Reluctant Agilist on Project that features Jason Tanner, CEO of Applied Frameworks and Certified Scrum Trainer. The interview focuses on the process Jason uses to help Certified Scrum Trainer candidates work towards their certification. If you aren't familiar with the process of becoming a CST, it is not an easy path. For many people, it takes 3-5 years from the time they start working on it, until they reach their goal.

You can find the podcast, contact info and more at:

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Evolving Role of the PMO in an Agile Organization - Catching Up With Jesse Fewell

I got a chance to catch up with Jesse Fewell at the start of 2019. In this Reluctant Agilist podcast Jesse and I talk about how project management continues to evolve as a result of the introduction of Agile and how the PMO continues to refine the role it plays in an organization that is making the transition to Agile. The whole conversation draws from the fact that we both got our start in traditional project management and were two of the initial people focused on helping to build a bridge between PMI and the Scrum Alliance.

As an added note, Jess is now the only person I have ever interviewed who has quote Suicidal Tendencies and then talked about reading the Bible within the space of 5 minutes on a podcast.

You can find the podcast on The Reluctant Agilist blog on

Monday, January 14, 2019

Developing a PMO that is Actually Agile - Hearst Digital Media

Hearst Digital Media has an actual, real life, fully functioning AGILE PMO!

Developing a PMO that is Actually Agile - Hearst Digital Media

This is one of the most inspiring interviews I have had the chance to do in a long time. It features a conversation with Michelle Dennis, Director of Product Management, and Jacquelyn Talpalar, Director of Agile Operations for Hearst Digital Media. During the podcast we discuss what the've gone through over the past 4 years to establish an Agile PMO, the challenges they faced along the way, what makes it work and their advice for others who are on this path.

You can find the interview on The Reluctant Agilist blog on

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Monday, January 07, 2019

Comparative Agility with Jorgen Hesselberg

“Agile is not something you become, Agile is something you become more of.”

For organizations that are engaged in Agile Transformation, it is often very challenging to get a sense of where you are with respect to successfully adopting a new way of working. Comparative Agility is a tool that has been designed to help Agile coaches and organizations get a deeper understanding of their progress towards Agile transformation. 

In this interview, Jorgen Hesselberg, co-founder of Comparative Agility, and I discuss how the tool has evolved since it was created in 2008 and how it is now being used by coaches and organizations to not only understand how their transformation is going, but how they are doing compared to others within their vertical, as well. We also talk about the work that Comparative Agility has been doing with the Scrum Alliance and how the tool has been extended to include things like Security and DevOps, in addition to discussing Jorgen’s book “Unlocking Agility.”


If you’d like to check out Comparative Agility, you can find it here:
If you’d like to read “Unlocking Agility”, you can find it here:

Contacting Jorgen