The Goal Revisited

The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt is a business novel that recounts how a factory manager shakes off complacency and isolation to save his factory and its employees. Many MBAs, system scientists and agilists have read it.

I read The Goal 7 years ago. I was so excited I sent our CEO an email. “Have you read it? It has so many messages for us!” I said, breathlessly. “Yep. I’ve read it. Great book,” he said.


My coach friends and I have lately been trying to inspire executives and managers to sustain agile practices, to become competent agile coaches themselves. To help managers understand organizational agility, we have distributed copies of The Goal, foisting it on managers and begging them to read it. I felt I had to refresh my memory of it. On this, my second reading, I am inspired again, but for different reasons. Continue reading

Failure Rates

Thomas_J_Watson_Sr“If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.”
—Thomas J. Watson, IBM

Converting from Waterfall to Scrum – The First 30 Days

In a 30-day period, Senex Rex motivated and shepherded a 700-person company, with development teams in 4 countries, to convert from waterfall to Scrum, with two training courses, one in the USA and the other in India. Today Dan Greening watched the CTO answer employee questions perfectly in front of 68 Indian, Ukrainian and British staff members, saying that there were three roles, Scrum Master, Product Owner and Team Member, that the distinction between QA and Dev would be erased, that there would be dedicated Scrum Masters, that bonuses would be tied to team success, not individual contribution, that they will be using Scrum, and there are no alternatives.

This approach will turn this privately held startup company into an unstoppable machine, and likely prepare it for a highly successful IPO.

Senex Rex leaves companies with the skills and training materials to coach and train their own people in Scrum and agile methods. We help companies design career paths and compensation plans to support agile practices and management behavior long-term. We do not use the “army of coaches” model, but rather help shape companies to permanently self-sustain. The clarity in what executives say following our training is dramatically different from what we’ve seen with other approaches.

Velocity Variance: Should we seek consistent velocity?


Rhythmic experimentation defines Scrum. A good Sprint experiment seeks to improve important metrics, such as increasing velocity or decreasing bug count. Some managers claim consistent velocity is important. Percent velocity deviation, σ(V)/E(V), is a reasonable metric to compare teams’ consistency. However, software companies usually look for innovation and profitability. Staid, old companies recreating boring stuff can get very consistent velocity. When innovating teams are asked for consistent velocity, some may game the metrics by padding, or stop innovating. Therefore, use consistency only as part of a collection of metrics that describe a team’s behavior, but not a target.

Continue reading

Five Challenges to Large Organizations that Force Agility

Sometimes, looking at the bigger picture of workflow can highlight traditional bottlenecks. Duplicating code for the sake of expediency is one of the symptoms of eroding agility. Removing interdepartmental barriers will bring greater agility to an organization.

In this first of 5 articles, Dan Greening makes a strong case for doing software modification tasks in a virtual laptop environment and automating regression testing into systems accessible to all departments affected by those changes. Please continue reading at

Reducing Release Duration Can Increase Agility – A Case Study


Shortening the time between releases can have the effect of increasing agility throughout an enterprise. In this article, the author recounts his experience at Citrix Online, and the positive ripple effects Agile techniques brought to the company.

Why Should Agilists Care About Capitalization?

Agile Cap fig1

In many companies, agile software development is misunderstood and misreported, causing taxation increases, higher volatility in Profit and Loss (P&L) statements and manual tracking of programmer hours. One large company’s confused finance department expenses all agile software development and capitalizes waterfall development; projects in this company that go agile see their headcounts cut by 50%. This discourages projects from going agile.

Scrum’s production experiment framework can align well with the principles of financial reporting. In this article, the author explains the basics of capitalization and expensing, and offers a financial framework for capitalizing agile projects that can be understood by both accountants and agile teams. Continue reading

Q&A: How can I transform my corporation to agile?


Devesh Kumar from Thomson Reuters asks:
I am being asked to setup agile in totality. I know to setup agile development teams. What I don’t know is how to handle Agile budgeting, How to migrate VPs to agile in higher management, what must change in HR to support agile, and what other organizational policies must change. Can you help?


You raise some complicated issues, and different people will have different experiences that can help. I bet you have been inundated with private emails, offering consulting help. I’ll just spew this stuff publicly. Continue reading

Promote Corporate Agility

Corporate Agility

Large companies pursuing agility should ask this question: What do we want from agile, and how long do we want it?

As a company, we sustainably adopt continuous-improvement techniques (iterate, measure, reflect, and adapt) everywhere to rapidly identify market need, explore demand, establish product plans, deliver products and delight customers, and support employees, so we gain greater profitability indefinitely.

Agile practices are surprisingly fragile: you can lose them with a manager resignation and/or a bad hire.  Continue reading

Enterprise Scrum Thinking: Part 3 of 3

Dan Greening explores the challenges of scaling Agile and Scrum concepts beyond the team level to project portfolios with executive involvement. Along the way, he discusses forecasting beyond sprints, commitments vs. lies, dashboard heresy, waterfall compatibility and failing safely, among other thought-provoking ideas. [Part 3: 26 min.]. Interview by Dave Prior at ProjectsAtWork. Continue reading