This is Why I’m So Excited About Agile Fluency

If you’re ready deliver the products your customers want and need, and you want your product developers to thrive, then I want to show you how to succeed.

Diana Larsen—who you know because she co-wrote Agile Retrospectives—showed  the Agile Fluency™ Model to me, and I recognised that it describes exactly what I’ve experienced when I’ve worked with software teams who are successfully mastering Agile development. That’s why I’m so excited to show it to you.

Maybe I should define two terms right up front.

Fluency is flow. It’s being able to use a skill with apparent ease. It’s being able to do something (such as speak Italian) without consciously thinking about how you do it. Proficiency is the level at which someone is able to use a skill. (My German is fluently proficient at a level that I can read and discuss the Neue Zürcher Zeitung—a local paper of record where I live as an ex-pat in Switzerland.)

You can understand your own experience with Agile teams by looking at the way teams (and organisations) develop fluency and proficiency.  You can identify the benefits we want to achieve.  And indeed, you can gauge—and make—the very investments required to achieve those benefits that you want and need.

The Agile Fluency Model helps me appreciate and understand what I’m working toward when I coach Agile teams. The model helps the teams appreciate their path to gaining more fluent proficiency, and it’s a guide for management as they identify, plan for, and invest in the results that they get with Agile development.

That’s why I’m extra excited to team up with Diana to create an Agile Fluency Immersion experience for you and your teams.

Optimize the Value

I was working with a wonderful Swiss web agency who is well-known for how proficiently they deliver high-value web applications. They used a pretty much by-the-book, multi-team Scrum framework to organise software development. Scrum had saved our teams’ bacon and allowed us to focus on the value we were delivering to our customers.

But, we were beginning to feel stuck. Scrum was so good for us that sometimes it seemed we were afraid to reach for more. Perhaps we would lose our focus or go off the rails.

That’s when I met Diana, and she told me over dinner about the Agile Fluency Model that she was developing with James Shore. Using the model it was easy to see that we had invested heavily in creating teams that could focus on value with their Scrum product backlog. Since the teams understood value, and since we could demonstrate value in our sprint reviews, our product owners, business developers, and founders were able to guide product development for our customers by working with the teams’ backlogs.

We also desperately needed to make an investment in optimising the value the teams could deliver. If only our teams better understood the business and product goals. And, if only we were able to make product decisions together with the product owners and the rest of the business as a team—well now that might give us an a huge return on investment.

We knew this. Or some of us knew it.  Some of us suspected it. And some of us knew there were some more people to convince of this. We’d all been in the trenches. And we’d experienced what was going on. We were also tantalised by what we were reading about lean product development from Henrick Kniberg, the Poppendieck’s and others.

The Agile Fluency Model gave us a way to conceptualise this, and a way to talk to others about it.  It helped us talk to our colleagues on our teams, on other teams, and in the business.  We could talk with the company’s leadership and everyone about the additional investments we’d need to make in order to really optimise the value our company and customers was getting from  our products. We were able to start making real changes, and we had some kind of map for the territory we were now exploring.

We could identify guideposts to help us get to this new proficiency. Which was important, because once we got there we’d be able to deliver products optimised for what the market demanded, and do it with seeming ease. That’s fluency.

Focus on Value

Later, I was working with a telecom giant. Many Agile coaches had worked with this giant, and many still do. Some coaches didn’t want to work in the particular area where I was working.

Several said to me, “You don’t want to work there, that they will never ‘get’ Agile.”

But, after I’d been working with some teams in this area, I realised I was hearing something consistently.

People were saying, “I’ve worked here for more than 20-years and I’ve never loved my job the way I do now that we’re ‘doing Agile’.”

I recalled my earlier experience with the web agency and the Agile Fluency Model.  And, I was able to see this organisation was working towards fluency with their initial investments.  And, their initial investments were tuned to getting the teams proficient in focusing, as a real team, on the value they could deliver with their product.

Suddenly I could appreciate what so many of the coaches had been missing. The teams in this area were “getting” Agile at the level of proficiency that was right for them, their investment, and the investment of their managers. And they liked it. It made their lives better.

After that, the Agile Fluency Model gave us a unique way to talk with everyone about where they were on their journey with Agile.  We could have the conversations, with management and the development teams, about appreciating where they were.  We could also look for any additional benefits their business would need from their Agile development efforts.  And most importantly it allowed us to talk specifically about what they’d need to invest to get those greater benefits.

Agile Fluency Immersion

That’s why I’m really excited to create the Agile Fluency Immersion experience with Diana for you.

Over three days, we want to give you the same experiences with using the Agile Fluency Model. You will form teams, and together you will undertake a series of challenges which you will use to plan and execute your investments so that you finally get the full benefit out of Agile software development.  Of course we will present you with a lot of good material about mastering Agile software development—fluently.

We want your team to experience the real promise of Agile. We’ll help your team to understand how you achieved that promise, so that you can go back to your organisation and achieve the benefits that you need there at home.

We are reaching out to a diverse group of people working in many roles, so that you can experience working together to achieve Agile Fluency as a team and an organisation.  We will work with UX designers, developers, testers and DevOps to help you understand how you can work together, and for you to hone the skills you need to deliver high-quality results. I’m a developer myself so we’ll be able to work closely together.

We will also work closely with Executives, Line Managers, and directors to help you understand and clearly articulate the real benefits that Agile development is bringing to your company. You will experience creating an environment where your product development efforts will flourish. You will be able to experiment with changing methods of leadership and identify patterns for success. You will return home knowing which investments to make for your organisation to thrive. Diana especially has the expertise and experience to coach management.

Portfolio, product, and project managers will also experience the evolution of your role in delivering successful products. You will gain a new understanding of how to work with your teams and with your management to create products your customers love. Diana and I will share our experience with you and help you develop new skills for designing and delivering your product.

We will also work with scrum masters and coaches for you to experience how you can use the Agile Fluency Model to coach your organisations to make the promise of Agile real. You will gain a new understanding to the model, and you will gain a deep understanding of how this model helps you appreciate your present organisation. And, coach a transformation.

This is an aggressive challenge. I’m looking forward to undertake it in the luxurious retreat setting of the Rückersbach Seminar and Wellness Center near Frankfurt Germany.  Yes, we will have big challenges to occupy our intellects.  But we also commit to making time to reflect and enjoy our beautiful surroundings. And we promise “big fun” both in the experience and in the free time. Rückersbach is well-known to many in the Agile community (and well-loved) as the location of Play4Agile and Agile Coach Camp Germany. We also promise to hold the space for playful times, entertaining evening gatherings, and game nights.  Plus you can always enjoy hiking, or the sauna and the new whirlpool, or a relaxing massage from the hotel’s wellness staff.

What’s Next?

We will be releasing a bigger announcement and more information in the first weeks of the New Year. And we’re happy to make these first announcements before the end of the year, so we can reach out to anyone who has extra training budget at the end of 2014 or who are making the calendar for 2015.

Signup for our mailing list so you’ll be the first to get the new information and announcements.

Tell your colleagues and friends.

Comment here to ask questions and get answers. Or, use the contact form on the homepage.

Check-out “Your Path through Agile Fluency” by Diana and James at

And, register for the experience.  

You’ll be glad you did.  So will we.