Start with WHY..

#makeTheShift: Start with WHY, and End in their (your customers) Hearts!

Simon says…

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.

In his book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action Simon Sinek talks about what separates APPLEs from the TIVOs of this world, and why it is important to start with the purpose behind what you do. 

Looking at it from another angle, they are the vision, mission, and plan. Here is my very simple and minimalistic definition:
  • Vision is WHAT we want to become. It is the Destination. It is WHERE we want to get. 
  • Mission is WHY we want to become that entity, it is the reason why we are on that journey.
  • Plan is the vehicle that gets us there. It is HOW we intend to get to our destination. 

As @simonsinek says, we often start with the outer layer going in. Most of us are focused on showing the product (WHAT), without connecting with the audience on emotional level with our WHY. 

WHY is the soul of any product, any organization. Trying to sell the product without clear WHY is like selling hollow product(s) without any ‘soul’ in it.

start with Why

            People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

On the other hand, starting with WHY, you are connecting with the audience on an emotional level, on a much deeper level. As Simon indicated in the video, you buy with your heart, and then rationalize your purchase with your mind. You got to have a cause before you create a product and (try to) sell it. Start with the inner circle, start with WHY and everything else will fall in the right places

Case in point from the recent history, look at Tesla. Mr. Musk sold the WHY to us, simple. The company spends very little, next to nothing in the advertising money. Instead, people have bought into the WHY of Mr. Musk, and the companies he is leading. 

#makeTheShift:  Start with WHY, and End in their Hearts! Click To Tweet

Start with the mission and then build products around it, products that help you satisfy your mission.

How to stand up new Scrum teams

Use this toolbox and put your teams on path to Success

Recently, I was training an entire division of a client in OH area. To begin their Agile Transformation journey, we wanted to stand up several Scrum teams. The first logical step was to take them into a formal training on Agile concepts. We also wanted to come out of the workshop so that teams can start their first sprint the very next week.

Gamify to help Scrum Teams

The challenge was to introduce them to agile concepts quickly while involving as well as challenging them. We also wanted them to ‘discover’ and validate the concepts through a series of activities. To achieve these objectives,  we used several worksheets, templates, and tools to help them. We wanted to make these activities fun and interesting.

Keeping game theory in mind,  we came up with an ‘Agile Bingo‘ – a set of activities that each team has to do, and the first one to finish the sheet wins the ‘Bingo’.

We also came up with Event Canvas to make bring everyone on the same page, regarding their understanding of various events in Scrum, and do this while keeping it fun, interesting, and engaging. As we say, in an Agile team, everyone should be rowing in the same direction. In other words, everyone should be driving towards the common goals. This simple worksheet helped eliminate the myths and bring everyone’s understanding on the same page!

Another wildly popular ideas was that of Scrum Calendar; to help them get to a consensus on a calendar with events, time, and location. This is especially useful when you have geographically dispersed teams involving multiple time zones.

Scrum Teams and Agile Bingo

Complete this bingo to jump start your Agile Journey

The toolbox for the workshop

As a trainer and facilitator, I also used several of my ‘home grown’ worksheets and templates; such as:

These workshops were a huge success! Everyone loved these activities and felt they got a lot of useful information out of these activities. Here are some pictures from these workshops.

Your team will thank you!

Help your Scrum Team help you! Check out Improve Your Scrum Ceremonies as a first step towards uncovering these hidden gems. Your Scrum Team will thank you for finding these gems!

Scrum Teams - Tool box for improving your scrum ceremonies

Scrum Teams – Tool box for improving your scrum ceremonies

We got a Bingo! Shouted one Team Click To Tweet

#agileReleasePlanning wall

Each column represents a Sprint in the release cycle. Each row represents a team that will be participating in this release planning exercise.

Agile Release Planning Wall


Based on the history, makeup of the teams, and what is needed for the functionality, the Chief Product Owner (CPO) may decide to pre-assign some of the work slices (open for discussion and negotiations with the team later on).

Agile Data Warehouse series: What it is? – the workflow


In my previous post, I announced my intention of writing a series of posts talking about my recent experience with data warehouse build out in an agile transformation of EDS for a Fortune 100 company. Let’s continue our discussion on this interesting topic. 
So, what exactly it is? What do I mean by agile data warehouse build out? 
First of all, let’s talk about Data Warehouse in general. A data warehouse initiative typically involves building out data structures in the enterprise data model, pulling data from multiple sources, doing some (data) transformation, and then ‘parking’ them into the target data structure. Sounds about right? 
At a high level, at least, this is the work flow for a data warehouse build out. To get to next level of details, your data warehouse builds out includes:
  • Identifying the data elements and sources for that data
  • Coming up with logical data model that will support the business’s analytical needs
  • Often, getting this logical model; or as technical teams would say LDM (Logical data model) approved through some governance body in the organization
  • Getting the physical data structures, PDM (Physical data model) created
  • Extracting and transforming data from various sources to load into the physical data structures

To summarize, a typical data warehouse build out contains following workflow (of events):

Typical workflow for a Data Warehouse build out
Typical workflow for a Data Warehouse build out
[Please note that we will be modifying this as we discuss the topic further]

Now, let’s talk about Agile data warehouse (ADW).  By ADW, I mean:

  • We build the data warehouse in increments
  • Delivering Potential shippable increment (PSI) of the data warehouse at a regular frequency [and not have customers waiting to get the data warehouse as one big-bang delivery]
  • Involving customers through the build process 
  • Understanding customers, and their needs – what are the business reasons for them to request this data warehouse
  • Focus on creating customer value incrementally, and not the technologies or the implementation of it. Shift your focus from technology (and data elements, data structures, primary key, foreign key, etc.) to customers needs. 

Often times data folks are so focused on their tables and primary keys that they start driving the build out from that vantage point only 🙁

Let the customers’ need be your guiding beacon! 
[Next post: Know thy customer!]

Agile Data Warehouse series: Intro

I have been involved in agile transformation at a Fortune 100 company, specifically in their EDS division. EDS being a central steward of all the data warehouse the company uses, it has been a challenge to rollout agile in this centralized group. In a series of articles, I will talk about my experience of Agile rollout in EDS and data warehouse build out, the challenges we faced, and the ‘model’ that could be used. My hope is this series of articles will help you get a ‘head start’ when you have to work in such a situation.

This series of artless will include:

  • What it is – what do I mean by agile data warehouse?
  • Challenges agile teams face in an enterprise
  • Patterns for writing User Stories: Different ways of Slicing the work
  • The agile model that helps us develop and deliver data warehouse incrementally, delivering value earlier, and driving RoI for our customers; internal and external.

There is no organization that can live (and prosper) without a data warehouse. Every organization is using data warehouse (on a smaller scale, perhaps) to house relevant data and use it to their advantages.

Look forward to ‘seeing’ you all here in this series.

[Next post: What it is? – the agile data warehouse]