Standard Work

Standard Work is one of the most powerful but least used Lean tools. By documenting the current practices, it forms the baseline for continuous improvement. Let’s review some of the benefits quickly.

Benefits of Standard Work

  • Standardizes the work across different teams, different people; ensuring consistency across the organization; making outcomes predictable and measurable.
  • Sets clear expectations, branding as to what’s ‘given’ when the team/individual says a certain activity is ‘Done’.
  • Ensure that certain routine, mundane tasks get done (and don’t get overlooked due to them being ‘boring’.)
  • A common ‘platform’ is set up, a baseline against which the effectiveness of the individuals and/or team can be measured; ensuring a certain level of quality.
  • It’s the DNA of continuous improvement (CI). It makes CI routine and ingrained in the very existence of the organization.
  • Standard Work is a ‘snapshot‘, a picture of the best way to do things at this moment in time, with an eye on continuous improvement.

Without standard work, there is no kaizen (CI)
– Taichii Ohno

In essence, Standard Work helps you in minimizing waste and maximizing value delivery.

Would it help to have your standard work documented? Can it help you, your team, your organization improve the productivity and deliver more VALUE for your customer?

Go ahead and document your Standard of Work.

What’s Better yet…

Get these Standard Work templates for FREE, and put your team on the “hyper Productivity” lane!

Standardized work is a collection and implementation of the best practices known to that point.

Scrum Master

Standard work



Product Owner

Standard work


Scrum Team

Standard work


Get them All

Standard work


Interested in more …

Interested in more than just the Standard Work? How about Checklists, template emails, and worksheets to help your Scrum team?
playbook for scrum teams
Why reinvent? Leverage these Pearls of Agile Wisdom! Grab this Playbook now, for a tiny price!

Get them Now!

Not convinced yet…

Listen to what Steph has to say below 🙂

Testimonial from an actual Customer

I purchased this playbook and find it very helpful.  I think the email templates came in handy when trying to wrangle folks from all over the company together.  They keep me organized and the email now provides more information with these structured templates.

The “Standard Work” for each role is great as well.  It provides helpful hints on role responsibility and helps with keeping me organized with all the artifacts related to a project.

Great work and thanks!

– Steph W

I am convinced! Give it to me Now!


Don’t forget to Subscribe to our mailing list to get more Pearls of Agile Wisdom.



Improve Daily StandUp

Daily Standup is a very important ceremony in the Scrum framework. As part of the daily standup, the team meets on a regular basis for a quick sync up of 15 minutes.


Scrum Calendar Events [DS=Daily Stand up]

Remember, you only have 15 minutes to finish this daily standup. We want to use every minute optimally during this ceremony, don’t we? So what are the different ways we can optimize it?  

Top 10 Tips for Daily Stand Up

Here are my tips to have the team gel together quickly, as well as eliminate unnecessary churns that will happen at the daily stand up. Again, the goal is to maximize every minute of this daily stand up and make it a high performing ceremony.

  1. Come Prepared

    Ask your team member to use this tool before they come to daily stand up. Have your team members think about their updates before they come to Daily Stand up. Write three things on the Post It notes.

    Daily standup

    Write your updates to the three basic Questions

  2. Be Explicit

    Announce the start and end of your daily stand up. Make it explicit, use some specific music or it could be a simple as some one just announcing that it is the ‘START’ and ‘END’ of the daily stand up (at the beginning and end of the 15-minute timebox respectively).

    make it Explicit - Announce START and STOP

    make it Explicit – Announce START and STOP

  3. Parking Lot

    Introduce Parking lot and use it extensively to defer the discussions (after the end of daily stand up). This will help you keep the momentum during the daily stand up and enable you to quickly go through the synch up from each team member.

  4. 4th Question

    Introduce 4th question: Is there anything that you want to discuss with your team member(s) after the daily stand up?

    4th Question - Defer to Parking Lot

    4th Question – Defer to Parking Lot

    If yes, the team member mentions it quickly and someone captures it into the Parking Lot. Review and discuss the items on Parking Lot after the daily stand up is completed.

  5. After Party

    This is a time set aside, allocated for the discussion that we deferred during the daily standup. You may have put a couple of items in the Parking Lot. Once the end of the stand up is announced, some of the team members would stay back for their respective discussions. This is what I refer to as to as After Party!

    All the team members do not need to stay back, only the ones who are required for the discussion would.

    Want to #getHyper?

    Want to know more tips to improve your Stand up? your Scrum implementation?
    Check out and grab a copy of my book Get Hyper [OFFER]

  6. (Better) Equipments

    Just have proper equipment(s) to provide better quality audio and video to the team members.

    Yes, the daily standup has to be in person. And team members have to be there physically for the Stand up. With that said, there will always be some exceptions where a team member cannot attend the daily standup in person. You will have to have a way for them to remotely attend the stand up. Having better quality audio will tremendously improve the productivity of your daily stand up.

    You can provide better quality audio for under $50 investment in a bluetooth speaker. Here is the one that I carry in my beg all the time.

  7. (Update) Working Agreements

    You need to cover those exceptions (as discussed in Tip# 6) in your working agreement, have the team talk about it as to how they will handle those scenarios where a team member cannot attend the stand up in person. Amend your working agreements to cover that scenario.

    For example, one of my team had this on their working agreement:
    When a team member cannot attend in person…

    1. S/he will provide the updates to his/her Buddy. This buddy will bring those updates to the team in person.
    2. If that cannot be done then the team member will jump on the conference call.
    3. When everything else fails, send an email addressed to the team with your updates.

    Bottom line is to have your team discuss these scenarios and update their working agreements accordingly.

  8. Break the eye contact

    I have seen this time and time again, especially with the new teams. Often times when providing the updates, a team member is looking at the Scrum Master (only) as if she is providing the updates to the Scrum Master and not the team. Now, remember Stand up is for the team. A team member is providing the updates to others on the team, not just to the Scrum master. To break this mode I often encourage my Scrum Masters to break the eye contact. As soon as a team member starts providing updates to you as a Scrum Master, look away from her. Look at the floor or look at your scrum board; do whatever to break that eye contact. This will encourage them to look at other team members.

  9. Be Absent, intentionally

    I encourage Scrum Master to occasionally skip the daily stand up, be absent intentionally.The goal here is to see how the team handles your absence.
    Does the daily standup break apart because you are not there or does the team step up and handle it nicely.
    This will also give you indication as to whether the team is self-organizing and tackles those scenarios by themselves

  10. Make it Visible

    The last and the most important tip I think is to make it Visible. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words! So, use all the visual props, you can use a wall in the hallway as your Scrum Board, or use some flip chart papers and start using that as your Scrum Board.

    Put your posters on that and use it while having the daily stand up. Post your Working Agreements, Definition of Done, and Definition of Ready in the daily stand up area. In short, make it visual!

As I mentioned, in the beginning, this are simple techniques that I have used a lot when I start working with new scrum teams. I often introduced this in an incremental fashion. They are very effective and impactful.

What tips are you employing to keep your Daily Stand up on track, to finish it on time while keeping it useful and productive for the Team?

Let us know and we will include it in this list, along with credit to you of course.

The Wright Brothers (New York: Simon & Schuster, May, 2016)


The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Remember Wright Brothers if you ever catch yourself complaining that you cannot get there, you cannot achieve that big thing because ..

  • you don’t have the resources
  • you don’t have the money
  • don’t have the connections
  • you don’t have the experience
  • etc.. etc..

Pick up this book and know why you cannot complain for lack of those resources. What you need is the resolve,  what you need is the attitude! Pick up this book, read it, and I can ascertain that it will lift your spirits. You will soar through the world if you keep the Wright Brothers on your side!

If you ever feel down, if you ever feel that you are not going anywhere, just remember Wilbur and Orville, and how they achieved such big feats with such modest, humble beginnings in their life.

The Wright Brothers” – very well written book. I felt like I was walking with them (the Wright Brothers) as they were inventing their flier that would change the world.  And, I felt that I was walking with them as they demonstrated their flying machine on two sides of the Atlantic. I was really sad at the end of the book when each member of the Wright family exited this world as their lives came to an end, as they left this stage, what we call this world.

The two brothers supported by the silent partner, their younger sister Katherine, are an inspiration. An awe inspiring story of family love, the tenacity, perseverance and above all following one’s passion.

The Wright Brothers” – a must read. It will definitely be a pick me up!

[Updated] Mr. Number to your Rescue!

Mr. Number to your Rescue! Remember those telemarketers calling you just as you finish your dinner? I used to get them a lot on my landline, even after getting onto Do not Call list. Those dreaded, 9:00 pm dinner time calls are back! Now I started getting them on my Mobile as well.

These unwarranted, unsolicited calls are a big drain on your energy. They disrupt your ‘flow‘ and introduce unnecessary ‘switching cost’ as you are yanked away from the work you were doing. Often times you don’t know until you have picked up the call, and if you don’t pick up the call, you are wondering if you missed an important call. [For those of us whose family is overseas, we get a call from them and it shows up as a random number on Caller ID]

Mr. Number to the Rescue

Mr. NumberI have found an easy solution, though! Call Mr. Number to your rescue!

On your mobile, just install this app and it scans the incoming calls. It scans each incoming call against its vast database of telemarketers and scam callers. It automatically blocks the call if any match is found. This results in you not even picking up that call and saving you that energy, the switching cost. More importantly, it allows you to stay in the flow!

Use this app, along with the Do not Disturb feature of your phone, and you have your own personal secretary (remember those creatures!) that is guarding your time, for you 🙂


minimize the distractions + minimize/eliminating the switching cost = Hyper Productivity! #getHyper… Click To Tweet [Updated on 27Dec2016]

We beat AT&T as well a Wall Street Journal 🙂

Mr. NumberAT&T recently introduced an app named ‘Call Protect’. This FREE app promises to block robocall and all the other junk calls. Essentially, this app is powered by Hiya; the app we talked about earlier when we published our post. Here is the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article talking about this app. Didn’t I tell you we beat WSJ ?!

Claim back your valuable time! #getHyper Click To Tweet

Please add this app to your tools, start using it and claim back some of your valuable time!

INVEST in your User Stories – Nimesh Soni

Write better User Stories with this Visual Worksheet

User Stories are the lifeline of an Agile team. Even the BEST, high performing teams will struggle to deliver Value if they are fed bad Stories. As they say, INVEST in your User Stories!

Use this visual worksheet to help you, guide you in writing better User Stories. Help your team Help you with this worksheet.invest in your user stories
Onwards to writing user stories that help teams in creating value, frequently and on a regular cadence.

Nimesh’s Coaching Box

A simple tool to deliver your message effectively that creates impact, and do it with eeeease!

Want to deliver your session with ease? That is effective and impactful?

Of course, you want to be clear about the message you want to deliver; but being clear about it is just a start. Delivering your message effectively that is impactful – that’s the key. And, making it easy to digest for your audience is essential.

One of my good friend and colleagues introduced me to this concept while we were together at Paypal, coaching and mentoring the organization and teams on Agile adoption. [Thank You Monica!] Nowadays, you will see me walking around with this coaching box, almost all the time.

Nimesh's Coaching Box
Nimesh’s Coaching Box

Why this Coaching Box?
You are the change agent, but you don’t just want to talk about the change. You want to deliver your message effectively that creates an impact, and doing it with ease is the key to success. I have found that having this coaching box handy helps tremendously in achieving that. With this coaching box on my side, I can deliver my message, my presentation, my session with an ease that is effective and impactful. As a coach, as a change agent, it is your Toolbox!

What’s in it?
This coaching box essentially has the tools of the trade in it, readily available by my side at a moment’s notice. No more fumbling around for a whiteboard marker that really works!

Let’s look at what I have in the coaching box:

  • Post It notes. We can’t live without them, can we? [Check out my series of posts on how I use Post It notes]
  • Sharpie Pens
  • Whiteboard markers, that really work!

At a minimum, you should have these three items in your Coaching box. You can throw in some electronic tools in it along with these three items.

  • Remote Clicker, with spare batteries
  • Mac connector cable (to connect to Projector)
  • Old iPhone (that is not connected to any network)
  • Evernote or OneNote on your mobile device, making sure that you have the reference material and worksheets handy. Most importantly, make sure that you have the worksheets and checklists handy.
  • Other apps such as Office Lens to take pictures of your whiteboard drawings, Scannable to scan physical papers, etc. [Read my post on various apps that can help you]
  • Spare reading glasses
  • Lip balm
  • Two Cereal bar (my emergency energy source)
  • Two tea bags – like to drink hot tea (no sugar,no milk) before and during the sessions I facilitate. Helps me keep hydrated while keeping my throat clear helping in projecting my voice higher.

I add in a few cereal bars that can double as my lunch as well as a snack. Often times while you are delivering your sessions, you don’t have the time and luxury to have the proper lunch!

But, I need reasons to carry this coaching box…

I will give you three reasons why you want this box by your side.

  1. Instead of grabbing ten things, you are grabbing just one thing. This has bailed me out many times as I have been asked to present or coach at a moments notice by the executives. You know your executives in the organization 🙂
  2. It sends a very clear, strong, positive message that this guy (or gal) is always ready!
  3. You have all the supplies handy and within arms reach, supplies that you are familiar with and know they work, supplies that help you deliver your message effectively that creates impact.

With this box handy, I am ready to deliver any session at a moment’s notice. Let’s go, and make change happen!

Just Enough Documentation with an App?

Can Office Lens help you with Just In Time documentation?

As an Agilist, as a change agent, you are almost always playing the role of a “Facilitator” as you interact with your business stakeholders as well as members of your teams. I like these sessions to be interactive and collaborative. I encourage you all to use Post Its and White boarding as you go through these sessions.


Office Lens for Just Enough Documentation

And, some of you have already heard me say this multiple times: Just Enough and Good Enough! As we do the white boarding sessions, taking a picture of it and attaching it to your Feature/Story might be good enough documentation, at that point in time.

To take the picture of white boarding session, I highly recommend an app called Office Lens by Microsoft. All you have to do is to point your mobile to the wall where the whiteboard is. The app automatically  identifies the whiteboard and takes pretty good, clear picture of the content. You don’t have to worry about getting it in frame properly, nor do you have to worry about the lighting and reflections.  Check out the details of the app here.

documentationAs mentioned in his CIO article, The app is good at detecting edges and cropping automatically, and both features save you a few steps.

I have used Scannable from Evernote as well, and I am a big fan of that app too!  However, Office Lens beats it when it comes to taking pictures of the White board. Here is a picture from one of my white boarding session, taken with Office Lens.

Documentation in Agile - Whiteboarding and Just Enough Documentation - Nimesh Soni

White boarding session – picture taken using Office Lens

Question: What other apps you have used? Share your findings in comments below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.


10 Apps for 10x Productivity

Increase Productivity on the Go with these Apps

10 Apps for 10x productivity

10 Apps for 10x Productivity

Like it or not, Accept it, we are a mobile society driven by mobiles in our hands and our pockets. Is your mobile device a ‘sink hole’ for your time and productivity? Can we actually use them to increase 10x productivity, on the go!?

Are you ‘wasting’ lot of time on your mobile with Facebook likes and updates, with What’s app and Instagram? Turn the tables! Convert your mobile devices into a productivity magnet, using some of the best productivity apps that I regularly use and highly recommend.

Mobile devices are major part of the strategy for industry leaders like Google, Microsoft and Facebook. We do more and more work on the go using our mobile devices. As you walk to your car, as you walk in the mall, and so on. How many of you have bumped into a person who is so engrossed in his/her phone that doesn’t even care to look at where s/he is headed.

No Texting while Walking!

Use of phone while driving is already illegal in most of the states, if not all of the states. But, now, there are some states which are considering banning the phone use while walking. In New Jersey for example, in a town called Fort Lee police have written hundreds of citations for texting while walking. So make no mistake we are a mobile society. Driven by the mobile, getting more and more work done on the go using mobile devices.

I’m guilty of this as well 🙂 I use mobile to get more and more work done from my daily routine. I have used several apps and constantly experiment with new ones.

10 for 10x Productivity

Let’s talk about the 10 apps that can get you to 10x productivity: apps that help you get more done with minimal effort involved, and of course on the go!

1.Evernote and OneNote

10 Apps for 10x productivity-Evernote10 Apps for 10x productivity-OneNote

Start with moving your world to Electronic world, and what better way to do that is getting this electronic note taking apps.

I use Evernote for managing my professional life while the OneNote keeps my personal life organized. And in the digital world once in there my notes are available from any device, anywhere. It also helps you reduce the use of paper, in return you are helping to save some trees!

Your back will also thank you as these two note taking apps will help you reduce the size of your backpack! I introduced OneNote to my son also to help him reduce the weight he carries in his backpack. In fact, he extended the functionality and use of it even further. He uses OneNote on his Microsoft Surface, and he can capture hand written notes with the electronic pen!

Very easy to search, and highly collaborative, these note taking apps will take your productivity to next level, almost immediately!


As you can see, I do a lot of doodling on post-it. I like to draw and doodling allows me to bring two of my passions together: the art and the agile.

10 Apps for 10x productivity-scannableI use Post It extensively while explaining concepts or brainstorming on new product offering.  I use doodling and sketch when I’m having one on one conversations or explaining new concepts on paper. I can take a picture of these Post It notes, with doodles or my handwritten notes. To do this, put your drawing on a contrasting background, load up your Scannable app, aim and snap!

This app gives you crisp and clear image by automatically eliminating glare and flattening the image. Check some of my doodles here which have been brought to the electronic world using Scannable app.

3.Office Lens

From Microsoft, this app does similar job as Scannable but I use it for specific purpose other than those scanning of documents.

10 Apps for 10x productivity-Office LensBeing an Agilist I’m highly collaborative and often I am at whiteboard explaining various concepts to a team or group of people. I’m using drawings while using different color sharpie pens! Office Lens does a great job of taking white board pictures.

Again, all you do is aim and snap. This app is smart to figure out what is the actual whiteboard area, and automatically pans to get the area appropriately while eliminating glare. The end result is crisp and clear image!

Collaboration + White boarding + Office Lens = Just in Time, Just Enough documentation
Collaboration + White boarding + Office Lens = Just in Time, Just Enough documentation Click To Tweet

3 down, and more to come!

I explained the Top 3 of my 10x productivity apps. I will explain the remaining apps in the next installment of this blog post. Until then, experiments with these apps and #getHyper!

Click To Tweet

To get more productivity hacks Like us in our Facebook pages: getHyper and mentorMe

Dependency Wheel with Scrum team

See how easily you can minimize the impact of dependencies to ensure Success on your project

Can dependencies derail your project? What is the impact of these dependencies on your initiative?

In today’s hyper connected world, it will be difficult to have a project that did not have any dependencies, internal or external, upstream or downstream on other projects or initiatives, vendors, tools, or functionality.

Impacts of Dependencies

If you are not careful about the dependencies, if you do not put any effort in identifying them, they will sneak up on you and derail your initiative:

  • The later you identify, the more costly it will be to address them, the more time it will add to your delivery time, the more negative impact it will have on the quality of work you can deliver.
  • You will be dealing with hot heads! The stakeholders will not be happy to hear you that ‘it will take more time!’
  • Your estimates will be way off, if you ignored the dependencies

So, why not be intentional about them as you start on an initiative and through the execution of it; why not spend some time upfront talking about potential dependencies.

Dependencies will sneak up on you and derail your initiative! Identify them upfront with Dependency… Click To Tweet

Dependency Wheel

I use this simple tool with the teams I coach. It is a simple, intuitive, easy to use, yet very effective tool.

Start this session with your team by drawing a circle at the center of whiteboard or flip chart sheet. Put your program/team name in the center. All the spikes on this wheel are the dependencies that are known at the time. As you identify new dependency, just draw another spike.

The more rims you have on the dependency wheel, the more air it has to cut through, the more friction it has to push through. Similarly, your program/project will have to cut through more of the red carpet and push through more friction from other projects if you have more rims on your dependency wheel.

The more rims you have on this dependency wheel, the more difficult and complex the project will be. It also helps you in setting the expectations with you stakeholders, it also helps team when they are providing their estimation.

Here is a sample, from a team I coached in the past at a client.

dependency wheel

Why identify Dependencies?

As you can see, it is of paramount importance to spend some time on thinking about them and identify them upfront. Granted that you will not know all the dependencies. But, mere fact that you are putting some time to think about them upfront is a huge win. It gives you a gauge as to how much additional force you will need to push through the friction.

Above all, it helps you in setting the expectations of all the parties. It helps you ground the expectations of stakeholders. It also helps ground the team and provide more realistic estimates.

As I mentioned, it adds tremendous value and increases your chances of success on a program or initiative. You can start reaching out to those partier (on whom you are dependent, or who are dependent on you). The cross functional team, works on the initial version of this wheel as they go through the planning activity (Release planning, Sprint planning.) And, then it can be a good artifact to take to your Scrum of Scrum.

Put this wheel on your backlog, or else your program will derail (for sure, at some point in future) Click To Tweet

Book Summary: Linked to Influence

7 Powerful Rules for Becoming a Top Influencer on Linked In

Book summary

Linked to Influence

You will find at least a few tips that you can implement right away to maximize your presence on Linked In. And, if you are not on LI, you better get started! Act now!

If you want to build and strengthen relationship with your client. If you want to share your knowledge and experience with the world. And in the process build your influence over the community you are serving.

You will find at least a few tips that you can implement right away to maximize your presence on Linked In. And, if you are not on LI. Better get started now! You should not ignore this book if you want to build and strengthen relationship with your client. And in the process build your influence over the community you are serving, if you want to share your knowledge and experience with the world.

In this book, @stephsammons provides 7 powerful rules that can serve as guide posts as you work towards building your influence. You will find at least a few tips that you can implement right away to maximize your presence on Linked In. And, if you are not on LI, you better get started! Act now.

You should not ignore this book. If you want to build and strengthen relationship with your client. If you want to share your knowledge and experience with the world, and in the process build your influence over the community you are serving.

In this book, @stephsammons provides 7 powerful rules that can serve as guide posts as you work towards building your influence.

Three Quotes from the book

  • Linked In is a global, virtual, perpetual networking event!
  • Influencers do not try to help everyone. They know exactly whom they can help.
  • Remember this! Business is personal. People do business with people.

Three tips from the book