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Agile Conversations: Transform Your Conversations, Transform Your Culture

Agile Conversations: Transform Your Conversations, Transform Your Culture

by Douglas Squirrel, Jeffrey Fredrick

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A successful digital transformation must start with a conversational transformation.

Today, software organizations are transforming the way work gets done through practices like Agile, Lean, and DevOps. But as commonly implemented as these methods are, many transformations still fail, largely because the organization misses a critical step: transforming their culture and the way people communicate.

Agile Conversations brings a practical, step-by-step guide to using the human power of conversation to build effective, high-performing teams to achieve truly Agile results. Consultants Douglas Squirrel and Jeffrey Fredrick show readers how to utilize the Five Conversations to help teams build trust, alleviate fear, answer the “whys,” define commitments, and hold everyone accountable.These five conversations give teams everything they need to reach peak performance, and they are exactly what’s missing from too many teams today.

Stop focusing on processes and practices that leave your organization stuck with culture-less rituals. Instead, unleash the unique human power of conversation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781942788669
Publisher: IT Revolution Press
Publication date: 05/12/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Douglas Squirrel has been coding for 40 years and has led software teams for 15 of them. He is an executive coach and consulting CTO in London, making use of his extensive experience growing teams and advising startup founders and senior managers. His previous roles included founding CTO at TIM Group and VP Engineering at e-commerce startup Secretsales. He has consulted with a wide variety of London startups including Geckoboard,, DueDil, Kano, and MarketInvoice.

Jeffrey Fredrick is an internationally recognized expert in software development and has over 25 years' experience covering both sides of the business/technology divide. An early adopter of XP and Agile practices, Jeffrey has been a conference speaker in the US, Europe, India and Japan. Through his work on the pioneering open-source project CruiseControl, and through his role as co-organizer of the Continuous Integration and Testing Conference (CITCON), he has had a global impact on software development. Jeffrey's Silicon Valley experience includes roles as Vice President of Product Management, Vice President of Engineering, and Chief Evangelist. He has also worked as an independent consultant on topics including corporate strategy, product management, marketing, and interaction design. Jeffrey is currently Chief Technology Officer and Head of Product & Marketing in London at TIM, an Acuris Company. He also runs the London Organisational Learning Meetup and is a CTO mentor through CTO Craft.

Table of Contents


A Word from the Authors

How this Book is Organized

The Many Ways to Read this Book

Part I

Chapter 1: Escaping the Software Factory

Laboring in the Software Factory

Agile: People-Driven Development

Lean Software: Empower the Team

DevOps: Operators are People Too

Detour into the Feature Factory

Sidebar: The Cynefin Framework

Chapter 2: Conversations: Humanity's Secret Weapon

Our Special Power

Improving and Learning from Your Conversations

Sidebar: Types of Conversations

The Four Rs

Conversational Analysis

Analyzing a Conversation: Reflect, Revise, and Role Play

Sidebar: Conversation Scoring: A Quick Breakdown

Example Conversations

Conclusion: Over to You

Part II


Chapter 3: The Trust Conversation

Trust Comes First

Nell's Trust Story

Preparing: Be Vulnerable

Preparing: Be Predictable

The Conversation: TDD for People

Nell's Trust Story Continued

Example Trust Conversations

Case Study: Trust Saves the Day

Applying the Trust Conversation

Chapter 4: The Fear Conversation

Fear—The Default Feeling

Tara's Fear Story

Preparing: Normalization of Deviance

Preparing: Coherence Busting

The Conversation: The Fear Chart

Tara's Fear Story Continued

Example Fear Conversations

Case Study: Overcoming Fear

Applying the Fear Conversation

Chapter 5: The Why Conversation

Don't Start with Why

Bobby's Why Story

Preparing: Interests not Positions, Advocacy Plus Inquiry

Preparing: Joint Design

The Conversation: Building a Why

Bobby's Why Story Continued

Example Why Conversations

Case Study: Stuck on Why

Applying the Why Conversation

Chapter 6: The Commitment Conversation

Compliance vs. Commitment

Mandy's Commitment Story

Preparing: Agree on Meaning

Preparing: The Walking Skeleton

Sidebar: The Tilted Slider

The Conversation: Making a Commitment

Mandy's Commitment Story Continued

Example Commitment Conversations

Case Study: Context for Commitment

Applying the Commitment Conversation

Chapter 7: The Accountability Conversation

Who's Accountable

Nicole's Accountability Story

Preparing: Theory X and Theory Y

Preparing: Directed Opportunism

Sidebar: Medieval Accountability

The Conversation: Radiating Intent

Nicole's Accountability Story Continued

Example Accountability Conversations

Case Study: Resurrecting the Deal

Applying the Accountability Conversation[

Conclusion: How to Keep Learning

Further Reading & Resources




About the Authors