Father of the Bride: Essentials of the Product Owner’s role

Product Owner’s role is one of the primary roles on the Scrum but as it is with most of the Scrum practices and Agile principles , Everyone interprets it in their own way.

As was trying to find examples of a PO’s role, I remembered Steve Martin (who else…..) [And if you are thinking why and how.. you are certainly a Gen Z rather than a millennial or the GenXer]

If you were born in that era, you would certainly remember the Steve Martin cult movie and the big fat weddings, demanding in-laws and the farting, passed out uncles which were the quintessential part of the big fat wedding

If you have been to a wedding in that era, you would also remember that guy who was supposed to be in-charge of everything, in control of every single bit yet he was the most tense, most haggled of the lot..

Yes, yes… I am talking about the Father of the bride, the ever beaming, smiling one… That, my friend is your inspiration for the PO’s role

BUT not to worry if you have not experienced that feeling of being powerful but still being like ice-cream (trying to make everyone happy I mean..).. let me take you through the journey, my dear co-learner…

If you are the Father of the bride (ummm… Product Owner I mean)… who are you really..:??? Let’s discover

The Cupid/ The Matchmaker or simply ‘Sima Aunty’

( Sima aunty is now in season 3 on Indian matchmaking, making matches, do you know and remember her ;))

The first task of the parents of the bride is to find the suitable match. You would be lucky if your child says, they already have a partner but if they say, we will marry with a person of your choice.. be prepared, It’s a long, bumpy ride ahead and the storm is brewing… because you child is now the customer and they have a lot of ever changing demands, multiple meetings, screaming matches, tantrums et al, yet you are the one trying to be the matchmaker and find that suitable life partner for your beloved child…

and very very similar to this, the PO’s role is to ensure the Developers and Customers know each other, talk to each other frequently, understand each others’ needs well and promise to be friends forever (impossible almost but we can always give it a shot :D) …

Easier said than done though, so here is your survival kit as The Matchmaker:

The Facilitator: You would need facilitation skills to ensure that the developers and business people behave like perfect buddies and actually reach conclusions during meetings

The Negotiator: Negotiation skills to ensure that they don’t start the World War V between the business and developers and also , developers do not take up more than what they can chew.

The Diplomat: to ensure that both business and technology understand each other. If not, get some interpreters on board aka Architects, Product designers, BAs etc.

The Wedding planner

So, after a lot of meetings and ever changing needs, finally we have a match ..and now starts the big task.. planning for the D-Day…and that includes everything from identifying the kind of wedding, to venue, to deciding when should the guests start rolling in and kind of food and everything else to make the occasion unforgettable

Similar to this, as a PO, you are the future gazer of the team. Helping the team build a vision statement, identifying product goals, establishing milestones, identifying what PSI and MVP means for us and much more…

But, this is not a one time activity, because as a wise man said once, planning is important , plans are useless. So, continuously updating the Product plan, strategy and roadmap ,based on the feedforward received from customers and stakeholders, sprint over sprint, is an essential part of the PO’s role.

But when the going gets tough, the tough get going, so here is your survival skillset:

The Astrologer: Being able to understand and envision the future, understand market needs of today and predict the future.

The Planner: to plan for the broad horizon as well as the minute details, to ensure that we do just enough plans and adjust them as the team sprints.

Kuber- The chancellor of the exchequer

A big fat wedding means a lot of people and a lot of demands and ever changing needs of the relatives. But while the demands are endless, the money is not.

So, sometimes as the person in-charge, you have to make some tough decisions ; which wedding item/ ritual to focus on first and what can wait for later, when we have more funds., whom to invite and whom not to go, what venue do we want etc. etc. etc.

Akin to this, your customers would have a lot of demands from the team, but which ones can we do, which we cannot , which should be done first, what can wait for later; these are tough decisions that you would need to take as a PO. And chances are not everyone may like the decisions you take, so its better to be prepared with your survival skills:

The Chitragupta aka the accounting person: You would need to have an understanding of budgets, priorities, hiring, Balance sheets and more to ensure you take the right decision which create value for the business and customers

The astute businessperson: You should know where to invest the penny and how much is it worth, what time to launch the product, what do the users like and what will maximize the profits for the product.

The Iron smith aka Completer Finisher

On the day when the urge to forge comes upon him,
The bellows do everything but speak.
The pile of slag rises higher and higher.
Just look at what has been forged

-Shona praise poetry-Ironsmith, Zimbabwe

It’s the night before the wedding, its well past midnight and everyone is asleep , the wedding planners have done their job and made everything ready…there is a silence all over but there is one guy, who is checking and double checking everything; ensuring and worried everything goes smooth; instructing the wedding planners to make some final changes so everything is perfect on the D-day. There is the father of bride.

The PO is there to ensure that when the team says ‘Done’ , doublechecking and confirming if it is indeed done. When the team needs any clarifications making sure, they get the details in time.

But the final survival skills that you would need are here:

The completer finisher: Ensuring everything is DONE; Definition of done and Acceptance tests have all been completed and quality is inherent in the PSI the team is creating

The tough soul: At times as a PO, you might need to take hard decisions about the product. Focusing on logic rather than emotions about the product you are building.

To conclude , the PO role is an all encompassing role who is responsible for generating value for the customer, frequently and efficiently delivering the right build and product

So, Are you ready for it , Dear Product Owners?

Is ‘Agile’ a substitute for your messy culture?

800 teams , more than 100 organizations that I have coached to build an Agile culture and practices, but a peculiar thing that I have noted.

I probably had not paid attention to this earlier, but as I was looking back and analyzing the pre and post transformation status of lot of my clients, I was almost amazed on how I missed it!

What I realized was for almost half of my customers who went for an Agile transformation, Agility was not about being more flexible or faster time to market or better employee satisfaction (though these were the stated goals) , what my team and yours truly ended up doing was, focusing on bringing discipline and actually documenting and tracking some KPIs (Where there were none!).

You must be wondering if my coaches are advising more documentation and tracking, how can it be called Agile?

Sample this: The project managers of one of the very large and global organizations, track their progress not in terms of days and hours but rather in weeks. Task A would take 8 weeks, Task B would take 16 weeks and more. All this is documented not in any tool or spreadsheet but in a powerpoint slide set and that is updated only by the Project Manager.

The culture is almost perfectly “Agile”.. team members decide the timelines, there is a great camaraderie between team members across the team, they respond to change as needed based on market conditions and change the plan, almost too good Agile … a perfect Agile team….!!!

BUT …..

…they deliver their projects on an average from 18 months to 27 months even though the mandate is 6 months or less for an average project.

…Whenever the status is updated, it is not in terms of number of hours (or days ) pending but just a simple percentage, 50% done, 80% done etc.

Because the organization is truly Agile and cares about its employees, employees reject team and project meetings half an hour before the meeting, because they simply couldn’t come to office that day or were too busy with other stuff.

So, would you call this organization Agile or not Agile. As a coach, if I call for the enterprise to be more disciplined first before using Scrum practices, would I be exaggerating?

Does Agile comes with just the employee friendly rules and culture or there’s more to it, which is as important as setting up a nice team culture?

I await your comments and any similar experiences you have in your organization?

The $101 experiment!

The world around us has changed a lot in last 365 days. The way we connect, the way we meet, the way we talk, the way we travel and ALSO the way we learn.

As the ways of learning changed, it opened a Pandora’s box. Now, a trainer sitting in Bengaluru, Mumbai or Ahmedabad, could train people in Hawaii and Christchurch sitting right from his/her drawing room. But this also brought out an avalanche.

Because now, suddenly there was a flood of online classes for every topic perceivable from every trainer in the world, the only way some trainers thought they would be able to attract learners to the classes was only be lowering their price and there started the proverbial race to bottom e.g. From the peak pricing of $500 for a 2 day CSPO class, some trainers and organizations started to offer prices for as low as $150 .

As a CST and having teaching Product Management for many years now, I was wondering how do I sustain the market? Should I even be bothered about offering a class given what was happening from a price point?

I had pointed the futility of this rat race to bottom to a lot of my fellow guides online and offline but no-one seemed to be taking notice or being bothered anymore.

SO, I decided to run a marketing experiment !

I put up the lowest one of the tickets for my CSM classes for as less as $101!!! Yes $101.. This was a no frills ticket.

The others two tickets were posted at a rate of $250 and $350 and included most of amenities

The purpose of this experiment was to find out whether the lowest price is the only consideration which a learner would use to decide which trainer and workshop he/she wants to be part of. (Unfortunately, a lot of training marketing companies and trainers think so).

So after running this experiment for a quarter, I am happy to report that my original belief that rock bottom pricing for any product/ service is not the solution, stands vindicated.

Here is some of the results from my experiments which confirmed my belief:

  • During the January-March 2021 quarter, I posted 7 workshops from my ScrumAlliance offerings.
  • Less than 1% of total queries received, enquired for the lowest priced ticket.
  • Most students (close to 95%) enquired for my medium price ticket which sells for approx. $250. This is much higher than the published prices I see from a lot of trainers/ marketing companies today for a CSM workshop in Asia.
  • There was no significant uptick reported in the traffic to the registration portal because of low pricing. The number of visits more or less remained the same over this period.

I completed this experiment end of March and changed the pricing.

If you have a passion and dream to be a trainer (CST, PST, SPC et al), here is a simple advice, that I would like to provide based on the above experiment :

  • DO NOT build your sales and marketing strategy around pricing. Be sensitive to the market but do not fight the bloody war to rock bottom.
  • Increase your personal brand value. That’s what pays in the long term.
  • Last but not the least, collaborate and win with your fellow trainers. Celebrate each others’ success and recommend their good work to your students. Your students would for sure come back to you if they liked the person you recommended.

So pandemic or no pandemic, some things never change in this world: the sun, the sky, the politics AND good sales & marketing strategies. The choice is yours!!

Is being free and open a sin or a responsibility?

If you have seen the NetFlix documentary, Wild Wild Country on Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh (or Osho, as he was called in later years), or have been intrigued by what happens and used to happen in the Osho Ashram in the tony Koregaon Park neighborhood of Oxford of the east, Pune read on..

but …

If you think if anything and everything that happens outside the moral fabric of the society is immoral and illegal, may be you should move away from this article because, dear reader, you would, for sure not align with some of the examples and the words I say..

So, coming back to the Wild Wild Country and the man behind it. The Baba who preached freedom, of soul, of speech, of karma , and more controversially , of sex and related things.

First, to mind you, Osho was definitely not the first to talk about this and definitely wouldn’t be the last to talk about these so called “taboo” topics.

Now, I am not here to talk about whether Osho was right or wrong, whether Swami Nithyananda is right or wrong, whether Krishna was right or wrong or the practices of other religions like Islam and Christianity are right or wrong. I am simply not qualified and read enough to be able to comment on these.

But , what I want to point out, if you notice a little deep in all the examples above, is the yearning for Freedom.

Freedom from mundane, freedom from rituals, freedom from restrictions, freedom from tyranny and orders from bosses.

Under our thick skinned, poker faced daily routines and facades, all of us yearn for it and yet only a few dare to talk about it or actually, try and be free.

But. why is that while everyone says eons of words about freedom of expression, being yourself and more, not many dare to be actually free?

Well, the answer is a simple societal flaw: Anyone going out of their lane is considered a sinner, an outlaw and society fails to accept anyone talking about breaking those societal rules. Be it those of marriage, relationships, office work, culture, basically just about any dimension, which requires interaction between two humans.

And that’s what I call hypocrisy! unfettered, unabashed hypocrisy!

I will give you a very small example from the time I spent long back in God’s Own country Kerala.

Now, if you are in a public transport in Kerala, and a lone woman is sitting and the seat next is vacant, an unknown male dare not sit on that seat, as it is considered to be immoral, unethical but the same state, downloads the highest amount of porn every month globally.

We all hate godmen like Sant Ram Rahim, Satpal Maharaj, Swami Nithyananda, yet in our immediate family, or we ourselves would have some Guruji , whom we bow down to take blessings from and worship them like Gods.

So, does Freedom generate sin or cults always? May be not!

Freedom is not a Sin. It is an essential fuel for the human soul to grow, to learn, to innovate, to leap and reach beyond and create that magic. So, as a social beings, we need to rethink our behaviors and our responses to things out of our normal way of thinking.

But, Let me now present a totally different perspective. Freedom is a right, but it does come with responsibility. The downfall of many a cults, spiritual figures, and social heroes has not been their ability to connect but because of taking things for granted, bringing egos and personality worship into their vicinity, destroying the ecosystem of society around them.

With great power comes great responsibility, and freedom is Power. So, if you are thinking radical, out of the box, great, by all means you have the right to think differently but do always think about the consequences that you would have on those around you. Are you ready to ensure that your thought process doesn’t inadvertently or knowingly cause harm to others.

Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand and they can be good friends if allow them to. So, think, my dear friend think!

PS: This article is not about Agility as you would have expected from my blog, but if you would notice and know the Agile values, I am sure you can resonate all of the above in the context of Agile Values and true Agile team.

Your best chance to be an Outlier!

We all have been to a zoo once in our lifetime, sometimes as a child, some times accompanying our children.

Do you remember that excitement that we used to have as kids to see an African Giraffe or a Gorilla or Sea Lions, all the way from a different country and continent ?

But while watching all those calm, lazy animals , did you ever wonder how the world looked like from their perspective. Caged, confined with nothing much to look forward the next day.

No, I am not starting a lecture about Animals Rights and PETA (Though i have been a closet animal activist all along).

I am steering this discussion to a different paradigm. The paradigm of human intelligence and preservance (and IQ).

When animals are confined and caged, they don’t have many other things to do as their mind just know a few things to do: Eat , Sleep, Play/hunt…and repeat.

But in these strange times of 2020, as a Human being, are we also doing the same?

True, some of us are working in WFH, Virtual mode and yet others have resumed officers, but are we repeating the same routines all over again, pre and post lockdown?

On that note, let’s talk about Outliers.

Who are outliers? These are people in our society, from amongst us, who are considered geniuses, in any domain, business, sports, religion, politics, software et al.

And some notable examples I would talk about here: Michael Jordan, Bill Joy, Sachin Tendulkar, Mahatma Gandhi, M C Mary Kom, Chattrapati Shivaji, Dhirubhai Ambani,Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jack Ma.

These are all considered geniuses of their times and field. But what can be common between Chattrapati Shivaji and JackMa (apart from their innate talent, of course).

It’s that one word which we have heard since our childhood, but we keep on ignoring:


We want to have all the comforts in the world, we want to be respected and well known in our field, we want to enjoy the fruits of our labor , but when it comes to practice, our ‘excusist’ syndrome takes over and you often listen yourself saying that dreaded phrase “Oh, I don’t have time”.

A counter-argument that I always hear, oh, I practice my skills when I am working so I can easily become a master at my work…

But, just ask yourself at this moment.

The job, the work that you are doing, Is this where your passion lies? Is this what you see yourself doing 15 years from now? Is this something which will give your fulfilment and fond memories in future.

If not, this is the perfect time to take a pause and think!

Are you riding the hamster’s wheel or have you really started practicing towards your ultimate purpose/ Goal of life?

And this lockdown , caged period we humans are/have faced is probably the best opportunity to practice those skills and gain mastery over what we really want to do?

But, how much practice is enough to gain Mastery/ Expertise on a subject/ topic/ skill ?

It’s a very simple number:

10,000 hours*

(*Taken from Outliers: By Malcolm Gladwell)

So, even if you start practicing your art/ skill for 1 hour per day for 5 days a week, it would take approximately you approximately 40 years to be the master in your field of choice.

But, what if you got a chance to practice, 3-4 hours per day for 5 days a week? The same time period reduced to 10 years ( now that sound more reasonable, particularly for young minds)

Let me ask a question then:

Are your still cribbing about lockdown and and reading this article?


Has your wonderful super-computer already started planning on how to master your skills and be the Outlier in your field by making best use of this stay-at-home opportunity ?

As I leave you with more questions than answers, reflect, set your goals and start your journey.


The Origin of Conflict!


I am not going into the boring old topic of conflict management here. umm, there has been enough said about it.

Actually, this came up in some of my deep discussions with my daughter about one of her research topics in school on ‘how does religion affect the laws?’. So, we have been debating and discussion about Iran, Mohajirs of Pakistan, the conflicts in 7th and 8th century , the multi-religion families and more.

We did discuss how religion itself has caused almost 70% wars and suffering in the world. How religious suppression goes in waves: From the early centuries’ Catholic dominance, to the persecution of Jews, the suppressions of women’s right in post revolution Iran, under ISIS rule and even the suppression and ‘atrocities’ in countries following Buddhism.

But how did Religion become a topic/power even greater than the right to live, right to have proper food, right to die in dignity?

So, we dig deeper and what we discussed , the problem of all religions (and so called religious ‘Gurus’) is not the religion itself, but the desire to expand , the “Greed” to expand, to be the most followed religion in the world.

Is this Greed limited only to religions? Well if you look around you, this “Greed” is everywhere, in personal, professional world, everywhere!

In Politics, the greed to have ultimate power and rule the millions and billions..

In business, to earn more and more (Yes , even in my training business)..

In Offices, to have that influences on maximum number of subordinates..

At Home, the greed to always get your way and control (the typical saas-bahu conflict)..

And when , this greed is not fulfilled, we enter into a conflict zone and obviously, we tend to blame others for start of that conflict

But are human beings born greedy, are human beings born with a religion, are human being born with expansionist mindset. NO!

A child is not born with a rudraksh, or a skull cap or a cross.

It is the parents who force their religion upon their kids. Even at the tender age of 1-2 years, when they don’t even know how to spell their name, kids are told to bow down, follow the rituals, and not go against one’s religion. But was it your religion or your parents’ religion you are following?

It is the parents’ greed to follow the ‘family’ traditions, family religion which make them grow more biased and confused as they grow..

But, coming back to the origins of conflict, where does this Greed come from?

Can it really be eliminated or suppressed? Let’s try to find an answer.

Let’s actually look at the Neanderthal times, when we were still gatherer-hunters 2,00,00 years back. The number of people on the planet was too far less and the resources to feed were in plenty. SO, there were pretty much no conflicts..

But then, we started to expand our clans, our families. and that needed more resources, more food, more hands, more hands who would hunt and gather for the ever expanding clans.

and there in started the origin of conflicts. Because now we had continuously forage into others’ ‘territories’ to get more food , so if they would try to defend, we would forcible try to take over land and food sources and force them to follow our rituals and ways of food and more.

As humans evolved some of these things got hard-wired into our genes. To protect what we call ours, to expand wherever and howsoever we can and to look down upon those, we conquered.

Flash forward to future, and lets go to the ever burning Middle-East part of the world.

If the powers to be would not have the expansionist , religious mind-set, Would the Gulf-war take place? NO!

Would Yemen be in the condition it is now? NO!

Would the USA have more bases outside of mainland US? , NO!

You are thinking this is a political statement I am making.

BUT think about the conflicts in your office… When a colleague is given more attention and privileges,when the boss never listens to the voice of reason, when people are fired even though they would have served the company dutifully for 25 years

And, it’s not also professional.

Think about your conflicts with your friends, your family members, your neighbours. Are they really ideological or one party trying to prove their supremacy and trying to say others are wrong. Ah! the greed to be seen as superior.

and let me make it more personal, when you want your partner to love and like you the way you want them to , isn’t that greed. When you want your partner to be 24×7 with you, isn’t that greed!

Now, almost all religious gurus can give you a 5 day gyaan on how to suppress greed, but I would rather leave you with a question..

Before you preach others about anything..

Have you been able to suppress your own greeds?

What do I do in lockdown?

It’s May.. and most of us have been locked down since almost 60 days. Everytime we think it will open, the number of cases rise and authorities have to extend it. Yes, some of us are working from home but what about those who can’t work. Either the business is shut down, or simply we lost the job!

We have already spent hours on talking about how life is unfair, how 2020 should be cancelled and what not ! But what after that?

We are still in lockdown and the mayhem doesn’t seem to end anytime soon.

Being in a similar situation, I have been pondering about it but as the divine light shines sometimes, I read a story which ignited a light. And as I have been sharing my little rumblings with you, here is this one too:

I don’t know if it is mentioned in Hindu mythology or not… but I like the context, so I am sharing it ..

Once Lord Indra got angry with the farmers, he declared that there will be no rain for 12 years .. you will not be able to grow crops …

The farmers begged for mercy from Lord Indra.

Lord Indra said that it is possible for it to rain only if Lord Shiva plays his Damru (small drum) ! But he had secretly discussed with Lord Shiva and requested him not to agree with these farmers. When the farmers came to Lord Shiva, they said that after 12 years, the Damru (drum) would be played.

Disappointed farmers decided to wait for 12 years.

But a farmer was regularly plowing the field. Was sowing seeds. Other farmers were making fun of that farmer. A few years later, other farmers asked him, “Why are you wasting your time and energy when you know it will not rain for 12 years?”

He replied, “I know there will be no rain and no harvest. But I do this only as a” practice. ” After 12 years I will forget the method of growing crops and working in the fields. The body may forget its habit to toil, so I do it every year so that after 12 years it will not be difficult for me to work when it rains. “

Hearing their argument, Goddess Parvati was appreciative and said to Lord Shiva, “You may also forget to play the Damru after 12 years!”

Lord Shiva was also worried. He tried to play the Damru to check if the Damru were playing. It started raining as soon as Damru’s voice was heard .. and the farmer’s field, which was working regularly, was full of crops, but everyone else regretted it ..

“Practice” makes you perfect. Practice is the essence of quality. Practice is the secret of youth.

Sometime after 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years, the lockdown will end. Instead of staring at it, do one thing. Sharpen your skills in whatever business or field you are in. Keep growing.

Focus on your skills today, focus on how you can improve yourself.

… so that when the time comes to work again, you are ready to meet all the challenges ..

Handovers are costly, but do we learn our lessons?

With the arrest of Shivinder Singh and Malvinder Singh, the famed Singh brothers of Ranbaxy, the all too familiar story in the Indian conglomerates is getting repeated. Few years back it was the Mallayas and even before that, the Ambanis!

So, what are we talking about here? Well, it is the monster in the room that we all know but rarely talk about, The costliness and ills of handovers.

The story of Ranbaxy, United Breweries and Reliance tell us of an oft repeated syndrome in the industry–

When the reins change, the control changes, those over not necessarily share the same passion, same vision, same focus as the ones who created a product or system in the first place. Even though the founders in the case of all three behemoths mentioned above, tried to mentor their successors, but the end game was still a failure ! Family business nurtured and crafted over many decades has to be shut down or handed over to others.

You may create as many documents, have as many meetings, run a Risk assessment, have the best auditors qualifying that the ‘process’ was right but what goes missing, is the passion and vision. You can handover the written word but not the heart and mind.

BUT like our past has been a testimony, Do we learn lessons? Never?

The Indian industry still believes in “Projects”.

Handover after the main functionality/ features are delivered, then let another team/company take care of the mess left behind by the original creators. There are reams of documents created to future proof the systems and make the HOTO process easy but yet every ‘Support and maintenance’ person I have ever met, cribs about how bad the original product/ system/ code was.

and, if this was not enough, the software industry went one step ahead to take the mess to greater heights ( Delhites might be reminded of Ghazipur landfill here :D).

Requirements Analysis by one vendor, design by another, code by a third one, testing by the next and yet the deployment by a totally different team, having long handovers, documents at each step, All in the name of reducing risk and getting more transparency. But, Dear outsourcing customer, please retrospect, did you get more benefits or more headaches?

ok, enough of cribbing but what’s the solution?

Stable teams that continue for long. Teams that live together, grow together, cry together and celebrate together.

“A team that everyone wants to join”

Can your ‘team’ boast of being that dream team today?

If no, what steps would you take to make it that ‘Dream team’?

Corner room Churn: Burnout on the Hamster wheel!

The pressure is growing…

The results are frustrating…

Stakeholder expectations are mounting…

Easy way out… Quit !

As per a data collected from nseinfobase.com and analysed by @economictimes, the churn of CEO and MDs almost doubled between 2013-2018 (This data is only for companies listed on NSE)(https://bit.ly/31NuTvY)

We also have examples of Shri V G Siddhartha, Shri B Ramanlinga Raju who despite of being some of the most respected doyens, gave up after riding the tiger for years.

So, is it the downturn, which is causing these apparent failures OR it is the politics OR is it the pressure of results ?

You definitely could say these are the contributing factors but are these new? Economic downturn, recession, change in market conditions..these are all risks of the game which everyone at the corner office is geared upto.

But then, where in, lies the problem???

The problem is the ‘Superhero‘ syndrome.

In a world, where we have thrived since childhood on super hero comics and tales (Chacha Chaudhary, Nagraj, Superman, Spiderman, Batman,Shaktiman)..we come to expect the same from humans too. Even Bollywood and Hollywood movies epitomize this superhero culture..

So, is it a surprise we try to expect the same from people that we work with:

Shareholder problem, call the CEO

Stock problem, call the CEO

Hiring problem, call the CEO

But does the CEO/MD have a magic wand to solve all the problems ?? Well, the bad news is NO

The problem is compounded by the executives themselves by showcasing ( During the interview and afterwards) as the self made Avatars, who has a god given gift to solve all the problems in the world.

The result of this culture:

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But is there no way out. There indeed is:

and it involves a small tiny change. Just think 2Cs

“Communication and Collaboration”

In his book “Inviting Leadership” @DanielMezick, suggests that “command and control” leadership styles are less and less effective with each passing day as rapidly accelerating change, driven by technology, is disrupting the world of work and redefining the game of leadership.

Two minds think greater than one.

Involving your whole workforce ( I am not talking just the board and executive teams), not only gives you more ideas but it also creates an impromptu, spontaneous ownership with every team member, which gives your organization the foundation and strength to weather the storms.

And when I say this, I always get IFs and BUTs. Why? because we have been wired in since childhood to respect authority and experience! Without question!

Whatever the BOSS says is right..

It’s high time we break this Dogma around leadership… CEO/MD being the lone torch bearer, the head to crack when something goes wrong… and move on to something simpler yet effective

Invitational, open leadership where everyone is heard and everyone feels the ownership.

But that means “CHANGE” and every change causes Grief! And those who overcome this grief come out the winners.

As Walt Whitman once said:

“Not I or anyone else can travel the road for you, You must travel it yourself”

Start this new journey, O’traveller and the world would walk with you soon!

Certified ScrumMaster/ Certified Agile Coach – an achievement or a beginning ?

In Japan, the April – May season is synonymous with the beautiful beginning of Spring. The Sakura flowers cover the ground, trees and just about everywhere. You can see them in their beautiful hue making the spring season magical.

And that, reminds me of the bloom of ‘Agile Coaches’ in India, Asia and across the world. You see them every where , in companies ,big and small, alone or in packs, with certifications and without certifications, technical or non-technical, SAFe or UnSAFe, but they are un-ignorable, unmissable and almost unforgettable ( one way or the other ;)) these days.

But is getting a Certified Scrum Master ( or PSM or ASM or SSM , phew the list is long) or ACP( Agile Certified Practitioner, I donn’t quite know, what that means) or ACC( Agile Certified Coach, I don’t know what that means either, but it’s the latest craze, so will take it in the right spirit) a culmination or it is just a beginning.


If, you are just getting these certifications for a mere role/job change because it is the ‘in’ thing in the market, you are probably doing a great disservice to the Art and Philosophy of Agility, the clients, the community and may be, to yourself too.

Yes, it would give you better chances to get a good job and good income for few years but what after that??

If, as a coach you still don’t leave the Managerial mindset behind, you still direct your teams to follow Agility like a check list ( Daily Stand-up – Done, 2 week sprints-Done etc. etc.), you prepare an Agile SPIDER CHART and Agile Maturity Model…think again!!!!


Being an Agile Coach is not about the number of grey hair you have or the number of years of experience you carry, it is about living the change, DAILY, till the remainder of your work life. Because a teacher is always a teacher and you don’t get a promotion or a higher designation. You are still a coach after 30 years!!!

Are you really ready to run in the grind and take all the b***shit that comes along trying to transform the unwilling, trying to change habits cast in stone, trying to make a difference as an outsider!

It is like trying to repair a 24 wheeled monster truck, when it is in full motion. You may not even know when it hits you and the survival would be difficult.


Your Certification is really the beginning of a beautiful yet treacherous journey. To learn and let others enjoy the fruit of your learning, like a firefly lighting up a dark sky.

Coaching is not a honeymoon which lasts forever, but it mimics real life. It has it shares of up and downs, lows and highs and you need the fighting spirit to come and live life in its full bloom

Here I remember a famous couplet from Sant Kabir:

पोथी पढ़ि पढ़ि जग मुआ, पंडित भया न कोय, ढाई आखर प्रेम का, पढ़े सो पंडित होय।

(Reading books everyone died, none became any wise, One who reads the word of Love, only becomes wise)

This is the spirit of Agile coaching. Learning from life everyday, living the life of your mentees everyday

Are you ready?