Check Out The New Badass Agile Book


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Agile is simple.  Leading Agile teams and organizations is far from it.   It feels like herding cats sometimes – teammates resisting change, looking to impose more process, and executives looking for cost savings and innovations much quicker – all the while unable to let go of old habits because that’s “how we’ve always done it”.  When we encounter failure, these are the reasons that show up in the exit survey.

Frameworks won’t fix this.  Nor will hybrid processes or Agile games.   You need to stay badass.   You need to stay true to the spirit of Agile, and the core values that make it effective (and that make anything effective).   You need the right mindset, the right habits, and constant inspiration when things get muddy and tough.

So I’ve created this book for you, and it’s evolving right before your very eyes, one page at a time, Agile-style.  Field Notes for the Agile Leader contains daily contemplations on Agile thinking and practices.  You can read the series in full and subscribe to daily updates here on  (or search for “Field Notes Agile Leader” in the Medium app).

Or….you can preview some of the latest updates right in your mailbox on Monday mornings and mid-day Wednesdays.

To get some of the newest pages IN ADVANCE delivered to your inbox twice a week, sign up here!

Updates will be delivered on Monday and Wednesday of each week, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

The purpose of this book is to do what no other Agile resource can do – keep you inspired, on the path and in the fight every day just like a real coach would.  I hope you find it helpful and powerful as you progress in your Agile Leadership journey.  Enjoy!


Badass Leadership – Spreading And Scaling Agile

One Size Solutions.png
The difficulty with scaling Agile is that the notion of scaling implies that there’s a way to make one tool perfect for all jobs.


We would never suggest that a contractor have only one item in their toolkit – a reciprocating saw is great for cutting branches, demolition, and rough cuts, but not to hammer in nails, screw in screws, or mix cement.  
This is reflected in the admonition that “Agile is not a silver bullet”. And yet we consistently and almost certainly proceed, with every Agile transformation and implementation, to make it exactly that.
To try to make a one-size-fits-all solution is not Agile. The secret lies in finding the right application, and the right mindsets. 
Finding good candidate projects, with a willing minds, creates fertile ground for success. 
And success is what will help agile spread.
Not thinking about, designing, analysing, validating, getting consensus and repeating until the approach is perfected.
That’s more waterfall.

Badass Leadership – Owning The Team Room

One of the fastest ways to ramp up an in-flight team is to give them some practices and disciple around the daily standup.   By doing the standup well, you’ll have shown your team that a meeting does not, in fact, have to be about having the boss ‘check your work’, but in fact about sharing the health of our joint commitments as a team.   You’ll also have demonstrated that a meeting doesn’t have to be an hour long to give the impression of being worthwhile…we can get a lot more done in a much shorter period of time.  And you’ll have demonstrated that setting aggressive goals actually makes missing your targets way less scary, a time limit can help restrict conversations that we used to think were ‘necessary’, and that insisting on deliverables, not agenda, will make all of your gatherings way more productive.
But of course, this all requires change.  And change requires leadership.  Someone to go first.  Someone to lead the way when everyone else starts wondering not only if we’re doing it right…but if we’re supposed to be doing this at all.  That’s where the badass comes in.  Someone who can ‘own the room’.   Someone who can take the lead confidently and show the team the benefits of moving faster, of deep focus, constant reprioritization and continuous improvement.

Live A Life Of Distinction

Sometimes we reduce the idea of leadership to the boss, a teacher, or a cheerleader.

True leadership involves setting the bar higher than people think they can reach.  It means being the first to break the four-minute-mile, and opening the door for others to clear what was previously thought impossible, and then some.

Leadership includes dreaming of a better world, better future, better outcomes – not for ourselves, but the people we serve and those who feel moved to serve with us.

I challenge each of you to live a life of distinction.  Don’t follow the book on leadership.  Rebuild it to serve your massive vision and purpose.

Click here to listen to this week’s episode.

Badass Leadership – Why Service Matters More Than Vision

Lately I’ve been commenting in all my public talks that the lack of leadership is noticeable.   There just don’t seem to be any compelling leaders.   It’s not that they aren’t vocal.  It’s not that they don’t have presence.  It’s not even that they can’t articulate a clear vision for the future.   The problem is that their vision doesn’t really serve anyone but themselves.
To have a vision is not enough.  What sort of vision compels others to follow?
A compelling vision is rooted in service.  In fact the service component is more important than the vision itself.  When we are selfless, it changes the way we show up for others.  If we are selfless, we can be patient.  We automatically become better listeners, more charitable.  Our interest in others is more genuine and because it is genuine, it is easy to build trust.  The charisma we exude is not that of a slick salesman, but that of a warm, empathetic human being.
If you are struggling to figure out your place in this world, in your community, in your company….check for service.  Whom will you help, how, and WHY.   Your reason for doing everything matters more than anything.

The 12 Principles Of Agile

The more Agile I see, the more I realize we are missing the point.

Controlling outcomes by imposing more process, more reporting, more tightly defined roles, hierarchies, and meetings can no longer be sold as Agile ‘version next’.   To overlay complexity in the name of ‘safety’ is basically trying to make the new thing look more like the old thing – so its less scary.

We need to remember the 12 Principles of Agile, and we need to live them…or we should DO something else, or call it something else.   Agiliy can’t be measured by how Scrummy you are.  It needs to be measured by our commitments to value, sustainability, autonomy, passion, efficiency and adaptability.

When I was a kid we had the ’12 Stations of the Cross’ arranged every 10 feet on the walls of my school’s church.  Maybe we should have the same observance, the same reverence, for the principles that we should be holding close in our daily team work.

Do you challenge teams to remember and honour these?  Or do we teach them to find their place on the Great Subway Map of safe and certain “Agile Version X”?

Check out this week’s episode here.

Badass Leadership – Courage


There is a shortfall of courage in leadership.

Now, more than ever, if you want to help organizations move with agility, you need to build the courage to change at every level of your organization.

Your ideas won’t always be popular.   You will often find yourself standing alone.  You won’t know for certain if you’re doing the right thing – you won’t have any certainty at all.  But you’ll Go Anyway.  That’s what makes leaders so special.

Breathe.  Be mindful.  Notice.  Intercept fear and the false dialog that arises in your mind.  Take control.  Remember why you are here.  And practice.  Innoculate yourself against the stress of taking a stand by doing it, and doing it again.

That’s how leadership and courage are built.  One moment at a time.

Listen to the latest episode here.

Badass Leadership – Value

IMG_0815We’re quick to think about what we’re going to get.
We assume that if we make something, people will just buy it. We talk about the job we want to have,
We are quick to talk about the people and institutions in our lives, and what they will do for us.  How we can benefit.
But how often do we think about the value that we bring into the world?
Every living thing is destined to create – to put things of value into the world. If you look carefully, nothing in nature is superfluous. We don’t create things for their own sake.
I’ve proven, time and time again, that when you walk into a job interview and spend more time talking about the value you can bring to them than the value you want for yourself, you’re a long ways towards getting the job. It’s the same thing in any type of human interaction.
And yet, how many people do you know can clearly articulate the value that their value?
Do you know this about any of your friends or family? Probably not. And the reason why… We never stop to think about or formulate it.
There’s three levels at which you can bring value.. The first is the value that you bring to the world. This is essentially your vision, and I speak about this at great length. Remember that your value must be service-based.
The next level of value is the value that you bring to your organization. This is the one that you use when you’re going for job interviews, or selling to companies.
The third is the value that you bring to the tribe and the individuals around you. Being able to articulate the value that you bring to others means that you care about people and what they care about. And that you spend more time helping them get what they want, rather than thinking so much about what it is you want.
When you make a habit of treating the world this way, you’re always thinking about and refining your value. As you get better at what you do, and gain more experience, you can refine and even increase your value. When you meet people, or encounter new opportunities, it’s very easy to start talking about your value, almost as if it is your brand. And that’s just the point… It is. If you’ve been doing this for a couple years, your sense of value becomes a very powerful statement. People can’t help but notice. And all of a sudden, you’ll find that the world starts bending in your favour, at the end of the day, by focusing on what you give, it becomes much easier to get what you want.

Badass Leadership


It’s time to talk leadership.  Not management.  Leadership.

Blazing trails, lighting the way, going first.   Having a sense of what needs to be done, and the right moment to do it.  A calling to serve and a compelling picture of a better way of life.

I’m inspired by the few brave men and women who have led real transformations in our history.  The Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s have a great deal in common with the #metoo movement of 2017.  They teach us that real leadership isn’t trained, nor is it bred.  It is defined in a moment of opportunity, when those who feel the strong call of service summon incredible courage and will to do what couldn’t or wouldn’t be done before.

I’ve yet to see a transformation framework that uniformly produces delighted customers.  I’m as certain today as I am when I started this a year ago – there are plenty of resources about how to do and be Agile – I’m interested in the kind of people who, regardless of framework, philosophy, history, or challenges know how to connect with clients and teams, and inspire them to do amazing things.   We don’t need more agilists, we need more leaders – dare I say…..badasses.

Check out this week’s podcast here.