Dr. Dave: So I sent you a few questions today. Let’s just begin. Let’s start talking about, tell us about your role in Agile Fluency, and the Agile Fluency model. What is, yeah.  
Diana: Well, so I’m a co-creator, co-developer of the model. James Shore and I a number of years ago were noticing that it seemed like our experience of agile with our clients was not the same as what other people were experiencing. There was an awful lot of conversation about, “You’re agile or you’re not”. It was very binary. Very black and white.  
Diana: That just wasn’t the way we were working with clients, and it wasn’t what we were seeing, in terms of outcomes. Successful outcomes with clients. It needed to be much more nuanced than that. We also were noticing that clients in different industries, different domains, had different needs. So we started working on defining those, and iterated on that by taking it to our local Agile Open Conference year after year. Going away and doing some work on it, and asking for reviews from some other folks that, we respected their perspective and thought they could give us good feedback.  
Diana: After about three or four years, we had the model, and our thinking about the model, to a place. Where when we talked about it to people, they said, “Yeah”. That that fit for them too. That that’s what they were experiencing.  
Diana: Then we took some time and wrote it up into an article, and sent that around to a bunch of folks. We did a lot of research and iterating on this. Sent that out to a bunch of folks. One of the folks that we sent it to was Martin Fowler. We asked for feedback. Did how we had written about it still describe what we had told them it was before?  
Diana: Then also, if they thought it was … Did they think it was ready for publishing? If they did, where should we think about finding a place to publish it? Martin Fowler came back to us and said, “Well, I think it’s ready, and I’d like to publish it”. So we did not feel like turning that down. That seemed like a pretty good opportunity to us. He has a broad readership on his online presence.  
Diana: We worked with him to get it up in time for the 2012 Agile Conference. Then we thought we were done with it, pretty much. But we started, after several months we started hearing about some stories, about how people were using the model. Then we also started getting some questions about, “Well this is great, and this model makes a lot of sense. But how do we operationalize it? How do we actually use it to help improve our companies, and so on?”.  
Diana: Then we started creating some additional materials, to go with the model. To help people answer those questions. After a couple of years, it became clear that what we needed to do was form an organization around it. So we formed the Agile Fluency Project as a startup business, basically.  
Diana: Then because we had been hearing from so many people, and using it as our own thought process when we went into clients, a little more than a year ago, about a year and a half ago we looked at the article and said, “You know, we’ve learned a lot since we wrote this in 2012. It’s time to add what we’ve learned”. So we did that, and we published a second edition basically, of the article. The white paper, in March of 2018.  
Diana: At the moment, my role with the Agile Fluency Model and the Agile Fluency Project is a co-creator. I’m co-founder of the project, along with James. My official title is Chief Connector. But basically I’m main cook and bottle washer, and what have you. Kind of keeping things going. But now we provide a lot of materials to, what we’re doing it taking all the things that James and I have learned through our careers about how to be an effective coach.  
Diana: How to, not so much coaching skills, but how do you get the opportunity to use your coaching skills? How do you talk with leaders, use the Agile Fluency model as a way of helping them clarify what their needs are for agile, or their agile adoption? So their agile transitions. What is it they’re really trying to accomplish through that? Then help them understand, what does that mean in terms of, what kind of agile are they … “What zone of Agile Fluency?”, is the way we describe it now.  
Diana: What zone of Agile Fluency do they need their teams to have the proficiencies for? So that they can be smart about the investments that they make. So they have some guidance around that, and they’re not just going with somebody’s program because it’s already set and predetermined, “Oh, we’re going to do these steps, and this, that, and the other thing”. It’s like, “No, it needs to be more customized than that”.  
Diana: Because different businesses have different needs. They’ve made some progress in some areas, and not progress in others. They don’t want to redo all of that. Because that’s not a smart way to spend their investment dollars, or their investment of time or attention, or any of those things. So that’s what we do, is we help coaches learn how to have those conversations with leaders.  
Diana: Use our diagnostic instrument to help leaders understand where they are now in their adoption, and identify what would be the smartest, next investments to make to keep moving them toward where they believe they believe they need to be.  
Diana: Then we think that the coaches all know what to do at that point. But where coaches often get stuck is, they don’t get the opportunities to bring to bear some of the things that they know would help teams. By using the Agile Fluency model and our diagnostic and reporting and investment planning, it gives them more of a place to stand. To say, “No, we’re going to do these next things. Because these next things are going to move you closer to what you’re looking for. Because you’ve told us that here, and we now have an idea of where we are”.  
Diana: So that’s what I’m doing with the Agile Fluency model right now. Our vision is agile done well in every organization that says it does agile, and that they have teams that help them meet their business needs in the way they need to be met.  
Diana: If it’s just Jim and me working on that, we’re not making much progress. We don’t scale very well. But by enabling other coaches to use some of these same materials and get some mentoring from us, in terms of what our careers have been like, both Jim and I have decades of experience doing this. So we have some interesting thoughts to offer folks who would like to do similar kinds of work.  
Dr. Dave: Which is just fabulous. I really enjoyed playing with the instrument, the game. We had great fun doing it. Thank-you for doing that really important work.  
Dr. Dave: I want to talk to you about value. Because people often use the term, “Value”, when speaking about delivering business capabilities through software. Two part question. First of all, how do you define value? Then I want you to give us a sense of, help us gain a sense of value provided by the Agile Fluency model. I know you kind of talked about it before. But if we could narrow the context about value, that would be amazing.  
Diana: Sure, yeah.  
Dr. Dave: Yeah.  
Diana: Well I think, it’s kind of, there’s a couple of different kinds of value. It’s too bad we only have one word to talk about a lot of different things, right? There’s one piece that is value to the customer. Businesses are sensitive to their customers’ needs. They want to be giving them what they want, so that those customers will pay for services and products. So there’s the value around the value stream going to the customer. Are we getting closer and closer as time goes by, to building the thing that the customer really wants, and will accept from us and pay for from us, and so on?  
Diana: Whether that’s an internal customer or an external customer. If we’re in IT and we’re building infrastructure kinds of things, still we have customers who have a need for that, and so on. So there’s that kind of value.  
Diana: Then there’s also business value. Value to the business. That is, is it enabling the things that enable the business to thrive, and be resilient, and sustain over time, and those kinds of things? Wise use of, we talk about investment. Wise use of the assets that the business has, so that they are getting a return on the things that they invest in. They are getting a return that is greater, that enables them to take on new things, right? So I mean, that’s very generic. But it’s so specific to different companies and different businesses.  
Diana: There is that. So you know, value I think in the business sense is very much tied to strategic direction. Is this thing providing us value because it’s moving us more toward our strategic direction? Our targets in the Improvement Kata kind of sense? Is this moving us in the direction that we want to go? That gives greater value to the business. Whether that’s strategically or whatever.  
Diana: Is there a value that we’re after that has to do with entering new markets? Is there value to bringing us closer to our existing customers? Is there value in helping us be more effective or efficient in what we’re doing? All of those things are business value.  
Diana: We tend to talk about it in the Agile Fluency model community, we tend to talk about it as business benefits. The value is the benefits that the business wants to gain from supporting their teams, and investing in their teams, and so on.  
Diana: Those are really two different kinds. Then there’s the product management value that is around, which things do we prioritize over other things? Which has some sense of, “This is more valuable than that, at least at this moment in time”. I mean you start adding in things like cost of delay and so on, and it begins to get you closer to that.  
Diana: What I’m surprised about is how often I go into organizations, and they don’t have an idea of what is valuable to their business. Or what is valuable … They may have a more or less good idea of what’s valuable to their customers. So they may just focus on that, or value to their … I mean, there’s the old saw that is not  
Diana: Kind of considered out of date as, you know, are we building shareholder value? Right.  
Dr. Dave: Right.  
Diana: In other words, are we eating ourselves alive to pay quarterly dividends? You know, which now is universal. It’s pretty universally accepted as not a good idea, but you know, those kinds of things. I mean, what are we doing to take our current assets, I hate to think of it that way, but the current things that are helping us do well, how are we investing in those things so that we can do even better is another way of thinking about value.  
Dr. Dave: Yeah.  
Diana: So there’s a number of ways to kind of come at that question and I find that in many companies, they’re not doing any of that.  
Dr. Dave: Right.  
Diana: They’re not coming at it from any of those directions. And it’s just like, you know, I just want to say pick one. You know, anyone, that would be closer than where you are now. Right? Yeah.  
Dr. Dave: Yeah. And then, so when we use the model, how does the model help us to pick one or maybe influence us in one direction over the other?  
Diana: Well, I think because we do use that idea of a business benefit tied to each zone, what are the benefits that you’re getting, it begins to help people think through that. At the very, you know, it’s a tricky problem. And so, you know, what is the nature of the product that we’re building and what kinds of things are important to our customers? And as we begin having those conversations, we can say things like is it important? I think a really easy one to think about is the difference between the focusing zone and the delivering cell. Right?  
Dr. Dave: Okay.  
Diana: So in the focusing zone, we know what we need. There is people to work as a collaborative team. They need to be … it usually is very appealing to business leaders where their software development efforts have just been a black box to them. They don’t know what’s going on there. They don’t know how to ask the right questions.  
Diana: So the idea of the team becoming a collaborative work unit that has some transparency, that is learning to work, not from technical excellence. I mean, not from a component excellence, but from customer value. You know, what is going to best serve our customers or our business, and then be able to work with that business liaison person to make sure that what we’re building is always the next most valuable thing.  
Diana: That’s, getting really good at those things, being able to be, when we get new market information, having built in small enough increments, that if we get new market information that tells us we need to shift direction, we can do that without having generated a lot of waste or wasted work. Right?  
Dr. Dave: Yeah.  
Diana: So that whole piece in itself is valuable. And I have run into many organizations who had gone months, sometimes even extreme cases, years without anything being produced that could be put together into a product and create value for the business because everybody’s been working on just individual components. So we’ve got all these components built, but they don’t necessarily integrate into one product and they, you know, all that.  
Diana: So for companies like that, that are just a really looking for reliable production that is relatively transparent to the business and focusing zone is great, and you know, particularly for companies where short-term products that aren’t going to stay in the market for a long time, we’re not so worried about technical debt or you know those kinds of things. Just that focusing zone can be really helpful.  
Diana: But if we have an existing product that we are trying to maintain, that our customers already love, that are expecting to get better over time, to keep being improved, and they are in a fast paced world for them to keep up, then delivering zone, where we’re now looking at release at will and continuous integration, continuous deployment, putting things into the hands of our customers more frequently, that they can use, that are very low defect. That requires not only all those sort of team and business connection skills from focusing zone, but also very high level technical engineering skills so that the team knows how to work together sharing coding standards and working with their dev ops partners and all of those kinds of things.  
Diana: So, the value has to do with what is the nature of our product? Is our product one where we need to be delivering this continuous stream of new stuff? Or is our product more one that if we could get something into somebody’s hands that they like and can give us some feedback on, that’s a huge win. You know? Two different kinds of value and two different kinds of desired business outcomes.  
Diana: And so that’s what we think about in the agile fluency model, is what is it that this particular business really needs from their teams and from their products? And what does that mean about the skillsets that the team as a whole, individual team members and the whole team, need to be able to draw on to make that happen. And then that gives us some hints about where we need to make our investments so that our investments are going very targeted to the right place that’ll give us what we need from our teams.  
Dr. Dave: Most excellent.  
Diana: Yeah.  
Dr. Dave: So as part of a great conversation that’s taken place today is about business agility. Everyone is talking about business agility.  
Diana: Yes. Yeah. Yeah.  
Dr. Dave: And I wanted to tap into your context about what it is and how does the model itself, the Fonsi model, help to either increase or influence, you know, business agility based on your definition.?  
Diana: Right. Well, so business agility is the ability for … Joshua Kerievsky lately has been talking about quick, easy grace. Right?  
Dr. Dave: Right.  
Diana: So for a business to ride the waves of customer desire, right, and customer service or serving our customers in the way they want, in a way that is resilient to all the changes in our economic environment, our marketplace environment, and you know, in a way that lets the business thrive and serve its employees and its community and its customers.  
Diana: So, the idea is the … I’m a child of the 60s, and so there were a group of folks that I used to hang out with when I was a teenager and a young adult and one of our kind of watch phrases was, “Well, you just have to roll with it.” Right?  
Dr. Dave: Yeah. Yeah.  
Diana: So you got to be able to roll with it. Right? And that really is the nature of our business marketplace now. Do we have the flexibility, the quick, easy grace, the versatility to roll with it and to roll with whatever comes our direction, changes in our customer, customer ideas, changes in the regulatory environment, whatever those may be. Can we respond and even anticipate those changes and continue to kind of roll with it, keep going, keep moving along?  
Diana: Harrison Owen used to … called it wave riding. You know?  
Dr. Dave: Yeah. Yeah.  
Diana: [crosstalk 00:24:22]. So for me, that’s business agility. And the way the agile fluency model fits with that, I mean, the agile fluency model is a model about team skill proficiencies, team behaviors, and that’s what we’re describing in our model, these certain kinds of team behaviors that generate certain kinds of business benefits. Right?  
Diana: Given that, it’s a model with enormous organizational and management implications.  
Dr. Dave: Right. Yeah.  
Diana: You can’t just point at the teams and say be different. We live in systems and one of the things we know about systems is anytime we make changes in one part of the system, it is going to affect the other parts of the system in some ways, often unexpected, often emergent, over time.  
Dr. Dave: Yeah.  
Diana: And so being able to do that, to be able to make the adjustments, to inspect and adapt, at the business level, and understand what that means for what we need from our teams and then manage and organize ourselves to do business in a way that allows us to roll with those changes is, for me, what really is business agility.  
Dr. Dave: That’s excellent.  
Diana: It’s the responsiveness. Yeah.  
Dr. Dave: Yeah. And then so since the fluency model is so ingrained with teams and team behaviors, you know, we talk about happiness in the work environment today.  
Diana: Right. Right.  
Dr. Dave: Which is something kind of relatively new, I would say, because before most people didn’t care about happiness. Let’s get the job done. Right?  
Diana: Yeah. Right.  
Dr. Dave: Right. So how do we leverage though the fluency model to either identify or promote happiness in team members?  
Diana: Right. Well, the fundamental, what we call agile fundamentals or the agile basics, is that focusing zone in the fluency model.  
Dr. Dave: Yeah.  
Diana: And it’s the thing that you’re either going for the focusing zone or you’re going for something that includes those skills of the focusing zone. It’s embedded in the whole model. And those are the skills at becoming effective together as a team.  
Dr. Dave: Yeah.  
Diana: And when people have that sense of effectiveness of building good products, I mean, it’s very tied to the project Aristotle ideas of psychological safety and dependability and having structure and clarity around what we’re working on and you know those, those five keys that they talk about.  
Dr. Dave: Yeah.  
Diana: When we have that for our teams, they tend to have much higher job satisfaction. I tend not to think so much about happiness because that has certain connotations for certain people, but I believe that people deserve job satisfaction. They need to be pleased with their work. They need to have that sense of accomplishment. They need to have that sense of control over their work lives as a team and the autonomy that they have to think about.  
Dr. Dave: Yeah.  
Diana: That’s true at the individual level, but it’s also true of the team level. Does this team, and when we think about self organizing teams, we begin to talk about autonomous teams. Right?  
Dr. Dave: Right.  
Diana: Teams that are able to make decisions together to move forward together and that feel they have the mastery and the skills that they need. That’s the fluency is about. Right.  
Dr. Dave: Yeah.  
Diana: We’ve got the right skills that match the work that we need to do or our company is willing to invest in us gaining those skills. When you’ve got all that together, you have high levels of job satisfaction.  
Diana: And so, I really think that the agile fluency model is a lot about that. Creating teams that have really good meaningful work together and the sense that they can work well enough together that they have a positive impact in the world and that becomes really important.  
Diana: And that, you know, the agile fluency model doesn’t talk about software ethics, but I think that’s another conversation that’s starting to rise a lot in our industry is, you know, do I feel good about my work? Does it feel like ethical work to do?  
Dr. Dave: Yeah.  
Diana: You know, am I really serving everyone? So those kinds of things. But I think the agile fluency model speaks to that happiness job satisfaction question indirectly, but it’s definitely embedded there and it definitely is an outcome when people have invested in their teams to create work that feels like success and achievement, people tend to feel better about the work that they do and they’re working together.  
Dr. Dave: Yeah. Most definitely. And so something you started off with earlier about business benefits, and we talk about satisfied  
Dr. Dave: … customers. I’m thinking about how do the fluency model also identify a path to delighting customers, as well. Because I think that’s a significant aspect for companies as they grow, even individuals. How do [inaudible] start satisfying our customers and then using this fluency model to get there.  
Diana: Right. The idea of the fluency model is to bring the team closer to their customers. Every zone has a different way of being close to the customer. Whereas, in our zone we have a little area we call pre-agile. Which is when people are not working as a team, they’re still individual contributors. They’re getting their tasks assigned by their managers. They’re working in isolation, maybe they do some pairing, but they’re not pairing all the time.  
Diana: There are still a lot of companies that have that as their work process model. Those folks tend to end up building in that componentized way. “I only work on the back end. I only work on the front end. I only work on the database connections. I only work on the …” whatever it might be. Rather than thinking about the whole product or the whole that is needed, and that shift to the focusing zone is very much about a shift from working in that way in terms of, “I built this kind of thing, and I built it in a very cool way. I get to use a programming language that I particularly like.”  
Diana: To now, I’m working with my team mates and each thing we build, we have a connection that tells us this is something that’s important to our customer. This is a whole piece that will enable our customer. This feature, or part of a feature, will enable our customer to do something they weren’t able to do before. So, in the focusing zone they have that communication through some kind of business liaison. In [SCORM] that would be a product owner. It could be different business annalists sometimes, even quality folks will be giving that information about what does the customer like about this, what don’t they like about this. So there’s more awareness of the customer there.  
Diana: Then, in the delivering zone, it’s not only awareness of things the customer wants this product to do, but there’s an awareness of how often do they need to get it, how often do they need it updated. There’s more of a cadence. We learn more about our customer because now we know not only what they want, but how often do they want it, and how important is the long term maintainability and sustainability of this through UX and [Devops] and the other partners that come into play in delivering.  
Diana: Then, in the optimizing zone, the team is taking on the whole product. Now they really need to understand their customer. Not only do they need to understand their customer’s current needs, they need to understand their customer well enough to be able to anticipate how new technologies might be useful to this customer in ways the customer hasn’t even thought about yet. But we understand the nature of their situation and their problems well enough that we can see that this could be helpful, and we can begin to start talking to them about that and building that into the product even before they’re asking for it.  
Diana: So, it’s an increasing closeness to the customer and an increasing bringing that business perspective into the team as you go through the zones. So by the time you get to optimizing, who the business person, whether that’s a product management, or product development and marketing person. Whoever that might be is actually right in the team all the time. As opposed to coming in and out and bringing information, which is useful in the focusing zone. But we just keep getting closer and closer. That’s how the customer fits.  
Diana: One of our licensed facilitators and dear friend and colleagues, Ellen Gottesdiener, of course has done a ton of work in the … Discover to Deliver is her book, and all of the product management stuff. She’s actually begun to do … I’m not exactly sure what the status of it is right now, but she has begun to do some work on a product management or product development fluency model. Because we see that there is a parallel path, but we don’t know exactly how to describe it yet. So she’s been working on that because it is so important. Customer collaboration over contract negotiations, right out of them. It’s a quarter of the manifesto. It’s right there.  
Diana: So anytime we’re talking about agile adoption or talking about agile practices, we have to keep in mind we are also talking about what is our degree of closeness to our customer, and how do we make it tighter.  
Dr. Dave: Certainly. So, one good thing that Agile does is it promises faster time to market, which can allow an organization to thrive against competitors. So, when you think of the fluency model and then all the different zones, I think of how does this position the organization to experience or even realize growth. Because if we think faster to market, there’s an opportunity to acquire new customers or even retain some customers that we have. I’m just looking to see how the fluency model helps to shape that a little bit or influence it in some way.  
Diana: In some organizations, the way they have … I mean, the model is a team model. So, we’re thinking about basically individual team fluency as we’re going along. Of course, as organizations get larger they have many teams and they’re doing different things. I’ve talked to a number of folks who have said, “In our organization we have focusing teams, and they work mostly with our marketing department or on short term initiatives that we need to get out to the public awareness,” or whatever that might be. And they do quick turn around kinds of things.  
Diana: Then we have delivering teams that, living zone teams I guess, that work on our flagship. Continually improving our flagship product as our customers tell us what the next thing they would like to get is, and how quickly they need it, and those kinds of things. Then, those organizations will often have some optimizing zone teams that are doing their R&D. That are out there testing the boundaries, that are looking for new product opportunities, or new customer areas, or how can we use this product to serve those folks in a different kind of way. Those are tied teams that need all the different skillsets in them to be able to ideate in a good way. Maybe they’re using design [inaudible] or design thinking kinds of practices to help them do that, continually creating those very, very tight feedback loops for testing their ideas.  
Diana: There are a number of organizations that we’ve worked with that will have teams … will identify that they need teams in more than one cell. That helps them understand what investments they need to make. So that works really well. Rather than thinking … In the early days we used to get people asking us, “Is this a delivering organization?” We always had to correct them and say, “No, no, no. This is not a model of organizations.” It may have some resonance with other organizational models you’ve heard of, but this is about team behaviors. Organizations may need a variety of team behaviors to get their work done, to serve their customers.  
Dr. Dave: This is really excellent. Walking through the context of values to happy contributing people, satisfied customers, and thriving business. I think this gives us a good context of how the model can be used from a team perspective, and how those teams could influence change and add value to the organization. I really, really appreciate the context that you’ve provided for us today.  
Diana: You’re welcome, you’re welcome.  
Dr. Dave: Anything else you would like to add before we close?  
Diana: No, I don’t think so. I think we’ve kind of covered … It’s late in the day here so [crosstalk 00:40:39]. You mentioned earlier the game, and it’s been fun to see how playing the game with organizational leaders, the agile fluency game with organizational leaders, with intact teams. How using that game with people in different contexts, it’s been really interesting to see how the experience of that shifts. Each group comes away with different kinds of lessons from playing the same game, which has been really quite fascinating.  
Diana: Leaders have a different awareness of their expectations for software teams, and often times a better vocabulary for talking to teams about what they’re doing. Intact teams really dive in around, “What are we doing to build our capability and increase our capacity?” So, they’re focusing more in that area. Coaches often have the experience of trying to do too much too soon, and learning that they need to be more moderate in how they, in the game, the investments that they’re making. That they need to focus on the flow of those investments more than trying to do everything all at once.  
Diana: So it’s been very interesting to see how different folks get different lessons from playing that game.  
Dr. Dave: I really had a lot of fun playing it, I can tell you. [crosstalk]  
Diana: Yeah, I think it’s great. I really enjoy it, too. I was just at a conference where we had ten teams of five people all playing the game at the same time. So that was-  
Dr. Dave: Oh, wow. I’d love to see pictures of it. Well, Diana, I know it’s getting late. I just want to thank you graciously, and wish you an amazing holiday. When I’m in Portland, I hope we can get some time together. So, just thank you so much. Really appreciate your time and efforts-  
Diana: You’re welcome. It’s been my pleasure.  
Dr. Dave: Okay. You have a great day now.  
Diana: Thank you. Bye.  
Dr. Dave: Bye-bye.  

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