Making Agile work at MLB Advanced Media

WRITTEN BY Dave Prior

MLB Advanced Media has been growing very rapidly over the past few years and even if you aren’t a fan of baseball, you’ve probably been the beneficiary of their work. Michael Daly and Matt Volpe have been managing teams and providing internal Agile coaching at MLB every step of the way. For anyone working at an organization that is struggling to get it’s legs with Agile, these guys have a story full of hope and some valuable lessons they’ve learned along the way. And while there are places where they have made conscious choices to adopt practices which may seem non-standard for an Agile organization, one of the things you will learn from the interview is how they reached those decisions through an empirical approach as they ran experiments on how to help Agile work best within their organization.

Show Notes

  • 00:08 Podcast Intro
  • 00:30 What Matt and Michael do at MLB Advanced Media
  • 01:56 What does MLB Advanced Media do
  • 03:29 Some background on the MLB Advanced Media Agile Transformation and how management interacts with the work Matt and Michael are doing
  • 10:44 What makes the MLB Agile transformation unique and how the approach they’ve taken has helped foster the transformation
  • 13:09 How MLB Advanced Media supports good Product Ownership
  • 15:00 The importance of coaching, training and building a good backlog
  • 15:19 “You don’t do your kid’s homework, but with with them and help them do it”
  • 17:05 Does it help to have all your folks trained by one individual or does that limit your organizations ability to have a diverse understanding of how Agile works
  • 18:20 “…back when I was coding with stone knives in bear skins”
  • 21:00 How MLB approaches governance around which practices teams will use and how much flexibility each team has to make adjustments based on their own individual needs
  • 25:00 Mobile software development is “…a viking funeral”
  • 26:55 The question of whether to use stable teams or move people around
  • 28:24 How to cope with not having stable teams and still making Agile  work
  • 30:11 Stable teams when it make sense and …  “THE OTHERS”
  • 32:52 Why Matt’s use of points in Sprint Planning gives Dave a seizure and why it’s the right thing for Matt’s team to do it anyway
  • 36:48 How Matt’s team spends time collectively grooming the backlog every day
  • 37:37 Why Michael’s team struggles with forecasting and why Michael hates estimation meetings
  • 39:09 How Michael’s team benefits from using story point anyway
  • 41:02 Not trying to compare teams against one another
  • 42:20 Why Matt maintains a bench team
  • 42:54 The value of taking an empirical approach to develop a hybrid
  • 43:25 Advice from Michael and Matt for those who feel like they do not have the support they need to be successful in adopting Agile
  • 48:47 “…AND DON’T CALL THEM RESOURCES! CALL THEM PEOPLE”
  • 49:09 Getting in touch with Michael and Matt if you have follow questions
  • 49:31”…It’s Italian for Fox – that’s all you need to know.”

Links from the Podcast

You can learn more about MLB Advanced Media here: http://www.mlbam.com

If you’d like to get in touch with Michale Daly, you can reach him via email at michael.daly@mlb.com

If you’d like to get in touch with Matt Volpe you can reach him via email at matt.volpe@mlb.com

If you’d like to contact Dave Prior, you can reach him at dave.prior@LeadingAgile.com

And if you’d like to learn about LeadingAgile’s upcoming class schedule, you can always find it here: http://leadingagile.com/training

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