Encouragement – Why I Do What I Do

Dear Peter,

Not sure if you remember me – I attended your CSM Training back in April. Just wanted to take a few seconds to tell you I learned a lot from your class:
* What do I desire in my life and career
* If an organization won’t come around, then move on
and the added bonus of…
* Add “CSM” to my title in LinkedIN.

As you said in your class, adding that to my title would attract recruiters and sure enough last week I accepted a new position to startup and Manage a new Mobile Applications Development Team. During the interview the employer (xxxx) pointed out that the one thing on my resume that caught their attention and “sold them” that I was the right candidate was CSM.

Thank you for what you do and your amazing view on life in general.

God Bless,
Adam

Agile-Waterfall Hybrid Model

agile-waterfall-hybrid-models-fail

Hmmm… the intrinsic problem with approaching this from the very beginning are these psychological nuances:

  • We (as humans) will invariably move towards that which is most familiar (safe, even though painful or sub-optimal)
  • We will inherit the natural dysfunctions that have plagued us previously (e.g. using mostly waterfall methods)
  • We try our best within our own localized space, however, the overarching system at play still uses methods and frameworks that do not jive well with the newer idea (e.g. agile)
  • We will fail at a larger scale than failing incrementally with lower cost associated with the learning curve
  • We will politically play to the old-guard while trying to inject the new, only to have the new be merged into half-assed processes that really don’t improve anything.
  • More… but my brain hurts.

I have seen this time and time again. This email is fresh… about 3 hours ago. Rational consideration must be had, hearts must be changed. Never have I seen a substance abuser change their ways by going from “Only drinking 10 times a day to 5 times a day.”

When the chips are down… and really down… the environment and behaviors haven’t changed… he will go back to his vomit once again.

The Solution?

We have to dynamically change NOT just the behaviors of our system (people), but the system (environment) itself. Beyond that we must look at the capabilities for change… and the mission/vision of the system…

In summary. The VISION of a corporate enterprise must change, thereby affecting the capabilities, environment, and behaviors.

Value of a Product? Simple…

One of the hardest things to find out, when prioritizing features for a product is: What is the real Business Value of these features. Not every company in fact, has structured and marketing driven sales processes that can very well determine what is the value, or better potential value of a feature to ship on the market. The value of a feature is linked to the timeframe in which it will be delivered to the market, therefore to determine its value is also a matter of being able to determine the right moment in time when to ship it. It is not uncommon that the Stakeholders in a company have to decide what is more important or “valuable” to be shipped next. What often happens is that these Stakeholders do not agree on priorities together, but they just drop their individual wishes to the development teams, or better to the Product Owners (Scrum), which find themselves in charge of discriminating between different stakeholder wishes and priorities.

How to achieve a common agreement between the Stakeholders so that:

  • The priorities are understood and defined for the company and not for individuals or specific departments only.
  • All Stakeholders are aware and participate in defining what is more valuable to the company, without delegating the whole responsibility to Product Owners.

This has to be achieved in respect to the fact, that the Product Owner should be the “ultimate” role that is in charge of defining product priorities and owns the product even if he/she may need to be supported from Market Experts, Customers, Key Account Managers, etc.

While we have several mechanism to help aid with the “discovery” of “value” through our Scrum Product Owner course… there is always more to delve into and learn…

What would you add?

How Agile Do You Have to be to be Considered Agile?

[Guest Post]

QA managers may struggle with landing on a clear definition of a truly agile team.

Given how quickly word has spread about the benefits of agile testing methodologies, it’s no wonder that quality assurance managers everywhere are considering making a change to their test management strategy. Agile can seem like a nebulous concept to some individuals, however. Despite the existence of the agile manifesto, some confusion remains regarding what it means to be truly agile. In addition, QA teams may leverage their own approach to implementing these processes, with some taking too many liberties with agile principles

Kaizen - Continuous Improvement
Kaizen – Continuous Improvement

while others adhere too closely to the letter of the law. With so much uncertainty, team leaders may find themselves asking, “How agile do you have to be to be considered agile?”

When determining a team’s level of agility, it’s important that managers don’t get bogged down in the details of the methodology and instead focus on its overarching principles. Agile Zone contributor Nitin Bharti explained that there are several key characteristics that define an agile team, most notably the ability and willingness to alter an application as needs arise. It may become necessary for QA members to make changes to in-development or recently released software because the current product does not adequately satisfy end users. That is why user feedback is so critical to agile teams and should be collected and reflected upon with regularity. Truly agile teams continually strive to improve not only their programs, but their internal processes as well. Agile QA managers should never feel complacent with the current makeup of their team or strategy and look to enhance both whenever possible.

Embrace customization, improvement

Although the agile manifesto clearly spelled out the overarching ideas at the heart of the methodology, that doesn’t mean test team leaders need to be slaves to the details. Customization is an inevitable and entirely necessary result of going agile. Team leaders will quickly learn that not all processes are ideal for their specific organizations and will need to make changes while still being true to the spirit of agile. Fellow Agile Zone contributor Matthias Marschall suggested that agile adopters drop any features that either aren’t working for them or are just not gelling with team members. These may even include processes that are closely tied to agile such as daily scrum meetings.

“While there are certain basic principles you should keep in mind, you need to experiment with the processes you use to organize your work,” Marschall wrote. “By observing how your experiments influence your work, you can learn and adapt. … Customize your process according to what you learned from your experiments. You don’t need to care about whether you’re still allowed to call it scrum or whatever. The only thing that counts is whether you can create more value, faster.”

At the end of the day, there’s no one true measure for a team’s level of maturity when it comes to agile. Customization will always come into play, making every implementation unique. It’s important that QA managers stay focused on adhering the core concepts of the methodology and continue working to improve their test management strategy whenever possible.

Sanjay_Zalavadia[About Sanjay Zalavadia – Sanjay brings over 15 years of leadership experience in IT and Technical Support Services. Throughout his career, Sanjay has successfully established and grown premier IT and Support Services teams across multiple geographies for both large and small companies. Most recently, he was Associate Vice President at Patni Computers (NYSE: PTI) responsible for the Telecoms IT Managed Services Practice where he established IT Operations teams supporting Virgin Mobile, ESPN Mobile, Disney Mobile and Carphone Warehouse. Prior to this Sanjay was responsible for Global Technical Support at Bay Networks, a leading routing and switching vendor, which was acquired by Nortel.]

HT: Zephyr

The Value of a PMP Certification

ImgSrc boxesandarrows.com

The value and importance of the PMP certification is a hotly debated topic within the project management community. One end of the spectrum vigorously defends the credential as the defining standard for competence, whereas the other end views it as a meaningless exercise signifying nothing more than rote memorization. Many fall somewhere in the middle, seeing it as a necessary evil that hopefully yields some advantage to their marketability.

Adding fuel to the debate are the results of a research study published in the Project Management Journal, February 2011. **A little dated, but still provides some insight**

“PMP Certification as a Core Competency: Necessary But Not Sufficient” reports the results of a study conducted by Jo Ann Starkweather and Deborah H. Stevenson of Northwestern University’s Department of Information Systems & Technology.

The study reports the valuation of the PMP certification by IT Recruiters and corporate IT Executives, as well as a statistical evaluation of the PMP as an indicator of project success.

Survey Says…

Valuation of the PMP: Of the 15 core competencies surveyed, the PMP certification was ranked #11 by IT recruiters, and #15 by IT Executives (that’s right-dead last!) Shown below are percentages of IT Executives rating of “Important” or “Extremely Important” for each competency.

1. Leadership 95%

2. Ability to Communicate at Multiple Levels 94%

3. Verbal Skills 87%

4. Written Skills 87%

5. Attitude 85%

6. Ability to Deal With Ambiguity and Change 83%

7. Work History 69%

8. Experience 67%

9. Ability to Escalate 66%

10. Cultural Fit 57%

11. Technical Expertise 46%

12. Education 38%

13. Length of Prior Engagements 23%

14. Past Team Size 18%

15. PMP Certification 15%

PMP as Indicator of Project Success: There was no statistically significant difference in the reported success rates for projects led by certified vs. non-certified project managers when considered across 5 Success Criteria:

  • Cost/Within Budget
  • On Schedule
  • Quality/Met Technical Specifications
  • Quality/Met Client Business Requirements
  • Client/User Satisfaction

 So What Does It Mean?

In the words of the study leaders, “Clearly, mastery of the project management body of knowledge is an important asset in the preparation of professional project managers. An understanding of the methodology is essential to the appropriate conduct of project management. However, based on the narrative explanations offered by both IT Recruiters and Executives, their emphasis on soft skills such as the ability to communicate at multiple levels, and the tacit knowledge of knowing when to exercise leadership and how to do this effectively are critical to eventual project success.”

So it would seem that we as a community must address the gap that currently exists in our curriculum and training when it comes to leadership and soft skills. Furthermore, recruiters must use more screening techniques to evaluate soft skills and leadership abilities when considering candidates for project management roles. As the value of project management has evolved from tactical to strategic in organizations, so must our perspective on the core competencies for success.

What’s the PMP?

The PMP certification is the most popular among the five different certifications now offered by the PMI (Project Management Institute) which are:

  1. PgMP: Program Management Professional
  2. PMP: Project Management Professional
  3. CAPM: Certified Associate Project Manager
  4. PMI-SP: PMI Scheduling Professional
  5. PMI-RMP: PMI Risk Management Professional

According the PMI website, to apply for the PMP, you need to have either:

  • A four-year degree (bachelor’s or the global equivalent) and at least three years of project management experience, with 4,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education, OR,
  • A secondary diploma (high school or the global equivalent) with at least five years of project management experience, with 7,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education.

The Costs

The PMP is an expensive exam, costing $405 for PMI members and $555 for non-members. Many people feel intimidated by what they have heard about the 200-question test and thus take exam prep courses that average between $1,500 and $2,000.

In order to maintain a PMP certification, one must accrue 60 “PDUs” (Professional Development Units) every three years. There are a few different ways to gain these PDUs, either by taking classes, attending PMI conferences, or self-directed study. Generally, one hour of instruction or participation = 1 PDU. There are many commercial providers who offer training, podcasts, webinars, etc., where it can cost from $25 to $100’s per PDU. I estimate that the 60 PDUs over three years costs about $3,000.

So, let’s add it up:

  • PMP exam prep: $2,000
  • PMP exam cost: $500
  • Maintaining PDUs over a 40 year career: $40,000

Total Career Cost of PMP Certification: $42,500.

Being able to List PMP on Your Resume: Priceless?

What are your thoughts?

To be or not to be – Agile Architecture

This is an attempt to highlight how the practice of architecture is misunderstood in most of the Agile projects & the root cause behind them – so that you may avoid them at your organization/project.

Agile has always challenged people with the age old question – how much to design upfront? But is the confusion just there? Frankly, it doesn’t even start there! Anyone understands the need of an architect, but how do we position an Architect within an Agile environment? How does Enterprise Architects work in sync with a Solution Architect? How should business leverage the niche skills of an architect to ensure the scalability of the application? And how are the architects coping with the changing dynamics of development methodology? How does this practice work in an onshore-offshore environment?

We take a look in to the current challenges & answer to all the above questions. We try to ensure that Agile delivery makes the best use of architects and architects don’t shy away from Agile world.

Flaw at Onset

architecture-agile-epicsIf we look from the very inception of a project i.e. the phase where we visualize requirements & float the RFP, we always acknowledge that the backbone of development will always be its architecture. Now, let’s step back & try to visualize how we place our requirement to the market & how they get interpreted.

While floating an RFP – just like any project, we strive to get the final figures from the vendor. In general, any response from a reputed vendor is acceptable, but the lower figures will excite us more. True! Situations tend to get more complex – if it’s an Agile project (well, we all wish to be Agile, isn’t it) – we tend to add some bells & whistles by adding the sizing constraint as well. How? Well, we often put a request of providing dollar value to Story Points. How does that help? Ideally – it doesn’t help us anyways apart from giving us a very high level understanding on how each module may impact us from investment perspective. Continue reading “To be or not to be – Agile Architecture”

As a Manager I Want to Improve Things!

live-different

[This is an email that was sent to me literally a day after our Certified Product Owner Training… it is things (action!) that I love seeing. Learning is great, but taking what you learn to make positive change in your organization is just yummy all the time! Thanks Miguel for letting me share it with the community!]

===

Peter,
Just wanted to thank you for the Product Owner training. It was an eye opening experience and helped me on both a personal and professional level.  Wanted to share an email I sent over to the Executive Team a few minutes ago (see below).  I am really looking forward to help shape the future of Scrum in my organization!
Thanks!

–Miguel

From: Miguel
Sent: Sunday, April 20, 2014 5:13 PM
To: — — —
Subject: Scrum Committee

As a <Manager>

I would like to form an Organizational Scrum Committee

So that we can improve our processes and create high-performance teams

Acceptance Criteria:

  • Verify that the committee includes Scrum Masters
  • Verify that the committee includes Product Owners
  • Verify that the committee includes Developers
  • Verify that the committee includes Testers
  • Verify that the committee includes DevOps
  • Verify that a goal of the committee is to improve our processes
  • Verify that a goal of the committee is to achieve high-performance teams
  • Verify that is an honest venue where members are empowered to speak without fear of retribution

One of the things I got out of Product Owner training is that it’s pretty important for the leaders of an organization to get together and talk about your Scrum processes on a regular basis. What are your thoughts about putting together a Scrum committee of sorts (maybe do a lunch n learn at least once a month?) to  get together and discuss Scrum and Scrum processes?  It should at least include the PO’s, Scrum Masters and Leads, but I could see how inviting the developers, testers and IT would  be beneficial as well.   I see it being a Retro of Retro’s of sorts, where each team can discuss what is working and isn’t working for our teams.  It would also a great venue to discuss things we learn in training and other educational venues.  The goal of this committee would be to improve our development life cycle so that we can archive high performing teams.

It would be great to get the new PO’s and SM’s involved with this from the get go, I’m sure they can provide some good feedback from previous experiences.

I would like to head this up if you agree it will be beneficial for us.

Thoughts?

Ensuring Corporate Employees Hate Their Job

[Humor]

But on another note… something to consider.

As our older generation moves on… and our younger generations (like X and Y and Millennials) begin to take over the upper ranks of management… I know things will change. They always do. The question is: “How will they change?”

I’ll make a prediction:

  • I believe that our younger generations (despite how we older generations consider them [good/bad]) will get tired of corporate bullshit, bureaucracy, command-and-control management, and so-forth.
  • Even if you think younger generations are _______ (fill in a derogatory idea here), I think, you can’t deny that they (may) have something going for them in their overly-social, high-desire-to-be-autonomous-borderline-on-irresponsible ethos of sorts.
  • As Time Magazine focused on: Generation ME ME ME ME (The Millennials), even if they are self absorbed, in-tune with their feelings, and pretty narcissistic, it will change corporate culture over time.

For the better? Who knows…

#fridaythoughts

Extraordinary Teams are Lead by Extraordinary Leaders

boss-vs-leader

Starting a business on the right foot begins with the leadership naturally and the first people to the table always drive the culture as well as the continued environment in which everyone works in.

It’s surprising, then, why many management teams do not spend nearly enough time continuing to educate themselves and optimize their efforts and instead make their teams beneath them spend the time, energy, and resources to optimize.

You’d think they’d take their own medicine once in a while, right? Extraordinary teams can be self-generated, at times, but more often than not they are created through the work, counsel, and direction of extraordinary leaders.

I loved a recent article highlighting 8 essential and core beliefs of extraordinary leaders and comparing them with “average” bosses:

1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield.

  • Average bosses see business as a conflict between companies, departments and groups. They build huge armies of “troops” to order about, demonize competitors as “enemies,” and treat customers as “territory” to be conquered.
  • Extraordinary bosses see business as a symbiosis where the most diverse firm is most likely to survive and thrive. They naturally create teams that adapt easily to new markets and can quickly form partnerships with other companies, customers … and even competitors.

2. A company is a community, not a machine.

  • Average bosses consider their company to be a machine with employees as cogs. They create rigid structures with rigid rules and then try to maintain control by “pulling levers” and “steering the ship.”
  • Extraordinary bosses see their company as a collection of individual hopes and dreams, all connected to a higher purpose. They inspire employees to dedicate themselves to the success of their peers and therefore to the community–and company–at large.

3. Management is service, not control.

  • Average bosses want employees to do exactly what they’re told. They’re hyper-aware of anything that smacks of insubordination and create environments where individual initiative is squelched by the “wait and see what the boss says” mentality.
  • Extraordinary bosses set a general direction and then commit themselves to obtaining the resources that their employees need to get the job done. They push decision making downward, allowing teams form their own rules and intervening only in emergencies.

4. My employees are my peers, not my children.

  • Average bosses see employees as inferior, immature beings who simply can’t be trusted if not overseen by a patriarchal management. Employees take their cues from this attitude, expend energy on looking busy and covering their behinds.
  • Extraordinary bosses treat every employee as if he or she were the most important person in the firm. Excellence is expected everywhere, from the loading dock to the boardroom. As a result, employees at all levels take charge of their own destinies.

5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear.

  • Average bosses see fear–of getting fired, of ridicule, of loss of privilege–as a crucial way to motivate people.  As a result, employees and managers alike become paralyzed and unable to make risky decisions.
  • Extraordinary bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they’ll be a part of it.  As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization’s goals, truly enjoy what they’re doing and (of course) know they’ll share in the rewards.

6. Change equals growth, not pain.

  • Average bosses see change as both complicated and threatening, something to be endured only when a firm is in desperate shape. They subconsciously torpedo change … until it’s too late.
  • Extraordinary bosses see change as an inevitable part of life. While they don’t value change for its own sake, they know that success is only possible if employees and organization embrace new ideas and new ways of doing business.

7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation.

  • Average bosses adhere to the old IT-centric view that technology is primarily a way to strengthen management control and increase predictability. They install centralized computer systems that dehumanize and antagonize employees.
  • Extraordinary bosses see technology as a way to free human beings to be creative and to build better relationships. They adapt their back-office systems to the tools, like smartphones and tablets, that people actually want to use.

8. Work should be fun, not mere toil.

  • Average bosses buy into the notion that work is, at best, a necessary evil. They fully expect employees to resent having to work, and therefore tend to subconsciously define themselves as oppressors and their employees as victims. Everyone then behaves accordingly.
  • Extraordinary bosses see work as something that should be inherently enjoyable–and believe therefore that the most important job of manager is, as far as possible, to put people in jobs that can and will make them truly happy.

Isn’t it true that all bosses want to be extraordinary but generally end up just being “average?” It’s a shame that they don’t have the right tools and the right perspective to keep their teams moving at high velocity and performance.

[via Inc.com]

Death March – A Guide for Software Developers

death-march-developer-agile-anti-pattern

Found this at my local used bookstore where I frequent to pick up tons of used books for the uber cheap.

I scanned it for about 5-7 minutes and found it fascinating… mostly because almost everything I read I said one of two things to myself:

  • Agile can help with this
  • Wow, that’s pretty Agile (as a solution to a problem he was talking about in the book)

Yup. There are books out there on employee burnout. #sad #reality

On The Process of Education – Jerome Bruner

the-process-of-education-jerome-bruner-1960

Light reading for this week of an oldie but goodie from 1960…

As I further my own education into the world of how people operate and behave it always astounds me of the similarity and relative closeness of systems thinking and how we as people (cognitively) learn and grow. I found myself, after reading Bruner’s work this weekend and today , spending about an hour re-visiting Gestalt Theory of learning… which is very much all about human systems as we see them in corporate America.

“It is worth the effort to provide the growing learner with problems that tempt him into next stages of development.” — We learn best when we are forced to pay attention to other aspects of the problem.

“Effective intuitive thinking is fostered by the development of self-confidence and courage in the person. A person who thinks intuitively may often achieve correct solutions, but he may also be proved wrong. Such thinking, therefore, requires a willingness to make honest mistakes in the effort to solve problems. As the importance of situations requiring decision increases, as in business, the tendency to think analytically also increases. The present system of rewards and punishments tends to inhibit the use of intuitive thinking.” – Meaning, the greater the risks as we go up the ranks in management, the less actual problem solving we do, and less ‘thinking’ is done…

How is Your Boss Behaving? – Infographic

Everyone loves infographics these days, right? It’s a quick and easy way of understanding simple and/or complex data and for many of us who struggle with maintaining focus on the many things that we are responsible for we’ve got little time to read through paragraphs and paragraphs of text.

I saw one recently that focused on the management, titled “Bad Boss Diaries”:

Click the image for a larger view:

agile-the-bad-boss-diaries

It really is too bad if someone of these figures are correct (and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are, if not very close).

One of the areas listed is the Top 5 Reasons Workers are Dissatisfied:

  1. Compensation
  2. Boss
  3. Job Responsibilities
  4. Culture
  5. Commute

Although we can’t do anything about the first and last one on that list it’s the three in the middle that are of personal interest to me as I believe that those can be discovered, analyzed, and improved with a bit of help. Ultimately they all boil down to leadership.

You see, here’s what I know: Your boss and management needs just as much help, support, and encouragement as you need to get your particular job done. They have stresses, anxiety, and worry just like the next person and a lot of it has to do with those that they lead and manage.

Your boss deals with people, relationships, and managing those roles and responsibilities. There’s tons of ambiguity and gray areas to work through and it often boils down to the ability of the manager and his team to communicate. In many circumstances that’s all that’s needed – a better or more functional way of communicating needs, expectations, and everything in between.

Team Science™ does that, as well as many other communication instruments out there! It baffles me how many organizations have terrible communication amongst themselves and yet they invest all of their additional time and resources on things that don’t help them to communicate!

In addition, it doesn’t surprise me when I hear that many workers struggle immensely with their current role and responsibilities – it’s just not “suiting” them well. There’s nothing more depressing than going to a job and doing work that you are not naturally gifted at and that drains you more than energizes you.

There is nothing that can be done to fix “you” as you can’t suddenly become someone you’re not but no one’s willing to help you find a better spot in the organization (or there might not be one available). No wonder many people hate waking up in the morning and plodding off to work!

It’s up to leaders and managers to help facilitate the conversations around roles, responsibilities, and natural aptitudes for their staff. Not all leaders and managers have the right words to say, a common language, that can help them have those necessary discussions and we love coming alongside them and giving them the right dictionary and vernacular to speak well and wisely to their teams.

Finally, culture, cultureculture! Culture is both bottom-up and top-down, but it’s always started up top (via the Founders and the first players to the field, so to speak). Leadership needs to help massage the culture in a way that’s accessible, understandable, and encourages healthy and thriving teams and individuals.

It must start here. Bad boss behavior can be mitigated, managed, and corrected but it must start with acknowledging that the issues exist in the first place! Don’t be fooled, especially if you’re in leadership – your team already is aware of the disfunction; they are just waiting for you to be the leader that they know you can be.

Most Asked Interview Questions – And How to Answer Them

[Click to make larger or download]

interview-questions-infographic

I found this over the weekend. This could be helpful for those looking for a job.

It is interesting, however, that we find in research that the person interviewing you pretty much makes a mental decision about you within the first 15 minutes or so… so those first crucial minutes are the most important. We find even more, that recruiters or interviewers have an even better chance at hiring you if they are even more deeply informed about who you are prior to them meeting you, understanding your team dynamics, your personality, and even how you process data. Recruiters and hiring managers alike love Team Science™ because that’s exactly what it allows them to do, before you even step in the door.

 

Man Alone Keeps Time

time-clock

“Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”

― Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper

I know we have to make profits and such in business… but, on this wonderful Friday, I wonder… “At what cost?”

No More After Hours Calls from the Boss

Germany’s employment ministry has banned its managers from calling or emailing staff out of hours except in emergencies, under new guidelines intended to prevent employees from burning out.

The guidelines state that ministry staff should not be penalized for switching off their mobiles or failing to pick up messages out of hours.

The move follows similar restrictions on out-of-hours email imposed by German firms including Volkswagen, BMW and Puma.

VW stops forwarding emails to staff from its company servers half an hour after the end of the working day, while other firms have declared that workers are not expected to check email at weekends or in their free time.

The labour ministry’s rules only allow contact if the task cannot be postponed until the next working day. Managers should apply a principle of “minimum intervention” into workers’ free time and keep the number of people whose spare time is disrupted as low as possible.

The code is part of a broader agreement covering remote working. Ursula von der Leyen, the labour minister, told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung the rules had been drawn up to protect workers’ mental health. The minister said that it was important for remote workers to know: “When they have to be available, and when they don’t. They now have this clarity in black and white.”

“It’s in the interests of employers that workers can reliably switch off from their jobs, otherwise, in the long run, they burn out,” she said.

The minister called on companies to set clear rules over the out-of-hours availability of their workers earlier this year, warning that: “technology should not be allowed to control us and dominate our lives. We should control technology.”

The culture of routinely checking emails in spare time came under the spotlight in July, when the chief executive of Switzerland’s biggest telecoms group was found dead at his flat in a suspected suicide.

In an interview in May, Carsten Schloter, boss of Swisscom, criticized the need to be permanently engaged.

“The most dangerous thing that can happen is that you drop into a mode of permanent activity,” he said. “When you permanently check your smartphone to see if there are any new emails. It leads to you not finding any rest whatsoever.”

[VIA: Telegraph]

Weekend Reading – #Deming 14 Points for Management

edwards-demming-book-quality-productivity-competitive-position

Find yourself Deming’s 14 Points for Management. You can never remind yourself enough.

  1. ”Create constancy of purpose towards improvement” – Replace short-term reaction with long-term planning.
  2. ”Adopt the new philosophy” – The implication is that management should actually adopt his philosophy, rather than merely expect the workforce to do so.
  3. ”Cease dependence on inspection” – If variation is reduced, there is no need to inspect manufactured items for defects, because there won’t be any.
  4. ”Move towards a single supplier for any one item” –  Multiple suppliers mean variation between feedstocks.
  5. ”Improve constantly and forever” – Constantly strive to reduce variation.
  6. ”Institute training on the job”  If people are inadequately trained, they will not all work the same way, and this will introduce variation.
  7. ”Institute leadership” – Deming makes a distinction between leadership and mere supervision. The latter is quota- and target-based.
  8. ”Drive out fear” – Deming sees management by fear as counter- productive in the long term, because it prevents workers from acting in the organization’s best interests.
  9. ”Break down barriers between departments” – Another idea central to TQM is the concept of the ‘internal customer’, that each department serves not the management, but the other departments that use its outputs.
  10. ”Eliminate slogans” – Another central TQM idea is that it’s not people who make most mistakes – it’s the process they are working within. Harassing the workforce without improving the processes they use is counter-productive.
  11. ”Eliminate management by objectives” – Deming saw production targets as encouraging the delivery of poor-quality goods.
  12. ”Remove barriers to pride of workmanship” – Many of the other problems outlined reduce worker satisfaction.
  13. ”Institute education and self-improvement”
  14. ”The transformation is everyone’s job”

Team, Work.

When we spend time with teams with often repeat a number of things over and over and over again in order that they might, at some point in time, “stick” in their minds like dried cement.

One of these is the simple fact that optimizing team performance and team dynamics takes work – and not a small amount either. You see, we can bring all the strategy, tactics, tools, technology, consulting, coaching, and we could even spend our precious time simply yelling at you (but we don’t) – and none of that would do any good unless the individuals and teams have committed themselves to do the tough work necessary of improving themselves and their team.

That’s why we title some of our activities and group assignments as “Team, Work” – reminding the group that it’s going to take your Team + Work to make this happen (or = Teamwork). Not overly clever, I know, but it does cause a few to pause when they see it.

As is often the case, many people commit to the idea of change and perhaps might even fall in love with the idea of change but it can be difficult at times to commit the actual effort that is required.

But your teams, your organizations, and the products, services, and solutions that you have for your clients and customers are worth it – and you’ll serve them better when you’re a better team and more optimized organization.

Go for it! Commit to the work, effort, and time required to help your team improve their performance and enhance the culture and everyday environment.  You don’t have to use Team Science™ to do this either as there are many options for improving team performance out there – the point is that you budget in the time, realistically, so that it can be scheduled in appropriately and intentionally.

Our passion is to see teams grow and perform better. Shouldn’t that be one of your top priorities as well?

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) – A Review

safe-scaled-agile-framework-review

A SAFe Class Review for Agilists / Consultants

“When you become all things to everyone, you satisfy none.” – But maybe you’ll become a consultant.

“You strive to never compromise on your values or principles, when you do, you become nothing.” – But if you do, maybe you become a consultant.

“The difference between a methodologist and a terrorist is that you can negotiate with a terrorist.” – But methodologists can become rich consultants.

Preface

Like any method or framework one needs to be highly-contextual as to how facets of that method will work within your organization. Meaning, you have to pick and choose what works.

Being educated in a “new” idea of sorts is really (at least to me), and exercise in reflection, introspection, and self-awareness. I was, of sorts, doing reconnaissance. I was also looking for things I might be able to pull from the SAFe framework for my client and coaching work. In some deeper ways, I was looking to see whether my heart was ready for a codified framework on something I’ve been attempting to do for several years. This is an ego issue (hell, I’ve even published a book on Agile).

program-consultant
SAFe SPC Training

The first time I touched SAFe was a 2 day course held at my client 5-6 months ago (I got to participate for free because I was, after all, a coach on-site). I was aloof, un-attentive, and didn’t take it very seriously as I was also juggling other consulting duties (e.g. being pulled out of class). Now, after paying $3000+ out of my own pocket, I dug in. I got serious about learning this.

My company has rolled out Agile at scale at several places, and one of my favorite and most successful (probably why it’s my favorite) was a $22.7M program that I was the Agile Architect for, and presented a part of our results at Agile2012 in an IEEE paper. Our company has it’s own home-brewed version of scaling Agile, and we’ve been pretty successful in multiple places. We’ve also had our failures.

That being said, taking this class on the Scaled Agile Framework has allowed me to see many things. A couple here:

  1. What SAFe espouses is pretty in-line with what we’ve done, on many levels.
  2. What SAFe prescribes is thoughtful and well-intentioned. It just takes it a bit too far and defines everything… almost too much… but I can see why this is a great selling idea.

What SAFe is Far Better At Than Most Continue reading “The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) – A Review”

“Survey” – Not “Test,” Not “Assessment”

It’s a SURVEY dude.

One of the most important things that we share with our customers and those that we coach is to change their thinking (and their word choice) from “test” and “assessment” and instead use “survey” when they use our tool and instrument.

This might seem like a small thing to you but it actually makes a significant psychological difference for our users for many reasons, the largest being that the general feeling and assumption when using a word like “test” is that you can or may fail it.

The challenge was birthed out of our culture and educational system as well as the way we often approach these types of instruments. Unfortunately, there still exists a sentiment that you can actually “win” or “fail” a psychometric evaluation or assessment (and hence the word “test”) when that is completely untrue – or at least with our device.

There is no better or worse score that anyone can achieve in the results – it’s rather a statement of who you are and a statement of “what is” – 5’s are not better than 1’s and 1’s are not better than 5’s. More “flat” results are not better than big downs and ups and a rollercoaster-like score are not better than more “stable” scores (as some people may call it).

Example Team Results
Example Team Results

As a result, we kindly and politely educate our customers that this isn’t really a test at all but rather a simple survey of your responses and most natural answers to very simple questions. This enables the person to feel more free with their answers and more comfortable with their results, which is a significant win for us!

Coaching individuals and teams through our process is critical for seeing the results rightly, or with more nuance and care – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discover your results and then begin to practically apply them instantly but there is a significant difference between being walked through them with a trained and professional eye.

For those that love coaching metaphors a very apt one is this: It’s like a sports team playing without a coach – sure, it’s possible and they may even do well without one, for a time – but the best teams have incredible coaches, giving encouragement, insight, direction, and guidance as well as making sure everything is in fulfilling their core objectives as one, instead of a fragmented whole.

We see our jobs as careful messengers of the results helping teams and organizations understand the results of the assessment, not as a graded exercise but as an opportunity to turn potential into incredible power.

No, this is not a test because you can’t fail it!