[Tool Review] — Pie — Work chat that’s all signal, no noise

pie-this-agile-scrum-communication-platform-tool

If you’re running Agile in your team, you’re likely logged in to several group chat rooms right now. At the very least, you’re plugged into rooms for engineering and product discussions. There’s also rooms for design and marketing that you pop into every now and then. And you’re definitely in some kind of ‘random’ chatroom for watercooler stuff.

With so many chat rooms, and so many discussions, it can sometimes be hard to keep up. There are times where you load your chat app and find something like 500 unread items. If you work in a distributed team, or even if you’ve just stepped away for a few hours, you’ve definitely seen this before. How can you separate the important discussions from the off-topic fluff?

[Enter]: Piework chat that’s all signal, no noise.

Pie lets you quickly create a new chat room for everything you want to share, so discussions stay focused and on-topic.

Let’s have a look:

pie-this-1

A chatroom for every topic. This is the first thing you’ll notice when you first use Pie. Instead of the traditional group chatroom model, Pie is more like a hybrid between message boards and chat.

You can quickly know what your team is talking about, and you can drop in and comment only on the topics you find interesting:

pie-this-2

You can post notes, upload files and share links to Pie, so you can start a conversation about anything you want.

Frictionless sharing. With so many articles and resources on Agile coming out all the time, one of the most common things we do in group chat rooms is to drop in, paste a link, and nudge everyone to read.

We do this several times a day, so that minute or two that you’re knocked out of your workflow to share something adds up.

Pie makes this a lot easier with their Chrome extension — it’s the only chat app out there that lets you share something without leaving the webpage you’re reading.

pie-this-3

And with the way Pie is set up, your link shows up as a new topic, so you won’t interrupt any ongoing conversations when sharing something new.

Tagged chat topics. You can use hashtags on Pie to create collections of chatrooms, or to help you find old conversations:

pie-this-4

 

Pie gives you a central place to have all your team’s conversations, instead of having to pay attention to email threads, comments in Google docs and all the group chats you have going on.

It’s free for companies of all sizes. Try it out with your team: http://piethis.com

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”

Business Analysts, Public review of BABOK Guide Version 3 open!!

business-analysis-babok-version-3

International institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) today announced the public review of Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) Guide version 3 (V3) is open until July, 11th 2014.

Business Analysis experts, practitioners and enthusiasts from across the world participated in creating the updated version. Many of these individuals volunteered there time to shape the future of business analysis profession.

It takes a great deal of commitment, experience and patience for such efforts to go from concept, planning, initiation to making it open to Public review.

I have experience in such a globally distributed effort for Project Management Institute’s (PMI), PMBoK Guide 5th edition project and have high respect for members contributing to make a difference to their profession.

If you are involved with profession of business analysis or know someone on your team (regardless of being an IIBA member), I suggest to get involved:

1. Further your knowledge of Business analysis
2. Use your experience to validate or refine the content
3. Gain knowledge from the experts by just reading through the BABOK

All details regarding the effort are at:
http://www.iiba.org/babok-guide-v3-public-review/index.html

After all volunteering is rewarding experience, personally and professionally. I am sure current IIBA members can gain some continuing education benefits!!

The World is Your Cube [@lincolnfingroup ad]

lincoln-cubicle-ad

I saw this advertisement in Atlanta airport this past week. This advertisement made me sad.

“The world is my cubicle.”

Are you telling me that my world is limited and contained to the 4×5 space I reside in 9-10 hours a day? Or… is it that the “world” is what I make of it? I guess I just don’t see a positive side of connecting a big wonderful world with the life inside a cube…

Yes. I can be the “Chief Officer” of my cube. Congratulations. You made it.

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]

Agile Day Atlanta

I know it’s tough to take a day off of work. You leave the office for one day and you return to find your unread emails in quadruple digits.

Certain events, however, need to be circled on your calendar as ‘must-attend’.

April 30th is one of those days.  

VersionOne has partnered with DevJam to bring Agile Day Atlanta to the community.

The focus of the day is Scaling Agility: More Value over More Process.

What’s the best thing about Agile Day Atlanta? You could say the price: only $89! But the super cool thing is that we’ll skip the keynote and dive right into a panel of long-time agilists Mike CottmeyerDavid HussmanMary Poppendieck, and our very own David Laribee. They will field questions and share their experiences, followed by an afternoon loaded with intriguing presentations and open space discussions.

Go ahead. Grab a seat while you can. Agile Day Atlanta is coming.

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]

High-Performance Organizations via Mentoring – Peter Saddington at Agile Leadership Summit

June 6, 2014. See you there?

better-software-conference-west-peter-saddington-mentoring

Link to the Agile Leadership Summit.

[Abstract]

Did you know that over half of Nobel Prize winners were apprenticed by other Nobel laureates? To grow companies and teams to performance you have to take servant leadership to it’s logical conclusion: Intentionally mentoring and growing others. This is a time-tested and practiced art. As a volunteer life coach and marriage counselor and Organizational Consultant, I’m passionate about this art and would love to share with you how to take your teams to the next level of performance. Let it be known, this is a long, tough road, but the benefits are worth more than their weight in gold. Let’s talk about mentoring and how to get started, the 6 areas of a mentor relationship and 6 tips for mentors.

Peter Saddington co-founded a successful Organizational Design Consultancy and has been integral in multi-million dollar Agile Transformation projects with some of the biggest Fortune 500 companies, including Cisco, T-Mobile, Capital One, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Primedia, and Cbeyond. He is a sought-after speaker at many industry events and is a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). He has also received three master’s degrees, one of which is in counseling, and provides life-coaching services in addition to his consultancy.

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”

The Life of an Agile Coach in a Song

TOPPOP: Atlanta Rhythm Section – Georgia Rhythm

Being from Atlanta… yup.

Livin’ out of a suitcase
Sleepin’ in hotel rooms
Rental cars and airport bars
And dog day afternoons

My occupation is a picker
And music is my game
Sometimes it makes me crazy
But I would not change a thing

So lay down a back beat
Crank up your trusty Gibson
Let’s give it everything we got just one more time
Lovin’ the life we’re livin’
Playin’ that Georgia rhythm
Nothin’ else ever made me feel so fine

Four o’clock in the morning
Waitin’ for a plane
We passed around the bottle, Lord
And we don’t feel no pain

Life out here on the highway
Has its ups and downs
But last night the Georgia rhythm
Tore up another town

So lay down a back beat
Crank up your trusty Gibson, it’s alright
Let’s give it everything we got just one more time
One more time
Lovin’ the life we’re livin’
Playin’ that Georgia rhythm
Nothin’ else ever made me feel this fine, yeah

Alright

Rising above the madness
Homeward bound again
To normal ways and lazy days
And old familiar friends

Some conversation with my lady
Some love long overdue
God knows I hate to leave her
But I got a job to do

So lay down a back beat
Crank up your trusty Gibson, son
Let’s give it everything we got just one more time
Lovin’ the life we’re livin’
Playin’ that Georgia rhythm
Makin’ music, movin’ on down the line
One more time

Lay down a back beat
Crank up your trusty Gibson
Let’s give it everything we got just one more time, one more time
Lovin’ the life we’re livin’
Playin’ that Georgia rhythm
Nothin’ else ever made me feel this fine

Give it everything we got just one more time