[Tool Review] – UpstartHQ – Next Best Thing to a Physical Kanban Whiteboard

What does a little green frog, a new startup, and free software look like? It may just look like UpstartHQ, who are currently building yet another light and simple kanban tool (tailored for startups)? Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty. It’s simple… almost offensively simple. But that’s the point, right?

[Enter]: UpstartHQNot a physical kanban board, but may just be the next best thing!

Sign up, click the verification email in your email box and you’re ready to roll.

Go on, add your first story. It’s simple. If you’re quick enough, you can fill up an entire kanban board in seconds (like I did above). Continue reading “[Tool Review] – UpstartHQ – Next Best Thing to a Physical Kanban Whiteboard”

[Tool Review] – Impediment Monkey – Get Those Blockers Off Your Back

Just released: A brand spanking new tool called Impediment Monkey.

Essentially, this tool is a simple way to track bugs, impediments, issues, blockers, or monkeys on your back… what ever you call them! If you’re using Scrum, Kanban, Lean or other methods that support continuous improvement, Impediment Monkey helps you make improvements faster.

Impediment Monkey takes in, notifies, helps in resolving and makes bashing impediments exciting and objective. Additionally, Impediment Monkey lets you assign, follow up, chart trends and even provides expert services to support your impediment bashing efforts.

A pretty simple popup comes up when you want to report an impediment.

If you need to add a note, simple. Add a note!

And… that’s pretty much it for now. They’re looking to continue to improve this over time, so feel free to drop them a note as to how to improve it. So far, it’s simple and light. It may just be what you need… for your own team or your personal life! Continue reading “[Tool Review] – Impediment Monkey – Get Those Blockers Off Your Back”

Top 50 Most Influential Management Gurus in 2011- Only 1 Asian Guy

Don't Get Mad. It's funny!

Every 2 years, The Thinkers 50, publishes a list of The 50 Most Influential Management Gurus.

The list contains many well-known names here are some of the more well known winners:

  • Jim Collins (Good to Great & Build to Last),
  • Michael Porter (Competitive Advantage),
  • Marcus Buckingham (First, Break All The Rules & Now, Discover Your Strengths),
  • Don Tapscott (Wikinomics),
  • Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point & Blink),
  • Gary Hamel (The Core Competence of the Corporation),
  • Seth Godin (Purple Cow),
  • Tom Peters (In Search of Excellence & The Pursuit of WOW!),
  • Thomas Friedman (The World Is Flat),
  • Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence) and
  • Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

Only 1 Asian Winner?

What I find interesting is that though all of the winners definitely deserve the recognition, I find it odd that there isn’t more representation from the Asia/Pacific Rim area (though there are 7 selected gurus from Indian origin). If you come from a heavy software development background, especially Agile, we have relied heavily on the influence of many a guru from the Asian lands. And I find it somewhat funny that the Asian man who did win is from France… … I could name a few successful Asian professionals…

Among Fortune 500 CEOs, seven are of Asian descent:

  • Ajay Banga of MasterCard
  • Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo
  • Vikram Pandit of Citigroup
  • Surya Mohapatra of Quest Diagnostics
  • Andrea Jung of Avon Products
  • Kevin Murai of Synnex
  • Jeff Yabuki of Fiserv

Ok ok… so researchers, supported by Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer and Time Warner, conducted 2,952 surveys of working-aged men and women and gathered qualitative and quantitative data. They concluded that many Asian-Americans, whether immigrant or native born, find it hard to “fit in” the upper management ranks.

According to the report, it’s not necessarily that they’re victims of discrimination. It’s that Asian-Americans don’t toot their own horns, don’t flourish in American-style networking and office politics, and may struggle with communication.

Is that the reason why? No self promotion?

[HT: HBR.com]

Retrospective 60 – Invest in Your Team & #Agile Cults


Invest in Your Team – Know Them

It’s easy to forget that we people first, employees, team-members, SMEs, and executives second. Unfortunately the natural result is that we find variation and difference in who we are before we understand the similarities that we all share.

The result? Conflict. And it’s your job to manage it well. You see, people are truly the X-Factor.

You just never know how team dynamics will play out until you grow with your team or company. Some people work very well together, some people just don’t work out at all.

I’m always hesitant when I hear that someone left a company due to “not being a good culture fit.” I believe it is the fault of the employer almost 99% of the time for the individual leaving the company. Why? Because the company or boss did not care enough to know who that person was: Their passions, drivers, or what incentives move them to action.

In fact, the culture fit probably should have been the most-vetted area, even before skill set!

I worked with a company in which there were several individuals on a team that were very hard nuts to crack. They had prickly personalities and were rough-around-the-edges types of people. The company culture was changing – they were moving to Agile under my guidance. After many different types of attempts to bring them on board it seemed that it may just be impossible to get their full support.

Something had to give. Something had to change or we were headed in the wrong direction.

Understand Your People

After many different attempts I discovered the solution – it started with one individual and was tremendously simple: A conversation, coupled with a challenge: 

“Have you ever considered that people may see you as a leader?”

“No… not really.”

“Well, people do. They need your leadership and guidance to help us build this product better…”

“Really? I guess so…”

“What do you think your attitude does to the environment your team members live in? It’s hard for them to approach you, it’s hard for them to collaborate with you because of your general attitude.”

“Seriously? Wow, I hope I didn’t offend anyone…”

“Well, you’ll have to work on that. They need a leader. I know if you get up and help out more, get involved, people will be able to work with you better and we can create a better product.”

Don’t Give Up

People are an enigma until you make the serious attempt to get to know them. In more times than most it’ll take time to get to know that person.

Sometimes, even a bit of tough love may just work. You’ve hired (hopefully) top talent to help your company grow. That isn’t where the investment stops. Invest time into your people. Get to know them. Grow your relationships. Whatever industry you are in, it is the people who help teams and companies succeed.

[VIA: CTOBlog]

Agile is a Cult – Follow the 5 Ways and Be Saved!

William Gill put together an all to funny example of how Agile is becoming like a cult:

You Are One of the Chosen:

You will read the bible, go to church and believe in God, or you will go to hell. Period.

The Founding Fathers are your gods. Respect them and prosper:

You will honour, awe and respect the agile founding fathers. The more often you can use this image in a presentation about agile the better.

You will respect the sacred parchment and laws:

The Agile Manifesto is the artifact that serves to both prove the validity and authenticity of our beliefs, and also lay down the ground rules for how your soul will be saved.

Our Strange Rituals are Rites in Which We Grow our Faith:

Secret handshakes, rituals, traditions, sacred artifacts: Standups, sprint reviews, sprint plannings, a 3-week lunar cycle…

You will read, follow, and respect the ultimate guide and rulebook:

The path to software salvation is in the handbooks on Agile.

Love it.