I’ve been quoted 🙂
I’ve been quoted 🙂
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.
If 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”
[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!]
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
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.
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:
For the better? Who knows…
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.
2. A company is a community, not a machine.
3. Management is service, not control.
4. My employees are my peers, not my children.
5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear.
6. Change equals growth, not pain.
7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation.
8. Work should be fun, not mere toil.
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.
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:
Yup. There are books out there on employee burnout. #sad #reality
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…
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:
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:
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, culture, culture! 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.
[Click to make larger or download]
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 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?”
They are pretty scrummy…but.
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.”
Find yourself Deming’s 14 Points for Management. You can never remind yourself enough.
These are the notes I had to study from to pass the Scaled Agile Framework SPC exam. Yes, there is a lot of memorization. Welcome to college cramming.
“Where are you looking to anticipate change?”
“What is the diversity metric of your network?”
“Are you courageous enough to abandon the past?”
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?
“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.
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).
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:
Dan Pink kills it on the idea of (P)urpose and (p)urpose.
Definitely worth the 20 minutes. Watch it on your lunch break.
Managers! Take notice!
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).
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!
This is one COOL way to have an open and collaborative office space.
There’s been a lot of discussion lately around whether the 40hr per work week is still the optimal working schedule to keep, spurred on by Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg who mentioned recently that she leaves the office at *gasp* 5:30pm so she can spend more time with her kids:
I was showing everyone I worked for that, I worked just as hard. I was getting up earlier to make sure they saw my emails at 5:30, staying up later to make sure they saw my emails late. But now I’m much more confident in where I am and so I’m able to say, “Hey! I am leaving work at 5:30.” And I say it very publicly, both internally and externally.
Oh, the horror! Right?
Well, we all know intimately that most of us work way more than 40 hours in any given week. As Sandberg notes, it’s quite unfortunate that some industries and businesses still make it a big deal and make it a badge of honor to work an incredible amount of hours while industry reports and studies have shown time and time again that working more than that decreases productivity! Continue reading “Working More Than 40 Hours Per Week? Not Your Fault…”
I always look forward to reading VersionOne’s State of Agile report. It’s out this week and this year VersionOne has done something p.h.a.t. with the format.
In addition to the long PDF they always publish, this year the State of Agile has its own Web site! For all you old-timers who hate change, you can still download the full report, where there are lots of juicy stats to help you make wiser decisions around your agile initiatives. The new site simply makes it easier for us lazy slackers who just want the highlights spoon-fed to us. VersionOne has broken down the most interesting data into 5 main sections:
What’s the most interesting thing I found from picking through it? Hmmm, tough call. But I think I’ll go with the new chart that cross-tabulates the top reasons people go agile vs. the top areas where agile delivers ACTUAL improvements. Pretty interesting to see proof that agile actually delivers on what’s most important when you compare people’s general pre-implementation “wish-list” to reported benefits afterward.
Oh, and the site finally solves the problem of Googling past years’ reports when you want to see how data has been trending over the years. All historical data back to 2006 is on the site. Nice work, VersionOne!
You should definitely check it out at StateofAgile.com. Share the whole site or just individual stats; they’ve made it super easy! Got a comment? Speak up here; I’d love to know what you think.
To be honest, I’m not a super-fan of using audio and visual tools in presentations, coaching sessions, and training – this is more about the overuse of these tools and technology and how they are oftentimes digital crutches for the presenter to gloss over the fact that the trainer is boring, the content is unappealing, or worse yet, both.
I have found that the most effective trainers and coaches are also incredible communicators – that is to say, they are exceptionally good at using their own voice, their strongest and most vital asset and too, to communicate life-giving truth to their listeners.
Audio and visual communication tools, like the all mighty Microsoft Powerpoint (we like to use Apple’s Keynote, a far more rich and attractive technology), exist to supplement, augment perhaps, but not replace the main communication device: The presenter.
That’s why we spend a lot of time working on our training decks and minimizing their use while increasing the time spent building relationships during our time with the individuals, teams and organizations. We also heavily invest in developing our coaching techniques to provide maximum use of our staff and our trainers instead of bulking up on training decks, slides, and technology.
We’re not interested in hiring or working with parrot presenters – and neither do the businesses and team’s that partner with us want those types of people training their most valuable asset. We find dynamic presenters, trainers, and coaches who’s core craft and toolkit are their communication techniques… and by the way, Action & Influence were voted the Best Training Company in Atlanta for 2013!
Sure, slides and presentations, music and video files are valuable and very useful – but you and I both know (and have experienced) training classes, seminars, keynotes, and lectures that are more about us watching a video for the majority of the session while the trainer and teacher checks their mobile device and email.
Let’s be the best trainers and coaches that we can possibly be and leverage our best resource for our students and those that we train: Ourselves.
A hot topic right now among businesses and organizations is the idea around culture development and the value of culture in the work place, environment, and employee morale.
There’s been a swing of the pendulum, perhaps, where we’re headed back to what made great companies great – incredible cultural dynamics and a rich history of employee satisfaction. Unfortunately we engage with far too many companies that say they have great culture but the employees, if you ask them honestly, will say that it’s really not true – or at least it’s not felt that way.
Most people, both individual contributors and management alike, agree that changing the culture is a “priority” for their organization because they fundamentally believe that a better culture will reveal increased productivity, increased morale, and higher value for the business and their customers.
The challenge is not that you have to sell someone on the value of a changing culture, that is, being closer to a more optimal and functional culture, but how they are actually going to get there. Improving processes, building systems, using newer (and newer) software can help a bit but it’s not a matter of tools or technology or even time: It’s about people.
The challenge of changing culture ultimately is tied to the people that run the business culture – and it’s not just those in the C-Suite, it’s everyone on staff. Continue reading “The Challenge of Changing Culture”
Leadership isn’t about being the smartest person in the room and it’s definitely not about being the most talented either – it’s oftentimes being the person who has decided, for whatever reason, to go first.
And leadership doesn’t have be based on role or position within the pecking order either – you know of someone who doesn’t have the “manager’s” cap but for sure leads the team every single day. Leadership is about taking the initiative, willing to be the first one off the starting block, in the line of fire perhaps, and is an incredible gift since every person after that have been freed of the the incredible burden and responsibility.
This is how most new ideas are introduced to teams and organizations, especially in changing work environment where the boundaries between authority, leadership, and the management layers are slowly being stripped away and being replaced by “linchpins” (a’la Seth Godin). Continue reading “The Challenge of Going First”
This year has been a busy one for sure… and yes, I do manage my schedule using a customized excel sheet. Being able to see the whole, a lean-idea, enables me to see how it all fits together. This year has not only been a busy one, but it’s been great one as well.
Looking back it is quite clear some of the learnings: Travel less. Spend more time at home with the family.
With my 2014 schedule being booked and some date commitments moving even into QTR4 2014 already, it’s hard, but checking my Delta.com stats, and seeing that I’ve put in 148,854 in-the-seat miles this year… it’s a no brainer.
I hope all of y’all have had a great 2013. Here’s to an even better 2014!
One of the most satisfying opportunities that I have is the ability to work with startups and their limited resources. But what they might lack in finances, manpower, human capital, and even, at times, a plan they completely make up with energy, passion, and a belief that they can really make a difference and change the world.
They’re hungry and it’s entirely infectious – it’s the reason that I love to work with them constantly as well as working in my own environment of startups. The challenge is that most organizations quickly move out of their startup mentality and into their more “mature” phase and periods of growth. The large enterprises struggle with this even more and it’s a constant internal discussion that always revolves around this question:
Why aren’t we (can’t we) have that startup mentality that keeps us motivated and passionate?
The issue isn’t with the core philosophy of the business – it’s not even about the products, the services, or the core offerings and oftentimes it’s not even about the leadership. Sure, it can be all of those things and at times a combination of them are contributing to the sluggish mobility of the organization but the answer lies in the context of the team(s). Continue reading “Keeping the Startup Mentality and Energy Alive”