Monday, October 26, 2015

HBR:: Why Organizations Don't Learn

A nice article on HBR - "Why Organizations Don't Learn", by

  • Francesca Gino and 
  • Bradley Staats; take a look.
    They list these reasons:

    • Fear of failure
    • Fixed mindset
    • Over reliance on past performance
    • Attribution bias

    The authors then give some strategies for overcoming these reasons for the lack of learning.  Many of these will be familiar to the agile community.

    See Also:
    Pitfalls of Agile Transformations by Mary Poppendieck

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015

    Cultivating Collaboration via intense partnerships to solve problems.

    I presented this workshop at Agile Camp - Dallas, Oct 19th.

    DFW Scrum Meeting Aug. 18th 2015
    It’s said that two heads are better than one, in reference to problem solving. We will use Tangram puzzles to simulate this experience, and via structured debriefs of these exercises, discover the powerful behaviors of awesome collaboration, and the negative warning signs of poor collaboration. We will jump right into simulation exercises, come prepared to have FUN and learn by doing. 
     No lecture - if you want a lecture… go here:

    Here are some of the resources and exercise if you wish to reproduce this workshop or want to dig further into the science behind collaboration.

    Presentation Cultivation Collaboration (PDF)  Spoiler Alert - don't look at the solutions!

    Friday, July 31, 2015

    Retromat:: A well planned Retro

    Retrospective at GameStop based upon Corinna Baldaug's Retromat.

    Retro process phases: Set the Stage, Gather Data, Generate Insight, Decide what to Do, Close the Retro


    Set the Stage: give time to “arrive” and get into the right mood and focus upon the goal
    Gather Data: reflect upon what happened, create a shared pool of information
    Generate Insight: why did things happen this way? What patterns can we observe?
    Decide What to Do: Pick what to work on, plan concrete steps of action
    Close the Retro: reflect upon the retrospective, how could it improve? What shall we follow-up upon?

    Activities for this Retro:

    Quick Questions 
    In ONE word – what do you need from the retro?
    In ONE word – what is on your mind?
    In ONE word – what is you current mindset in regards to your project: are you a:
    Explorer – eager to dive in and research what worked
    Shopper – Positive, happy if 1 good thing come out
    Vacationer – Reluctant, but retros beat regular work
    Prisoner – Only attend because they make you

    The Four Ls
    Regarding the last iteration, individually for each of these 4 questions (one item per sticky) write:
    What I Loved
    What I Learned
    What I Lacked
    What I Longed for

    Perfection Game
    Everyone rates the last iteration on scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (perfect).
    Next – make suggestion to raise your rating toward a 10, rate that suggestion using remaining 10 – x points

    Circle of Influence & Concern
    On a chart of concentric circles… inner to outter circle;
    Team controls – direct action
    Team influences – persuasive action
    System – response action

    Sort insight from Perfection Game into circle of influence & concern;
    Write possible actions – annotate the item with actions
    Dot vote on which action to attempt

    The team created this info graphic of their Four Ls exercise using the Circle of Influence & Concern. Stepping back they realized - they are the master's of their domain.

    We Control our own Destiny

    Feedback Door – Smilies
    Happy, OK, Sad
    Mark your satisfaction with the retro session on the chart.

    Wednesday, July 29, 2015

    On my ToDo book shelf

    A wish list of books I'd like to read...

    Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations
    by Rich Karlgaard, Michael S. Malone

    "Throughout, Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone share insights and real-life examples gleaned from their careers as journalists, analysts, investors, and globetrotting entrepreneurs, meeting successful teams and team leaders to reveal some "new truths":

    The right team size is usually one fewer person than what managers think they need.
    The greatest question facing good teams is not how to succeed, but how to die.
    Good "chemistry" often makes for the least effective teams.
    Cognitive diversity yields the highest performance gains—but only if you understand what it is.
    How to find the "bliss point" in team intimacy—and become three times more productive.
    How to identify destructive team members before they do harm.
    Why small teams are 40 percent more likely to create a successful breakthrough than a solo genius is.
    Why groups of 7 (± 2), 150, and 1,500 are magic sizes for teams.

    Eye-opening, grounded, and essential, Team Genius is the next big idea to revolutionize business."

    Passionate Performance  by Lee J. Colan

    This quick read cuts through the clutter to offer practical strategies to engage the minds and heart of your employeees. Learn why this is such a powerful advantage for your organization. Read it and conquer your competition!

    Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World   by General Stanley McChrystal

    A NEW APPROACH FOR A NEW WORLD McChrystal and his colleagues discarded a century of conventional wisdom and remade the Task Force, in the midst of a grueling war, into something new: a network that combined extremely transparent communication with decentralized decision-making authority. The walls between silos were torn down. Leaders looked at the best practices of the smallest units and found ways to ex­tend them to thousands of people on three continents, using technology to establish a oneness that would have been impossible even a decade earlier. The Task Force became a “team of teams”—faster, flatter, more flex­ible—and beat back Al Qaeda.

    How could we measure Team Happiness?

    Do you believe that what you measure you will get?  If so you want to start to measure team happiness.  So what techniques do we have to measure something so ephemeral?

    The health care industry has studied measuring pain and have very good data on their ability to measure and administer pain drugs upon a subjective self report.  Maybe we could do the same in knowledge worker teams and work groups.

    Team Happiness Net Promoter Score sheet
    Here's a riff upon the classic Net Promoter Score for measuring team happiness.

     "How likely is it that you would recommend our team to a trusted friend that is looking for a job?"

    To calculate the NPS - the continuum is divided into 3 groups; the detractors (1 - 6), the passive (7 & 8), the promoters (9 & 10).  The passive are ignored - they do not promote your objective.  The NET promoter score is the percentage of people promoting your objective minus the percentage of people detracting from your objective.

         NPS = Promoter % - Detractor %  (valid range +100% to -100%)

    How does this objective of promoting your team as a recommendation for a friend seeking a job a proxy for team happiness?  I've not met many good people that would shaft a friend by recommending an unhappy team - have you?

    Note:  with small populations (like a scrum team) there is high variability based upon a few people's scoring,  another companion metric would be the percentage of people participating in the survey.  Did the whole team play - or do you have a core group that is the in-group?

    See Also:

    Visualizing Agility: Agile Metrics that Matter by Jay Packlick

    Monday, July 27, 2015

    Transparency - Two Way Visibility

    What does the value of Transparency really mean?
    Nextgov: How do you define transparency?
    Fung: My definition is quite a bit different from the conventional wisdom about transparency. A transparency system is designed to allow people to improve the quality of decisions they make in some way, shape or form, and it enables them to improve their decisions to reduce the risks they face or to protect their interests. Some of those decisions are about political accountability but some are in private life, like what food to buy or what doctor to go to.
    -- Archon Fung, professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government who studies government transparency.

    Does your company practice fair pay?  Here's what one worker brought to Google and made a difference in transparency at the search giant.
    Tell Your Co-Workers How Much You Make!  There's no law against it and it increases the chances you'll be paid fairly.

    Does the Agile Manifesto imply some form of organizational transparency? I believe so, yes.  Here's what Jeff Sutherland has to say about the topic, look for the Individual and Interaction section.  Agile Principles and Values by Jeff Sutherland on MSDN.

    Scrum's 5 core values list the concept of Openness.  Is this not very similar to Transparency?

    There are lots of synonyms - visibility, openness, observable, apparent, etc.

    Does this value of transparency imply that the information flows in both directions, up and down an organizational hierarchy, from line-workers to managers & directors, as well as from CEO to directors and wage earners also?

    See Also:

    Friday, July 24, 2015

    Scrum Immersion workshop at GameStop - Case Study

    Here's a overview of a Scrum Immersion workshop done at GameStop this month. A case study example.

    Normally these workshops start with the leadership (the stakeholders or shareholders) which have a vision for a product (or project). This time we skipped this activity.

    The purpose of the Workshop is to ensure alignment between the leadership team and the Agile Coaches with regards to the upcoming scrum workshop for the team(s). Set expectations for a transition from current (ad-hoc) practices to Scrum. Explain and educate on the role of the Product Owner.

    Expected Outcomes:
    • Create a transition plan/schedule
    • Set realistic expectations for transition and next release
    • Overview of Scrum & leadership in an Agile environment
    • Identify a Scrum Product Owner – review role expectations
    • Alignment on Project/Program purpose or vision
    • Release goal (within context of Project/Program & Scrum transition)

    Once we have alignment on the Product Owner role and the Project Vision we typically do a second workshop for the PO to elaborate the Product Vision into a Backlog. This time we skipped this activity.

    The purpose of the Workshop is to educate the Product Owner (one person) and prepare a product backlog for the scrum immersion workshop. Also include the various consultants, SME, BA, developers, etc. in the backlog grooming process. 
    Expected Outcomes:
    • Set realistic expectations for transition and next release
    • Overview of Scrum & Product Owner role (and how the team supports this role)
    • Set PO role responsibilities and expectations
    • Alignment of Release goal (within context of Project/Program & Scrum transition)
    • Product Backlog ordered (prioritized) for the first 2 sprints
    • Agreement to Scrum cadence for planning meetings and grooming backlog and sprint review meetings

    Once we have a PO engaged and we have a Product Backlog it is time to launch the team with a workshop - this activity typically requires from 2 to 5 days. This is the activity we did at GameStop this week.
    The primary purpose of the workshop is to teach just enough of the Scrum process framework and the Agile mindset to get the team functioning as a Scrum team and working on the product backlog immediately after the workshop ends (begin Sprint One). 
    Expected Outcomes:
    • Set realistic expectations for transition and next release
    • Basic mechanics of Scrum process framework
    • Understanding of additional engineering practices required to be an effective Scrum team A groomed / refined product backlog for 1- 3 iterations
    • A backlog that is estimated for 1 – 3 iterations
    • A Release plan, and expectations of its fidelity – plans to re-plan
    • Ability to start the very next day with Sprint Planning

    Images from the workshop

    The team brainstormed and the prioritized the objectives and activities of the workshop.

    Purpose and Objectives of the Workshop
    The team then prioritized the Meta backlog (a list of both work items and learning items and activities) for the workshop.

    Meta Backlog of workshop teams - ordered by participants

    Possible PBI for Next Meta Sprint

    Possible PBI for Later Sprints

    Possible PBI for Some Day

    Possible PBI for Another Month or Never

    A few examples of work products (outcomes) from the workshop.

    Affinity grouping of Persona for the user role in stories

    Project Success Sliders activity
    Team Roster (# of teams person is on)

    A few team members working hard
    Three stories written during elaboration activity

    A few stories after Affinity Estimation

    Release Planning:  Using the concept of deriving duration based upon the estimated effort.  We made some assumptions of the business desired outcome;  that was to finish the complete product backlog by a fixed date.
    The 1st iteration of a Release Plan
     That didn't feel good to the team, so we tried a different approach.  To fix the scope and cost, but to have a variable timeframe.
    The 2nd iteration of a Release Plan
     That didn't feel good to the PO, so we tried again.  This time we fixed the cost and time, but varied the features, and broke the product backlog into milestones of releasable, valuable software.
    The 3rd iteration of a Release Plan
    This initial release plan feels better to both the team and the PO, so we start here.  Ready for sprint planning tomorrow.