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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.

Who else has studied organization failure?  Well I've heard that many academics have studied the failure modes of organizations.  One was John Kotter's 8 Steps model developed by studying the failure modes of organizations trying to institute large scale changes.  Other's have studied how successful large mergers have been after the fact (some would suggest it's on the order of 20% successful).  Some have studied how successful large software development project have been (Chaos Report - it is not a good report).

So what does your leader do to encourage learning at the organizational level?  Is failure even allowed in your department?  If so then it will be discussed and talked about in formal settings and acknowledged by leaders, rather than only around the dark stairways and in hushed tones.

Leader's drive FEAR out of the room!

How To Ask Good Questions: David Stork at TEDxStanleyPark

Dr. David G. Stork is Distinguished Research Scientist and Research Director at Rambus Labs
Sometimes posing a good question is more important than answering a good question. Some unsolved questions—in science, philosophy, mathematics, humanities—are properly judged to be "better" than others, so we should consider how those questions arose and explore how best to guide ourselves to posing such world-class questions. This presentation explores why the act of posing good questions has been, for the most part, neglected by scholars and the general public alike and what we should do about it. There is a range of types of questions, each with optimal strategies for posing and now is the time for a call to arms for educators, researchers, technologists, and business leaders to explore the hows and whys of asking good questions.


See Also:
Pitfalls of Agile Transformations by Mary Poppendieck
Knut Haanaes - Two reasons companies fail - TED Talk AND how to avoid them:  Exploration and Exploitation

4 Questions Smart Leaders Always Ask Employees to Improve Their Performance
They're also great for fostering open dialog and developing meaningful work relationships.

End of nations: Is there an alternative to countries?  Nation states cause some of our biggest problems, from civil war to climate inaction. Science suggests there are better ways to run a planet.
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David's notes on "Drive"

- "The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us" by Dan Pink.

Amazon book order
What I notice first and really like is the subtle implication in the shadow of the "i" in Drive is a person taking one step in a running motion.  This brings to mind the old saying - "there is no I in TEAM".  There is however a ME in TEAM, and there is an I in DRIVE.  And when one talks about motivating a team or an individual - it all starts with - what's in it for me.

Introduction

Pink starts with an early experiment with monkeys on problem solving.  Seems the monkeys were much better problem solver's than the scientist thought they should be.  This 1949 experiment is explained as the early understanding of motivation.  At the time there were two main drivers of motivation:  biological & external influences.  Harry F. Harlow defines the third drive in a novel theory:  "The performance of the task provided intrinsic reward" (p 3).  This is Dan Pink's M…

Elements of an Effective Scrum Task Board

What are the individual elements that make a Scrum task board effective for the team and the leadership of the team?  There are a few basic elements that are quite obvious when you have seen a few good Scrum boards... but there are some other elements that appear to elude even the most servant of leaders of Scrum teams.









In general I'm referring to a physical Scrum board.  Although software applications will replicated may of the elements of a good Scrum board there will be affordances that are not easily replicated.  And software applications offer features not easily implemented in the physical domain also.





Scrum Info Radiator Checklist (PDF) Basic Elements
Board Framework - columns and rows laid out in bold colors (blue tape works well)
Attributes:  space for the total number of stickies that will need to belong in each cell of the matrix;  lines that are not easy eroded, but are also easy to replace;  see Orientation.

Columns (or Rows) - labeled
    Stories
    To Do
    Work In P…

Exercise:: Definition of Ready & Done

Assuming you are on a Scrum/Agile software development team, then one of the first 'working agreements' you have created with your team is a 'Definition of Done' - right?



Oh - you don't have a definition of what aspects a user story that is done will exhibit. Well then, you need to create a list of attributes of a done story. One way to do this would be to Google 'definition of done' ... here let me do that for you: http://tinyurl.com/3br9o6n. Then you could just use someone else's definition - there DONE!

But that would be cheating -- right? It is not the artifact - the list of done criteria, that is important for your team - it is the act of doing it for themselves, it is that shared understanding of having a debate over some of the gray areas that create a true working agreement. If some of the team believes that a story being done means that there can be no bugs found in the code - but some believe that there can be some minor issues - well, …

What belongs on the Task Board?

I wonder about these questions a lot - what types of task belong on the task board?  Does every task have to belong to a Story?  Are some tasks just too small?  Are some tasks too obvious?  Obviously some task are too larger, but when should it be decomposed?  How will we know a task is too large?

I answer these questions with a question.  What about a task board motivates us to get work done?  The answer is: T.A.S.K.S. to DONE!



Inherent in the acronym TASKS is the point of all tasks, to get to done.  That is the measure of if the task is the right size.  Does it motivate us to get the work done?  (see notes on Dan Pink's book: Drive - The surprising Truth about what motivates us) If we are forgetting to do some class of task then putting it on the board will help us remember.  If we think some small task is being done by someone else, then putting it on the board will validate that someone else is actually doing it.  If a task is obvious, then putting it on the board will take vi…

Refactoring - examples from the book

Martin Fowler's book Refactoring:  Improving the Design of Existing Code has a simple example of a movie rental domain model, which he refactors from a less than ideal object-oriented design to a more robust OO design. Included in this Refactoring_FirstExample.zip Zip file are the Java source code files of the Movie, Rental, and Customer classes. Along with a JUnit CustomerTest class. Using these example source files you too can follow along with the refactoring that Fowler presents in the first few chapters of his book.