Monday, April 25, 2016

Exercise: Estimate Number of times you can Fold a Paper in Half



An Exercise in Estimation:  How many times can you fold a piece of paper in half & half again...

I do this exercise when beginning scrum teams start story estimation or task estimation.  While this exercise has a unique twist that is very different than task estimation or story estimation - very few people foresee this aspect of the exercise, so it adds to the ah-ha moment.

Start by giving everyone a sheet of typical paper (8.5 x 11 in the USA - although the size just doesn't matter).  Then tell them the exercise but ask that no one do any thing yet.  First we will estimate.  The task is to estimate how many times you could fold the paper in half and then again in half and repeat... without doing it what's your estimate of the number of folds?

Ask people to call out their estimate, write then on a board in no particular order or fashion.

Typical groups come up with estimate in the range of 5 - 20 folds.

If you want to do math... calculate an average estimate... or just circle the mean value.

Next have the group fold the paper in half and half again up to 4 times - then STOP and estimate again.  Same as last time - call out the estimates and write them down on the board.

Next - fold the paper until you are done.  How many folds did you get?

Now the debrief:  What did you learn in this exercise?  What happened to the estimates - why did this happen?  What generalizations of estimating can we learn from this example?  So when do we practice this re-estimation technique in Scrum?


For BONUS points - how many times do you need to fold paper to get to the Moon?
How Folding Paper Can Get You to the Moon
How Folding Paper Can Get You to the Moon

See Also:

MythBusters episode: Folding a large piece of Paper in Half - What's the Limit
Myth Busters

Moon Scoops - Buzz Aldrin on the things you do not know about the Moon Landings - Late Night




A SW expert - Steve McConnell discusses software estimation and the #noestimates idea.



See Also:

Can we have a Dialogue about Estimation?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

How to lose customers via failure of your core business proposition

Mayhem
Just last month I receive a congratulatory letter from REI MasterCard - 10 years of a mutually beneficial business relationship ....  until .... chaos ensued (thank you Mr. Mayhem).  So I accepted the opportunity to communicate with my business lender on an incident that made me very dissatisfied with their policies.


Subject: Re: Congratulations on your REI World MasterCard anniversary! 
Thank you Robert,
     Just to let you know - I’m sure this will interest you - I will shortly be canceling my 10 year relationship with REI MasterCard, because of the quality of service you have just required me to deal with. I’ve got a great payment history and have been using our card to pay bills on line and automagically for years. Recently through my oversight, I forgot to pay my bill on time. So in response to this great customer who always pays his bills and once in 10 years paid late, your organization saw fit to block all payments, causing further confusion and customer / client dissections with your service level. When I called in to rectify the situation your senior rep. could not do anything to help - your policy prevented customer satisfaction. Said policy created even more denied automatic payments for my accounts, creating a snowball of unpaid bills. All from a company that is in the business of extending credit. This is unacceptable. So I will be canceling my relationship and moving to VISA. 
David Koontz, very unhappy customer.
Here is the response I received from the Office of the President, US BANK Cardmember Service




One technique for losing customers is to make the very nature of your core business proposition an oxymoronic meme.  Let's use this US Bank - REI Credit Card issue as a case study.

The back story:  I've been a REI Credit Card user for around 10 years, I've built up a very good customer relationship, paying bills on time for those year, sure there may have been a slip through the cracks from time to time, yet my credit score reflects that I'm a very sound risk for credit.

So when a job transition happened in the sprint of 2016 there was much confusion with cash flow and various credit cards transition from one service vendor to another (seems as if Master Card is losing clients to VISA) and Costco moved away from Am Ex.  Lots of changes in the card industry.  These had various impacts upon my personal fincianal life...

Some few years ago I started moving auto pay bills to my REI card (US BANK) we loved the cash back rewards at one of our favorite shopping stores, REI.  So by 2016 almost every bill I get, from water bills to Amazon to Apple App Store to Netflix etc. is on the card.

Now in March, I missed the $30 min. payment to US BANK.  So in silence they blocked all debits and transaction to the card.  There was no communication to me about such a significant event.  However, I get plenty of alerts of various natures, such as payment due, minimal balances, large transactions, etc.  But, for unknown reasons explained by the Office of the President, they are just unable to communicate with customers about this type of event.

I've canceled the card.  Kinda hate to lose the REI relationship, but they have not responded to any inquiries either.  In today's credit industry there are plenty of reward programs to choose from and I've made other arrangements - did all the work to transition payments away from US BANK's card to a USAA Signature card.  Maybe I'll probe that system and see how they respond to a missed payment.

So what would US BANK needed to have done to keep a 10 year customer?  A simple alert - your account has been frozen because of late payment.  AND then been able to recognize a good customer and rectify the issue over the phone - by extending credit and reinstating the account with the promise of the check is in the mail.  After all their core business proposition is extending credit.


Full Disclosure:  I own MasterCard stock as well as Amazon, Apple, Costco, Netflix.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

the Failure Bow -or- how to love the experience of learning



I learned this technique from the facilitators of Language Hunting and Where Are Your Keys, they term the technique How Fascinating  and practice it quite a few times each game.



The purpose of the technique is to invert the physiology of failure into a learning moment to reflect upon what just went wrong and instead of cringing and curling up into a safe ball, we open up the body and the mind to learning and the experience of reflecting and allowing the universe to teach us something.

Try it a few times...





See Also:

Go Ahead, Take a Failure Bow by Beth Kanter at HBR

TED Talk:  The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure
"Great dreams aren't just visions," says Astro Teller, "They're visions coupled to strategies for making them real." The head of X (formerly Google X), Teller takes us inside the "moonshot factory," as it's called, where his team seeks to solve the world's biggest problems through experimental projects like balloon-powered Internet and wind turbines that sail through the air. Find out X's secret to creating an organization where people feel comfortable working on big, risky projects and exploring audacious ideas.

Psychometric Assessments - a peek inside the person

What do you think & feel about personality and behavioral assessments?  Are they useful to you?  Can you share them with others to help improve your relationships?  Do you have the courage to put your personality on display for your collaborators to inspect?

Well I thought I'd try to open the kimono to see if it helps me...

I've studied Psychometric assessments and some I find useful, some I feel are just a step to the left from astrology charting.  Yet might not be harmful for self reflection.  I've also found that it takes an expert to explain the tools and reports such that a layperson can understand and make positive use of the assessment and it's report.  And while I've been "certified" is some of these tools/technique I do not practice them enough to be competent - and my pitch is akin to a snake-oil salesman.

One issue with these assessments was made clear to me when I heard the Invisibilia NPR show on The Personality Myth.  "We like to think of our own personalities - and those of our spouses, children and friends - as predictable and constant over time. But what if they aren't? In this episode, Alix Spiegel visits a prison to explore whether there is such a thing as a stable personality. And Lulu Miller asks whether scientists can point to a single thing about a person that doesn't change over time. The answer might surprise you."


Here's Carl Jung on the topic: "Psychological type is nothing static — it changes in the course of life." - via Brainpickings.org (1959 BBC video).


All assessments measure a moment in time.  If you believe that humans are capable of any modicum of change over time - then the logical conclusion is that the assessment has little validity, because the person has changed.  Now if this is too far fetched for your current belief system - listen to the Personality Myth, Invisibilia show and then answer the question again after you have the opportunity to learn and change.

To see the effects of situation upon the personality look into Walter Mischel's research and invalidation of the whole Personality Test Industry in 1960s with his book Personality and Assessment.  Look at the real purpose behind the Marshmallow Test.  "People are fundamentally flexible." (Listen at 41:45 Invisibillia The Personality Myth)


Muppet's on Self Control via Steven Colbert.  (Not what the experiment was investigating ... but funny none the less.)

Now a Look into the Mind of the Person

Here is my DiSC Classic profile:

DiSC Classic by Wiley
Here is my Trimetric assessment (DiSC, EQ, Motivation) by Abelson Group


DiSC Wheel
Motivators Wheel

Emotional Quotient Wheel



Here is my Myers Briggs Type Indicator - Level II assessment:
MBTI Level One
MBTI Level II reports









Here is my EQ 2.0 - Emotional Intelligence:

EQ 2.0 by

TalentSmart, Inc.
Here is my Action & Influence report:



Here is my Personalysis assessment:

Personalysis assessment
Here is my Strengths Finder 2.0 by Gallup (Tom Rath) assessment (2012):
  • Learner
  • Self-Assurance
  • Arranger
  • Ideation
  • Relator



See Also:
Authentic Happiness - resources in Positive Physiology - 20 assessments


Psychometric testing resources

British Psychological Society’s Psychological Testing Centre (PTC) provides information and services relating to standards in tests and testing for test takers, test users, test developers and members of the public.

National Cultural Studies - assessments at the meta level - the personality and behaviors of nations.