Monday, June 19, 2017

The Digital Platform - resurrection of the Hub Strategy

There's a lot of talk these days in the tech sector about "digital _________" or a "______ Platform" - have you noticed it also?  I find this astonishing, as the world turned digital back in the 1980s along with disco.  And as for platform - well adding the word to shoes was a bad idea back then also.

So what causes this echo from the past?

I don't know - shall we investigate this over the next few months - the dog days of summer 2017?

Summer is a season.  Season are cyclical - they come around again and again.  So this brings us to ponder... When do the days get longer and why?  Most people answer Summer.  And what's the longest day of the year (Northern Hemisphere)?  Right June 20th, the summer solstice.  And so the next few days the daylight is getting less and less - all summer long the days get shorter and shorter.  Almost completely backwards from what we thought we knew.


Do you remember way back in 2001... when Steve Jobs laid out Apples Digital Platform - called the Hub Strategy?
"The Mac," Jobs said, "can become the 'digital hub' of our emerging digital lifestyle, adding tremendous value to our other digital devices."
"Jobs laid out a path of PC evolution that defined the early 80s as an initial 'golden age' of computing based on productivity software, which began to wane in the early 90s. A 'second golden age' began in the mid-1990s with the rise of Internet; but it too began to lose its momentum by 2000. Jobs said he believed a third age would focus on a digital lifestyle, driven by an 'explosion of digital devices.'"

-- by Phil Simon The Age of the Platform


Steve Jobs introduces the "Digital Hub... by HiltonRobb


Simon writes "Apple forced this third golden age by developing its platform -- and making it so compelling to use." To see the ecosystem of the computer as a hub of your digital life. They have executed on that vision with the iPod, then the iTunes store, the iPhone and the App store, now the iPad and the iBookStore. Are we following a pattern, is there a cookbook? The leader has a vision, shares the vision with the followers, the followers buy into the vision and together make it a reality. 

The new product adoptions phases are progressing quite nicely. Apple is a master at this process, described by David Pogue in: http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/the-apple-ipad-first-impressions/.


Wildly Successful New Product Launch Phases:
  • Phase 1 feverish speculation and hype (preannouncment)
  • Phase 2 disappointment and bashing (prerelease)
  • Phase 3 attainment anticipation and adoration (post release)

How the iPhone was Born:  Inside Stories of Missteps and Triumphs

See Also:

Why Tim Cook is Steve Ballmer and Why He Still Has His Job at Apple by Steve Blank
"What happens to a company when a visionary CEO is gone? Most often innovation dies and the company coasts for years on momentum and its brand. Rarely does it regain its former glory."


Monday, June 12, 2017

You Said Transformation - what do you mean?

Do we mean the words we use - or do we just use them because everyone else does...  you know like the popular buzz word in corporate bingo?  Let's take the word Transformation, as in:

"Hi team, I will be you Agile Coach - let's all do the Agile Transformation thing together.  Out the other end of this transformation we will be a changed company."


Some definitions of Transformation:
  • a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.
  • a metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal.
  • (in physics) the induced or spontaneous change of one element into another by a nuclear process.
In an organizational context, a process of profound and radical change that orients an organization in a new direction and takes it to an entirely different level of effectiveness.
BusinessDictionary.com

Some in the agile world are pulling against this trend... see Dan Mezick's The PUSH of Agile Causes "Trance Formations".
So stop that. And do these things, instead:
  1. Encourage executives and managers to refrain from making decisions for the teams that Scrum very clearly defines as belonging to those teams.
  2. And then, encourage teams to make the decisions that Scrum says are theirs (and theirs alone) to make.
Let's talk about the images this term, transformation creates.  A typical example is the metamorphosis that the caterpillar performs to become the butterfly.  To achieve this transformation the caterpillar spins a chrysalis and then digest itself into protein soup to fuel the development of the butterfly.  Imagine the energy required to perform this feat.  Is your company ready to spend 50% of it stored resources to perform a transformation?


Now let's talk about mental models.  What's the purpose of a mental model - to share it... in this sharing scientific experts have come to understand that the brain waves of the people synchronize into very similar patterns.  One area of research is emotional contagion. “During successful communication, speakers’ and listeners’ brains exhibit joint, temporally coupled, response patterns.” Speaker-listener neural coupling underlies successful communication, is a paper discussing this magic coupling of two people's mental models.


So what do you mean when you say Agile Transformation?  Are our brains in sync?  Do we have similar wave patterns setting up in our minds?  Perhaps not.

Sohota's Guide
What other words might we use to describe the phenomenon? 
  • Approbation
  • Conversion
  • Evolution
  • Exploration
  • Journey
  • Peregrination
  • Procession
  • Progression
  • Quest
  • Transition
  • Venture
  • Wayfaring



Another from of Transformation occurs for Uber - the Board mandates a transformation.
Uber Board Unanimously Approves All Holder Report Recommendations; Details Secret Until Tuesday



UnBoxing: Open Space Agility workshop

I'm taking Mezick's introduction course to OpenSpace Agility - thought I'd write a bit about what I'm learning.


Day One:
Beginning concepts - leaders have a duty to set direction and name constraints; yet stay away from telling how to achieve the goals.  Executives commits to holding first OpenSpace and Acting upon the proceedings.  And holding a second OpenSpace after a time box (100 days).

A constraining forces in OSA will be the Agile Manifesto, actions and experiments should be judged by this definition and if seen to support it, be considered good.

Another foundational concept of OSA - Self Management - defined as the behavior of a group to know and practice their decision making process (whatever that may be).  A good test is to ask 5 people how their group makes decisions - then count the number of answers - one general description of their decision making apparatus points strongly toward a self-managing team.

Q:  Many agilist are searching for a scaling framework.  If the foundations of agile mindset shift is a willingness to engage in dialogue about possibilities; how does one scale willingness?  Dan pointed to UX designer Micah Zimring candidly discusses his experience of the OpenSpace Agility process, including his initial skepticism going in. (Note: When you hear the the word ‘churn’ used in this interview, it means ‘lack of decision-making’ or ‘indecision’).

Paraphrasing Dan:  'Most Impediments come from:  People making decisions they do not have authority to make e.g. boundary issues with authority & decisions.'

 Harold highly recommended book:  Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott (better than Crucial Conversations - you say potato, I say pootato, let's check it out.)

Day Two:
There was a interesting conversation happening on the pre-meeting video conference... people engaged and communicating on a true personal level (acting with trust).  This is quite unusual for so many tech video conferences, regardless of team size, team maturity level, group dynamics.  I felt as if I'd entered an old familiar bar where everyone knew my name - Norm!

We might return to this concept... later...

So my notes say we might have started with a bit of a lesson on the distinction between some points on the influence spectrum.  After all many Agile "coaches" attempt to influence other people, many times they have great impact for the good (well at least that's how I get to sleep at night).  I may have ruined this one guy's whole sleep over... he joined our little band of developers in Seattle and got along well, we learned to develop working tested software, and to the direction of a great PO.  She had the vision to lead us on a journey - there was some unknown territory along the way - and we discovered the reasons for some weird missions.  Later this guy wrote on a discussion thread about the woes of the good old days - that he'd rather not work on Agile projects any more, because he knows from experience what it can be, what it should be, ... but the project are not that.  It's lipstick on a pig.  He'd rather do waterfall projects.  Because coding to the spec is easy, no work at all really.  However playing the in-between game is hell.

Oh - sorry - that crap just jumped out of my fingers... we were talking about influence - all the way down the slippery slope to manipulation and into coercion.  Now I can not define these term - now after two beers ... and it's just going to get worse as I type and imbibe.  So look it up your self if you don't have a good feeling of the continuum we are discussion.  Do you agree these are on the same dimension?

When does one cross the invisible line from influence to manipulation?  Does it matter... if the ends justify the means?  Dan suggested a way to view manipulation - I'd never heard it explained so well.  I've always considered manipulation as influence in the eyes of the influencer, while being manipulation in the eye of the beholder.  Dan defined manipulation as something you realized happened four hours ago.

What's this got to do with OSA?  Turns out it is a foundational principle of OpenSpace.  The aspect of having freedom and agency to make a decision to participate.  Show of hands - who has been informed by the leaders that they were going to now start practicing this Scrum process, and these coaches were here to help you?  All the hands go up.  Who has been invited to be part of an Agile Transformation?  Two hands only.  Which set of people have been influenced?  Which set have been manipulated?  How does this effect the long term commitment to a "transformation"?

Topic Jump to Meetings - what is the generic structure of a meeting:

  • Goal
  • Rules
  • Progress
  • Participation

Going into detail on these...  but let's just focus upon Progress - how's it measured?  Maybe in most meeting by the clock hands.  Sometimes by agenda items checked off.   Are those items classified into one of a few groups:  discussion, decision, information dissemination, a waste of time.

Participation - is your meeting an Opt-In meeting or an attendance required (with unknown consequences to be determined later by the boss) meeting?  Perhaps making this explicit would be helpful in an organization of more than 5 people.  At the heart of OSA - the invitation (Opt-In) format of the events.

So how does a meeting differ from a Game?  Is there any real difference?  Fun... oh yes!  Why is fun not an emergent outcome of meetings?  Games have this very same structure.

Games and meetings have these aspects as well as structure:

  • Control
  • Progress
  • Belonging

One big difference in games and poorly held meetings is the visual depiction of progress.  In beginner games (Candy Land) the board is the indicator of progress.  It takes very little synthesis to determine who is progressing well in the game.  Chess is quite different.  How are your meetings progressing?  What visual indicator of progress do you include for the people?  Do they become motivated or demotivated by seeing progress made toward a goal?

Why are most games perfectly well run with player participation and no umpire or referee?  Is it the well understood mental model of the rules and proper behavior on the field of play?  What would happen if meetings had these rules?  Do they have rules?  Where's your meeting rule book?

Topic transition to Leadership concerns for OSA.

Sponsor understanding their role and what is about to happen (maybe they feel out of control).
 - development of theme (together, maybe a group)
 - invitation development (come finish the story with us)
Sponsor must communicate:
 - explore the theme & contribute to proceeding (artifact)
 - suspend disbelief for the duration of experiment (100 day trial)
 - invited to the post-experiment Open Space (in 100 days)

Book:  Leader's Guide to Store telling - Steve Denning

Leaders are constantly signaling - ever micro expression gets a mean assigned by followers constantly watching - no rest for the leader - never off stage, the mic is alway HOT.

Story telling is a signaling event with a bull horn.

Book:  https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/honest-signals by Alex Pentland - MIT

Emergent Leadership is like musical chairs.  People change their minds during the game; they may be motivated to move quickly to acquire a seat (at the table), to contribute to the outcome of the story we write to become our future selves.  Open Space encourages people to get a chair.

OpenSpace is a game about authorizing and authority - who has it, who is giving it, who is receding it, etc.  It is played out in a high frequency feedback space of face to face - full body contact - interactive group dynamic.  It is full of potential energy - release it.

Open Space is an Authorizing Function over the time domain of the event.

People authorize others to contribute to the shared understanding, by giving their time and attention to the speaker.  Because they are also free to seek more value if they deem the speakers value lower than opportunity cost.

Day Three:

We started the lesson with the topic of Leadership Prep - the admonishment was to "eat our own dog food" - to open space for the leader to learn about OSA to experiment with safe to fail experiments, to inspect the results and adapt to the needs of the leaders to grow in their understanding of the Open Space.  Search softly for the leader's maximum skin they will put into the game,  cut that in half and practice.  It is this experience (safe to fail) that will lead to understanding - it may be the only way for mere mortals to catch a glimpse of the philosopher's stone inside of the Open Space onion skin of powerful technology.

At some point Harold explained the inside joke of the term Technology in OST... perhaps it's useful in the simplicity of it's inverse, in it's sarcastic usage...  OpenSpace Technology requires the very first and hardest to understand technology that humanoids developed - language skills.

Warning:  Do NOT lead with an unacceptable invitation.  This was Dan's advice, and other's echoed it.  The advice seemed to come from a deep desire to short cut our journey toward successful engagements with clients.  With an action step of starting small, almost imperceivable - don't mention OSA at all - just encourage the leader to make a meeting optional.  A true Opt-In event, with the power of invitation and no repercussion for checking out.  See what the leaders can discover in the behaviors of the people - are they following - are they happily engaged - are they curious - who's participating - who's willing and able to change behaviors?

Another experiment (a few steps up the ladder) - Dan calls it an "A1" meeting.

Look up. B. J. Fogg - Persuasion Lab - I can't remember why - guess I wasn't persuaded.

We spent a bit of time discussing and practicing non-verbale signaling.  A suggested resource: The nonVerbal Dictionary.  Do you read body language?  If not you may be well toward one side of the autism spectrum.  Most everyone does read body language quite well, we've been doing it since very early - I think I heard a story that infants can read facial patterns.

Look into Powerpoint karaoke - a great team game.

Topic of Organizational Learning (time to get your Senge on).

What impedes org learning - fear. When a human is afraid the Neo-cortext is not being engaged, and the monkey mind is getting all the blood flow, this severally limits learning.

What can we do to counter act the stimulus-response mechanism over which we have little immediate control? Create physiological safety... yeah, but how? Well maybe a lesson for another time - but for sure this is a learning enabler. To check this out - watch small kids on the playground. Playing is learning. When play stops - what happened?

Topic of Informal Authorization. How do we recognize this form of authorization? It's communicated constantly, learn to sense it... it's not on a sign post, or in a sound wave - yet it is all around you. Tune into the signal, learn to amplify it, to dampen it and to withdraw informal authorization. It is a powerful force - recognize who is using this, and who is oblivious.

Review: Invitation has: clear goal, rules or constraints, a way to experience progress toward goal, an opt-in participation.

Challenges (Opt-in homework):

Invitation: What are the most simple invitations (with 4 aspects) that we can generate?

Spark some invitation experiences: Issue 3 or more invitations this week.

Read Sprit by Harrison Owen PDF - search for number of occurrences of "open space" vs "Open Space" investigate usage and content - what was he signaling?

Well expect to be surprised: Harrison Owen showed up on the conference call to share some space with our group.

Harrison Owen - discover/giver of Open Space Technology

Here are some badly paraphrased quotes from Harrison:

I have a suspicion or a conviction that:
  • life is self organizing; so, what is a manager for?
  • self organization does the best job; are we stupid to use management techniques?
"Since the universe has been practicing for 13 billion years on self-organizing principles - its not really about improving self organization; but how do we optimize self-organization to enable people?"

Read his book:  Wave Rider

Peter _____ studying behavioral characteristics with performant systems - they have zero regard for external authority.  From scale of micro <--> cosmic.  This group self-organization principle appears to hold true.  Discipline with respect to self organization phenomena :: forcing people to do something that doesn't work for them ... is counter to system goals in long run.  Distinguish between external / internal discipline :: bad / good.

Example traditional education techniques rely upon discipline - it's a destructive force.  Learning is play - Learning is a self organizational system a phenomena with a virtuous cycle.

Day Four:

Question:  what's up with this core protocol: Check in/Check Out process?
A: it's a subtle little hack - about getting a small agreement to communicate and engage.
One might also find info in Influence books topics.

Question: Harrison Owen spoke of "sitting in the Question" - what's that about?
A: not knowing - be OK in that space.
One might also find solace in Donald Rumsfeld's "There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."
- hummm... or NOT!


Liminality - participants "stand at the threshold" between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.

Learning is CHANGE - it is hard to un-learn :: therefore hard to change.  Many people will make up myths to avoid uncertainty and worry - be very very careful who is allowed to create the myths of your organization.  If the leader's are not telling stories - the vacuum of story telling will be filled - by someone.

From Ritual to Theater - Victor Turner - The Human Seriousness of Play

One may think of OpenSpace as a study in authorization - imagine that one could easily and without malice deAuthorize a colleague that was advocating for a position or path that you disagree with.  In OpenSpace this should be relativity easy - see the Law of Two Feet.

Some Wisdom & Warnings:

The Proceedings - one may think the sponsor will do everything suggested in the proceeding and that the sponsor will be responsible for carrying it out - think again.

Watch out for a sponsor that said YES easily.  (But action show them as meaning NO.)

Learning is fundamentally destabilizing - a sponsor or leadership that needs stability might not be ready for a group of subordinates that are ready to learn (make mistakes and attempt new risky behaviors).

If you are actively coaching the Org or leadership; do NOT facilitate the OpenSpace - pass the authority - it will benefit the organization and in the end, you also.


----
post workshop:  I attended a one day "open space" styled conference and saw that I had learned quite a bit in Dan's sessions.  Knowledge is like magic.

See Also:
Ted Talk on the use of texture in architecture and the effects upon people in public spaces.
https://www.ted.com/talks/justin_davidson_why_shiny_glass_towers_are_bad_for_city_life

Check out the OpenSpace Agility site.  From the about page:
OpenSpace Agility (OSA) is a repeatable technique for getting a rapid and lasting Agile adoption. It works with what you are currently doing, and can be added at any time. 
For executive leaders, OSA is a template that operationalizes the core values of Lean, namely: respect for people, and continuous improvement. 
For executives who are truly committed to these values, OSA represents a simple, effective and very efficient way forward. 
With OpenSpace Agility, you can expect:
  • A dramatic reduction in the coaching & training costs of implementing your Agile program
  • A genuine, rapid and lasting Agile transformation
  • A dramatic increase in employee engagement scores
  • A dramatic increase in stakeholder satisfaction and potentially, genuine stakeholder delight
  • Predictable, reliable, repeatable, EVIDENCE-BASED improvement in overall results
OpenSpaceAgility incorporates the power of invitation, Open Space, game mechanics, leadership storytelling and more…so your Agile adoption can actually take root. OSA is based on people, THEN practices. You can use any practice or framework with OSA: Scrum, Kanban, DaD, SAFe, LeSS, and more.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

I will give you back 20 minutes

Pondering some messages... both the implied, the implicit, the unintended, and the overt.


What are the messages when a manager calls a meeting and schedules it for an hour... then repeatedly states that they have nothing really to talk about, and after the group does the appropriate amount of beating the horse, the manager states "I will give you back 20 minutes."?

One overt message is the meeting is over you are dismissed and you have 20 minutes returned to you to get real work accomplished.

Another implied message is that your time is not your own and now the manager is returning their time, time they require of you to attend their meeting, is now returned to you so do with it as they have done - spend it well.  [Because anyone delusional enough to think that time belongs to someone, is just off enough to believe that one can spend time.]

The unintended message - the part that rubs me raw; like when manager's refer to people as resources (typically implying fungible), is the message that this 20 minutes being returned to the subordinate is a good will gesture, a favor to be returned to the manager in the future, a quid pro quo.

What about the 40 minutes of my life that you just wasted because you didn't have the courage to cancel the meeting?  Because you are bored, lonely, needing social reinforcement that your importance is validated you felt holding a meeting was much more important than anything any of us could have decide to do with our lives.


OK - WOW - that's some feelings coming out...  Is TIME a resource?  Do you treat it as precious?

resource - a stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively.

What constructive advice can you give this manager?


See Also:

Mandatory Stand-up meetings; an Indication of What?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Applying Little's fLaw to Software Development



Concept of Product Development Flow
"I believe that the dominant paradigm for managing product development is fundamentally wrong.  Not just a little wrong, but wrong to its very core.  It is as wrong as we were in manufacturing, before the Japanese unlocked the secret of lean manufacturing.  I believe that a  new paradigm is emerging, one that challenges the current orthodoxy of product development."  -- Donald Reinertsen
Reinertsen goes beyond the advance ideas of lean manufacturing, what he calls Flow-Based Product Development.

Scrum was sparked by a paper called The New New Product Development Game by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka (1986).  Are you seeing a synergy of ideas?


Lean principle of Flow

In the manufacturing world Toyota exemplifies the achievements one may obtain in 50 years of practicing a new mindset of principles.  Manufacturing deals with repetitive tasks predictable processes to produce component parts, homogeneous delay cost, and homogeneous task duration to produce components and in assembly of components into consumer goods.  These product manufacturing sequences work fine in a FIFO order, which are quite acceptable in manufacturing goods.  However this is untrue for Flow-Base Product Development.  Because this type of development deals with non repetitive, highly variable, flow of dissimilar components.

What is a good tool in manufacturing is not necessarily a great tool in Product Development.

Application of Little's Law


 -- by Mark Woepple.


Constraints implicit in Little's Law

a) it is dealing with averages; for averages to apply to a domain, there needs to be more than a few things to be measuring - and those items should exhibit a general resemblance to a bell curve, for which an average is a significantly useful characterization.

b) this law - which Little describes as is a mathematical theorem and therefore a tautology, applies to queues.

c) when giving examples for the application of his Law (theorem) Little and Graves does not use a queue for any truly creative endeavors - such as mass production of unique art works, or the building of architecture significant unique structures (bridges, towers), etc.  What is described are: Semiconductor Factory, E-Mail tools, Hospital Wards, TollBooths, Housing Market, and Doughnut Shop.

d) this law was derived from a study of steady-state processes. "So far we have developed and discussed Little's Law as a relationship among steady-state stochastic processes. The contexts we have examined have been well- behaved, stable, and on-going. In particular we assume that the characteristics of the arrival and service processes are stationary over time."  It is generalized beyond that domain.

e) in application to a variant system (grocery story) the analytic interlude was conceived; requiring two essential conditions:

  • Boundary conditions-we specify the finite time window to start and end with an empty system. This was a natural condition for the supermarket, and indeed, would be common for many service systems. 
  • Conservation of customers-we assume that all arriving customers will eventu- ally complete service and exit from the system; there are no lost customers, so that the number of arrivals equals the number of departures. Again, this is a valid assumption for many systems of interest.  

"Notice that our formula is exact, but after the fact. In other words, we cannot complete our calculation until the supermarket door shuts. This is not a complaint. It merely says that we are observing and measuring not forecasting."

f) when transmuting Little's Law to Operations Management the transmuted equation becomes THroughput = Work In Process / CycleTime ::  TH = WIP/CT
"At a minimum we must have conservation of flow. Thus, the average output or departure rate (TH) equals the average input or arrival rate (A). Furthermore, we need to assume that all jobs that enter the shop will eventually be completed and will exit the shop; there are no jobs that get lost or never depart from the shop. In addition, we need some notion of system stability. We consider two possibilities, as this issue raises another important consideration."
g) concluding remarks for Operations Management application:
"In each case we see that Little's Law can apply, albeit with some required conditions and thoughtful attention to the goals of the application."

Applying Little's fLaw to Software Development


LKCE12: Daniel Vacanti - Little’s Flaw





See Also:
Chapter 5 Little's Law - MIT by Little & Graves

The average waiting time and the average number of items waiting for..a service in a service system are important measurements for a manager. Little's Law relates these two metrics via the average rate of arrivals to the system. Thisfunda- mental law has found numerous uses in operations management and managerial decision making. 

Mandatory Stand-up meetings; in Indication of What?

What might it mean when the terms used in your Agile transition start to be applied to almost any fleetingly similar activity?  For example, the manager starts "inviting" the group to mandatory stand-up meetings, scheduled ad-hoc for the same day, with no agenda; at this "gathering" there will be a particular dynamic of communication, wonder what that style can best be described as...  Will it be anything like you wish at a team morning stand-up in the Scrum process that introduced the term?


Is this a positive or negative indication of the perfusion of terminology?

What is the positive aspect of people adopting the new terminology of an introduced framework?

What is the negative aspect of this terminology being used to describe old and new behaviors as if they are similar.

How should one address this with there supervisor?

A conundrum I find myself wrestling with lately.  Do you have advice for me?
A command performance for the Queen

See Also:

Friday, May 26, 2017

That's a goatee of a different color

I've made a transition from gray tones to living color - much like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (the first color motion picture).


Dog Groomer's have a natural capability to accept a being for what they are and how they present, as well as what their humans may desire.  This is a wonderful ability - we should learn from them.  I had a great conversation with my local groomers at the Blissful Bark Dog Wash, about peoples expectations and inherent biases based upon look, job title, etc.  This capability of acceptance and a deeper level of judgement came to me as they asked about my hair color choices.  They told of the judgements that a dog groomer receives - one even equated the title's status to that of a stripper (good company if you can have friends in low places).

From this and other conversation I've had as a result of a choice to live with more color, I've made some interesting observation about you people.
  • You humans are preoccupied by noticing inconsequential details in your field of view and then fixating upon the possible meaning of such trivial, while being totally oblivious to the important patterns happening all around you.   Dogs do not have this bias.
  • Women are about 8.347 times more accepting of the appearance of someone than men are.
  • Men are generally judgmental - there first question for me has been - Why?
  • White Male Privilege is difficult to comprehend from this state of being.  Having experienced just one fuchsia hair's width of the other side for a fleeting 3 weeks - I can say I understand intellectually - but have no knowledge or understand of it - no experience - no wisdom.
  • Human bias to blend in to the group norm, to look like others, but desire to stand out is ineffable.
Tracy bought a boat - a hole in the water for $$$
In our desire to stand out on Lake Grapevine, my good looking wife bought a 1959 Crusier runabout, all wood boat with a '59 Johnson Sea Horse 50HP.  Yes this is your father's ski boat.

Texas want's to legislate which restrooms a person uses...  I've heard you can pee next to George.
“If you show your support with one of these shirts, well, urine my good graces.” –George Takei


Just Wash your Hands!




Thursday, May 25, 2017

Team <-> Group

What makes a team?  Is there a continuum upon which sits the term team?  Some have referred to difficulty comparing apples to oranges - I find it quite easy.

Apple <-> Orange <-> Pomegranate

<- Team ---- Group ->



List of English terms of venery, by animal

Why do we not list HUMAN in the animal column when listing group names?

For example,  horses are know in groups as: 
teamin harness
haras or harrase
herd
stable
string
stud

Humans are know in groups as:  mob, group, team, squad, army, click, ....

We have a whole system of dealing with collective nouns.

How do we distinguish between the behaviors of a team and the behaviors of a group?  Have you noticed that manager's refer to people that report to them as a team?  Regardless of the behaviors that the group may exhibit - rarely a team like behavior...  

I've always said just because we all wear the same color jersey doesn't mean we are a team.


Why testing in production works.





A video that cannot be unseen.  If you want to truly understand the difference between a unit test and integration tests.

Watch what happens when you write plenty of unit test - but skip the integration test.




Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Vending Machine of Values & Principles

Have you seen the new automobile vending machines.  It appears we could put anything in a vending machine.  So what would you put into the vending machine?


Monday, May 22, 2017

Exploiting Variability: A Principle of Product Development Flow

What do these phrase have in common - what is their inherent consistent meaning?

  • Zero Defects
  • Take the time to do it Right
  • Repeatability and Reliability
  • Process Maturity Model
  • Measure twice, cut once
  • Six Sigma
  • Rework is Waste, Lean processes remove Waste

They are ironically consistent in their purpose to reduce variability.  Don Reinertsen will attempt to convince us that in the domain of product development (unlike other domains) variability may not be the enemy of good.  He will argue that it is the economic payoff-function of this outcome that is of upmost concern in design.

Voltaire's aphorism:  Perfect is the enemy of good.

I'm in a group at work that is reading books on Agile software development topics to what purpose... well to learn I hope.  After Lyssa's book on Coaching Agile Teams we turned the knob up to 11 with Don Reinertsen's Principles of Product Development Flow.  Since it's such a tough read, a dense book with so much knowledge, we have a divide and conquer mind set... we read a chapter and present it to the group (knowing that the group as an aggregate will not read the book).  So my chapter is #4, Exploiting Variability.  This is my plan... to add variability to the typical book report that a group of people might fall into the habit of performing - by adding variability to the format.
"We cannot add value without adding variability, but we can add variability without adding value." -- Don Reinertsen



Agile in 3 Minutes: #23 Vary by Amitai Schlair
...the conclusion "Projects by design and in effect magnify risks."

Ok let's play.  Did you know that play is rooted in variability? (Games and the Human)

"... however different their descriptions and interpretations of play, each rhetoric reveals a quirkiness, redundancy, and flexibility. In light of this, Sutton-Smith suggests that play might provide a model of the variability that allows for “natural” selection. As a form of mental feedback, play might nullify the rigidity that sets in after successful adaption, thus reinforcing animal and human variability. Further, he shows how these discourses, despite their differences, might offer the components for a new social science of play."  
-- The Ambiguity of Play by Brian Sutton-Smith

Fundamental to this discussion is the .... pardon the overuse of the phrase.... various types of domains that humans participate in.  We shall need to distinguish between the creative domains of design and innovation from other domains such as manufacture or agriculture.  In some domains the desire for variability is low, and in these endeavors humans have done well to reduce variance.  However in the more creative endeavors this tendency is harmful.  One doesn't wish for an artist to produce the exact same work of art repeatedly for 20 years.  Now that we agree upon that basic fundamental concept.  Do we agree that software development is a creative act?  If not - you should click on an exit link now...  because we have a fundamental disagreement and I will not be able to sustain the cognitive dissonance required for both of us to continue.

A challenge...  simulate to streams of flow ... one with variability and one without... 1, 2, 3, go....

Conteneo's Ideas into Action(tm) framework
[V1] Principle of Beneficial Variability: do not make the mistake of only paying attention to the probability of success (benefit).  "Paying attention to the payoff-function radically transforms our view of variability."

[V2] Principle of Asymmetric Payoffs:  not all payoffs are the same... we are searching for big payoffs.  In this search, we seek the complicated asymmetric function  (see the 1997 Nobel Prize for Economics: Robert merton & Myron Scholes for Black-Scholes option pricing model).  In this realm live the venture capitalist - start to understand their principles and models.

[V3] Principle of Optimum Variability: It is only via the economic transformation of variability (Payoff Function) that we can judge the goodness of variability.  The notion that all variability is bad (therefore eliminate variability) is to totally misuse the concept.  If one cannot graph the payoff function - one doesn't understand the economies at work.

In the [V4] Principle of Optimum Failure Rate we find the distinction between exploratory testing which should be optimized to generate information and therefore will have high failure rates (close to 50% or you're not doing exploratory testing well).  Versus the design validation tests (strive for 100% success rate) where success looks like green bars.  Noting that most companies do a poor job of communicating their failures - and therefore repeat their failures, thereby produce no new information.  "Only new failures generate information."

There are two approaches to the economics of variability - change the amount of variability or change the economic consequences of that variability.

First attempts to reduce variability.

[V5] Principle of Variability Pooling: overall variation decreases when uncorrelated random tasks are combined.
[V6] Principle of Short-Term Forecasting:  forecasting becomes exponentially easier at short-term horizons.
[V7] Principle of Small Experiments:  many small experiments produce less variation than one big one.
[V8] Repetition Principle:  repetition reduces variation.
[V9] Reuse Principle:  reuse reduces variability.
[V10] Principle of Negative Covariance:  we can reduce variance by applying a counterbalancing effect.
[V11] Buffer Principle:  buffers trade money for variability reduction.

Time for you to participate - give me an example from your place of employment for each of those attempts to reduce variability - this should be easy.

Lastly attempts to reduce the economic consequences.

[V12] Principle of Variability Consequence:  reducing consequences is usually the best way to reduce the cost of variability.
[V13] Nonlinearity Principle:  operate in the linear range of system performance.
[V14] Principle of Variability Substitution:  substitute cheap variability for expensive variability.
[V15] Principle of Iteration Speed:  it is usually better to improve iteration speed than defect rate.
[V16] Principle of Variability Displacement:  move variability to the process stage where its cost is lowest.

Don concludes the chapter by stating: "Variability is not the enemy; it is a tool to create economic value."  Can you weird this powerful tool?


See Also:
Variation: The Root of All Process Evil -iSixSigma.com

Don't confuse Reinertsen's Product Development Flow with the more general psychological term Flow by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigations of "optimal experience." A discovery that revealed what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Lasso of Truth

Truth is a wonderful concept - but can we really know it?

I'm very excited about the 2017 release of a Wonder Woman movie.  Can't wait - it looks great, I always love the first in a series.  I like the character development, the WHY of the foundational aspects of the character.  From the preview it looks like we will see Princess Diana of Themyscira grow up and the reasons she finds her self in America.  Fascinating...

I learned a bit about the truth of the back story of the back story of ... well the history of the creator of the Wonder Woman myth in of all places... a training course on DiSC by Dr. Abelson.  [Queue the spooky dream sequence music.]

The inventor of the Wonder Woman myth is William Moulton Marston. Wonder Woman made her debut in All Star Comics #8 (December 1941), scripted by Marston.  If you have one in the garage I'll buy it from you.  Apparently, Marston designed Wonder Woman as an allegory for the true leader; the kind of women who should run society.

"Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world."
Marston [6]

In the World War I years (1917),  [at that time they didn't use the ONE designation for some reason - guess they didn't plan on rev-ing the concept, how silly not to thing that humans would improve the concept of World War] Marston was interested in discovering physiological evidence of a person as they deceive - he's though of as one of the father's of the modern lie detector (Polygraph).  When he created his leader epitome, he gave her the power to discern truth via the Lasso of Truth.

Wonder Woman's physical appearance and her bullet bending bracelets were inspired by Olive Byrne, Marston's lover in an open relationship with he and his wife, Elisabeth.

Going back a bit deeper from the Wonder Woman idealized leader, Marston investigated normal people and their emotions. In the late 1920s he developed a theory of human behavior based upon two aspects, environment and reaction to the environment.  This theory produced the classic quadrant model and is known as the DISC Theory which was refined by in 1956 by Walter Clarke into the DISC assessment model.
"Marston viewed people behaving along two axes, with their attention being either passive or active; depending on the individual's perception of his or her environment as either favorable or antagonistic. By placing the axes at right angles, four quadrants form with each describing a behavioral pattern:
  • Dominance produces activity in an antagonistic environment
  • Inducement produces activity in a favorable environment
  • Submission produces passivity in a favorable environment
  • Compliance produces passivity in an antagonistic environment.

Marston posited that there is a masculine notion of freedom that is inherently anarchic and violent and an opposing feminine notion based on "Love Allure" that leads to an ideal state of submission to loving authority."
This DISC theory and model were never trademarked or copyrighted - therefor there are quite a few versions and instances of this tool.  Including wonderfully misleading FaceBook questionnaires that should be view with skepticism.  DISC practiced well by a practitioner can be a very useful tool for self discovery.
David is a "High D" - classic Developer profile
See Also:
Psychometric Assessments - a peek inside the person
Multiple Views of the Truth are Perceptions
The Life of the Mind: Hannah Arendt on Thinking vs. Knowing and the Crucial Difference Between Truth and Meaning Brain Pickings

Monday, April 24, 2017

Agile Movement's parallels to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

What parallels are there between Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and the state of the Agile movement's union?

Lincoln was a primary figure at the dedication of Soldiers' National Cemetery, in Gettysburg. He did not wish to upstage the keynote speaker, Edward Everett, and so summarized in 2 minutes the principle of human equality as defined by the Declaration of Independence and the Civil War.  Do you remember, the keynote speech?  Few people do.


Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:


Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 
- - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln

I heard an NPR story about a person that give their grandkids twenty dollars to recite the Address.  It sounded like a wonderful way to engage kids in history and the founding reasons of the existence of this nation.  I'm assuming that it would take the children some time to memorize the short speech and in so doing they would have questions, about what the words meant.  How many of your colleagues know what unit of quantity a score represents?  Do you know what happened four-score and seven years before 1863?

The foundational document of this new nation is the Declaration of Independence - signed in the summer of 1776 by a group of wealth white men.  They are now described as our founding fathers, yet some were quite young at the time (Hamilton, 21; Jefferson, 33; Washington, 44).  These free thinking people (and some were women - they just didn't sign the document) were called radicals by their government and traders by their neighbors.


Does any of this sound like a fractal of the Agile Manifesto and the movement that was started back in the 1990s with lightweight frameworks for organizing software product creation.  The desire to increase the good aspects and there by overcome the poor habits (appreciative inquiry or extreme programming - is there a difference?).

Is there a revisionist movement some 15-20 years beyond the 2001 manifesto creation?  Yes, there appears to be a constant yearning for the next wave, the next wagon to hitch your cart onto.

Are there amendments that need to be added to the manifesto much like the Bill of Rights?  Or is that a fringe movement on the periphery?



Modern agile  defining four guiding principles:

  • Make people awesome
  • Make safety a prerequisite
  • Experiment and learn rapidly
  • Deliver value continuously

Alistair Cockburn observer his communication style in beginner and advanced classes, he said: "[I] found that when I was encouraging getting back to the center/heart/spirit of agile, I kept emphasizing these four things, and drew them in a diamond:"



Could the newest technique Mob Programming be anything more than an incremental addition to eXtreme Programming (XP)?  Some 30 years in the making.








I've found a next movement in the Agile Symphony. [Do you see what I just did there? Yeah, changed the metaphor but pivoted upon the term movement. Crafty right?]  I believe the next movement that so many people are looking for are just a jump to the left.  Look to the left of the typical process flow of value through the company, just left of what the current Agile process addresses (software development).  It's the creative process that is just up stream of software development.  The product ideation phase, the place where all those creative people are trying to get a seat at the table and be engaged with the software product design.  The User Interface and User eXperience people are wanting to engage with the whole process. Not just be consulted at the end of the process when the user acceptance test has proven that no one wants to use our product.

Could it be that the UX group is searching for a way to improve the development process?  Are they sensing the need to find a better process?  One that results in similar outcomes but with shorter timelines, a process that allows them to maximize the value in their portion of the stream.  I think this group is in the same place as the lightweight software development group was in the 1990s.  Before a few of them got together to coin the term Agile and write a manifesto to protect their small market share from the large 800 pound gorillas in the software consultancy market space.

Well the gorillas have exerted their power and the industry has consolidated into the safer methods that allow the late adopters to feel good about their failing transformations.  Your OK, and I'm OK; let's just call the whole thing off.  And that folks, is how we arrive back at the trend in business lifecycles becoming shorter, while innovation continues to accelerate.

So maybe this new movement in the symphony will allow me to come into their community.  I feel I have something to offer, I love learning, and building (which I think of as design).  I have a bit of experience with these new methods of designing and building and learning as we discover what the customer truly desire.  I'd like to help the creative people get that seat at the whole development table.

Maybe you could think of this period of software development as the reconstruction.

See Also:

Reshaping our View of Agile Transformation - Jason Little

Info Radiation vs Info Refrigeration - a metaphor

Is a metaphor a form of lightweight model?


"All models are wrong, some models are useful."
-- George Box






The metaphor of information radiation is quite well know to many in the software industry.  Did you ask why?  Maybe because much of our work is very hidden from view, until we run the program and the computer interprets the code to produce some desired outcome.  Even that outcome may be obscured from view, and we must produce reports upon the data that the program produced.  So in a world where smoke and mirrors are common, one antidote to the common problem of not knowing where one is along the path toward product completion, a visualization is a powerful tool.

Generally speaking the information radiator has similar properties to the old fashion building heat radiator that used a steam media source to heat heavy iron and radiate the heat from the iron into the room.  It feels great to be standing next to a radiator when you've just come in from the cold.

What is the refrigeration process - what's required to cool some air?  Currently we use the 200 year old Carnot cycle to produce the cooling effect that your summers are known for.  I doubt that my home of Dallas Texas would be the Mecca of IT if not for Mr. Nicolas Carnot and his research into what would become air-conditions environments.  A comfortable 70 degrees indoors while the Texas sun is 95 in the shade.

Pressure-Volume diagram of Carnot cycle
I will leave the internal working of the AC unit to your study (I did it back in college - fascinating stuff).

When we put information is some systems we encode or compress it in such a way that the storage is efficient.  Think of a data base, significant work is done upon the data to store it.

When we pull it out of those systems we also must now do work to make the data into information, and then do more work to make the information understandable by the people that have little knowledge of where the data came from, the purpose of storing the data and the context from which that data/info may have resulted.  Someone will interpret that context, information and purpose and try to convey all this in a summary of the meaning behind larger data sets that the important people reviewing the information have time for.  This expansion of the information and subsequent summarization or generalization takes energy from the system as a whole.

pondering the connections - AC to info refrigeration metaphor....  what do you see in this metaphor?

is there a useful model to play with?