Friday, February 24, 2017

Don't hate the Joke - learn to tell it Well

Countless times I've heard people say they hate the Scrum joke about the pig and chicken.  Some people just can't tell a joke.

Jeff Sutherland points the fickle finger of fate at Ken Schwaber for starting this fable:


I've hated having to tell teams this joke... the lore of the Scrum pig and chicken is so pervasive that before long someone is going to call someone else a chicken (or a pig)... and then you have to tell the joke to help that person retain face... it can be quite uncomfortable for me.

I think my disdain for this joke has to do with two of American's least favorite farm animals being featured.  We call people chickens to say they have little courage.  We call people a pig to insult their appearance (clothing choices, weight, manners).  Had the joke featured a cat and dog... it would be so different - wouldn't it?


Now Jake it appears has taken this joke metaphor to a new level...  good job Jake!

See Also:
Some fun videos about Agile & ScrumScrum cartoons and fictional stories - a list
Scrum Pig and Chicken - part 1 by Jake Calabrese
Organizational Commitment: Pig and Chicken – Part 2 by Jake Calabrese
Does Your Culture Require Your Demise - Pig & Chicken part 3 by Jake Calabrese


Big Data for Little Problems

Big Data for Little Problems

-OR- What happens when the customer has better data about the service than the provider and has better networking, better press coverage, better clout, better market reach and reputations?


(Feb 23) My good looking wife just spent 2 hours trying to straighten out Frontier's billing machine... it's not easy.  The amazing thing I observed for my recliner while sipping an adult beverage was her influencing techniques.  Now another amazingly disconsernation (not a word) is that Frontier has some awesome support people.  But oh-my-god do they have a tough job.  It's the system that has failed.  And they have to figure out how to make some legacy piece-of-crap work.
But it's not going to lead to happy satisfied customers (testify).

Her father, Jim, moved into the home with us in December, he loves Western movies, and is an encyclopedia of knowledge better than IMDB.  So we called up Frontier (our FiOS provider for 6 years) and added cable and a voice line for Jim.  We cut the cable some years ago.

That's when the troubles began, December 28th.  A techie came out to the house and worked 6 hours, all the while on a phone line to his partner back at the home office (I now understand why it required this constant contact to install the new system).  When he left we had higher speed internet (from their 50Mbpm to 150Mbpm service), cable channels - Stars Encore Western premium channel, and a voice line (old school) phone tied to a wall socket.  Most every thing seemed good.

But the ability to login to their Frontier web site and get a TV guide didn't function, as well as some other issues of seeing our account info online.  We were told to wait a few days as the data took a while to move through their systems (in Frontier's universe data does NOT move at the speed of light).

I noticed that if one tries to take their Frontier problem to Twitter, @AskFrontier is an effective defensive machine that kicks in to appease the person.  They cannot do anything except type into a twitter post, and escalate your issue to a thing referred to as "an Account Manager".  I tried that technique and received a call one week later - yes over 6 days to address an issue raised on a social media platform know for instant messaging.


Once burned - twice shy... I didn't fall for this in February.

We found out last night that while we have been paying $193 for a basic plan and the Stars Western channel - that Frontier would be happy to offer us ALL their premium channels for $198.  Something that the competition Spectrum is quoting online visible with detail for about $150ish (yes I'm writing this from memory of my influencing wife's exasperation attempting to get the support person to recognize her point of view at being fleeced by Frontier).  Frontier's business model includes an interestingly complex system of quoting the cost for a service.  They encourage one to call in to talk to their pleasant but hamstrung  sells reps.  Who can only read from a screen that may change any day now on the pricing that appears to be very time dependent (you never know if tomorrow they will have a sell and better price for what you will be receiving everyday for years to come).  Now the prices and "packages" you agree to buy will not be the names and labels on your bill.  Those will be completely different and if you can find a subset of items on your bill that sum up to the $198 you thought you had agreed to - well you should work for the IRS.

After that 2+ hour conversation with a great Frontier support specialist, my very intelligent wife influence her way to some deep refunds, and what we hope will be all the movie channels that Jim could watch in a week.  Yet after 2 solid months of working with Frontier's business model - we are done.  We plan to see what the next bill shows (it's a mystery)... and when the dust settles switch to Spectrum.

The phone logs for ONE month - let the Record show:

Frontier Customer Support Line is 800-921-8101

779 minutes of my life... give or take a migraine

Jan 25, 2017
     6:45pm Outgoing Call 2 hours 25 minutes
     1:53pm Incoming Call 1 minute
     1:28pm Outgoing Call  18 minutes
     1:16pm Outgoing Call.   9 minutes
Jan 24, 2017
     10:39am Missed Call
       7:11am Outgoing Call  54 minutes
Jan 23, 2017
     4:59 pm Outgoing Call 2 hours 10 minutes

Jan 22, 2017
     11:00am. Outgoing Call. 2 hours 22 minutes
     10:34am  Outgoing Call  22 minutes

Jan 22, 2017
     10:08am Missed Call
     10:06am Missed Call
     10:00am Missed Call
      9:59am Missed Call

Jan 21, 2017 Saturday
    8:19pm Outgoing Call. 37 minutes

Jan 16, 2017
    7:00 pm Outgoing Call. 1 hour 17 minutes
    6:38pm Outgoing Call. 58 seconds
    3:59pm Outgoing Call. 40 minutes

Dec 28, 2016
     7:41am Outgoing Call  31 minutes

Dec 27, 2016
     4:09pm  Incoming Call. 43 seconds

Dec 24, 2016
     11:18am. Outgoing Call. 14 minutes

Oh - why oh why - did Steve Jobs died before he fixed the living room TV problem?  There is no GOD.  Can an 85 year old man learn to use this complex thing call a cable box remote from his recliner and almost infinite time?
 
My experiences say NO, Freaking WAY!  Hell, I can't figure this complexifictor out and I've got 30 years in the computer industry making these complexifictors for companies that say the want customer satisfaction.

After spending all this time on the phone to straighten out the tech part of the service - getting one account etc.  The next month we spent hours on the phone about billing items... my wife found a great billing support person and it appeared she was understanding and had credited our account for many things (on the order of over $300) so we thought it was all behind us.

Then we received this bill.  Most of the credits have been slightly altered and we are owing hundreds of dollars again.
"That's it - that's all I can stands - I can't stands no more."   -- Popeye.



Dialogue on Distributed Agile Teams

Here's an interesting article by Patrick Lencioni: Virtual Teams are Worse than I Thought


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Leadership Shootout at the Agile2017 corral

Derek "QuikDraw" Lane & I proposed this session (2 sessions actually) for the Agile2017 conference.  Wonder if you'd like to come play in the OK Corral with us?

SlideShare Deck
Here's how it might go down...  Agile2017 Submission # 5835

And if you're interested... comment on this slide deck...  it's not the final answer.  In fact we may be sneaking bigger guns in to the corral under our dusters...

SlideShare deck

Abstract:

Leadership Style Shoot Out :: Which style best works for this context - how will you recognize it?


Where do you Stand

Let's survey the audience's Leadership styles/preferences - we will use a standard reference tool (or maybe just make it up on the fly). Getting the participants up and moving and interacting with each other and the sub-set of leadership styles described on the four flip charts in the corners of the room. We will play a few rounds of the game Constellations. This warm up exercise will most likely bring up some great question on terms and concepts, which we will answer as a group.


Examples of Models & Theories

We will present several models and approaches of Leadership - via Poster Presentations (previous done posters for models of Leadership: Examples: Situational Leadership II, Leader-Member Exchange Theory, Path-Goal Theory, Servant Leadership, etc.) compare and contrast theories of leadership with other leadership approaches: ( Situational, Skills, Style, Trait - also summarized on posters). Gathering insights from participants on experiences with these various leadership styles/traits. Using some famous examples from history and common known examples (JFK, Nixon, Washington, John Wayne, Neil Armstrong, etc).


Review of Literature

We will present a library of books (10 - 30 leadership books) to loan out for the next few days of the conference - participants wishing to come to next session (2 days later) will preform a poster book report on the topics of interest with their small group on the books best topics during the 2nd session. This technique is ripped off from my mentor Sivasailam Thiagarajan (http://www.thiagi.com), I'm sure he will not sue us. This game however is going to require longer than 75 min. to get value - so I'm proposing a radical new idea for conference session - a follow up session scheduled later in the week for the sub-set of participants that choose to participate in this "home-work assignment".

In the 2nd session we will organize the posters - book reviews and give each group/team about 10 min. to present and then a few min. for audience Q&A. Largely dependent on the number of small teams wishing to participate; wishing to go in depth on a topic and learn about that aspect of leadership. Then leave time for a debrief of both sessions.


Information for Program Team:

We are requesting something VERY RADICAL - 2 sessions - for ONE topic - the first session will set the hook: interest a sub set of participants to commit to the second session (the book-review report back poster extravaganza session later in the week).

First session on Monday or Tuesday; second session on Thursday or Friday - link them in the catalog with an "**" and note.

Each session will be independent enough that participant that do not want to attend the other will be carried along with the enthusiastic games of the others that have attended both. Interesting and Learning will be available for all - regardless of attendance of both sessions.


Prerequisite Knowledge:

none really - however we assume many people have been part of a group and have seen many forms of leadership in many different context


Learning Outcomes:

- Awareness of several views of Leadership and Management
- Knowledge of multiple theories of leadership
- develop a lexicon of terms to discuss leadership behaviors
- experience being an emergent leader in a group with a specific objective
- Understanding that styles of leadership change over time throughout history
- Ways to measure effectiveness of leadership (via the fellowship of followers)
- Assessment tools and models to take home and try on your leaders





Monday, February 13, 2017

Invert Time Management; Schedule Energy

One can not manage Time. Why we talk like this is possible, might just lead to a billion dollar self help industry. Or we could invert the way we talk and think…

Scheduling Your Energy, Not Your Time By Scott Adams

Yes that Scott Adams!

In that short article Scott give you his secret to success - it's basically free.  Now you could go out and buy a book like one of these to get other advice about your time usage.  Or - you could start by taking his (free) advice ... the decision is yours; but it's past time to make it.


The Time Of Your Life | RPM Life Management System $395 by Tony Robbins
100 Time Savers (2016 Edition) [obviously time sensitive information]
Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free by Amy Lynn Andrews


See Also:
I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional by Wendy Kaminer. 
   "The book is a strong critique of the self-help movement, and focuses criticism on other books on the subject matter, including topics of codependency and twelve-step programs. The author addresses the social implications of a society engaged in these types of solutions to their problems, and argues that they foster passivity, social isolation, and attitudes contrary to democracy."



Thursday, February 2, 2017

Groundhog Day at the Agile Transition Initiative

Now that everyone knows about Bill Murray's movie Groundhog Day - I love February 2nd.  It's my favorite, most enjoyable, beloved, cherished, esteemed day of the year.  And I don't need to tell you again how many LIKES I give this redundant day... so on to the story.

Bill & Groundhog

Well this happened about ten years ago, and about 6 years ago, or maybe it was 4 years past, and seems like we did this about 24 months ago...  or it could be today!

The Agile Transition Initiative at the company has come upon an inflection point (do ya' know what that is...  have you read Tipping Point?).  I'm not exactly sure of it's very precise date... but Feb. 2nd would be the perfect timing.   The inflection has to do with which direction your Agile Transition Initiative takes from this point into the future.   Will it continue on it's stated mission to "transform" the organization?  Or will it stall out and revert slowly to the status quo?

How do I recognize this perilous point in the agile trajectory?  Well there are several indications.  But first we must digress.


[We must Digress.]
Punxsutawney Phil Says more Winter in 2017
In this story we will use the germ theory as a metaphor.  Germ theory came about in about ... (wait - you guess - go ahead ...  I'll give you a hundred year window... guess...). That's right! "The germ theory was proposed by Girolamo Fracastoro in 1546, and expanded upon by Marcus von Plenciz in 1762."  Wow, we've know about these little buggers for a long time.  And we started washing our hands ... (when...  correct -again).  "The year was 1846, and our would-be hero was a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis."  So right away business (society) started using a new discovery - a better way to treat patients.... or well it took a while maybe a few months, or maybe  more than 300 years.

But back to the metaphor - in this metaphor the organization will be like a human body and the change initiative will take the roll of a germ.  The germ is a change introduced to the body by some mechanism we are not very concerned with - maybe the body rubbed up against another body.  I hear that's a good way to spread knowledge.

We are interested in the body's natural process when a new factor is introduced.  What does a body do?  Well at first it just ignores this new thing - heck it's only one or two little germs, can't hurt anything - (there are a shit load of germs in your body right now).  But the germs are there to make a home - they consume energy and reproduce (at this point lets call it a virus - meh - what the difference?).  So the virus reproduces rapidly and starts to cause ripples... the body notices this and starts to react.  It sends in the white-blood cells - with anti-bodies.  Now I don't understand the biological responses - but I could learn all about it... but this is a metaphor and the creator of a metaphor may have artistic license to bend the truth a bit to make the point.  Point - WHAT IS THE POINT?

The point is the body (or organization) will have a natural reaction to the virus (change initiative) and when the body recognizes this change it's reaction (natural - maybe call it subconscious - involuntary).  Well let's just say it's been observed multiple times - the body tries very hard to rid itself of the unwanted bug (change).  It may go to unbelievable acts to get rid of it - like tossing all it's cookies back up - or squirting all it's incoming energy into the waste pit.  It could even launch a complete shutdown of all communication to a limb and allow it to fester and die, hopefully to fall off and not kill the complete organism.  Regaining the status quo is in the fundamental wiring of the human body.  Anything that challenges that stasis requires great energy to overcome this fundamental defense mechanism.

[Pop the stack.]
So back to the indicators of the tipping point in agile transitions.  Let's see if our metaphor helps us to see these indications.  The tossing of cookies - check.  That could be new people hired to help with the change are just tossed back out of the organization.  The squirts - check.  That is tenured people that have gotten on board with the change being challenged by others to just water it down... make it look like the things we use to do.  Heck let's even re-brand some of those new terms with our meanings - customized for our unique situation - that only we have ever seen, and therefore only we can know the solutions.  Folks, this is called the Bull Shit Reaction.

Now imagine a limb of the organization that has adopted the new way - they have caught the virus.  There is a high likely hood that someone in the organization is looking at them a "special".  A bit jealous of their new status and will start hoarding information flow from that successful group.  Now true that group was special - they attempted early transition and have had (in this organizations realm)  success.  Yet there was some exception to normal business process that made that success possible.  How could we possibly reproduce that special circumstance across the whole org-chart?  Maybe we just spin them off and let them go it alone - good luck, now back to business.

What's a MIND to do with this virus ridden body and all these natural reactions?

Well we are at an inflection point... what will you do?
Which curve do you want to be on?  - by Trail Ridge Consulting

[What Should You Do?]
Say you are in the office of VP of some such important silo, and they are introducing themselves to you (they are new at the Org.).  They ask you how it's going.  You reply, well, very well.  [That was the appropriate social response wasn't it?] Then they say, no - how's the agile transformation going?  BOOM!  That is a bit of a shocking first question in a get to know each other session - or is it that type of session - what should you do?

I will skip to the option I chose ...  because the other options are for crap - unless you have a different motive than I do... and that is a very real possibility, if so defiantly DON'T DO THIS:

Ask the VP if this is a safe space where you can tell the truth?  Be sincere and concerned - then listen.  There response is the direction you must now take, you have ceded control of your action to them, listen and listen to what is not said - decide if they want the truth or do they want to be placated.  Then give them what the desire.  For example (an obviously easy example - perhaps); imagine that the VP said:  I want the truth, you should always tell the truth.

Don't jump to fast to telling the truth... how can you ascertain how much of the truth they can handle?  You should defiantly have an image of Nicholson as Colonel Nathan R. Jessep as he addresses the Court on "Code Red".


You might ask about their style is it bold and blunt or soft and relationship focused.  You could study their DiSC profile to see what their nature may tell you about how to deliver the truth.

Imagine you determine that they want it blunt (I've found that given a choice must people say this, and only 75% are fibbing). So you suggest that it's not going well.  The transformation has come to an inflection point (pause to see if they understand that term).  You give some archeology - the organization has tried to do an agile transformation X times before.  VP is right with you, "and we wouldn't be trying again if those had succeeded."  Now that was a nice hors d'oeuvre, savory.  The main course is served - VP ask why?

Now you could offer you opinion, deliver some fun anecdote or two or 17, refer to some data, write a white paper, give them a Let Me Google That For You link. Or you could propose that they find the answer themselves.

Here's how that might go down:  Ask them to round up between 8.75 and 19.33 of the most open minded tenured (5 - 20 yrs) people up and down the hierarchy; testers, developers, delivery managers, directors, administrators (always include them - they are key to this process - cause they know every thing that has happened for the last 20 years).  Invite them to join the VP in a half day discovery task - to find out why this Agile thing get's ejected before it takes hold of our organization. If you come away from this workshop with anything other than - culture at the root of the issue, then congratulations your organization is unique.  Try the Journey Line technique with the group.  It's a respective of the organizations multi-year, multi-attempts to do ONE THING, multiple times.  Yes, kinda like Groundhog Day.

See Also:

The Fleas in the Jar Experiment. Who Kills Innovation? The Jar, The Fleas or Both? by WHATSTHEPONT