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Exercise:: The mythical benefits of Multi-Tasking

Many people are great multitaskers... why isn't everyone?  Well it may come down to the perceptions of the actor - not the observer.  I've been asked for exercises that will demonstrate this benefit perception dissonance.

Quick Overview

Time three people perform simple tasks (sequential): recite the alphabet, count to 100 by 3s, name the colors of the rainbow in order 3 times.  (one sequencing task at a time - measure the cumulative time of all 3 tasks)

Now introduce a Switcher (4th volunteer) when they call out "SWITCH" the people change task (the person reciting the alphabet, switches to pick up the counting by 3s, who switches to naming the colors, who switches to the alphabet, etc.  The Switcher should have at least 4 switches before the crew finishes all tasks.  Measure the cumulative time.

I suggest they perform the task visibly in front of the observers, by writing on a whiteboard their task.  This allows for the whole group to share the experience, and observe…

The 3 Laws of Clown Nose

Agile Games conference is a laboratory of  experiential experimental education - also know by the name learning.

Having supplied the clown noses to the conference for a few years now, I'm setting down the laws - the behaviors one can commonly observe in correlation to the clown nose phenomenon.

The  (3)  Laws of Clown Nose

1- Clown Nose has Inertia, people desire for our clown nose (culture) to remain the same, to stay consistent - why?  I feel it's because "fitting in", that desire that many of us have is going to be easier if the cultural expectations remain constant.

2 - Once applied - one does not discuss Clown Nose.  This law comes from deep within the Matrix, "there is no spoon" - not from Fight Club. [ hat tip to Richard Kasperowski ]

3 - Clown Nose results in oppositional forces to unique and challenging behaviors.  Not always equal and opposite as in physics, yet the stronger the clown nose (cultural norm), the more equal - your results may vary.



New…

Committed Sardines Game

The Committed Sardine By Ian Jukes 
A blue whale is the largest mammal on earth. The adult blue whale is the length of 2½ Greyhound buses and weighs more than a fully loaded 737. A little known fact is that a blue whale is so large that when it decides to turnaround, it can take 3 to 5 minutes to turn 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

As a result, some people have drawn a strong parallel between blue whales and our school system. It just seems to take forever to turn them around. There as some people who just don’t believe the public school system can be turned around.

But compare the way a blue whale turns around (slowly) with how a school of. . . Sardines – which is the same or even greater mass than a blue whale. . . A school of sardines can almost turn instantly around – how do they do it?

The answer is simple. If you take a careful look at a school of sardines you will notice that although all the fish appear to be swimming in the same direction, at any one time, there will b…

Team Performance vs CI Check-in

What - if any - is the correlation of the frequency and style of Continuous Integration "check-in" and team performance in Software Development?

Should these two behaviors be linked in any way?  I believe there will be a high correlation - pondering if it has been studied.

Why should these two behaviors have a positive correlation?  Because they both reflect collaboration, and commitments to the goal.

Dave Farley's post
Continuous Integration and Feature Branching got me pondering this...  read it and let's discuss.
See Also:
2017 State of DevOps Report authors Dr. Nicole Forsgren, Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Alanna Brown and Nigel Kersten

Trunk Based Development - a style of CI that works for Agile.

A Game of Experience - Scrum

Presented in OpenSpace at Agile Games 2018 for FUN and Feedback.


This game design is not focused where you might assume - at training people how to "do" Scrum.  The inventors of the game, Tim Snyder and Derek Lane, are focused upon the experience of Scrumming, the group dynamics of being a scrum team.  The game has been designed, and is being refined with the objective of allowing groups of people that know how to do Scrum, to experience some of the Ah-HA moments that mature Scrum team learn after many, laborious retrospectives.  By compressing the group dynamic into a game with the glorious "happen-chance" cards causing random, yet all too common software development events, playing this game for a few hours can give you the deep insights that may only be achieved after months or years of real-life time developing products.  Learning doesn't require time... * Al Shalloway.

One of the core questions Tim & Derek have been pondering:  How does one gain experi…

What is your Engagement Model?

Jim Harter states in his article from Gallup:
According to our recent State of the Global Workplace report, 85% of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. The economic consequences of this global "norm" are approximately $7 trillion in lost productivity. Eighteen percent are actively disengaged in their work and workplace, while 67% are "not engaged." This latter group makes up the majority of the workforce -- they are not your worst performers, but they are indifferent to your organization. They give you their time, but not their best effort nor their best ideas. They likely come to work wanting to make a difference --- but nobody has ever asked them to use their strengths to make the organization better.
Is this analysis a cart and horse locating problem?  Do we need better diagrams of which comes first?
When we get performance management right, engagement will naturally rise. Performance management is a trailing tool (not a leading indicator or …

The Case Against Scrum's Sprint Practice - Another Look

In the excellently written article  Dark Scrum:  The Case Against the Sprint, Ron Jeffries' does a wonderful job of explaining a common problem of Scrum's mainstay practice, the Sprint.  As I read the article I could only think of many managers I've seen over my years that didn't trust Scrum, the teams, or the coaching to deliver.  And feeling pressure to make deadlines imposed from little information (desire more than empirical evidence) had reverted to past heavy handed pressure techniques to make a deadline.  After all it was their career that was on the line.

To summarize (and you would do better to just click the link and read it):  As an exercise in explaining the inverse of "Good Scrum", Ron uses the term "Dark Scrum".  In this inverted world, Ron makes the case that the Sprint is a bad practice, because a manager expecting the common faster progress (Jeff Sutherland's statement “Twice the Work in Half the Time”) will demand that result.…

Are your Corporate Values Weaponized?

How would you know if your organizations values that you and other leaders have worked so hard to propagate have become weaponized exclusion and status quo control devices?

Certainly values are only positive - affirmations of our best selves. Could our values work against us?

Yes.  And you may know it only after it is too late... your culture will turn toxic.  The rising stars you spend energy to recruit will say a few months, maybe a year or two and leave (happy to get out).  Or you will force them out within months, because they are not a "good fit" to your culture.

This failure to "fit" is a sure sign.  Can the executives read the sign, does you HR department work to protect the status quo?  Hiring decisions use the "good fit" measure and then a few months after they made the mistake of hiring the employee they reverse the decision and fire for "bad fit."

As a "journeyman" agilist I've made conscious decision to go into companies…

Arena of Done - a Guide on Mind Settler platform

I'm talking a lot about the Definition of Ready and Done in the month of February, 2018.  I sense a trend... wonder what I'm getting ready for....

I helped a smidgen with Marijn van der Zee Arena of Done guides on the Mind Settler's platform (Get the Android App).

Here are the Web versions.

Preparing for the Arena of Done guide.
Arena of Done guide.




See Also:

Definition of Done - the Ty variant

Exercise:  Definition of Done

Webinar:  Collaboration at Scale - Definition of Ready and Done

Positive Deviance Snooper Goggles

I'm suffering from a prodigious cognitive dissonance - started a new gig with a company that's renown for their process, written up as the exemplar for Lean, has given us so many of the practices that underly the Agile mindset, etc.  and they really NEED some Agile coaching... they need it bad.

My personal coach has suggested I get a pair of Appreciative Inquiry/Positive Deviance Snooper goggles.  He's suggested this leather/brass PDS-12 model.



But they look a bit tip heavy for the headband - I assume they are design to be worn on a hard hat.

I'm liking this model...


But for a little bit more gold, I could get a scope... with better temporal resolution.



So - what do you think?

Definition of Done - the Ty varaint

Every time I meet Ty Crockett at an event he shakes my hand and mentions how many people he's helped to understand their team's Definition of Done or Ready using the card deck I create some years back.  He's not bragging (but he should be) he's thanking me.  But the fun thing is that Ty has evolved a better practice than I did.  Maybe it's the repetition and small variations that has lead to the improvement.  Yeah - I think that's it.

I may get this wrong ... but Ty's variation goes some thing like this...

Start with a big board. Divided into 3 sections.  Introduce the concept of Brainstorming... Add dividers to talk about how to organize the outputs of the brainstorm. 
I usually print out DoD cards but do not show them to the team until we have a discussion on the types of things they need to consider. For example: Here is a section out of the PSM course that I always ask teams to consider…

They create their own cards and ideas (on sticky notes). Ty brings out…

Webinar: Collaboration at Scale: Defining Done, Ready, and NO.

I was invited to participate in a Scrum Alliance Webinar.  Maybe you would like to listen to us in a discussion of techniques to collaborate at scale (remotely and with many people).  The topic is one that I've got some experience in discussions - yet I never seem to get to done...
Collaboration at Scale: Defining Done and Ready and NO for Distributed Teams
With Joel Bancroft-Connors, Agile Organizational Coach; David A. Koontz, Agile Transition Guide; and Luke Hohmann, CEO and Founder of Conteneo, Inc.


14 February 2018 11 a.m. ET (USA).




The Scrum Guide is pretty clear on the criticality of the definition of Done: "When a Product Backlog item or an Increment is described as "Done," everyone must understand what "Done" means. However, the Scrum Guide ALSO says that the definition of Done can "vary significantly per Scrum Team." This leads us to examine when and how the definition of Done should vary, how distributed teams should cr…

Is there only ONE "right" triangle?

I've been a fan of Triangle Man for some time... Then the other day... years, and decides later I saw this Hugh Lieber art work.

And once again I fell for Triangle Man.  And that got me thinking of the 3-4-5 right triangle... When I think of right triangles - it's the one I imagine...  although I spent many years using the classic drafting 30-60 degree triangle.



And then this sound track starts in the back of my mind...

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS Particle Man (Tiny Tunes) Lyrics Particle man, particle man
Doing the things a particle can
What's he like? It's not important
Particle man Is he a dot, or is he a speck?
When he's underwater does he get wet?
Or does the water get him instead?
Nobody knows, Particle man Triangle man, Triangle man
Triangle man hates particle man
They have a fight, Triangle wins
Triangle man Universe man, Universe man
Size of the entire universe man
Usually kind to smaller man
Universe man He's got a watch with a minute hand,
Millennium hand and an eon han…

A T-Shaped 21st Century Knowledge Worker

Knowledge workers in the 21st Century must have many areas of deep knowledge, while also be capable of collaboration across multiple other domains with dissimilar T-shaped individuals.  This description of a person is a metaphor.  Compare it to the shape of the "I" in the classic saying there is no "I" in Team.


I first read about Scott Ambler's term "Generalizing Specialist" - but it's so hard to remember the proper order of the words... get it backwards and it has an inverted meaning... T-Shaped is easier to remember. 
A generalizing specialist is someone who:
Has one or more technical specialties (e.g. Java programming, Project Management, Database Administration, ...). Has at least a general knowledge of software development. Has at least a general knowledge of the business domain in which they work. Actively seeks to gain new skills in both their existing specialties as well as in other areas, including both technical and domain areas.  General…

A FAILURE to Communicate

I was working with a failing team some time ago.  I use "failing" to describe the outcome of the team - not the people on the team.  Are you OK with that description?



An issue arrose in the stand up - a team member that was to verify the quality of a procedure did so and reported that there were a few records that didn't match expectation in the data set.  Upon inquire the number of records not matching was over 2000.  Most people acknowledged immediately the exaggeration - I could tell by the laughter.  After about 10 minutes of discussing the details of the problem - it appeared the team had a handle on the specific situation.

I stopped the discussion and inquired if they could name the impediment.  One team member did a great job of describing the impediment as a _communication gap_.  Wonderful - I could work with that - the problem had a name and it didn't include anyones Proper Name.

"If the problem has a first name; we are going to have a problem."

I&#…

Apple part number 810-0374 is ART

Great artist sign their work.

There is one part of the original Macintosh I'd like to frame on the wall. Apple part number 810-0374 - the case. It contains signatures of Macintosh design team in raised human font.

Folklore about the Macintosh design team's signing party.


Are you an artist?
I was thinking about this story...  imagine telling it like this.
Some years ago, when the computer industry was not yet launched, and might fold on any quarterly earning report on Wall Street, there was an SOB that drove many team members crazy.  This SOB parked a motorcycle along with a piano in the lobby to inspire the designers.  Some people believe this SOB didn't know how to build teams.  Yet he did know how to build products.  And he did build one of the most successful late 20th/21st Century organizations.  Compare it's operation to that of conglomerates it's revenue size and you will see a stark difference.  This unicorn operates like a team.

Happy New Year! What will you do with 8,760 hours?

Time is something that puzzles me... I tend to "spend" a lot of time thinking about TIME.

I don't truly know how to not "spend" time... if you find a good TIME-Bank, with a savings plan... let me know, please.

I quickly calculated how much I will spend this year - 8,760 hours.  A few years ago I had a unique opportunity to spend about 8,772 hours while most of you only had the standard year - I spent New Years in New Zealand and got some extra... I think I spent it on the plane flight back to Dallas.

Here's a great talk about how we use our time and what we may wish to consider doing with the very very little "free" time we have.

The Time You Have (in JellyBeans)






PEZ -or- Why one shouldn't track Scrum Tasks in Hours

I've been called to task - asked why I teach teams to distinguish between Task Hours and some non-denominational non-specific non-absolute unit.  The latest team I guided used PEZ!  As in the daily stand up a person might be heard to say:
"Yesterday I was working on the code to DisCombobulate the GUID so that we could distinguish customers from guest and the task to peek into the hashed session state was harder than I anticipated - I will need 2 more PEZ to get that done today."
Benefits of "Task Points"

Because it works and is more fun.  Not a sufficient and rational reason.

Because it's a fractal of the concept of Story Points.  Not a practical enough reason.

Because it encourages transparency and acknowledges that we are really bad at estimates.  Not sure we wish to propagate that notion.

Because Scrum has a value of Openness and in that sprit - can we admit that a team of 7 people doing 50 "hours" of tasks a week is really a poor metric.   Is t…