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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 432 begins with an essay on the impact of leadership types on adopting and sustaining Agile.  Leadership style has a direct impact on an organization’s ability to adopt and sustain Agile.  Some leadership styles are more supportive, while others evoke more of a response that is epitomized by locking feral cats and dogs in a room (nobody wins).

Next up, Jeremy Berriault brings his QA Corner to the cast to discuss surprises in QA testing.  Visit Jeremy’s blog at https://jberria.wordpress.com/  Next we will have a column from The Software Sensei, Kim Pries.  Kim discusses the holy trinity of forethought, execution and follow through. Reach out to Kim on LinkedIn. Last, but not least, Jon M Quigley brings his column, the Alpha and Omega of Product Development, to the Cast. In this segment, Jon discusses on-boarding. On-boarding new people is critical even if the person is just joining from another team down the hall.  One of the places you can find Jon is at Value Transformation LLC.

Re-Read Saturday News

This week  we tackle Chapter 5 in Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (buy your copy and read along).  In Chapter 5, Dweck uses examples from the business world to illustrate and elaborate on fixed and growth mindsets.

Every week we discuss a chapter then consider the implications of what we have “read” from the point of view of someone pursuing an organizational transformation and also how to use the material when coaching teams.   (more…)

Mindset Book Cover

Today we are lead into Chapter 5 in Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (buy your copy and read along).  In Chapter 5,  we explore the impact of mindsets in the business environment.  The impact of mindsets can be seen in positive and negative business outcomes.  Dweck begins this section with a focus on the negative impact of the fixed mindset at the C level in business. (more…)

Vinigear Bottles

Not Sweet But Useful!

A big bang adoption of a process or system is an instant changeover, a “one-and-done” type of approach in which everyone associated with a new system or process switches over in mass at a specific point in time.  There are positives and negatives to big bang approaches.  We begin with the positives.

Patrick Holden, Project Portfolio Director – Software Development at SITA, struck a fairly common theme when asked about his preferences between the big bang and incremental approaches.  

While I favour incremental improvement, sometimes we really want to get on with the new, to change the mail system, phone, house, car or even your job you will need to prepare to different extents but you make the switch for one and all, it’s a Big Bang.  

The choice depends on divisibility, scope, and urgency.

The positives:

Big Bangs fit some types of changes.  Not all changes are easily divisible into increments which lead to an all or nothing implementation. As I have noted before, most of the bank mergers I was involved in were big bangs.  On a specific day, all of the branches of one bank would close and overnight (more typically over a weekend) lots of people would change signs on buildings, customer files, and software systems. Perhaps it was a failure in imagination, but due to regulations and the need for notifications, it was easier for everyone to change at once.  Organizational transformations rarely have the same external drivers, regulations and notification rules; however, because of interactions between teams, it might be easier not to take an incremental approach.  Adoptions of large scale Agile methods and frameworks such as SAFe are often approached in a big bang manner. In SAFe many teams and practitioners are indoctrinated, trained and transformed together which by definition is a big bang approach to implementing scaled Agile.

Big Bangs generate a too big to fail focus.  Large, expensive, and risky changes create their own atmosphere.  These types of implementations garner full management sponsorship and attention because they are too big to fail.  Christine Green, IFPUG Board Member, suggests, “it is harder to lose focus on big bang approaches when organizational leadership changes.” Big bangs can be used to address the risk of a loss of focus in some cases.  An example of an organization manufacturing a too big to fail scenario can be found in the often-told story of the early years of Fedex (Federal Express at the time).  It was said that the founder consciously borrowed money from smaller regional banks around Memphis so that he could use the impact of the risk of default to negotiate better service and rates.  Big bang changes are often too big to fail and therefore people ensure they don’t.

Management Expectations.   In many circumstances, management has little patience for the payback of continuous process improvement. As I was framing this theme, Christopher Hurney stated, “I’ve seen leadership expect Big Bang results in Agile adoptions, which is kind of ironic no? Considering that one of the precepts of Agility is an iterative approach. The expectation is often generated by a sense of urgency.  In this situation, a specific issue needs to be addressed and even though an incremental (or even iterative) approach would deliver bits and pieces sooner, the organization perceives value only when all of the benefits are delivered.  The Healthcare.gov marketplace was delivered as a big bang.

Even if the big bang approach to process improvement feels wrong, however, there are reasons for leveraging the approach. Chris Hurney stated that decision makers “tend to feel as though they’ve reached a point where a process has become unsustainable” which makes the idea of implementing a change all at once worth the risk even though nearly everyone would prefer an incremental or continuous approach to change.

Previous Entries in the Big Bang, Incrementalism, or Somewhere In Between Theme

1. Big Bang, Incrementalism, or Somewhere In Between

Next:  Big Bang, The Cons!

 

Line Segment Shutdown

Line Segment Shutdown

When making any significant change to a team or organization, deciding whether to take a big bang or incremental approach is important.  Both of these approaches–and hybrids in between–can work.  Big Bang and incremental approaches mark the two ends of a continuum of how organizations make a change.  The decision is almost never straightforward and organizations often struggle with how they should approach change.  The decision process begins by defining Big Bang and incremental implementation approaches in between the two ends so they can be compared.

Big Bang Implementations

A big bang adoption of a process or system is an instant changeover, a “one-and-done” type of approach in which everyone associated with a new system or process switches over in mass at a specific point in time.  For example, most of the bank mergers I participated in were big bangs.  The systems were all cut over on a specific date (lots of pizza and coffee was required for the cutover weekend) and the next business day all of the branches and ATMs began the day using a single system.

Big bangs are always the culmination of a lot of specific activities including planning, coordination, software changes, data conversions, and reviews.  All of these activities are focused on making the Big Bang successful.  Individually, the steps have little to no value if the final step fails.

Big Bang changes are sometimes equated to “bet the business” scenarios: if the change doesn’t  work, everything needs to be backed out or significant business impact will ensue.

Incrementalism / Incremental Approach

An incremental approach focuses on defining identifying and implementing specific pieces of work.  These pieces are generally smaller standalone pieces of work that progress an organization toward an overall goal but not generally all parts of one specific cohesive project.  For example, quality or process programs often use a continuous process improvement model in which practitioners identify changes or improvements which are then captured as part of a backlog and prioritized for implementation. This type of work is sometimes called continuous process improvement. In this scenario, lots of individual pieces of work accumulate over time to deliver a big benefit. Incremental changes generate a fast feedback loop which delivers enhanced learning. The small changes typically found in incremental approaches are useful for experimentation.

In Between or Phased Implementations

The term phased adoption can have alternate meanings.  The first (and in 2017 the most common meeting) is to break implementation into smaller pieces so that the organization has use of functionality sooner.  This is closer to an incremental approach (next) than a big bang.  Phased approaches break a bigger project into smaller projects so the adoption will happen in several steps. After each step, the system is a little nearer to be fully adopted. Phased differs from incremental generally in scope and the types of work in the backlog.  For example, in bank mergers, one phase might be to convert checking accounts and trust accounts in another phase.  In an Agile adoption, a phased approach might be to transform one team after another in a serial fashion.

The second possible use of the term is the famed waterfall approach in which analysis is completed before design all the way to implementation. This approach is far less common than it was in the late 20th century before the Agile movement, however, make sure you check by asking how the word phased is being used.

Which implementation approach makes the most sense will always depend on context.  The right choice requires understanding the goal of the change, resources available to make the change and above all else the organization’s culture.  The choice is not as stark as Big Bang (everything at once) or incrementalism (lots of continuous little changes) although these are the choices most often considered.

 

In the next entry in this theme, we will explore the pros of the Big bang approach.

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 431 features our interview with  Andrew Neitlich on leadership.  We discussed whether leadership can be learned and if tech leadership is different than other kinds of leadership.  Leadership is a core requirement for making all teams, Agile or not, effective!

Andrew’s bio:

Andrew Neitlich is the founder and director of the Center for Executive Coaching (http://centerforexecutivecoaching.com), a leader in training and certifying executive and leadership coaches. He also leads his own executive coaching practice, with an emphasis on working technical leaders that sometimes get frustrated with engaging their teams and having more impact when they communicate. Andrew is the author of Coach!, Elegant Leadership, and Guerrilla Marketing for a Bulletproof Career. He received his MBA from Harvard Business School, and lives in Sarasota, Florida.

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we tackle Chapter 4 in Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (buy your copy and read along).  In Chapter 4, Dweck hits a home run by reflecting on how mindsets translate into action in the sports arena (thus the sports allusions).  Sports stories are one the most used metaphors in a business environment.  I bet that you can’t you to go to two meetings in any corporate environment without hearing a project likened to the exploits of sports teams or athletes. This an easy metaphor theme because most everyone has been exposed to some form of sports or at least a story about sports before they take a job. In Chapter 4, Dr. Dweck, scores (I can’t help myself) by using the exploits of athletes and sports teams to further illustrate the differences and impact mindsets deliver.

Every week we discuss a chapter then consider the implications of what we have “read” from the point of view of someone pursuing an organizational transformation and also how to use the material when coaching teams.  

Remember to buy a copy of Carol Dweck’s Mindset and read along!

Visit the Software Process and Measurement Cast blog to participate in this and previous re-reads. (more…)

Mindset Book Cover

Today we rush into Chapter 4 in Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (buy your copy and read along).  In Chapter 4, Dweck hits a home run by reflecting on how mindsets translate into action in the sports arena (thus the sports allusions).  Sports stories are one the most used metaphors in a business environment.  I bet that you can’t you to go to two meetings in any corporate environment without hearing a project likened to the exploits of sports teams or athletes. This an easy metaphor theme because most everyone has been exposed to some form of sports or at least a story about sports before they take a job. In Chapter 4, Dr. Dweck, scores (I can’t help myself) by using the exploits of athletes and sports teams to further illustrate the differences and impact mindsets deliver. (more…)

26303029941_b4376df9c4_k

Leaders require trust between them and those they lead to be effective. Trust is not a simple attribute like hair color.  Trust is a synthesis of several attributes. None of the attributes that impact trust are fixed at birth. As humans, we learn the attributes that generate trust based on the environments we are exposed to and hone them based on effort and importance we place on these characteristics. The 8 most important characteristics that shape trust in software development and Agile environments are: (more…)