Search Results for 'storytelling'


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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 440 features our essay on two storytelling techniques: premortems and business obituaries.  Almost all work that takes more than a few days is subject to risks that are not immediately obvious without some form of structured process to focus the team’s thought process. Teams often use storytelling techniques to generate a big picture/vision to guide a project or to help people frame their thoughts. A story provides a deeper and more nuanced connection between the team and information than most lists of PowerPoint bullets or a structured requirements documents. The same storytelling skill can be used as a risk management tool. Premortums and business obituaries are structured techniques for using storytelling for risk management.

Our second column is from Jeremy Berriault. Jeremy discusses the importance of conferences for learning new ideas and for networking.  Jeremy suggests that if you are have not learned new ways to test and you are testing the same way you were last year then you are falling behind. Jeremy  blogs at https://jberria.wordpress.com/  

Jon M Quigley brings his column, The Alpha and Omega of Product Development, to the Cast. In this installment, Jon discusses mental models and their impact on how you develop and deliver value.  One of the places you can find Jon is at Value Transformation LLC.

Re-Read Saturday News

Chapter 3 of Holacracy completes Part 1 by laying out the structure needed for an organization to be able to quickly and continuously evolve how authority is distributed.  An organization’s structure needs to be conducive to the processes needed to distribute authority.  This chapter provides an alternative to the classic pyramid structure of organization design which is typically out of date, irrelevant and difficult to change.

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

A Call To Action

I need your help. I have observed that most podcasts and speakers at conferences over-represent people from Europe and North America.  I would like to work on changing that exposure. I would like to develop a feature featuring alternate software development voices beginning with Africa and Southeast Asia. If this feature works we will extend it to other areas.   If you can introduce me to practitioners that would be willing to share their observations (short interviews) I would be appreciative!

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The next Software Process and Measurement Cast will feature our interview with John Le Drew.  John and I discussed the concept of safety at work and how safety, or the lack of it, affects software teams.  John is the host of the Agile Path Podcast I recommend you check out his podcast but make sure you are back here for our interview next week!

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here. Available in English and Chinese.

An obituary was written when a queen was interned

In keeping with a slightly morbid bend in storytelling techniques, we add to the premortem technique the idea of a business (or project) obituary.  An obituary is a specialized form of a news story that communicates the key points in the life or a person, organization, event or project. During my college years, I spent time in college radio stations on air both playing music and doing the news (where do you think the podcasting came from? Check out the Software Process and Measurement Cast).  In the newsroom we largely knew how to put together an obituary.  We kept a few critical local celebrities written and ready just in case (in the business, this is called a morgue).  Just like any story an obituary is comprised by a set of attributes.  A typical (simplified) set of components found in obituaries (Chapter 51 from the News Manual – Obituaries) includes: (more…)

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Not a classic business story.


Jerry Owens reached out after we explored the six elements of stories to ask whether all of the elements were equally important for every type of business story.  The short answer is no. However, a more intricate explanation needs to include that even if an element is equally important, each element can be used either in a tactical (focused on an immediate or short-term time horizon) or strategic (focused on the long-term or overall perspective) manner depending on the type of story being told.

(more…)

Serene picture of a river.

Like a river, stories have many integrated ingredients.

Stories in the business environment are typically more constrained than the storylines on a telenovela.  However, all effective stories have a six basic elements that are required to clearly and effectively communicate in the business environment.   (more…)

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In Software Process and Measurement Cast 410, we feature our interview with Jessica Long.  Jessica and I discussed storytelling. I find that storytelling is a useful tool to help individuals, teams, and organizations.  Projects can use stories to generate user stories and as a tool in retrospectives.  Stories are also a tool in generating a vision of the future in organizational transformations.  Those are just a few of the multitude of uses for storytelling in changing how value is delivered!

Jessica and I will both be presenting on using stories at the Agile Philly, Agile Tour 2016 on October 10th.  If you are in the Philadelphia area please register and attend!

Jessica’s bio:
Jess Long is an Agile Coach, a writer, a speaker and a mother with a passion for driving meaningful stories across multiple iterations in all facets of life. Transforming Corporate America and living to tell about it is no small feat. She keeps some level of sanity by finding humor in otherwise absurd situations.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/scrumandginger
Blog: https://scrumandginger.com/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-long-pmi-acp-csp-cspo-87626614

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we reach the penultimate week in our re-read of Kent Beck’s XP Explained, Second Edition with a discussion of Chapters 24 and 25. Chapter 24 discusses the value and power in communities. Chapter 25 is Beck’s conclusion and reflection on the book: XP is about people!

Next week we’ll wrap this re-read up and get ready to read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (published by Jossey-Bass).  This will be a new book for me, therefore an initial read, not a re-read!  Steven Adams suggested the book and it has been on my list for a few years. Click the link (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team), buy a copy, and in a few weeks we will begin to read the book together.

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 411 will be a big show featuring our thoughts on servant leadership. In SPaMCAST 411 we will have a visit from the Kim Pries, the Software Sensei. We will have more from Steve Tendon on the Tame The Flow: Hyper-Productive Knowledge-Work Performance, The TameFlow Approach and Its Application to Scrum and Kanban published J Ross (buy a copy here).  And anchoring the cast will be Gene Hughson with an entry from his Form Follows Function Blog.  

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here. Available in English and Chinese.

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 399 features our essay titled, Storytelling: Developing The Big Picture for Agile Efforts. Agile reminds us that the focus of any set of requirements needs to be on an outcome rather than a collection of whats and whos.  Storytelling is a powerful tool to elevate even the most diehard requirements analyst from a discussion of individual requirements to a discussion of outcomes. Before we can generate a backlog composed of features, epics, and user stories, we need to understand the big picture.

Our second column is a visit to Gene Hughson’s Form Follows Function Blog.  We discussed an entry titled A Meaningful Manifesto for IT.  Do we need a manifesto to know that how well we are meeting the needs of our customers is a reflection of how fit IT is for purpose? Perhaps the answer is yes, if for no other purpose than to ensure we make sure that what we deliver is not a waste of money.

Anchoring the cast this week is the Software Sensei, Kim Pries.  Kim discusses the role of deliberate practice in increasing the capability and capacity of teams. Kim’s provides practical advice on improving team performance.

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we begin the Re-read Saturday of  Kent Beck’s XP Explained, Second Edition with a discussion of the Preface and Chapter 1.  These sections provide a definition of XP and context for the diving into the principles and techniques. Using the link to XP Explained when you buy your copy to read along will support both the blog and podcast. Visit the Software Process and Measurement Blog (www.tcagley.wordpress.com) to catch up on past installments of Re-Read Saturday.

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The next Software Process and Measurement Cast, #400!, features our interview with Jim Benson. Jim and I talked about personal Kanban, micromanagement, work-in-process limits, pattern matching, pomodoro and more. This was a marvelous interview to commemorate our first 400 shows!

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here. Available in English and Chinese.

Ruins of Willkarakay

Telling stories is a natural human activity from time immemorial.  Creating a succinct and informative story to describe a business need or the future of an organization is challenging.  Stories are not bulleted presentation slides, although those tools can be used.  Rather stories at this level are longer narratives, or at the very least they are like the paintings in Lascaux Caves which evoke a longer narrative. Narrative storytelling is not a tool typically found or appreciated in status meetings, the process of building a narrative that describes a business need or the journey an organization must take to achieve a goal often needs facilitation.  Three facilitation tools are commonly used to help a team or an individual to build a story in a business environment. They are: (more…)

A person speaking from a stage

Some forms of storytelling are more formal than others

Storytelling is a tool with many applications.  Generating a high-level narrative project is useful for any project to help get people on the same page and keep them there over the life of the endeavor (or at least until the story changes). Establish the big picture before diving headlong into defining what will be delivered.  A simple storytelling process is shown below: (more…)

A story helps you see the big picture

A story helps you see the big picture

At one point in my career I gathered requirements on an almost daily basis.  I got good at interviewing people to help them discover what they wanted a project to deliver.  In most cases I collected all sorts of “shalls,” “musts,” “wills” and an occasional “should.” The organization I worked for detailed the outcome of the process in a requirements document that included technical, non-functional and functional requirements.  All of the requirements toed the line defined in IEEE standards. Once we had requirements, my teams would leap into action writing, coding and testing to their hearts content. Looking back, the problem was that the cocktail napkin or cost-benefit analysis that spawned this orgy of action often did not capture the nuances of the business outcome. The failure to anchor the nuances of the business outcome in everyone’s mind meant that, despite carefully crafted charters, projects were apt to wander off track. This caused all sorts of stress when they were winding down to done.  One solution to this problem is to have the sponsors, stakeholders and team capture an outcome-based big picture.  Storytelling as a tool to anchor an idea is not new. If you need proof that storytelling is part of human nature consider that some of the oldest human artifacts, the Lascaux Cave paintings, reflect the story of people from approximately 15,000 B.C. Stories help us remember and they help us connect.  In the workplace, the big picture acts both as an anchor for the team and as a container to shape or guide the outcome.  Effective storytelling to guide work requires the right participation, proper timing, and a process. (more…)

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 387 includes three features.  The first is our essay on storytelling.  Storytelling is a tool that is useful in many scenarios, for presentations, to help people frame their thoughts and for gathering information. A story provides both a deeper and more nuanced connection with information than most lists of PowerPoint bullets or even structured requirements documents. The essay provides an excellent supplement to our interview with Jason Little (which you can listen to here).

The second feature this week is Steve Tendon discussing Chapter 9 of Tame The Flow: Hyper-Productive Knowledge-Work Performance, The TameFlow Approach and Its Application to Scrum and Kanban published J Ross. Chapter 9 is titled “Critical Roles, Leadership and More”.  We discuss why leadership roles are important to achieve hyper-productive performance. Sometimes in Agile and other approaches it is easy to overlook the role of leaders outside of the team.

Remember Steve has a great offer for SPaMCAST listeners. Check `out  https://tameflow.com/spamcast for a way to get Tame The Flow: Hyper-Productive Knowledge-Work Performance, The TameFlow Approach, and Its Application to Scrum and Kanban at 40% off the list price.

Anchoring the cast this week is a visit to the QA Corner.  Jeremy Berriault discusses whether a career and the path your career might take in testing is an individual or a team sport.  Jeremy dispenses useful advice even if you are not involved in testing. (more…)