Leadership


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This is part 3 of an essay based on a presentation I did as part of IFPUG’s Knowledge Cafe Webinar Series. The presentation is titled Software Development: Preparing For Life After COVID-19. I have not heard if the final version has been posted. I do have a copy of the audio which I will edit.  I will also post a PDF of the slides in the near future (email me if you like to have a copy of the slides before they are posted). 

Once we have an idea of what is important: throughput, cycle time, productivity, and delivered defects, deciding when we care about measuring becomes critical. The answer is simple on paper, focus on the product backlog, what is between “Start and Done” and what crosses the line of done (production!). That we care about these three slices of time reflects the need to focus on how the work flows. Only counting the flow of value when it is done is a recognition that, at least in software, if code isn’t in production, you have not delivered. (more…)

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SPaMCAST 580 features our interview with Bill Fox. Bill and I discussed his new book The Future of the Workplace –  https://amzn.to/2Q8z9Df.  Bill has compiled a huge amount of wisdom from his amazing interviews that translated into his new book. Bill and I spent time in this interview exploring the journey to the new book and Bill’s philosophies.  Our discussion highlights the benefits of a deep humanist view of leadership. (more…)

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SPaMCAST 571 features our essay titled the Art of Saying No.  I recently presented a workshop on saying no — a simple word that is very difficult to say.  During the session, three specific reasons why participants could not say no generated a huge debate. Today we ask you to decide how you feel about the impact of a history of performance, interruptions, and demands. Feel free to share your opinion. 

We will also have a visit from Jeremy Berriault.  In the QA Corner this month, Jeremy provides observations about outside interests and their ability to improve focus and reduce burnout. Jeremy’s outside interests are Jiu-Jitsu and his family.  Jeremy can be reached at Berriault and Associates Consulting Group or by email at Jeremy.Berriault@Berriaultandassociates.com. 

We had planned to have Michael Larsen on the cast this week, however, Mr. Larsen was affected by power outages in the Bay Area of California due to wildfires.  (more…)

Recently I presented  “The Art Of Saying No” to the Chicago Quality Assurance Association.  The material was a synthesis of work published on the Software Process and Measurement blog, wisdom from the podcast interviews, and hard-won experience. As one of the exercises in the workshop, I asked the participants to identify the reasons they found it difficult or impossible to say no in their business environment. Three reasons that elicited passionate debate were: (more…)

When I was in primary school I remember learning about herds of buffalo that were so vast that it would take hours for all of the animals to pass a specific point.  Herding behavior evokes visions of groups acting the same way. There is a special case that affects how work is accomplished. Self-herding affects how decisions are made based on how an initial event is tackled. Dan Ariely defines as  “our tendency to follow the same decisions we have made in the past (future decisions are influenced by previous decisions).” Self-herding is a form of cognitive bias in which an individual creates a heuristic for a specific decision, limiting the possible outcomes.  A classic example of self-herding is the rule many people develop that states that, all things being equal, given two restaurants the one with people is better. The origin of the rule many times in unknown and doesn’t get questioned. I believe I originally heard this guidance from my mother.  Even today I have difficulty going into restaurants that are empty. The first time I used my mother’s guidance the decisions translated into behavior that I rarely question even today. Restaurants might be one thing, but a decision about accepting work or using a specific framework should be a different matter but the answer is no.  (more…)

Herding for pickle beer. Who would have thought!

Herding is a pattern where an individual or team acts based on the behavior of others. Stated very simply, herding is just like the children’s game follow-the-leader.  Last year, I sat in on a discussion in an organization where being perceived as being helpful was a significant attribute for bonuses and promotions. The R&D Group (software development) had recently been asked to implement a significant SaaS package with a due date before Thanksgiving so that the retail portion of the business would not be impacted. The date was absurd. The CIO had gathered a number of teams together to determine if the work was doable. The answer from each team as they went out of the room was no until a single team said they could do it. In quick succession, everyone changed their minds and played follow-the-leader.  All of the affected teams exhibited herd behavior. As soon as one team broke from the pack everyone followed. The cascade was exacerbated when the CIO muttered “thank-you” after the first two teams said yes. Herding in decision making effectively took “no” off the table. This type of behavior is response-driven. (more…)

 

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SPaMCAST 562 features our essay on the power of saying no.  I firmly believe that unless you have control over the amount of work you take, you are asking for a trainwreck.  The problem is that saying no is often harder than being late or over budget.  

We will also have a visit from the Software Sensei.  Kim Pries is back to kick off September with an essay titled, Real Planning. While the actual plan might not be exactly what happens in real life, the act of planning is crucial.  (more…)

Book Cover

Chapter 16, Causes Trump Statistics, was revelatory for me the first time I read  Thinking, Fast and Slow, and it was revelatory during this read. Over my career, I have been shocked many times to see a perfectly sane leader stand up and show a single statistic or estimate which promises delivery of a product at a cost or in a timeframe that is well outside of normal performance.  This chapter provides a rationale for what often seems to be less than rational. The content in this chapter helps me understand why statistical facts aren’t perceived to generate black and white answers, even when they do. Kahneman uses a story about taxi cabs to illustrate the difference between statistical base rates and causal base rates.  Statistical base rates are facts about the population but are not specific to any individual case. Causal base rates are effective because they are specific and are easily woven into a narrative about the case.   (more…)

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In Chapter 15 of Thinking, Fast and Slow we explore two types of fallacies. Logical and conjunction fallacies can impact any process improvement effort, typically in a manner that does not benefit change. 

The central plot device in this chapter is an experiment performed by Kahneman and Tversky that asked sets of respondents to rank attributes by representativeness and another group to rank by probability. The experiment begins with a description of the person, Linda,  (similar to the experiment at the center of Chapter 14). A set of statements about Linda’s potential profession is then listed. In this case (as compared to the experiment in Chapter 14), there are items in the list that require the application of logic to judge. For example, one item is “Linda is a bank teller” and a second is “Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement”. The lightbulb moment from the experiment was when there are two items that have a logical relationship, respondents distinguished between the two based on the story System 1 constructs.  (more…)

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SPaMCAST 551 features our interview with Michael (Mike) Lynn.  Mike and I talked about leadership and agile. Leadership is important any time two or more people get together to pursue a goal. Mike shares his expertise, experience, and wisdom to help shine a light on the relationship between agile and leadership.   (more…)

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