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SPaMCAST 485 features essay titled “A Simple Checklist for Choosing a Mentor.” Everyone needs a mentor, but they are hard to find, and even when you find someone willing they might not be the right person!  Enter: a checklist!

Blog entries (in case you would rather read the entries) in our recent coaching/mentor theme include:

In the second spot this week, Jeremy Berriault will bring his QA Corner to the cast. We will discuss trusting your team. Trust is a huge deal, and unless it goes both ways it is not really trust.  FYI – Jeremy has recently moved the QA Corner to

Rounding out the cast, Kim Pries, the Software Sensei will return with the second part of his essay titled “Muddling Through.” The essay is based on the article, “The Science of “Muddling Through” by Charles E. Lindblom.  The article was originally published in 1959, but it still has an important message that resonates now.  Part One was originally published in SPaMCAST 477

Re-Read Saturday News

Before we wrap up our re-read of Daniel S. Vacanti’s Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: An Introduction (buy a copy today) remember that we will begin our re-read of Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet next week!  Buy your copy and listen to the interview I did with Mr. Marquet (SPaMCAST 202). If you want to get ahead, the book after that will be The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (I recently bought a copy and want to share what I have gotten out of it). Now on with the main attraction! (more…)


So the answer is . . .

Consensus decision-making may be one of the most prevalent decision-making tools in organizations today.  Simply walk around and ask the denizens of cube farms and team spaces how they make decisions. My perception is that the increase in the prevalence of using consensus as a decision tool has paralleled with an increase in the use of Agile and teams as a significant tool to deliver value. Defining consensus decision-making is a critical first step in understanding how to harness the power of the technique. (more…)

Exit Sign

Get Team Problems Out

Not every team issue can be solved with a standard pallet of techniques. However, nearly every consultant (internal or external) will have set of tools that they have ready just in case. The following is a set of techniques packaged as a model, or the very least in order of precedence. The techniques referenced in this article are often used as a group and are only deployed as a correctively after diagnosing the problem (root cause analysis). (more…)

There are signs something’s not going to work before failure occurs.

A recent note from a reader asked: When is a team dysfunctional, and what does it mean to to reboot a team? It should be noted that The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni is a great source to sources and solutions for team dysfunctions (check out the Re-read Saturday feature).

When is a team dysfunctional?

The simplest answer is that a team is dysfunctional when it can’t deliver on its commitments. The problem with that answer is that it would be better to see the problem before it impacts commitments.  A more useful question might be: what are the attributes of a potentially dysfunctional team that can be used diagnose problems before they fail to deliver? Three common dysfunctions and some ways to identify them early are:   (more…)

CC Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Questions are a critical tool that every coach, mentor or leader uses to help shape and improve the performance of those they interact with.  ‘Question’ represents a high-level category that describes many different types of questions.  This is similar to the screwdriver.  If you were to walk into a hardware store and ask for a screwdriver the clerk would ask what kind and/or what you were going to use it for in order to help you find the right kind.  There are different taxonomies of questions which are useful to help practitioners decide what type of question suits which purpose. (more…)

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 442 features our essay on capability teams. The use of teams to deliver business value is at the core of most business models.  Capability teams are a tool to unlock the value delivery engine of teams.

Gene Hughson brings his Form Follows Function Blog to the cast this week to discuss his recent blog entry titled, Systems of Social Systems and the Software Systems They Create. We live in a complex world and just focusing on social systems or software systems misses the point!

Our third column is from the Software Sensei, Kim Pries.  The entry this week is titled, Software Quality and the Art of Skateboard Maintenance. This entry is an homage to Robert M. Pirsig the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, who recently died.

Re-Read Saturday News

And welcome back!  For those who are interested, The Frederick Half Marathon last weekend was great.  I met my goals: I crossed the finish line, collected my medal and got to hang out with my family in Frederick.  This week, we begin Part Two of Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World by Brian J. Robertson published by Henry Holt and Company in 2015.  Part Two is titled Evolution At Play: Practicing Holacracy.  In my opinion, Part Two provides readers with the nuts and bolts needed to use Holacracy.  Chapter 4, titled Governance, takes all of the building blocks from previous chapters and starts to weave them together. (more…)


The terms ‘long-lived team’, ‘stable team’ or to a lesser extent ‘capability’ can evoke an almost magical reaction. The problem with a magical reaction is that it switches off our ability to think about the consequences of the attributes and assumptions that need to be true for these types of the team to function effectively.  When any concept takes on a magical aura, conflict and disaster follow.  Long-lived teams sometimes don’t always make sense in every situation. (more…)

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