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Is a root canal collaboration?

We ended Part 1 of our evaluation of activities confused with collaboration with a reminder of logic: all dogs are mammals, but not all mammals are dogs.  All collaborative processes include communication and have a workflow, but, if we flip the equation, not all communication and workflows are collaboration.  Management and meetings are the last two areas of activities in all software development and maintenance organizations (and I do mean ALL) that we will discuss. Collaboration a critical part of delivering quality, in order not to dilute the power at the core of collaboration it is important to clearly understand which behaviors are easy to conflate with collaboration. (more…)

Well the computer cord has been replaced but I am still catching up so it is another refine

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. (more…)

#NoProjects Pure and Simple

#NoProjects reimagines the classic organization of work that has a definite beginning and end (limited duration) often with a temporary organization as an ongoing operation. The first attribution of the #NoProjects is from @joshuajames (Joshua J. Arnold) in the following tweet:

@DamienSchreurs Projects kill flow and teams. Focus on products, not projects. #NoProjects

Note:  Bob Marshall may have coined the hashtag earlier than June 2013, however, I have not found evidence (yet). (more…)

Seeds grow flowers!

Taking a very binary view of why people expend the effort to create value chain, value streams, and/or process maps, there are two reasons for mapping. The first is to generate a cost advantage by increasing efficiency. The second is to generate product differentiation. Each reason requires information about customers, how raw materials are transformed, and how the product is delivered.  The analysis and decision based on the maps are very different. Seed questions are a useful gathering data in a repeatable manner. Here are some sample mapping seed questions: (more…)

Tipping Point

In Chapter Five of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point (remember to stop borrowing your best friend’s copy and buy a copy of the book for yourself!), Gladwell uses the story of how the book Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood found its way over the tipping point as an example of the power of context.  Ya-Ya had a long glide path to a being a best seller, but once it started being read by groups such as book clubs or just mothers and daughters sales skyrocketed. The book evoked solidarity and linkages between groups of women. Gladwell links the explosion in sales to groups acting as super connectors.

In Chapter 2, The Law of the Few, Gladwell described how a connector could take an idea and spread it to many people.  Super connectors connect groups. Ya-Ya was the type of book that was read by groups (book clubs in this case) which made the book significantly stickier. Groups are powerful forces that act on how humans behave and think. Groups have social norms and apply pressure to hold members to the norms the group feels are important. The number of people in a group can impact how fast an idea moves is absorbed into the larger community.

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Tipping Point

This week we continue our re-read of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (Buy a copy and read along). In Chapter one, Gladwell suggests that there are three factors that impact whether an idea or product crosses a tipping point; they are the law of the few, the stickiness factor, and the power of context. Chapter one introduces these concepts and presents real-life examples to illustrate the factors.   (more…)

Change Behavior To Change Value

Many teams find story points only a partially useful tool to facilitate the flow of work within a team. As noted, story points are not all unicorns and kittens story points can have issues. Can story points be fixed, or better yet can story points still be useful? On the whole, story points are inherently fine if they are used with discretion and structure, to meet a team’s needs.  The words discretion and structure are code for “change”. Reforming the use of story points to make them safe again doesn’t require changing how teams assess or determine story points, but rather how people in the value chain behave once they have a number (or two).  An upfront agreement for using story points makes story points “safe.” Four attributes are useful to guide any upfront agreement on the usage of story points. The RATS criteria are:

Range – Express story points and story point metrics as ranges.  Story points are often used to express the perception of the size or value of work. Using a range to communicate both inside and outside the team mitigates the risk of falling into precision bias.

Approximate – Agree that story points represent a team’s best guess using the knowledge available at a specific time.  Knowledge will evolve as the team develops specific experience, does research and/the environment changes. Story points are not precise.

Team – Gather a team.  Story points are a reflection of a collaboration between multiple points of view. As a collaboration of a group, they can not be used to assess or measure an individual.

Separate – Separate the use of story points from answering client and management questions related to when a function will be delivered and how much that functionality will cost from facilitating the flow of work with the team.

Regardless of what a team uses story points to assess or to approximate, the output of the process is a synthesis of thinking from a group of people.  Story points represent the thought process of the team that created them, influenced by the environment they operate within. Every individual on the team needs to understand the central thread of logic followed to generate story points; however, even on a mature team, individuals will have differences which further emphasize the need to establish a RATS-”based agreement on how story points will be used to ensure healthy behavior.

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