Asking Questions Imply Listening

As coaches, leaders, change agents and even parents, the act of asking questions can take on an almost magical power to guide and change behavior. As with any powerful tool, when the tool begins to take on magical attributes, the users of the tool begin to forget that a tool is just a tool.  At that point to quote, Ian Brown, “they just become a fool with a tool.” Questions are a useful tool for a coach because questions: (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…)

Book Cover

And welcome back!  For those who are interested, The Frederick Half Marathon last weekend was great.  I met my goal; 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, Governance, takes all of the building blocks from previous chapters and starts to weave them together. (more…)

Control!

The product owner (PO) role is incredibly important in any Agile effort. The product owner leads, manages and prioritizes the backlog and networks with stakeholders, customers, and developers of all stripes.  All sorts of problems can beset the role. However, most of those problems are either self-inflicted or a result of poor organizational design.  A laundry list of problems based on observation and responses from other product owners include:

  1. Product Owners Are From IT
  2. Product Owners Are Not Part of The Team
  3. Having a Project versus Product Orientation
  4. Overly Broad and/or Ill-Defined Product Owner Role
  5. Using Proxy Product Owners
  6. Adopting Technical and Business Product Owners
  7. Allowing Part-time Product Owners
  8. Failure of Product Owner to Lead
  9. Product Owner with Controlling Personality

The next set of difficulties are: (more…)

Accept no substitute.

The product owner (PO) role even when performed as described straight out of the book is difficult.  The role is often even more difficult than it needs to be, with information asymmetries between the PO, the team and stakeholders ranging to ill-defined roles. I asked over fifty product owners about why they thought the role was hard to augment my perception. I have scattered excerpts from their responses throughout the essay.  Based on observation and responses the most common reasons the role is difficult are: (more…)

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 441 features 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 the effectiveness of software teams.

John’s bio . . .

In almost 2 decades working in software engineering, John Le Drew has worked as a software engineer, team lead, project manager, product owner, trainer, agile coach, and consultant. Working with clients ranging from small start-ups to multinationals.

Through Wise Noodles he has helped organizations solve tough technical problems by untangling their people problems. John hosts The Agile Path Podcast; producing in-depth audio documentaries on the topics that most affect organizations transitioning to agile ways of working.

The manifesto for agile software development and the principles behind it is central to how John approaches software and value development. Working with organizations to help them learn to apply the principles has become a passion. There is nothing more exciting to John than seeing a team surprise themselves with potential they did not realize they had. Contact John via email at john@wisenoodles.com. (more…)

Frederick Course

We are taking a one week break from our re-read of Holacracy (If you don’t have a copy, use the link to help support and defray the costs of the Software Process and Measurement Cast blog and podcast). We are taking the break because I am participating in the Frederick Running Festival.  I will be slowly running my 4th ½ marathon and between the drive and festivities, the editing on this week’s entry is incomplete.    (more…)