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This week we re-read Chapter 3 of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. One of the core themes in this chapter is the concept of ego depletion.  Ego depletion is a theory that self-control, as a form of system 2 thinking, draws from a finite pool of mental resources. When the pool is low, so is self-control. I did some research on the topic and the evidence is mixed whether there is an ego depletion impact. Regardless, from the point of view of Chapter 3 the idea is that heavy mental and physical loads on a person spread their ability to think and make decisions thin is not a stretch (and we should not expend a significant cognitive load on the topic). Whether the triggering mechanism is ego depletion or something else is not as important as the observable impact – when people are under mental stress they don’t always make the most thoughtful decisions.    (more…)


Trust is the third prerequisite for collaboration. Time and transparency help build a platform on which trust can be established. People do work together with only a modicum of trust.  Little to no trust leads to transactional and short-term interactions which are a pale version of collaboration. Developing trust past the basics of public decorum is essential to working in teams and teams interacting with other teams. There are six key attributes that are prerequisites to trust. At a team level, they are a reflection of how the individuals on the team act. At a team of team level, these attributes attach to teams. The six attributes are: (more…)

Is chain link transparent

Working in teams or teams of teams is a fact of life in today’s corporate environment.  Gone are the days when software developers were relegated to the basement to labor away in solitary cubes.  Today’s work environment requires collaboration between team members, other groups and sometimes even the business. Collaboration requires three prerequisites; time, transparency and trust.  Each of these areas is complex in its own right. Transparency, the middle component in the prerequisites, is the sharing of all relevant information, including motives. In order to collaborate effectively, people need to know what they are working on, why they are working on it, the background of what they are working on, and more. Unpacking the concept of transparency exposes six important attributes that further refine and contribute to the concept of transparency. (more…)

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SPaMCAST 545 we have an interview with Cheryl Hammond, Jenny Tarwater, Faye Thompson, and Linda Podder.  We talk about Launching New Voices, Women in Agile, planned activities at Agile 2019 and more. There is a lot of good advice and ideas if you’re new to speaking or if you are a seasoned speaker. There is a call to action at the end of the interview.

2019 Women in Agile Conference site


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Chapter 2 tackles the relationship between effort, attention, and thinking slow. Thinking slow, system 2 thinking, requires effort. That effort must be marshaled and directed which requires attention. The more effort needed, the more attention needed. Attention is a finite resource, therefore, the more we spend on system 2 thinking, less attention available for everything else. A word of warning, don’t do higher math while driving! (more…)


Time is the first requirement for collaboration. Collaboration requires a space in the schedule and the energy to interact with others (for some people the energy needed is more than others).  I have observed that many people’s schedules are so crowded that they run from meeting to meeting. Even when one or more of those meetings are structured for collaboration, many times attendees disrespect each other by hammering away at email or slack as they pretend to pay attention.  Recently I have actually heard someone announce that they are not going to pay attention unless they think something directly impacting them will come up. The meeting was to envision a component in a next-generation product. Why are they there? Between their lack of time and utter disrespect for the other attendees, there was no way they could effectively contribute.  Four factors that influence how much time is available for collaboration include the following: (more…)

Making Cookies

A family making cookies requires collaboration!

Collaboration is the mantra of teams and productivity experts. Yesterday I used the word more than 20 times (I counted but lost track during a conversation at rest stop in Wisconsin). A simple definition of collaboration is working with someone or a group of someones to generate an outcome. The simple definition covers a lot of ground from simple transactions to shared relationships. In agile, the definition of collaboration strays more to the deeper side of the definition. Collaboration doesn’t occur simply by waving a magic wand. Effective agile collaboration requires three attributes.  All three attributes are interrelated: (more…)