Power cables are an important part of laptop usage . . . I am glad that Amazon has great delivery options.  A reprint while I charge my laptop!

A significant amount of transformation and leadership literature centers on establishing or changing the culture centered on values. Instant problem.  According to the Harvard Business Review online article on organizational culture (May 2013)  “there is little consensus on what organizational culture actually is.” There are two common threads in the definition of organizational culture; definitions that center on value, and definitions that center on behaviors. Many change leaders espouse value-centric definitions.  This decision causes them to focus their efforts on changing values in order to change the culture. These change programs are immediately starting in a difficult position. Values are amorphous.  Every individual interprets specific values differently.  For example, I asked several friends to define creativity.  Each person had a different definition.  Some of the differences were more than mere nuances.  Our individual interpretations would make the outcome of embracing the value of creativity unpredictable.  The variability of how we interpret values that make it difficult to create a common vision and then elicit a common outcome. Diversity makes this issue even more problematic.   As someone schooled in the need for measurement and feedback, the lack of a clear definition makes monitoring and measuring a change in the values at best difficult and often outside of the expertise of most internal measurement groups.  Without a clear definition and without a mechanism for monitoring change, talking about values is merely window dressing. (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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Turn the Ship Around

We will complete our re-read of Turn The Ship Around next week with a few final thoughts.  The next book in the series will be The Checklist Manifesto  (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along) by  Atul Gawande. Today we complete re-reading the chapters in  L. David Marquet’s Turn the Ship Around!  Chapter 28, 29 and Afterthoughts complete Marquet’s reflection on the leader-leader model and his journey of discovery.

Chapter 28: A New Method of Resupplying

The setup question for this chapter is, “Do you want to empower employees but find that empowerment programs don’t help?”

The story Marquet uses to drive the ideas in the chapter home centers around the Santa Fe’s need for oil to be resupplied due to a leak. If the Sante Fe is not resupplied the boat will not be able to keep its perfect record of meeting all mission goals.  The supply ship Rainier is also transiting the Straits of Hormuz (another one of those busy scary places). Using the normal channels getting supplies from the Rainier would have taken too long. Personnel on both vessels found a way to get the Santa Fe the oil, trade mail and also some fresh fruit.   (more…)

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SPaMCAST 502 features our interview Marcus Hammarberg.  Marcus returns to talk about his new book Salvation: The Bungsu Story (https://amzn.to/2u1ndYs).  The story provides a real-life example of how agile can save the world — or at least part of it. This is one of the most important and inspirational interviews I have done.  

Marcus’s bio:

For 15 years Marcus Hammarberg has been doing agile and lean software development and helping others do it. He has worked in many different settings, from big banks and insurance companies to start-ups and within retail. At one big insurance company, the first agile team, started by Marcus, eventually spread to a lean initiative across the business. As a consultant, Marcus helps individuals, teams, and whole organizations improve their value delivery flow.

Marcus is still a keen programmer and continues to practice and teach the concepts that helped him become a good programmer: TDD, Specification by example, functional programming and Node.

Marcus is a keynote speaker and co-author of Kanban In Action, which has been translated into 5 languages across the globe. He has blogged since 2006 at www.marcusoft.net and spends his spare time playing euphonium in the Salvation Army band at Vasakåren, Stockholm.

2014-2015 Marcus moved to Indonesia with his family to work for the Salvation Army. Unexpectedly his previous experience with lean, agile and kanban was soon put to great use there too. This story is retold as it happened in his second book; Salvation: The Bungsu story

FYI Marcus first appeared on SPaMCAST 414 https://bit.ly/2KZoxBN 

Twitter: @marcusoftnet

Blog: http://www.marcusoft.net

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we are full ahead in our re-read of L. David Marquet’s Turn the Ship Around!  Today we tackle two more chapters, 26 and 27, which are titled: Combat Effectiveness and Homecoming.  

The next book in the series will be The Checklist Manifesto  (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along) by  Atul Gawande.

Current Installment:

Week 17: Combat Effectiveness and Homecominghttps://bit.ly/2u3j8TI (more…)

There are four leadership concepts that can double the chances that your Agile transformation will be effective and stay that way! These four concepts are not new, but they require a degree of passion and constancy of purpose that are often missing. The idea of constancy of purpose was the first point in W. Edward Deming’s 14 points for management (Out of The Crisis – 1982 MIT Press) that has rewritten management and leadership philosophy across the globe. Deming’s philosophies form the bedrock for the Agile and lean revolution in which we are currently engulfed, so we ignore Deming at our own peril. Agile delivers great benefits, but those benefits require leadership and vision to provide motivation and constancy of purpose. The four cornerstones that define Agile leadership are:

  • A focus on behavior;
  • setting the bar high;
  • developing self-awareness; and
  • deploying measurement.

(more…)

Picture of things not allowed on plane

What’s your dysfunction?

 

As part of the research on diagnosing when teams need to be rebooted teams, I have had several conversations focused on the circumstances that cause team dysfunction. An understanding of circumstances is important because how a team got to where they are will influence the type of reboot needed. Team problems are generally caused by one or a combination of four overarching problems. The four problems are: (more…)

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SPaMCAST 461 features our essay – Agile — Leadership Required.  For an Agile transformation to be be effective and then stay effective there are four cornerstones of Agile leadership constancy that must be addressed with passion and constancy of purpose.

Our second column this week is from Kim Pries (The Software Sensei). Kim fills in the middle of the cast with a discussion of the conceptual skills a software developer should have. To be good in this industry you need to be more than set of coding languages or testing techniques.  

Steve Tendon, brings chapter 19 of Tame The Flow: Hyper-Productive Knowledge-Work Performance, The TameFlow Approach and Its Application to Scrum and Kanban published J Ross (buy a copy here). We tackle Chapter 19, which is titled Understanding Common Cause Variation.  Steve share insights that caused me rethink the whole idea of common cause variation.

Here is a promo for my appearance during the Denver Startup Week.  On Thursday September 28th at 8AM I will be sharing Storytelling: Developing the Big Picture for Agile Efforts.  The presentation, in Denver, Colorado, will be at held at Industry.  Register and be there!!!! (more…)

There are four leadership concepts that can double the chances that your agile transformation will be effective. These four concepts are not new, but they require a degree of passion and constancy of purpose that are often missing.  The constancy of purpose was the first point in W. Edward Deming’s 14 points for management (Out of The Crisis – 1982 MIT Press) that has rewritten management and leadership philosophy across the globe. Deming’s philosophies form the bedrock for the Agile and lean revolution in which we are currently engulfed, so we ignore Deming at our own peril.  Agile delivers great benefits, but those benefits require leadership and vision to provide motivation and constancy of purpose. The first two of the four cornerstones that define agile leadership that delivers are: (more…)

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SPaMCAST 456 features our interview with Jeff Dalton.  Jeff makes his fifth appearance as an interviewee. Jeff discussed leadership and whether leadership is more or less important in the Agile, dynamic world we find ourselves inhabiting.  

Jeff Dalton is President of Broadsword, a Process Innovation firm, and Chief Evangelist at AgileCxO.org, an Agile Leadership Research and Development center that develops models for high-performing agile teams.  Jeff is the principal author of “A Guide to Scrum and CMMI,” published by the CMMI Institute, and is a SCAMPI Lead Appraiser and Certified Agile Leadership Consultant that specializes in software product development, self-organizing teams, and performance modeling.  

Jeff’s previous appearances on the Software Process and Measurement Cast include

SPaMCAST 433 – Jeff Dalton, Holacracy is the Future

SPaMCAST 366 – Jeff Dalton, 12 Attributes of Great and Agile Organizations

SPaMCAST 296 – Jeff Dalton, CMMI, Agile, Resiliency

SPaMCAST 176 – Jeff Dalton, CMMI, Scrum and Agile

We also have a promo for 2017 Agile Leadership Summit:

Mark your calendar for an entirely new class of business conference. More “business theater” than a conference, the 2017 Agile Leadership Summit (September 22nd in Washington, DC) is sponsored by AgileCxO (agilecxo.org). It features an integrated mix of six vignettes on Agile leadership, two fantastic industry keynotes, and onstage jazz musicians who are demonstrating agility, iteration, and excellence throughout. Learn more at http://agilecxo.org.

Re-Read Saturday News

This week Steven dives into Chapter 5 of Paul Gibbons’ book The Science of Successful Organizational Change.  Cognitive biases are a topic that the Software Process and Measurement Blog has explored multiple times.  Cognitive biases are important decision-making tools.  Gibbons’ words have helped to crystallize our thinking on cognitive biases and logical fallacies in this chapter.   Remember to use the link in the essay to buy a copy of the book to support the author, the podcast, and the blog!    (more…)

Moving Toward The Light!

The fact that leadership is critical in an Agile transformation should not be too shocking. As noted in Leadership: A Cycle to Deliver Transformation, leadership is a critical component to attaining any goal.   Leadership provides a focus for an organization in transition.  The phrase “providing a focus” doesn’t refer to a single simple skill, but requires that leaders guide organizations in many ways, all of which are important to facilitate change.  In order to generate focus, leadership provides:

  1. Vision – Leaders provide a picture or manifestation of the future which helps the organization understand why they are being asked to change and the rough parameters of the of the future state.  Developing a tangible understanding of the destination is very useful in overcoming resistance. Tony Manno, Premios Group, when asked about the importance of leadership quoted the following definition of a leader to drive his point home: “An effective leader is a person who creates an inspiring vision of the future.  They motivate and inspire people to engage with that vision.”
  2. Adaptive management – Leaders use adaptive management to reduce uncertainty.  Adaptive management uses an iterative process of decision making to break down the events that create uncertainty.  Adaptive management is most effective for addressing change when leaders take a systems perspective and leverage input from the whole system to guide decisions. A leader leveraging adaptive management breaks the ground so that transformation can follow.  Andrew Schreiber, HHMI, described the role of leaders as “master navigators or way finders for the teams.”
  3. Systems/Lean Management – Leaders own the organization’s internal eco-system and workflows.  Transformation requires changing the environment in which work gets done.  Leaders own the creation of an environment in which respect for people and their time exists.  This includes simple items such as demanding that people are on time for meetings or ensuring that decision making is pushed down and individuals are empowered to make decisions inside the workflow.  Steve Woodward, Cloud Solutions, described the leader’s role as including “assuring right amounts of governance is in place while still embracing the agile manifesto.”

Leadership exists in many places and layers in an organization.  The leader enables change by getting everyone on the same page and making sure the organization’s eco-system isn’t acting like an antibody, actively working to reject the change. Michael King of Halfaker and Associates (interviewed on SPaMCAST 455) stated: “an Agile organization without strong leadership can spin their wheels without clarifying of focus/backlog.” For an organization to have any chance of transforming with Agile, senior and executive leaders must step to the forefront and make stuff happen!