Collaboration is no soft toss!

Many people have the idea of the lone innovator or the lone programmer developing solutions based on the wits to the adulation of the business deeply embedded in their subconscious.  These lone wolves don’t collaborate. The picture is wrong. Today’s business environment is fundamentally different. Teams and teams of teams are the problem-solving technique de jour.  Collaboration is an important part of solving business problems in teams. Because collaboration is so important, it is important to consider whether planned meetings, events, and interactions are set up to be collaborative before they occur.  Jonas Bull suggested a modification to the collaboration filter we have been using to evaluate whether an event is collaborative posthumously. Jonas’s suggestions (melded with Stephen Adam’s suggestions) follow below: (more…)

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…)

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SPaMCAST 554 features our essay on the misuse of the word ‘collaboration’. Collaboration is a hallmark of agile techniques, but people confuse collaboration with many other forms of interactions. When that happens everyone gets confused and disheartened. In order to stop the cycle, we identify four attributes to help recognize collaboration.

We’ll also hear from Gene Hughson who brings his Form Follows Function Column to the podcast.  In the second part of a three-part series on architects, Gene discusses the role of the solutions architect.  Part One can be found on SPaMCAST 543 – Value Chain, Solution Architects, Essays and Discussions Web Player and Show Notes: http://bit.ly/2L3tLku (more…)

A Panel Discussion - Collaboration?

We recently developed a structure for evaluating whether an activity was collaborative or not.  The four-step evaluation process is important because the same activity is collaborative in one context and overhead in another.  There are four areas of activities in all software development and maintenance organizations (and I do mean ALL) that are sometimes collaboration and sometimes not, but almost always sold as collaboration.  Today we tackle the first two areas. (more…)

Think About It!

 

I am celebrating my birthday this weekend instead of working on the re-read of  Thinking, Fast and Slow.  We will be back next week, so in the interim, I decided to reprise and revise an entry from 2014.  I hope you will enjoy and reflect on the piece!

Teams are an important concept in most IT organizations, regardless of their development philosophy. Philosophies like Agile may put more emphasis on teams, but even in organizations that do not embrace Agile philosophies, teams are important. Dan Ariely in his Ted Talk, “What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work” suggests that overly self-interested, cynical behavior can negatively impact organizations by reducing their ability to communicate and innovate. The same problem can occur, albeit on a small scale, at the team level. In a recent presentation, a fellow Agile coach described a team engaged in overly self-interested behavior. He described a scenario in an organization that cuts the bottom 10% of all groups annually and stated vision that IT should maximize the value it deliverers to its customers. After losing a popular team member the previous year, the team had decided to make sure that his replacement was given the worst assignments in order to ensure he stayed on the low end of the performance scale in the coming year. Their goal was to ensure that the core team stayed intact during the next review cycle. In their mind, keeping the core team together ensured that they would deliver more value to their internal customers. The behavior of the team attempted to circumvent the idea that adding new and more highly qualified personnel would lead to improved performance. Viewed from the point of view of organizational policy, the whole team was acting in an overly self-interested behavior manner, but from the point of view of core team they are acting rationally and within their interpretation of the rules as seen through IT’s vision of value delivery. The team did not believe that their behavior was at odds with the behavior the organization wanted to incent. (more…)

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SPaMCAST 548 features our interview with Heidi Helfand.  Heidi and I discussed teams and her book Dynamic Reteaming: The Art and Wisdom of Changing Teams. Heidi challenges the conventional wisdom that in agile (or any walk of life) that you need to keep your teams “the same” in order to be successful. In short, there are no absolutes except for change.

Heidi’s Bio

Heidi Helfand is Director of Engineering Excellence at Procore Technologies, creators of cloud-based construction software. She is the author of the book Dynamic Reteaming: The Art and Wisdom of Changing Teams which challenges the notion that you need to keep your teams “the same” in order to be successful. Heidi was on the first team at two highly successful startups ñ ExpertCity, Inc. (acquired by Citrix) where she was on the teams that invented GoToMyPC, GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar and AppFolio, Inc., a SAAS property management software company. She is a co-active coach certified by the International Coach Federation (ICF).

Buy the book!  https://leanpub.com/dynamicreteaming

Twitter: https://twitter.com/heidihelfand

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/heidihelfand

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we are re-reading Chapter 5 of Thinking, Fast and Slow, Cognitive Ease. This chapter is full of tactical considerations for how to present information or to influence how teams work.

If you do not have a favorite, dog-eared copy of Thinking, Fast and Slow, please buy a copy.  Using the links in this blog entry helps support the blog and its alter-ego, The Software Process and Measurement Cast. Buy a copy on Amazon,  It’s time to get reading!  

The installments:

Week 1: Logistics and Introductionhttp://bit.ly/2UL4D6h (more…)

Trust?

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…)