A diagnosis or patch?

A diagnosis or patch?

The majority of work entry problems are caused by eight problems. The eight problems often occur in clusters and are a reflection of organizational culture.  Knowing that there are eight problems is useful when they can be recognized. Unless people wear their motivations on signs hung around their neck, recognition requires conversation and observation.  Hints for recognizing the top eight work entry problems are: (more…)

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SPaMCAST 542 features our interview with Kevin Rush. Mr. Rush has developed an innovative approach to facilitate sprint/iteration planning.  Kittens, exploding kittens, and fat cats are used to help teams probe whether the team understands the story and if the story is broken down well enough for the team to reduce the risk of failure.  All change agents talk about making changes at the team level but many fail to change how they work, Kevin suggests that experimenting with different approaches is eating our dog food. Way too many pet metaphors, but a great discussion.

Kevin’s Bio

Kevin is a certified Scrum Master and Agility Enablement leader at Hyland Software. Before coming to Hyland he worked as an innovation consultant and coach with for-profit and nonprofit organizations throughout Northeast Ohio. A graduate from DeVry University he spent time as Technology Coordinator for several local school districts before transitioning to ministry then back to tech! When he’s not working with teams and organizations he spends his time with his beautiful wife, Sondra, and their three beautiful daughters. (more…)

Work entry is a door into the inner temple!

The majority of work entry problems are caused by eight problems. The eight problems often occur in clusters and are a reflection of organization culture.  The eight are: (more…)

All teams and programs must have a process for gathering and excepting work. In Scrum, a typical team’s work entry process might be:

  • People write stories or requirements of varying quality,
  • Those stories are evaluated and cleaned up,
  • Updated, well-formed stories are added to the backlog,
  • Once on the backlog, stories are prioritized (and re-prioritized), and
  • In time, stories are pulled into a sprint.

The product owner owns the backlog and the prioritization process. He or she works with the team to determine when an item is to be done. A very poor work entry process allows anyone to give work to the team at any time, work they tackle based on their perception of value, urgency, and importance. While this sounds crazy, ad-hoc work entry is more common than most leaders know.  Just to be clear, when work is pulled into the team in an uncontrolled manner the team will not be able to efficiently or effectively deliver value to the organization. The same issues occur at a program and portfolio level. Disciplined programs and teams fiercely control how work is accepted. No individual, team or organization can support an ad-hoc work entry approach over the long run without having to accept enormous risks. A disciplined approach to work entry evaluates and prioritizes work to ensure that the most important and urgent work is done before other work. At a team level undisciplined work entry many effects.  The top three are: (more…)

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SPaMCAST 540 features our interview Mark Kilby and Johanna Rothman. Johanna, Mark, and I discussed their new book, From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams, Collaborate to Deliver (Buy your copy here: https://amzn.to/2Omur23). Distributed agile teams are a fact of life; Johanna and Mark provide an extraordinary amount of wisdom for making distributed teams exceptional.   

Johanna’s Bio

Johanna Rothman, known as the “Pragmatic Manager,” provides frank advice for your tough problems. She helps leaders and teams see problems, resolve risks, and manage their product development.

Johanna was the Agile 2009 conference chair and was the co-chair of the first edition of the Agile Practice Guide. Johanna is the author of 14 books that range from hiring, to project management, program management, project portfolio management, and management. Her most recent books are From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams (with Mark Kilby) and Create Your Successful Agile Project: Collaborate, Measure, Estimate, Deliver.

Read her blogs, email newsletter, and more information about her books at www.jrothman.com 

Mark Kilby Bio

With over two decades of experience in agile principles and practices, Mark Kilby has cultivated more distributed and dispersed teams than collocated teams.  He has consulted with organizations across many industries and coached teams, leaders, and organizations internally. Mark also co-founded a number of professional learning organizations such as Agile Orlando, Agile Florida, Virtual Team Talk, and the Agile Alliance Community Group Support Initiative among others.  His easy-going style helps teams learn to collaborate and discover their path to success and sustainability. Mark shares his insights on distributed and agile teams in dozens of articles in multiple publications. Most of his latest ideas and developments can be found on www.markkilby.com

Re-Read Saturday News
We have been re-reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point over the past 10 weeks.  When considering how I would wrap up the re-read I had to fight the urge to parrot back the findings Gladwell identified in the conclusion: a few people are critical and that people’s biases matter. Real life intervened and I applied the ideas in the book!

We need to choose the next book in the Re-read Saturday Series. Steven Adams has requested a referendum on the next book.  Mr. Adams has always provided sage advice, therefore, a poll we will have! The poll will be open for two weeks. Vote for your two favorites.

(more…)

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SPaMCAST 539 features our essay titled, Assessment and Continuous Process Improvement. Assessments and continuous process improvement are intertwined because assessments are both a source of ideas and a tool to validate change and other experiments. Other essays that have appeared on the SPaMCAST blog on agile assessments  include:

Assessment and Continuous Process Improvement – https://bit.ly/2UU8mdI

Components Of A Solid Assessment Plan https://bit.ly/2YsHqnM

Assessments: Being or DOing https://bit.ly/2HGOEiK

An Assessment: A Mall Map For Change https://bit.ly/2TX8BbJ

We will also have part 2 of Susan Parente’s discussions on distributed agile.  This week we will focus on tools. Susan reminds us that unless you spend time building trust and learning how to communicate, a tool won’t solve a communication problem.

Re-Read Saturday News
This week we conclude the re-read portion of our tour through Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point by tackling both the conclusion and the afterword. The Tipping Point is a theory that viral change—epidemics, in Gladwell’s words—can be caused and shaped by few actions and people. The Law of the Few tells us that connectors, mavens and salespeople can affect whether or not a concept, idea or movement moves across the tipping point and becomes an epidemic. (more…)

The term guardrails is a polarizing term in some camps.  When I pinged Vasco Durarte on LinkedIn he said “I prefer the term “heuristics”: guides for action that are actionable, instead of abstract principles that need to be translated to action by everybody.” Rather than debating the nuances of implementation, we can all agree that in many cases having some form of guidance allows smart people to make decisions faster and with less risk. Less risk accrues to both to the person making the decision and to the organization. I will freely admit that I don’t like to be told what to do in many circumstances however I am not above being guided in others.  To test how many guardrails or decision heuristics I leverage in a typical day, I wrote down the guardrails that I encountered on Wednesday, March 20th (a fairly typical day). I categorized the guardrails into three categories. (more…)