Listen Now
Subscribe: Apple Podcast
Check out the podcast on Google Play Music

Now on Spotify!

SPaMCAST 529 features our essay titled Habit and Commitment.  We are still early enough in the year to be pursuing new beginnings and the New Year resolutions you made a few weeks ago.  Commitment and habits can be positively interrelated. Commitment is being dedicated to a cause or activity. Habits reflect a more or less fixed routine.

We also have a visit from the Software Sensei, Kim Pries.  Kim discusses nonlinear and analog thinking. Kim’s essay is a perfect counterpoint to Habit and Commitment

Re-Read Saturday News
I decided to complete the content portion of the re-read of Bad Blood this week.   From a team-level perspective, I believe we can all recognize some if not all of the behaviors seen in Bad Blood, albeit on a far less sociopathic scale. If this were a business novel, it would be easy to assume that the behavior shown in the book is hyperbole used to make a grand point.  In Theranos’s case, the supporting reading I have done suggests the book is somewhat understated. Why do people take the abuse? Why is money the only thing that matters to some? Why do some people say yes to doing work they know is ethically wrong? I am not sure this book answers those questions nor do I think my analysis can shed light on the psychological rationale of individuals; however, next week we will wrap up our re-read by reflecting on the impact of Theranos like behavior at the team level.  Remember that we will re-read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell next (get a copy soon).

Current Entry:
Week 12 : Chapters 19 through Epilogue – https://bit.ly/2RoSYZ3 (more…)

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

It is nearly 2017!  Today we complete the re-read portion of the Re-Read Saturday for The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, Copyright 2002, 33rd printing).  This installment covers the section titled Understanding and Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions. This section is the most hands-on portion of the book and I suggest spending time with the wide range of ideas Lencioni peppers throughout this section. Note that there are three very short sections that follow the Understanding and Overcoming section. They are interesting reads; however, I will leave them to you to review.  Next week we will conclude this Re-Read with final thoughts. (more…)

Baseball player swinging at a pitch

Sometimes having a DH makes sense!

We began discussing the concept of staff liquidity during the re-read of Commitment. Liquidity is a financial concept describing the ease of converting assets into cash. Stocks traded on a major exchange are liquid while stocks in private company traded between friends are far less liquid. Translating the financial concept to software development and maintenance teams, liquidity is a measure of the ease of turning effort into functionality. Staff liquidity is valuable three significant reasons: (more…)

Picture of the book cover

Commitment

Today we conclude our read of Commitment – Novel about Managing Project Risk with a few highlights.    (more…)

Picture of the book cover

This week’s installment of Commitment – Novel about Managing Project Risk by Olav Maassen, Chris Matts and Chris Geary (2nd edition, 2016) will address Chapter 7, which using the monomyth structure represents both atonement and the return home, the completion of the cycle.  Next week we will conclude with a few final thoughts.  The next book in the Re-read Saturday Series will be Kent Beck’s xP Explained, Second Edition.    (more…)

Picture of the book cover

Commitment

If you have ever had to defend a project, team or concept, the plot in Chapter 6 will resonate. This week’s installment I would title ‘explanations and office politics’, as we close in on the peak of our read of Commitment – Novel about Managing Project Risk by Olav Maassen, Chris Matts and Chris Geary (2nd edition, 2016) .  In Chapter 6 we meet the corporate inquisitor.  Management sends Duncan to find out what’s going on in the project. The briefing ends on the note, “We just need to make sure we do the right thing.” (more…)

Picture of the book cover

Commitment

Staff liquidity takes a central position in this week’s installment of our read of Commitment – Novel about Managing Project Risk by Olav Maassen, Chris Matts and Chris Geary (2nd edition, 2016) .  Chapter 5 is a relatively short chapter, but exposes one of the critical mechanisms for how Agile teams are able to self-organize and self-manage.  If you are an Agile coach or involved in an Agile transformation, once you recognize the concepts in this chapter you will be surprised how many times you use them.  If have been struggling with the concept how Agile teams can handle the need to shift roles to address changes in needs with management intervention this chapter provides you with the knowledge you will need.    (more…)

Listen Now

Subscribe on iTunes

Software Process and Measurement Cast 343 includes two features.  The first is our essay, Commitment, Revisited: Is Commitment Anti-Agile?  We think not!  Commitment is a core behavior for delivering business value effectively.

Our second feature is a visit from the Software Sensei, Kim Pries.  Kim reflects on hiring practices for software development.  Among the nuggets from Kim is the reminder to keep in mind that the perfect employee does not exist, and you are unlikely to ever find someone who fulfills every item on your job description.  How does that simple fact impact hiring?

A Call to action!

Reviews of the Podcast help to attract new listeners.  Can you write a review of the Software Process and Measurement Cast and post it on the podcatcher of your choice?  Whether you listen on ITunes or any other podcatcher, a review will help to grow the podcast!  Thank you in advance!

Re-Read Saturday News

The Re-Read Saturday focus on Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox’s The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement began on February 21nd. The Goal has been hugely influential because it introduced the Theory of Constraints, which is central to lean thinking. The book is written as a business novel. Visit the Software Process and Measurement Blog and catch up on the re-read.

Note: If you don’t have a copy of the book, buy one.  If you use the link below it will support the Software Process and Measurement blog and podcast.

Dead Tree Version or Kindle Version 

Our next re-read is The Mythical Man-Month Get a copy now and start reading!We will start in 4 weeks!

Upcoming Events

2015 ICEAA PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT & TRAINING WORKSHOP
June 9 – 12
San Diego, California
http://www.iceaaonline.com/2519-2/
I will be speaking on June 10.  My presentation is titled “Agile Estimation Using Functional Metrics.”

Let me know if you are attending!

Also upcoming conferences I will be involved in include and SQTM in September. More on these great conferences next week.

Next SPaMCast

The next Software Process and Measurement Cast will feature our conversation with Susan Parente.  We talked about Agile risk management.  If you do not have a plan to address risk, you are asking for risk to transform into pain for you and everyone around you.

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, neither for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here.

Available in English and Chinese.

The dwarfs of self-management are Committed-y, Hardworking-y, Assertive-y and Doc.

The dwarfs of self-management are Committed-y, Hardworking-y, Assertive-y and Doc.

Effective teams are self-managing. Self-managing teams plan and manage their day-to-day activities with little overt supervision. In order for teams to be self-managing individual team members have team have to be committed to the team, have a clear understanding of roles and capabilities, understand the concept of deadlines and be effectively assertive.

  1. Commitment: Team members must be committed to the team. All teams will go through periods of stress and conflict, committed team members will stay with the team and seek to work through issues. Commitment can only occur if team members believe that the team can succeed and that membership will have value to the individual.
  2. Clear Understanding: The ability to self-manage requires an understanding of the roles that individuals can and do play and their capabilities. For example a business analyst that does not understand how to read C++ can’t be asked (or volunteer) to review C++ code. An understanding of roles and capabilities allows the team to plan effectively, to evaluate performance and provide feedback to fellow team members.
  3. Deadlines: One of more important features of Scrum is the public affirmation to complete the stories accepted into a sprint. The affirmation is a commitment that the team must strive to meet. When teams commit to a specific delivery deadline they need to strive and strive hard to meet those goals.
  4. Being Assertive: Team members need to be assertive enough to initiate action, provide feedback, communicate and coordinate activities between team members. Every team member has the authority and responsibility to get the job done.  The ability to be effectively assertive means that team members have to interact so that communication occurs and does not actively to cause conflict.

In order for a team to self-manage, the team will need to exhibit all four attributes, failing any of the four self-management becomes difficult. All four attributes are a reflection of team self-knowledge. Teams that stay together and successfully deliver value to the organization tend to form bonds based respect and mutual support.

note-2

In Software Project Estimation: Fantasies I said that a budget, estimate or even a plan was not a price.  After the publication of that essay I had a follow up conversation with a close friend. He said that in his organization the word estimate is considered a commitment, or at the very least a target that all his project managers had to pursue. YEOW! He is playing fast and loose with the language and therefore is sending a mixed message.

A commitment is a promise to deliver.  An example of a commitment I heard recently as I was walking through the airport listening to the cell phone conversation of a gentlemen walking next to me was “I promise not leave the sales review until the end of the month.”  A commitment indicates a dedication to an activity or cause.  The person on the cell phone promised to meet the goal he had agreed upon.

What is a target? In an IT department a target is a statement of business objective. An example of a target might be “credit card file maintenance must be updated by January 1st to meet the new federal regulation.” A target defines the objective and defines success.  A target is generally a bar set at a performance level and then pursued.  Another example is “I have a target to review six books for the Software Process and Measurement podcast in 2014.”  Note six is two more than we did in 2013 and represents a stretch goal that hopefully will motivate me to read and review more books.

Simply put, a commitment represents a promise that will be honored and a target is a goal that will be pursued.  An estimate is a prediction based on imperfect information in an uncertain environment.  An estimate, as we have noted before, is best when given as a range. Stating an estimate as a single number and adding the words “we will deliver the project for X (where X is a budget or estimate) converts the estimate into a commitment that must be honored.  Consider for a second . . . if a project is estimated to be $10M – $11M USD and a team finds a way to deliver it for $7M USD, would you expect them to find a way to spend the extra money rather than giving it back so the organization can do something else with the money? Bringing the project in for $3 or $4M less than the estimate would mean they had not met their target or commitment. Turning an estimate into a commitment or target can lead teams toward poor behaviors.  Targets are goals, commitments are a promise to perform and an estimate is a prediction.  Targets, commitments and estimates are three different words with three different definitions that generate three different behaviors.