I have not worked outside of my home office since mid-April. There are lots of benefits to this change. My commute is really short, I run a lot more, I get to hang out with my wife more, and I have lost 42 pounds. But not everything is unicorns and rainbows — time feels a bit wonky.  For example, Friday comes and it no longer the demarcation between the workweek and weekend it once was.  TGIF does not have quite the allure it once had. I also miss the stimulus that meeting new people and seeing new situations directly.  I miss the variety of stimuli that lead me to rediscover Pomodoro.  Pomodoro is a technique that is useful for attacking productivity killers: procrastination and multitasking and it is useful for more successful time slicing. The technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s that combines strategies of fixed blocks of time, cadence, and focus which limit work-in-progress to get work done. As a reminder the basic Pomodoro process is fairly simple and straightforward: (more…)

 

On Friday, June 5th at 9 EDT (sign-up: https://bit.ly/3gH0Uy5) I am presenting as part of IFPUG’s Knowledge Cafe Webinar Series. The presentation is titled Software Development: Preparing For Life After COVID-19. Putting aside the impact of the current pandemic on healthcare, the environment, or office design, there will be pressure on the bottom line that managers will react to. Being effective and efficient is table stakes for survival, let’s raise the ante and know how effective and efficient we are to protect our jobs and those of our colleagues.  The first half of what will be synthesized into a script follows below.   (more…)

Kafka Statue

Are you measuring a team effort?

**Reprint**

Productivity is used to evaluate how efficiently an organization converts inputs into outputs.  However, productivity measures can and often are misapplied for a variety of reasons ranging from simple misunderstanding to gaming the system. Many misapplications of productivity measurement cause organizational behavior problems both from leaders and employees.  Five of the most common productivity-related behavioral problems are: (more…)

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**Reprint**

Productivity is a classic economic metric that measures the process of creating goods and services.  Productivity is the ratio of the amount of output from a team or organization per unit of input. Conceptually productivity is a simple metric. In order to calculate the metric, you would simply sum up the number of units of item produced and divide it by the amount “stuff” needed to make those units.  For example, if a drain cleaning organization of three people cleans 50 drains per month, their labor productivity per month would be 50/3 = 16.6 drains per person. The metric is a sign of how efficiently a team or organization has organized and managed the piece of work being measured. There are four types of productivity.  Each type of productivity focuses on a different part of the supply chain needed to deliver a product or a service.  The four types are: (more…)

 

Four Centers of Excellence

I used the term DevOps Center of Excellence to describe a COE that delivers a service to the organization in the essay, Types of Center of Excellence.  This type of COE is a consolidation of the personnel to deliver a service into a group that can be drawn on by other parts of the organization.  Another name or description of this type of COE is a Center of Functional Excellence (COfE). After reading the essay Pete Franklin (@PeteFranklin) tweeted:

Eight Avoidable Reasons Why COEs Fail tcagley.wordpress.com/2018/10/11/eig… via @TCagley – I’ve almost never seen a functioning CofE

When asked his opinion on why that was his experience he responded:

My theory is that the whole model is based on some fundamentally incorrect assumptions. In particular, that skills that exist in one place can be deployed into another team with no losses or issues. The old ‘fungible resource’ fallacy 🙂

I have seen functional COEs work and work well, however, I tend to agree that the seeds to make this type problematic are often present. (more…)

Travel is an eye-opening process.  It delivers wonder and knowledge.  It is also time-consuming.  In the past few days, I have spent 20 hours in planes, trains, buses, autos and walking.  All good, but instead of new content I am sharing a re-edited version of our 2015 Pomodoro article. (more…)

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 395 features our essay on productivity.  While productivity might not be the coolest subject, understanding the concept is critical to every company’s and every worker’s financial well-being.

Gene Hughson brings another entry from his Form Follows Function blog to the Software Process and Measurement Cast. Gene discusses the idea of accidental innovation.  Gene suggests that innovation is not a happy accident, but is a result of a process, structure, and technology that can enhance innovation. However, it can just as easily get in the way.

In our third column this week, Kim Pries, the Software Sensei, brings us a discussion of how software developers leverage assimilation and accommodation in the acquisition of knowledge.

(more…)

The more complex the door, the lower the 'door' productivity.

The more complex the door, the lower the ‘door’ productivity – but not always.

While productivity is a simple calculation, there are a few mistakes organizations tend to make.  The five most common mistakes reduce the usefulness of measuring productivity, or worse can cause organizations to make poor decisions based on bad numbers.  The five most common usage and calculation mistakes are: (more…)

Kafka Statue

Are you measuring a team effort?

Productivity is used to evaluate how efficiently an organization converts inputs into outputs.  However, productivity measures can and often are misapplied for a variety of reasons ranging from simple misunderstanding to gaming the system. Many misapplications of productivity measurement cause organizational behavior problems both from leaders and employees.  Five of the most common productivity-related behavioral problems are: (more…)

Not quite a Google bus

Not quite a Google bus

Labor, raw material, and capital productivity are easy concepts to understand.  For example, labor productivity is the ratio of the products delivered per unit of effort.  Increasing the efficiency of labor will either increase the amount of product delivered or reduce the amount of labor needed.  Raw material or capital productivity follow the same pattern. The issue is that while labor, raw materials, and capital explain a lot of the variation in productivity, they do not explain it all. And in software product development other factors often contribute significantly to productivity improvement. Total factor productivity (TFP) is not a simple ratio of output to input, but rather is a measure that captures everything that is not captured as labor, capital or material productivity. Factors included in total factor productivity include attributes such as changes in general knowledge, the use of particular organizational structures, management techniques, or returns on scale. The components in TFP are often the sources of productivity changes in software development.  (more…)