They that control work entry, control the world!  While the statement is a bit grandiose, controlling work entry has a huge impact on both the value a team delivers as well as its physiological health.  Not allowing overt control of work entry though saying yes or no (or their alter egos, now and later) turns teams into liars. Yes stops being an affirmation or decision to proceed with any alacrity.  Three non-yes yeses are: (more…)

Is chain link transparent

Working in teams or teams of teams is a fact of life in today’s corporate environment.  Gone are the days when software developers were relegated to the basement to labor away in solitary cubes.  Today’s work environment requires collaboration between team members, other groups and sometimes even the business. Collaboration requires three prerequisites; time, transparency and trust.  Each of these areas is complex in its own right. Transparency, the middle component in the prerequisites, is the sharing of all relevant information, including motives. In order to collaborate effectively, people need to know what they are working on, why they are working on it, the background of what they are working on, and more. Unpacking the concept of transparency exposes six important attributes that further refine and contribute to the concept of transparency. (more…)


Time is the first requirement for collaboration. Collaboration requires a space in the schedule and the energy to interact with others (for some people the energy needed is more than others).  I have observed that many people’s schedules are so crowded that they run from meeting to meeting. Even when one or more of those meetings are structured for collaboration, many times attendees disrespect each other by hammering away at email or slack as they pretend to pay attention.  Recently I have actually heard someone announce that they are not going to pay attention unless they think something directly impacting them will come up. The meeting was to envision a component in a next-generation product. Why are they there? Between their lack of time and utter disrespect for the other attendees, there was no way they could effectively contribute.  Four factors that influence how much time is available for collaboration include the following: (more…)

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SPaMCAST features our interview with Julia Wester.  Julia returns to the cast to discuss spectrum thinking.  Specturn thinking is an important tool in system thinking and required to address complexity.  Even though using binary thinking is rarely the most effective path, it is rare to use spectrum thinking to address problems. Julia provides a path to more effective decision making.

Julia’s Bio

Julia is a Co-Founder of Lagom Solutions and its Principal Consultant. Lagom Solutions is an outcome-focused consulting and product company. Julia leads the consulting side of Lagom Solutions. When working with customers, she leverages her 18 years of experience working in and managing high-performing teams at companies such as Turner Broadcasting, F5 Networks, and LeanKit. Julia is passionate about teaching others how to tame the chaos of everyday work by embracing transparency, continuous improvement, and a lagom mindset. She also loves talking about how management doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Julia blogs at and tweets at @everydaykanban.

Re-Read Saturday News
This week we continue our re-read of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. In Chapter one, Gladwell suggests that there are three factors that impact whether an idea or product crosses a tipping point; they are the law of the few, the stickiness factor, and the power of context. Chapter one introduces these concepts and presents real-life examples to illustrate the factors. Dust off your copy or buy a new copy.

Current entry:

Week 2 – The Three Rules of Epidemics (more…)

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SPaMCAST 485 features essay titled “A Simple Checklist for Choosing a Mentor.” Everyone needs a mentor, but they are hard to find, and even when you find someone willing they might not be the right person!  Enter: a checklist!

Blog entries (in case you would rather read the entries) in our recent coaching/mentor theme include:

In the second spot this week, Jeremy Berriault will bring his QA Corner to the cast. We will discuss trusting your team. Trust is a huge deal, and unless it goes both ways it is not really trust.  FYI – Jeremy has recently moved the QA Corner to

Rounding out the cast, Kim Pries, the Software Sensei will return with the second part of his essay titled “Muddling Through.” The essay is based on the article, “The Science of “Muddling Through” by Charles E. Lindblom.  The article was originally published in 1959, but it still has an important message that resonates now.  Part One was originally published in SPaMCAST 477

Re-Read Saturday News

Before we wrap up our re-read of Daniel S. Vacanti’s Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: An Introduction (buy a copy today) remember that we will begin our re-read of Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet next week!  Buy your copy and listen to the interview I did with Mr. Marquet (SPaMCAST 202). If you want to get ahead, the book after that will be The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (I recently bought a copy and want to share what I have gotten out of it). Now on with the main attraction! (more…)

Preparation is key to reaching your goals.

Successful and efficient planning of any sort represents the confluence of preparing the work to be planned and proper logistics. Earlier in this series on planning, we reviewed the basic logistics needed for a planning event and defined a simple checklist.  While both are important, preparing the work to be planned requires more effort.  Preparing the work for planning requires knowing the capacity of the team and grooming the work items (stories, requirements, support tickets and/or defects). (more…)

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Cover

The “Book” during unboxing!

Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni:  Re-Read Week 6

Today we continue our re-read of the business novel The Five Dysfunctions of a Team  by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, Copyright 2002, 33rd printing). If you do not have a copy of the book, please buy a copy from the link above and read along.

This week, we get are exposed to Lencioni’s whole model of team dysfunctions. Lencioni continues to illustrate the model through a series of problems and crises that make the DecisionTech team into a dysfunctional collection of individuals.

Deep tissue (more…)


Risk tolerance can be visualized as a curve. Above the curve represents a combination of high probability and a potential negative impact that will prevent the team from accepting the risk. Below the curve, the risk is deemed acceptable.  Outside of a few psychologically damaged individuals, everyone has a risk curve (whether they know it or not). On a team, everyone’s natural risk tolerance differs.  Complicating the discussion is that risk tolerance changes depending on context the person or team faces.  For example, at one point in my life riding my bike down a hill at top speed to see if I could slalom stop at the bottom was an acceptable risk.  I have the scars to prove I was that silly. Thinking back, I am not sure why I am alive today.  My risk tolerance is different now. While reminiscing about my unsafe days as a seven-year-old is fun, what is more important is to recognize that the same lesson can be applied to teams and in organizations. This leads us to the conclusion that we must talk about risk tolerance.   (more…)

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Cover

The “Book” during unboxing!

Today we begin the read of  The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, Copyright 2002, 33rd printing) as part of our Re-Read Saturday feature. This book uses a business novel approach to make his points. As I noted as we completed the re-read of XP Explained, Steve Adams suggested this book. This is a first read for me.  Please buy a copy and read along.  When we are done I will invite anyone that has contributed to the discussion to appear on the Software Process and Measurement Cast for a wrap-up discussion.

The book includes an introduction, two major sections, and 4 additional chapters. The two sections are titled:

  1.    The Fable.  The fable has five parts noted in the table of contents; however, it is made up of a large number of subsections.
  2.    The Model with three parts.

I suspect that we will read the book over 12 -13 weeks, each week representing a review of roughly 20 – 30 pages (depending on breaks in the book and the need to discuss the Lencioni’s ideas). Now without further ado… (more…)

Team Dynamics

Team Dynamics

Teams are a common theme in the discussion of how Agile delivers value.  Teams are a collection of individuals that bring a range of capabilities.  Some people are specialists, others generalists and a very few are  renaissance people that are great at a wide range of activities.  Understanding the depth and breadth of capabilities in team members provides the team with the flexibility to dynamically allocate capabilities based on the technical context and business need (staff liquidity).  This is an incredibly powerful theory that only works if the team dynamics are conducive.  Team dynamics are an expression of how the team interacts with each other and those outside the team. When assessing the dynamics of a team there are many factors that are important; however, a few are more critical than others. (more…)