How work enters an organization or team is almost always a touchy subject because for many it is the root of the pressure on teams to do more than they are consistently capable of delivering — well.  I was recently asked who’s problem work entry issues were by a department manager. My knee jerk reaction would have been to hold up a mirror, and they did bear at least some responsibility. But the real ownership of the problem has to be placed on the doorstep of the senior leadership. Several factors make it difficult or unsafe not to accept work that is pushed into a team.  (more…)

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SPaMCAST 571 features our essay titled the Art of Saying No.  I recently presented a workshop on saying no — a simple word that is very difficult to say.  During the session, three specific reasons why participants could not say no generated a huge debate. Today we ask you to decide how you feel about the impact of a history of performance, interruptions, and demands. Feel free to share your opinion. 

We will also have a visit from Jeremy Berriault.  In the QA Corner this month, Jeremy provides observations about outside interests and their ability to improve focus and reduce burnout. Jeremy’s outside interests are Jiu-Jitsu and his family.  Jeremy can be reached at Berriault and Associates Consulting Group or by email at 

We had planned to have Michael Larsen on the cast this week, however, Mr. Larsen was affected by power outages in the Bay Area of California due to wildfires.  (more…)

Herding for pickle beer. Who would have thought!

Herding is a pattern where an individual or team acts based on the behavior of others. Stated very simply, herding is just like the children’s game follow-the-leader.  Last year, I sat in on a discussion in an organization where being perceived as being helpful was a significant attribute for bonuses and promotions. The R&D Group (software development) had recently been asked to implement a significant SaaS package with a due date before Thanksgiving so that the retail portion of the business would not be impacted. The date was absurd. The CIO had gathered a number of teams together to determine if the work was doable. The answer from each team as they went out of the room was no until a single team said they could do it. In quick succession, everyone changed their minds and played follow-the-leader.  All of the affected teams exhibited herd behavior. As soon as one team broke from the pack everyone followed. The cascade was exacerbated when the CIO muttered “thank-you” after the first two teams said yes. Herding in decision making effectively took “no” off the table. This type of behavior is response-driven. (more…)

Saying no, at least where appropriate, is an important tool to ensure good morale, high productivity and delivering more value.  Just saying “no” is easy, having the statement be safe and make sense requires several prerequisite conditions.   (more…)

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…)

Work-in-progress, work entry and “no” are highly interrelated. Not saying no generates a cascade failure that reduces efficiency, quality, and value, while at the same time increasing cost, time-to-market, and turnover.  Any way you slice an organization not judiciously saying no is a prescription for disaster. In the essay, Why Work Entry Is Important In Agile, we discussed the serious disruptions that occur when a team can’t or won’t control the flow of work to the team.  The uncontrolled flow of work causes: (more…)

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SPaMCAST 552 features our essay on the idea of “fit for purpose” and its impact on the definition of quality.  Even if you don’t deliver any defects, not being fit for purpose wipes quality off the board. BOOM! (Rather read the essay?

In the second spot this week, Jon M Quigley delivers with his Alpha and Omega of Product Development!  In this installment, Jon discusses the need to say no. A simple straight forward word that is nearly impossible to use in polite company. (more…)

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SPaMCAST 547 returns to our standard staggered approach with a discussion of work entry.  The majority of work entry issues 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 so that you can do something about them!

Also this week, Kim Pries, the software sensei is back and goes full curmudgeon.  Kim states ”After 40+ years of software work and lies, I get disgusted when I see yet another rehash of so-called tools that purport to do something valuable. The multi-colored risk analysis “tools” are essentially worthless. To date, I have never seen one of these catch or forestall idiocy on the part of a supplier or a customer. There’s no fixing stupid!”

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we are re-reading Chapter 4 of Thinking, Fast and Slow, The Associative Machine.  This chapter begins a deeper dive into the nuances of system 1 thinking.

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 Introduction

Week 2: The Characters Of The Story

Week 3: Attention and Effort

Week 4: The Lazy Controller

Week 5: The Associative Machine


SPaMCAST 548 will feature our interview with Heidi Helfand.  Heidi and I discussed teams and her book Dynamic Reteaming: The Art and Wisdom of Changing Teams.  It is time to challenge 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.

You can ride but not all of the time!

The eight problems that cause work entry problems are diagnosable if you are willing to expend a bit of shoe leather talk with team members and stakeholders or just observe. Knowing that there is a problem is important, however, the hard part starts when you try to fix the problem or problems. Work entry problems often occur in clusters because they are a reflection of the way the organization is structured, how work is funded, methodologies and/or organizational culture. These four general categories are addressable by different types of work entry fixes. (more…)

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…)