Our new Service Desk application can be used to manage almost any kind of Request. One of its most common use cases is Idea Management, which allows you to gather feedback and prioritize features in your product based on your customers’ needs.
For the past several years, we’ve been using UserVoice for Idea Management. Now that our own Service Desk provides the same functionality and more, it’s time to move on. Last week we carefully moved about 10,000 users and 2,800 ideas to https://helpdesk.targetprocess.com to make sure your feedback is not lost.
This means that the forum at https://tp3.uservoice.com is now deprecated. You are welcome to share your ideas at https://helpdesk.targetprocess.com.
The other thing we want to highlight is that you can also use the Service Desk + Targetprocess combo to collect and manage ideas for your own projects. Service Desk has all the usual features such as voting and comments, it allows you to easily link ideas to particular work items in Targetprocess, and it’s free. Also, as our own Product Owner observed, it's much more convenient to manage incoming ideas when you have all the power of Targetprocess to back you up.
Tip: You can create Custom Request Types to expand your use of the Service Desk for almost any kind of application. If you’re not using Service Desk for customer support, just remove the Issue and Question request types and rename them to something that corresponds to your needs.
In addition to all that, we have just released a widget that can be handy if you have your own system and don’t need the full Service Desk application, or if you just want users to submit requests without leaving your website.
We understand that you might need some flexibility from the default settings, so we made the widget customizable. You can hide elements like top requests, description, and attachments, define default request types and privacy, and change the form's subject text. It is already available for you and you can embed it anywhere – all you need to do is to provide a link to your Service Desk with the correspondent parameters. See our guide for more information.
From Reason To PurposeThe trigger of any story, including a new organisational design one, is its "why". Did you notice a tricky thing about "why"? Here's how I see it: it's based on a point in time called "now". And it's a question that can head both ways: it may search an answer backward to the root reasons of the tension:"Why the current status quo is not for me/us?" AND it may aim forward to the purpose of the story :"Why (what for) should I/we change the status quo?"
I think both questions are valuable as long as they are loaded with good will, and answers provided helps people in the room (well, I mean organisation). What is the answer has its importance, but what is the most important is remembering to ask the question. To all the people in the room ( well, I mean organisation). If you are tempted to ask it only in some workshops with selected managers and a bunch of consultants, resist! If ever you didn't notice it yet, at this moment, I'm giving you the trivial advice, you've went through in another billion of blogs: "start with why".
I hava had some very interesting conversations Sylvaine Pascual , who's a professional coach, and says that we have different needs, therefore for each of us one of the questions might be more important : some people need to know the "why" to move forward, but others need the "what", and others the "how". She says that saying that "why" is the most important is considering only the needs of the "why" people. I'm absolutely fascinated by her approach, because it is inclusive, supports diversity and allows us to step-down from main stream thinking.
Nevertheless, I still recommend to start any transformation/new design of organisation... initiative with the why question. Regardless of our personal needs, making gathering some insights on the "purpose of (our organisation) life" is rich. Most important, every story starts with "why the hero has stepped into this particular story". Regardless of our personal needs, our brain is story wired. We need a story to make sense of anything.
Culture In Organisations' Trenches
We start with "why", we acknowledge a dream, we state a purpose. But wait, there is more! We may invest a lot of time to create or even co-create the visible part of a common purpose and fill the room with energy and hope. Unfortunately, if we have little courage to dive and inspect the invisible rules, beliefs and underling assumptions, the vision, strategy and structures are airy. Or they turn into dust. If our collaboratively co-created initiatives are not aligned with the invisible culture, more inspiring our initiatives will be, greater the delusion when they will last no longer that the time of an workshop or a pilote project. Once again, invisible culture have swalllowed strategy along with our "change forum" breakfast.
Ok, what can be done to avoid that the only transformation that happens is that of delusion turning in perpetual resignation? The tricky thing about invisible culture is that it is of course ... invisible. You may notice that there is no vision accuracy, chemistry or microscopic technology that will help us here. So what does this invisible really mean? It means filters of or mind. Our brain makes invisible, things that it decided it already knows, and you don't have to bother about any more. Our brain thrives for learning. It's its main activity. As it is VERY smart, it also optimise learning. So what you've "learned" becomes a habit. Or a belief. It becomes "the way we do things here". It becomes blind to our awareness. It became "invisible culture".
What's the magic potion we can throw on invisible culture and make it glitter? Question everything. I'm giving just some examples, you can feel free to find a lot more that fit your eco-system:
Why are you doing it? Who will benefit from it? What benefit will that be? How did something improved because you've done? If you don't think useful to do it, why do you do it?
And one more thing: regardless of the questions you ask, if the answer is "it's just the way we do thing here", BINGO! You've hit one element of invisible culture. While looking at it, how do you like it?
System Thinking To Help Leaders Self-alignmentNowadays, many transformation and change are supported or initiated by organisational leaders. They are visionary people want want to make organisations they lead the best place to be for the people who are part of. I'm a fan of the Principe of "retrospectives prime directive" and rule believe that anyone does her best. Nevertheless, even if leaders are very supportive to create a learning collaborative organisation, it might end-up in preoccupied confusion. Why does that happen?
Noooo, it's NOT because people need, at the end of the day to be told what to do. This belief, by the way a crunchy piece of "invisible culture".
There are a couple of things leaders are often not aware of. One is they are part of the transformation they make: they are participants, not only "advocates". The second is that culture is "invisible" to them also. They are part of it.
The invisible culture is how an organisational system reacts when we are in the system.
I believe one of the reasons of failure of organisational change are leader's misalignment with themselves, as they reflect well the culture iceberg. I also believe they are pretty unaware of this. I believe acquiring awareness about that I not easy, and I believe the best help comes from system thinking. To overcome the unwise side of "the invisible culture", leaders may try to be system listeners, who observe their organisation at their limits without judgment.
Organisations need time to change sustainably and resiliently.
"Invisible Culture" always have all the time in the world. It's the system itself, it's stable. Leader who will successfully contribute to change the organisation, have time. The time belongs to us. Only ourselves decide what to do with it.
"Invisible culture" is the stable system. A world who goes fast does not make any sense to it. To change isn a system that pushes back any change, people need a safe place to experiment those changes. Leaders will successfully contribute to change the system will simply take part of the experiments. And get credit of their outcome, just like any other participant: It went well.It went wrong. We have learned. We are continuing to experiment.
Invisible is also Wonderful We often address the "Invisible Culture" as something evil to be fought with. While, there are surely some bits we, as part of an organisation, will not be proud to look at, if a mirror of truth will be shown to us. "Invisible" is a word that gets our best friend, our brain ( yep, once again!) VEEERY preoccupied, because unknown means danger around the corner!
But revealing something invisible is also a moment of grace. Revealing what makes us great together, what actually keeps me coming to work each day have a long lasting wow effect. Just like an Aurora Borealis in a frozen landscape, our invisible culture has its breathtaking characteristics.
WOW!from Travelminds.frRelated Posts
Manage like A PirateFrom Listening To AwarenessThe Cost Of FearWhy I Am Not A Change Agent
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Yesterday I tried something new. I changed how I do my "daily scrum". In my calendar, I have an appointment with myself, every day except Sunday. Here's the agenda:
- What did you accomplish yesterday? (Give yourself a high-five!)
- Of all the things you want to you get this week, what is the most important thing to accomplish today?
- Are you having difficulties doing this? If so, who can help?
Do you think this might help you? If so let's try it together. Drop me a line here (my contact form), and I'll let you know how you can participate!
Jeff Sutherland points the fickle finger of fate at Ken Schwaber for starting this fable:
I've hated having to tell teams this joke... the lore of the Scrum pig and chicken is so pervasive that before long someone is going to call someone else a chicken (or a pig)... and then you have to tell the joke to help that person retain face... it can be quite uncomfortable for me.
I think my disdain for this joke has to do with two of American's least favorite farm animals being featured. We call people chickens to say they have little courage. We call people a pig to insult their appearance (clothing choices, weight, manners). Had the joke featured a cat and dog... it would be so different - wouldn't it?
Now Jake it appears has taken this joke metaphor to a new level... good job Jake!
Scrum Pig and Chicken - part 1 by Jake Calabrese
Organizational Commitment: Pig and Chicken – Part 2 by Jake CalabreseDoes Your Culture Require Your Demise - Pig & Chicken part 3 by Jake Calabrese
-OR- What happens when the customer has better data about the service than the provider and has better networking, better press coverage, better clout, better market reach and reputations?
(Feb 23) My good looking wife just spent 2 hours trying to straighten out Frontier's billing machine... it's not easy. The amazing thing I observed for my recliner while sipping an adult beverage was her influencing techniques. Now another amazingly disconsernation (not a word) is that Frontier has some awesome support people. But oh-my-god do they have a tough job. It's the system that has failed. And they have to figure out how to make some legacy piece-of-crap work.
But it's not going to lead to happy satisfied customers (testify).
Her father, Jim, moved into the home with us in December, he loves Western movies, and is an encyclopedia of knowledge better than IMDB. So we called up Frontier (our FiOS provider for 6 years) and added cable and a voice line for Jim. We cut the cable some years ago.
That's when the troubles began, December 28th. A techie came out to the house and worked 6 hours, all the while on a phone line to his partner back at the home office (I now understand why it required this constant contact to install the new system). When he left we had higher speed internet (from their 50Mbpm to 150Mbpm service), cable channels - Stars Encore Western premium channel, and a voice line (old school) phone tied to a wall socket. Most every thing seemed good.
But the ability to login to their Frontier web site and get a TV guide didn't function, as well as some other issues of seeing our account info online. We were told to wait a few days as the data took a while to move through their systems (in Frontier's universe data does NOT move at the speed of light).
I noticed that if one tries to take their Frontier problem to Twitter, @AskFrontier is an effective defensive machine that kicks in to appease the person. They cannot do anything except type into a twitter post, and escalate your issue to a thing referred to as "an Account Manager". I tried that technique and received a call one week later - yes over 6 days to address an issue raised on a social media platform know for instant messaging.
@davidakoontz If you would like an Account Manager to assist you, please send us a DM. ^KLB— Ask Frontier (@AskFrontier) February 24, 2017 Once burned - twice shy... I didn't fall for this in February.
We found out last night that while we have been paying $193 for a basic plan and the Stars Western channel - that Frontier would be happy to offer us ALL their premium channels for $198. Something that the competition Spectrum is quoting online visible with detail for about $150ish (yes I'm writing this from memory of my influencing wife's exasperation attempting to get the support person to recognize her point of view at being fleeced by Frontier). Frontier's business model includes an interestingly complex system of quoting the cost for a service. They encourage one to call in to talk to their pleasant but hamstrung sells reps. Who can only read from a screen that may change any day now on the pricing that appears to be very time dependent (you never know if tomorrow they will have a sell and better price for what you will be receiving everyday for years to come). Now the prices and "packages" you agree to buy will not be the names and labels on your bill. Those will be completely different and if you can find a subset of items on your bill that sum up to the $198 you thought you had agreed to - well you should work for the IRS.
After that 2+ hour conversation with a great Frontier support specialist, my very intelligent wife influence her way to some deep refunds, and what we hope will be all the movie channels that Jim could watch in a week. Yet after 2 solid months of working with Frontier's business model - we are done. We plan to see what the next bill shows (it's a mystery)... and when the dust settles switch to Spectrum.
The phone logs for ONE month - let the Record show:
Frontier Customer Support Line is 800-921-8101
779 minutes of my life... give or take a migraine
Jan 25, 2017
6:45pm Outgoing Call 2 hours 25 minutes
1:53pm Incoming Call 1 minute
1:28pm Outgoing Call 18 minutes
1:16pm Outgoing Call. 9 minutes
Jan 24, 2017
10:39am Missed Call
7:11am Outgoing Call 54 minutes
Jan 23, 2017
4:59 pm Outgoing Call 2 hours 10 minutes
Jan 22, 2017
11:00am. Outgoing Call. 2 hours 22 minutes
10:34am Outgoing Call 22 minutes
Jan 22, 2017
10:08am Missed Call
10:06am Missed Call
10:00am Missed Call
9:59am Missed Call
Jan 21, 2017 Saturday
8:19pm Outgoing Call. 37 minutes
Jan 16, 2017
7:00 pm Outgoing Call. 1 hour 17 minutes
6:38pm Outgoing Call. 58 seconds
3:59pm Outgoing Call. 40 minutes
Dec 28, 2016
7:41am Outgoing Call 31 minutes
Dec 27, 2016
4:09pm Incoming Call. 43 seconds
Dec 24, 2016
11:18am. Outgoing Call. 14 minutes
Oh - why oh why - did Steve Jobs died before he fixed the living room TV problem? There is no GOD. Can an 85 year old man learn to use this complex thing call a cable box remote from his recliner and almost infinite time?
My experiences say NO, Freaking WAY! Hell, I can't figure this complexifictor out and I've got 30 years in the computer industry making these complexifictors for companies that say the want customer satisfaction.
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Zapier is a powerful automation engine that connects with hundreds of applications. It’s also a developer platform that allows you to create your own integrations if they’re not supported out of the box.
Axosoft has been a part of the Zapier ecosystem for about 2 years! So, it seems appropriate to celebrate our 2nd anniversary with a public display of affection. The 2nd anniversary is traditionally cotton, so in honor of our favorite Zap ever, let’s call it the ‘velour’ anniversary.
What is a Zap?
A Zapier integration is called a Zap. Even at its most basic level, a Zap can function as a simple-yet-powerful middleman between two services, but nonetheless, all of the possibilities can be a little overwhelming. So, I wanted to offer a popular Zap example: integrating your Trello board with your Axosoft account.Axosoft + Trello Zaps
Axosoft is a great Scrum project management tool for your development team to manage your backlog, but if you have some team members that insist on a different platform like Trello, you’ll need a way to have the two platforms communicate with each other to avoid task management becoming a cumbersome and inefficient process. Zapier allows you to butt your processes up against each other so you can disseminate tasks to devs on those other platforms.Create Axosoft items from Trello cards
Imagine a distant land where a company is doing contract work, and the funnel of receiving requests consists of generating a statement of work, and then only sending the task to get worked on in Axosoft after payment is processed. All you’d need is a Trello board with a step called ‘Send to Axosoft’. You’d then make a Zap so that any cards dropped into that step would create the item in any Axosoft Project you select, and would be ready for your devs to work on.
Oh, looky here… We have that Zap for you!
Or you can check out the Zap’s page here.
Create Trello cards from Axosoft
Of course, the reverse is also possible! But you want another example, right? Here goes: sometimes our Marketing team has to follow up with some of the changes in the product, in order to update our version history or documentation with new features. Zapping those over to a Trello board might be pretty handy.
You didn’t think we’d have one for you and not the other, did you? Oh ye of little faith, here you go:
So, when your developers are done, err, developering, you can have items Zap over to a Trello board!Start Zapping
To see all the source control, live chat, test case management, and other tools that Axosoft integrates with, visit our integrations page.
Note for Axosoft Installed users:
You need to use the Zapier app dedicated to Axosoft Installed systems.
Because organizations rely on an ever increasing number of technologies, we often wind up with an increased number of specialists on staff. When departments over-specialize, they develop silos and increase the number of organizational dependencies. Everything begins to require multiple handoff and things slow down. To counter silos and increase the flow of value moving through the system of delivery, we often encourage cross-functional teams with more “T-shaped” generalized-specialists.
Now, I’m currently reading The DevOps Handbook: How to create world-class agility, reliability, and security in technology organizations . For anyone who has read (or currently reading) the Phoenix Project, read this book next. In addition to this, my colleague Jim Hayden recently pointed out a passage that got my attention. On page 86, there is a table that compares I-shaped, T-shaped, and E-shaped staff. That table is based on a 2012 blog post by Sarah DaVanzo. It inspired me to make a few changes to the table below and write this blog post.
The vertical stroke of the “I” is a depth of skill that allows someone to contribute to the creative process. They can be from any number of different fields to include: a developer, an architect, a tester, or an analyst. In organizations still utilizing a Waterfall model for application development, one can find specialists in functional phased groups. Having too many specialists can result in an increase of bottlenecks and frequency of ridged handoffs. In short, they create dependencies. These people are insensitive to downstream impacts and unwilling to help beyond their primary job. You may literally hear them say,
That’s not my job.T-shaped (Generalized Specialist)
The term “T-shaped person” was coined by IDEO Chief Executive Tim Brown. When recruiting, IDEO assessed candidates based on both their breadth and depth of experience. In a 2010 interview with Chief Executive Magazine, Brown explained what a T-shaped person is:
The vertical stroke of the “T” is a depth of skill that allows them to contribute to the creative process. That can be from any number of different fields: an industrial designer, an architect, a social scientist, a business specialist or a mechanical engineer.
The horizontal stroke of the “T” is the disposition for collaboration across disciplines. It is composed of two things. First, empathy. It’s important because it allows people to imagine the problem from another perspective – to stand in somebody else’s shoes. Second, they tend to get very enthusiastic about other people’s disciplines, to the point that they may actually start to practice them. T-shaped people have both depth and breadth in their skills.
Since then, in the Agile community, the T-shaped staff member has become synonymous with a generalized specialist. You may hear someone is a developer by trade but is willing to roll up their sleeves when needed, to help test, clarify user story acceptance criteria, or fulfill some other team obligation. This will help remove bottlenecks and lessen the frequency of ridged handoffs. These people are sensitive to downstream impacts and willing to help beyond their primary job.E-shaped (NextGen Specialist)
I note the term “E-shaped” was first referenced in the 2010 DaVanzo post. From there, I’m going to take some liberty to redefine it as the next generation (NextGen) of specialist for an Agile team.
The vertical stroke of the “E” is expertise in a few areas, to allow the specialist to contribute to the team. That can be from any number of different fields, just as we noted for the vertical stroke of the T-shaped people.
The first horizontal stroke of the “E” is experience. Not only do we want people with expertise in a few areas, we also want experience across several areas.
The second horizontal stroke of the “E” is execution. We need a specialist with proven execution skills.
The last horizontal stroke of the “E” is exploration. These people should always be looking of ways to improve their craft or learn new skills.
If you can locate and employ these next generation specialists, your team will have almost limitless potential.
 Kim, G., Willis, J., & Debois, P. (2016). The Devops Handbook: How to create world-class agility, reliability, and security in technology organizations. United States: IT Revolution Press.
We talked about how it works and what it can do for you:
Next week in the webinar we'll talk about how you can get started! Have post-its and some wall space ready, because we are going to get practical! You find out about the Personal Agility Webinar Workshop on Discuss Agile web site page. See you there!
When Scrum was first defined, it addressed a number of issues that plagued IT organizations of the 1980s. Functional silos and their key side-effect, cross-team dependencies. Lack of clear communication. Extended lead times. Poor alignment of solutions with needs. High defect rates. More.
To this day, Scrum continues to be a valuable tool for teams and organizations that are operating in a traditional way, or that have achieved a certain level of basic proficiency with lightweight methods based on Lean and Agile thinking. As with any tool, Scrum is useful in situations where its characteristics are helpful, and when it’s applied mindfully and appropriately.
Scrum has helped, and continues to help many organizations get started on their Lean/Agile journey. It’s still an appropriate choice in many situations. There’s nothing wrong with it. At LeadingAgile, we use, recommend, teach, and coach Scrum quite a lot. It doesn’t fit every situation, but where it does fit, it fits very well indeed.The Scrum cult
Scrum has been phenomenally successful. It may be the single most widely-used method for delivering software solutions, with the possible exception of the venerable and popular Random Method, and the widely-used Random software engineering technique, Copy-and-Paste-from-StackOverflow. But Scrum’s success has led to a curious phenomenon: A sort of Scrum cult has emerged. Scrum is All Things Good. Scrum is The Answer. Scrum is the End Game. There is nothing more beyond Scrum.
When you ask a Scrum cultist where a team or organization might go after Scrum, they look at you as if they can’t process the question. It’s as if you asked a Christian where you go after you’ve died, gone to heaven, and died in heaven. They look at you quizzically, because in their worldview there’s nothing beyond heaven; it’s the “end state.” You don’t “die in heaven.” They can’t process the question. Scrum cultists have the same mentality regarding Scrum. There’s nothing beyond Scrum; it’s the “end state.”Continual improvement
But to a person who has internalized the idea of continual improvement, there is no end state. Continual improvement is like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, or maybe a really hard video game, in which conquering one level leads to another level. Or you could say it’s like attending school. When we graduate pre-school, we become beginners in elementary school. When we graduate elementary school, we become beginners in middle school. When we graduate middle school, we become beginners in high school. When we graduate high school, we become beginners at university.
When we graduate university, we become beginners in a Masters program or in the work force. As we progress through our careers, we reach numerous milestones in our professional growth, but we never reach a permanent end state. We become beginners again and again, at different levels.One more metaphor
I sometimes liken Scrum to Forrest Gump’s braces. In the movie, Forrest Gump, the title character wears braces on his legs as a child. He needs the braces to stand and walk. Then the day comes when he’s ready to run. At that stage, the braces are a hindrance. In the film, the title character starts to run, and the braces begin to break apart. Piece by piece, they fall away, leaving his legs free to carry him smoothly.
As an Expedition progresses through the LeadingAgile Basecamps on its Agile journey, it requires guidance and structure appropriate to its level of proficiency with lightweight methods; its ability to apply Lean and Agile thinking in practice. Teams in the Expedition that are burning down a backlog of planned features can benefit greatly from Scum when they are in the early stages of learning Agile. You could say that Scrum helps these teams learn to stand and walk. It adds value at least through Basecamp 3, and possibly further.
What we really want to see is Expeditions, and whole organizations, start to run. When they reach the stage that they’re ready to run, Scrum can be the same kind of hindrance as Forrest’s braces. Scrum practices can fall away naturally as teams learn to achieve the same goals with less ceremony. If we don’t allow the braces to fall away, we’re impeding the teams’ ability to progress.
Scrum practices can fall away naturally as teams learn to achieve the same goals with less ceremonyCult? What cult? I don’t see no cult!
You may disagree that there’s any such thing as a Scrum cult. Disagreement is okay. But if the observation is valid, then what might have caused the emergence of a cult around Scrum?
I’ll make the personal observation that the vast majority of Scrum (and Agile) coaches have never seen or experienced what can happen once an organization truly internalizes Lean and Agile values and moves beyond the novice level with these approaches. Most coaches introduce novice practitioners to the basics of Lean and Agile (and Scrum), and then move on to another client where they introduce the basics again.
And again and again and again.
The best organizations and the best teams they ever see are those that have managed to achieve a reasonably good level of proficiency with basic, by-the-book Scrum (or some sort of Scrum-like hybrid).
But that’s not the “end state.” There’s more.Value and overhead
A key concept in the Lean school of thought is customer-defined value. Time spent in activities that directly add customer-defined value to a product is deemed “value add time.” All other time is deemed “non-value add time.”
The distinction is often misunderstood, as it differs from conventional thinking about value. Conventionally, we consider anything that helps us deliver value to customers to be useful and possibly necessary. Things that are useful and/or necessary to get the job done surely are valuable, right? Sure, in the casual sense of the English word, “valuable.”
Consider a financial institution that offers services to customers. All services must comply with government regulations designed to protect consumers and the national economy from errors and unethical actions that might do harm. Conventional thinking tells us the things we do to assure compliance are valuable. We may well invest additional time and effort in compliance activities just to be really sure we’re doing it well.
When we look at the same situation through a Lean lens, we perceive that customers are willing to pay for certain services. They have a baseline expectation that their transactions will be accurate, ethical, and safe, but they don’t think about those things as part of what they’re paying for. They only intend to pay for the service they want. The time we spend in maximizing the direct value of those services is value add time, and the time we spend to support necessary overhead items such as compliance is non-value add time. We may well invest some effort in seeking ways to minimize compliance overhead.
Similarly, customers do not wish to pay us to fix our own bugs. If we create a bug, that’s our problem, not our customers’. Therefore, from a Lean perspective, bug-fixing, remediating technical debt, and production support—even testing—are non-value add activities. A Lean thinker will seeks ways to minimize the time spent on such activities. A conventional thinker might only think about improving how they do these things, rather than looking for ways to eliminate the need for them.
No doubt you can see how this minor shift in perspective helps us identify potential areas of improvement in our delivery processes. Every minute spent on non-value add activities is a minute lost to value add activities. But what does this have to do with Scrum, or with the supposed “cult” of Scrum?From walking to running
As mentioned above, Scrum was created in an era when certain organizational and procedural problems were endemic to large-scale IT organizations. It was designed to address several of those problems directly. Its three roles—Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Development Team—represented a sharp change from the then-common manager-driven hierarchical organizational structure and “matrix” assignment of so-called “resources” (meaning humans) to multiple projects concurrently.
Many IT organizations needed something like Scrum to help them stand and walk. The Product Owner mitigated the generally poor communication between business stakeholders and the IT organization. The Scrum Master mitigated the generally poor understanding of effective delivery processes on the part of IT staff. The Delivery Team brought together individual specialists from various functional silos to create a cross-functional team, significantly reducing communication delay and misunderstandings.
But that was the 1980s, hanging over into the 1990s. There are still organizations operating as they did in the 1980s, but the industry as a whole has long since moved on. Does Scrum help an organization in which communication between business stakeholders and the IT organization is already good? How about an organization in which the staff understands and uses effective delivery methods? How about an organization in which staff routinely collaborate across individual specialties and are accustomed to transparency? How about an organization that already delivers small batches incrementally and on a short time scale?
In other words…what about an organization that has learned how to stand and walk, and is ready to run?
From a Lean perspective, every role, every artifact, and every event defined in Scrum is overhead. Scrum itself is not what customers buy. It isn’t what they want to buy. It’s a way of delivering what they want, but it isn’t The Thing they want. A conventional thinker will think of ways to “do Scrum better.” And maybe that’s exactly what they should be doing, based on where they are in the journey at the moment. A Lean thinker will seek ways to minimize the overhead of using Scrum, with the eventual goal of making Scrum unnecessary. That’s quite a different goal.The rub
To outgrow the need for Scrum is a fine goal, but you have to earn it. To earn it, you have to understand the substance of what Scrum is helping you achieve; merely following the prescribed practices isn’t sufficient for that. A novice delivery team can’t arbitrarily discard Scrum, just because they recognize it as overhead. Teams must learn to achieve the same goals and deliver the same value without the overhead of Scrum. Then the braces can fall away.
Scrum cultists will chafe at the word “overhead” here, but the reality is that there’s always some form of overhead in any process. Lean thinkers prioritize “eliminating waste from the process” third, behind “focus on value” and “maintain continuous flow.” They know some overhead is inevitable, necessary, and ultimately all to the good. The trick is to minimize non-value add time while still fulfilling all necessary requirements.
In their book, Lean Thinking, Womack and Jones distinguish between two types of non-value add activity, or muda. (That’s Japanese for “non-value add activity.”) Type 1 muda comprises activities that don’t help in any way and are only performed out of habit. These activities can simply be stopped, with no downside impact.
Type 1 muda could be, for instance, preparing three different status reports about the same tasks in three different formats for three different managers, or entering the same information about hours worked into four different time tracking systems. (But those examples are absurd, of course. Who would do that?)
Type 2 muda comprises activities that are necessary to get the job done, but that don’t directly add customer-defined value to a product. The goal here is to minimize the overhead involved in carrying out these activities. This could include, for instance, governance review procedures to ensure information security standards were followed in developing an application, or functionality built into an application to track data for auditors. Bake the security standards into your development process, and you can dispense with the review step in the delivery pipeline. Build logging into your reference architectures, and you can dispense with any extra effort to satisfy auditors.
The process of the braces falling away piece by piece naturally involves the organization and the teams within it learning to satisfy all the ancillary requirements surrounding the product with a minimum of effort, time, and cost. As these requirements become ingrained in the delivery process, overhead activities to double-check them become less necessary.Full circle
As an example, let’s home in on one of the factors that Scrum addresses: Predictable delivery. Business stakeholders in the 1980s and 1990s were constantly asking IT organizations “How long will it take to deliver X?” IT professionals came up with various ways to estimate the time they would need to deliver X. Some are formal and some informal, and may be based on experience, calculation, statistics, heuristics, empiricism, or a combination.
Customers won’t place an order for an estimate. They may want to know how long it will take you to deliver a solution, but they don’t expect to pay you just for the estimate. If customers aren’t intentionally buying estimates, then the time you spend preparing estimates is muda.
During the years when estimation was regarded as a core competency of software development rather than as an overhead activity, delivery performance continued to be unpredictable. Sure, some teams boasted that their estimates were always within 5% of actuals, but this was almost always gamed; they padded the estimates enough that they could make their numbers look the way management wanted the numbers to look.
Scrum as such doesn’t define an estimation method, but teams tend to use certain methods more than others with Scrum. A novice Scrum team may estimate User Stories in terms of clock time. This doesn’t do much to improve predictability, but it does help the team get into the habit of decomposing work into small pieces and thinking about what’s involved in delivering the pieces.
As they gain proficiency with Scrum, the team may estimate in terms of ideal time, applying a load factor to their planned capacity to account for interruptions such as meetings and production support issues. Usually, they begin to see some improvement in predictability.
As they progress, the team begins to understand what their Scrum coach meant all these past weeks or months when she told them to stop thinking about time and to think about relative size instead. They shift from time-based estimation to relative sizing of User Stories based on a scale of arbitrary points.
Initially they may peg points to time (e.g., “One point is half a day”), but sooner or later they drop that. Now they see significant improvement in predictability, because they are planning their work based on their own demonstrated delivery performance in the recent past. This is empiricism, consistent with the Scrum approach.
Throughout these early stages, the discussions surrounding estimation serve another purpose: They help build shared understanding about the problem space, the solution space, design considerations, and acceptance criteria. These are among the things a team must learn to do in other ways before they can dispense with story-level estimation.
Continuing to mature in Agile thinking and practice, the team gradually learns to decompose and structure User Stories into reasonably same-sized chunks. Eventually they discover most of their stories seem to be of the same size. They stop using relative points and just count stories instead. This reduces their planning overhead without sacrificing predictability. (They couldn’t have dispensed with estimation in the beginning; at that time, they didn’t know how to achieve predictable delivery without it.)
At this stage, everyone can see approximately how long each User Story takes to deliver. The team has gone full circle, and can now answer the question “How long will it take to deliver X?” directly, in terms of clock time, just the way stakeholders need it to be answered.
A piece of their braces—story sizing or estimation—can fall away naturally. In Lean terms, they have reduced the planning overhead necessary to deliver customer-defined value. Similarly, teams can learn to deliver effectively without other pieces of the braces, too. It may not be intuitively obvious how to achieve this, and that’s why it’s helpful to work with guides who have been there and done that.
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Bill & Groundhog
Well this happened about ten years ago, and about 6 years ago, or maybe it was 4 years past, and seems like we did this about 24 months ago... or it could be today!
The Agile Transition Initiative at the company has come upon an inflection point (do ya' know what that is... have you read Tipping Point?). I'm not exactly sure of it's very precise date... but Feb. 2nd would be the perfect timing. The inflection has to do with which direction your Agile Transition Initiative takes from this point into the future. Will it continue on it's stated mission to "transform" the organization? Or will it stall out and revert slowly to the status quo?
How do I recognize this perilous point in the agile trajectory? Well there are several indications. But first we must digress.
Punxsutawney Phil Says more Winter in 2017In this story we will use the germ theory as a metaphor. Germ theory came about in about ... (wait - you guess - go ahead ... I'll give you a hundred year window... guess...). That's right! "The germ theory was proposed by Girolamo Fracastoro in 1546, and expanded upon by Marcus von Plenciz in 1762." Wow, we've know about these little buggers for a long time. And we started washing our hands ... (when... correct -again). "The year was 1846, and our would-be hero was a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis." So right away business (society) started using a new discovery - a better way to treat patients.... or well it took a while maybe a few months, or maybe more than 300 years.
But back to the metaphor - in this metaphor the organization will be like a human body and the change initiative will take the roll of a germ. The germ is a change introduced to the body by some mechanism we are not very concerned with - maybe the body rubbed up against another body. I hear that's a good way to spread knowledge.
We are interested in the body's natural process when a new factor is introduced. What does a body do? Well at first it just ignores this new thing - heck it's only one or two little germs, can't hurt anything - (there are a shit load of germs in your body right now). But the germs are there to make a home - they consume energy and reproduce (at this point lets call it a virus - meh - what the difference?). So the virus reproduces rapidly and starts to cause ripples... the body notices this and starts to react. It sends in the white-blood cells - with anti-bodies. Now I don't understand the biological responses - but I could learn all about it... but this is a metaphor and the creator of a metaphor may have artistic license to bend the truth a bit to make the point. Point - WHAT IS THE POINT?
The point is the body (or organization) will have a natural reaction to the virus (change initiative) and when the body recognizes this change it's reaction (natural - maybe call it subconscious - involuntary). Well let's just say it's been observed multiple times - the body tries very hard to rid itself of the unwanted bug (change). It may go to unbelievable acts to get rid of it - like tossing all it's cookies back up - or squirting all it's incoming energy into the waste pit. It could even launch a complete shutdown of all communication to a limb and allow it to fester and die, hopefully to fall off and not kill the complete organism. Regaining the status quo is in the fundamental wiring of the human body. Anything that challenges that stasis requires great energy to overcome this fundamental defense mechanism.
[Pop the stack.] So back to the indicators of the tipping point in agile transitions. Let's see if our metaphor helps us to see these indications. The tossing of cookies - check. That could be new people hired to help with the change are just tossed back out of the organization. The squirts - check. That is tenured people that have gotten on board with the change being challenged by others to just water it down... make it look like the things we use to do. Heck let's even re-brand some of those new terms with our meanings - customized for our unique situation - that only we have ever seen, and therefore only we can know the solutions. Folks, this is called the Bull Shit Reaction.
Now imagine a limb of the organization that has adopted the new way - they have caught the virus. There is a high likely hood that someone in the organization is looking at them a "special". A bit jealous of their new status and will start hoarding information flow from that successful group. Now true that group was special - they attempted early transition and have had (in this organizations realm) success. Yet there was some exception to normal business process that made that success possible. How could we possibly reproduce that special circumstance across the whole org-chart? Maybe we just spin them off and let them go it alone - good luck, now back to business.
What's a MIND to do with this virus ridden body and all these natural reactions?
Well we are at an inflection point... what will you do?
Which curve do you want to be on? - by Trail Ridge Consulting
The Fleas in the Jar Experiment. Who Kills Innovation? The Jar, The Fleas or Both? by WHATSTHEPONT
Here at Axosoft, we’re passionate about supporting the development community. For 13 years we’ve been helping grow the tech ecosystem in Arizona by opening up our space to Meetup groups, sponsoring and speaking at local events, and partnering with like-minded organizations. When we can, we also travel to speak at conferences and connect with developers across the globe.
However, what we really want is to be able to connect with devs outside of just our local community more consistently. So we thought, what better way to do that than by supporting your local developer Meetup groups with all the best goodies! Here’s what our new GitKraken Meetup Package includes:GitKraken Meetup Package
- Food and drinks budget of $200
- GitKraken stickers for all attendees
- Several GitKraken shirts for giveaways
- GitKraken Pro promo code for $10 off a 1-user GitKraken Pro annual account, for every attendee
- Our GitKraken Cheat Sheet
We know it won’t be possible for us to send packages to every Meetup (unfortunately), so we’ve put together some basic requirements that your developer group must meet in order to be eligible to receive a package:
- Must be an established Meetup (or group) with a publicly accessible page
- Must be a developer-focused event
- Must have 40+ attendees regularly
We also ask that you help us spread the word about GitKraken by playing our 90-second Intro to GitKraken video during your Meetup and tweeting @GitKraken with a photo of the Meetup and your Meetup hashtag if there is one.
SlideShare DeckHere's how it might go down... Agile2017 Submission # 5835
And if you're interested... comment on this slide deck... it's not the final answer. In fact we may be sneaking bigger guns in to the corral under our dusters...
Leadership Style Shoot Out :: Which style best works for this context - how will you recognize it?
Where do you Stand
Let's survey the audience's Leadership styles/preferences - we will use a standard reference tool (or maybe just make it up on the fly). Getting the participants up and moving and interacting with each other and the sub-set of leadership styles described on the four flip charts in the corners of the room. We will play a few rounds of the game Constellations. This warm up exercise will most likely bring up some great question on terms and concepts, which we will answer as a group.
Examples of Models & Theories
We will present several models and approaches of Leadership - via Poster Presentations (previous done posters for models of Leadership: Examples: Situational Leadership II, Leader-Member Exchange Theory, Path-Goal Theory, Servant Leadership, etc.) compare and contrast theories of leadership with other leadership approaches: ( Situational, Skills, Style, Trait - also summarized on posters). Gathering insights from participants on experiences with these various leadership styles/traits. Using some famous examples from history and common known examples (JFK, Nixon, Washington, John Wayne, Neil Armstrong, etc).
Review of Literature
We will present a library of books (10 - 30 leadership books) to loan out for the next few days of the conference - participants wishing to come to next session (2 days later) will preform a poster book report on the topics of interest with their small group on the books best topics during the 2nd session. This technique is ripped off from my mentor Sivasailam Thiagarajan (http://www.thiagi.com), I'm sure he will not sue us. This game however is going to require longer than 75 min. to get value - so I'm proposing a radical new idea for conference session - a follow up session scheduled later in the week for the sub-set of participants that choose to participate in this "home-work assignment".
In the 2nd session we will organize the posters - book reviews and give each group/team about 10 min. to present and then a few min. for audience Q&A. Largely dependent on the number of small teams wishing to participate; wishing to go in depth on a topic and learn about that aspect of leadership. Then leave time for a debrief of both sessions.
Information for Program Team:
We are requesting something VERY RADICAL - 2 sessions - for ONE topic - the first session will set the hook: interest a sub set of participants to commit to the second session (the book-review report back poster extravaganza session later in the week).
First session on Monday or Tuesday; second session on Thursday or Friday - link them in the catalog with an "**" and note.
Each session will be independent enough that participant that do not want to attend the other will be carried along with the enthusiastic games of the others that have attended both. Interesting and Learning will be available for all - regardless of attendance of both sessions.
none really - however we assume many people have been part of a group and have seen many forms of leadership in many different context
- Awareness of several views of Leadership and Management
- Knowledge of multiple theories of leadership
- develop a lexicon of terms to discuss leadership behaviors
- experience being an emergent leader in a group with a specific objective
- Understanding that styles of leadership change over time throughout history
- Ways to measure effectiveness of leadership (via the fellowship of followers)
- Assessment tools and models to take home and try on your leaders
Stats from Agile Complexification Inverter blog site
Well the stats are just one insignificant measure of what one gets from writing about their experience.
The more meaningful measures have been seeing some of these articles and resources put into practice by other colleagues, discussion that have happened (off line & sometimes in comments or twitter, etc.) with readers that require me to refine my thinking and messaging of my thinking. Interestingly some times seeing a resource that you have created being "borrowed" and used in another persons or companies artifact without attribution is both rewarding and a bit infuriating. I like that the concept has resonated well with someone else and they have gone to the trouble of borrowing the concept, and repeating or improving or repurposing the concept.
Let me borrow someone else's concept: "The Bad Artist Imitate, the GREAT Artists Steal." -- Banksy
Most of all the collection of articles are a repository of resources that I do not need to carry around in my 3-4 lbs of white & grey matter. I can off-load the storage of concepts, research pointers and questions to a semi-perminate storage. This is a great benefit.