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Agile Complexification Inverter - David Koontz
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Updated: 3 hours 5 min ago

Book Review:: Agile Noir by Lancer Kind

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 23:40
First, allow me to layout some ground rules and a touch of the backstory...

I'm not a professional book reviewer, nor paid in anyway to read.  But if I could get that gig... I'd be a happy camper.  I've never written a book, but I've hacked out some code, a few articles, some of which might be considered book reviews.  I've worked in the Agile industry for more than a decade (but who's counting), and so - I may be a little close to the topic to have proper literary impartial bias.  In fact let me just go ahead and be explicit - I've done this, been there, got the t-shirt; I shit you not - this shit is for real!
Agile Noir by Lancer Kind
Now the ground rules...  I think this review will be written ... what's the word... while I'm reading, at the same time, without much delay in the reading - writing phases....in situ.... iteratively... oh I give up...

So don't be surprised - dear reader - if I just drop off in the middle...
                       ... maybe check back every week until I finish
Mar 22,
I've studied the cover... quite a nice graphic - to bad the whole novel isn't a graphic novel; oh - maybe it would be too bloody,  I could see Agile Noir becoming a Tarantino film.  As I sat looking at my book to-do stack... I skipped a few levels down the stack and pulled out Lancer Kind's 2016 Agile Noir.  I have read some of his previous comics titled Scrum Noir (vol 1, 2, 3).  So maybe I know what to expect - should be a fun romp in the fast lane with lots of inside the industry puns, innuendo and metaphors.

Well the damn dedication just reeks of an Agile Coach - Servant Leader (puke, barf.... moving on).

The High Cost of Schedule Slip
Now you may not find the situation Kartar finds himself in funny...  allow me to add some overtones of irony....  I'm going to go out on a racist limb and suggest that Kartar is an Indian.  That he is working in the heart of the Indian nation (Los Wages, NV), perhaps on a job for an Italian crime boss.  And none of these circumstances have anything to do with one of the world of science's biggest failures - Columbus's discover of the New World - which the thought was India, and named it's inhabitants there by creating the confusion we will have to deal with evermore.  Now Columbus was of course searching for a way to reduce the schedule required for shipping spices.

Kartar appears to be very emerged in planning and the art/science/pesdo-truth of planning and predicting the future of projects.  And he may be a master with the Gantt chart (which is footnoted on page 18).

This is all ringing just too true ... and I'm envisioning it in the style of a 1956 black and white film...

Kartar is the metaphor of his project... it seems that it's not quite on schedule... he's late to a just announced meeting with some superior and is driving at break neck speed on loose sand in the Vegas out skirts creating over bumps and ditches in his car with the accelerator pinned to the floor - because some people in a van might be trying to kill him.  Happens ALL - THE - TIME.





See Also:
Scrum Noir - several volumes of graphic novel about scrum masters and the projects they encounter - also by Lancer Kind
I will have a Double Expresso - Amazon review of Scrum Noir.
Categories: Blogs

Dialogue on Prerequisites for Collaboration

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 15:08
IDEO-University 'From Ideas to Action' Lesson 1.

Join the dialogue on G+ Agile+ group.

Dialogue on Collaboration on Facebook (PDF)


Collaboration starts with who we are and our story - not the technology or the data
"The Future of Work Is Social Collaboration from Inside Out, where people connect around the why of work from who they really are as individuals in community.
They collaborate in generative conversations and co-create what’s next, i.e. their unique Contribution of value to society – what we might call Social Good.
They collaborate by taking the time to appreciate and align each other’s unique, hard wired, natural strengths, creating new levels of authentic and trusting relationships to take the Social Journey."Jeremy ScrivensDirector at The Emotional Economy at Work




What does dialogue mean... what does it contribute to collaboration?  Here's what the inventor of the internet Al Gore had to say about this:

Audie Cornish speaks with former Vice President Al Gore about the new edition of his book, The Assault On Reason.
Well, others have noted a free press is the immune system 
of representative democracy. And as I wrote 10 years ago, American democracy is in grave danger from the changes in the environment in which ideas either live and spread or wither and die. I think that the trends that I wrote about 10 years ago have continued and worsened, and the hoped-for remedies that can come from online discourse have been slow to mature. I remain optimistic that ultimately free speech and a free press where individuals have access to the dialogue will have a self-correcting quality. -- Al GoreExcerpt from NPR interview with Al Gore by Audie Cornish March 14, 2017. Heard on  All Things Considered.

See Also:
Mob Programming by Woody Zuill

[View the story "Dialogue on Prerequisites for Collaboration" on Storify]
Categories: Blogs

Cycle Time and Lead Time

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 22:57
Our organization is starting to talk about measuring Cycle Time and Lead Time on our software engineering stories.  It's just an observation, but few people seem to understand these measurement concepts, but everyone is talking about them.  This is a bad omen...  wish I could help illustrate these terms.  Because I doubt the measurements will be very accurate if the community doesn't understand when to start the clock, and just as important - when to stop it.

[For the nature of confusion around this terms compare and contrast these:  Agile Alliance Glossary; Six Sigma; KanbanTool.com; Lean Glossary.]

The team I'm working with had a toy basket ball goal over their Scrum board...  like many cheep toys the rim broke.  Someone bought a superior mini goal, it's a nice heavy quarter inch plastic board with a spring loaded rim - not a cheep toy.  The team used "Command Strips" to mount it but they didn't hold for long.

The team convinced me there was a correlation between their basketball points on the charts and the teams sprint burndown chart.  Not cause and effect, but correlation; have you ever stopped to think what that really means?  Could it mean that something in the environment beyond your ability to measure is an actual cause to the effect you desire?

I asked the head person at the site for advice, how could we get the goal mounted in our area?  He suggested that we didn't need permission, that the walls of the building were not national treasures - we should just mount it... maybe try some Command Strips.  Yes, great minds...  but what about getting fired after putting holes in the walls scares one from doing the right thing?  How hard is it to explain to the Texas Work Force Commission when they ask why you were fired?

The leader understood that if I asked the building facilities manager that I might get denied - but if he asked for a favor... it would get done.  That very day, Mike had the facilities manager looking at the board and the wall (a 15-20 minute conversation).  Are you starting the clock?  It's Dec 7th, lead time starts when Mike agreed to the team's request.

The team was excited, it looked like their desire was going to be granted.  Productive would flourish again.

Over the next few days I would see various people looking up at the wall and down at the basketball goal on the floor.  There were about 4 of these meetings each very short and not always the same people.  Team members would come up to me afterwards and ask...  "are we still getting the goal?"... "when are they going to bring a drill?"...  "what's taking so long?"

Running the calendar forward a bit... Today the facilities guy showed up with a ladder and drill.  It took about 20 minutes.  Basketball goal mounted (Dec 13th) - which clock did you stop?  All of the clocks stop when the customer (team) has their product (basketball goal) in production (a game commences).

I choose to think of lead time as the time it takes an agreed upon product or service order to be delivered.  In this example that starts when Mike, the dude, agreed to help the team get their goal mounted.

In this situation I want to think of cycle time as the time that people worked to produce the product (mounted goal) - other's might call this process time (see Lean Glossary).  And so I estimated the time that each meeting on the court looking at the unmounted goal took, plus the actual time to mount  the goal (100 minutes).  Technically cycle time is per unit of product - since in the software world we typically measure per story and each story is some what unique - it's not uncommon to drop the per unit aspect of cycle time.

Lead time:  Dec 13th minus Dec 7th = 5 work days
Cycle time:  hash marks //// (4)  one for each meeting at the board to discuss mounting techniques (assume 20 m. each); and about 20 minutes with ladder and drill;  total 100 minutes

Lead Time 5 days; Cycle Time 100 minutes
This lead to a conversation on the court - under the new goal with a few team members about what we could do with these measurements.  How if one's job was to go around and install basketball goals for every team in the building that a cycle time of 100 minutes with a lead time of 5 days might make the customers a bit unhappy.   Yet for a one off, unusual once a year sort of request that ratio of 100 minutes to 5 days was not such a bad response time.  The customer's were very happy in the end, although waiting for 5 days did make them a bit edgy.

But now what would happen if we measured our software development cycle time and lead time - would our (business) customers be happy?  Do we produce a once in a year product? (Well yes - we've yet to do a release.) Do our lead times have similar ratios to cycle time, with very little value add time (process time)?

Pondering...

Well it's January 5th and this example came up in a Scrum Master's Forum meeting.  After telling the tale we still did not agree on when to start and stop the two watches for Lead Time and Cycle Time.  Maybe this is much harder than I thought.  Turns out I'm in the minority of opinions - I'm doing it wrong!

Could you help me figure out why my view point is wrong?  Comment below, please.

LeanKit just published an article on this topic - it's very good but might also misinterpret cycle time.  I see no 'per unit' in their definition of cycle time.  The Lead Time and Cycle Time Debate: When Does the Clock Start? by Tommy Norman.

An Experiment in measuring the team's cycle time:
After a bit of time reflecting, debating, arguing with colleagues and other agilitst online I've decided to publish a little experiment in measuring cycle-time on a scrum team.  Here's the data... what does it say?  How do you think the team should react?  What action should be next?  What should the team's leadership feel/think/do?

The Story:  This team has been working together for a while.  The sprints are numbered from the start of the year... an interesting practice, this team uses 2 week sprints, is practicing Scrum.  Took a nice holiday and required some priming to get back in the swing of things after the first of the year (you see this in the trend of stories completed each sprint).  Cycle Time for a story on trend is longer than the sprint, this correlates with typical story "carry-over" (a story started is not finished in one sprint and is carried over to the next sprint).  Generally a story is finished in the sprint but not in sequence or priority - they all take at least the full sprint to get to done.  There is no correlation of story size to cycle time.

Now those are the facts more or less -- let us see what insights we might create from this cycle time info.  With no correlation of story size to cycle time AND little consistency of number of stories finished in a sprint (trend of # of stories: 1, 6, 7, 2, 2). The question arrises - what is the controlling variable that is not being measured that effects the time it takes to get from start to finish with a story?  Now that the team can see that the simplest things we could track do not have a strong effect on the length of time (or the through-put) a story requires... and that means the process is not under good control - we can start to look around for some of the uncontrolled (invisible factors) -- if we a courageous enough!

We reflected that many of the stories that carry over and are virtually unpredictable in size/time/effort appear to have large delays or multiple delays within their implementation phase.  So we devised a quick and dirty way to track this delay.  The assumption that this delay inherent in the work will perhaps be the unmeasured / uncontrolled variable that throws the correlation of story size with cycle-time out of kilter.

Our devised technique for tracking delay per story - a yellow dot on the task with a tick mark for every day the task is stuck in-process (delayed).





See Also:

LeanKit published this excellent explanation of their choices in calculating cycle time within their tool:  Kanban Calculations: How to Calculate Cycle Time by Daniel Vacanti.
LeanKit Lead Time Metrics: Why Weekends Matter
Elon Musk turns a tweet into reality in 6 days by Loic Le Meur
The ROI of Multiple Small Releaseshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Bunker_Gilbreth_Sr.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheaper_by_the_Dozen


The Hummingbird Effect: How Galileo Invented Timekeeping and Forever Changed Modern Life
by Maria Popova.  How the invisible hand of the clock powered the Industrial Revolution and sparked the Information Age.

Categories: Blogs

Learning Tools beginning Exponential Growth

Mon, 03/20/2017 - 18:33
Learning tools are beginning to benefit from the exponential growth process of knowledge creation and transference.  Here is Seeing Theory an example of this.  Did you do well in Probability and Stats in school?  Funny enough I can predict with astonishing accuracy that a majority of you said "NO!"  I also struggled with those courses, may have repeated it a time or two.  But now with some age I find it much more fascination to study this subject.


Seeing Theory Leaning Site"By 2030 students will be learning from robot teachers 10 times faster than today" by World Economic Forum.


This is what happens when humans debate ethics in front of a super intelligent learning AI.






See Also:

TED Radio Hour : NPR : Open Source World  Tim Berners-Lee tells the story of how Gopher killed it's user base progress and CERN declared their WWW open source in 1993 April 30th, insuring it would continue to prosper.  And was it's growth exponential?


Categories: Blogs

Velocity Calculus - The mathematical study of the changing software development effort by a team

Sat, 03/18/2017 - 20:43

In the practice of Scrum many people appear to have their favorite method of calculating the team's velocity. For many, this exercise appears very academic. Yet when you get three people and ask them you will invariability get more answers than you have belly-buttons.


Velocity—the rate of change in the position of an object; a vector quantity, with both magnitude and direction. “Calculus is the mathematical study of change.” — Donald Latorre 
This pamphlet describes the method I use to teach beginning teams this one very important Scrum concept via a photo journal simulation.

Some of the basic reasons many teams are "doing it wrong"... (from my comment on Doc Norton's FB question: Hey social media friends, I am curious to hear about dysfunctions on agile teams related to use of velocity. What have you seen?


  • mgmt not understanding purpose of Velocity empirical measure;
  • teams using some bogus statistical manipulation called an average without the understanding of the constrains that an average is valid within;
  • SM allowing teams to carry over stories and get credit for multiple sprints within one measurement (lack of understanding of empirical);
  • pressure to give "credit" for effort but zero results - culture dynamic viscous feedback loop;
  • lack of understanding of the virtuous cycle that can be built with empirical measurement and understanding of trends;
  • no action to embrace the virtuous benefits of a measure-respond-adapt model (specifically story slicing to appropriate size)
... there's 6 - but saving the best for last:
  • breaking the basic tenants of the scrum estimation model - allow me to expand for those who have already condemned me for violating written (or suggesting unwritten) dogma...
    • a PBL item has a "size" before being Ready (a gate action) for planning;
    • the team adjusts the PBL item size any/ever time they touch the item and learn more about it (like at planning/grooming);
    • each item is sized based on effort/etc. from NOW (or start of sprint - a point in time) to DONE (never on past sunk cost effort);
    • empirical evidence and updated estimates are a good way to plan;
  • therefore carryover stories are resized before being brought into the next sprint - also reprioritized - and crying over spilt milk or lost effort credit is not allowed in baseball (or sprint planning)

Day 1 - Sprint Planning
A simulated sprint plan with four stories is developed. The team forecast they will do 26 points in this sprint.




Day 2
The team really gets to work.




Day 3
Little progress is visible, concern starts to show.


Day 4Do you feel the sprint progress starting to slide out of control?



Day 5About one half of the schedule is spent, but only one story is done.



Day 6The team has started work on all four stories, will this amount of ‘WIP’ come back to hurt them?




Day 7
Although two stories are now done, the time box is quickly expiring.


Day 8
The team is mired in the largest story.



Day 9The output of the sprint is quite fuzzy. What will be done for the demo, what do we do with the partially completed work?


Day 10
The Sprint Demo day. Three stories done (A, B, & D) get demoed to the PO and accepted.



Close the SprintCalculate the Velocity - a simple arithmetic sum.



Story C is resized given its known state and the effort to get it from here to done. 



What is done with the unfinished story? It goes back into the backlog and is ordered and resized.



Backlog grooming (refinement) is done to prepare for the next sprint planning session.





Trophies of accomplishments help motivation and release planning. Yesterday’s weather (pattern) predicts the next sprints velocity.


Sprint 2 Begins with Sprint PlanningDay 1Three stories are selected by the team.  Including the resized (now 8 points) story C.

Day 2
Work begins on yet another sprint.


Day 3
Work progresses on story tasks.


The cycles of days repeats and the next sprint completes.


Close Sprint 2Calculate the Velocity - a simple arithmetic sum.


In an alternative world we may do more complex calculus. But will it lead us to better predictability?

In this alternative world one wishes to receive partial credit for work attempted.  Yet the story was resized based upon the known state and getting it to done.




Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. — Leonardo di Vinci 
Now let’s move from the empirical world of measurement and into the realm of lies.








Simply graphing the empirical results and using the human eye & mind to predict is more accurate than many peoples math.




Velocity is an optimistic measure. An early objective is to have a predictable team.

Velocity may be a good predictor of release duration. Yet it is always an optimistic predictor.




Variance Graphed: Pessimistic projection (red line) & optimistic projection (green line) of release duration.



While in the realm of fabrication of information — let’s better describe the summary average with it’s variance.








Categories: Blogs

Dash off a Fiver to the ACLU

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 23:38
What can you do to save the world with an Amazon Dash Button?

Has a new era of enablement reached the hockey stick curve of exponential growth?  I think it has.  I've been picking up this vibe, and I may not be the first to sense things around me.  I've got some feedback that I very poor at it in the personal sphere.  However, on a larger scale, on an abstract level, in the field of tech phenomena I've got a bit of a streak going.  Mind you I'm not rich on a Zuckerberg level... and my general problem is actualizing the idea as apposed to just having the brilliant idea - or recognizing the opportunity.

A colleague told me I would like this tinker's Dash Button hack.  It uses the little hardware IoT button Amazon built to sell more laundry soap - a bit of imaginative thinking outside of the supply chain problem domain and a few hours of coding.  Repurposing the giant AWS Cloud Mainframe, that the Matrix Architect has designed to enslave you, to give the ACLU a Fiver ($5) every time you feel like one of the talking heads (#45) in Washington DC has infringed upon one of you civil liberties.


Now I think this is the power of a true IoT the fact that an enabling technology could allow the emergent property that was not conceived of in it's design.  No one has really tried to solve the problem of the democrat voice of the people.  We use the power of currency to proxy for so many concepts in our society, and it appears that the SCOTUS has accepted that currency and it's usage is a from of speech (although not free - do you see what I did there?).  What would the Architect of our Matrix learn if he/she/it could collect all the thoughts of people when they had a visceral reaction to an event correlate that reaction to the event, measure the power of the reaction over a vast sample of the population and feed that reaction into the decision making process via a stream of funding for or against a proposed policy.  Now real power of this feedback system will occur when the feedback message may mutate the proposal (the power of Yes/AND).

I can see this as enabling real trend toward democracy - and of course this disrupts the incumbent power structure of the representative government (federal republic).  Imagine a hack-a-thon where all the political organizations and the charities and the religions came together in a convention center.  There are tables and spaces and boxes upon boxes of Amazon Dashes Buttons.  We ask the organizations what they like about getting a Fiver every time the talking head mouths off, and what data they may also need to capture to make the value stream most effective in their unique organization.  And we build and test this into a eco-system on top of the AWS Cloud.
"You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him."What would it take to set this up one weekend...  I've found that I'm not a leader.  I don't get a lot of followers when I have an idea... but I have found that I can make one heck of a good first-follower!

"And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement."I will just through this out here and allow the reader to link up the possibilities.



See Also:

GitHub Repo Donation Button by Nathan Pryor
Instructables Dash Button projects
Coder Turns Amazon Dash Button Into ACLU Donation Tool by Mary Emily O'Hara
Life With The Dash Button: Good Design For Amazon, Bad Design For Everyone Else by Mark WilsonHow to start a movement - Derek Sivers TED Talk
Categories: Blogs

Don't hate the Joke - learn to tell it Well

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 02:38
Countless times I've heard people say they hate the Scrum joke about the pig and chicken.  Some people just can't tell a joke.

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!

See Also:
Some fun videos about Agile & ScrumScrum cartoons and fictional stories - a list
Scrum Pig and Chicken - part 1 by Jake Calabrese
Organizational Commitment: Pig and Chicken – Part 2 by Jake Calabrese
Does Your Culture Require Your Demise - Pig & Chicken part 3 by Jake Calabrese


Categories: Blogs

Psychometric Assessments - a peek inside the person

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 09:52
What do you think & feel about personality and behavioral assessments?  Are they useful to you?  Can you share them with others to help improve your relationships?  Do you have the courage to put your personality on display for your collaborators to inspect?

Well I thought I'd try to open the kimono to see if it helps me...

I've studied Psychometric assessments and some I find useful, some I feel are just a step to the left from astrology charting.  Yet might not be harmful for self reflection.  I've also found that it takes an expert to explain the tools and reports such that a layperson can understand and make positive use of the assessment and it's report.  And while I've been "certified" is some of these tools/technique I do not practice them enough to be competent - and my pitch is akin to a snake-oil salesman.

Here is my DiSC Classic profile:

DiSC Classic by WileyHere is my Trimetric assessment (DiSC, EQ, Motivation) by Abelson Group


DiSC WheelMotivators Wheel
Emotional Quotient Wheel


Here is my Myers Briggs Type Indicator - Level II assessment:
MBTI Level OneMBTI Level II reports








Here is my EQ 2.0 - Emotional Intelligence:

EQ 2.0 by

TalentSmart, Inc. Here is my Action & Influence report:



Here is my Personalysis assessment:
Personalysis assessment

See Also:Authentic Happiness - resources in Positive Physiology - 20 assessmentsMartin Seligman TED talk on Positive Physiology
Personalisis assessment ReviewedMBTI Level II assessment Reviewed
Psychometric testing resources

British Psychological Society’s Psychological Testing Centre (PTC) provides information and services relating to standards in tests and testing for test takers, test users, test developers and members of the public.

National Cultural Studies - assessments at the meta level - the personality and behaviors of nations.


Categories: Blogs

A Light Bulb Moment

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 09:16
A few months ago Michele of Sliger Consulting, Inc. asked about my first Agile Light Bulb moment, I've had a few of them but one that easily came to mind was this one with the Washington State Appellate Clerk court case management systems people back in 2005.

In just two months our newly delivering Scrum team had put into production the "undoable" feature - BAM! - value delivered, trust confirmed, transformation successful.
"My light bulb moment was during the product demo in the Sprint Review Meeting, when the state of Washington Appellate Clerk of Court told me he and the courts had been waiting 20 years for the feature that our team had just delivered. In just two months our newly delivering Scrum team had put into production the "undoable" feature - BAM! - value delivered, trust confirmed, transformation successful. He later sent me the requirement spec for the 20-year-old feature and it read just like our epic story and its children we discovered. Yes, this was a completely different system than the previous retired system - yet it had the same customer needs. We had transitioned from a deadlocked in analysis paralysis development group to a Scrum team in under 3 months, delivering into production every month new features, bug fixes, and tested working software."  -- David Koontz
See other Light Bulb Moments at Sliger Consulting Light Bulb Moments

Have you seen in other collections of Light Bulb Moments?  Please comment below.


Categories: Blogs

Q: What is an Agile Transition Guide?

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 09:12
David Koontz guiding a canoeI was at the Dallas Tech Fest last week and was asked several times what an Agile Transition Guide was (it was a title on my name tag)... it's surprising to me how many people assume they know what an Agile Coach is, yet there is no good definition or professional organization (with a possible exception coming: Agile Coaching Institute).

So naturally the conversation went something like this:

Inquisitive person:  "Hi David, what's an Agile Transition Guide?  Is that like a coach?"

David:  "Hi, glad you asked.  What does a coach do in your experience?"

Inquisitive person: "They help people and teams improve their software practices."

David:  "Yes, I do that also."

Inquisitive person: "Oh, well then why don't you call yourself a coach?"

David:  "Great question:  Let's see...  well one of the foundational principles of coaching (ICF) is that the coached asks for and desires an interaction with the coach, there is no authority assigning the relationship, or the tasks of coaching.  So do you see why I don't call myself a coach?"

Inquisitive person: "Well no, not really.  That's just semantics.  So you're not a coach... OK, but what's is a guide?"

David:  "Have you ever been fishing with a guide, or been whitewater rafting with a guide, or been on a tour with a guide?  What do they do differently than a coach?  Did you get to choose your guide, or were they assigned to your group?"

Inquisitive person: "Oh, yeah.  I've been trout fishing with a guide, they were very helpful, we caught a lot of fish, and had more fun than going on our own.  They also had some great gear and lots of local knowledge of where to find the trout."

David:  "Well, there you have it... that's a guide - an expert, a person that has years of experience, has techniques to share and increase your JOY with a new experience."

Inquisitive person: "Yes, I'm starting to see that difference, but can't a coach do this also?"

David:  "No, not unless the coach is willing to switch to a different modality - to one of mentoring, teaching, consulting, or protecting.  Some times a guide must take over for the participant and keep the person/group within the bounds of safety - think about a whitewater river guide.  A coach - by strict interpretation of the ethics, is not allowed to protect the person from their own decisions (even if there are foreseen consequence of this action."

Richard FeynmanAnd now the conversation start to get very interesting, the Whys start to flow and we can go down the various paths to understanding.  See Richard Feynman's dialogue about "Why questions"

So, I'm not a Coach

I've been hired as a coach (largely because the organization didn't truly understand the label, role, and the ethics of coaching).  This relationship was typically dysfunctional from the standpoint of being a coach.  So I decide to study the role of coaching. I've done a few classes, seminars, personal one of one coach, read a lot and drawn some conclusions from my study - I'm not good a coaching within the environment and situation that Agile Coaches are hired. I've learned that regardless of the title that an organization uses (Agile Coach, Scrum Master, etc.) it doesn't mean coaching.  It intends the relationship to be vastly different.  Since I'm very techie, I appreciate using the correct words, and phrase for a concept.  (Paraphrasing Phil Karlton: In software there are two major challenges: cache invalidation and naming things.  Two Hard Things)

So to stop the confusing and the absurd use of the terms, I quit referring to my role and skills as coaching.  Then I needed a new term.  And having lots of friends that have been Outward Bound instructors and understanding their roles, the concept of a river guide appeals to me in this Agile transformational role.  Therefore I coin the term Agile Transformation Guide.  But many organization do not wish to transform their organization, but they do wish for some type of transition, perhaps from tradition development to a more agile or lean mindset.  So a transition guide is more generic, capable of the situational awareness of the desire of the organization.




What does a guide really do?  
This question may best be answered by David Kelley in his TED talk, "How to build your creative confidence."  In this talk David points out his desire to teach parents that there are not two types of children - the creative and the non-creative.  There are, however, children that lost their desire to express their unique talents early in their lives.  He helps people regain this capability.

It is much like how Dr Bandura has developed his treatment for phobias.  David will tell you about this basic guided mastery technique that restores self efficacy.

How to build your creative confidence. TED Talk by David Kelley
This is what an Agile Transition Guide does... they guide you on a journey toward self efficacy via many techniques in mastery of your domain skills and capabilities.

See Also:
Six Kinds of Agile Coaches by Ravi Verma Describes the HUGeB coach, the one to be.
So what is a Coach and What is a Trainer - Agile 102
Where Agile goes to Die - Dave Nicolette - about those companies that are late adopters or laggards in the innovation curve and the challenges that "coaches" have when engaging with them.
The Difference Between Coaching & Mentoring

Scrum Master vs Scrum Coach by Charles Bradley

Agile Coach -or- Transition Guide to Agility by David Koontz; the whitewater guide analogy to agile coaching.

Academic paper:  Coaching in an Agile Context by David Koontz

What is the ROI of Agile Coaching - Payton Consulting

Interesting Twitter conversation about the nature of "coaching" with Agile42 group.



Categories: Blogs

Empower - an action; not a command

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 16:01
You have not empowered a person by telling them "you are empowered."  This is a classic mistake in communication.  When one does this, they misinterpret their message, "I'm empowering you..." with the action that a verb such as empowerment requires to happen.  This person is taking a short cut, by giving the platitude of empowerment in place of any action that would be view by the other as empowering.

"When told that they are empowered to do something; this message is actually interrupted to dis-empower the persons agency."How does this misinterpretation occur?  Why do we humans mess up this simple act of communication?

Let's look at an example:

For a few months I had been working with a new team of software developers at a large organization.  Like many organizations they had already done the agile/scrum thing and it didn't work for them.  Recently the leadership had built a satellite office and started from a very small pool of tenured people to grow it's new "resource" of technical people.  This time the leadership decided that hiring some experienced people that had "done Agile" and "knew how to Scrum" might give them the needed energy to actually get somewhere with the initiative.  At least these experts could teach the new people how to do agile right.  I guess I was one of these "experts" (another term for a has-been drip under pressure).

Observing the new team for a few weeks I noticed they referred to their process by the label "kanban," yet they never appeared to move any sticky notes on their board, never made new ones or retired any old stickies.  Mostly they just pointed at them and talked about something not written on the note.  It was very difficult for the outsider (me) to follow the process they were using -- or maybe they were not using any process; and I was following them -- to nowhere.  This will take a bit more observation.

Although that was several months ago, and my memory is not the best at recovering details when there is no emotion overlaying the details, believe me there was little emotion at their stand up meetings, I'd call them boring (the meetings, not the people).  I don't remember in the 4 weeks I was observing that they ever shipped any software, never spoke about a customer visit, or discussing a solution with a customer - I don't think anything they talked about ever got done.

So, I some how convinced their manager that what they were calling a process, could not be named - and that wasn't a good thing (sorry Alexander that attribute is not the same as your "quality without a name" ).  It didn't reflect any known process.  He didn't know much about the process either.  It was labeled "kanban." Yet they didn't exhibit any of the behaviors of a team practicing the Kanban process, they didn't even know what steps the process might involve.  They had also tried scrum, but "it didn't work" either.  It was very difficult to discuss these failures with the team or the manager, they were reluctant to discuss what about the process had failed, nor what actions they implemented when these failures occurred.

I made a bold assumption - they didn't know anything about the processes they were espousing they were using.  They had been to training classes, therefore they knew ... something.  They could use the new lexicon in a sentence (90% of the time the sentences made sense).  But how do you tell someone they are ignorant (with the full meaning - that they no nothing about a subject and it's not their fault for having never been exposed properly to the knowledge).  That's a crucial conversation.  I rarely handle these well - I got lucky this time perhaps.  I suggested the team join me in a workshop to talk about the practices they are using and how these map to the Agile Manifesto.  We did this exercise and branched off into many valuable conversations.  During this exercise we decided they were already being Agile, so many of their practices supported the principles of the manifesto.  So the question was not if they were Agile, but how much was enough... could they improve their agility - did they want to try something different?  Along the way of this conversation we might have arrived at an understanding of a difference of opinion, when I used words in the lexicon I had intended to imply certain meanings that they did not intend when they used the words.  We often seemed to use similar phrases but rarely meant the same things actually happened.  That level of miscommunication can be tedious to overcome, while still keeping an open mind that the other person has something valuable to offer.

For example: they had been using the word "kanban" to describe the process they were using because that was the term applied to the Rational Team Concert (RTC) - template work flow the company created.  They had chosen that workflow because it was easier to use than the complicated scrum workflow the organization's PMO created.  Turns out it had nothing to do with the development process they were using.  They finally agreed that they were not doing Scrum, and didn't really know how to do it... they hadn't learned much from the powerpoint presentation (imagine that).

I got extremely lucky with one of the leaders of this team. She said to the team, that she thought the
team should give the scrum master (me) a chance, just go along with whatever I said, regardless of how stupid it sounded. Try it for a few weeks, it wouldn't hurt, and then in a few weeks decide if it was working for the team, or not.  I learned of this leader's suggestion to her teammates only months later.  It was without a doubt the turning point in the relationship.  After this détente, the team members began to implement with ease suggestions on how they could implement Scrum.  One might say that this leader empowered me, but never said a word about it to me.

We did more workshops in a scrumy fashion, we had a board of items to complete.  We tracked these items on a board right there in the workshop space.  Sometimes we split the topics up more.


Sometimes the topic didn't get finished in the time allotted and we had to decide if it was good enough to continue with other topics and come back later to finish the discovered aspects.  We used the rate at which we were progressing day after day to predict that we wouldn't get all of the topics covered by the end of the week.  But that was good enough, because each day the team selected the most important, most valuable topics and we put off the lease valuable.  Sometimes a topic was dependent upon another item on the board and we had to cover some of a less valuable item so that the dependency was resolved.  In these workshops we covered many Agile principles, the Scrum process framework (3 roles, 3 meetings, 3 artifacts, and a lot more), engineering  practices (many originally defined by Extreme Programming gurus), local organization customs, terms, policies, and procedures.  Much of what was suggested by some agile or scrum nutjob was in contradiction with the customs and policies of the organization - at least on the surface.  Great conversations were developed where the team joined into filling the shared pool of knowledge.  This pool of knowledge now with company and agile/scrum knowledge was easily sorted into new understanding of how both systems could co-exist and interrelate.  It wasn't easy but it generally worked.



The team started understanding the process of Scrum and working toward getting stories in the backlog to done.  Slicing stories that had proven too large in the past and delivering working software to the business each sprint.  They developed the ability to easily estimate a story or an epic set of stories within minutes.  Their ability to read their task board and predict which stories (if any) were not going to get completed within their sprint time-box that they quit wasting time tracking a sprint task burndown.  They understood that if they got into a new domain that ability might be diminished and they could easily revert to tracking task aspirin (a unit of effort; not time) on a chart in the future. The team knew their velocity and could accomplish a sprint planning session in about an hour.  They could predict when they needed to spend more time in refining tough stories before planning and they learned how to slice stories for value and leave the fluff on the cutting room floor.

But all was not well with a performing team...  (cue the scary music - set up a scene with dramatic lighting) ... the manager was looking for a way to measure the team.  And as people are wonting to do... without any thought they look for a dashboard to tell them how well the "team is being run."  They want to know if the "team is being driven at their top performance", and they need some numbers to prove it.  Generally this is a warning indication that many conversations were wasted and no learning occurred,  in hindsight the wrong person was doing too much of the talking and the other didn't draw from the pool of shared knowledge but instead just admired the pool from the shore, never bothering to enter.  The team's manager wanted me to build a dashboard tool using the company's tool of record (RTC) that would give him all the numbers that prove his team is performing well.

I've made a strategic decision over the years to not become the tooling expert - especially with the bountiful assortment of tools the software project management industry offers.  Needless to say I didn't want to become an expert in RTC (a tool rumored to be on it's way out for this organization that was in their 3rd Agile adoptions curve).  I asked what this dashboard would have on it, what it would display, etc.?  The answer fit on a sticky note, because that's what I had with me... something like velocity, the backlog, and what the team is currently working on was the manager's response.

Here's my Nth mistake.... I hoped the request would dissipate as many thing in a transition tend to do, so I wasn't motivated to create a dashboard for the manager that would reproduce the team's well maintained Scrum task board.  I offered to work with him in reading the board, he attended many of the team's Scrum sessions at the board, rarely engaged but appeared attentive.

[this story will continue ...  as I've lost my round-toit --  wonder if it's with my marbles?]

See Also:

The Rise of Emergent Organizations  by Beth Comstock

The ScrumMaster - How to develop a team - by Marcel van Hove

Categories: Blogs

Groundhog Day at the Agile Transition Initiative

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 12:53
Now that everyone knows about Bill Murray's movie Groundhog Day - I love February 2nd.  It's my favorite, most enjoyable, beloved, cherished, esteemed day of the year.  And I don't need to tell you again how many LIKES I give this redundant day... so on to the story.

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.


[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
[What Should You Do?]
Say you are in the office of VP of some such important silo, and they are introducing themselves to you (they are new at the Org.).  They ask you how it's going.  You reply, well, very well.  [That was the appropriate social response wasn't it?] Then they say, no - how's the agile transformation going?  BOOM!  That is a bit of a shocking first question in a get to know each other session - or is it that type of session - what should you do?

I will skip to the option I chose ...  because the other options are for crap - unless you have a different motive than I do... and that is a very real possibility, if so defiantly DON'T DO THIS:

Ask the VP if this is a safe space where you can tell the truth?  Be sincere and concerned - then listen.  There response is the direction you must now take, you have ceded control of your action to them, listen and listen to what is not said - decide if they want the truth or do they want to be placated.  Then give them what the desire.  For example (an obviously easy example - perhaps); imagine that the VP said:  I want the truth, you should always tell the truth.

Don't jump to fast to telling the truth... how can you ascertain how much of the truth they can handle?  You should defiantly have an image of Nicholson as Colonel Nathan R. Jessep as he addresses the Court on "Code Red".


You might ask about their style is it bold and blunt or soft and relationship focused.  You could study their DiSC profile to see what their nature may tell you about how to deliver the truth.

Imagine you determine that they want it blunt (I've found that given a choice must people say this, and only 75% are fibbing). So you suggest that it's not going well.  The transformation has come to an inflection point (pause to see if they understand that term).  You give some archeology - the organization has tried to do an agile transformation X times before.  VP is right with you, "and we wouldn't be trying again if those had succeeded."  Now that was a nice hors d'oeuvre, savory.  The main course is served - VP ask why?

Now you could offer you opinion, deliver some fun anecdote or two or 17, refer to some data, write a white paper, give them a Let Me Google That For You link. Or you could propose that they find the answer themselves.

Here's how that might go down:  Ask them to round up between 8.75 and 19.33 of the most open minded tenured (5 - 20 yrs) people up and down the hierarchy; testers, developers, delivery managers, directors, administrators (always include them - they are key to this process - cause they know every thing that has happened for the last 20 years).  Invite them to join the VP in a half day discovery task - to find out why this Agile thing get's ejected before it takes hold of our organization. If you come away from this workshop with anything other than - culture at the root of the issue, then congratulations your organization is unique.  Try the Journey Line technique with the group.  It's a respective of the organizations multi-year, multi-attempts to do ONE THING, multiple times.  Yes, kinda like Groundhog Day.

See Also:

The Fleas in the Jar Experiment. Who Kills Innovation? The Jar, The Fleas or Both? by WHATSTHEPONT


Categories: Blogs

Big Data for Little Problems

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 18:18
Big Data for Little Problems

-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.

Categories: Blogs

Leadership Shootout at the Agile2017 corral

Mon, 02/20/2017 - 00:36
Derek "QuikDraw" Lane & I proposed this session (2 sessions actually) for the Agile2017 conference.  Wonder if you'd like to come play in the OK Corral with us?

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...

SlideShare deck

Abstract:

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.


Prerequisite Knowledge:

none really - however we assume many people have been part of a group and have seen many forms of leadership in many different context


Learning Outcomes:

- 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





Categories: Blogs

A look at Six Years of Blogging Stats

Sun, 02/19/2017 - 05:09
What do you get from six years of blogging about Agile/Scrum and your continued learning experiences?

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 bad artist imitate, the great artist steal.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.

Categories: Blogs

Book Review: The Wisdom of Teams

Sun, 02/19/2017 - 05:09


Introduction:  What We Have Learned
Originally written in 1993, this edition written in 2003 has additional insights from 10 years of working with teams.  The authors see more pragmatism on the subject, less thoughtless rushes to a fad movement.  Top leaders are seeing that teams also apply to themselves, at the top of the business.  They see the core aspect as discipline, not the management fad du jour.  The discipline for team performance has 6 basics: team size, complementary skills, common purpose, performance goals, commonly working agreements, and mutual accountability.  The desire to be a team is not sufficient - one must have performance centric outcomes as the objective.  Leadership is more important at the beginning - but not the primary determinant of success.  Most organizations have untapped potential in team performance.  The organizations performance ethic makes the difference between one-off success and widespread organizational team performances.
The authors develop an explicit terminology, to distinguish commonly misunderstood phrases when discussing groups and teams.  The Y-Chart (p. XXI) helps explain the taxonomy of groups (Effective Group vs Performance Units; Single-Leader Unit vs Real Team).  They define an abstract Team Performance Curve, noting time as the major factor in achieving high (extra-ordinary) performance.  The decision of which type of team; single-leader unit vs team is dependent upon 3 factors: need for collective work products integrated in real time by two or more people, shifting leadership roles for situational awareness, need for mutual accountability in addition to individual accountability.  Setting outcome-based goals is essential to achieving high performance (as apposed to activity-based goals).  Real teams require more time and leadership capacity than single-leader units.  Process support for multiple team opportunities across broad programs is essential to scale the team success from one-to-many.
Prologue:  A Note About What to Expect
The book notes the obvious concepts but also the subtle nature of language used to describe the concepts are required to be precise in defining the discipline.  The authors find that it is difficult to apply common sense to teams.  Expect failure when: building the team for its own sake is the goal (rather that demanding performance challenges), the discipline of “team basics” is overlooked, many areas for teams are left unexplored in organizations (teams: recommend things, do things, run things), teams at the top of organizations are the most difficult, individual accountability is the norm (as apposed to team/group accountability).
Uncommon-sense findings: strong performance standards seem to spawn more teams than teaming-for teaming sake; high-performance teams are extremely rare; hierarchy and teams go together well; teams naturally integrate performance and learning; “teams are the primary unit of performance for increasing numbers of organizations” (p. 5).
Part One:  Understanding Teams
Focusing on Team Basics - figure 1-1 (p. 8)
Apex:  Performance Results; Collective Work products; Personal GrowthSides:  Skills (Performance results - Collective work products) Accountability ( Performance results - Personal growth) Commitment ( Collective work product - Personal growth)Internal:  Skills - Problem solving, technical function, interpersonal Accountability - Mutual, team size, individual Commitment - Specific goals, common approach, meaningful purpose
Chapter 1:  Why Teams?
The authors have learned that although many executives understood the argument for using teams many didn’t extract the real potential from the teams or the opportunities to use teams.  Many times because of unwarranted assumptions and poor knowledge.Key lessons:
  • “Significant performance challenges energize teams regardless of where they are in an organization.”  Performance is the primary objective.  A team is the means - not the end.
  • “Organizational leaders can foster team performance best by building a strong performance ethic rather than by establishing a ream-promoting environment alone.”  Focus on customer satisfaction performance rather than teamwork performance.
  • “Biases toward individualism exist but need not get in the way of team performance.”  Turn individualism, self-preservation, and self-centered objectives to the benefit of the team.
  • “Discipline - both within the team and across the organization - creates the conditions for team performance.”  “Groups become teams through disciplined action.  They shape a common purpose, agree on performance goals, define a common working approach, develop high levels of complementary skills, and hold themselves mutually accountable for results.”

Teams are made up of individuals with complementary skills - build on strengths, not to cover weakness.  Define clear goals, via team communication. Build real-time problem solving skills and initiative, allow adaptive behavior.  Provide social dimension to enhance work - teams fundamental nature are people interactions.  Fun is part and parcel of the process - encourage it.
Resistance to teams come from 3 primary concerns: ”lack of conviction”, “personal discomfort and risk”, and “weak organization performance ethics” (p 21-23). 
Teams do not solve all problems, they are not the answer to every problem.  They require discipline and practice.  Organization culture may be opposed to teams if a strong individualistic performance is reward in spite of team performance.
Chapter 2:  One Team: A Story of Performance
As a basic unit of performance a team blends the knowledges, skills and abilities of several people strengthening the overall performance of individuals.  Many people having once experienced the power of a high performing team long for the experience again.  Burlington Northern launched the Intermodal Rail era after deregulation in 1981.  Largely the result of a core team of 7 individuals, with an extend group of 45 people.  This team was largely self selective, all were interested in the new prospects of intermodal rail and saw the value even in face of large corporate resistance and hostility.   The team started small and grew as needed, bringing in and fostering the required skills.  A positive attitude that the goal was possible was shared by all.  Hard work and long hours were the norm for the group.  When the group’s proposal was approved but with the worst pilot project locations the group saw the opportunity to prove the concept and jumped right into it.  The core group shared leadership roles and had strong affinity of tacit information on specific skill sets.  They assumed a ask for forgiveness rather than permission attitude, and resolved impediments quickly.  The results was a change in the business model for the industry, intermodal rail is now common place and well established business process for the rail industry. 
Ch 3 Team Basics A Working Definition and Discipline
Teams are a “powerful vehicle for performance” (p. 43)  many companies are embracing teams as a unit of performance.  There are differences in understand of what a team is and what constitutes a performant team.   Teams work well when they have specific results to achieve, and the performance ethic of the organization demans those results.
“A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.” (p. 45)
Small number - in the Agile community we say 7 +/- 2  ( 5 - 9 members).  Reasoning is the tacit knowledge of each other (the group) and the intercommunication of the team.  The larger the number the lower the accountability for success.  Large numbers have logistical problems not seen in smaller groups (space to meet, etc.).  See Also: Choosing the Team Size in Scrum by Agile Pain Relief
Scrum (software development process) offers a way to scale teams to very large (hundreds) numbers.
Complementary skills - we call this a cross-functional team.  A team must have a person with the required skills to solve the problem, and it will take many skills to solve most any complex problem.   Many successful teams realize they lack certain skills, and become self reliant on learning or acquiring the skill set.
Committed to common purpose and performance goal.  Teams must see the purpose for their existence, be motivated to achieve the goal.  The best teams spend significant time discussing their purpose, reshaping it and refining that purpose over their lifetime.
Committed to a common approach.  Agreement on the approach, process to solve the problems is a key,  they may spend considerable time on this issue also. 
Mutual accountability.  Teams must hold each other accountable for the achievement of the goal, the quality of the products, and the process.  They must be capable of defining their own standards for performance and encouraged to raise the bar.  

Ch 5 The Team Performance Curve
A team does not start out at super high performance, it takes time to reach this goal.  Many teams never reach their potential.  Experts say that if a team does reach high-performance that it should not be disbanded but kept together, and given a new purpose.  The performance curve describes this growth to high-performance.
Work groups are not teams, though they may develop into a team.  One difference is the focus either on team performance or individual performance & accountabilities.
Pseudo-teams never agree on purpose, or accountability of the group, they get stuck in rituals and avoid rather than engage each other.

Ch 8  Teams, Obstacles and Endings:  Getting Unstuck
Every team will encounter obstacles, high-performing teams develop tools for overcoming these obstacles.  Teams lower of the performance curve may need help to over come obstacles of all natures.  Teams may become stuck, and not develop the tools to resolve their obstacles, then it is time for serious help.  Stuck teams: lack energy, or enthusiasm, have a sense of helplessness, lack identity, lack purpose, members are cynical, and have a high degree of mistrust.
A weak sense of direction - the team needs to create common goals, take joint responsibility.
Insufficient commitment to performance - team needs accountability for the problem and the solution, based in performance measures.
Critical skills gaps - team needs to hire experts or develop skills.  They must be capable of admitting they need help - identify the type of help and go get it.
Getting unstuck:  - 1) revisit the basic of teams, 2) build on small successes, 3) inject new information and techniques, 4) get facilitation skills & training, 5) change team membership or leader

Transitions and endings will also effect the team, may drop them back into lower stages of Tuckman model of development - allow for that, don’t expect no emotion for losses. 
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Mean Time between Disruptions (MTD) a leadership Metric

Sun, 02/19/2017 - 05:09
A rant on Metric's I wish I had written...  so I'm going to just include it by reference and call it my own.

One thousand Words on Metrics

Here's a quote to get you even more interested in clicking that link...
ConclusionIn short, I find most grasping for metrics to be a reliable metric for lack of understanding of human behavior, not only that of those who would be measured but that of those who would do the measuring.If a higher-up wants a metric about a team, say, as an input to their judgment about whether the team’s work is satisfactory, oughtn’t there be some other way to tell?And if I choose nearly any metric on someone else’s behalf, doesn’t that reveal my assumption that I know something about how they do their good work better than they do?Or worse, that I prefer they nail the metric than do something as loose and floppy as “good work”? Well - will you look at that!  Yareev's even willing to apply his own metric to his work.  What a great example of a leader...
Let’s try that againNew metric (expiration = next subhead, privacy = public): I’m 0 for 1 on satisfying conclusions to this post.I’m hardly an expert on human behavior. If I were one, rather than being passive-aggressive and obstructive, I’d have a ready step to suggest to metrics-wanters, one that they’d likely find more desirable than metrics.Instead I have to talk myself down from passo-aggro-obstructo, by which time they’ve chosen what they’ll observe and the ready step I can offer is limited to encouraging them to observe the effects of their observation.Can you give me some better ideas?Here's my very special response to his request for comments.

   I'm wanting to +1 your whole rant, I'd like to nail it to the front doors, I'm thinking about a tattoo, but unsure where on my leader's body it should go...

   I have sometimes fantasied about asking the VP that want's a new metric, if it would be good for us to add one that measured their leadership of our group - I'll call this metric Mean Time between Disruptions (MTD).  MTD is calculated much like the old factory sign that said:
 "its been 1023 days since we killed someone at this factory, please be safe."   So let's start counting (I suggest in weeks) the time between a major disruption to the team.  For this basic metric we are looking at team formation dynamics (your familiar with Tuckman's Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing) and you Mr. VP desire the P word - but it comes after 3 stages of development beyond the F word).

   Let's start at the beginning and count weeks between Forming and ReForming.  You know like when you move a person on/off a team.  When you move the team's physical location, or when you give the team a new objective, then let's reset the clock.

   The metrics I've seen range from MTD = 0 to about 20 weeks for many teams I've worked with.  And Mr. VP says they desire persistent teams.

I would have put it on his site in the comments but I got a very dissatisfied error message from the system when I posted it... (wonder if he has a metric for failed comments?).

Agile in 3 Minutes  a podcast that discusses a journey toward agility (each episode in exactly 3 minutes).  I'm pondering... why does the magic number 3 come up in the Agile community so often?  Personally I feel it has to do with the Book of Armaments, chapter 2, verse 9 to 21; because 5 is right out!



See Also:
Team Metrics - Case Study
How could we measure Team Happiness?
Metrics for a Scrum Team  but don't confuse that post with Scrum Team Metrics which discusses the necessary and sufficient metric Velocity.
Do you really need a Project Management Office? (PMO effectiveness metrics)


Categories: Blogs

Synergic Reading Lessons

Sun, 02/19/2017 - 05:04


Wondering what other books I should read concurrently with the philosophy of this book, Other Minds, on the mind of our alien ancestors. In chapter one Peter is already mashing up Ismael and Darwin, so I feel it appropriate to do a bit of mix-in myself. I'm thinking Seven Brief Lessons on Physics will add spice. To bad I recycled How to build a Mind at Half Price Books.




I've also got to read Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins for work's book club. And I may mix-in a bit of LEGO Serious Play, because I cannot get serious about coaching - seems like a play activity to me.




Maybe I will devise a quadrant model of these books. A Venn diagram of their overlapping topics.



Squid Communicate With a Secret, Skin-Powered Alphabet
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TrumpCare in its Infancy January 2017

Sun, 02/19/2017 - 05:03
I'm extremely concerned today for my country and this planet.  It appears that history is repeating.
    January 27th -- International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

President Trump bars refugees and citizens of Muslim nations entry into the U.S.A.

The New York Times
By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-N0827-318 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Four score and four years ago a dictator brought forth on the European continent an evolving plan to rule the world and subjugate the masses.

Now we are engaged in a great resistance, testing whether our nation, or any nations conceived from the learning of our mothers and fathers and so dedicated to liberty, can long endure.  We are met on a great social square of technologic creation.  We have come to dedicate a portion of our wealth, wisdom, and life to those in history that have offered their lives and wisdom so that we may learn and prosper.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this square.  The brave women and men, living and dead, who struggle here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.  The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here in the commons.  It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that this nation, ruled by law, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this planet.

-- David A. Koontz, human patriot


President Abraham Lincoln's address, on Thursday, November 19, 1863, to dedicate Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of GettysburgFour score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

"Abraham Lincoln's carefully crafted address, secondary to other presentations that day, was one of the greatest and most influential statements of national purpose. In just over two minutes, Lincoln reiterated the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence[6] and proclaimed the Civil War as a struggle for the preservation of the Union sundered by the secession crisis,[7] with "a new birth of freedom"[8] that would bring true equality to all of its citizens.[9] Lincoln also redefined the Civil War as a struggle not just for the Union, but also for the principle of human equality.[6]".

"Lincoln's address followed the oration by Edward Everett, who subsequently included a copy of the Gettysburg Address in his 1864 book about the event (Address of the Hon. Edward Everett At the Consecration of the National Cemetery At Gettysburg, 19th November 1863, with the Dedicatory Speech of President Lincoln, and the Other Exercises of the Occasion; Accompanied by An Account of the Origin of the Undertaking and of the Arrangement of the Cemetery Grounds, and by a Map of the Battle-field and a Plan of the Cemetery)."
 -- Wikipedia, Gettysburg Address
The books title is indictavite of the author's ability to thoroughly cover a topic. Everett's 2-hour oration had 13,607 words.



See Also:
     The Address by Ken Burns - PBS. Did you hear the story about the person that would give $20 bucks to grandkids that learned the Gettysburg Address? Encouraged me to learn it and it's history. History has an interesting emergent property... it appears to repeat, this is a emergent property from a complex system. It is the complex system practicing and learning... Humans as part of this universe's system, are so far (as we know) it's fastest learning sub-system. Our apparent loop duration is currently around Four Score years.Why President Obama Didn't Say 'Under God' While Reading the Gettysburg Address
Lincoln's 272 Words, A Model Of Brevity For Modern Times by Scott Simon

    Germany's Enabling Act of 1933. "The Enabling Act gave Hitler plenary powers. It followed on the heels of the Reichstag Fire Decree, which abolished most civil liberties and transferred state powers to the Reich government. The combined effect of the two laws was to transform Hitler's government into a de facto legal dictatorship."
     Women's March 2017 "A series of worldwide protests on January 21, 2017, in support of women's rights and related causes. The rallies were aimed at Donald Trump, immediately following his inauguration as President of the United States, largely due to his statements and positions which had been deemed as anti-women or otherwise reprehensible."
     Reichstag Fire Decree - Germany 1933  According to Rudolf Diels, Hitler was heard shouting through the fire "these sub-humans do not understand how the people stand at our side. In their mouse-holes, out of which they now want to come, of course they hear nothing of the cheering of the masses."[1].   Seizing on the burning of the Reichstag building as the supposed opening salvo in a communist uprising, the Nazis were able to throw millions of Germans into a convulsion of fear at the threat of Communist terror. The official account stated:  The burning of the Reichstag was intended to be the signal for a bloody uprising and civil war. Large-scale pillaging in Berlin was planned for as early as four o’clock in the morning on Tuesday. It has been determined that starting today throughout Germany acts of terrorism were to begin against prominent individuals, against private property, against the lives and safety of the peaceful population, and general civil war was to be unleashed…[2]
     TrumpCare: In the Beginning by Bill Frist - Nov. 2016, Forbes.  "Yesterday Americans woke up to news of a new president-elect: Donald J. Trump. The immediate question for those whose lives focus around lifting the health of individual Americans is, “What does this mean for health care in America?”
Categories: Blogs