“Our vision is to become a firm that pays the very lowest wages possible, charges the highest prices the market will bear, and divides the spoils between stockholders and executives, mostly the latter.”
Does that get you excited about…
Coming to work?
Doing business with this company?
This sample, from John Kotter‘s Leading Change is a reminder that for a vision to work, it has to be seen as something that everyone can get excited about–all stakeholders. And it has to be bold enough to drive people out of their comfort zone, and provide enough focus and targets to make business as usual uncomfortably impossible.
A classic use of Kanban is in field support. Trouble tickets arrive on their own schedule. Team members take a Kanban course or read a book. The team puts up a board, sticky notes, and watches as the tickets flow across the workflow, pretty much as they did before. No real improvement except that the manager can now claim that her team is using Kanban and there is greater transparency. (Everyone is happy, and now the team can tick off their “Agile” box–done.)
Traffic slows to a crawl on the Monash Freeway in Melbourne, Australia through peak hour traffic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Even when WIP limits are put in place, they are ignored. “This customer issue is too urgent so we have to exceed the WIP limit” is the logical and customer-focused rationale for the decision. A few weeks or months go by and the team has not stopped to examine why their activities do not flow faster. Kanban does not work. The flow data is not being parsed nor dissected to understand how to improve throughput. Does this sound familiar? Continue reading →
Catherine Louis and I are collaborating on research about outsourcing. Below is a list of questions about outsourcing. We’re looking for some feedback. Can you help us sort this list of questions in order of importance? If there is a reason for outsourcing or not outsourcing that is not included in the list, please add it as one of your choices.
Which of the following reasons are the most important ones for outsourcing–and which ones would you want to learn more about?
You can select your 3 top choices from the list, or add one of your own and click on the vote button!
A short while ago I was nominated to run for the board of directors of the Scrum Alliance. I wrote up the position statement that was requested for the first round. I had some trusted colleagues give me input and some of them reviewed what I wrote. I submitted it. Then I was notified I made it to the next round and was asked to submit another, updated write-up that will be posted for Scrum Alliance members to vote on.
The process got me thinking about the future of Scrum Alliance.
Will it exist ten years from now?
What will it look like?
How will it be perceived?
Will members and others view the Scrum Alliance as a trusted partner with cutting edge innovation and research and resources to match?
What will the next generation of product development teams need?
How will they interact with Scrum Alliance?
What will trainers and coached bring to the table that is innovative, fresh, and relevant?
These are the questions on my mind. But this represents only a singular view.
So I am curious. What do you expect to see from the Scrum Alliance in the future? What questions are on your mind?
I recently read (and read again) a book by Charles Duhigg that got me thinking about the power of a single idea that can transform an entire business. The book is called The Power of Habit.
Here is a summary of one story in the book that made clear to me, the opportunity to lead powerful change.
On a blustery October day in 1987, a herd of prominent Wall Street investors and stock analysts gathered in the ballroom of a posh Manhattan hotel. They were there to meet the new CEO of the Aluminum Company of America–Alcoa. It was a company that for nearly a century had made foil wraps for Hershey kisses, the metal in Coca-Cola cans and the bolts that hold satellites together. Many in the audience had invested millions in this company. But in the past year, investors had started grumbling. Alcoa’s management had made misstep after misstep trying to expand their markets and customer while competitors stole them away.
There was relief when the board announced a new CEO, but that relief, at least today, was about to be turned on its head. Appointed to the post of CEO was a former government bureaucrat named Paul O’Neill. A few minutes before noon, O’Neill took the stage. He was 51 years old, trim, and dressed in grey in pinstripes and a red power tie. His hair was white and his posture military straight. He looked dignified, solid, confident. Like a chief executive. Then he opened his mouth…
I had a conversation with my friend & colleague Catherine a few weeks ago that I want to share with you. She told me that her mother, Claire Louis, described cancer and heart-attacks not as events or as states, but as trends. She said, “You don’t have cancer but you are cancering. You have not had a heart-attack, but you are heart-attacking.”
I was struck by the power of this and then we started to think about it in terms of Waterfall and Agile. Are you Waterfall-ing or Agile-ing? Are you applying the values and principles of Agile, even if not perfectly, but enough to start to move you in the right direction? Can you build on that tomorrow? And the next day?
On my table lamp in my home office I have a sticky note that says, “Was I better today than yesterday?” Same idea. What small thing am I doing today that makes me better than I was yesterday? It accumulates.
Are we working toward building a healthy, profitable and fun place to work, or are we doing the same old thing as yesterday? A little bit every day? And building on that the next day?
There are no short-cuts, no sliver bullets, no magic processes or quick-fixes. It is all about doing that little bit each day that incrementally, almost imperceptibly, effects you and your friends, family, employees, organizations and your quality of life. You and they will see and feel the difference. But it takes time.
Shall we “ing” together?
Share your “ing” here on the blog. I’d love to hear from you.
Yesterday, Catherine Louis and I delivered our three-hour workshop on “Whole-Team Dynamic Organizational Modeling” at the opening of the conference. It was well-attended–standing room only. Our colleague, Neil Johnson wrote about in his AgileSOC blog here. InfoQ wrote an article about it here. Thanks to Shane Hastie of InfoQ for attending and sharing our work with everyone.
Catherine Louis of Cll-Group and I will be facilitating a three hour workshop at Agile 2012 in Grapevine Texas on Monday August 13. The topic; Modeling Large, Complex Agile Organizations. Over the past year and a half we have been developing and refining a modeling method that allows teams to create “preto-types” of their organizations to test ideas and solicit feedback rapidly on what might be an appropriate organizational design for a business given different types of constraints. Below is a reproduction of the abstract for our workshop.
In large geographically distributed organizations where the size of the product exceeds what a single Scrum team can build, we think through the best way to organize teams and work. Over the past year, we have been working with large projects (over 100 people), distributed in several countries and helping them develop organizational models that they can use to visualize how teams and work could be best organized to maximize agility. In this workshop, we guide the participants through the process of assessing and developing large organizational models. The models provide business stakeholders with a tool to assess the trade-offs of different organizational models visually and rapidly. Whether you are responsible for building a large scale global Agile organization, or are a team member with ideas on how to organize teams and work, this workshop provides you with tools to develop organizational “preto-types” to use for communication and troubleshooting large-scale Agile organizational design.
We invite you to join us at Agile2012 on the Adoption and Transformation Stage and take part in a highly interactive and fun workshop. Complete details can be found here. Oh yes, I nearly forgot, we get to play with Lego. See you there!
Plan-Do-Check-Act Deming circle, also known as the Shewart cycle, since Deming claimed he took the idea from him. Later Deming changed it to be Plan-Do-Study-Act, but the first version seems more popular and has become the defacto standard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Walter A. Shewhart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We’ve all seen PDCA – the famous process control cycle. While delivering a Product Owner Class at our offices in New Jersey, the home of Bell Labs, I learned something I didn’t know about PDCA. One of my colleagues pointed out that W. Edwards Deming was NOT the inventor of it! I had been attributing PDCA to Deming. It is often referred to as the Deming Cycle or Deming Circle. The person who came up with PDCA was Walter A. Shewhart. Dr. Shewhart worked at Bell Labs! I’ve always been impressed with the innovation at Bell Labs, so learning about the origin of PDCA was particularly satisfying.
Shewhart was also credited with the statistical control chart and the distinction between assignable-cause and chance-cause variance. These ideas go to the heart of LEAN manufacturing, and ultimately, Agile development. For example, the notion of work loading assumes that chance-cause variance is not removable, and as a result, we engineer throughput to take chance-cause into account, and simultaneously use PDCA to remove assignable-cause variance. And we focus on adjusting the process to remove assignable cause variance.
PDCA is sometimes misapplied. We plan a whole release,, we do a whole release, we check a whole release, and then we attempt to improve the whole release. Instead, applying PDCA on increments of a release brings us closer to the ideal of continuous improvement. Shewhart introduced this idea during the development of telephone transmission systems.