If you’re spending time at your stand-ups talking about activities you are working on, you may be wasting time. One team used to say things like:
“Yesterday I worked on the new Java class for our product and today I will be doing the same. No impediments.”
When you hear a similar song from others and it has been going on for a few days you know something is not right.
We changed the language and it made a difference. We stopped asking what we were doing, and focused on what we accomplished.
“Yesterday I coded the methods for the new Java class and completed half the unit tests we defined. Today I am completing the unit testing and connecting with Emily to prepare for system and acceptance testing.”
The difference is subtle but for some teams, like this one, the impact is big. Accomplishment is about outcomes. Working is about activity. Accomplishment is better.
Last November, Alexis Hui and I presented a case study representing a very unique and successful agile transformation in a global financial services organization. Video and slides available on InfoQ, recorded at the Agile Toronto Community Conference.
One challenge when training managers is how to get away from the same tired old messages about encouraging self-organization and collaboration without inducing synchronized eye-rolls in tandem with a harmony of groans. The words have lost their potency.
I stumbled upon a simple exercise that might work.
Suppose the goal is to develop your employees into self-organizing and accountable teams. Ask instead:
How can I get my employees to be completely dependent on me and irresponsible?
Have your managers generate a list. (Trust me, the ideas will flow). Then, have them re-phrase the list into the opposite of what’s on the list. Here is what it might look like.
Just a stale way to deal with the new.
If you’ve tried this, please share your results!
Communities of Practice are a solid way to help experts in their field stay on top of the latest in their domains. They also help managers and leaders create a collaborative learning culture.
A CoP is a forum where experts meet together on a periodic schedule to share and learn from each other. It can be a one hour event every other week or from time to time, a mini-conference using an open space or trade show format.
I like to see managers or leaders shepherd or curate CoPs. A CoP needs care, feeding, and leadership to get off the ground and remain useful. The best CoPs I’ve experienced have the following characteristics: Continue reading
Last month at the Paris Scrum Gathering, a colleague and I ran a workshop on designing an Agile organization using Lego. We have done this type of design modeling for several years now. We’ve learned a great deal about organizational dynamics by both going through this process ourselves, and facilitating organizational design with teams.
We licensed the method under Creative Commons and have made it available to everyone. We call it Whole-Team Dynamic Organizational Modeling. When teams engage in designing their own organizations, they are much more likely to accept the trade-offs they have to make in order to deliver their products and services to the market. No organization is perfect. Each model creates its own set of silos. Each model is tuned to be effective within a particular organizational culture. All solutions have a messiness that is unavoidable. The usual reason for re-designing an organization is improved throughput and higher value delivery to customers. Sometimes, the organizational design is crafted to achieve a specific outcome related to culture or product architecture. Goals vary, but the act of building and testing an organizational model reveals consistent insights.
You can find more information at wtdom.org, including a facilitation guide to help you plan and deliver your own modeling experience.
One reason bottom-up proposals fail is because idea champions don’t engage their executives in the right way. Whether you are promoting new methods, practices, tools, or cultural changes, getting your exec team on board can make all the difference.
Having influenced executives for many years, I’ve made my share of mistakes and had some successes. Here are a few things I learned along the way.