Yes, LSSC is coming around the corner, and if you haven’t got your hotel yet, well, it’s time to.
The program is packed with goodies. You wouldn’t want to miss it, do you?
I spent the evening with David Anderson, Janice Linden-Reed, and a few other friends, discussing the management of the volunteers. We toured the Hyatt hotel in Long Beach; I can say the setup is even better than last year in Atlanta.
The speakers and program will be announced next week.
I’m already looking for the event.
My talk at LSSC10 on infoQ: Through The Lean Looking Glass
Christophe Louvion tells the story of an online advertising company which had to give up using Scrum because it did not create enough business value although the development was delivering working software. They chose to use Kanban instead, applying Lean principles at all levels of the organization, resulting in true self organizing teams, accelerated rate of change, and better financial results.
See you there.
I’ve been pretty silent on this blob the past few weeks. Starting a new job is quite a tow.
After doing Kanban for over a year at my previous gig, and enjoying it, it was quite natural for me to introduce it to my new teams.
The first team that jumped into it (from scrum) decided -on its own- to put a presentation for the other teams after a few weeks.
- Stand ups differ – going story by story, not based on individuals
Less Rules: No roles prescribed, More Dynamic
Backlog more Flexible
- Pros: Better Team Focus, Less Meetings More Time to Deliver, More Flexible Work Process
- Cons: Less Structure Could Cause issues with Some People
- How Its Working Out: Feels Good, Increased Our Collaboration, Communication Has Increased, Forces Follow Up to Eliminate Blockers
The team loves the reduced prescription list. This may only be a sign that they like change – this is a proactive team.
Half of my teams have now introduced Kanban changes to their scrum. Some have directly abandoned iterations and everything coming with them, some have simply added limits and changed a few things.
PS: for the picture in the post? I don’t know. Ask my team. They put it in their presentation
Displaying calories on the menu is about to become mandatory for restaurant chains with more than 20 locations.
The idea is simple: showing a 700 calorie burger will get people to eat better, and will decrease obesity.
Unfortunately, a recent study shows calorie display has extremely low to no impact on the consumers. While critical, this information doesn’t curb old habits and bad behaviors.
What’s that to do with agile?
I know most people swear by them. They ensure things happen; they guide the team day after day; they promote decision making.
Really? Is your iteration burn down working that well?
or is it suffering the same problem calories on the menu have?
Scary information, not much action?
The company is already very agile. On to lean.
Oh, before I forgot: with the new game changing citygrid local ad platform, Citysearch is looking for a lot talent. I mean a lot. If you have experience in large scale search engine, ad engine, BI, mobile apps, data processing, APIs, ping me!
Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate in Economics and founder of behavioral economics tells us that happiness comes in two forms: the one coming from the experiencing self (as we do things), the one through the remembering self (as we remember how we did things).
Here’s a simple experience that demonstrates the difference: 2 patient undergoing a colonoscopy reported their pain level every minute. Resulting graphs:
The total amount of pain experienced by patient #2 is clearly higher than for patient #1. Same amplitude, and a longer duration.
But asked about the procedure a month later, patient #2 will recall a lower pain than patient #1.
Why is that?
While patient #2 pain lasted longer, after pain peaked (like for patient #1), pain slowly went down to almost nothing.
Simply said, our remembering self mainly keeps memory of past events as how they ended.
With this knowledge in hands, here are some opportunities to leave a positive long lasting effect within the business:
- Retrospectives: end them with accolades: “I really appreciated that.”, “thank you for…”
- Employee feedback sessions: attack difficult topics in the middle, and end them with opportunities and achievements
- Production emergency midnight oil burners: when all over, bring some pizza and beer
- Board meeting: follow the not-so-good sales revenue with smaller problems
Where else can pain management be leveraged to minimize business challenges and provide better memories?
This is a short introduction to the philosophy of W. Edwards Deming, the man who taught the Japanese how to constantly improve the system.
For hundreds of years, storytelling conventions have used “once a upon a time…” for opening stories, and would close them with “and they all lived happily ever after. THE END”.
Movies have also used “THE END” in a pervasive way since the inception of the industry.
Most entertainment and activities we engage into have a clear beginning and end – a TV show, a basketball game, a magazine.
Our brains are trained from the earliest age to deal with time bound projects.
Waterfall projects with deadlines fit well this mental model.
Scrum iterations, while hard to accept for many people because of the short timeframe, fit well this model.
A pillar of lean is continuous improvement (kaizen) of products, services and processes. This is the relentless focus on improving flow, and reducing waste. FOREVER.
Left unattended in an organization with low maturity, the lean proposition comes at odds with everyone’s deeply rooted reference points – from the line workers up (“okay… I’m done”) to the CEO (“I thought this problem was already solved!!”).
Until continuous improvement is a natural part of the culture of an organization, it is critical to celebrate the wins, no matter how small, no matter if they “could have” been achieved faster. A day when the stock market move up, even by a point, is a good day. A day with some improvement is a also a good day.
It doesn’t really matter what your position in a your company is. Someone will care that you made something run a bit faster, saved a minute, or a dollar.
Once upon a time, there was a manager. He heard about a teeny improvement. He gave a big and loud thank you… and he lived happily ever after.
Most managers, one day, realize standard performance appraisals goals don’t work. They usually ask around and get pointers to SMART goals. Even if living in a bubble, a simple web search for “goal setting” will return some link “SMART goals” in the first results.
Specific / Measurable / Attainable / Realistic / Timely
To learn Java, by 7/1/10 requiring going to a java training
A ah-ha moment often follows.
Like a veil of micro-management off the face, SMART goals open the door to constructive goals, a new manager-employee relationship. Hand in hand, they can finally agree together on a few goals that leaves uncertainty at the door; this makes stretching the goals a positive challenge for the A+ performers.
This progressive goal setting framework is finally making it to progressive HR departments; the ones who understand it is time for them to burn the old competency based performance appraisals.
These 21st century SMART goals are human, fair, action oriented, performance enhancers.
And, [breathe in, breath out, breath in] I despise them.
Don’t make me wrong. I went through the cycle – the search, the discovery, the epiphany, the research, the overwhelming abundance, the adulation. I wrote countless SMART goals for myself, and encouraged my teams to do the same.
Why bitter about them then? Did I fail too many, blaming them rather than myself?
Not at all.
My rejection comes from a much deeper root cause.
Specific / Measurable / Attainable / Realistic / Timely
Let me rephrase a bit:
Analyze what can be done (Attainable / Realistic), set a definitive target (Specific / Measurable), and execute by a given time (Timely).
Let me rephrase a bit again:
Plan, set scope, set time
This sounds awfully like a mini-waterfall project plan. Doesn’t it?
The problem with SMART goals is the set of a specific target.
Lean tells us that systems will produce to their intrinsic capacity. The same applies to people.
If the target is set to low, there is definitive under achievement. If set too high, failure or unsustainable efforts are the only options.
Think about target setting this way: if you know what someone will produce, what is the point of setting a target. If you don’t know, what is the point of setting a target? Gamble management?
If set to low, there is definitive under achievement. If set too high, failure or unsustainable efforts are the only options.
Long ago, Deming warned managers of target setting through his 11th point of leadership: “Eliminate numerical goals, numerical quotas and management by objectives. Substitute leadership.”
So, if SMART goals are stupid, let me introduce you to STUPID goals:
Sincere: attack issues you really care about. Don’t waste time where is heart isn’t
Transparent: you likely won’t achieve big things alone. Make your goal as much visible as possible so others know how they can help you
Unique: your worth depends on the assets no one else has. Cultivate those
Preeminent: focus on outstanding things to have outstanding impact
Independent: reaching a goal is hard enough, don’t tangle them together
Daring: be courageous, and push beyond your limit
Once set, let flourish.
Revise when necessary.
Attend this webcast and learn how the widespread adoption of agile software development is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, agile teams have reported impressive gains in productivity. On the other hand, these gains seem to plateau after a while, leaving a disquieting suspicion that something might be missing. This webinar will cover a few things that might be missing. It will help you look at your software development process and find leverage points for sustained improvement.
The webinar will look at:
- Failure Demand – what it is, what causes it, and why you have to get rid of it
- Workflow – how it’s different than scheduling and why it’s more important than deadlines
- Waste – how policies can actually cause waste
- Relentless Improvement – taking retrospectives to the next level
Don’t miss the opportunity to hear this FREE live presentation by Mary Poppendieck. A popular writer and speaker, Mary continues to bring fresh perspectives to the world of software development.
There is no cost to attend, but you must register here
DATE: 3 February 2010
TIME: 2:00pm EST/11:00am PST
DURATION: One hour
I just finished Don Reinertsen’s latest book: The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development.
In an nutshell, he debunks product development myths and uses the economic theory to justify all decisions in quite an elegant manner.
The book is structured in 175 principles, with a fast rhythm; this is not a big book (300 pages), but it is quite dense material.
I was about to post a great review, and he just posted a view today where he talks about it. Go check it out and let me know what you think.