The Appeal of User Stories

I have been “doing” user stories for a while, years now.  I have been doing them mechanically without thinking about what makes them “good”.  Not that I haven’t been working to make them better with each release on every project.  My user stories have consistently grown better following the INVEST pattern.  What I haven’t been thinking about is “why” user stories and the process through which we create them is good.Continue Reading

Performance Management

Its compensation season in many companies. Performance evaluations are either complete or in process, managers are deciding who will get more and who will get less. It can be a sore point for some employees, especially if their evaluation comes as a surprise. Its worse, when the employee does not have a way to fix it, or cannot understand what is required. Which gets to the basis of performance management – how does the manager add value to the performance of their staff?

dilbert - evaluation

Performance Management is Not…

…just filling out the review document and deciding who to reward and who not to reward. That is the least important part, and often the only part that a manager gets graded on. I have friends who work as managers for companies where performance management is boiled down to simply discriminating numerically between high performing and low performing staff members on their annual evaluation.Continue Reading

Speed and Friction

In a recent news story, Paul Walker, famously of the “Fast and Furious” movie series died in a car crash when he and a friend wrapped a Porsche GT3 around a tree. According to reports, they were going too fast for the condition of the car when they lost traction and spun off the roadway. The Porsche GT3 is a highly capable sports car, capable of speeds exceeding 180 mph. It is a descendant of the famous Porsche 911 which shares a rear engine, rear drive configuration with the lowly Volkswagen Beetle. Continue Reading

Decision Rights

Spinning. Wheels are spinning. We go around in circles. Progress is illusory. Just when we think we are “getting somewhere”, we realize we are right back where we started. Its frustrating. I bet you’ve been there. I bet you’ve experienced this feeling in many different ways.

I have heard it called many things: “Paralysis by analysis”, “Chasing our tail”, “Go fetch”, “The circular imperative” to name a few.

The symptom is that no matter how we try, we can’t convince “them” to sign up and move forward. The team won’t adopt the recommended pattern. The boss won’t sponsor the proposal. The customer won’t sign the contract.Continue Reading