Decision Let-down

Leadership must recognize that momentum is lost when decisions are anti-climactic.  As a leader, it is tempting to focus on the decisions as your primary responsibility – but that is only half of the problem.  When decisions are not incisive, are not positive, result in no obvious actions or next steps – our responsibility is to keep the team from getting demotivated, confused, or de-focused.  Continue Reading

Team Behaviors

In my recent post on Optimum Iteration Length, I finished by saying that iteration size is not the cure for bad team behaviors, but shorter iteration size makes those behaviors more apparent.

This post is about how to counteract ineffective team behaviors, from my own experience:

There are three general diseases that have lots of different causes and lots of symptoms, but at the end of the day, they boil down to these three things: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

Top Six Estimating Tips for Programmers

Every programmer struggles with providing estimates. It is a universal truth of software development. Most of the time we go way too deep, try to be more precise than we have any reason to be. Many times we have fear driving our estimates – what if they are too big (will they cancel the project? or will they assign the work to someone else?) or worse, what if they are too small (will they fire me because I appear incompetent?).

Here are my top six tips for solving estimation challenges in software development projects:Continue Reading

Take Your Team to a Drag Race

One thing that I have noticed at the beginning of a project is that there almost always appears to be confusion. Confusion about mission. Confusion about terminology. Confusion about what is important. Confusion about roles and responsiblilities. It feels bad, it looks bad and it smells bad.

It’s like what drag racers do before a run. They used to pour bleach on the tires and spin the drive wheels, creating massive amounts of foul smelling smoke. The purpose of this exercise is to heat up the rubber, so on the actual run, the tire are already super sticky and get traction and the car launches like a “hole shot” down the strip. There is a science to this, but it feels, looks and smells bad.Continue Reading

Team Vs. Skill

Here is a team formation anti-pattern that I have observed recently: Dividing the team along the lines of Skillset.

Grouping teams along skill lines, inherently sets up competition rather than collaboration. This is especially true (in my experience) in software designed, where skills vary by “architectural layer” so subteams form at the layer level. Each subteam develops some ego: my layer/skill is important, our practices are immutable.Continue Reading

Team Vs. Me

This week I have been reflecting on the relationship of ego to team, and how to deal with clashes of ego’s as teams form, and reform.

Over the last few months, I have watched a project that I am playing a key role on transform from an outsourced staff model to a hybrid staff model, to a staff aug model, to a hybrid aug model, and each transform has required changes in project leadership.Continue Reading

Inaugural Curation Post…

This week I am making good on my intent to post some of what I’ve been reading and found valuable.

agile42 | Feature Injection Applied to Service Delivery

I spent a bit of time reading about Feature Injection as a different way (than other agile processes) at dealing with requirements.  I really am intrigued, and will try to adjust my requirements practice to include these concepts. 

Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?

This also was interesting – as it clearly reflects what we all experience – decisions take mental energy, and making decisions when mentally tired is sub-optimal.  One could infer from this how to re-arrange one’s schedule to make better decisions, or to be less mentally tired when decisions are needful.

Time to ditch “The Backlog” « The IT Risk Manager

This also was provocative – not because having a backlog is a bad thing, but because how we name things allows others to infer things from the connotative meaning in that naming. 

Calamity howlers & positively selecting with surprise « Freckle Time Tracking

A “calamity howler” (CH) is a persistently negative individual who predicts rack & ruin, frequently and at the top of his voice. It’s a great term that was especially popular in political writings back in the mid-to-late 1800′s but has since fell out of disuse.  — who is the CH on your current project or in your current team.