We hosted the very first lean coffee in Milton Keynes this week and it was a good one.
A great mix of creative agencies, transport systems, automotive, retail and consulting. All with very similar challenges and ideas.
In particular we had some great discussion around the usage and meaning of story points and how on occasion we fail to give visibility and consideration to the business/customer value of the work being delivered and instead only focus on technical complexity.
We discussed Scrum and how in very small teams perhaps adding in all ceremonies becomes an overhead. We started discussing what problems/inefficiencies we were actually looking to solve and that perhaps Scrum wasn’t the most appropriate solution.
Innovation was another that kept us talking for the full 12 minutes (8 + 4), how best to encourage innovation? what strategy encourages the right behaviours? how best to fund? what even is innovation? funnelled through one team or everyones responsibility? continuous improvement or disruption? does your business have agility?
So many questions, perhaps innovation is a great topic for a break out workshop at a conference, if anyone fancies joining me let me know.
Over the last few months I have taken in several conferences, some Agile focused and some more IT focused. Below I have captured the main trends and topics coming out of the community.
My favourite keynote of the year was by Linda Rising: http://www.slideshare.net/AgileSparks/mindset-better-60-min and a youtube video here,
My thinking aligns alot with hers around the ineffectiveness of our approach to teaching and learning through doing and failing.
Below are a few of the main ideas/topics I have learnt from this year…..
Mindfulness – sharing stories of failure in teams to build trust and using time to encourage mindfulness techniques. Makes teams feel safe and relaxed.
Practice mindfulness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thYoV-MCVs0
Management 3.0 and performance mgt – There is growing recognition that the traditional approach to Performance Management e.g. appraisals and reviews are ineffective and especially toxic to Agile teams. How can we experiment with alternatives and be team-centric and more aligned with Agile values. How, with the appropriate support, it is possible and desirable for Performance Management to become a team responsibility.
Jurgen Appelo: Managing for happiness: Don’t manage the people, manage the system around them, as Deming famously said “A bad system beats a good person everytime” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvJ4KlVlqV8
One of the speakers, Adam, works in a team that built: https://www.team-sense.co.uk/home/welcome
Also if you haven’t read this, then I would strongly recommend: http://www.managementexchange.com/story/atlassians-big-experiment-performance-reviews
Ecosystems and platforms – Particularly in the IT community ecosystems are now just as popular as digital, platforms and IoT. Ecosystems are seen as a way to connect with vendors, customers and communities. I still think we are a little confused between platforms, ecosystems and marketplaces and some of these words just feel like a way for a vendor to sell a solution. It’s often interesting to compare and contrast the success of startups versus larger enterprises trying to innovate their business model.
An interesting read from an old boss of mine: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mythbusting-platform-economy-mark-ridley
Cryptocurrency – Some really interesting research being carried out by Imperial College London, they built this visualisation of the blockchain showing chains being created live. I don’t pretend to fully understand the underlying tech but it does look pretty. For those that are interested this is the story of how bitcoin was created: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n13/andrew-ohagan/the-satoshi-affair
The internet of things (IoT) –
I’ll just leave you with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSIPNhOiMoE
Love it or hate it the world of connected devices is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsiHUfIpNGY
Cubic (a little like echo) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGBSIabp2eg
Accounting for Agile – Where traditional cost and time accounting meets Agile fail fast and iteration and experimentation….starting to recognise that timesheeting individuals and seeing additional work (iteration) as maintenance and not adding new value is perhaps not effective for an agile environment. Measuring individuals output and not teams effects effectiveness. Realisation that timesheets are not accurate, teams are mostly stable so we know how much they cost and we can measure the output and the value generated. We can start to estimate the cost of delivering features as velocity and item size and team size/cost becomes stable (usually 5 sprints). Initial bugs can also be capex and after a period of opex new value within that feature set can then also become capex.
Start to have common sense conversations with your finance teams in the context of value creation. Various methods can be used if estimates are required for spend or a budget can be assigned. Ensure for audit purposes that new features (and feature iteration) and bugs and tech debt etc is clearly defined in the work item tracking system.
This is also interesting talk on Agile accounting and GAAP, capitalizing costs and depreciating investments and how this impacts the bottom line is a growing area of discussion in Agile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZXG1XON0Pw
Research and cognitive bias – you’re in a bar and looking at the beer options, have a beer (£3) or premium beer (£4). 80% of people go for the premium option. What if we add a third option? A really cheap beer for £1.80. This time 80% purchased the normal beer. By adding an option nobody wanted we changed behaviour.
Kat Matfield always does great talks in this area: https://vimeo.com/148545335
Kata – The technique of kata and kata boards has grown in popularity this year, we had a group present it at our Agile in Covent Garden meetup in February. The background to it is here: http://blog.crisp.se/2013/05/14/jimmyjanlen/improvement-theme-simple-and-practical-toyota-kata. It helps focus behaviour on having a vision, a target condition and regularly experimenting with change towards the target condition. Also the importance of reviewing if you are close enough to the vision (definition of awesome).
Some other interesting related areas are the concept of Gemba (go to the place) and Toyotas A3 thinking: https://www.moresteam.com/lean/a3-report.cfm
Cost of delay – Some interesting discussions about how cost of delay can be used to aid decision making and prioritisation. A few interesting articles:
Urgency profiles: http://blackswanfarming.com/urgency-profiles/ and COD http://www.leadingagile.com/2015/06/an-introduction-to-cost-of-delay/ and if you want to learn from the master: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmU5yIu7vRw
Skills mapping – Something I first heard by Dan North the concept of understanding what skills the business needs versus skills your team has versus what skills your team wants to learn/teach. Rather than dashing for outsourcing or recruitment how can we get the best out of the teams we have. Nothing more amazing than learning something new that I’m interested in and being able to apply it to value creating change for our customers.
Dans talk (Skills mapping diagram at 40minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzWmqlBENMM
FSGD (Frequent Small Good Decoupled) – encapsulated attributes of work should have to be successful. Jon Terry from Leankit talks about the importance of deciding the differing importance between frequency, small, good and decoupled. For them SAAS meant Frequency was critical but not at the expense of quality. They talk about quality in 2 contexts, marketability (from customer perspective) and sustainability (from a technical excellence perspective, keeping customer in the long run i.e. cost, performance).
Technical standards were also introduced TLDR (tested, logged, documented and reviewed)
Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHEJ7wIojc4
I hope you will enjoy these topics too, if you want . to discuss any at length let me know 🙂
As a complete aside Schindlers Elevators, had never heard of them but when looking into IoT and connected cities they are trying to innovate. Not only how devices connect to lifts, how marketing can be targeted based on mood (facial detection) but also how elevators can be ordered and customised in a more digital way.
Picture the scene, in fact no, just look at it below….
Walking across the Thames after a beer after work with a friend and off home to retrieve my dinner out of the dog. When alas I discover the trains are delayed. Damn Govia Thameslink!
What to do? Sit and wait 30mins for the next train? What a waste of time. So my hungry self decides to walk back across the river and take in the magic of London on a summers evening.
At that moment I had a craving for burger, not just any burger, a gourmet burger. I looked on their mobile site to see if they did takeaway, I was inspired by a story of George Osborne having one delivered (that might have been Byron).
On pressing takeaway I was invited to download the app, 90 seconds later it was installed, almost brings a tear to the eye considering that would have taken all evening in the late 90s.
I registered on the app, got my card out my wallet and scanned it, all numbers were magically lifted into the app (ignoring the fact they didn’t have apple pay or paypal, having to get my card out, what a disgrace).
I chose a burger, camemburger as I’m a cheese fiend, and it detected my nearest GBK (only have 0.3miles to stagger) and paid using my previously scanned card. Even 3D secure wasn’t required for this transaction 🙂
My estimated time was a short while after I arrived so I used the facilities (needed due to the aforementioned beer). My burger arrived early at 20.30.
I then headed off to the train station to inflict my disgusting burger eating on other innocent train passengers……Don’t look at me, I know I’m disgusting…….
God bless our connected world from turning a train delay into an efficient and delicious dinner, driven by digital.
I started thinking the other day about words and just how important they can be when associated with creating, driving and influencing change.
I remember talking to a frustrated developer who questioned the Agile movement and all the new words particularly in Scrum and in our adoption of the Spotify model. Scrum, sprints, guilds….they were still doing the same job so what was different?
I had the same realization when I worked with the HR department. Lots of HR teams have re-branded as ‘people teams’ but again, what do the new words mean, why bother?
I’ve worked with supportive and knowledgeable people teams and i’ve worked with some unhelpful and process driven people teams. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the importance of words being supported by strong leadership and purpose.
“Strategy Without Execution Is Hallucination”
When a company introduces the spirit and values of agility in it’s people, processes and strategy or when it renames HR to the People team what we really are looking for is a change in behavior.
I once remember a conversation about the use of the word ‘resources’, one company CEO demanded the word be banished from all conversations, processes and internal communications. A strong statement that they cared about people and did not wish to dehumanize them with the phrase resources.
That got me thinking that words are used to change behavior, once the behavior is changed and the right habits are in place the words become less important. In some companies we can talk about people as resources because the behavior and culture is already at a healthy level.
The same can be said for Agile, some will say it’s just common sense, and I agree, but the words are there to remind us of what values and principles we are aiming for and to help influence a change in our behavior.
So remember, next time you are invited to a retrospective or Kaizen, these are not just silly names for project updates or briefings these are your opportunity to embrace and influence change, collaborate as a group and talk about how you feel about your purpose, the team and the wider business.
The people team should also remember that they are there to support the growth, development and success of people rather than just becoming admin and pointing people to pages on the intranet. Cultivating talent and leading by example, ensuring learning and development is a core value rather than just something available if people have time.
If you are crafting words then choose your words carefully and embrace the power of change, if you are someone questioning “yet another new internal communication with new words” really think about why these new words are being used, what is Agile, Kaizen and Scrum? better still go and ask whoever wrote it or said it, as they should know the change they are trying to influence and the behavior they want to see.