Project Management Archive

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What is the goal?

What is the goal?

I seem to lead with that question a lot these days. Is the goal to practice Scrum? Is the goal to apply SAFe? Is the goal to use some other Agile delivery framework? Is the goal to uphold the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto?

They are all means to an end. Your goal depends on your organization. Fundamentally, every for-profit organization I’ve come in contact with has pretty much the same primary goal. Make money!

Before committing budget for that next project, let’s first ask ourselves if we know our core business drivers.

Common Business Drivers

  • Predictability
  • Higher Quality
  • Shorter time to market
  • Lower Costs

But let’s look at this again. What is the primary goal? Make money!

How do we achieve the goal?

  • Through predictability, we get better at forecasting sales and delivery (lead times)
  • Through higher quality, we lower costs of rework and increase customer satisfaction
  • With shorter time to market, we can get an earlier ROI and increase cash flow
  • With lower costs, we free up capital for other areas of our organization

Answer these questions:

  1. What is your primary organizational goal?
  2. What are your core business drivers, relative to your primary organizational goal?
  3. If you don’t know the goal, how do you know where to spend your time or money?
  4. How do you know where to start?

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My Personality Assessment

checklistI recently took a personality assessment for LeadingAgile.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I wasn’t happy with all of the choices that were presented to me but I answered all of the questions the best that I could.  Below is the outcome of the assessment.  When I showed it to my wife, she laughed and nodded her head. Regardless if this was a partial result or the full readout, they kind of nailed it.

Strengths:

  • Assumes the weight of the world on his shoulders
  • Probably more good than bad, but his focus in personal goals and relentless intensity can make for a person who will execute at a high level.
  • His quick decision-making and ability to change direction is helpful to inspire confidence.

Opportunity:

  • His temper and emotions get the best of him at times and can be explosive.
  • He tends to be focused on going solo in his role and probably doesn’t share much.
  • He’s super willing to take on tasks or responsibility which may weigh him down especially as he’s not the most organized person either.

Final Take:

  • There’s A LOT going on in his life and he’s not taking time to stay balanced.
  • Something is new or changed in his life that is causing him to be really stressed and not have time to exercise and is causing him to be really short and harsh in his reaction and interactions with others.
  • He’s a really strong individual who has a ton of quality strengths, he just needs to fix whatever is going on with him and build a way to manage the stress and aggravation that is present.

I’ll have to give these these people credit.  They pretty much nailed me.  I am very goal orientated and do have a relentless intensity.  When someone tells me they are doing their best, my internal monologue says something like “Don’t do your best. Do better”.  To provide clarity around “he tends to be focused on going solo”, it should be written as “if he doesn’t feel confident others will do something to the level he expects, he’ll do it himself”.  I do take on a lot of responsibility and lack organization and therefore use a personal kanban for everything.  I think the misunderstanding there is I enforce my WIP limits.

Knowing my limitations makes me very anxious.  I’m working on balancing things out a little by running more, which I did this morning.  My long term goal is having a stable velocity and sustainable pace.

 

Has anyone else out there taken one of these assessments?  What do you think of them?


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You Need More Process and Tools

processEven in an environment where you have a single, ideal, co-located cross-functional team, I believe you’re going to need processes and tools. The more complex and distributed your organization, the more processes and tools you’re going to need. Doesn’t sound very agile does it? Well, get over it. You’re going to need processes and tools to enable individuals and interactions. If you can’t sit in your chair and make direct eye contact with everyone on your team, you need more processes and tools. Hell, even if you can see everyone, you’ll still need processes and tools. What is Scrum? A process framework. What is a team board? A communications tool.

Context

I’m not dismissing the Agile Manifesto. I do prefer individual and interactions over processes and tools. I’m just trying to establish some context. Most of us don’t work in that ideal agile world. Rather, we have to operate within a series of non-ideal organizational constraints. Most people are sold on the idea of Agile. The values and principles resonate with us. But my job (and LeadingAgile) is to understand the goals of an organization and help them reach them.  We start by laying the foundation for an agile enterprise by forming teams and installing a Lean/Kanban based governance model, but maintaining focus on longer term planning, risk management, and dependency management.

Current State

Before laying the foundation, I look at their current organizational structure, I look at their current governance (processes) and I look at their current metrics to see how good that structure and governance is working out for them.

Future State with Process and Tools

Whatever the future state looks like, I expect two things to help get us there.

1. We need to provide clarity by making process policies explicit.
2. We need to demonstrate incremental improvements by using tools.

Do you agree with me? Maybe you disagree with me. I’d love to read your feedback.


Image Credit: Pictofigo

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Eliminating waste with reusable story cards

When coaching clients who use physical team boards, I’m seeing more of them gravitate away from pins and painters tape and toward the use of magnetic whiteboards, sticky-notes and index cards. I see them making a substantial upfront investment in the whiteboards and then again with magnets. If the magnets are too costly, I see them make the lessor but incremental investment in painters tape, post-it notes and paper index cards.  So, how do you eliminate the waste of the disposable index card or post-it note?  Just combine the magnet and card!

storycards

To be clear, I’ve got no skin in the game with this company. I’m not being paid to write this and I’ll make no money if you purchase their product. I just think this is a product that you’ll like and I think it’s worth writing about.

Though I usually don’t do product reviews, I found the product from Story Cards particularly compelling.  I asked them to send me a few samples so I could see for myself if this is something I would recommend to others.  Well, it is!

If you purchase a group of these reusable story cards, say goodbye to sticky-notes, painters tape, magnets or pins.  They come in four colors: blue, red, green, white.  These reusable story cards are made of a flexible magnetic material on one side and whiteboard material on the other.  They peel off easily but have enough grip that they won’t blow off the board like post-it notes do.  Great idea! Thank you storycards.co and day5labs.

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Could a Patent Troll Kill Agile?

patent trollPatent Trolls

I don’t personally own any patents but perhaps I should reconsider.  If you own a patent, you can sue people for infringing on it.  You don’t have to actually create anything valuable. You just sue people and make money.  You’d think it sounds crazy but it’s happening!  People known as “patent trolls” are buying patents for the sole purpose of suing others.  One guy in Texas owns a patent and sent out 9,000 letter demanding $1000.  The violation?  He claimed to have patents that cover any networked “scan-to-email” function.

Patent That Could Kill Agile is for Sale

On December 8, Penn State is looking to sell a few patents it owns.  One of the patents for sale is US Patent No. 8,442,839, entitled “Agent-based collaborative recognition-primed decision-making.” The lead inventors are PSU professors John Yen and Michael McNeese. The patent essentially describes different ways that people work together to solve a problem.

Patent Abstract

Collaborative agents for simulating teamwork (CAST) are provided with a recognition-primed decision (RPD) model, thereby enhancing analysis through linking and sharing information using knowledge and experience distributed among team members. The RPD model is integrated within a CAST architecture to the extent that agents can proactively seek and fuse information to enhance the quality and timeliness of the decision-making process. The approach, which is applicable to both human assistants and virtual teammates, can approximately track human’s decision-making process and effectively interact with human users…

Thoughts

So, at the low cost of $5,000, you could theoretically buy the patent and then sue anyone using a collaborative agent (could be software or even physical boards) that helps people make better decisions and share information with team members.  Essentially, you could require all Agile teams to pay a licensing fee.

Questions

  1. Should Agile Alliance, Scrum Alliance, PMI, or some other body buy this stupid patent?
  2. Should VersionOne, Rally, and Microsoft join forces to share this patent?
  3. What would you do?

 

Image: Pictofigo

 

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