Another way: introduction to new employees

Decided to change a bit how i introduce myself to new employees. Going to share problems and challenges during first introduction days for #developers. Main question at the end: “Do you have ideas how to help me?” What do you think?job_sux

Reasons?

  • Previous one was boring even for myself: history of the company, structure, process, bla bla…
  • Want to share what we tried already recently and explain why certain things succeeded or failed
  • Want to be on the same page
  • Think that good people are inspired by problems and challenges
  • Want to share my point of view
  • Want to hear alternative solutions and ideas
  • Don’t always have a chance to participate in an interview

Just started and instantly got a feedback. “Didn’t expect it’s going to be interesting…”. Hm.. so it should work…

Employee and Employer. Login 2014 “discussion”

Apologies for those who came to listen for a discussion and wanted to hear some thoughts and ideas around the topic, but not list of benefits and locations of offices.

Not sure if made myself clear during “panel _no_ discussion”, but want to share my personal view on relationship between employee and employer. All these views are reflected in what and how i do in my company.

Challenges that i face while hiring people:

  • We need people with unique technical expertise that is unfortunately missing in Lithuania: HighLoad and BigData areas. Can’t find people who have experience working with Hadoop, Aerospike, Cassandra and are real craftsmen. That is why we combine our effort and look for these experts abroad and invest in educating our employees
  • We provide possibilities and expect people who want to have technical career. But a lot of people see the career in such way: trainee, junior developer, …., senior developer, project manager, manager… To change that we start changing our organizational structure from hierarchical to network and focus on value creation. Code name for that “POD structure”
  • Due to product dynamics and complexity there is not right answer to everything. We need people who come to work to think and are not waiting for directions what to do, but want to make decisions and achieve results. Mindset is key for us as product is changing very often and competition is tough. Although a lot of people come from companies where culture is a bit different and people are used to wait for directions from boss.

What we provide:

  • Complex and challenging product with tough world-wide competition. What does it mean? We must constantly look for new ideas and be flexible and agile product wise (mobile, Rich Media, RTB, DMP, …) and technically (Hadoop, Aerospike, TB of data, ..).
  • Possibilities to learn and try out new things: hackathons, unconferences, guilds, trainings, conferences
  • Great team that you can learn from and with
  • A chance to twist company from hierarchical structure to network organization

What i expect from candidates?

  • Want to do something valuable first and then expect something for that, but not vise versa.
  • Comes to work to think and take responsibility, but not waiting for directions and tasks from someone
  • Want to deliver great stuff

 

Teamwork: Product Manager vs Development manager

Teamwork
I am often asked what are the responsibilities of Product Manager and Development Manager? What a weird question!

Responsibility is the same! Both have to deliver great product!

Skillset is different! Both bring different value to a team! One knowledge about product and domain. Another knowledge about process, people and tech. subtleties

Do we confuse responsibility with skillset while working in a team?

P. S. Same with developers

Organizational design and Scrum

I want to share my view on what problems are created by functional departments and hierarchical structure. Only organizing your company around value can solve these problems. But for that you need to have a bit different view on things and another level of transparency. Every team must know how they “earn money” (in quotes because it might mean different things in different companies). Don’t you think that we use Scrum to solve exactly the same problems?

There are couple problem areas around this topic

Separated thinking

  • Developers is responsible for non-functional requirements: response, multi-language, hardware
  • Product people are responsible for business only decisions
  • But real business decision consists of both things and you can find right balance without having information from both worlds. The only answer to this is cross-functional teams with different expertise. Like startups!

Functional departments make it difficult to focus on value creation for clients

  • For example IT team. They understand that there are 40 servers, but it’s not always to map this to value creation and prioritize this properly. Especially when you have lots of teams. Basically it is not obvious that there might be serious impact for business if hardware purchase is late for couple of days. KPIs are often introduced to control the process, which leads to other problems like gaming metrics and etc.
  • Similar problems occur with billing departments who monitors e.g. travel costs between offices. If to analyze single expenses number it might look high, but you must understand there is a business decision behind each travel.
  • Functional departments with unique knowledge must change their thinking from control to self-service and information sharing. To challenge that even more, same services could be bought outside the company if they are of better quality.

Decision making

  • It’s very easy to end up in a situation that you are doing something because someone told you. Team does things not because the boss comes and tells what to do, but because you know the market and want to achieve something interesting
  • When you know what value is created by your team and you know how you “earn money”/”create value” this question doesn’t occur at all. You just do what is necessary and when it’s necessary. You know that you won’t be able to survive if not doing valuable things

It seems that organization that is built around value fosters

  • Right behavior
  • Desire to achieve results faster
  • Increase of transparency and information sharing: e.g. I try to share as much info as I understand my self – cost index, expenses and etc.
  • Understanding that you know and want to bring value, but not just do some stuff
  • Destruction of comfort zone. I had a post about comfort zone here.

Will be giving speech about this topic during Agile Day Riga

Conclusion: When and Why to Fire a Scrum Master?

coach_talksI was covering “Process and Responsibility” topics in my last post.
To finish my analogy with Football Coach i want to suggest three main aspects that will help you to distinguish great Scrum Master from mediocre one.

1. Process is more important than value

Process is only a tool that can help to achieve results. Great Scrum Master will experiment with various practices and approaches to find what fits best his team, which depends on team’s maturity, experience, mentality and etc. And what is more Great Scrum Master will always think about the value being created by the team.

2. Suggests decisions only, but provides no information

Great Scrum Master will work towards increasing the transparency and bring as much information as possible to the team, so they understand the problem and would be able to participate in the decision making. Great Scrum Master will make sure big picture is not lost and everybody knows what is important and why it’s important.

3. Maintains status quo

Great Scrum Master is always focused on improvements. Without challenging status quo nothing much can be achieved. You can’t win two tournaments in a row if you are not going to change tactics and strategy.

What is next?

Professional Football team has several coaches. This is another interesting discussion to have… But remember – Scrum Master is team member with different skills set. Good luck in finding a great Scrum Master and right balance between number of team members and number of “Scrum Masters”!

Presentation is available here