Management gurus

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in management, quick thoughts

There is huge amount of management crap nowadays: various books, theories, groups, associations, webinars and etc… But it seems that there are very interesting places where we can learn how to organize companies and which management practices to apply.

Recently I stumbled upon one article in Wikipedia with a strange name Dabbawala – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dabbawala. The more information i found more i was surprised how their work is organized – http://www.dabbawala.in This food delivery service dates back to the 1890’s and it’s goal to deliver freshly made food from home in lunch boxes to office workers. No one could replicate it successfully so far (at least I couldn’t find any prove for that)

Key aspects I identified for myself. I find them quite difficult to implement in most (all?) companies, but it seems that it’s critical for the success despite context you are working in:

  • Simple coding system and intense team work allows to have no documentation at all
    • What are ways in your organization to throw away documentation or process descriptions which get old very fast? Too many times I saw efforts to make this and it never works. But we are stubborn, aren’t we?
    • To simplify things we must switch from rules to principles. Of course principles must be discussed and reviewed, but they must go first. In this case it won’t be so scary to change and adjust rules.
  • Very simple and obvious external regulatory mechanism for teams that instantly provide truthful feedback – railway system. If you fail, you can’t do anything about that and you must learn otherwise you go directly to bankrupt.
    • In most other companies regulatory mechanisms are very “soft” and depend on people judgment not objective variables, e.g. sprints in scrum, midterm financial results and etc.
    • No idea so far how to implement such obvious regulatory mechanism. Any ideas?
  • Flat and decentralized organizational structure. Only three layers of management. Each Dabbawala contributes capital when joining and return on capital is ensured by monthly division of the earnings of each unit.
    • All companies are hierarchical and centralized. These ideas are too radical for most of the companies. Niels Pflaeging has ideas about that…
  • Connection with the client between team and client is very strong and personal. Dabawallas own their relationship with customers and tend to work in their locations for years. They know their clients personally and build long term and trustful relationships.
    • How many steps is your team away from the clients: sales, customer support, marketing, project managers and etc.?

I am sure that there are a lot more good practices that can be applied, but these are the most challenging ones to apply in our context. What do you think about that? Please write me if interested to discuss how can these practices can be adopted.

Do you know some other successful systems that we can learn from? I wouldn’t be surprised if I find that same principles that work there.

Sustainable pace

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in management

I’ve read interesting article about sustainable pace recently. The more we use Scrum as a framework for our development approach the more i feel importance of sustainable pace, especially on organizational level.

Here is one article on this topic on Scum Alliance website – http://www.scrumalliance.org/articles/350. Is sustainable pace just a nice to have? Definitely not!

Some ideas how to keep sustainable pace on a team level:

1. No time sheets, no fixed working hours, not even a suggestion that you are “required” to work 8 hours a day. Set expectations about what people are supposed to deliver.
2. Focus rather on getting things done than being busy. If you are having a pointless day go home. If you are on fire and getting things done – keep going. To paraphrase Kent Beck “every hour at the office that you don’t want to be there is overtime”
3. No work on weekends
4. Do Fedex days, learning sessions. Any other activities that are not related to daily tasks.

 

How to split user stories

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in management, personal improvement

split user storyThis topic is always a problem. And main thing is not about user stories, but about achieving the common     understanding of things among team members, product owner and stakeholders. That’s why it is important to find the best way how stories should look like and how to split them in case if they are too big and ambiguous.

Common story problems:

  • Stories cover too much
  • Stories have too much dependencies
  • Stories do not clearly explain what user wants

Splitting stories lets us separate the parts that are of high value from those of low value, so we can spend our time on the valuable parts of a feature. (Occasionally, we have to go the other way as well, combining stories so they become big enough to be interesting.) There’s usually a lot of value in getting a minimal, end-to-end solution present, then filling in the rest of the solution…

While browsing an internet i found some great link about this:

Fictional story

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in management, process

A: How is your Scrum adoption?

B: Oh, we are doing just great. It’s the 25th sprint already !…

A: Great! Are you satisfied with Scrum?

B: Well, not really … neither the users nor the operations department is happy. Maybe that is because we only release once a year?

A: Why don’t you release more often?

B: Neither the customer nor operations wants more frequent releases!

 

“The Five Stages of Change adoption”

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in management

If you ever tried to apply any kind of change anywhere you should have faced certain difficulties. And success of change adoption depends on understanding how people react and what actions are taken. But in any case it’s difficult and requires a lot of patience, communication and trust.

While participating and/or observing various changes I noticed some typical type of people behavior (I am personally not an exception here), but couldn’t explain for myself what is all about…
I watched one of the old “House” series recently … and Eureka!!! I found an explanation for myself, well at least it helps me to understand all the stuff better now. But what is the most important for me – react properly!

They were talking about death and it’s acceptance in that film – Kübler-Ross model: The Five Stages Of Grief. You can read more here.

Well, changes are not necessarily related to death :), but while reading about each stage you can definitely find very interesting analogies. I want to present you my interpretation of each stage:

1. Denial — “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me.”Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of positions and individuals that will be left behind after death.

Most changes are initiated in order to solve some problems. Natural reaction – NO, I don’t have any problems. Everything works fine, I always do like this. Denial can occur due to following reasons:

  • External: You don’t trust a person who initiates the change. Tons of reasons can be here. Change adopter must work on gaining more trust.
  • Internal: Its’ quite difficult to accept that you have a problem. Some people never accept that. Try to be more critical on yourself

2. Anger — “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; “Who is to blame?”Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.

When someone initiates a change, she wants to go to the end and reach the goals that were raised for a certain change. As the result “changer” keeps forcing the changes. But… Do you still remember the first stage? People don’t agree that the change is needed, so all your actions will cause an anger: “I told you that everything is ok, why do you keep changing it?!?!” Make sure you keep explaining why you are doing all this and your intentions are good. 🙂

3. Bargaining — “Just let me live to see my children graduate.”; “I’ll do anything for a few more years.”; “I will give my life savings if…”The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, “I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time…”

Basically everybody understands that there is no way back. But you will try to get the best out of it like possible trade offs or something. You can event pretend that you accept the change. Everybody must make sure that you are not living in illusion that change has already happened. And stop bargaining, change cannot be implemented partially.

4. Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die… What’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.

IMHO, this is the most obvious stage in terms of causes. How do you feel when not able to find a compromise with someone? Little disappointment…  Disappointed people can make crazy things, which you for sure wouldn’t like to happen, e.g. leave a job, work avoidance, dramatic reduction of performance and etc. The most non-desired things can happen during this stage and everyone should be careful here.

5. Acceptance — “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”In this last stage, the individual begins to come to terms with his mortality or that of his loved one.

Finally! Everybody accepts the change (make sure you are not in the stage #3 ;)) But do not relax, make yourself ready for another change! Life never stops…