Zen Project Management

Is it Time for Holacracy?

Zen Project Management

I was doing some research last weekend on Holacracy for a course I’m developing for University of California - Irvine Extension. I have been teaching for them for about 8 years now and I’m helping update their agile class offering.

2020 130

How to Measure Value

Zen Project Management

Agile is about delivering value, so it is important to understand the value you are delivering within an iteration or release. However, I seen many teams that focus on how many story points they deliver but not really thinking about the value of those story points. So are there ways to measure value? The answer is, of course there is. One way would be to use the Planning Poker approach, but instead of estimating the effort for each story you can estimate the value of the story.

2016 146
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How to Budget For Your Company’s Technical Debt

Zen Project Management

Guest post by Dr. Mik Kersten While “technical debt” is a term that’s frequently used by technologists, the implication and understanding of it tends to be opaque to the business until it’s too late - just look at how Nokia lost the mobile market that it helped create.

Budget 100

Red Teaming

Zen Project Management

One of the things we talk about at work is eliminating group think and an approach to do this is using red teaming. For those not familiar with the term, red team comes from the military and originally stood for a team that represented the opposition. It has since expanded to include any team that might challenge the status quo.aka, group think. So how does this apply to the agile world? Even agile teams can get stuck in group think. A great example is during story estimating.

2017 109

Report by Dresner Advisory Services: Embedded Business Intelligence Market Study

According to the 2020 Dresner Embedded Business Intelligence Market Study, embedded business intelligence is crucial for application success. This report explores the current state of BI and why application teams are increasingly choosing an embedded solution.

Estimating

Zen Project Management

I was flying home from a client visit last week at the airport getting ready to board the plane when the gate agent announced that the flight was gonna be delayed by ten minutes due to some unspecified mechanical issue. Ten minutes later they announcement another ten minute delay. They did this two more times. So what was going on? Did the airlines not want to admit upfront that they had a 40 minute delay so they fed the delays to us ten minutes at a time?

Agile 2018 wrap up

Zen Project Management

I'm on my way home after spending the week at Agile2018. It's been a great conference. I reconnected with old friends, met some new ones, and attended some great presentations. Monday's keynote was Dom Price (@domprice) from Atlassian. He shared how Atlassian tracked team health via their playbook. One interesting statistic he shared was that 78% of people don't trust their team mates. He also hit a theme that was repeated by many of the speaker; focus on outcomes, not outputs.

2018 100

Regression to the Mean or High Performing

Zen Project Management

I had an interesting conversation with one of my Product Owners this week. She thought that over time, planning poker values feel prey to Regression toward the Mean because human nature was such that people didn’t want to stand out and therefore tried to give estimates in line with what they thought others would. I countered by saying if people were afraid to state what they truely thought the value should be, there is probably a psychological safety issue going on.

2018 100

Psychological Safety

Zen Project Management

I had an interesting experience recently. I was working with a team as they went thru their sprint planning. They had figured out their capacity based on yesterday's weather and their average amount of interrupt. The product owner suggested the sprint goal and they started picking stories based on the goal. They reached the point where one more story met the sprint goal, but put them over their estimated capacity.

2018 100

What the Military can teach us about Sprint Planning

Zen Project Management

As a coach, I've seen many Sprint Planning sessions. Some are more effective than others. When it comes to planning, the military has a long history and we can learn a few things from them.

2018 100

What is Contextual Analytics? The Next Evolution of Embedded Analytics

Download this whitepaper to learn what contextual analytics is, how BI platforms like Yellowfin revolutionize the way users discover insights from their data with native contextual analytics, and how it adds value to your software solution by elevating the user experience.

Illusions

Zen Project Management

I am still reading Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow , and I came across an interesting quote People can maintain an unshakable faith in any proposition, however absurd, when they are sustained by a community of like-minded believers. He used the example of stock traders, who think they are successful in picking stocks even though evidence points otherwise. Two out of three mutual funds underperform the overall market in any given year.

2005 100

Interview at Agile2018

Zen Project Management

A long-time colleague and friend, Dave Prior, interviewed me at Agile2018 about my presentation on being an agile coach at Toyota. You can find it here

2018 100

Debriefs

Zen Project Management

I’m working on a new assignment as part of an agile coaching team leading a transformation at a large organization. One of my fellow coaches is also a former Navy officer. We’ve had a number of conversations about how many of the techniques developed by the military can be applied to make any team a high-performing one. One particular tool is debriefing. I’ll admit, I didn’t do a lot of this in my military career, but the idea is to take time after any activity to review how it went.

2017 100

If You're Going to Offshore, Get it Right

Zen Project Management

In general, I prefer having fully co-located teams but I've been working with a number of organizations that use off-shoring as part of their delivery model. Some have the right approach, others are missing the mark. When one organization I worked with decided to move to a Scrum framework, they were also setting up an off-shore model with developers in India. In this case, they brought those developers to the U.S.

2018 100

How to Measure DevSecOps Progress and Ensure Success

Speaker: Shannon Lietz, Director of DevSecOps Team, Intuit

The new DevSecOps team is up and running, and you feel ready to take on rising security threats while delivering quality software updates. But that leaves just one question: how do you monitor your new program as effectively and efficiently as possible? Join Shannon Lietz, Director of DevsecOps at Intuit, and award-winning innovator, to learn the answers to these questions so you can lead your DevSecOps team to the top!

Empathy Mapping

Zen Project Management

I ran an exercise at the beginning of a new project last week; Empathy Mapping. This is part of an overall approach of using Design Thinking along with agile development. The idea to empathy mapping is to get to understand your users. Per the diagram below, you want to get an understanding of what your user thinks, says, feels, and does (though I have seen other examples that are slightly different than this).

2016 130

Design, Agile, and Gall's Law

Zen Project Management

The topic of design has been crossing my path lately. I see a lot of overlap with Agile principles. One of the principles I came across is called Gall’s law. It states that "all complex systems that work evolved from simpler systems that worked.” It was introduced by John Gall in his book Systematics in 1975. This is very similar to the Agile principle of simplicity. It can be seen in the practice of Test Driven Development.

2015 126

Team of Teams

Zen Project Management

I recently completed the book Team of Teams by Stanley McChrystal , a retired Army General and former commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force, operating in Iraq. It's the story of how he transformed that command in order to more effectively execute their mission. The book explores the ideas of complicated and complex. I kept thinking about the Cynefin framework , though McChrystal does not specifically mention it in the book.

2018 100

Situational Awareness

Zen Project Management

I have been exploring techniques to help my Scrum teams become more effective and one of the techniques I've been looking at is Crew Resource Management (CRM). CRM came about because of a number of airplane crashes in the 70s that were attributed to human error. More recently, it is cited as one of the reasons there were no causalities in the US Air flight 1549 (Miracle on the Hudson). One component of Crew Resource Management is Situation Awareness.

2018 100

Business Monitoring Systems: Using ML to Analyze Metrics

This whitepaper discusses how automated business monitoring solutions like Yellowfin Signals revolutionize the way users discover critical and relevant insights from their data.

Divergence and Convergence

Zen Project Management

There's another idea from Tim Brown's Change by Design I thought was worth writing about. It's the idea of divergence and convergence. Early in a design project (or any project), we want to collect lots of ideas. This is divergence.creating lots of possible choices. Linus Pauling , winner of 2 Nobel prizes, stated "To have a good ide, you must first have lots of ideas." If you're writing user stories, don't try to limit story creation.

2016 109

Are You Experimenting?

Zen Project Management

I came across another interesting idea in Change By Design. It was presented as Toyota's ideas around training and had 4 principles: There is no substitute for direct observation Proposed changes should always be structured as experiments Workers and managers should experiment as frequently as possible Managers should coach, not fix This idea of experimenting caught my attention.

2016 130

Ready Ready

Zen Project Management

I heard the term "Ready Ready" being used at work last week. I've heard of "Done Done" but this was a new one on me. I remember the first time I heard the concept of done done. When a developer finishes coding, the story is done but not done done. There are a number of other steps that have to be completed before it is really done, that is done done. The team should come up with the definition of done at the start of a project.

2016 126

Nemawashi

Zen Project Management

I am speaking this week at the Projects to the Point (P2P) conference in Cairo, Egypt. The focus of the conference is the book "How Successful Organizations Implement Change" and the speakers (myself included) each wrote one of the chapters of the book by the same title. We have an interesting approach for implementing change where I'm working, a technique call Nemawashi. It's a Japanese term that literally translates to "digging around the roots" but the meaning is much more than that.

2017 100

Are Your Embedded Analytics DevOps-Friendly?

Does your analytics solution work with your current tech stack and DevOps practices? If not, any update to the analytics could increase deployment complexity and become difficult to maintain. Learn the 5 elements of a DevOps-friendly embedded analytics solution.

PMI Conference observations

Zen Project Management

The PMI Conference was held this past weekend in Chicago. They've changed the format a bit and even changed the name to reflect the changes. When I first started attending almost 20 years ago, it was the PMI Symposium, then Global Congress and now the PMI Conference. They had 3 different keynote speakers (though I only saw 2 of them), one each day.

PMI 100

Design the Poster

Zen Project Management

Anyone that's been around Agile for a while has probably heard of the Design the Box exercise. The idea is to help the team define and understand the product vision. I'm getting near the end of a project. We've had some challenges in terms of making the right decisions on scope. This has manifested itself in completing user stories only to have the business team say "I know that's what I asked for, but I don't think it's right." We didn't do a Design the Box at the start of the project.

2016 100

Tools

Zen Project Management

When I was young, I had a riding lawn mower. We had a big yard out in the suburbs and the riding mower made the job quicker. Today I live closer to downtown in a house with a smaller yard. I’m currently using an old fashion reel mower…no motor, just foot power to make it work. For the yard I have, it’s all I need. With all the technology around us, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest thing. Tools can make us more effective, but sometimes they can be distractions.

2015 100

The Canvas Strategy

Zen Project Management

I’m making my way through the Tim Ferris' book Tools of Titans. It’s well over 600 pages but it has a lot of useful, interesting advice, though I'll admit some of it is a bit out there. He breaks the book up into three areas; Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. The book is really just a summary of podcasts done over the years with some other advice added in. One piece of advice I appreciated is what he called the canvas strategy. The idea really came from Ryan Holiday.

How to Select an Embedded Analytics Product: 12 Criteria to Consider

This report is designed to help readers select an embedded analytics product. It provides 12 criteria to consider when evaluating embedded capabilities. It also comes with a companion spreadsheet that enables users to score and compare products along these 12 dimensions and others they may add.

The Bullet Journal

Zen Project Management

I started something new in February, a bullet journal. I've played with different tools to help me keep organized and remember stuff, and this is my latest. I went back to using paper over electronic tools for notes over a year ago based on research that showed you remembered things better when you took notes the old fashion way. Even then, I wasn't sure of the best approach. For a long time I was using standard legal pads, but I didn't want to take them with me when I traveled.

2017 100

Eliminate Death Marches

Zen Project Management

This is part 2 of a 12 part series on the Principles of Agile Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage. Another challenge for people new to agile is this idea about welcoming change late in the project. It's not that they don't expect changes, it's the approach taken to deal with it. Usually there is a Byzantine approach that involves change review boards, change request forms and impact assessments.

2014 122

Tom Peters and Soft Skills

Zen Project Management

I recently had the opportunity to hear Tom Peters speak and I have to say that even at the age of 71, he still has a lot of energy and passion. He began the talk with his experience coming out of college with an engineering degree. He found the math and science classes did little to prepare him for the real world, the people part of the equation, or the “all important last 99%” of being successful.

2014 122

Empathy and the Sponsored User

Zen Project Management

Empathy is an important attribute in Design Thinking. In order to solve our customer's problems, we really need to understand them. We need to walk in their shoes. But there's a limit to how far we can take this. We can spend hours talking to an astronaut, but we will never truly understand what it's like to walk in space. Agile has this idea of the Product Owner, but you don't see much written in agile about empathy.

2016 100

4 Approaches to Data Analytics for Your Application

Selecting the right solution for your embedded analytics is crucial to the success of your application. But with so many solutions and vendors, how do you make this critical selection? Learn about the different approaches to analytics and the pros and cons for each.

Time for a Demo?

Zen Project Management

When I first learned Scrum , the idea was to have 30-day (4 week) iterations with a demo at the end of each iteration. Today I see teams that have iterations from 1 to 4 weeks, or in the case of Kanban, no iterations at all. So the question is, how often should there be a demo? I’m a believer of getting sign off on a user story once it's done. This usually comes from the person who wrote it, who may be a proxy to the product owner.

2015 100

Design Thinking and Constraints

Zen Project Management

I've been reading the book Change by Design by Tim Brown. It's part of my overall interest in design in general. I have found a number of interesting ideas in the book so far, and I'm not even half way through it. One concept had to do with constraints. Anyone that has worked much on projects know that constraints are a big part of it. He talks about three aspects of constraint; feasibility, desirability, and viability.

2016 100

The System Shall.

Zen Project Management

I’m currently working with a client that is adopting agile, which really means there are people around that have done agile, but it’s not widespread nor is anyone on my particular project experienced with agile. As is common in these situations, I’ve gone through at different points to try to help them develop their agile mindset. My developers are well-versed in agile, but the client is acting as the product owner, so their understanding of agile is important to project success.

2015 100

Trying New Things

Zen Project Management

Over the past weekend I went ice climbing with my son. He is a pretty serious climber and I've picked it up because of him, but neither of us have ever ice climbed before. We went to a place near Cedar Falls Iowa that ices down a grain silo. It's really different from the sport climbing we've done, but it was fun and by the end of the climbing day, I was able to make it to the top of the silo. How often are we open to trying something new?

2014 100

Task Management For Project Managers

How can project planning that stretches over months or years remain relevant and account for new ad-hoc activities that arrive every day?