Monthly Archives: September 2014

Is your leadership team ready to enable change?

Here are the top 10 questions to ask about the readiness and ability of leadership teams to enable change and for project and product teams to believe in the proposed change.

  1. Is your leadership team aligned about the future, the change being proposed, or the change already underway?
  2. Is the messaging — about the change, the rationale for the change, the expectations of people, what the “new way of doing things” are, and when this needs to be in place — down the organization consistent?
  3. Does your leadership team speak with one voice and is it consistent with the vision, the goals, and the message?
  4. Do the leadership team members support each other and make and keep their commitments to each other?
  5. Do your leaders and managers trust their teams? Do people feel empowered to make a difference? Do they have a say in contributing to and guiding the change effort?
  6. Does your leadership team inspire confidence based on their ability, their competence, and their personal character?
  7. Do people respect the leaders for their beliefs, behaviors, and actions and not just for their position in the organizational hierarchy?
  8. Do the people in your organization trust your leadership team or have their thoughtless actions, unmindful words, and broken promises eroded the trust?
  9. Are the leadership team members building trust by paying attention to what they are saying, speaking directly and honestly, coming through on their promises, and listening for understanding?
  10. Does you leadership team support the change not just in words but in deeds? Are they willing, eager, and able to attack any obstacle (including those that are uncomfortable or difficult to face and discuss) that is standing between the project/product teams and their success?
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Posted by on September 21, 2014 in Agile


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Scaling and Lean Portfolio Management

The term scaling, as used in the Agile industry, can cause confusion as it can mean two things: (1) getting more and more people to adopt a new practice or paradigm in an organization, and (2) more people working on larger and larger initiatives. There are numerous frameworks like Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS), DAD, SAFe, etc. that can help address the first sense.

The second sense of “scaling” implies bigger projects with more and more resources, time, effort, and people. Larger initiatives lead to batching of requirements that creates a situation where you may have to delay the release of the most important request in the batch until the least important one is ready. Additionally, the time from idea to delivery keeps getting longer and longer. The drivers of this view of scaling often are minimizing cost and maximizing staff utilization.

The justification, I often hear, is along two lines:
1. Large organizations have far more people (100s and even 1000s); therefore, the development approach has to be able to work with this larger crowd.
2. We have to do all these things together because our clients are asking for all of this and we can’t deliver in a series of smaller releases.

Lean Portfolio management on the other hand calls for smaller batches in order to deliver business value faster (shorter lead times). This calls for smaller projects, an emphasis on MMFs and projects (or opportunities) that provide the most value, limited work-in-process, and a balance between demand and the capacity of the delivery organization. The focus here is on speed of delivering value to customers, obtaining feedback frequently, and on realizing ROI quickly.

Lean Portfolio management thinking is along the lines that identifying and prioritizing opportunities based on business value, developing the next most important feature, minimizing wastes and delays, ensuring flow, and delivering chunks of value sooner is paramount; this does not need larger and larger teams and scaling may be unnecessary.

However, introducing lean portfolio management concepts isn’t always easy. Sometimes there is a lack of appetite to make meaningful change (e.g., to restructure teams and move away from existing silos), to accurately define value for requested functionality, to focus on end-to-end value streams, or to question existing beliefs and assumptions (e.g., work cannot be split into smaller opportunities and simplified or that smaller releases won’t be acceptable to clients). This is frequently exacerbated by a lack of understanding of the true goal — is it minimizing unit cost and maximizing resource utilization or is it delivering business value faster — and by an inability (or lack of desire) to recognize and remove delays that impede product development.

Companies can benefit by having an experienced coach guide the transition to a lean way of portfolio management. The coach can provide training and advice and also prevent serious mistakes in implementation.

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Posted by on September 8, 2014 in Agile


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How have you surprised yourself recently?

Doing just as much as you think you can is good;
Going a step further is excellent;
Surprising yourself is AWESOME!

How have you surprised yourself recently?

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Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Uncategorized


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The opposite of what you know is also true

While watching a movie (The World Before Her) last night with my family, I was reminded of a lesson I learned the hard way when I started my coaching career. The movie was about two women from very different backgrounds — one was an aspiring model; the other a religious fundamentalist. They had very different world-views influenced by their situations and their environment. Both had a narrow view of society and how they fit in and both felt they were right in what they were doing.

Anyway, the lesson …

“Never judge anyone for the choices that they make, and always remember that the opposite of what you know is also true. Every other person’s perspective on reality is as valid as your own, so no matter how certain you are that what you’re doing is the ‘right thing,’ you must humbly accept the possibility that even someone doing the exact opposite might be doing the ‘right thing’ as well. No matter how certain we are of our version of the truth, we must humbly accept the possibility that someone who believes the exact opposite could also be right (according to their time, place, and circumstance).”

Hawkeye, Timber (2013-02-19). Buddhist Boot Camp. HarperCollins.

So what you ask? It’s important to recognize that clients are often stuck in a specific context, a set of beliefs, and a defined approach. Good coaches serve as change catalysts and help them see other plausible states while always treating them and their view points with respect (even if counter to your own).

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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Coaching


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