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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Learn how to read 48 books in one month + additional 14 book summaries for free

Agile is about being fast and flexible. I love reading books about AGILE and surrounding topics (motivation, management, happiness, nature,...) but always struggled reading a lot of text and having the need to condense relevant information afterwards. I guess you can apply the 80/20 rule too, assuming that you just need 20% of a book covering 80% of the relevant information.

I started creating my own summaries for books (find a detailed list at the end of this post) and learned how useful it is for a fast recap on key facts and to memorize a reading.

But it takes a considerable amount of time for summarizing (estimated at least the time reading the book, depending on the way of working with the book in the first reading session). Often I struggled to find the time to create the summaries resulting in a high loss of input (you can remember around 10% of something you read).

To learn speed reading is a great way to increase your reading efficiency by keeping a high effectiveness. But still it's to much clutter and now I found a way to combine having less clutter and using speed reading.

For me a highlight is Blinkist (use this link if you would like to take me as a referral). It's an awesome service offering high quality book summaries. I'm using it for roughly one month now and already finished reading 48 book summaries. 

I compared some of the so called Blinks to books I already fully read before and must admit it's really a great quality of the provided summaries. You can see that it's done by professionals

It takes you around 15-20' to read one blink. I try to read 2 blinks a day and can fully convert my traveling time into a joyful reading experience. 

Sharing every finished READ in a tweet is a small motivator and maybe lets engage with other readers and likeminded.

It's made for mobile devices (and desktops too) and works perfect with my Sony Xperia Z3 compact tablet (btw - what a device!!). I can mark important areas and with the premium version export my highlights to Evernote and use a Kindle for an even advanced reading experience. 

Next step to support better memorizing will be to extract Meta Summaries (Summaries of Summaries) and condense this knowledge in concrete next steps to actively use my acquired knowledge. Stay tuned on the outcome ;-)

My list of book summaries

Maybe it's helpful for you too, to use some of my summaries (not at all in that high quality that the Blinks are providing, but written with passion too ;-)

What do you recommend for efficient reading and memorizing? Please share your thought and drop a comment.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hey recruiting agencies - there are 9 points that help to build the bridge between an applicant and the company

In part 3 of the recruiting blog post series I'll consider the perspective of a recruiting agency/headhunters. A really competitive market, trying to find talents in a employee market situation. Read about the agencies connection to the applicants/talents and the connection to companies considering 9 important steps to succeed.

Your connection to the applicant

I had some really terrible contacts with recruiting agencies. Knowing at least some parts of my profile and being prepared for the first contact is the minimum you can expect, isn't it? 

Lets focus on the good experiences and work from there.

1. Be really prepared

I liked direct contact and being valued. My best impression I got during an interview I had face-to-face with an agency, taking one hour time to get to know. For the interview the agency was really prepared. I still had to shortly provide an overview about my profile and we clarified some questions on the fly but later on the focus went to my search. Asking specific questions like:

What am I searching for?

What not?

Why are specific topics important and what are the must haves and could haves?

Monday, February 16, 2015

3 key benefits of writing a blog and learn how to build your successful one

What's blogging all about

For me - it is learning, connecting and networking and storing information. I write posts now for some years and I notice how often I refer to my posts when engaging in discussions. 

Learning is covered by writing consciously about topics. It converts the high loss learning by reading to a real learning by explaining it to others and sometimes gathering valuable feedback. It makes me proud to be part of the community and to be able to share my insights. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

12 hints for your next application that support you to find your best job (Recruiting Part II) - perspective applicant

This time let's take the perspective of the job applicant searching for a new position (check companies perspective too).

This post describes a good preparation and organization, provides hints for working with agencies and will support your next decision and negotiation when applying for a new job.

Prepare and organize

1. Plan time ahead to take the steps through recruiting. It usually takes 2-3 appointments in a company to get to the final stage. In addition you have to deal with your job search, working with headhunters via phone or direct interviews and prepare for the interviews.

I recommend to take a conscious step and either quit your job or take holiday to search for a new position. This provides you the freedom to focus and some pressure to take the next step. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Pimp your Daily Standup

Just came across a nice discussion about the Daily Standup and what (3) questions to use. Condensed some cool variations for questions in you Daily.

Nice connection with the goal getting it done:

"DONE" - Delivered - Obstacles - NEx t  Tweet:

Good variation for the 1st question with more focus to avoid too long listing of thing done since yesterday:

What did I do yesterday that helped the team meet the sprint goal? 

What have you achieved since yesterday? (same as last one - but shorter to read)
What have your finished since yesterday? (at least keep focus on finished topics -- and shows if you got stuck)

Focus on achievements:
What I achieved since yesterday?
What I plan to achieve today?
What help do I need to achieve my goal of the day?

Important but shorter version for the 3rd question regarding impediments:

Are impediments in your way?

In mature teams I think you won't need the 3 question format any longer as the team knows what's the purpose of real synchronization. Let it evolve but keep the focus. 

As an Agile Coach/ScrumMaster you can try this to avoid a reporting style in your Daily:
  • Move yourself or the person the team seems to report to behind your team and inject some distraction. This way the lose the focus point.
  • Remember the team that it's a sync to check if they're on track, have blockers and plan their day (and not a bragging)
  • Change boring round format and bring in a random order
  • Vary questions and remove the routine from time to time

What questions are you using? How are you pimping your daily standup?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Animated role overview Agile Coach/ScrumMaster (EN) - Whiteboard Animation Video

Based on the awesome list of 42 tasks for a ScrumMaster by Bernd Schiffer I created a Scribe with VideoScribe describing the role of an Agile Coach/ScrumMaster. Now the English Version is available too. Have fun watching it! Your feedback is highly appreciated.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Watch the new Scribe video describing the Role of an Agile Coach/ScrumMaster as (DE)

Based on the awesome list of 42 tasks for a ScrumMaster by Bernd Schiffer I created a Scribe with VideoScribe describing the role of an Agile Coach/ScrumMaster.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Recruiting - 5 important points to succeed in the war for talents - perspective company

As I just had the opportunity to search for a new position I monitored current recruiting practices,compared it with my experience during recruiting and would like to share my observations with you.

With this post I'll use the perspective of a company searching for a perfect new team member. Next posts will focus on perspective of the applicant, followed by perspective Headhunter/Agency.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sketchnotes from Webinar - A River (of Requirements) Runs Through It - Innovation, Disruption, Alignment and Complexity

Based on the Webinar - A River (of Requirements) Runs Through it - by Dave West and Derwyn Harris I share with you my sketch notes and key takeaways. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

SketchNotes from Lean Change Workshop with Jason Little and Torsten Scheller

SketchNotes I've taken during a workshop with Jason Little and Torsten Scheller/AgilWerden and based on Jason Littles Lean Change initative.

The SketchNotes are available as Pdf and printer friendly PDF version too.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The breakfast lesson - keep everyone engaged and foster knowledge sharing

Saturday morning - family is up and waiting for a common breakfast. Kiddies are asking - Daddy -
can we help you, can we help, please can we help, ... did I mention that I like the way kids discover the world. Without pressure they like to intrinsically try things and are able to manage it, often far beyond parents believe.

Now I had to make a tradeoff between a fast and perfectly arranged version (at least in my eyes ;-)) or a knowledge sharing session with some more chaos, more necessary coordination and maybe some broken dishes, dirty tables and for sure discussions among my 3 kids (for orientation: Conny 4, Hanni 6, Lenny 9 years old).

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Hack your performance appraisal system - it's time to kick of 2015 goals

It's time to close 2014 regarding goal achievements and to plan new goals for 2015. Is it your task to define and administer the system? Or are you the one who's performance gets evaluated via goals?

With this post I'll share a way to work with goals and minimize the administrative overhead + implement a cultural hack.

As you maybe already know - I'm not at all a fan of working with money based goal systems and using the classical performance appraisals.

Why? Because it stifles motivation, leads to misleading behavior and works against teams (see for more details below in the background section). Imho - it is a real impediment.

What I realized is that a lot of time gets consumed by feeding the system:

  • Define the goals - often for a longer period e.g. the whole year
  • Discuss the goals with your team(s) or even individual team members. For fulfilling the SMART criteria - you need some level of detail to get it in a negotiable format
  • Measure the level of goal achievement throughout the year, adjust and negotiate. A cycle that can get costly if you have to change goals often (what will for sure occur the longer your period is) 
  • I guess you know much more time consuming parts of it... 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Project credits - SketchNotes from the new management 3.0 workout

Another awesome management workout - Project Credits - by Jurgen Appelo - helped me to get a better picture how to continue with job titles, roles and it's connection to personal brands and reputation.

I learned why titles are important in a company, what are potential flaws with titles. How can roles and project connections help to increase reputation and build your personal brand. I really like to idea of using project credits to value everyones contribution.

And - guess - shared with our Product Owners the idea now spreads and is going to be used in next projects.

Like with the CHAMPFROGS sketchnotes, maybe these notes provide you a fast accessible summary to strengthen hub connections.

The SketchNotes converted to a Project credits presentation - will build the base for the next management 3.0 regular table in Munich.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

It's time to check your management style - to validate why not to get rid of management

Short before 2013 ends it's a good time to gather feedback on how management is doing. Seeing management as the servant for the teams - the teams are the ones to ask. The following provides a suggestion for a 20 question survey.

Heya Luis - this is to validate why not to get rid of management ;-)

A collection of questions for the survey

All questions can be answered with 4 simple possibilities
  1. Strongly disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Agree
  4. Strongly agree

20 questions for your management

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Champfrogs - SketchNotes from the new Management 3.0 Workout

Based on the new management 3.0 CHAMPFROGS by Jurgen Appelo I tried to summarize my readings with Sketchnotes (see below).

The 10 intrinsic motivators - Curiosity - Honor - Acceptance - Mastery - Power - Freedom - Relatedness - Order - Goal - Status - provide a nice orientation on what really motivates us. 

Champfrogs helps asking yourself the right questions how to support your environment in getting and sustaining motivation and is for me a key for transforming to a people oriented working place.

I guess together with the beautiful workout by Jurgen these notes can provide a fast overview again and help you remember it even faster. It shows the the 10 motivators, lists all 20 questions and provides a short sketch for every motivator (and maybe it's like a Wimmel picture of use for your kids too ;-).

Together with the moving motivators and intrinsic motivation maybe you are interested in these posts:
Do you already use Moving Motivators and/or Champfrogs? Maybe you would like to share your experience with a comment.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A collection of videos to help us on the agile path - Part II - Inspiration (Lost generation, Beauty of Nature, Cultural hacks, Not Knowing, Happy Melly, Good work)


There are so many sources of inspiration, a nice video is one source working for me.

I like Lost generation - a great idea for transporting an important message.

I got really inspired by watching The Beauty of Nature

Another source of inspiration lies in the idea of implementing small cultural hacks.

And do you consider the dimension of Not Knowing (Nichtwissen) in your business (german!)?

You don't know who's Happy Melly?

And finally another great source of inspiration (about a maybe missing piece)- What makes us feel good at work.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban - a fast overview and rough categorization when to use what method

The following table (thanks to Alin) was compiled to get an fast overview on the 3 mostly used agile approaches - Scrum, Kanban and the combination of both Scrumban.

Maybe you're currently thinking about your environment and what agile method to use. Use this list to support your decision. 

Scrum Kanban Scrumban
Board/Artifactssimple board
product backlog
sprint backlog
product increment
burndown chart
board mapped on the processboard mapped on the process
Ceremoniesdaily Scrum
sprint planning
sprint review
sprint retrospective
none requireddaily Scrum
other Scrum related ceremonies if needed
PrioritizationPart of backlog grooming. Done by POOut of the process. There should be a prioritized backlog.Out of the process. There should be a prioritized backlog.
Who feeds the work in progress ("brings new work")PODepends on defined roles and necessitiesDepends on defined roles and necessities
Iterationsyes (sprints)no (continuous flow)not mandatory (continuous flow); could have sprints
Estimationsyes (in ideal days or story points)no (similar work size items) (a)no (similar work size items) (a)
Teamsrecommended cross functionalcross functional or specializedcross functional or specialized
RolesProduct Owner
Scrum Master
as neededTeam + as needed
Teamworkcollaborativebased on pull approachbased on pull approach
WIPplanned for the duration of the sprintcontrolled by workflow statecontrolled by workflow state
changes to work scopeshould wait for next sprintadded as needed (JIT)added as needed (JIT)
Product backlogprioritized list of user stories (estimated)no (JIT)no (JIT)
Impedimentsaddressed immediatelyaddressed immediately (b)addressed immediately (b)
When does it fit?Product development
Small value adding increments development possible
Requirements are in good shape
Support/maintenance work (operational level)Product development (unclear vision)
Evolving requirements (no clear roadmap)
Need to include support/maintenance (event driven) work in the process

(a) team needs to comment on non-fitting work items in order to ensure readiness
(b) "stop the line" approach; teams should swarm to solve the impediment

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Using personal maps to get a better understanding of each other and shrink the mental distance

Based on Jurgen Appelo's management workout Personal Maps I created my first sketch note (thanks for the brilliant idea of using sketch notes to Angel Medinella). Please be patient with the format - still a lot to improve for me there ;-) 

I really like the idea of personal maps and using the techniques:

  • management by walking around (1) - to have a low cost and high effective way to meet people and listen+talk with everyone, 
  • moving your desk (2) - to support without physical distance and get realtime emotions and feedback and 
  • move your mike (3) - to build an environment with a balance between room for creativity and communication.
The usage of moving motivators and delegation poker in combination with learning about other areas than work only will help me building my personal maps.

We'll discuss this workout tomorrow in our 7th management 3.0 regular table in Munich. Let's see how others work with it. I'll share some results afterwards.

Do you use personal maps already? What's your experience?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Delegation Poker and Delegation Board - to clarify roles and responsibilities and foster faster decision making


Maybe you already know the Delegation Poker game by Jurgen Appelo. We
Taken from Jurgen Appelo's Delegation board description
differentiate the following 7 levels of delegation:

1 - Tell - you tell how it has to be done, you decide
2 - Sell - you sell a decision, but you decide
3 - Consult - you consult the other before making the decision
4 - Agree - all agree on the decision (best via consensus)   
5 - Advise - you advise the others, but the others decide (even without your agreement)
6 - Inquire - others decide and inform you about the decision
7 - Delegate - others decide and it can be that you even don't get informed about it

Friday, September 6, 2013

A collection of videos to help us on the agile path - Part II - Scrum (IDEO, PO in a nutshell, Fibonacci, 30 days, great conductors)


In part II you'll find some videos to help in our daily Scrum life. 

Did you ever wonder about the cross functional team and how it should look like - maybe the IDEO shopping cart video provides some inspiration. 

What's the role product owner - watch the wonderful explanation by Henrik Kniberg.

Fibonacci everywhere in nature - this way you can sell why to use the Fibonacci row for estimations ;-)

Ken Schwabers - software in 30 days - a must view to explain Scrum to your management.

An for all ScrumMasters - check your leading style and compare it to how the great conductors lead.