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.

Implement a lean recruiting process

Speed and quality in the recruiting process is of major importance. Especially in a market where applicants can choose between several offers in a short time frame. 

How long does it take you from receiving an application and providing an answer with an interview appointment proposal or a rejection answer?  

You should assume that an applicant uses different channels to apply for positions (e.g. scanning job portals like Monster, StepStone, working with HeadHunters/Agencies - who fight for market share and contact immediately as they see an updated profile), your company will be in competition mode. In the first day the applicant opens the search good candidates receive a heavy load of proposals. 

I consider an answer between 48h as mandatory and would recommend answering within one day
And please consider that time changed that applicants will find you only.  

Automatic mails that an application is scheduled and it takes some time to scan all the applications and provide feedback within the next 2 weeks ... SORRY - either you're a real big fish and everyone would like to work for you or you lost already before having started. 

Your rejection answer can wait a little longer, but still consider it as an important service for the applicant who may spread the word.

To reach such fast answering times - consider your current steps and remove all non value adding activities. Scan for queues and not necessary handovers. What priority does recruiting have and is it reflected by actions taken. You can compare yourself to the attitude from Valve (see their employee handbook) making finding great people everyones responsibility.

How many steps for the applicant to receive a final offer?

I made good experience using 2 steps. 

Step 1 - Skype/Phone interview or direct interview for a fast check on determining facts. 30-45' must be enough. A prepared fact list is important (what are the constraining facts to ask - e.g. salary range, possible starting date, key questions to check for knowledge). This way you can stay focussed and don't waste the applicants (and your) time in chatting. 

An in house interview for step 1 is possible too, but change the perspective to the applicants view and check if it is easily possible for him/her. It does not make sense to have the applicant traveling for hours just to figure out in 15' that it's not a fit. In addition it's a little more difficult to arrange the appointment (the applicant has to travel).

Step 2 - Direct interview with different perspectives (HR/Team/Management/POs). It must be onside. Including a challenge to really learn more about the applicant. E.g. I was allowed to moderate retrospectives. What a challenge and opportunity to show my skills and get to know the company and vice versa.

Talking to many people with focussed questions helps to receive input and learn about connecting and communication behavior.

After step 2 you have a concrete picture of your applicant. You are able to make an outstanding offer. The applicant got to know your company and can make a decision.

YES - it is time consuming. But you can stop at any point in time and you need to make a decision for a longer period. Therefore an invest in time will for sure pay off. 

Check your partners supporting your search

Headhunters/Recruiting agencies are a popular model at the moment. To be honest - it's in my opinion a real mess. Many agencies I had contact with used a 20 minute interview to get to know me and throw some possible positions over the fence. Interestingly often not at all reflecting what was discussed. I really don't get it that they earn around 20-30% of a yearly salary proving a non service.

It's important to work with high quality and engaged agency or avoid doing it at all.

How can you check for the agency quality?
  • Get together and take your time to describe the position in detail. What is important and is maybe not that visible in your job ad? Are they leading the sync and really try to understand your need?
  • How does the agencies process look like? How do they determine if an applicant may fit. Check for timings and direct applicant contact.
  • How will you sync during the search to steadily improve your job ad, change filters to adjust 
  • What is their base? Are they specialized in the area you search for? How are they connected - just scanning LinkedIn/Xing or are they attending Meetups/Conferences and have a real strong network.
The agency is representing your company (at least implicitly)! 

A statement for your applicants is that your company does not work with an agency and is actively searching via it's own network and job portals. Diversifying and interesting for applicants (if you really are engaged). Recommendation: Show it on your job page. 

Sell your benefits

You can use Step 1+2 (see last point) - to sell what it means to be a member of your team. Enable discussions, show the team areas, work with examples and success stories and don't forget to provide a catalog with benefits you offer. This way a candidate can remember who you are (even after some days, maybe having more talks with other companies). Outstanding: provide a folder with facts about your company including the cool environment and benefits description. 

Embed this part actively in your recruiting process to not forget working with it.

Have a clean Job Ad

The job ad as (often) the first contact point for your potential applicants must be interesting, to the point and match your companies spirit. Please avoid overloading it with too many requirements - worst case describing 3 different roles. You scare off people doing that and addition show a maybe missing understanding of that role.

Monkey see, monkey do is a good starting point. 

How do job ads of other successful companies look like? Check really what's the background of the role - key areas and key requirements. I recommend checking the ad in your teams and asking for feedback and active participation in creating it. This way you get input by people knowing what is needed and win by identification and support by the team.

If in doubt - consider working with experts in this area (e.g. in the agile world). They are highly willing to help you creating a rocking job ad (just ask me for some recommendations and I'll send you a list).

Build and use your network 

Try to reach applicants using your network. 
Internally - everyone needs to know and have a high visibility about the open position. Ask everyone for contributions. Incentives are supportive in this area (and it is considerably small compared to the agency fees ;-). 

Externally - e.g. by attending Meetups, Conferences. Actively using LinkedIn and Xing is a must. Best align with activities throughout your company - e.g. if your ScrumMasters/Developers join events ask them to spread the word about open positions.


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. 

Key learnings

  • Consider Requirements in an agile and adaptive way and not as a stage. The river as a metaphor for the flow of requirements and their evolution 
  • Check for the amount of innovation and disruption of what you're building and at least get conscious about it - use e.g. the Disruption/Innovation chart
  • Be aware of the (exponential growing) gap between alignment (with requirements) and complexity and check for proper ways (considering people, process, tools) to shrink the gap
    • Focus on interactions
    • Avoid over interpreting guidelines as rules
    • Measure Alignment
  • Next book - Strategic Management and Organisational Dynamics: The Challenge of Complexity to Ways of Thinking about Organisations (Stacey)
  • Learn more about Jama and Tasktop

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).

Just a thought ... Doesn't that fit to our work place in many ways? To decide whether doing it alone with our expert knowledge or doing it as a team including all the necessary team topics.

We decided for the way of preparing the breakfast together - with the following arrangements. My eldest son went to the bakery to buy some bun. Was it easy to convince him to help? Seeing that everyone had a task and asking him directly without to much preparation I guess it were some lucky circumstances and worked really fast ;-) Fast decision making prevented having Conny to much involved asking if he can follow Lenny (what for sure means a delay of at least a quarter hour)

Hanni started cutting Kiwi, Banana and some other fruits with enthusiasm. Including some knowledge sharing how to best protect fingers, avoid not necessary fruit lost through strange cutting behavior and eating on the fly and putting fruit juice everywhere. I guess we addressed mastery and autonomy perfectly.

Conny already asking - and what can I do - started moving plates, cutlery, jam and all the small things you need during breakfast. We arranged it in a serial way - to mitigate risks of losing all at once and to keep him engaged.

In the meantime I had time to prepare some vegan kind of scrambled eggs, avocado cream and some vegetables including some knowledge sharing with Johanna - what makes it yellow, what time it needs and how to mix things together.

All in all it took around 15' to have it prepared. With a just in time arrival of bans, the fruit and vegetable plate prepared, my wife arranging the table and arrangements and everyone happy having contributed and breakfast ready. Luckily no losses, less to cleanup, all fingers still in shape.

Some learnings:

  • you need some more coordination time to organize the knowledge sharing in a young team, but it's worth the effort to reduce stress on one team member and prepare future involvement
  • asking for help and let everyone decide where they can contribute best leads to engagement and less discussions (autonomy)
  • stress on a single person is reduced as everyone contributes and takes responsibility.
  • the individual strengths have to be considered and workflow should be adjusted to address mastery without overloading
The future vision ... We as parents sleep until lets say 9 o'clock, kids are self organizing and knowledgable and prepare everything together in harmony. Breakfast starts at 9:30 energizing and everyone happy. Parents clean the dishes to keep the balance ;-)

A possible alternative way - avoiding team work:
  • One family member stressed without a move forward to escape it in future.
  • Maybe faster and perfect but with the price of setting engaged members down. 
  • Less harmony in enjoying the final product as it was prepared out of balance.

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... 
Compared to the amount of connected variable salary parts - do the math and you'll see that it is unbalanced. Especially if you consider the fact that previous bonus payments lead to expectations and these systems often automatically adjust to an achievement range (if you paid the last 3 years on average 85% - you'll get in trouble justifying 70% of the bonus). Losing a team member because of some missing percentage of a goal achievement is a costly drawback. You may say - sometimes it's exactly what you would like to achieve - but let's be honest - maybe time to rethink your way of management and consider that saying the truth directly is much better than hiding it via the bonus game.

Let's consider time as one catching argument. The argument mainly counts if you work with additional goals that somehow exist beside your Scrum/Agile inherited goals (like delivery, quality, customer satisfaction). I worked in areas having such artificial topics, that somehow undermined our sprints, lead to submarines - independent of goals for a whole team or even worse - goals on individual level.

On the other hand - getting rid of such a system is a huge step. Seems easy - just remove it, adjust contracts properly (remove variable salary part and convert it to a fixed one) - and you're done. But be aware of all the counter arguments. It's a really heavy change process as it's a long practice and many people still believe in it (some good suggestions how to work on it - see recommended sources below).

Now - as promised - a proposal for a small culture hack to address the topic and use the system.

The hack

Let's use the Scrum/Agile inherited goals.

A simple step would be - the sprint result equals to the goal achievement. You calculate your achieved velocity/planned velocity and thats the percentage of your goal achievement. E.g. - you planned to deliver 10 story points but delivered 8 SP - means 80% achievement, you delivered 12 SP - means 120%. You can tune it - with over achievements that can be combined with "bad" sprint outcomes. If you have a fixed bonus amount - cut it to a maximum of 100% possible.

If you work with sprint goals - you can use the goals instead of the velocity. Works the same way.

Seems silly, doesn't it? And indeed it is - but it's simple and as the whole goals+money combination is misleading - let's choose the simplest way to work with the system.

What will happen?

  • The teams will forecast the planned velocity more defensive - for sure! And they will achieve most of their sprint goals. They tune to the measurement - as always.
  • At least you have some more predictability regarding velocity ;-)
  • The time investment to keep the system alive is reduced a lot. As it's in the system. But be aware - as soon as someone starts challenging the team's forecast it gets dirty! And you'll lose time in debating - as you'll anyway as soon as you speak about money. 
  • Less side tracks and submarines. The sprint has the focus that it needs. Congratulations
  • Teams are happy - as they learn FAST 

Looks like a Win:Win situation?! And - the time saved by this approach can be invested to prepare for changing the whole appraisal system.

What's your opinion about this proposal? Did you face similar problems and how did you solve it?

Further readings - What's wrong with performance appraisals and what to do instead

For a more detailed description I highly recommend reading the book Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why they backfire and what to do instead by Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins. (If interested in my summary - its available as a google doc).

Luis Goncalves is currently preparing more hands on input with his book Get rid of performance appraisals. In addition check out his blog posts.

Not to forget the famous Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us by Dan Pink

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

Italics below the questions are some hints what this questions is about and why it makes sense to ask it.
  1. Management gives team members a clear picture of the direction (vision, mission, strategy) the company is headed
    I guess there is a vision - but is it really visible and used in your company?
  2. I am satisfied with the strategy direction of the company
    Management gets a feedback if a buy in for the strategy by the employees is really given. Maybe it's time to foster more direct involvement
  3. I understand how my work contributes to the company's overall goals and strategy
    It's important to know your own contribution to check if it's aligned with the strategy and direction the company would like to go. 
  4. Management provides me a regular progress overview
    Is management communicating about progress in their tasks? Maybe it's using Scrum or Kanban too and you already have full visibility - if not - how do you know what your management is working on?
  5. Management communicates clearly, accurately and timely
    As communication is one of the most important topics - management has to be an example and guide for all. Beside a clear understandable communication it must be accurate and in time to be really useful.
  6. Management is aware of the problems we face in our jobs
    Is management involved in your daily life? Does it know what you're doing and what problems occur. If not - how can it really help you ensuring a productive environment.
  7. Management is available for questions and advice
    Does your management show up in your working environment? Can you directly go there and clarify topics? Do you get valuable input and does it make sense to ask?
  8. Management's tasks and responsibilities are transparent
    Do you know who does what in management? Or do you have to invite and crosscheck always with many participants from management? For being efficient it's important to have transparency about your management's tasks and responsibilities.
  9. Management resolves impediments in a timely manner
    One of the most important tasks for management is to help all teams resolving impediments. Is your management able to solve them fast so that you don't get blocked?
  10. My job makes good use of my skills and abilities
    Management can/should help you using your skills and abilities. Are there enough channels and possibilities to bring it in?
  11. Management actively acts on improving the quality
    Striving for quality is one of the non negotiable parts in software development. But often managements build pressure on quality (not now, let's deliver it ... you can fix it later...). Is your management an active supporter for building quality in right in the beginning.
  12. I'm satisfied with my work-life balance
    Long running over pacing, too many over hours, all time most important projects ... Management is there to help avoiding these situations. 
  13. I am able to have an open communication with managers
    Trust - level one to reach in teams. A trustworthy management simplifies a lot and avoids endless politics. 
  14. Mistakes are seen and treated as learning opportunities
    Learning and improvement needs an environment where failing is allowed and seen as an opportunity to learn. Punishments and penalties for mistakes don't help and have to be avoided by management.
  15. I am satisfied with my involvement in decisions that affect my work
    Does your management make all decisions with informing you afterwards and having you not directly involved. Time to raise your concerns and think about more consensus driven decisions and the subsidiarity principle.
  16. The decision making process is lightweight and visible
    Are decisions taken by a visible decision making process. Is the process fast or a stop the world for some weeks monster?
  17. A possible career path is transparent so that I can properly align my career development steps
    Do I know where to grow and how to align it with my companies direction? 
  18. I am satisfied with the way management provides recognition for a good job
    Does management provide feedback and celebrates success in projects with you? Are we fighting together?
  19. I am working in an innovative environment
    Can we try new things? Are we working with experiments? Are ideas converted to implementations.  
  20. Management avoids too much context switching
    Multitasking does not support flow that well. Having many projects in parallel and on top additional not project related tasks and responsibilities - a situation management can step in to help streamlining and keeping focus.

Conducting the survey

The survey should support an anonymized participation - this way you can be sure that people don't optimize the answers to please management. 

Provide enough, but not too much time - I suggest one week to participate. This provides the necessary sense of urgency and supports short term absences. And - you can still run it this year ;-)

Share the survey results with all possible participants, in time after closing it. 

Using the results - it's not about finding who answers what and how - it's about having a really valuable input for improvements in your way of management.

How to work with the results

The survey questions touch a high level perspective on different management topics. It does not differentiate all detailed management levels and tries to keep a balance between a fast to answer survey and providing enough input for follow ups.

A survey without real actions afterwards does not really make that much sense and you loose the opportunity for the next feedback session very likely.

Suggestion is to analyze the results in your management circle in time and come up with actions solving the most pressing and obvious problems. To generate more insight - you can ask your ScrumMasters to gather more detailed information about a problem area.

Maybe it's a good time to start sharing your progress and activities already and ensure proper involvement.

Consider - setting up the survey (via Google, SurveyMonkey or other free survey providers) is a matter of some hours. Running the survey is done fast. It's up to you to use this easy and lightweight possibility to put some facts beside your gut feeling about how management is doing.

Have fun and I would be really interested in how it was working for you? 

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.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A collection of videos to help us on the agile path - Part I - Motivation, Ideas, Productivity


Part I is collection of videos I found really useful to understand more about motivation, idea generation and productivity. As motivation is one of the most important areas to work with as an agile manager I think it's a must to understand more about the different ways of motivation.

Especially the short video sessions - like the RSA animates - are fun to watch with the whole team. E.g. as a good start in a retrospective or sprint planning.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The next step on my agile path - ontheagilepath.net

On the agile path

6 years ago I started my agile journey with Alistair Cockburn's Agile Software Development. Combined with the inspiration by Tom De Marco's Peopleware - Productive Projects and Teams and his ideas about the way we should work together I felt - agile is my way. 

Not yet there it took me some time to learn more about XP and agile programming techniques - used TDD (today I would rather call it like this and better name my way a test oriented approach ;-) ), tried working in pairs, included fast feedback cycles, introduced continuous integration and thinks alike.

Still - it was not in a structure that made me happy. Some months later I had the opportunity to work with an external company helping us coordinating a bigger project. This time the project manager forwarded me a short video about Scrum and asked me what I think about it (I guess it was around 2008) ... This is it ... the missing structure. 

I immediately read  Boris Gloger's Scrum - Produkte schnell und zuverlässig entwickeln and was fascinated by Scrum's simplicity. I became a Scrum Master, introduced Scrum and had the opportunity to work with several great teams during the past 5 years. 

Randomly I stumbled upon Jurgen Appelo's Management 3.0. The next milestone on my agile path. The missing piece about how management should look like in an agile environment - summarized in one great book that helped me to enlarge my perspective. Along with Daniel Pink's Drive and Steve Johnson's Where good ideas come from I'm on my way as an agile manager, currently working with four great teams.

Following the agile path, this year I had even more the chance to learn from agile influencers like Henrik Kniberg, Vasco Duarte ... joined the DARE conference and the AGILE WORLD ... took my management 3.0 class with Jürgen Dittmar and joined the management 3.0 regular table ... and I'm impressed by the flourishing world and speed of development. 

I figured out that it's not Scrum only, it's agile and choosing the fitting method to work agile. Along this way I started using Personal Kanban for my own management, we introduced ScrumBan and evolve our agile implementation. 

To follow my agile path it's time to change this blog too ... On the agile path is the new blog's name and is soon available at ontheagilepath.net domain.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Recently read books - some recommendations (Flow, ScrumBan, Networking, Unconferences, Bonus)

It has been quite for some time now on my blog. Sorry for letting you wait - but I needed some break to collect new ideas and process all the impressions I got from the conferences, books and activities in my working environment ;-)

Recent books I read (I'm reading) that I can highly recommend.

Tame the flow

I had the chance to meet Steve on the dare conference - we have exercised some Aikido together and I like his style of presentation a lot. HERBIE - it's still in my ears.

This book - is amazing. For me it brings a lot of completely new insights about possible ways to:

  • explain the nature of software development to non IT colleagues ... a piece that's often missing and causing a lot of misunderstandings
"Software development is a highly social activity, wherein the patterns of interaction that happen are important factors"
  • reach hyperproductivity - based on analyzing the Borland Quattro's teams success (Steve worked in that corona)
"The key lies in the organizational culture; and organizational culture starts from the head"
  • visualize the companies communication state - to foster reaching a high bandwith communication style.
"If a programmer has an idea he can raise it with everybody who matters in an hour and have a decision made in two hours"

Just to give you some examples ... and there is so much more in it. Have fun reading it and maybe we can share impressions?

Your network is your net worth

What a nice book by Porter Gale about how to strengthen your networking activities by focussing on your core values and aligning networking with it.
e.g. My funnel based on the funnel exercise from the book

Scrum and Kanban - making the most of both

Aligned with some experiments we do I read Scrum and Kanban - making the most of both. A must read to understand how you can improve if you get stuck
with having support tasks, external dependencies and it looks like Scrum isn't fitting in that situation.

Special thanks for the helping and cool visualizations. E.g. One day in Kanban land - short and fast picture to get the idea of Kanban

How to run an internal unconference

Henrik Kniberg - I don't know when you're producing all that great stuff. Your description how to run an internal unconference definitely made my day when reading it.

For everyone who is looking for ideas who to organize a session with some more people >20. Fetch this Minibook and update yourself in 2h about the idea and organization of Unconferences. 

Next in line

What do you recommend? 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

My summary of agile world #awrld2013

First of all Thanks to all organizers, speakers and attendees. It was a pleasure!

The #awrld2013 was a success. Well organized tracks and sessions. A lot of interesting talks, new ideas and insights in other companies agile world.

Some highlight sentences I remember ;-)

Jeder Mensch ist mit Neugier geboren … Respekt ist universell … Spielt mehr Spiele 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Impression from Agile World (#awrld2013) - Day 1

Agile World in Munich - Day 1

After having some nice chats in the beginning during the morning coffee we started with really interesting keynotes about 

  • Agil and Lean at Telefonica
  • Infineon and there chances with going agile
  • Agile Transition - we arrived by Christoph Mathis
Thanks for the really interesting sessions to start the day. 

In the following World Cafe we all had the opportunity to get to know each other. 

With questions what we expect and who we are it opened conversations and enabled new connections.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Recap on #DARE13 - my highlight agile conference 2013 so far


I started my #dare13 day 2 with a cool AIKIDO session facilitated by Ángel Medinilla. It was amazing and for me a key learning - elegance, intelligence and not much power - a convincing style to "dance" with your opposite.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Impressions from DARE13

Wow - what a nice day full of impressions from the #DARE13 conference in Antwerp, Belgium.
Today early in the morning - I guess around 7am - I was on my walk to Rijnkaai 96 in Antwerp to join the agile conference #DARE13.


I think I was one of the first attendees at Hangar 26, a cool location in Antwerp with a lot of space for having agile sessions. 

A small overview on some sessions I attended today

After having a first tea (sorry Baristas for not enjoying your very likely perfect coffee) and a fast registration the opening session was done by Jurgen speaking about tribal business.