Extreme survival

Many who have worked with me know that I’m not afraid to try radically new ways of getting the job done, whether it’s restructuring a team, an Agile transformation or managing technical implementations. I like taking risks trying new things like gamestorming for setting team objectives and starting test automation even in companies that don’t have a solid test documentation in place yet. Why? To turn the tide and start improving, deliver value by example, show them some possibilities they may like to try themselves.

Many companies are struggling to survive during these difficult times. Remember, not all companies are like Facebook, Google, Apple etc. I’ve read in a local newspaper that over 10000 companies went bankrupt in 2014. They are desperately trying to improve the situation with limited resources.  So how you could help your company to survive in times of crisis? Continue reading

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Rock bottom

Point well made, I can relate to this post. Gone are the days you got personal advice from the shop owner when buying your next “wannahave”. I don’t remember was there actually a time when buying products from the biggest telecom provider meant quality and service not the constant malfunctions failing to record our favourite TV show and a customer service that doesn’t give a damn, they don’t even bother to call back, instead they they might just send you a cryptical 2 word answer if you’re lucky. I’ve heard some financial department works a bit more proactive when it comes to their cashing.

These things make me furious, but you all know I’m too “professional” to show it. I can reassure you I always inform the powers that be about malfunctions or any other quality issues. Whether it’s a shipment of 1000’s of PC’s marketed as TV’s with wrong screen colours, a lack of testing due to a project lead that rather shoves everything under the carpet or a management that’s not caring about the teams growth. In ideal world nobody would shut up about such things. Everyone will see to it that things work properly. Everyone? Yes, including our freaking government. I’ve heard they seriously miscalculated our defence budget “missed the boat” (yes literally), the runway (Gosh those new transport planes need a runway?) and a whole bunch of other resources required to keep our defence system operational. Our country already became infamous for becoming a close runner up in the world record attempt “forming governments”. In the US they ran into similar issues when it comes to programs like Obama care and their public services. Yet this is the time we should come together and face the climate and economic challenges at hand.

The days that people would listen to their leaders and accept decisions to be taken for them is over. They want to take part in the decision making process. So how to do that? Don’t give all the power to the few people that want to be leaders, those elected shouldn’t only give a voice to the voters but empower their people. Who knows how to truly empower the people? The charismatic leaders? I believe the leaders who could do this know more about management techniques, servant leadership and how to realize collaboration than their more popular charismatic brothers who often enjoy the spotlight and control a tad too much. We need techniques that show the needs of all. Who has the key to solving the upcoming challenges? I invented such techniques, NEO and Agile Profiling. But you know what? I’m about the least charismatic person you’ll ever meet…

MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO

Hitting rock bottom

I don’t know anymore what to do. I prayed, sought guidance, begged forgiveness, asked for help, nothing. I face walls at every turn, box in. If it continues to be like this, I will soon lose my mind. Grand plan? Mysterious ways?  I don’t understand. Things happen for a reason? Sometimes bad things happen to good people? How about justice?  In this society where ‪falsehood and ‪‎hypocrisy are highly rewarded, people get ‎punished for being ‪‎honest? So unfair! At this moment, I could very well understand what Michael Douglas’ character must have felt in the movie Falling Down. I could see myself doing it one of these days. Nobody cares about quality anymore. Or authenticity. Good taste is equally if not rarer than friendly citizen and in danger of becoming extinct together with the truth. Media are full of seemingly caring individuals preaching about equality, diversity respect…

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How visualization helps improving quality

“There are none so blind than those who refuse to see.”

In my experience most people seem to have problems showing their weaknesses and shortcomings. Even more so when someone is looking over their shoulders.  Is it too embarrassing to be caught making mistakes?  It doesn’t make any sense, I believe this attitude is a major hindrance for self improvement.

“The first step in dealing with any problem is to see that indeed there is a problem.”

Acknowledging that there is something wrong is the right path to finding a solution. SONY DSCIn order to get a better look at the situation imagine yourself as a bird. Fly off then! Flap your wings and get a birds eye view on the situation… Get a little bit closer to study the problem in detail. Find the best angle to approach. Continue reading

The magic ingredient of Agility

“If you’re Agile you’re flexible, if you’re flexible you can adapt to any situation.”

Ever since the day I became a manager and started coaching people, I’ve been p(w)ondering what makes them follow. The funny thing about leadership is: it is not working without followers. It is like being a king of an uninhabited island. And who would want that. So, I decided to try to unravel the mystery by studying all its aspect.

I did my homework on management education; I’ve listened to audio books (thank you Porter and Deming. Yes, there are actually some advantages to a long traffic jams) I took psychology and personality tests like Myers-Briggs and such, and I want to extend my gratitude to Quasus for organising personality training in a highly practical fashion allowing you to explore different personality traits of colleagues and how to cope with them. I did ADKAR as well which proved to be a valuable model for change management. I’ve played game storming sessions with customer solely for the purpose of exposing the needs of those I was leading. I’ve been to a lot of Agile events, became a Scrum coach and a believer in Jurgen Appelo’s excellent Management 3.0. It has been one hell of a journey, but it did help. By God, it did!

I learned that the magic ingredient, the fuel which make ideas fly and collaboration works and makes people follow your lead is simple: CARE.

Care is the essential component of agility. Care from and for every member in the team; care from and for management, stakeholders and customers. The theories/experiments/books/blogs and events are very valuable, but nothing beats the good old fashioned care. It is the one that drives me and keep me motivated and inspired. Where would the Agile manifesto be if nobody truly cares?

Remember this next time you’re going to lead: “If you ain’t sharing, people ain’t caring” – Wyclef Jean

Everybody’s got something to hide, except for me and my monkey

You know the Beatles track with the longest name “Everybody’s got something to hide, except for me and my monkey”?  I find this is the “retrospective song” (follow link for some tips and tricks on retrospectives).  “Everybody’s got something to hide” means we’ve all made mistakes, now it’s time to face the results.  No matter how bad it turned out to be we tried our best, trying out crazy new ideas.  For those ideas that turned out to be a success, now the time has come to celebrate what we’ve achieved, time to slow down and “Come on let’s take it easy” (retrospective time). Let the monkey out of your sleeve (a Dutch saying) meaning “finally the truth comes out”.

monkeyfromsleeve Continue reading

Counting voices for improving team communication

I believe that looking for the ideal number of people to have a conversation is asking the wrong question… One should be asking how to provide something valuable to those involved in the conversation, how they can learn, find inspiration and exchange experiences.

“Some people talk a lot, but aren’t saying anything”

Conversation is all about individuals exchanging information. Conversation only happens when information flows from each individual towards another person. In order for this to happen certain conditions have to be met: Continue reading

Improving test efficiency using semi-automated testing

I was asked by a good friend on how to approach testing of a complex web application. How complex? Over 100 menu items, over 50 different screens, unknown amount of flows. He would be the only tester working in a small development team (10 developers). When he mentioned the lack of formal requirements, and explained why brainstorm sessions are not a real option I recognized how desperate situation he was in. He would be re-testing constantly! Like trying to shoot a moving target!

g3788 Continue reading

Yes it’s f*cking Political, everything’s Political

Reblog…

A Refreshing Twist to Practical Coaching

Skunk Anansie inspires me to write this short post on behaviour patterns and how they are affected by political motivations.  We are all wearing many different masks for different people and changing them according to the situation for our own personal gain, nothing wrong with that right?  That is understandable behaviour for anyone that’s trying to make the best out of their own lives.

However, it become a different story when this behaviour is present in organisations, since the values of these organisations often don’t match, the goal of personal gain for yourself becomes an obstacle for reaching team goals?  For example our famous “Delivering working software or Shippable Product Increment?”.  That’s in conflict with the laws of putting together successful teams (Ref: Benne & Sheats).

We have to maximize team dynamics by taking into account vision and goals of all involved individuals.  Translated in political terms it’s Glasnost…

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Flip coin decisions

 coins When your team has little time to decide on how to approach a difficult challenge. Let them decide by coins! May the best idea win!
  1. Discuss the challenge

basejumpprep   Image by J. Neun

  1. How would they cope with the challenge at hand? Listen to idea’s from the group (one idea per person)

teamideas

  1. Let the team pick the top ideas (3-5), write them down
  2. “Everyone, pick your coins!”

teamivotebycoin

  1. Vote for an idea by putting your coin face up on the table covered by your hand, removing your hand only when all coins are on the table.
  2. In case of a tie we will vote again to see which idea is most suited to cope with the given challenge (time constraints, required resources…)
  3. The winner(s) will face the challenge using their ideas
  4. Extra fun: If the winner(s) can successfully complete the challenge by realising their idea(s) they can have the pick of place to celebrate (team drink,…).
 plus
    • Involvement
    • Quick decisions
    • Motivation boost
    • Reality check (team feedback)