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

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

Knowledge management is dead, long live experience sharing!

I love learning, and that is probably the reason I got obsessed with knowledge management. I used to idealized people that seem to know a lot of things. I believed if we could build a database that contained all information from all those wise people it would be a wonderful idea to have all that knowledge available at the click of a button. I don’t believe that any more. I was wrong to think we could manage knowledge.

The internet contains an immense overload of information and yet we’re spending more time searching than finding. Why? Because all these statistics are exactly that_ data. Documentation which is useless when it comes to real life application. You cannot learn to drive a car by theoretic knowledge alone. In every aspect of learning, there will come a time that we have to put the theory in practice. That’s why there is this thing that called OJT (On the Job Training). Even the most seasoned sales manager finds it impossible to sell something new without addressing customer needs first. The same applies to knowledge, what it is that they say? Before you can administer a cure, the person has to admit that he’s sick.

Building knowledge works better when learning from experience. How to achieve this goal?

  • Identify learning goals for all team members
  • Encourage experience sharing
  • Decide how individual targets will fit in day to day work
  • Set activities for learning and assign leaders
  • Work together
  • Evaluate what has been learned
  • Conclude and set new learning goals

Any team could easily attain this objective by stimulating open communication, encouraging everyone to experiment and to put fresh ideas into practice, and giving honest feedbacks.

We could dream the dream of changing, improving what has already been done but unless we put our thoughts in action, it will remain a dream.

There is no better time than present to set and reach our goals. so, go on… join me, practice what you preach walk the talk and motivate.

Remember:

“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.” – Bruce Lee

Can I trust you???

“I don’t feel the motivation of the people working on this project”, “The team has lost confidence in their management” and “I just do my 9 to 5 after receiving the blame for the last production issues”

Those are just a few of many complaints I’ve overheard when working with failing product development teams. It make the alarm bell in my head ring every time I hear such talks! How often did you have the luck of working with a management that truly cares about the challenges, the team morale, and communication’s transparency.

Continue reading

I have a dream…

Sometimes, you need to step outside, get some air and remind yourself who you are and where you want to be.”

Sometimes i want to be in a world where there are no hierarchies. Where people are judged by their capabilities, knowledge and expertise as well as their behavior and communication skills. And political play is not the (tall) order of the day. I dream of a place where people get a chance to innovate and create to find their own solutions to given challenges and problems. I want to see a society where we are able to speak what’s in our minds freely about certain matters that concern the difficulties teams are facing on executing projects and what comes with it without unnecessary complications and consequences. I wonder if Agile profiling is the answer to these… but in order to find out, people have to be willing at least to try and cooperate. For the meantime, all I could do is dream…

Exploring your Goals and achieving them

With all that social media hype, we’re in a world of overflowing information and communication streams. There are mails, texts and so many other feeds constantly competing for our attention. It’s a real challenge to keep focused especially when it comes to product development where complex disciplines like analysis, design and testing meet. More and more, experts from other fields like healthcare run into similar communication difficulties like how to decide which information is relevant, accurate and valuable?

“In order to work together the people (involved) and the powers-that-be must share the same vision.”

Communication issues are among the top 10 reasons for project failure, another one being a lack of clearly defined responsibilities.

When working together ensure the communication is structured and clear. Keep it simple and keep it human. It has to base on mutual understanding and check whether those needs and goals are truly understood. There is a time to define, teams to inspire, vision to explore and goals to conclude.

“One Goal, One Vision, One Mission”

Oh, if you can plug into people’s emotions by making them see their own needs, go for it… Make them talk about their issues. Nothing is more powerful than intrinsic motivation.

In my experience, what is working when creating shared vision?

  • Define the Needs
  • Inspire the Team to Explore options to address those Needs
  • Explore team Goals

What’s my inspiration writing this? Queen – One Vision, thinking on team level rather than a single man…

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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

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 or transparent management, open to debate.  Organisations should open up their management and be completely open about their policies (yes, from highest management, involving all).  By using the S-model and experience coaching teams are directly involved in reaching goals, self-organising with management support.  Experience coaching can work in matrix style, horizontally forming groups that create value.  In efficient organisations that care about their employees there is no room for autocracy.