Agile and The Chasm

Someone posed the question:  Has Agile Crossed the Chasm?, a reference to Moore’s work on marketing. Agile is no longer the prevue of pioneers and visionaries.  Agile shows up in the popular business press. PMI is all over it.   The big accounting/consulting firms are marketing agile. Clearly (at least the term) agile is reaching…

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Lessons in Self-Organizing Social Systems

Last week, I had a chance to reflect on eleven years of the Retrospective Facilitators Gathering. A bit of background on RFG: I started the Gathering in 2002 with Diana Larsen and Norm Kerth.  Each year, the different set of volunteers organize the Gathering.  Continuity comes from linking the immediate past organizer, the current year…

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Alternatives to bureaucratic hierarchy

I don’t doubt that its possible to have an organization with out traditional managers. I’ve read about Semco and Morningstar Farms. I’ve talked to people who work at Gore. My husband works for a less well know firm that doesn’t have traditional managers. But those companies didn’t get there by happenstance. They got there by…

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Pendulum Swings and Oscillating Systems

An effective hierarchy provides enough central control for coordinated action in achieving the aim of the organization. At the same time, the hierarchy must provides enough autonomy for subsystems to function, self-organize, flourish. Yes.  But how to do that? Let me walk you through a scenario that describes the challenge. I’ve seen a number of…

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Team Trap #3: Failing to Navigate Conflict

“The absence of conflict is not harmony, it’s apathy .” Eisenhardt,  Kahwajy and Bourgeois “(….or acquiescing, or avoiding).” Esther Derby Conflict is inevitable at work. Sooner or later, people will disagree about what to test, how to implement a feature, what “done” means, or whether “always” means 100 per cent of the time or some…

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Shifting Organizational Patterns

I’ve been talking about (and using) Human Systems Dynamics tools lately–Rally Success Tour, OTUG, Practical Agility and Retrospective Workshops in Stockholm. I find Containers, Differences, Exchanges offers my clients (and me) a useful way to see past events and see structures. Working at the level of structures gives both insights and opens up opportunities for…

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Bridging Structural Conflict: Same and Different

No two people or groups are the same, but their differences don’t have to force them apart. I recently talked to two groups who were feuding. On one side were the development teams, tasked with delivering new functionality every two weeks. On the other were the operations folks, who were charged with keeping the environment…

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Changing to Agile, in an Agile Manner

A while back I was contacted by a potential client who wanted to “go agile.”  But they wanted to do it in a deterministic manner.  They wanted a plan, complete with milestones and dates–mostly indicating that other people had changed their behavior as dictated by management. Sigh. One could make a plan for mass training…

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Eleven things to remember about people in middle management roles.

It’s easy to be critical of managers.  A few things to remember. 0. Most people in management roles want to do a good job, but may not know what to do or how to do it. 1. People in management roles are dealing with incomplete and ambiguous knowledge.  It’s a fantasy that they have all…

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Team Traps!

Slides from Team Traps! Team Traps View more presentations from Esther Derby. (a subset of )The Traps (and how to avoid them). Zeroth Trap Part-time Team Members? Neither Leaderless, nor Leader Dominated. Leaderful. Withholding Information Deal with the Human, then the Work Ignoring the Role of Trust Six Ways that Team Members Build Trust with…

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