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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Double Loop Learning in Retrospectives II

Slides from a talk I gave on Double Loop Learning in Retrospectives: Double Loop Learning in Retrospectives View more presentations from Esther Derby And take a look at PROMOTING DOUBLE LOOP LEARNING IN RETROSPECTIVES.

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Promoting Double Loop Learning in Retrospectives

“The thinking that got us here isn’t the thinking that’s going to get us where we need to be.”  attributed to Albert Einstein I have  this niggling concern about retrospectives. I have no doubt that retrospectives that are too short, don’t result in action / experiment, or fail to delve beneath the surface are a…

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Motivation Misfires

Many managers ask me, “How can I motivate my team?” I’ve certainly seen many efforts to motivate teams.  Contests, prizes, pep talks, badges, points, canned thank you notes, and recognition events. Most of this comes down to using rewards to motivate people to continue certain behavior. Some of these work for some people, some of…

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The fundamental attribution error and accountability

A while back I was talking to a manager who complained that “no one” in his organization was “accountable.”  Of course, he exempted himself form that category. This manager, (I’ll call him Tom) feels like he’s accountable— he knows that if they people creating software products don’t get their work done, he’ll hear from his…

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Resources don’t write software. People do.

Resource 1. a : a source of supply or support : an available means —usually used in plural b: a natural source of wealth or revenue —often used in plural c: a natural feature or phenomenon that enhances the quality of human life d: computable wealth —usually used in plural e: a source of information or expertise…

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Another Cautionary Tale: Creating a mess by “eliminating waste”

I’ve seen lots of managers struggle to help teams.  Often, they are driven by deadlines and goals set by their managers.  They do what they think will help, acting out of their current view of  how things work. Sometimes they look for new ideas on how to manage.  One of the ideas that’s been popular…

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Musings on Management Work, I

In two recent posts, I offered cautionary tales for managers of self-organizing agile teams: Tale of a Yo-Yo Manager Tale of a Too Hands Off Manager. So what is it that managers should do to move from big boss to partnership?  It’s actually quite a long list, so let’s get started. Expand Contextual Knowledge In…

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Manager as Work System Designer: 14 Essential Questions

Questions matter.  The questions we ask open one avenue of inquiry, but close others.  If we want to change the way we manage, we need to change our questions.  And so, here are my slides from my talk at Agile 2010: 14 Essential Questions aimed at refocusing management attention on creating work systems that work–creating…

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Beyond Belief

(c) 2001-2010 Esther Derby Let me tell you a little story, a true story, about how our beliefs influence what we see in the world and affect our ability to solve problems. Two years ago my friend Julia, who was forty-four and a bit portly at the time, starting experiencing troubling physical symptoms. She was…

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