Talk, Talk, Talk

I wrote an article about the many ways that managers inadvertently plug the communication pipeline (free registration required). In doing so, they deprive themselves of the information they need to do their jobs. It reminded me of one of the most common ways managers block information–talking too much, listening too little. Some advice for managers… ***…

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Building Trust, One Iteration at a Time

A while back I talked to a CEO of a contract development shop.  He wondered how Agile could help him with fixed price, fixed scope contracts to deliver software. Of course, the requirements that come with these contracts are never complete or completely accurate. The first thing that comes to mind is to stop making…

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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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Musings on Management: Moving away from Command & Control

When companies decide they want the benefit of the team effect, or adopt agile methods, they (sometimes) realize that they need to update their management style as well.  And too often, they enter an 4-step dance of oscillation. Managers feel overburdened and overwhelmed. Teams are disengaged.  They want teams to take more responsibility, and show…

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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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Curing System Blindness

I’ve been writing about seeing systems, and got to thinking about a company I did some work for a few years ago–because they were a great example of how focusing on events leads to blame and prevents people from seeing patterns. Here’s the story.  The customer service organization in this company had serious problems with…

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Start Seeing Software — the concept in action

Tim Van Tongeren gives an example of how posting project information publicly can open up communicaiton on the project team This just won’t happen if the plan is sitting in a scheduling tool (MS Project or your favorite flavor) on the project manager’s computer. Not even when the plan is on a network. When information…

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Start Seeing Software

I found this on Joe Ely’s weblog Learning About Lean: Central to any Lean system is Management by Sight. An effective system is very visual. In less than two minutes, any associate must be able to assess if the system is in or out of compliance. He tells a little story about a colleague looking…

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