Give Yourself a Gift: Reflection Time

This time of year is associated with giving gifts to others. But I think it is also a good time to think about the gifts we can give ourselves. One that we can all afford is the gift of reflection time. Let me tell you a story. I have a friend, Jen, who is a pure...

Control and Creativity

Last month, I had the privilege to study with a renowned artist, Nancy Crow. It was a wonderful experience. Of course I learned about art —design principles, use of color, figure ground tension. I also came smack up against an issue that I see in so many...

An Alternative to the Annual Review

Well, it’s that time again — time for the yearly performance review. The ritual starts with gathering feedback, proceeds to assigning rating/ranking, and drags on through doling out a raise. Do you enjoy annual review ritual? Thought not. This year I think...

Jobs Don’t Fit in Boxes

Most job descriptions break work down into discrete chunks. They define activities a person must do, list required behaviors and desired qualities. Job descriptions aim for standardization. I understand HR departments desire consistency. Yet, it seems to me, job...

Assessing Team Improvement

Managers who have invested effort and money in training teams in Agile methods want to see team improvement–reasonable enough. I describe a handful of measures that indicate the organization is improving over all in posts( here and here. Some of these measures...

Self-Awareness Matters: Finding Your Filters

We all have filters. That’s a good thing–our cognitive systems can’t process all the data that’s available. But most people filter out useful information as well as extraneous information (for example, the size of loops in the carpet or shoe...

Hiring is a Team Activity

Hiring new people for a team should always be a joint decision that involves team members. After all, who has more at stake than the people who will work with the new person day in and day out? Consider what happened when a well-intentioned manager decided to hire...

What does middle level management do?

Last week, someone tweeted that the C-suite “gets agile” but middle level management “resists” it. I also saw a tweet that the C-suite doesn’t get agile but middle managers do. I don’t doubt the observations of either of these...

The Costs of a Struggling Team

Last week, I posted a mind map that shows the benefits of the team effect.  But what about the costs of a team that is not doing well?  A team that isn’t working well doesn’t have a neutral effect. A struggling team costs the people and the organization in...

Estimating is often helpful. Estimates are often not.

“Estimating is often helpful. Estimates are often not,” I said in a Tweet. Several people asked, “How can this be?” Let me say more about agile estimation, in more than 140 characters. Estimating is often helpful. Estimating helps when the...

ScrumMaster? Coach? Agile Coach?

Do you need a ScrumMaster, Coach, Agile Coach? No matter the name, the  intention behind the role is to help teams learn new skills, continuously improve, and make the transition to a new way of working. Some people say it’s a technical role, others claim that...

Command & Control: Let’s talk about power

Command and control isn’t just a mindset and a style of management (though it is both those things). What we don’t often talk about is the power that rests with people in management roles. Traditional managers have power, and that power comes from...

Agile Teams at Scale: Beyond Scrum of Scrums

Agile methods depend on effective cross-functional teams. We’ve heard many Agile success stories…at the team level. But what happens when a product can’t be delivered by one team?  What do you do when the “team” that’s needed to...

Hiring for an Agile Team: 4 Reasons to Up Your Hiring Game

Most companies have policies that govern the selection and hiring process for new employees. Not a bad thing.  But I’ve noticed that in many of the companies I visit–especially the big ones–the guidelines put far less rigor around hiring people for...

Building Effective Teams: Miss the Start, Miss the End

(This article originally appeared on Gantthead.com) A manager’s relationship with a team as they work is essential for cultivating a self-organizing team and maintaining a link with the organization. But a managers role regarding effective teams starts long...

New Roles for Managers: Interview with Lean Magazine

I recently did an interview with the nice folks at Softhouse.se for their Lean Magazine. The interview was a lot of fun, and made me think (which is fun). The full interview will be in their special anniversary edition, schedule to be out by Christmas.  (Information...

Hiring a ScrumMaster or Agile Coach

If you are hiring a ScrumMaster or Agile Coach, Resume keyword searches for won’t find the right person for your teams, and your organization. Start thinking about the work, the role, the team, and the job. Here’s a job analysis of the role for a client I...

Readings for Managers: Motivation

I’ve been having conversations lately with people about compensation and reward systems, and the role that money plays in motivation. All the research I’ve seen concludes that–for most people–money becomes the primary motivator at work when...

Supporting Team-Based Work

Many of the companies I work with want the benefit of the team effect in software development. The managers in these companies recognize the enormous benefits teams provide to the company–creativity, engagement, learning. However, in many of these companies, the...

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