Saturday, October 27, 2012

How to succeed in 21st Century business ?

imageIt has been proven beyond doubt that  Command and Control leadership style a.k.a C2 style leadership does not work.  As  Dean Anderson describes, the C2 style is based on some of the following assumptions:

  • Leaders know best
  • Leaders should know where they are going (goals, outcomes) and must predetermine the plan for how to get there (process)
  • Controlling human behaviour and action during implementation—so there is minimal variance from the predetermined plan—is a requirement of success

The impacts of this style, as described by Dean include:

Command and control as a change leadership style destroys virtually any chance of success in nine out of ten transformational change efforts. For starters, command and control:

  • Limits the engagement and commitment you must develop in your employees, and often actually promotes resistance
  • Lessens your chances of creating a change process that will lead to success
  • Keeps you from being able to make the real-time course corrections during implementation that are necessary for optimal results
  • Minimizes attention to necessary people issues like consistent communications and emotional reactions to change

Mr Mullen, the chief executive of port and rail operator Asciano in the Australian says,

"(A) seminal shift is under way where employees do not necessarily think that the boss knows best anymore and the power of social networking means that such views are exchanged widely and instantly

He also says ….
"The people we employ today . . . want to be able to bring their own tablet or other device to work rather than using the standard IT department-prescribed personal computer," Mr Mullen says.

"They want to work from home in the morning or the evening outside of work hours, and they want to take flexible holidays and remain in touch while they are away. Social networking is part of their lives."

The danger for managers who want to preserve the old order of nine-to-five workplaces and a hierarchy that assumes the boss is always right is that they lose their best staff. Some may even leave to set up a rival business.

"Failure to embrace the new way of working will literally see older, established businesses go to the wall and Generation X- and Y-led new businesses take their place," Mr Mullen says.

Read the complete article here

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Importance of Definition of Done and Ready checklists

Here is my article published on TechWell….

imageMuch has been written about definition of ready (DOR)and definition of done (DOD) lists, but not a lot has been written about the lists’ importance. Additionally, not very much has been written about the issues surrounding these lists.

DOD and DOR lists are similar to the checklists that restaurant chefs use while creating recipes as well as before serving food to customers.

Chefs validate their mental checklists to ensure the availability of ingredients before preparing food. In the absence of this checklist, chefs have to run around looking for each ingredient, which not only wastes time but also stresses out everyone.

I would like to use the chef analogy to show the importance of DOR and DOD lists. Having the right DOR checklist provides you confidence to begin a sprint, and the right DOD list improves a team’s credibility in front of the product owner.

In addition to helping the team check sprint readiness, DOR checklists expose inherent weaknesses of systems. In one case study, a team without a DOR checklist consistently failed to deliver value toward the end of each sprint. However, upon introducing DOR lists, a major issue was discovered followed by a clear solution.

Similarly, having a good DOD list reduces the risk of misunderstanding as well as the communication gaps between the delivery teams and the stakeholders. Always remember to have both DOR and DOD lists together; signing up for a DOD list without a DOR counterpart could result in stressful situations as the teams keep signing up for things without checking their readiness.

Read the complete article published on TechWell

Friday, October 19, 2012

How to build a self organizing team

Building a self organizing team is every Agilists dream.  Once in a while we hear some stories of successful implementation, and here is the one I came across recently. 

Here is a great story I am going to share, but you would be astonished to see that it is not from a software team but a nursing home.

imageLaunched in April 2008, Innovative Care Models provides detailed profiles of 24 successful care delivery models. These profiles were developed as part of a research project conducted by Health Workforce Solutions LLC and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson

One of the models they have applied is the Self Organized Agile team


The goal

Self-Organized Agile Team was developed to address three interrelated nursing problems facing Prairie Lakes Healthcare System (PLHS):  poor employee morale due to work intensity and lack of teamwork, high turnover and low productivity.

What exactly they did to build the self organizing team
The hospital placed decision-making authority for work redesign close to the front lines so bedside nurses could make independent decisions and find ways to improve operations.  In addition there was a goal to shift to a unit culture in which every nurse touches patients.  As a result, jobs were restructured to eliminate nursing roles that did not provide hands-on care.  The hospital eliminated the assistant nurse manager, charge nurse, and case manager positions and developed more effective systems to incorporate these clinical leadership functions into the bedside professional nursing role without adding to workload.  The unit also eliminated the unit secretary position and blended the responsibilities with the traditional nursing assistant role by cross-training unlicensed staff to fill either position. 

Key takeaways from the story
1. They gave importance of  hands-on people
2. Replaced the managers
3. Ensured that the decision makers are close to the people on the ground
4. Introduced the cross functional behaviour

Read more here about the fantastic results they have achieved by embracing the self organizing concepts.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to change the world with Jurgen Appelo ?



Recently  Jurgen Appelo’s  was in Melbourne,and  had an opportunity to attend one of the events. He is the author of two popular books Management 3.0 and How to change the world.


Jurgen is a good speaker, and engages the audience very well. In the event as well he explained various concepts by anchoring European map, and with humour.

What did I learn during the session ?

1. Human beings are driven by the 10 intrinsic desires


2. Jurgen is able to bring Agile methods, complexity theory and systems thinking all together to share new insights. 

3. Even though  Agile Manifesto talks stress about individuals and interactions, the agilists always talk about the team. Individuals are thoroughly ignored in Agile projects

4. He also shared about the ADKAR model of change management


5.image Jurgen explained about the desire part through the successful experiment conducted in one of the airports aiming to keep the men’s urinal’s clean.  Here is the screen shot of one of the urinals. The Fly is not the real one, it is just a picture.

Psychology behind this technique

The fly etching has been placed in such a way as a means of improving the aim of the urinal's users, thereby significantly reducing spillage and thus keeping the facility cleaner.

The idea is that men using the urinal will almost instinctively aim at the fly with the intent of washing it down the drain and, as a result, spillage caused by poor aim and inattention will be reduced.

I have heard most European countries follow above technique but some replace  fly with a Spider Smile , thus creating the desire to flush the insect down

6. One has to incentivise good behaviour with small rewards than the large ones.

7. Shared few examples of building collaboration by changing the physical structure of the office space

Sunday, October 14, 2012

PDCA cycle invented at Bell Labs

The PDCA Cycle is a checklist of the four stages which you must go through to get from `problem-faced' to `problem solved'. The four stages are Plan-Do-Check-Act, and they are carried out in the cycle illustrated below.


A lot of people think  PDCA was invented by Deming. In reality, it was invented by Walter Shewhart at Bell Labs. But this was popularized by Deming.

Read more here..

The concept of the PDCA Cycle was originally developed by Walter Shewhart, the pioneering statistician who developed statistical process control in the Bell Laboratories in the US during the 1930's. It is often referred to as `the Shewhart Cycle'. It was taken up and promoted very effectively from the 1950s on by the famous Quality Management authority, W. Edwards Deming, and is consequently known by many as `the Deming Wheel'.


Friday, October 05, 2012

Agile won’t deliver great product– its the people

If some one is embracing Agile methodology with the assumption that they can build a great product, I strongly recommend that they revisit their plan. Great products can’t be built using a good process but by having on board skilled people. 

I am going to share some real world examples of a few poorly built products around, and will explain why Scrum, XP or Kanban can’t help, but good UI designers, architects or Product Owners can.

Error message or confirmation ?

Recently I updated some info on a website, and upon submitting the data I received the message shown in the red box in the screen shot below. I am so used to seeing the standard error message in the red box and not a success message. Having a good Product owner(PO) and a User Interface (UI) designer could have helped here in formulating the market standards of displaying the message.


Need help in switching on my washing machine

imageWhile I was in Auckland recently on vacation, the serviced apartment I stayed had this washing machine. I never thought that switching on a washing machine is so difficult until I used the one similar to the one shown above. The machine not only had so many knobs, but also the textual info on the left side added a lot to the confusion.I tried all combinations of configuring the knobs and pressed the “Power on” button, but couldn’t start it. I called the reception for help, and the gentlemen who turned up advised me not to worry about the options, and use only the standard setting that works on this machine.Curiously I asked few more questions, and he said,no one knows in the hotel how the knobs work as it confused them all. So, they have learnt only one combination that works. 

Again, Lean/Agile or Kanban couldn’t have helped this company to manufacture user friendly washing machine but a good PO, UI designer could have.The PO could have taken the feedback from the real users while approving the design.

Infamous Yahoo attachment problem

The fundamental feature of any email client should be to enable users to attach files to the emails. As many Yahoo email users know, people will go through anxiety attacks when it comes to attaching files to yahoo emails. This is not a new issue, thousands of users across the globe are facing this issue since 2003 – 2004. Does a large company like Yahoo need 8 years and more to fix this problem.  I don’t think Lean, Scrum or Kanban will help Yahoo here,  but a good Product owner and an architect can. 
I think the product owners responsibility shouldn’t stop only till the product is deployed to production, but  should continue post production. PO should monitor the product usage, and incorporate the customers feedback.