Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Different Root cause analysis techniques and tools

image It’s common to see people point fingers and play the blame game after a project fails. These blame games not only hurt the team members but also impact their morale as well. Is there a way to avoid these hurtful situations while focusing on improving process and identifying the failure’s root cause? 

The answer to that question can be found with root cause analysis (RCA), which helps to divert attention from people to process improvement.

Typically, agile teams are recommended to do an RCA session in response to issues raised during retrospectives. Shamefully, many agile teams skip RCA and continue to struggle in a whirlwind of issues.

RCA is not rocket science—especially when we have such a simple tool as the five whys. Eric Ries has elaborated on RCA with some practical examples from his lean startup journey. Here’s an example of a simple Excel spreadsheet that shows how to conduct RCA using the five whys; you can download a ready-to-use spreadsheet here.

Read the complete article on Techwell

Photo attribution: ThinkReliability

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scrum, XP, SAFe, Kanban: Which Method Is Suitable for My Organization?

image I have recently seen the SAFe framework criticized by the Scrum founder as well as the Kanban founder (see "unSAFEe at Any Speed" and "Kanban -- The Anti-SAFe for Almost a Decade Already"). Method wars are not new, however, and could go on forever. In the face of these discussions, it is important to remember the real intent behind Agile methods.

In this recently published Cutter article, I discuss the importance of understanding Agile as a tool rather than as a goal.  I am also proposing some ideas from complexity theory and Cynefin framework to substantiate the need for parallel/safe to fail experiments rather than  handcuffing organizations with single framework/method or a process.

Read the complete article on Cutter


Photo courtesy: Flickr

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Tennis coaching , Halo effect and celebrity bias

One of my friends is a very successful  tennis coach, however, he sends his kids to a different coach.  This was interesting, and I asked him why can’t he teach his kids. His response didn’t surprise me at all. He said, kids take parents for granted and some times, they listen to outsiders more intently.

I see a similar pattern at work as well.  Some times, employees listen to a highly paid external consultant rather than an in-house expert or supervisors.

Why is that ?

I googled around to find some research or articles around this kids behavior, and I found this interesting article.  The author gives the following 3 reasons behind kids behind deaf to their parents:

  • Biggest Reason #1 - You don't listen to them.
  • Biggest Reason #2 - You don't do what you say you're going to do.
  • Biggest Reason #3 - You don't keep the commitments you make.

Applying the above reasons in the context of organizations,  I see that employees don’t listen to organizations when organizations don’t listen to them. Is this a reasonable hypothesis  ?

On a similar noteI have seen another “Celebrity bias”.  I have seen some tweets from celebrities tweeted  and favorited by hundreds. But the same information published by a lesser known person does not get noticed much.  For example,  if  Seth Godin or Richard Branson say something and if a common man “X” says exactly the same thing, then people tend to believe celebrities more than a common man.

Why do we have this celebrity bias ?

Many people attribute this to  “Halo Effect” .  Some good stuff from the article below…

As you read above, the halo effect can influence how teachers treat students, but it can also impact how students perceive teachers. In one study, researchers found that when an instructor was viewed as warm and friendly, students also rated him as more attractive, appealing, and likeable.

Marketers take advantage of the halo effect to sell products and services. When a celebrity spokesperson endorses a particular item, our positive evaluations of that individual can spread to our perceptions of the product itself.

Job applicants are also likely to feel the impact of the halo effect. If a prospective employer views the applicant as attractive or likeable, they are more likely to also rate the individual as intelligent, competent, and qualified.

So, the next time you trying to make an evaluation of another person, whether it is deciding which political candidate to vote for or which movie to see on a Friday night, consider how your overall impressions of an individual might influence your evaluations of other characteristics. Does your impression of a candidate being a good public speaker lead you to feel that she is also smart, kind, and hard-working? Does thinking that a particular actor is good-looking also lead you to think that he is also a compelling actor?