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Project Management

Registration Open for January 2017 Writing Workshops

If you are thinking about writing more or better for next year, take a look at my writing workshops.

I am offering Writing Workshop 1: Write Non-Fiction to Enhance Your Business and Reputation again, so you can learn how to create a daily writing habit, write in small chunks, and start to publish.

I am offering a new writing workshop for people who want to publish more (and be paid for their writing): Writing Workshop 2: Secrets of Successful Non-Fiction Writers.

Take Workshop 1 if you are unsure of your writing. It’s a terrific overview and will help you start with a regular writing habit.

Take Workshop 2 if you are ready to take your writing to the next level. This workshop is about getting paid for your writing, and publishing more often and broadly.

If you’re not sure which workshop is right for you, email me and we can¬†discuss what would work for you.

Super early bird registration ends November 18, 2016 for Workshop 1. Super early bird registration ends November 25, 2016 for Workshop 2.

If you are thinking of writing “more” in 2017, commit now. Make it happen for you.

Categories: Project Management

My Purpose

NOOP.NL - Jurgen Appelo - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 11:15

As part of my (soon-to-be-announced) Agility Scales project, I decided to practice what I preach, lead by example, and eat my own dog food. I am happy to share my personal purpose in this blog post.

Every team, organization and individual benefits from crafting a purpose (also called a mission) and focusing on meaningful work. A purpose (or mission) is about why you do your work.

As Simon Sinek says, start with why.

I firmly believe that your purpose should match your actual behaviors. If your intent is to do one thing, but your actions show you’re doing something else, then your purpose has a problem. That’s why I had a critical look at my work habits over the last few years to see if there is a clear “why”.

Patterns were hard to identify because I’ve done many things that seem totally unrelated. I cannot say that my purpose is writing, or speaking, or changing the world of management, because I happily also did other things that did not fit those categories, and I did not consider that a waste of my time.

However, I only do work that I enjoy; I always try to turn that work into revenue streams, and I only want to do things that matter to other people. I canceled many experiments because I lost interest, lost money, or lost people’s support.

This insight reminded me of a slogan that I once came up with:

Make fun, make money, and make a difference.

I have decided to turn this slogan into my personal mission statement. It describes what I’ve done for the last seven years; it’s what I want to do for many years to come; and it guides my decision-making process, at least for now.

Some critics from the English language police may object and say that “making fun” should actually be “having fun”. I know that. But I like having a bit of fun with the English language, and many people know me for making fun of both myself and others. I don’t take everything too seriously. So there.

Other critics may point out that the statement is too general. Almost any kind of work could match this purpose. In fact, it looks suspiciously similar to the Ikigai model, which says that your purpose is the cross-section of what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what people are willing to pay for.

I agree.

But maybe that is exactly the point of my mission statement. It’s not the purpose of a team or company; it’s the purpose of me. I want the freedom to do anything I want, and be able to change my focus to any new opportunity, including things I haven’t even imagined yet. But the self-imposed constraints remain: I should always enjoy the work, earn an income, and do something meaningful for others. Make fun, make money, and make a difference.

And that’s a fine purpose to have, I think.


Photo: (c) 2009  Seth Sawyers, Creative Commons 2.0

The post My Purpose appeared first on NOOP.NL.

Categories: Project Management

Software Architecture for the Unknown

From the Editor of Methods & Tools - Thu, 11/03/2016 - 16:35
In this SATURN 2016 Keynote, Grady Booch discusses about architecting the unknown. There are many systems that we know how to architect (usually because we’ve built them many times before). There also many systems for which we know a process that will lead us to a reasonable architecture (usually because the forces on our project […]

Efficiency Rants and Raves: Twitter Chat Thursday

I’m doing a Twitter chat November 3 at 4pm Eastern/8pm UK with David Daly. David posted the video of our conversation as prep for the Twitter chat.

Today he tweeted this: “How do you optimize for features? That’s flow efficiency.” Yes, I said that.

There were several Twitter rants about the use of the word “efficiency.” Okay. I can understand that. I don’t try to be efficient as much as I try to be effective.

However, I’ve discussed the ideas of resource efficiency and flow efficiency in several places:

And more. Take a look at the flow efficiency tag on my site.

Here’s the problem with the word, “efficiency.” It’s already in the management¬†lexicon. We can’t stop people from using it. However, we can help them differentiate between resource efficiency (where you optimize for a person), and flow efficiency (where you optimize for features). One of the folks discussing this in the hashtag said he optimized for learning, not speed of features. That’s fine.

Flow efficiency optimizes for moving work through the team. If the work you want is learning, terrific. If the work you want is a finished feature, no problem. Both these require the flow through the team—flow efficiency—and not optimization for a given person.

I’ve mentioned this book before, but I’ll suggest it again. Please take a look at this book: This is Lean: Resolving the Efficiency Paradox.

If I want to change management, I need to speak their language. Right now, “efficiency” is part of their language. I want to move that discussion to helping them realize there is a difference between resource efficiency and flow efficiency.

I hope you decide to join us on the chat (which is about hiring for DevOps). I will be typing as fast as my fingers will go

Categories: Project Management

Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 3

I started this series writing about the need for coaches in Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 1. I continued in Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 2, talking about the changed role of managers in agile. In this part, let me address the role of senior managers in agile and how coaches might help.

For years, we have organized our people into silos. That meant we had middle managers who (with any luck) understood the function (testing or development) and/or the problem domain (think about the major chunks of your product such as Search, Admin, Diagnostics, the feature sets). I often saw technical organizations organized into product areas with directors at the top, and some functional directors such as those test/quality and/or performance.

In addition to the idea of functional and domain silos, some people think of testing or technical writing as services. I don’t think that way. To me, it’s not a product unless you can release it. You can’t release a product without having an idea of what the testers have discovered and, if you need it, user documentation for the users.

I don’t think about systems development. I think about product development. That means there are no “service” functions, such as test. We need cross-functional teams to deliver a¬†releasable product. But, that’s not how we have historically organized the people.

When an organization wants to use agile, coaches, trainers, and consultants all say, “Please create cross-functional teams.” What are the middle managers supposed to do? Their identity is about their function or their domain. In addition, they probably have MBOs (Management By Objective) for their function or domain. Aside from not working and further reducing flow efficiency, now we have affected their compensation. Now we have the container problem I mentioned in Part 2.

Middle and senior managers need to see that functional silos don’t work. Even silos by part of product don’t work. Their compensation has to change. And, they don’t get to tell people what to do anymore.

Coaches can help middle managers see what the possibilities are, for the work they need to do and how to muddle through a cultural transition.

Instead of having managers tell people directly what to do, we need senior management to update the strategy and manage the project portfolio so we optimize the throughput of a team, not a person. (See Resource Management is the Wrong Idea; Manage Your Project Portfolio Instead and Resource Efficiency vs. Flow Efficiency.)

The middle managers need coaching and a way to see what their jobs are in an agile organization. The middle managers and the senior managers need to understand how to organize themselves and how their compensation will change as a result of an agile transformation.

In an agile organization, the middle managers will need to collaborate more. Their collaboration includes: helping the teams hire, creating communities of practice, providing feedback and meta-feedback, coaching and meta-coaching, helping the teams manage the team health, and most importantly, removing team impediments.

Teams can remove their local impediments. However, managers often control or manage the environment in which the teams work. Here’s an example. Back when I was a manager, I had to provide a written review to each person once a year. Since I met with every person each week or two, it was easy for me to do this. And, when I met with people less often, I discovered they took initiative to solve problems I didn’t know existed. (I was thrilled.)

I had to have HR “approve” these reviews before I could discuss them with the team member. One not-so-experienced HR person read one of my reviews and returned it to me. “This person did not accomplish their goals. You can’t give them that high a ranking.”

I explained that the person had finished more valuable work. And, HR didn’t have a way to update goals in the middle of a year. “Do you really want me to rank this person lower because they did more valuable work than we had planned for?”

That’s the kind of obstacle managers need to remove. Ranking people is an obstacle, as well as having yearly goals. If we want to be able to change, the goals can’t be about projects.

We don’t need to remove HR, although their jobs must change. No, I mean the HR systems are an impediment. This is not a one-conversation-and-done impediment. HR has systems for a reason. How can the managers help HR to become more agile? That’s a big job and requires a management team who can collaborate to help HR understand. That’s just one example. Coaches can help the managers have the conversations.

As for senior management, they need to spend time¬†developing and updating the strategy. Yes, I’m fond of continuous strategy update, as well as continuous planning and continuous project portfolio management.

I coach senior managers on this all the time.

Let me circle back around to the question in Part 1: Do we have evidence we need coaches? No.

On the other hand, here are some questions you might ask yourself to see if you need coaches for management:

  • Do the managers see the need for flow efficiency instead of resource efficiency?
  • Do the managers understand and know how to manage the project portfolio? Can they collaborate to create a project portfolio that delivers value?
  • Do the managers have an understanding of how to do strategic direction and how often they might need to update direction?
  • Do the managers understand how to move to more agile HR?
  • Do the managers understand how to move to incremental funding?

If the¬†answers are all yes, you probably don’t need management coaching for your agile transformation. If the answers are no, consider coaching.

When I want to change the way I work and the kind of work I do, I take classes and often use some form of coaching. I’m not talking about full-time in person coaching. Often, that’s not necessary. But, guided learning? Helping to see more options? Yes, that kind of helping works. That might be part of coaching.

Categories: Project Management

Thu, 01/01/1970 - 01:00