Are We There Yet?

A friend of mine was once put in charge of the Innovation group at the company where we worked.  Whenever we would talk about the state of Innovation, he always seemed preoccupied with creating an “innovation organization”.  But the conversation never seemed to get far beyond that point.
Continue reading “Are We There Yet?”

Instilling a Sense of Urgency

The team just isn’t demonstrating a sense of urgency.

The manager looked earnestly at me across the table.

I took a deep breath.  “If I may clarify.  Is your wish that the team understands the urgency of the situation, or that they demonstrate a sense of … panic?” Continue reading “Instilling a Sense of Urgency”

All Hands on Deck

My wife and I sat in the family room, watching a recent episode of Deadliest Catch.  At this particular moment, the focus is on the Cornelia Marie the boat formerly run by Captain Phil Harris, who died several seasons ago.  Since that time, the Cornelia Marie had been off-camera, without owner or without anyone to serve as her captain.  Phil was survived by two sons, who were both taken in by the other captains in the fleet to teach them what it would take to run their father’s boat.  As the seasons passed, the younger son decided he wasn’t cut out to run a crab boat, and left.  The elder son, Josh crewed on the other boats, and then in a surprise this season, came back into the picture as the new “owner” of the Cornelia Marie.  Josh was far from ready to run the operation, so he hired Captain Casey McManus to run the boat, and teach him what he’d need to know to take over the wheelhouse in the future.  Throughout the season, we’ve watched Casey and Josh together in the wheelhouse, taking turns at running the boat.  A week or two before this, the fishing hadn’t been so hot for the Cornelia.  Time was running out on opie season, and in order to help hit their quota, Josh volunteered to join the rest of the crew on deck. Continue reading “All Hands on Deck”

Hitting the Agile Reset Button

I may have mentioned this before, but I serve as the board president for the local chapter of the Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) here in Chicago (http://www.aplnchicago.org). Over the years, we have heard a lot of success stories from smaller and medium sized companies, or small pilot projects within a larger framework. We have even heard some stunning success stories of Agile taken to a very large scale. But you would not believe how many large corporations we come across that attempt to bring Agile into their processes because they hear it can improve performance, and then settle for a half-realized implementation and lackluster results. Continue reading “Hitting the Agile Reset Button”

Agile vs. Waterfall – Improved Performance is NOT Guaranteed

I am frequently asked to give a brief overview of Scrum to people who are unfamiliar with Agile concepts. In the course of giving those lessons, I almost always see a look of shock at the almost cavalier way that we agilists claim that Agile methods will give a better result than traditional methods. I like the look of shock. It shows that they’re paying attention. Continue reading “Agile vs. Waterfall – Improved Performance is NOT Guaranteed”

Team Building: Five Dysfunctions and Four ‘Ormings

There are dozens of books out there on management and leadership styles.  There are dozens of books about Agile methods and the application of Agile principles.  There are probably hundreds of books on the psychology of groups.  In my opinion, there are not enough books that combine these concepts.  The interconnections and application are left as exercises of the reader. Continue reading “Team Building: Five Dysfunctions and Four ‘Ormings”

Sailing Metaphor for Agile

When I was in high school, my friend Scott and I took his father’s sailboat out on the lake where our families spent summer vacation.  We had each been sailing numerous times; always as crew, never at the helm.  We both knew the lingo; “Come about” and “Pull that jib in tighter!”.  I had taken a boat safety course, so I knew all about life jackets and right-of-way.  There was even a page in the safety manual that talked about sailboats and gave a handy chart for the points of sail.  We were set for adventure! Continue reading “Sailing Metaphor for Agile”