Summary: Success arises when we transform significantly, not just do marginally better. We must give ourselves and our teams mandates, time and incentives to ponder and execute such transformations.
Last month, MIT professor and economist Esther Duflo won the prestigious John Bates Clark award, for the person under 40 who contributed most to economics. There is an inspiring profile of her in The New Yorker (May 17, 2010). Dr Duflo performs economic experiments in developing countries, exploring important problems statistically (for example, that quotas requiring proportional representation for women in elections do, in fact, reduce societal bias). Such experiments give us clearer direction for future action. Continue reading
If you created New Year’s resolutions, in hungover remorse for your 2009 debauchery, it’s a good time to assess your rehabilitation. By examining last quarter’s progress, you can make early course corrections and get on track for a successful 2010.
Take a tip from the productivity experts and host your own personal retrospective. Here’s how:
- Pull out your resolutions and review. (Or at least try to remember what they were.)
- Try to reconstruct the hopes and frustrations you felt three months ago.
- Write this down: Revel in what went well in your quest for improvement.
- Regret what went badly.
- Reengage by picking one or two things you will do differently in Q2. Continue reading
A colleague of mine, Kris Niles, sent me this long (59 minute), but compelling audio from “This American Life”, on the demise of the Fremont NUMMI auto plant. The GM Fremont plant was shutdown in 1982, restarted as GM/Toyota NUMMI in 1984, adopted the agile “Toyota Production System” through a massive education program (they flew all NUMMI plant personnel to Japan, where Toyota trained them), and almost immediately started producing high quality cars. Continue reading
On 9 March 2010, I gave a talk on Enterprise Scrum at the 2010 US Scrum Gathering in Orlando, Florida. I am grateful that about 50 people showed up for my talk, from about 300 total Scrum Gathering attendees. People were intrigued by fractal thinking, by the blunt assertion that engineering teams rapidly burn money, and by the prioritization of work using forecasted Net Present Value. Enterprise Scrum can create very healthy product lines and companies. In a sense, Enterprise Scrum turns enterprises into internal venture capital funders. Continue reading
Most agile teams live in a waterfall ecosystem. When powerful stakeholders—like business partners, customers, other departments or executives—demand future commitments, while interrupting contributors with unprioritized demands, smart Scrum teams raise a protective shield. They make the Product Owner manage stakeholder priorities, and make the ScrumMaster defend them against interference. If anyone provides a date to a stakeholder, it’s going to be the Product Owner: the Single Wringable Neck.
But instead of just defending ourselves against an external onslaught of unprioritized need, we can go on the offense. We can evangelize agility upstream. Impossible requirements point out that stakeholders could themselves benefit from agility. If we teach them agility, they and we will both go faster. Together we can develop a strong, sustainable and profitable business ecosystem.
My buds and I have pushed agile upstream twice recently, and it’s more fun than you might think. Continue reading
My yearly retrospective mind map summarizes what went well and badly in 2009, and what I plan to do in 2010. Click the image to see the full view.
Dan Greening 2009 Retrospective Mind Map
I plan to iterate in 2010, with monthly or shorter sprints, progressing each month to make usable progress on as many 2010 goals as possible.
One thing that deserves explanation: “software project assessor”. This is not a commonly used term. An example is Elliot Fishman, who analyzes startup companies to determine their intrinsic bottom-up value. Venture capitalists pay him for his analysis. Being a sophisticated software project assessor means you can look at a software project or startup company and determine its likely value in the future. There are obvious implications to this.
I hope those who know me will ask me how it’s going; it will help motivate me.
Have a great 2010!
Agile methods can organize marketing efforts: asset production, brand development, strategic brand alignment. However, it may not be a perfect fit: marketing tasks are often short-lived; “debt” is a different concept; prioritizing is perhaps more important, estimation less so. We are experimenting with these concepts at Citrix Online. We hope to gain insight by looking at other organizations. Continue reading
Scrum exhibits fractal self-similarity, a property you can use to scale Scrum. Large organizations can deliver higher corporate productivity, revenues and agility in the face of rapidly changing markets. Everything scales, including the challenges.
We use a unique Enterprise Scrum process at Citrix Online (we are aware of no other organization using it) to manage a large, multiproduct engineering department. Anyone who cares, from the President on down, knows what engineers are working on, and has discussed and agreed on priorities. Continue reading
In any project, you should complete your your work in stages. This lets you show customers (those who pay) and users (who might not pay) your work in progress, to ensure you satisfy their initial expectations and adapt to new ones.
You will likely stage your project incrementally or iteratively. Most people don’t know the difference, but if they stage a project incrementally, it is easy to waste a lot of time. Iterative development is usually better.
I wrote this, hoping to help. Continue reading