For the final article in this series, I’m going to expand on the athlete metaphor to illustrate the vital importance that leadership support plays to ensure optimal athlete and team performance over long, arduous initiatives.
There are few things tougher than the Comrades ultra marathon. The Comrades Marathon is by far the largest and most prestigious ultra marathon in the world. Every year, approximately 20,000 aspirant runners aim to complete 90 very hilly kilometres (56 miles) between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in under 12 hours. If you achieve a Top 10 finish at Comrades, you earn a coveted Gold medal.
I recently presented a talk called “Back to the Feature” at the South African Scrum User Group (SUGSA) conference. The talk playfully references aspects of the Back to the Future trilogy to illustrate how business analysis can be done effectively in an agile environment. This article focusses on one specific topic I covered during the presentation – that written documentation is one of the worst ways to communicate with other humans*.
* And no, the irony of writing a detailed blog post about how poor written documentation is at communicating information is not lost on me!
The first Back to the Future movie concludes with Doc telling Marty, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!” I paraphrase this iconic movie quote as, “Written documentation? With what we’re building, we don’t need (much) written documentation!”
As a first-time visitor to New York, I was faced with limitless tourist opportunities but had a finite period of time – just 48 hours – in which to accomplish everything. With an infinite backlog of exciting experiences and countless possibilities, demand far exceeded supply. Sound familiar? This is a challenge faced by all agile teams.
I had just attended the Scaled Agile (SAFe) Summit in Denver and was making the most of my carbon footprint by facilitating some workshops with our New York team the following week. I decided to practice what I preach as an agile coach (and applied some of what I learned at the SAFe Summit) by setting myself some TI (Tourist Increment) objectives for my weekend in New York.
When it comes to behavioural science, I am an enthusiastic amateur. I guess the same could be said for my marathon running infatuation which, although prolific with over 250 completed, is still firmly footed in the ‘recreational amateur’ category. My payslip reads ‘Agile Coach’ so I’d like to think that I’ve managed to breach the amateur category in my chosen career (but you might need to check with my colleagues to confirm whether I do indeed qualify as a professional). It’s not often that running, behavioural science and agile coaching intersect but recently they did, so I decided to use the opportunity to run an experiment and this is what happened. Continue reading “A Behavioural Science Experiment to get Leaders to Complete an Agile Maturity Assessment”
This article uses a department’s entertainment budget as a simple way to explain how the principle of decentralised decision-making should be applied at the team level. What’s more, you can expect teams to communicate and function better when it’s applied correctly.
My very simple definition of the difference between output and outcome is:
Output is delivering volume
Outcome is delivering value
Theoretically, they could be the same but in practice this is seldom the case.
I can create a lot of ‘stuff’ (i.e. output) but realise very little, or even negative, value for all the time and effort spent producing said ‘stuff’. This article provides two practical examples of what normally happens (we focus only the output), why this is a terrible practice and the problems associated with ignoring the outcomes. Continue reading “Outcomes: The Forgotten Test Case”
Ron Kohavi was the Technical Fellow and VP of the Analysis & Experimentation team at Microsoft. He had a team of brilliant engineers, data scientists and program managers working under him. Kohavi’s team built Microsoft’s “Experimentation Platform.” Before the Experimentation Platform was in use, Microsoft teams were delivering well-thought out features, some small, others larger multi-month projects. Output was great – and Microsoft products like Bing, Edge, Exchange, Office, Skype, Windows, and Xbox were benefitting from the exceptional work produced.