What Does Agile Mean to You?

Over on Techwell, my monthly column is Agile Does Not Equal Scrum: Know the Difference. I wrote the article because I am tired of people saying “Agile/Scrum” as if Scrum was the only way to do agile. I use iterations, kanban, and the XP technical practices when I work with teams. I am not religious about the “right” way to do agile. I like any combination of approaches that help a team deliver value often. I like anything that helps a team to get feedback on their work and their team process. I like anything that helps management ask the right questions and create an environment in which teams can succeed. Dogma doesn’t work very well for me. (I know, you are so surprised.) If you are thinking about your agile approach, ask yourself, “What does agile mean to me? What value will agile deliver?” Before you decide on an approach, answer that question. You might be more Dan in my most recent Pragmatic Manager, Define Your Agile Success. Once you know what agile means to you, you might start to read more about possibilities that fit for you. If you are a leader in your organization trying to use agile more effectively, consider participating in the Influential Agile...

People: Resilience Creators, Not Resources

I’ve been traveling, teaching, speaking and consulting all over the world. I keep encountering managers who talk about the “resources.” They mean people, and they say “resources.” That makes me nuts. I blogged about that in People Are Not Resources. (I have other posts about this, too, but that’s a good one.) I finally determined what we might call people. People are “resilience creators.” They are able to recognize challenges, concerns, or problems, and adjust their behavior. People solve problems so the project can continue and deliver the product. People fix problems so that customer support or sales can make the user experience useful. People deliver products and/or services (or support the people who do) so that the company can continue to employ other people, deliver the company’s work, and acquire/retain customers. We want resilient companies (and projects and environments). When we encounter a hiccup (or worse) we want the work to continue. Maybe not in the way it did before. Maybe we need to change something about what we do or how we do it. That’s fine. You hired great people, right? People can solve problems so that the company can be resilient. To me, that means that the people are resilience creators, not “resources.” People create resilience when they have the ability to solve problems because you asked them for results. People create resilience when they understand the goals of the work. People create resilience when they have the ability to work together, in a holistic way, not in competition with each other. What would you rather have in your organization: resources or resilience...

Job Search Trap: I Owe My Team

You’ve been at your company for a while. You’ve hired a number of the people you work with, or you work closely with them. They are your “work family.” Now, you’re thinking about looking for a job. You think you owe something to your team. Do you? Consider your perspective. Who do you owe what? Who are you protecting? Who deserves your responsibility? When you think about “owing” your team, you take responsibility for their careers. Is that your intent? When you take responsibility for other people’s careers by assuming they can’t make decisions about their work or their careers, you take a parental view of your colleagues. When you think you can’t leave because you “owe” something to other people, you assume a parental role. Do you want to do that? But, you say, I’m not like that. I don’t treat people as if I’m their parent. I just want to make sure I don’t leave them without a champion, or an architect, or a manager, or a tester, or a something. If a new job is right for you, you are not leaving them “without.” You are asking them to make a decision you have not yet asked them to make—can they find a way to work without you? Are they ready for that decision? Maybe the real problem is that you don’t want to leave, or you can’t imagine your team being able to work without you. Just as in the myth of being too valuable to take a vacation, your team can survive your departure. Survive definitely. Thrive? That’s a different question. Is the ability of...

Management, Humanity and Expectations

There’s a twitter discussion of what people “should” do in certain situations. One of the participants believes that people “should” want to learn on their own time and work more than 40 hours per week. I believe in learning. I don’t believe in expecting people to work more than 40 hours/week. My experience is that when you ask people to work more than 40 hours, they get stupid. See  Management Myth 15: I Need People to Work Overtime. If you want people to learn, read Management Myth #9: We Have No Time for Training. One participant also said that people should leave their emotional baggage (my word) at home. Work supposedly isn’t for emotions. Well, I don’t understand how we can have people who work without their emotions. Emotions are how we explain how we feel about things. I want people to advocate for what they feel is useful and good. I want to know when they feel something is bad and damaging. I want that, as a manager. See Management Myth #4: I Don’t Need One-on-Ones. People are emotional. Let’s assume they are adults and can harness their emotions. If not, we can provide feedback about the situation. But, ignoring their emotions? That never works. It’s incongruent and can make the situation worse. I have a problem with “shoulds” for other people. I cannot know what is going on in other people’s lives. Nor, do I want to know all the details as a manager. I need to know enough to use my judgement as a manager to help the people and teams proceed. When managers build trust...

Learning Opportunities for All

If you are not on my Pragmatic Manager email list, you might not know about these opportunities to explore several topics with me this month: An Estimation hangout with Marcus Blankenship this Friday, April 10, 2:30pm EDT. If you have questions, please email me or Marcus. See the Do You Have Questions About Estimation post. Think of this hangout as a clinic, where I can take your questions about estimation and help you address your concerns. In the Kitchener-Waterloo area April 29&30, I’m doing two workshops that promise to be quite fun as well as educational: Discovering the Leader Inside of You An Agile and Lean Approach to Managing Your Project Portfolio To see the descriptions, see the KWSQA site. You do not have to be a manager to participate in either of these workshops. You do need to be inquisitive and willing to try new things. I believe there  is only room for two people for the leadership workshop. I think there is room for five people in the project portfolio workshop. Please do sign up now....