Purpose vs. Product: Differentiate Your Strategy from Tactics (Portfolio & Roadmaps)

I’m struggling to write several posts and I realized I need to define my terms. I keep seeing managers confuse the strategic and tactical. That leads to large and unchangeable roadmaps and a lot of emphasis on predictability. I don’t know how to offer the level of predictability they want for large and unchanging work. …

Leadership Tip #11: Substitute the Word Trust for Empower

We talk a lot about empowered or self-organizing teams in the agile community. However, I don’t see too many self-organizing or empowered teams at my clients. Not because my clients are stupid—far from it. Everyone does the best job they know how to do. However, every manager’s micromanagement pervades all levels. Instead of talking about …

Leadership Tip #10: Commit Coherent & Meaningful Work to a Team

Many managers feel the need to get more and more done. They feel pressure from customers and salespeople for more features or products. Or the managers might feel the need for more revenue. So they start many projects. When teams have too many projects, teams take longer to finish. This means all that pressure continues …

Writing Secret 2: Increase Writing Speed When You Separate Writing From Editing

Too many nonfiction writers still listen to advice from their long-ago English teachers. That advice was, “Edit as you go.” Editing as you go slows your writing and allows you to get stuck. Instead, wait until you’re done writing down before you edit. That’s because our brains work differently when we write down vs. when …

Writing Secret 1: Use the Growth Mindset to Write in 15-Minute Chunks

Recently, several people have congratulated me on my “natural” writing. I thank them and try not to giggle. Why? Because I am not a “natural” writer. I have written and published enough that I found my writer’s voice. Instead of talent, I have persistence. I use that persistence in small, timeboxed chunks. That’s part of the …

With Agile Approaches, No Need to “Meet” or “Enforce” Deadlines

Several of my clients struggle with their deadlines. One of them, Brad, quoted Douglas Adams to me and frowned: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” He thought agile approaches would work to “meet” and “enforce” deadlines. I asked him these questions: Do you think people don’t want …

Leadership tip #9: See & Stop Micromanagement—Learn to Trust Instead

I see too much micromanagement, even in supposedly agile organizations. Micromanagement tells people, “I don’t trust you.” When we have insufficient trust, morale and the products deteriorate. Instead, we can extend trust and keep innovating for morale and the products. This image shows a 6-person team where the leader/manager micromanages. All decisions go through that …

Use “Typical,” Not “Average” Durations to Manage Risk

Many managers and teams talk about “average” durations for work. On average, how long does it take a team to finish a certain kind of work? However, average doesn’t quite explain why our work takes different durations. Instead of average, consider the word, “typical.” I’ve written about cycle time before. (It’s the time from when …