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 …

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 …

A Simple Way to Measure Work Satisfaction and See Trends

I explained in Leadership Tip #8 that measuring happiness was a lost cause because happiness is a function of more than just work. I suggested we measure satisfaction. And I didn’t tell you how. (You didn’t mind-meld with me, did you?) Here’s how I’ve measured satisfaction with several teams. I start with the 5-point scale …

Leadership Tip 8: Stop Focusing on Happiness & Measure Satisfaction Instead

Do you or your managers want people to be happy at work? That’s a laudable goal. And, in my experience, unrealistic. That’s because happiness is an outcome of a person’s current life context. Instead of happiness, let’s consider satisfaction. When we consider satisfaction, we might discover ways to create a great work environment. That satisfaction might …

Leadership Tip #7: Be Wary of Spending Time on Non-Promotable Tasks

What do you appreciate about your office culture? Maybe someone circulates get-well or congratulations cards. Someone might bring cookies to work or arrange birthday celebrations. I know of people who arrange retirement/transition lunches. All these actions are nice things. They even have a name: “niceties.” Nice people perform these services for the rest of the …

Healthy Organizational Cultures Focus on Humanity and Connection (Not Your Whole Self)

You might have heard about the Basecamp culture changes last week. I’m sure you heard about Google’s culture problems several years ago. These problems are issues of culture: specifically what we can and cannot discuss. What do “makers”—technical people—in any industry need to discuss? Big product issues: Why we are working on this project at …