culture

What Does Your Culture Value: People “Efficiency” or Work Throughput?

A senior manager said, “We give our resources everything they could need: technology, tools, even some training. Why are they so slow?” I asked, “How many projects are they working on?” “Each resource has at least two projects so they stay productive and efficient.” These managers have created a resource efficiency culture, not a flow …

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Remote Work: Ways to Think About “Fair” Compensation and Benefits

Before the pandemic, Jenny, the VP of Engineering, insisted that the engineering staff needed to work in the Boston area. She expected that people would mostly work in the office, and they did. However, during the pandemic, Jenny changed her mind. She said that as long as teams had sufficient hours of overlap, she didn’t …

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Throughput: Why Salary Costs Matter Less Than You Think They Do

Dan, a VP, knows he needs more people to get the work done. Suzanne, one of the directors, starts to hire and realizes she has several problems. First, their salary bands are too low—candidates want more money. In addition, the people want to collaborate more than the existing people seem to. She meets with Dan …

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Three Possibilities to Move from Power Over to Power With

The Acme Corp senior leadership team is thrilled that they can bring people back to the office. That team decided that everyone would be back in the office on Mondays and Thursdays. Why Mondays and Thursdays? The senior leaders could make those days work with their schedules. They rolled this decision out to the rest …

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Leadership Tip #19: How “Team Building” Activities Help and Hurt People and Teams

Dan, a Vice President, worries that his teams work more as individuals than as teams. He’s a physically active guy and decided that teams can choose from these activities: a zip line course, a hike up and down a local mountain, or an escape room. But when he suggested these ideas to one of his …

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See and Resolve Team Dependencies, Part 4: All Component Teams, Complex Product

The larger your product, the more likely you have components teams. I often see component teams because of the architecture of the product. In this first image, the Integrated System Program, the rest of the product uses the Platform of Common Services as components. Also, the teams find it tempting to think of the common …

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See and Resolve Team Dependencies, Part 2: One Person Outside the Team

Does your organization have an enterprise architect or Chief Product Person? We create these positions to check that the teams don’t try to implement something “wrong.” However, a single person in this position creates bottlenecks and dependencies. (A committee might create even tighter bottlenecks.) Those dependencies slow the work. If a person delays the work, …

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See and Resolve Team Dependencies, Part 1: Inside the Team

Even when managers try to create cross-functional teams, the teams still have dependencies. Dependencies slow and make finishing the work more difficult. Too many teams have a built-in dependency creator—code review. When we take time to perform code review after we write the code (or the tests), we create dependencies between the people on the …

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A Common Tool Trap: the Tool Will Help Your Delivery and Planning Problems

Over the past couple of weeks, several potential clients have discussed problems they want to fix: What are the teams doing, at a detailed level? (The managers want to know when the teams will finish certain features in the short term.) How can they plan for six months at a time? (They want to understand …

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How to Understand and Relieve the Symptoms of “Agile” Death Marches

Did you ever work on a project that dragged on and on, slipping a week every week? Back in the day, we called those projects “death marches.” I never saw anyone literally die, but I saw too many divorces, abuse of drugs and alcohol, and very dissatisfied and unhappy employees and customers.​​ Waterfall projects can …

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