A hat tip to Tyler Jennings for the title of this post. He and I were in a meeting some time ago, along with a lot of other interesting people from Groupon Engineering. We were sharing our thoughts on team leadership and the role of managers. There was talk about how decisions need to be made close to the work and how managers need to not just seek advice, but actually provide others the opportunity to make decisions.
I was recently contacted by a colleague looking for a bit of advice.
C: "We are thinking about merging two teams together and we're not sure how to message the change."
D: "What do you think will be your biggest challenges?"
C: "Well, for one, we're not sure how the funnel flow team will respond to being folded into the purchase page team."
Over the course of the last year, I've been slowly accumulating home automation toys. Our living room and guest room have Logitech Harmony universal remotes, which I highly recommend. In the living room, we have the Harmony Ultimate One, which not only controls the home entertainment devices, but can integrate with a number of other devices, including our Philips Hue lights. In December, we added an Amazon Echo to the mix.
For Immediate Release
Atlanta’s Nerd/Noir announces collaboration with Chicago’s CTO2 to present a workshop for software development teams.
March 2, 2016 - Atlanta, Georgia
Nerd/Noir presents Doc Norton’s workshop on Collaborative Decision Making at TechSquare Labs, April 14, 2016.
This creative collaboration workshop provides tools that address such issues team alignment, task prioritization, and complex team processes.
Even high functioning teams occasionally have a hard time making decisions or coming up with creative ideas. There are times when the conversation seems to drag on long after a decision is reached. There are times when too many people are involved in the discussion or the wrong people involved. There are times when a team is not sure who's the actual decision maker. And there are those times when team members just seem to be out of synch with each other.
This workshop is designed to be truly experiential. Rather than discussing topics, teams are quickly introduced to a concept and then spend time working together using the techniques they’ve learned. As the workshop progresses, teams have an opportunity to utilize the tools they learned earlier in the workshop and see how these techniques can be used together in various ways. At the end of the workshop, teams will have addressed a number of different challenges that are common to all of our work lives.
About CTO2 - Founded in Chicago in 2015, CTO2 helps organizations create intentional cultures and structures optimized for sustainable software delivery. With over 40 years of combined experience in software delivery process, tools, staffing, and retention across a wide range of industries, CTO2 is uniquely qualified to help companies face the challenge of growing technology teams whilst maintaining a healthy and vibrant culture. Doc Norton, Founder and CEO, is passionate about working with teams to improve delivery and build great organizations. Once a dedicated code slinger, Doc has turned his energy toward helping teams, departments, and companies work better together in the pursuit of better software. Working with a wide range of companies such as Groupon, Nationwide Insurance, Belly, and many others, Doc has applied tenants of agile, lean, systems thinking, and servant leadership to develop highly effective cultures and drastically improve their ability to deliver valuable software and products. For more information, please visit www.wearecto2.com
About Nerd/Noir - Founded in Atlanta in 2015, Nerd/Noir serves teams already on the agile path looking to master the art and science of product design and software development. Nerd/Noir offers full stack agile/lean coaching and workshops, mindfully tailored to achieve measurable outcomes. Co-founder David Laribee has over 20 years experience as a player-coach and builder of high-performing agile teams. His partner, Alexandra West brings a 20-year background in fine art, film and design to the mix. Together with their canine mascots, Roxy and Señor, they can be found scouring Atlanta for the beautiful, unusual and inspiring. For more information, please visit nerdnoir.com
I often find myself talking to people who are in the midst of a switch to agile and who find the change very difficult to get used to. They may be strong advocates, but their team just "doesn't get it". Through discussion, I find that many of them are attempting what I refer to as "Shock and Awe" agile. If you couldn't tell by the name, I consider this another agile coaching anti-pattern.
I read an article today that was posted on LinkedIn. I'm not going to link to the article. I'm not going to tell you who wrote it. I am only telling you about the article to set the stage for what I want to write about in this quick post.
In the article, along with "taking the best from Waterfall and Agile" and mixing them together into a "perfect methodology", the author, as a self-proclaimed change agent, suggested you should force implement all CMMI Level 5 developer practices at once.
Some time in mid-January, I was thinking about various organizational patterns and how companies run. I was thinking, in particular, about the idea of a "leadership team". I tweeted that leadership teams may be an indication of dysfunction.
I got a few different responses, all of which amounted to "please say more about this."
I recently gave a talk on the role of a Quality Analyst as an organization transitions from waterfall to agile. The talk was entitled "Switching Horses in Midstream" and covered a number of topics. One item in particular struck me as worthy of blogging about. It's a technique I've been using for years, but have never written about it. So here we go:
Legacy code bases with a lack of test coverage are often trepidatious places to hang out. You never know when a simple abstract method is going to create a sink-hole of logic and reason, eventually leading to your exhausted resolve to revert and leave it dirty.
I saw a tweet this morning that caught me off-guard.
If your software makes money it is good software by definition. Nothing else matters. #Agile ^ @SkankworksAgile — AgileFortune (@AgileFortune) July 23, 2015
It doesn't strike me as consistent with the type of thing AgileFortune usually tweets. My initial reaction was to reply via twitter, but didn't feel I could express my thoughts well in 140 characters or less.
I think I saw Daniel Pink's TED Talk on "The Puzzle of Motivation" for the first time in 2011. I'd been reading some about leadership, management, and organizational psychology up to that point, but Pink's talk and his distillation of these complex concepts into a simple framework (Autonomy, Connection, and Excellence) inspired me to read more on the topics. Over the course of the next couple of years, I consumed a decent amount of material. You can view my Goodreads account to see what books I was reading. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to share all of the scientific articles and other sources I also consumed.
It is not only the things we reward that shape culture, but the things we allow. Perhaps the easiest way to shape a culture is to do nothing at all.
When a rockstar employee yells at, denigrates, or refuses to help teammates and you let it slide because the rockstar is valuable, you are shaping a culture. When a teammate tells a racist or sexist joke and you say nothing because nobody present is a member of the target group, you are shaping a culture. When an executive abuses power, when a coworker engages in gossip, when a team cuts corners to make deadlines and you decide it isn't your problem, you are shaping a culture.