Saturday, September 28, 2013

AARRR - as Simple as That!

A very simple logical way help companies track their product toward product market fit and is a good framework for thinking about macro metrics.

Open Space Meetings - How it Works?

Open Space Technology is one way to enable all kinds of people, in any kind of organization, to create inspired meetings and events. Over the last 20+ years, it has also become clear that opening space, as an intentional leadership practice, can create inspired organizations, where ordinary people work together to create extraordinary results with regularity. - "Whoever comes is the right people"

Open Agile Adoption

Open Agile Adoption is a repeatable technique for getting a rapid and lasting Agile adoption. Open Agile Adoption is a sociological approach to Agile adoption. It is not a set of Agile practices but rather, a tool for “opening space” for the right conversations. It assumes people power Agile practices, not the other way around. It works with what you are currently doing, and can be added at any time. It incorporates the power of invitation, Open Space, game mechanics, passage rites, storytelling and more…so your Agile adoption can actually take root.

SAFe or Not? Wars of - Scaled Agile Framework

SAFe is an interactive knowledge base for implementing agile practices at enterprise scale. Some see SAFe as a collection of (somewhat outdated) software development best practices that you engage an expert or team of experts to tailor for your organization. But SAFe has gained traction and it has been successfully applied in programs of only 50-100 people, and in enterprises employing thousands of software developers.  Who is who? who is for and who is against?

Friday, September 27, 2013

FeedForward -Dr. Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall Goldsmith's FeedForward Tool was created to provide individuals, teams and organizations with suggestions for the future and to help them achieve a positive change in their behavior. The entire idea of Feedforward Coaching is that it is a continuous process focused on future performance and career pathing—it’s not grading a year’s worth of past events; the manager serves as Coach, not Executioner.

Tilt 365 -The Feedback - Positive Influence Predictor

Tilt 365 isn't your typical 360 Feedback Assessment tool. It answers questions like “How am I showing up as a leader?” and “How can I achieve my vision?” by asking your boss, peers, direct reports and strategic partners about your ability to gain support. When you discover your True Tilt (your natural default pattern) and the other Tilt patterns, you unlock a new way of being intentional about helping others know how to work with you more effectively. It’s not a static, once a year assessment. It’s a real-time 24/7 365 quick and accessible dashboard provides immediate traction.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Using the Kanban Board and Retrospective Framework to Create Employee Annual Performance Review

First published Dec 2010

How many times did we realize that the end of year performance review is too much too late and not relevant!?
Too much numbers, too many boxes to grade, too many confusing titles, too many meetings to define those measurable issues, too many questions to answer, too much signs...too little visibility and follow-ups and at the end too little employee commitment (that derives from pressure instead of  intent to improve).
Why not changing the performance review to be more agile and open? To be more shared with the employee. Well, there is a way, just use the retrospective framework with a simple kanban board visability.

When I say shared I mean also "under employee responsibility”, not as something to grade, but as something to draw action items from, act upon and be accountable for its outcomes as well as for its progress as any other agile activity. After all, we want those goals to be achieved according to business needs and business value (which changes all the time), we want things to get done more then get graded. 

The traditional performance review usually includes few papers with questions. Some of them are heavy documentation and some a bit lighter. But most of them includes some kind of a ranking table or statements, discussed with the manager, with some kind of comments to follow.
Sometimes Goals we have set in the performance review are no longer relevant when we come back to evaluate them.
Usually this process is under manager control and responsibility. Employee is set to get good grades instead of behavioral change and instead of an agile change fits to business changes.

I will never overrule open discussion, positive feedback and communication. I will overrule the heavy process and the waste included. Furthermore, it does not seem to work and does not seem to fit to the agile mindset.

So, my opinion is to stop the heavy process and start leading to a real performance and employee improvement.
This process then should be lead by the employee to take full responsibility over the outcome and his/hers progress.
When working in an agile organization, we anchorage the teams to be self managed. It means that the team selects its own tasks; accountable for those issues to deliver. Managers are few steps back, no longer dividing tasks or controlling the workflow, rather dealing with the team vision, technology future and cross departments processes.
Agile anchorage communication, it encourage openness between team members, retrospective and feedback over performance and processes.

An agile team that follows those practices becomes a more mature and demanding one. Same goes with an employee, and individual which we expect to be accountable for his acts and goals.
We count on them to deliver, why not counting on them to follow and deliver performance as well?.

How do we do this then?
Well, simple, as always.
Use the scrum retrospective approach.

Meet the employee in person, explain the rules:

Openness, brain storm, concentrating in high value delivered issues, communication, the ability to change and finally and most important – employee responsibility to the process, action items, follow-ups and success as a non negotiable issue (!)
Create a brain storm with the employee over his performance.

·         Divide the brain storm to three main issues:
o   Things we want to continue doing, stop doing, and start doing.
·         Let him share his view.
·         As a facilitator/manager come prepared: Collect the information, write it down.
·         Best practice will be to use the Kanban board (I will explain it later).
·         Visualize the goals and actions.
·         Discuss over each issue shortly.
·         Advice to take some of the stuff offline.
o   We can leave some of the issues in the backlog and concentrating over the high value delivered  issues only.
·         Assign action items.
·         Ask the employee to follow those action items.
From time to time, during the personal meetings, employee presents his goals board.

·         Review the way the employee took responsibility over the action items. What was the process he chose? What was the outcome?
·         You can always add action items from the backlog and assigned them as well.
·         Be flexible to change non fit action items/goals or to add new ones.
The entire set of rules of how to collect information regarding employee performance applies here as well.

**Remember – This time the board is personal, its not a public board to share with the entire team. However, the goals and actions should fit the team expected performance and goals.

What do we gain out of all of this? We gain employee accountability, open discussion, employee control and commitment, the ability to change, the ability to follow the progress, relevant goals and actions, performed action, collaborative effort and a lighter process.

Let's see how Kanban can answer all of those and meet the three retrospective characters detailed above:

1.       Visualize your flow
·         create a simple Kanban board flow to fit the retrospective structure
·         It can hold columns of: "What should we stop doing", "Continue doing", "Start doing"; or : "What went well", "Needs improvement".
·         Don’t forget to add an action item and action columns
2.       Ask the employee to take some time and start filling out tasks in each of those columns (do not assign these tasks yet)

3. Create an open discussion over those issues
4. Decide on action items and place them will the assignee on the action items column.

The board should be followed by the employee, he makes sure to move the action items following his actual progress

A more improved and mature process can hold types of tasks, deferent columns, and assignments to areas or improvements, whatever…..…..


Career Development in the Agile World

“Our Success Begins and Ends with our People” (infoQ). We all know that our employees engagement and collaboration is vital to the growth , performance and adaptability required to survive in today’s fierce business environment. Jo Mills, CEG General Manager passionately advocates: “It is time we re-thought our responsibilities as an organization to the career development of individuals within our business. The world has changed and many organizations provide ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ . So how does an agile organization create a Career proposition for their business?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Employee Engagement With Agile

Less than 1 in four employees are working to the goals of the company. The bottom line is that not engaged and disengaged employees cost the organization huge amounts of money. They are far less productive, have no company loyalty, and spread suffering and chaos from increased financial volatility and negative financial cycles. Now when agile becomes main stream , employees engagement planes need to change accordingly and fit the new “culture” and “team” scope of the agile mindset. Well. How?

Agile Recruiting - the Mindset and Practices

Cultural fit is key. In agile the recruitment processes is all about fast feedback, knowing the team, collaborate with the team and your recruiting manager and  iterate to reach the best fit. The more you know about the team’s culture, the faster you can recruit and fill the position. The more you collaborate with the team the more they will be able to build themselves to be able to commit to a quality delivery. Here are some information and tips.

The impact of an empowered team over HR recruitment process

First Published - 19-12-2010

Recruit criteria and processes as they are traditionally held, sometimes contradict and even interfere with a mature agile mindset that rules a mature agile organization, those must be altered to reflect the organization agility mind set.
Organization agility demands Recruiting  agile people. Job descriptions should be altered to fit the agile mind set inside the organization.
HR systems should contribute to agility and leave behind the traditional recruiting approach.
Agile demands winners, and it is aim to win. Financial impacts related to the agile approach are more important than traditional slow and expensive Recruit approaches. 

When working in an agile organization, we anchorage the teams to be self managed. It means that the team selects its own tasks; accountable for those issues to deliver; managers are few steps back , no longer dividing tasks or  controlling the workflow, rather dealing with the team vision, technology  future and  cross departments processes. The agile manager leads the team by understanding and effectively empowering the team to business value delivery.
Agile anchorage communication, it encourage openness between team members, retrospective and criticism of performance and processes. An agile team that follows those practices becomes a more mature and demanding one. We count on them to deliver.

When a team is accountable for its own outcome, they must have the tools to control their resources and decision making which in a traditional world is an HR-Manager related issues. 

In many occasions, these issues are very secretive. Defining the Candidate profile, interviews, paychecks and decisions are all made between HR and the managers. Furthermore, the training plans and performance evaluation are also a sole HR-Managers "secret" process.
But, what about the agile team?
What about those team members that needs to deliver? That was thought to self-thinking and self-organizing? After all, they are the ones that are committed to the delivery of a quality product. They are accountable for the result of the entire team. So … something have to change.
Since the team is accountable for its outcomes, and accountable for the delivery, it also needs to be part of the recruiting process of new team members to that team.
The team should have the opportunity to define the right position of the new recruit.
The team should be part of the decision making over new comers into the team.
It does not mean that the team interviews the person (although having a team member present in the interview may be a commitment oriented activity for the team), but the profile, process and decisions are visible and shared to them.

Once the team is part of this process, the chances of a new employee to blend into this team day to day activities and mind set is higher.

The team best practice will also be to build, monitor and perform the new employee training plan and coach. In this case it is highly important to emphasize that it is not the team manager role anymore. It's not the HR and the team manager sole responsibility to define a training plan. It a collaborative effort, we all need to share and visualize our ideas.  
Once the team is responsible for training, has visibility to recruit process, it's also can take full responsibility for the outcomes. Then the team can win.
Remember the phrase “we are all accountable for quality?” well the recruiting process is very similar, its like having the testers inside the scrum team and having quality being a team mindset , a team responsibility and not only a tester accountability.
Once you are accountable, responsible for a process, control the process, have visibility to it, the outcomes will be better.

Loose the control, trust the teams, shift to better visibility and communication is the best HR practice in the agile world.

Opening and sharing some of the HR functions into the organization fits the agile way and the organization mind set. 
The outcome will then be, a very agile HR supporting a healthy and functioning employee layer in the organization that deliver quality product with financial impact.

"Agile is about Culture", Where do HR Fit in all this?

The role of HR becomes highly important in changing environment and in an agile environment. more companies see the value “agile management”. This is forcing changes in performance and goal management, performance management, reward strategies, and leadership skills. What Can HR benefit to agile? Hiring an employee with right attitude and mind-set , “Organizational restructuring,  redefining roles and creating open workspaces for agile teams; “performance management”,  “sustain motivated employees”. They should also start being agile themselves as they are part of an agile organization.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Combining Kanban to Build the Agile Enterprise

How end-to-end business agility looks like and how is it different from team agility? Scrum is fine, But probably not enough. When scaling to the enterprise level  we can use Kanban for better architecture analysis, multi teams synchronization ,portfolio and backlog management. In this RooJoom , I’ll  look at using enterprise Kanban boards to coordinate these issues.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery is a software development discipline where you build software in such a way that the software can be released to production at any time. “Techniques such as automated testing, integration and continuous deployment allow software to be developed to a high standard and easily packaged and deployed, resulting in the ability to rapidly, reliably and repeatedly push out changes to customers at low risk and with minimal overhead. The technique was one of the assumptions of extreme programming but at an enterprise level has developed into a discipline of its own.” Wikipedia

Dual-Track Scrum - Another Effective Collaborative Tool

The model suggest that each sprint consciously involves both working on planned development tasks and digging into plans for upcoming sprint work. The Discovery track is all about quickly generating validated product backlog items, and the Delivery track is all about generating releasable software. Rather than focus on artifacts, we focus on prototypes and validating those prototypes in Discovery, with the added benefit that the prototype serves as the spec for Delivery. Developers and designers work together. This way, there is a crossed handover between the two tracks after every phase of the project.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kanban for Operations - Deliver Business Value

IT Operations work has different challenges from new development. DevOps teams must balance large workloads and emergency tasks with assuring a strong infrastructure. Their tasks tend to be continual, and don't lend themselves well to time boxes. Kanban is widely used to address the needs of IT Operations. (

Affinity Diagram

The Affinity Diagram tool is used to consolidate a large amount of information into groupings or clusters of ideas that have a natural 'affinity', i.e., that have a common thread running through them. It can be used very effectively to organize the ideas extracted from a Brainstorming exercise where people from diverse and unrelated departments might come together to solve a complex problem. (

Ratio of Agile Testers to Developers

Many of us would like a precise answer to the question: “What’s the correct ratio for developers to testers in my product development project?”  Well, “It Depends” is a common answer. But why? Depends on what? And how agile impacts this ration?
Every project is deferent; there are people and their Capabilities; Product Risks/Complications; Culture… and many more aspect to consider. Here it is: 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

WorkPlace Megalomania - Big Egos have Little Ears!?

Megalomania is a psychopathological disorder characterized by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, or omnipotence, "Megalomania is characterized by an inflated sense of self-esteem and overestimation by persons of their powers and beliefs.( Wikipedia)
In the workplace they are extremely difficult  to deal with and it has to ‘cure’.  Do they create A soul-sucking environment run by executives with Megalomania? After all, their course has little to do with the product or service you provide and everything to do with culture .Furthermore,  Is it all bad? 

Lean Principles - Effective Way of Thinking

“LEAN IS… A mindset, or way of thinking, with a commitment to achieve a totally waste-free Operation that’s focused on your customer’s success….It is achieved by simplifying and continuously improving all processes and relationships in an environment of trust, respect and full employee involvement….It is about people, simplicity, flow, visibility, partnerships and true value as perceived by the customer.” Ref: David Hogg, High Performance Solutions. Lean can be applied everywhere, from the heart of Manufacturing lines to product development to personal growth aspect. So here it is:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tools for Mapping Organization Transformation Strategy

Success is in the project but failure is in the change process. The larger the organization the harder is to change. Even in small organizations, there are sources that influence the change. Those can be employees’ politics, value network, emotional networks and many more. As a change agent one must know how to look into the organization hidden forces and build the change while understanding those forces. Otherwise we are headed for a very rough, full of unpleasant surprises of change management.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Slicing the Cake - User story slicing

Cake consists of several layers, similar to software system that consists of several architectural layers. Think of a whole story as a multi-layer cake, e.g., a network layer, a persistence layer, a logic layer, and a presentation layer. When we split a story, we're serving up only part of that cake. We want to give the customer the essence of the whole cake, and the best way is to slice vertically through the layers. ~ Bill Wake

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

“RIghtshifting and The Marshall Model"

RIghtshifting explains how most knowledge-work organisations fall far short of their potential. The Marshall Model explains the causes of organizational effectiveness - or lack of it. Here is a short review over both of them.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

“A3” - The Basic Problem Solving Method

The A3 Process is a powerful problem solving method. It is a simple way of getting a problem, an analysis, a corrective action or an action plan written down on a single sheet of large paper, often with the use of graphics. Many manufacturers use it as a powerful lean management tool.

5 Whys Analysis

5-Why is a simple approach for exploring root causes and instilling a “Fix the root cause, not the symptom,” culture. The idea is to keep asking “Why?” until the root cause is arrived at.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Software Testing As a Game - Fun Way to Find Bugs

"Framing something like software testing in terms of gaming, and borrowing some of their ideas and mechanics, applying them and experimenting can be incredibly worthwhile. . Entertainment and games tap into a different part of our brains than other activities. We enjoy them, and we find them addictive. With games, we feel challenged and a sense of accomplishment when we complete a level or finish a quest."  Here are some applications of using Gamification or game characters into software testing.

Pair Agile Testing

Pair Testing is an exploratory testing approach where two testers (Or with Developers) work through scenarios together, combining their knowledge of the app and their unique skills and experience to duplicate hard-to-find bugs or to do especially deep testing of some part of a system. Pair testing elevate to high productivity, high creativity. Besides that it Is also a very effective training technique.

Exploratory Testing In Practice

Practical examples, games and techniques of using exploratory testing

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Patterns of Agile Adoption

Presenting various ways of approaching agile transformations (in the enterprise and non enterprise). Agile adoption journey can take on many forms , from small to all, technical vs practices, bottom-up or top down and more. There is no right and wrong here, only  recommended patterns based on professional experience. 

Building the Agile Implementation Vision

To motivate an organization there has to be clarity of purpose. Without it the wheels of change will quickly fall off. 
"A vision statement is your ticket to success. A photograph in words of your company's future. It communicates both the purpose and values of the organization. For employees, it gives direction about how they are expected to behave and inspires them to give their best. An approach to Agile is to first articulate issues an organization wants to address, create a vision for change, organize a model for change management, and then use Agile to help find a way forward.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Speed Boat Game

Its a game to identify the problems. we can use this game to understand your customers , our own pains, during retrospective or any other need to identify problems.

Agile - EVM - Calculating business value

Earned Value Management (EVM) measures the integration of technical performance, cost and schedule against planned performance within a given project. The result is a simple set of metrics providing early warnings of performance issues, allowing for timely and appropriate adjustments.

Writing End-User Documentation in Agile Methodology

When and how to write customer documentation ? how to meet deadlines, write quality documentation, and stay sane as a technical writer in Agile methodology.

Lean :Value stream mapping

A lean manufacturing technique used to analyze and design the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service to a consumer. At Toyota, where the technique originated, it is known as "material and information flow mapping". It can be applied to nearly any value chain.

Playing Scrum with Lego

A simulation of Scrum - an Agile software development framework with LEGOs. The game is based on the original paper by Alexey Krivitsky published back in 2007.

Backlog Grooming

Grooming is the concept of bringing stories up from the bottom of the backlog to the top of the backlog. How do we establish a grooming cadence for sprint, release and roadmap? What methods and techniques are to be used in each stage of an agile planning? How do we groom?

Advanced product (PO) : User story splitting

You’ll often find that you can split a story using several of the patterns. Which split should you choose?

Kanban Pizza Game

Introducing the principles of Kanban via Kanban Pizza Game

The role of the scrum master (for beginners)

Mind maps tools

Mind mapping is one of the most powerful visualization tools for ideas, flows, goals - whatever we want to achieve. Here are some of my most favorite tools. These tools may LOOK fuzzy and cute, but they can change the way you brainstorm your ideas. So here we go...

Cool Sticky notes tools and apps

Cool custom sticky notes tools to help you remember to do things and better organize them.