Growth or reduction in technical debt – why not just ask the team

I just posted an article on measuring quality and maintainablity.  But I am waiting for my tea to boil so I thought I would start a new article. One of the things that often interests me is that teams feel like they need to cut corners this week to get their work done even though they know it will make life harder next week. Everyone in the team would say that what they are doing and yet everyone feels like they have to do it. So why do they keep making life harder for themselves (or for the team inheriting … Continue reading Growth or reduction in technical debt – why not just ask the team

Questions for project audits – part two

When auditing a project (or taking over a project or even taking on a senior role in a team) I like to go and talk to everyone in the team. When I do, I generally ask them the same questions to get a better feel for what is going on. I really liked a set of questions I picked up from a book called “The First 90 Days”, so I use a modified set of them: What is your role? What does that mean? How would you explain it to my mother? How would others explain what you do? How … Continue reading Questions for project audits – part two

Questions for project audits – part one

I was talking to a colleague recently and promised to share some of the questions I ask when auditing a project (or taking one over). My first question is generally “what is the project about?” But that generally leads to a vague answer.  So I use my “question compass”: These are the questions I use to get a basic orientation when analyzing just about anything.  By way of explanation though, I don’t always use the exact wording shown. When asking “what do you mean” I use a technique that sounds really simple and is surprisingly effective – the “nouns and … Continue reading Questions for project audits – part one

They need to fix accountability

My favourite comment for the week was me and a friend talking about a project we were consulting on. We agreed that “they need to fix their accountability”. While we might be right, we realised that it is a bit wimpy to suggest that someone else has to fix accountability for a project you are on. So we had a long discussion about what we could do on the project and we concluded we just needed to make sure we were clear on – what we delegate (including escalate or ask for); – when we are ambiguous about our own … Continue reading They need to fix accountability

Why do the good project managers doubt themselves?

I was coaching a project manager last week and we worked through several of the issues he is facing. He was probably hoping that there were some cool new Lean or Agile tools that he could use to deal with some seemingly really difficult problems.  In fact I always hope the same thing – it makes coaching and work easier. Sadly, and predictably, he didn’t need cool new techniques.  He was already applying common sense, accountability and a real focus on getting the best outcome for the project (best for the team, the organisation and the customer).  He was also … Continue reading Why do the good project managers doubt themselves?

On reflection

Action without reflection soon turns into panic, yet I don’t know anybody who has serious time to reflect each day at work. For example, I know of several teams who run small iterations on IT projects and still haven’t had time to sit down and think through how they plan their releases.  So in addition to having the team properly trained, I now run a training game called The Agile Release Planning Game. The game helps people to experience the process of planning releases and iterations without getting caught up in the detail of their own projects.  So let me … Continue reading On reflection