Thumb based voting

Not everything in coaching is based on complex psychology and systems thinking.  Sometimes you just want want a quick way to make a group decision, assess data or gather people’s reactions to an idea.

One of the quickest ways to assess an idea is to ask for a show of hands. I leaned this one in school when the teacher would ask us to put our hands up if we had a question.

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A rough and ready presentation on agile governance

I recently gave a presentation on agile governance at a Gartner conference in Australia. A couple of people asked for a copy of my slides – but they don’t make a lot of sense without some explanation, so I created a short video of the presentation: The original scrappy version is here A cleaned-up, slightly refined version is here: The good news is that I did it in one take with just my new Nexus tablet as recording equipment and Powerpoint as a publishing medium. Of course the bad news is that you can probably tell this is true … Continue reading A rough and ready presentation on agile governance

The humble trade-off matrix

I have been doing some business analyst training recently and I spoke about a “trade-off matrix” a couple of times. A couple of people have asked for a good link to explain what one is and why they are so cool. So I looked on the web and couldn’t find anything decent enough to send through.

So I thought I would describe what a trade-off matrix is here. I will also briefly mention why they are useful and then mention a couple of variations that people might not have heard of.

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The dark art of office politics for IT leaders (part one – why is it stressful?)

Apparently office politics is a horrible thing that other people do.

But many of the emerging IT leaders I speak to get told they need to be better at “soft skills” and “influencing at a senior level”.  What this often means is get good a politics.

Sadly a lot of office politics seems to involve people playing games to get their own way at the expense of everyone else. This skill can be learned and might seem useful, but it is not what I am going to talk about here.  I am going to talk about “how do the good guys get the right outcomes when people have competing interests or needs and some people seem like knob-heads”.

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Stealing ideas from Stand Back and Deliver

I am running an “advanced BA course” next week and as part of the course we will be exploring the concept of strategy from a business analysts point of view.

One of the trainers I work with (Shane) recommended we provide the participants with a book called “Stand Back and Deliver” by Pollyanna Pixton, Niel Nickolaisen, Todd Little and Kent McDonald.

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Would you hire a project manager to plant a tree?

Many great ideas fall on deaf ears. So organisations bring in project managers to make sure we implement good ideas properly.

Good project managers define and clarify the idea, break the idea into features and then deploy the features into production. But quite often, people just don’t make use of the shiny new features they have been given.

Which is another way of saying that the great idea fell on deaf ears. So some organisations bring in change managers (and trainers and technical writers) to make sure people understand the new idea.

Good change managers make sure that the project is visible to stakeholders, supported by the important stakeholders and that the features being deployed are explained properly to the users. But quite often, the users go back to their old ways after a week, or they complain about the new features and the “stupid” projects that created them.

Which is another way of saying that the great idea fell on deaf ears.  So what goes wrong? Why do so many good ideas fail to get adopted?

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The one thing you can’t outsource is innovation – or is it?

This blog is normally a collection of my own thoughts rather than a source for links to other people’s thinking. But it seems a lot of companies are now deliberately asking others to do their thinking for them, so it seems fair enough for me to do the same. Here is an interesting link to an article on crowdsourcing. So my question is – if you can even outsource your thinking, what does it mean to be an organisation in the new world order? Continue reading The one thing you can’t outsource is innovation – or is it?

The “what would someone else suggest” technique

Today I ran a workshop on workshops and predictably one of the things we did was brainstorming. But one of the participants was a little bit bored with putting post-it notes on the wall, so we replaced our standard brainstorming with “what would someone else do””. This approach can work really well in either a coaching session or a workshop. The idea is that if we already knew what to do about something there would be no issue and no need for coaching or a workshop. So rather than asking “what can we do” and being stuck with our usual thinking … Continue reading The “what would someone else suggest” technique

Estimating the impact of technical debt on stories – heat maps

I have been in several conversations recently about how we take refactoring and technical debt into account when estimating work on IT projects. For those not up with the jargon – refactoring involves improving or simplifying your code without changing the functionality.  This means that the code can run faster and more reliably, be better maintained etc. Technical debt is the concept that if I take short cuts to get a project into production then I am borrowing from the future – in other words someone in the future will need to do more work to make up for the … Continue reading Estimating the impact of technical debt on stories – heat maps

Finally launched my agile training game

We set up a stand at the recent Software Development Conference to run the Agile Release Planning Game I designed. It seemed to go down really well, so I have decided to make the game available publicly if anyone is interested in using it. In the game, participants are a group of scientists and engineers who are stuck on Mars after a “less than successful” landing.  They are on a mission to make scientific discoveries but must now rebuild a basic infrastructure for survival before returning to their original mission. Participants then create a strategy based on rebuilding their ship, … Continue reading Finally launched my agile training game