Saturday, July 16, 2016

Being Agile: Identifying Right Opportunities To Act



#SridharPeddisetty #Agile #Scrum #Motivational #ProjectManagement #Management #AgileBestPractices #Inspirational  

A police officer found a perfect hiding place for watching for speeding motorists. One day, the officer was amazed when everyone was under the speed limit, so he investigated and found the problem. A 10 years old boy was standing on the side of the road with a huge hand painted sign which said “Radar Trap Ahead.” A little more investigative work led the officer to the boy’s accomplice: another boy about 100 yards beyond the radar trap with a sign reading “TIPS” and a bucket at his feet full of change.

All problems are opportunities in disguise. Having said that, not all problems are well understood and therefore not all right opportunities are identified to act upon. One of the main incentives seen of Agile adoption across Organizations is in identifying & acting upon the opportunities in a disruptive & fast changing new World. 

Below are few tips in identifying the right opportunities to act upon and successfully delivering the results using the Agile philosophy 

#1. Define Clear Problem Statement(s) Mapped With Customer(s): 
Define clearly problem statement(s) mapped with customer(s) and what matters to them the most. This can be accomplished by engaging, observing and working closely with your key customers in identifying the opportunities with their changing demands. It seems very obvious but if the upfront effort is not put in defining customer needs and if they are not aligned on the key problem statements, which needs to be solved, there will be an immense waste of time, effort and Organization resources. 

#2. For Defining Goals Iterate Enough To Identify MileStones: 
While identifying the problem statements, its important to clearly define the criteria for success. Plan to break down the success into a journey and not necessarily a destination. This should be achieved by identifying the milestones and iterating through the milestones in achieving the goals. In my earlier post Be Too Agile To Be Governed By Fear Of Change, I had shared how Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage. 

#3. Design Org. Strategy For Maximizing Learning To Manage Risks : 
Design your Organization strategy in identifying and defining Internal processes, tools & technologies, which creates an environment that maximizes learning to manage risks. Its important to anticipate changes, which may affect achieving your goals but with right environment, problems can be converted into opportunities. Encourage experimenting and then reinforcing & building on what works. Enlist and inspire your Org. around a compelling purpose and grant Project team(s) the autonomy and resources to continuously adapt and adjust course.  

#4. Start Small, Think Big & Scale Fast: 
Its important to focus on developing a minimum viable product (MVP) for early validation of the product. Formulate the philosophy of starting small, thinking big and scaling fast. In my earlier post Minimum Marketable Features: An Agile Essential, I had shared how the product innovation is tied to change and often the need for change appears midstream in a project so decomposing the requirements into Minimum Marketable Features (MMF) is key for successful execution of solutions for right opportunities 

#5. If You Have to Fail, Fail Fast: 
In the fast paced changing trends, ideas for product innovation needs constant nourishing. For the success of pursuing right opportunities, its important to generate alternatives and make fast, fact-based decisions about which to pursue. So if you have to fail, fail fast. Iterate to build new capabilities, shed what doesn't fit and take the first steps in a new direction as needed. In my earlier post Every (Failed) Project Has ‘Success' Story To Tell, I had shared how its important to identify & share the ‘success’ value of a project even if it failed to meet its main strategic goals.

Summary
In the past, Organizations very diligently used to spend quality time in formulating a strategy and then sticking with it through the thick & thin. Today we are in Fourth Industrial Revolution in which we are talking about Cyber-Physical systems and in these interesting times, Organizations rapidly surge ahead, rapidly fall behind, or even rapidly disappear. So in these interesting times for an Organization to survive, it needs to continuously evolve, change and stay a step ahead of its competition. And for that survival, Organizations need to be in an advantageous position of identifying the right opportunities to act upon. 

Share your thoughts in the comments section on how do you normally ensure identifying rights opportunities to act upon while practicing Agile. 



Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Being Agile: Applying Common Sense With An Uncommon Level Of Discipline


#SridharPeddisetty #Agile #Scrum #Motivational #ProjectManagement #Management #AgileBestPractices #Inspirational  

It takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field 
- Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers

Agile is applying common sense with an uncommon level of discipline. Its a journey of continuous improvements with the openness in providing an environment in which one can learn, unlearn and relearn.  

Below are some of my common sense tips in applying Agile philosophy with an uncommon level of discipline 

#1. Prepare for a marathon: 

While applying Agile philosophy in delivering services, prepare for a marathon and not just a sprint. Its important to ensure clarity about the end objectives and lead the Agile team to show great commitment for the same. Both Pigs (those committed) & Chickens (those involved) should base their decisions on a long term strategic objectives instead of always just tunnel focussed on sprint goals.  Agile philosophy comes good when it is motivated by authority while fostering an environment of collaboration, which is constructive, open & respectful.  

#2. Ensure authentic communication: 

Authentic communication is key for creating an environment, which allows to bring impediments to the surface by having more engaged employees. It allows to create a culture in which team can afford to stop to fix the problems and get the quality right, the first time itself. In my earlier post Looking At An Impediment From A Value Perspective, I had shared how when faced with an impediment, one can enlarge the vision of looking at the impediment from the perspective of delivering value. 

#3. Build a culture of learning from doing:

In an Agile environment, which is driven by cross functional teams & innovations, learning from doing is key. Just the lip service of doing retrospection at the end of sprint is not enough. Build truly a learning culture through relentless reflection (hansei) and continuous improvement (kaizen). In my earlier post Value Stream Mapping As A Process Improvement Tool, I had shared how Value Stream Mapping can be used as a tool for identifying inefficiencies in the processes within your organization.  


#4. Do not have the “Ants in the pants” attitude:

The “Ants in the pants” attitude can be a problem with the beginner practitioners of Agile where the expectations are wrongly set to start seeing immediate results. Practice the ‘Rolling Wave’ adaptive planning to achieve the results and keep your expectations realistic. Keep in mind that an empirical approach generally yields better results than a perspective one. Its important to define some milestones and measure the success based on those milestones. 

#5. Practice Agile with a purpose more than need:

Purpose is more important than need. In the chase between lion and deer, many times deer wins. One reason could be because lion runs for food, while deer runs for life. While practicing Agile, its important to practice with an understanding of the purpose of outcome or output in context of solving business problem. Most of the Agile practitioners do not use governance well enough for monitoring and controlling the project. 

Summary

Discipline is the deciding factor to ensure transparency and accountability is promoted through Agile philosophy. In my earlier post An Agilist Needs More Than Training To Succeed, I had shared that getting trained in Agile does not necessarily mean that we have started thinking ‘Agile’. After training, work in your Org towards bringing in changes including predictable delivery by taking small steps in developing an environment, which fosters a collaboration culture with a shared vision across the Org. This change would require an uncommon level of discipline. 

Please share your experiences on the uncommon level of discipline you follow while practicing Agile. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Silence The Mind To Think Clearly & Deliver Results


#SridharPeddisetty #Agile #Scrum #Motivational #ProjectManagement #Management #AgileBestPractices #Inspirational  
Once there was a farmer who discovered that he had lost his watch in the farm. It was not an ordinary watch because it had sentimental value for him. After searching the hay for a long while, he gave up and sought help of a group of children playing outside the barn. He promised that the person who finds it would be rewarded. Hearing this, the children hurried inside the barn, went through and around the hay but still could not find the watch. Just when the farmer was about to give up looking for his watch, a little boy went up to him and asked to be given another chance.The farmer looked at him and thought, “Why not? After all this kid looks sincere enough.” So the farmer sent the little boy back in the barn. After a while the little boy came out with the watch in his hand. The farmer was happy and surprised and so he asked the boy how he succeeded where the rest had failed. The boy replied, “I did nothing but sit on the ground and listen. In the silence, I heard the ticking of the watch and just looked for it in that direction.”

A peaceful mind can think better than a worked up mind. Using the metaphor, a focused project team more often than not, delivers a project successfully. Project team must remain focused on managing value based project goals and stakeholders instead of simply concentrating on budget and scheduling. Below 5 tips can be used for a project team to remain focused 

#1. Be clear on the project value: Project delivery is not just about achieving agreed scope, schedule or cost but its about delivering value. Its often seen that project team while remaining focused on current work tasks sometimes remain oblivious of the value project is going to achieve at the end. In most cases, statement of work (sow) or proposal is authored by individual(s) who would likely not be responsible for actual execution of the project. So its important for the project team to be always aligned with what would be the end value of project. Project team needs to have a complete ‘buy-in’ into the value for them to appreciate their current work tasks. 

#2. Break plan into achievable milestones: We all understand that for every journey we embark, milestones helps us remain focused. Milestones are the small steps, which leads project team to the ultimate project goal whether it be developing of new product or service. Measurable milestones help the project team remain focused and celebrate their achievements along the journey, which goes a long way for a motivated team. Milestones also help team in executing, checking, planning and acting while keeping tab on quality to ensure alignment with the overall project goal. 

#3. Prioritize impediments mapped with value: In my earlier post Looking At An Impediment From A Value Perspective, I had shared  how when faced with an impediment, enlarge your vision of looking at the impediment from the perspective of delivering value. Matured project teams view the impediments as tasks, which needs to be completed for respective user stories and the tasks could be updated and prioritized for the value. As a Scrum Master or Project Manager, one needs to know how things get done in the organisation and who to speak to when faced with an impediment. 

#4. Separate people from the problem: It is very easy to get overwhelmed with frequent pressures of delivering value and thats when things can get defensive for the team. In my earlier post You Already Have ‘NO', Go For ‘YES’, I had shared how its important to keep emotions under check while delivering and always keeping in mind to respond and not to react.’My side of the boat is not leaking’ attitude does not help so its important to separate people from the problem and be rational in identifying solutions for the impediments or dependencies. 

#5. Look for continuous improvements: In my earlier post Value Stream Mapping As A Process Improvement Tool, I had shared how "Value Stream Mapping” can be applied as a tool for identifying inefficiencies in the processes. Retrospections are also key in identifying opportunities for continuous improvements. Note that singular way of doing retrospections does not necessarily fit culture of all organizations so its very important to customize how the feedback is taken and loop for the continuous improvement is applied.

Summary
Similar to how important it is to allow yourself a few minutes of silence to think sharply, project team needs to be focused for successful delivery of project value. 

Please share your thoughts on how you manage to keep yourself focused. 

Previous posts you might be interested in

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Be Too Agile To Be Governed By Fear Of Change


#SridharPeddisetty #Agile #Scrum #Strategy #Change #Management #ChangeManagement #AgileBestPractices 

Your success in life isn't based on your ability to simply change. It is based on your ability to change faster than your competition, customers, and business.
-Mark Sanborn

One of the Agile principle states “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage”. Apparently the name "Agile" was chosen because its founders viewed "adaptiveness and response to change" as the most essential concept of the methodology. Agile based SDLC methodology of building potentially shippable products incrementally in short periods of time is one of the most tangible changes and benefits, which an Agile process provides. Change is the only constant factor in a SDLC and we should plan enough to be receptive to change. Agile creates an opportunity for increased customer satisfaction and return on investment by handling change effectively with more robust feedback loops, which accommodates changing requirements to generate higher-value products.


Below are the 5 tips on managing change successfully 




In my earlier post Change Management Is Not Everyone's Cup Of Tea, I had shared how presently all Organizations are growing through a disruptive phase whether its technology transformation, changing customer demographics, challenging economic times, etc. In this disruptive phase, It is an Organization's ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly, which gives it the ultimate competitive advantage. 

Summary
Agile is all about adapting to change; it was built on the foundational principle that business drivers will change and the project teams must be ready to adapt. 

Previous posts you might be interested in

Saturday, February 20, 2016

How Osmotic Communication Works For NearShore Team


#SridharPeddisetty #Agile #Scrum #Strategy #Osmotic #Communication #Strategy #AgileTraining #AgileBestPractices #NearShore 
To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others  -Tony Robbins

What is Osmotic Communication?

Osmotic Communication is a term coined by Alistair Cockburn and the definition is: "Osmotic communication means that information flows into the background hearing of members of the team, so that they pick up relevant information as though by osmosis. This is normally accomplished by seating them in the same room. Then, when one person asks a question, others in the room can either tune in or tune out, contributing to the discussion or continuing with their work"

What is a NearShore Team?

A NearShore team provides services to the client from a country, which is having proximity in terms of time zone and geographic location to client's country. Its a virtual team providing quality services to the client by overlapping for more time with the client by working in similar time zone, collaborating in realtime. 

How Osmotic Communication Works For NearShore Team?

In my earlier post Active Listening Is Key For A Successful Delivery, I had shared how in Agile, requirements and solutions evolve through communication and collaboration between self-organizing and cross-functional teams. Also in another post Everyone's Perspective Is Key In Retrospectives, I had shared how the best teamwork comes from the team members who are working independently but toward one goal in unison and working in an environment where everyone’s perspective is encouraged, heard and respected.


Looking at the above illustration, its understandable that NearShore team cannot have the benefits of a face-face white boarding or in person conversations, but now with robust communication mediums including tools available, the communication gaps are shortened. Below are examples of few collaboration tools, which bridges the communication gaps working with virtual teams. 
  1. Skype
  2. RealTimeBoard
  3. Jira
  4. Confluence
  5. MindMeister
Using the advantages of NearShore time zone proximity, virtual team works realtime with onsite team and using collaboration tools like Skype for communication. For instance, group chats in Skype provides the perfect opportunity for the onsite teams and virtual teams to have a real time discussion and Osmotic communication is possible with the inputs shared by random team members instead of relying on 1:1 communication. It does not work in all situations but group chats go a long way in facilitating Osmotic communication in which a Scrum Master or a Product Owner operating from onsite could be seeking an answer from a remote developer but the remote QA member could chip in, if the person has same or better understanding. In another example, say a remote developer has a question on specific feature and posts the question to PO or stakeholder in group chat. Response of which could not only benefit the developer but also the remote QA, who in turn use the information in creating more specific test scenarios or automation scripts. Another major advantage of tool group chat is archiving of the communication for future reference, which is something that is not possible for a collocated team when having in person communication instead.  

Summary

Osmotic communication keeps the cost of communications low while keeping the feedback rate high. This in turn, helps keep the overall cost of quality low as while working with NearShore team, its evident for the client that the requirements are disseminated faster and errors are corrected quickly. With strong delivery management best practices, frequent face time with client, NearShore virtual teams can take the advantages of Osmotic communication. 
Previous posts you might be interested in

Sunday, February 14, 2016

What Is The 'Shark' In Your Fish Tank Today?


#SridharPeddisetty #Motivational #Inspirational #Leadership #Management #Agile #ProjectManagement 
The Japanese have always loved fresh fish but the water close to Japan has not held many fish for decades. So to feed the Japanese population, fishing boats got bigger and went farther than ever. The further the fishermen went, the longer it took to bring the fish and if the return trip took more time, the fish were not fresh. To solve this problem, fish companies installed freezers on their boats. They would catch the fish and freeze them at sea and freezers allowed the boats to go farther and stay longer. However, the Japanese could taste the difference between fresh and frozen fish and they did not like the taste of frozen fish. The frozen fish brought a lower price and so fishing companies installed fish tanks. They would catch the fish and stuff them in the tanks, fin to fin. After a little thrashing around, they were tired, dull, and lost their fresh-fish taste. The fishing industry faced an impending crisis! But today, they get fresh-tasting fish to Japan. How did they manage? To keep the fish tasting fresh, the Japanese fishing companies still put the fish in the tanks but with a small shark. The fish are challenged and hence are constantly on the move. The challenge they face keeps them alive and fresh!
Many of us are living in a pond, which is making us most of the time, tired and dull. We basically are in need of a ‘shark', which is the new challenge that is necessary to keep us alive and kicking. In my earlier post 5 Tips For You To Run Faster Than Somebody Today, I had shared how important it is to not only keep pace with current disruptive phase but to run faster with combination of your experience and knowledge.
As shared in the post Only If You Knew How Much You Actually Know, mantra for your success is your ability to understand the potential of the wisdom you have gained by correlating the knowledge gained in all your experience and using that wisdom to come out of your comfort zone and challenge the status quo.

Summary

To summarize, discover your shark and put it in your fish tank today to keep you alive, energized and fresh. As I had shared in the post Positive Attitude Defines Your Successful Career, we mostly underestimate the power of choice we make everyday and its worth reminding ourselves so often that its our positive attitude towards every aspect of life, which is what makes it a successful journey.
PS: Above was a WhatsApp forward so source is unknown but the message is worth sharing.
Previous posts you might be interested in

Saturday, February 6, 2016

An Agilist Needs More Than Training To Succeed


#SridharPeddisetty #Agile #Scrum #Strategy #Organizational Strategy #AgileTraining #AgileBestPractices


After his return from Rome, Will couldn’t find his luggage in the airport baggage area. He went to the lost luggage office and told the woman there that his bags hadn’t shown up on the carousel. She smiled and told him not to worry because they were trained professionals and he was in good hands. Then she asked Will, “Has your plane arrived yet?”
The most essential part of Agile transformation besides the Org. change champion, is proper training and in this post the intent is not to undermine the importance of training. Agile based trainings or certifications provide you possibly the knowledge about Agile but not necessarily the wisdom needed to apply it successfully. Implementing Agile in any Organization requires more than just knowing the terms or ceremonies. It requires changing the mindset of people and working on making changes to the legacy processes and tools.
In my experience, most of the trainings do not cover on what exactly Agile Manifesto meant by uncovering better ways of developing software. So here is my attempt of dissecting what is included in the Manifesto. 
  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools - You need to develop a self performing team that owns collective responsibility but then for them to be successful, communication has to be transparent. You cannot be a ‘self performing’ team without bringing in the transparency using processes and tools. Scrum ceremonies (Sprint planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review & Sprint Retrospection) provides you the discipline to be transparent but we need to ensure that the transparency in communication & collective responsibility is flowing across the OrganizationIn my earlier post Trust your Team But Make Sure to Verify, I had shared that trusting your self performing team is important but its essential to verify that team is performing to its optimal level as a unit and not showing just individual brilliances, which can be counter productive for the end results.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation - In order to develop a ‘working software’, project team and stakeholders should have ashared understanding of the project objectives or goals. We do not need to spend a lot of effort to create an accurate or comprehensive project charter but what we need is a good understanding of the vision, which is shared. Agile based SDLC of building potentially shippable products incrementally in short periods of time is one of the most tangible changes and benefits, which an Agile process provides. But again, its important to remain focused on the shared vision. Have enough documentation to serve the architecture, design, delivery, user acceptance and deployment of a working product in short iterative/incremental cycles. 
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation - In my earlier post Minimum Marketable Features: An Agile Essential, I had shared that Organizations no longer compete on product or service but they compete on experience of faster to market with quality results. It is an organization's ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly, which gives it the ultimate competitive advantage. Traditionally, the negotiations with customer were happening upfront at the start of a project with more energy spent on trying to be safe in terms of scope of work, cost & schedule. With a practical Agile approach, a trusting collaboration can be fostered between the customer and project team in which discovery, questioning, learning and adjusting with shorter feedback loops during the course of the project will have a better chance of delivering a product, which provides the customer with a competitive advantage than a contract that is signed early in the lifecycle and is difficult to change.
  • Responding to change over following a plan - Planning is important because if you don’t know where you are heading, any road would take you there. But having said that, experience has taught us well that creating elaborate project plans does not guarantee success of a project. Also we understand that in this disruptive era, its not pragmatic to freeze product requirements, priorities and timelines. Change is the only constant factor in a SDLC and we should plan enough to be receptive to changeAgile creates an opportunity for increased customer satisfaction and return on investment by handling change effectively with more robust feedback loops, which accommodates changing requirements to generate higher-value products. Bottom line is to plan continually rather than plan once and follow it to the core. 


Summary

To summarize, getting trained in Agile does not necessarily mean that we have started thinking ‘Agile’. After training, work in your Org towards bringing in changes including predictable delivery by taking small steps in developing an environment, which fosters a collaboration culture with a shared vision across the Org. 
If you want something talked about, ask a theorist and if you want something done, ask a practitioner!
Previous posts you might be interested in