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Business Agility needs leaders to put people first

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Peter Maddison
August 3, 2022

As we’ve mentioned in a previous article, business agility can create a culture that increases retention and morale. While business agility can do this, it requires that leadership puts their people first. Here are three practices to help you focus on your people.

Assess your hiring process

The hiring process is the first experience a new team member will have with your business. A hiring process that seemingly never ends or where the process isn’t clear gives the applicant a bad impression. While long hiring processes can help organizations get to know an applicant before working with them, you risk the candidate going elsewhere.

A faster hiring process that makes it clear what you are looking for shows the applicant that you’re organized and that you respect them as a person. For the employee, a faster hiring process will remove the fear of whether they can support themselves and their families.

Once you’ve agreed to hire somebody, also consider the onboarding experience and the impact t...

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As health specialists and governments encourage employees to work from home en masse, many employers start fearing the impact on their teams’ productivity. After all, the agile manifesto states as one of its principles:

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

Are we doomed to return to less agile ways of working? Will we see productivity plummet? Will we see new value being released only ever so often?

Online teams are less effective than collocated teams

Let’s first start with this breaking down this statement.

The main difference between online (or remote) and collocated teams is the way in which they communicate. Collocated teams benefit from what Alistair Cockburn calls osmotic communication. You could explain it as transfer of information and knowledge by virtue of being in physical proximity with your team, where all work is done, where all frustrations are voiced and all intentional and unintenti...

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As the world goes into lockdown due to COVID-19 and organizations are asking their employees to work from home, new problems arise. Not least of which being whether the organizations we work for can handle the implications of everybody suddenly working from home.

The majority of my work is predominantly done remotely with the exception being when I am directly involved in team coaching or running workshops. I’ve also worked with and coached international teams and can understand the difficulties it raises. This is not a new problem, but it is one that is certainly front of mind as we scramble to deal with this crisis. Not everybody will thrive in a home environment, and at the very least, there is a period of adjustment. First, we need the necessities of internet connection, workspace setup and ensuring they can access the organizational system they need. Beyond that, for those people who usually do not to work-from-home, how do you handle coaching your suddenly distributed teams?

So, wi...

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Often when we first engage with organizations, we find they enter the conversation with a clear idea of what their problems are. Sometimes they get it right and other times - more often in my experience - they are focusing on their own belief of where the problem lies.

For example, if the problem is the deployment process, why does the automated script take 5 minutes to run. Having successfully worked with development teams to automate deployments of their major platforms, being told deployment is the issue seems like the wrong place to focus. If it still takes weeks to get code into production, the problem lies elsewhere. Perhaps our test verification takes five weeks?

Ok. Well, if deployment of code isn’t the issue and testing is, let’s focus there I hear the cry! Well, let’s see…

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Following on from my blog post covering the first two ideals from the Unicorn Project here, I’d like to continue discussing the next two of the five ideals from the book.

The next two ideals from the Unicorn project focus on two important factors of the improving flow in your organization:

  • Continuous improvement of work

  • Psychological safety

Part of the continuous improvement of work talks to the importance of challenging the status quo, something that can be difficult without psychological safety. Both are necessary to deliver better outcomes from working together.

Let’s delve into these two ideals.

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Your organization is changing and undergoing transformation. You’ve rolled out Agile (Scrum and Kanban), you’ve scaled it (SAFe, LeSS, etc.) and even applied DevOps practices (you’re using Kubernetes right? Isn’t that DevOps?) Yet still, millions later, the purported value has yet to materialize.

So how come, after all this work, we still have not realized the value?

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, perhaps we are still stuck in old ways of thinking. Real transformation requires new ways of thinking about the problems and in the case of the examples above, have we really changed? (Kubernetes is an orchestration framework for containers and does not equate to having adopted DevOps).

With millions spent already, what are we missing?

            

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