Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scrum, XP, SAFe, Kanban: Which Method Is Suitable for My Organization?

image I have recently seen the SAFe framework criticized by the Scrum founder as well as the Kanban founder (see "unSAFEe at Any Speed" and "Kanban -- The Anti-SAFe for Almost a Decade Already"). Method wars are not new, however, and could go on forever. In the face of these discussions, it is important to remember the real intent behind Agile methods.

In this recently published Cutter article, I discuss the importance of understanding Agile as a tool rather than as a goal.  I am also proposing some ideas from complexity theory and Cynefin framework to substantiate the need for parallel/safe to fail experiments rather than  handcuffing organizations with single framework/method or a process.

Read the complete article on Cutter


Photo courtesy: Flickr

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Tennis coaching , Halo effect and celebrity bias

One of my friends is a very successful  tennis coach, however, he sends his kids to a different coach.  This was interesting, and I asked him why can’t he teach his kids. His response didn’t surprise me at all. He said, kids take parents for granted and some times, they listen to outsiders more intently.

I see a similar pattern at work as well.  Some times, employees listen to a highly paid external consultant rather than an in-house expert or supervisors.

Why is that ?

I googled around to find some research or articles around this kids behavior, and I found this interesting article.  The author gives the following 3 reasons behind kids behind deaf to their parents:

  • Biggest Reason #1 - You don't listen to them.
  • Biggest Reason #2 - You don't do what you say you're going to do.
  • Biggest Reason #3 - You don't keep the commitments you make.

Applying the above reasons in the context of organizations,  I see that employees don’t listen to organizations when organizations don’t listen to them. Is this a reasonable hypothesis  ?

On a similar noteI have seen another “Celebrity bias”.  I have seen some tweets from celebrities tweeted  and favorited by hundreds. But the same information published by a lesser known person does not get noticed much.  For example,  if  Seth Godin or Richard Branson say something and if a common man “X” says exactly the same thing, then people tend to believe celebrities more than a common man.

Why do we have this celebrity bias ?

Many people attribute this to  “Halo Effect” .  Some good stuff from the article below…

As you read above, the halo effect can influence how teachers treat students, but it can also impact how students perceive teachers. In one study, researchers found that when an instructor was viewed as warm and friendly, students also rated him as more attractive, appealing, and likeable.

Marketers take advantage of the halo effect to sell products and services. When a celebrity spokesperson endorses a particular item, our positive evaluations of that individual can spread to our perceptions of the product itself.

Job applicants are also likely to feel the impact of the halo effect. If a prospective employer views the applicant as attractive or likeable, they are more likely to also rate the individual as intelligent, competent, and qualified.

So, the next time you trying to make an evaluation of another person, whether it is deciding which political candidate to vote for or which movie to see on a Friday night, consider how your overall impressions of an individual might influence your evaluations of other characteristics. Does your impression of a candidate being a good public speaker lead you to feel that she is also smart, kind, and hard-working? Does thinking that a particular actor is good-looking also lead you to think that he is also a compelling actor?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

First book: Who is Agile in Australia and New Zealand is published


I had the privilege to  Co-Author  my first book “Who is Agile in Australia and New Zealand”  with  Renee  and Sunish .  This book is available for purchase from here

This book is a collection of interviews with passionate Australia & New Zealand agilists who answer the following questions:

1. What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

2. What would have become of you, if you were not doing the job you do today?

3. What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

4. What drives you?

5. What do you think makes a great team?

6. What is the essence of Agile?

7. What is the last book you have read and which book made a huge impact in your life?

8. If you were going to have a dinner party with anyone alive or deceased - which three people would you invite and why?

9. What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting with Agile?

10. What question do you think I should also ask and what is your answer?

11. Whom do you think we should ask next in Australia and/or New Zealand and why do you feel they should be included in the book?

Based on the original "Who Is Agile" book, this book is a regional version for Australia & New Zealand. Whether you’re a novice or an Agile Guru, this book is going to help you learn a bit about the people behind the names & get their perspective on Agile.

Which Agile adoption Strategy is good for my company ?

image  The statistics I have seen recently give me a euphoric feeling about the pace of Agile adoption. However, I feel that most of the so-called "Agile projects" are just the "water-Scrum-fall," which no one is willing to admit. I could list various reasons behind the failure, but one thing that stands out clearly is a poor Agile adoption strategy.

Organizations generally go with copying the practices/strategies from other popular brands/companies with the assumption that it works for them. In reality, it won’t.  Every practice is context dependent, and since each company is different the strategies adoption should be different.

In this Cutter article, I write some of the secret ingredients that fuel the strategies.  Check this article out:


Photo Courtesy

Sunday, February 16, 2014

How to overcome resistance to change ?

image One of the key responsibilities of the change agents is to bring positive change to the teams. However, we always hear that people resist change !  Some of the common answers for any change proposal includes,  “It won’t work here”, “It doesn’t work”, “We don’t have time”, “Our priorities are different”.

According to Peter Senge, “People don’t resist change but resist being changed”.  As human beings we change almost every day. Whether it is getting married and living with a new person or a new born baby adjusting to the changing environment by learning things.  People change when they perceive the change satisfies their needs and fulfills their wishes. 

From the change agents perspective, It is very important to provide as much information as possible from different angles while suggesting change. Typically, the vision for change gets initiated by the leadership and change agents are roped in to implement them.

Based on my experience, I see the following obstacles that derails changes.

1. Unclear goal
2. Goals with no way to track
3. Change agents with no access to visionary. This is a major issue as the vision gets diluted while being passed from one layer to the other
4. Benefits of the change shared only through the business angle. People who are supposed to change will keep asking, What is in it for me ?
5. Looking at a quick fix rather than a sustainable change

I could enlist many more challenges !! 

Before I conclude, I invite you to watch this good video about overcoming resistance to change.

Photo courtesy:

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Tips for coaching Agile teams

image I recently attended Lyssa Adkins’s workshop on coaching agile teams at the YOW conference, and I would like to share some of the lessons I learned. The workshop began with a presentation defining the different characteristics of an agile coach, including being a bulldozer of blockers,a servant leader, and a guardian of quality and performance.

One needs to understand the skills and mastery needed to succeed as an agile coach. The agile coaching competency framework provides the guidelines, criteria, and pathways for an aspirant. Knowledge is one part of it, but listening skills are even more important. Coaches need to be aware of their own listening skill level and strive to reach level three.

Change could be brought, not by listening but by asking powerful questions (PQ). Even though there are several resources about PQ available on the Internet, I would highly recommend reading Co-Active Coaching.

Continue reading this article here to learn more about  Arc of conversation and Asking powerful questions.

When you have a chance check this link out to read all my articles on Techwell.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Are you new to offshoring ? Beware of these technological challenges

Tools and technologies are an essential part of any distributed Agile development. Companies invest thousands of dollars in procuring high-fidelity video conferencing equipment at their onshore locations. However, one thing they nearly always ignore is the integration capability with their offshore locations.

Continue reading rest of the article on Cutter ….  


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Why should you be worried about stress at your workplace ?

image One of the key reasons Steve Ballmer cited for his resignation from Microsoft was that he was under too much pressure from senior leadership. The bottom-line seems to be that the board expected quick results to beat the competition, which resulted in a lot of stress for Ballmer; he couldn’t take this anymore and decided to step aside.

This kind of stress and expectation is not uncommon in the IT world. The same pressure trickles down from the top to the delivery teams, spreading the negative effects throughout the company.

Many organizations don’t realize that putting undue pressure on people forces them to make more mistakes rather than helping them perform better. Whether it is running a project or a company, the cost of stress in the workplace is more damaging than the benefits.

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work clearly describes that stress is due to the demand-and-supply gap. In a software development environment, the demands could be to deliver the working software on time and within budget using available resources. Most of the time, however, the budget and resources are inadequate to meet the demand, resulting in stressful situations. 

Continue reading rest of the article about managing stress at workplace here  on Techwell