Author Archives: hennyportman

Review Agile Conversations

Agile Conversations – Transform Your Conversations, Transform your Culture, written by Douglas Squirrel and Jeffrey Fredrick could be one of the missing pieces to make your agile transition work.

The book starts with some background information regarding the ideas and theories that underpin the conversational tools that will be used in the rest of the book. You get an explanation of the core techniques of the authors’ four R’s method. The four R’s representing the steps to help you learn from your conversations: record, reflect, revise and role play your conversation.

The rest of the book explains five different types of conversations. Conversations to become a high-performing team, conversation to reach more agility. These five conversations cannot be used randomly. You first have to build trust, using the trust conversation before you can start working on removing fear (fear conversation). Next you can start explaining the why by using the why conversation. The following step would be to agree on your commitments (commitment conversation) and finally we must have an accountability conversation.

TRUST conversation: we hold a believe that those we work with, inside and outside the team, share our goals and values.

  • Be vulnerable
  • Be predictable
  • Use TDD for people (the ladder of Inference) to align your story with that of someone else to build trust.

FEAR Conversation: we openly discuss problems in our team and its environment and courageously attack those obstacles.

  • Identify unsafe practices and habits (“how we do it here”): normalization of deviance
  • Overcome the tendency to jump to conclusions by using Coherence Busting (use a more curious, open attitude into the discussion; uncovering fears)
  • Jointly create a fear chart and mitigate these fears.

WHY conversation: we share a common, explicit purpose that inspires us.

  • Distinguish interest from positions
  • Combine advocacy and inquiry
  • Jointly design a solution

COMMITMENT conversation: we regularly and reliably announce what we will do and when.

  • Agree on the meaning of key elements.
  • Use a walking skeleton for a series of commitments and show progress
  • Compliance isn’t commitment
  • Define and agree on your commitments (agree on the meaning, agree on the next outcome to commit to, reaffirm the commitment).

ACCOUNTABILITY conversation: we radiate our intent to all interested parties and explain publicly how our results stack up against commitments.

  • Use theory Y to create a culture that fosters healthy accountability
  • Give briefings and back briefings (directed opportunism. Bungay’s 3 gaps: plans – actions – outcomes, alignment gap, effects gap, knowledge gap)
  • Radiate intent.

High-performing teams are characterized by high trust, low fear, clear why, definite commitment and solid accountability.

Conclusion. This book is not a simple read, but it’s a must read. It could be one of the missing piece to make your agile transition work. The book offers a conversational analysis model to record, reflect, revise and role play your conversations. In the book you get five different, but sequential, conversations to become a high performing team and reach more business agility. The trust, fear, why, commitment and accountability conversations are explained extensively with lots of recorded example conversations and reflections. It asks for discipline to read all those recorded conversations and use the reflection and conversation tools to find and understand the weak spots to improve these conversations. If you do, you have mastered the first step towards more agile conversations and ultimately agility. Following steps are practicing and practicing and practicing. Success!

To order: Managementboek.nlbol.comAmazon

Additional reading

Difficult conversations by Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone, and Sheila Heen

To order: Managementboek.nlbol.comamazon

The skilled Facilitator by Roger Schwarz

To order: Managementboek.nlbol.comamazon

Discussing the Undiscussable by Bill Noonan

To order: Managementboek.nlbol.comamazon

The Elephant in the Room by Diana McLain Smith

To order: Managementboek.nlamazon

The Responsibility Virus by Roger Martin

To order: bol.comamazon

’m Right, You’re Wrong, Now What?: Break the Impasse and Get What You need by Dr. Xavier Amador

To order: bol.comamazon

Nonviolent Communication: A language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg

To order: Managementboek.nlbol.comamazon

Review Moose heads on the table

If you want to make the transformation to a self-managing organization the book Moose heads on the table – Stories about self-managing organisations from Sweden by Karin Tenelius and Lisa Gill is a good starting point.

This book gives you insights, stories, lessons learnt from six different small Swedish companies who transformed towards self-managing companies.

In the first three stories Karin, one of the authors, was acting as a consultant or interim CEO, the last story is about their own training company and in the other two case studies they bought the companies and gave away the authority.

For those who are not familiar with the Swedish culture a short explanation about the title. A ‘moose head on the table’ is what we call the ‘elephant in the room’. A metaphor for an issue that’s becomes infected in the team (unresolved from the past, relationship dynamics or an individual or individuals’ way of being).

In the first case study we see Freys Hotel and a manager who wants to give the employees a sort of energy injection. Self-management brings the surprise boost. What does it mean to coach the owner to be a more empowering leader and step back, and on the other hand to coach the employees to step into their new authority?

In the second case we follow Komanco. A company in crisis with chronic losses and after the transformation a company with big wins.

In the next case regarding Excosoft we see a spiral of profit and loss. It’s possible to get great results withing a short time span with self-management but also how quickly this way of working can be undone when a new CEO takes over if they aren’t a coaching, empowering leader.

In the case about Elisabethgården we see what it means to create a climate of openness and new-found autonomy.

In the case about Mötesbokarna we follow a very old-fashioned call center making the transition. The big challenges in this case were the working climate and the business model. At the end the business was shut down.

The last case is about the authors’ own company Tuff Leadership Training. This company was created from scratch as a self-managing organization.

Throughout the text you get pop-out boxes giving some theory behind the used approaches.

You get an explanation of the three pillars for developing an effective self-managing team or organization:

  • a coaching mindset and way of being: relating to people’s potential, placing responsibility with the group, clarifying and distinguishing, being able to be with it, and not having your own (active) agenda.
  • a focus on working climate: 1) ask for the mandate, 2) describe the current working climate and identify the desired working climate, 3) distinguish, clarify and listen, 4) coach the group to become constructive.
  • a culture of mandate and involvement. Use cooperation coaching process: 1) clearly state the purpose of the activity, 2) distinguish how it will be and what they’re ‘signing up to’, 3) give the group the opportunity to ask clarifying questions, 4) give them the opportunity to choose.

This means moving from a parent-child to adult-adult dynamic, from a manager or leader being responsible, to the team being responsible and to be able to talk about what’s underneath the surface (feelings, emotions, ways of being, mindsets) and to tackle these things first before addressing surface or operational issues.

Besides the three pillars you get five useful insights you can use:

  • Concordance decision making: in order to reach a concordant decision in a group, you need to create a safe space for people to express their feelings and develop adult to adult communication.
  • The gold in listening: practicing your ability to listen is the most important task for a coaching leader, and a crucial part of being an effective team member in a self-managing organization.
  • Transparency and self-set salaries: an individual without information can’t take responsibility. An individual with information can’t help but take responsibility.
  • Accountability culture – a mindset shift from power over to power with and a skillset upgrade: fostering a culture of both high psychological safety and high motivation and accountability is key to an effective team.
  • Core quality quadrant (quality – pitfall – challenge – allergy). To help people ’turn reactivity into creativity. 

ConclusionThe book is easy to read and shows what it means to coach management and/or coach the team to become a self-managing organization. The three pillars and five insights are definitely helpful in your own journey. The focus is mindset, leadership and culture. Are you looking for practices, structures and processes, you have to look for different sources.

To order Moose heads on the, Amazon

Additional reading

Ricardo Semler, Maverick! The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workshop, 1993 to order: bol.comAmazon

Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, 2014 To order: bol.comAmazon

Project creatures that accelerate and enhance a portfolio of projects

Proud to see that the PM World Journal published a next article that I wrote together with Marisa Silva.

As you might recall, last year we (Marisa Silva and myself) went on a safari to hunt the project creatures that could negatively impact a portfolio of projects [Silva, M. and Portman, H. (2019). Creatures that slow down portfolio delivery and how to kill them; PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue IX, October]. While it was not as exciting as doing it in Kruger Park, we can fortunately say that it was also not as dangerous and we returned sound and safe despite all the white elephant projects, pet projects, and unicorn projects we encountered in the way!

Almost one year after that experience, portfolio management got us thinking again. If portfolios are always a mix of “good” and “bad” projects, those that are well planned and those that are included without any thorough rationale, some that are carefully studied and others that are pure opportunistic, could it be that there are also project creatures that could accelerate and enhance the success of a portfolio? The quest for project creatures continues!

In the animal kingdom there will be animals that are at the top of the system, the apex predators. Also, in your portfolio you will have projects who could play the role of apex predator. It is these predators who will consume your scares resources. To make sure you feed the right projects (‘doing the right projects’) you have to prioritize your projects and assign resources to those projects that enhance and accelerate the value delivery of your portfolio.

Assume you are a portfolio manager or PMO professional and overseeing your portfolio. Compare yourself with a falcon with super sharp eyes who can spot the right project, or do you want to be a seagull that appears from high, swoops in, eats all the projects, makes a lot of squawking, shits on everything and disappears as fast without even noticing if you captured the right ones.

Armed with our experience and the support of other “project hunters”, we found a few. In this article, we present our findings, strategies to capitalise on such beautiful creatures, and why it is so important that at least some of them are in your portfolio of projects.

The project creatures we describe in this article are:

  • Cheetah project
  • Lion project
  • Ants project
  • Eagle project
  • Bee project
  • Dolphin project

To download the article Portman, H. And Silva, M. (2020). Project Creatures that accelerate and enhance a portfolio of projects; PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue IX, September 2020:

Review Introduction to Blockchain Technology

Quite often you hear the words blockchain, bitcoin or cryptocurrency, but do you really know what is meant with those words? Tiana Laurence wrote the book Introduction to Blockchain Technology – The many faces of blockchain technology in the 21st century to demystify these words.

The book is divided into 10 chapters. In the first three chapters you get an introduction to blockchain technology by explaining a blockchain, nodes, cryptocurrency, tokens, the meaning of distributed, and key parts of blockchain technology like cryptography, hash, ledgers, public witness and different consensus algorithms and structures of the network.

It all started with Satoshi Nakamoto. Satoshi is the pseudonym of the person or people who developed the bitcoin white paper (2008) and implemented the first blockchain database including the bitcoin. At this moment it is still not known who is behind this Satoshi. Satoshi left the blockchain scene in December 2010. A blockchain is a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server that holds a record of all transactions that have ever occurred on that network. Blockchain technology may be applied in areas where a middleman is needed to facilitate trust. Trust is essential for things such as the transfer of money, voting, land records, IP rights, and identity. Blockchain software can be programmed to take the place of the middleman by becoming the trusted record keeping system.

Some used terminology within the blockchain technology:

  • node is a computer that is connected to a blockchain network. It runs the software for the network and keeps the network healthy by transferring information across the network to other nodes.
  • hash function is used to secure all the data in a block of transactions. A hash is the output of this mathematical process that creates a string of numbers and letters of a fixed size; for bitcoin it is 32 bytes.
  • Public blockchains are open to anyone in the world to participate in the functions of the network, only limited by their access to the internet, hardware and electricity.
  • Privat blockchains only allow trusted parties to operate their blockchain.
  • Hybrid blockchains control who can participate and at what level of participation each node is allowed to operate.
  • A common way to connect to a blockchain network is to mine. A miner is a type of node that is adding transactions to new blocks. Miners compete to win the right to create a new complete block by solving a complex mathematical problem. Each miner will write their answer in the block header and if they are correct, they are then rewarded with cryptocurrency. Mining does three things: creating new cryptocurrency, confirming transactions and securing the blockchain history.
  • cryptocurrency is a type of digital cash and is a bearer instrument.
  • Not all blockchain networks have cryptocurrency, but all networks allow for the issuance of some kind of token. Tokens are flexible and may not be bearer instrument. Tokens are self-authenticating data packets and represent a rare digital bit of information.
  • Ledger is a general term for describing records used to account for something and ‘distributed’ means that the record is kept in more than one location.
  • Blockchain technology is an extension of public witness concept (A public witness is a person that is attesting to a fact or event) in that it spreads knowledge, encourages persistence of information, and allows each individual node to make a choice with the information that they are given. Primary use cases of blockchain technology are tokenization, digital identity, transfer of value and decentralized applications.
  • Cryptography is the encryption of data so that it is only known by the intended parties. Blockchains use asymmetric encryption (public-key cryptography), to secure the transfer of cryptocurrency from one address (public-key) to another. A private key lets you decode messages sent to you over public channels. A public key allows anyone to send you a private message over a public channel.

consensus algorithm is a code that governs how a blockchain operates. It sets the rules that all participants must follow to proceed transactions. Consensus algorithms create a network structure and process that allows a group of independent systems to agree on a single version of the truth. Different types of consensus algorithms are:

  • Proof of Work
  • Proof of Stake
  • Delegated Proof of Stake
  • Proof of Authority
  • Proof of Elapsed Time
  • Proof of Capacity and Proof of Space
  • Proof of Burn
  • Hyperledger Fabric

The chapters 4 to 9 explains the many faces of blockchain. First you get insights into the key blockchain networks and technologies like Bitcoin, Hyperledger and Ethereum. Next you get different second-generation applications of blockchain technology like Smart contracts, tokens and decentralized autonomous Organizations (DAO). In the following chapters the author shows what can happen next if you combine these applications with online or protected identity, IoT, AI or marketplaces. How can blockchain influence the world economy by looking at supply chain, cross-border money transfer and financial change agents. In line with the previous chapter you get an overview of new frontiers in blockchain and business e.g. digital fiat currency, disrupters in banking, blockchain and insurance and an explanation of intellectual property rights and providence. The last chapter focusses on blockchain and people by looking at Estonia’s e-Residency and (smart city) projects in China and the financial capitals of the world.

  • Distributed ledger technology (DLT) is categorized within the blockchain technology but has three fundamentally distinct differences. There is no cryptocurrency, the nodes are known (private network) and the development is directed.
  • smart contract acts as an online contract between two or more parties. A smart contract is created by developers and enforced with Boolean logic, mathematics, and encryption. Smart contracts have automated performance and verification. The code in the contract would execute once a pre-specified action or event occurred.
  • Decentralized applications (DApps) are applications that run on a peer-to-peer network instead of a single system. DApps can be tools, programs, games, and more that connect users and provide directly. DApps expand smart contracts beyond simple A-to-B value transfers.
  • Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) are sophisticated smart contracts that have things like voting rights of members.
  • A decentralized marketplace is a peer-to-peer platform that allows buyers and sellers to interact directly without involving a third party. A centralized marketplace is a platform with central authority.
  • Digital fiat currencies are a digital representation of the country’s fiat currency, which will be backed by financial reserves of the country such as forex and gold.

The last chapter of the book is dedicated to vulnerabilities, community fractures and feuds, attacks, hacks, and fraud and scams. Both private and public blockchains can be manipulated and trusting blindly may well lead to disaster.

ConclusionThe book gives a good overview of the blockchain technology, but it is difficult to read. The concepts discussed in the first chapters are key and could use some more explanation. In line with the title – The many faces of … there are many examples of different blockchain systems and applications. A little bit too much I would say. The book is also mandatory reading for the EXIN Blockchain Foundation certification. At the end of each chapter you get some sample exam questions to test your own knowledge. I missed a glossary at the end and that could be beneficial to candidates too.

To order Introduction to Blockchain Technology: managementboek.nlbol.comAmazon

Review Blockchain Foundation Courseware

The Blockchain Foundation courseware book is created by Expo Luppes. It contains a copy of the complete Blockchain foundation slide deck, one EXIN sample exam including the rationale and the Preparation Guide EXIN Blockchain Foundation. If I look at the slide deck, I would expect the same figures as been used in the book but that’s not the case. Could be an advantage but for those who want to get the certification it could be confusing too. The set-up of the deck is more or less in line with the chapters of the book. In the slide deck you will get an extensive list of addition reading (mostly web pages).

To order Blockchain Foundation Courseware: Van Haren Publishing

Additional reading

Satoshi Nakamoto, A peer-to-peer electronic cash system, retrieved from

Klaus Schwab, The fourth Industrial Revolution 

To order: managementboek.nlbol.comAmazon

Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain revolution: How the technology behind Bitcoin is changing money, business, and the world: 

To order: managementboek.nlbol.comAmazon

Don Tapscott and David Ticol, The naked corporation: how the age of transparency will revolutionize business

To order:  bol.comAmazon

Podcast: Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2

Honored to be interviewed by Allan Thomson about one of my latest books Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2.

The book Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 can be ordered by:


Recensie Platformrevolutie

Martijn Arets, platformoptimist, -realist en -criticus biedt met zijn boek Platformrevolutie – Van amazon tot Zalando, de impact van platformen op hoe wij werken, een masterclass platformeconomie aan de hand van voorbeelden van 135 verschillende platformen. Inzichten en voorbeelden die de auteur heeft verzameld aan de hand van meer dan vijfhonderd interviews en gesprekken tijdens ongeveer ‘zestig’ expedities binnen en buiten Nederland.

Het boek is onderverdeeld in vier delen. In het eerste deel – To platform or not to platform – wordt ingegaan om de (on)begrensde mogelijkheden van de platformeconomie. Wordt uitgelegd dat platformen tweezijdige marktplaatsen zijn en wat platformen anders doen. Tenslotte worden platformen in een breder maatschappelijk perspectief geplaatst. In het tweede deel – Platformen voor niet-startups – wordt ingegaan op de kansen voor bestaande organisaties, de strategische vragen die die organisaties zichzelf moeten stellen en een checklist die deze organisaties kunnen gebruiken om vast te stellen of een platform voor hen toegevoegde waarde op kan leveren. In deel drie – Overheid en platformen – wordt enerzijds ingegaan op de rol van de overheid in de platformeconomie en hoe platformen kunnen bijdragen aan de doelstelling van de overheid en nationale overheden en anderzijds de overheid zelf als platform (Estland). Het laatste deel – Toekomst – gaat in op de potentie van de platformeconomie, de inclusieve platformeconomie en hoe platformen zich gedragen in crisistijd.

De kracht van platformen zit hem in het aanbieden van een nagenoeg oneindig aanbod aan zijn gebruikers. Maar wat platformen echt onderscheidt, is dat ze het aanbod niet zelf in bezit hebben (bijvoorbeeld Airbnb, Youtube, Uber, Peerby, …). Platformen worden dan ook vaak ‘marktplaatsen’ genoemd, en meer specifiek: tweezijdige transactionele marktplaatsen waarbij de gehele transactie, inclusief betaling, via het platform verloopt. Een platform groeit juist door niet zelf in de assets (bijvoorbeeld vastgoed, auto’s, chauffeurs, …) te investeren, maar in te tappen op bestaande assets en dienstverleners.

Platformen zijn marktmeesters en bepalen de regels van het spel. Ze hebben een belang én verantwoordelijkheid bij en voor iedere transactie. De auteur onderscheidt de volgende vier kenmerken:

  • Platformen reduceren de informatieasymmetrie en verlagen zoekkosten
  • Platformen verlagen en verleggen transactiekosten door gebruik van data, algoritmes en kunstmatige intelligentie
  • Platformen creëren een omgeving van vertrouwen door reviews, verzekering en een sterk merk
  • Platformen faciliteren de transacties, prijsmechanismen en betalingen.

Platformen worden vaak gezien als een puur technologische innovatie (denk aan de Uber of Airbnb app) maar niets is minder waar. Denk hierbij aan afdelingen strategie en marketing en deze afdelingen zijn een stuk minder schaalbaar dan de relatief goedkoop schaalbare afdeling technologie. Bij zijn circa 14.000 mensen in dienst, waarvan de helft zich bezig houdt met customer support. De groei van een platform is in drie fasen onder te verdelen: problem/solution fit, product/market fit en opschalen van het product. 

De meeste platformen die niet smal maar breed begonnen , zijn mislukt. Staat de basis van een platform, dan brengt het extra aansluiten van nieuwe gebruikers weinig kosten met zich mee. Dankzij netwerkeffecten groeit de kracht van het platform naarmate er meer gebruikers zijn aangesloten. Maar er komt natuurlijk een moment dat de groei uit het platform is. Dan zijn er verschillende opties: internationaliseren of de diepte of breedte in.

De meest belangrijke platform specifieke vraagstukken zijn marktmeesterschap, het algoritme als baas en data en portabiliteit. Mag een platform zowel als marktmeester als aanbieder op het platform acteren? Op het platform is er geen persoon, maar een algoritme dat jou aanstuurt. Of je nu aanbieder of klant bent, dat maakt niets uit. 

Ook voor bestaande organisaties bieden platformen kansen (en bedreigingen). In het boek worden tien strategische keuzes of strategieën aan de hand van vele voorbeelden toegelicht. De tien strategieën zijn: investeren, overnemen, niets doen, eigen (of nieuw) product ontwikkelen voor in het platformecosysteem, bestaande resources beter benutten via platformen, samenwerken, externe platformen gebruiken voor de eigen organisatie, eigen diensten en producten aanbieden, krachten van bestaande organisaties bundelen en zelf doen. Daarnaast wordt in het boek dieper ingegaan op de voorwaarden voor platformen om toegevoegde waarde te leveren. Hierbij wordt een soort checklist geboden om aan de hand van tien vragen te bepalen of het wel of niet interessant is om een platformstrategie te verkennen.

Daar het zelfregulerende vermogen van de platformeconomie beperkt is zal de overheid samen met maatschappelijke partners de publieke waarden moeten borgen met het belang van het collectief voor ogen. Ook moet het mogelijk zijn dat platformen en platformtechnologie kunnen bijdragen aan de doelstellingen van landelijke en lokale overheden en samenleving. Tenslotte wordt uitgebreid ingegaan op Estland. Een overheid die agile processen, MVP, snelheid maken en onzekerheid omarmt. Een extreem digitale en open overheid die als een platform georganiseerd is. 

Het boek sluit af met een toekomstvisie. De auteur beschrijft onder andere de volgende trends:

  • Een verschuiving van ultra gefragmenteerde naar meer stabiele aanbiederskant
  • Van interpersoonlijk naar institutioneel vertrouwen
  • Van eenvoudige naar complexe processen
  • Platformen van een losse entiteit naar een SaaS-oplossing
  • Van platformdenken naar ecosysteemdenken
  • Van ‘enfant terrible’ naar een volwassen platformeconomie

In de bijlage nog een korte omschrijving van de vijftig meest genoemde platformen: Adyen, Airbnb, Amazon, Amazon Flex, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple, BKSY, BlaBlaCar, Bol, Booking, Brenger, Charly Cares, CoopCycle, Deliveroo, Didi Chuxing, DoorDash, Etsy, Facebook,, Fiverr, Flexport, Floow2, Funda, GearBooker, Github, Goboony, Google, Grab, Green Taxi, Helpling, Jellow, Lyft, Marktplaats, Microsoft, Peerby, Roamler, Seats2Meet, ShareTribe, Sjauf, SnappCar, Stocksy, Temper, Thuisafgehaald, Thuisbezorgd, TopShoe, Transferwise, Uber, Werkspot, YoungOnes, en Zalando.

Conclusie. Een masterclass in de platformeconomie. In ruim 350 bladzijden krijg je aan de hand van vele aansprekende voorbeelden van 135 verschillende platformen een objectief beeld van de wereld van platformen. Het boek leest lekker vlot weg en bevat geen ingewikkelde theoretische beschouwingen maar heldere verhalen over verschillende platformen. Als je onbekend bent met de platformeconomie dan is dit het boek om je te verdiepen. Verwacht echter geen ‘how to’ boek over hoe je een schaalbaar platform bouwt.

Bestellen of

Verder lezen (verdieping):

Bouw een succesvolle online marktplaats

Bouw een succesvolle online marktplaats – Handboek voor entrepeneurs en intrapreneurs: managementboek.nlof

The Lean Marketplace: a Practical Guide to Building a Successful ...

The lean marketplace – A practical guide to building a successful online marketplace business:

Afbeelding met schermafbeelding

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Platform Revolution:

Afbeelding met teken, vrachtwagen, zitten, verkeer

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

De platformsamenleving – Strijd om publieke waarden in een online wereld: of

Afbeelding met teken

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Uber voor alles – Hoe de on demand-economie ons leven beïnvloedt: of

Verder lezen (verhalen over platformen):

Afbeelding met tekening, teken

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Bezonomics: managementboek of

De Airbnb Story

De Airbnb Story: managementboek of

Afbeelding met teken, shirt, person

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Het geheim van managementboek of


Facebook, The Inside Story:

Structural Agility, a next tree

Schermafdruk 2020-08-02 08.35.00The quest to find more trees for my agile forest continues. Structural Agility is again a way of working that fits in the culture targeted box of my The bird’s eye view on the agile forest overview and complements ‘frameworks’ like Scrum, SAFe, Less, disciplined Agile, et cetera.

Structural Agility (author Jardena London) supports business agility and rests on the core concept that structure enables flow; specifically, the flow of information, energy, and resources inside an organization. Understanding how Structural Agility enables flow begins with three key terms: structure, boundaries, and rules.

  • Structure is anything that creates boundaries and rules to organize people and activity towards a shared purpose.
  • Boundaries are the borders where things start and end, and help the human mind see complexity more clearly.
  • Rules are a set of formal and informal directives that support the boundaries.

Structural Agility uses nine principles that are based upon three existing disciplines: Living Systems, Systems Thinking, and Dynamic Tensions (polarities or tensions between processes, practices, business outcomes, mindsets, emotions, and so on):

  1. We view organizations as living, human ecosystems, inherently interconnected and able to flourish
  2. Continuous design allows the organization to evolve
  3. Agility only exists when we create conditions for it, instead of directing activity
  4. We thrive by leveraging dynamic tensions
  5. We enable flow through hierarchies which are naturally in service to each other
  6. Adaptations for how we organize emerge from within the organization
  7. At every level, the organization has a way to shed and spawn from within itself
  8. Intentional development, both individual and collective, fosters organizational evolution
  9. Shared identity allows for trust and self-organization.

More information and a download of the Structured Agility article can be found on

See the latest, updated version of my Bird’s eye view on the agile forest.Agile Myths Busted (webinar PMI Bulgaria, Belgium, IPMA NL, 200429) v1.0

Recensie Veranderprogramma’s die werken

550x781Er verschijnen niet veel boeken over programmamanagement, dus ben ik benieuwd wat Hugo Mans met zijn boek Veranderprogramma’s die werken – Het ritme van veranderen in negen fasen te brengen heeft.

Het boek biedt inzichten en een aanpak aan de hand van zijn ervaringen bij o.a. de Nederlandse Spoorwegen waarbij de aandacht voor mensen centraal staat. Het boek begint met een uitwerking van drie oerkrachten of dilemma’s bij veranderingen waarmee in elke fase van je programma rekening moet worden gehouden. De drie oerkrachten worden beschreven aan de hand van de volgende dynamische spanningsbogen: sturen en gestuurd worden, veiligheid en gevaar en vertrouwen en wantrouwen.

Daarnaast krijgen we negen hoofdstukken waarin de negen fasen van verandering worden toegelicht. Hierbij spreekt de auteur over de volgende fasen: verlangen naar verandering, besluiten tot verandering, governance van veranderen, succesvol mobiliseren, de smaakmakers in je plan, communiceren met resultaat, koers houden en bijsturen, op naar de kanteling en we kantelen!

Als ik negen fasen van verandering zie, moet ik gelijk denken aan de acht veranderstappen van Kotter. Zet ik ze naast elkaar dan kom ik uit op:

De negen fasen van Hugo Mans De acht veranderstappen van Kotter
fase 1 Verlangen naar verandering stap 1 Zorg voor voldoende urgentiegevoel
fase 2 Besluiten tot verandering
fase 3 Governance van veranderen stap 2 Vorm een leidende coalitie
fase 4 succesvol mobiliseren
fase 5 De smaakmakers in je plan stap 3 Ontwikkel visie en strategie
fase 6 Communiceren met resultaat stap 4 Communiceer en creëer zekerheid
stap 5 Creëer de juiste randvoorwaarden
  stap 6 Creëer korte termijn successen
fase 7 Koers houden en bijsturen stap 7 Bewaak de verandering
fase 8 Op naar de kanteling
fase 9 We kantelen! stap 8 Borg de verandering

Zoals uit bijgaande tabel blijkt komen de stappen redelijk overeen. Persoonlijk vind ik de omschrijvingen zoals die gehanteerd zijn bij Kotter duidelijker en aansprekender. Ook zien we bij Kotter een stap – het creëren van korte termijnsuccessen – die in dit boek niet echt naar voren komt.

Ieder fase wordt aan de hand van onderliggende punten, bouwstenen of tips nader toegelicht en voorzien van praktijkvoorbeelden en quotes. Een voorbeeld de fase 4 – Succesvol mobiliseren – wordt aan de hand van de volgende vier punten nader uitgewerkt: ga voor het team, kies de juiste externe partijen, maak het programma van iedereen en sluit coalities.

Het laatste deel van het boek vat de oerkrachten en de negen fasen die het ritme van verandering vormen samen.

Conclusie. Het boek bevat zeker een aantal aspecten die je aan het denken zetten en je kunnen helpen bij je eigen programma maar ik had graag gezien dat de verschillende onderwerpen wat verder uitgediept waren. Het blijft nu erg oppervlakkig en dat laat zich gezien de omvang van het boek ook raden. Reken even mee. Drie oerkrachten en negen fasen die in 42 punten, bouwstenen of tips nader uitgewerkt worden en voorzien van praktijksituaties en quotes en dit alles in minder dan 100 bladzijden (de laatste 20 bladzijden zijn voor de samenvatting).

Bestellen ( Veranderprogramma’s die werken

Bestellen ( Veranderprogramma’s die werken


Review People Over Process

51Y04ZWZE5L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Michael K. Levine wrote with People Over Process – Leadership for Agility a very pragmatic and down to earth book about leadership and agile projects.

The classic formulation of agile in the Agile Manifesto has no role for leadership. In fact, it is explicitly anti-leadership, encouraging self-managed teams, reliance on motivated individuals, leaving them alone and trusting them to get the job done. Furthermore, neither agile or scrum contemplates how the agile team should be connected to a larger organization and to external partners who will likely have differing development processes and cadences.

The book is divided into four sections. The first section introduces facilitative leadership for agility and introduces the facilitative leadership triangle rigor, efficiency and alignment (REA). Next we get an explanation of the three major frameworks (architecture, plan and team structure) and the meetings to create them. In the third section we get an overview of some routine meetings like the daily scrum, demos, governance meetings and teleconferences. The final section focusses on project retrospectives.

You could also say that the book contains a theoretical explanation of the facilitative leadership model and a business novel where we follow a consultant Mary to help Pacifica Bank with their agile project. By following Mary, we see the facilitative leadership model in a ‘real life’ case to make it really easy to understand the theory. Theory and the Pacifica case alternate.

As stated, the facilitative leadership model contains the triangle rigor, efficiency and alignment (REA). And in the middle, we see the three major frameworks (architecture, plan and team structure) and meetings to create them. See the Quick Reference Card leadership for agilty.

Rigor: Clearly define each decision to be made, gathering and considering facts, thoroughly considering options, and making clear decisions. Making good decisions: right talent, experience, skills, and roles, team composition, options considered and evidence for decisions.

Efficiency: Respecting the time of all team members as a valuable commodity not to be wasted. Respect for people’s time: balance “Agile” and “Planful” management, frameworks to provide context, extensive preparation for meetings and tools and techniques.

Alignment: Teams must work in a way that gets the best input from all members, and gains understanding and commitment around common goals, schedules, methods, and decisions/directions of all kinds. Heads in game and moving together: right involvement, information available, input enables, value consensus and someone to decide.

Extraordinarily well-prepared and conducted meetings use the following pattern:

  • Preparing for a meeting: set a simple and achievable objective, lay out a path to achieve the objective (agenda, activities), roles and responsibilities, the physical setting, the paraphernalia, and ensure alignment on the way in.
  • Conducting a meeting: make the path visible and start down it and control the dialogue.
  • Concluding a meeting: checking for alignment, agree on communication of results, and set immediate next steps.

Architecture simulation meeting (event). The architecture simulation event is a proven mechanism to discover and build alignment around architecture. It can be used in many situations and at various stages of a project. It puts the focus on the software and the related business processes in a powerful way by using different scenarios. It’s a participative learning event.

Project Planning meeting. The project planning meeting is a proven mechanism to develop an effective project plan. Several subgroups are brought together around a timeline from the planning meeting through productive use to plan forward and backward.

Team configuration meeting. The team configuration meeting helps teams to adopt existing mechanisms in their organization (silos). Next, team members, their managers, and stakeholders work together to define specifics for each varying initiative (connectors, bridges between the silos) and finally, the team members (extended) retrospect and adjust.

QRC (Leadership for agility, 200725) v1.0To download: QRC (Leadership for agility, 200725) v1.0

Throughout the Pacifica case we get 25 leadership and 15 meeting tips. To mention a few:

  • By failing to prepare for a meeting, you are preparing to fail – Ben Franklin (Agile is not an excuse not to plan!)
  • Be sure the meeting participants at all times understand the meeting path, and where they are on that path
  • Bring vendor partners into your agile projects as soon as you know they will be an important part of the solution
  • the “self-governed team” agile principle is a valuable but incomplete concept. Applying hard-earned expertise to team configuration and process and exercising the power to mobilize an organization matter
  • Use the RAE test when deciding on an idea. Would it have impact on the rigor, is it needed for alignment, is it efficient. If the answer is no, don’t do it
  • Integrating events give much greater routine focus to ensure completion, and take the place of demo prep in many scrum projects
  • If you plan on sharing an important decision with the team for rigor and alignment, don’t be satisfied with a half-hearted attempt
  • When the going gets tough, double down on in-person relationships
  • Write the major elements of the meeting objectives and the agenda up on the wall so participants have a visual shared guide
  • Get people away from the protection/separation of a big table
  • Have the right time of party
  • The earlier in project planning that you can set specific dates for integrating events the better
  • When a topic is raised in a meeting that doesn’t quite fit, take it offline
  • it is very difficult to both participate in and facilitate a complex exercise as a project retrospective.

And as stated many, many more.

The book ends with tips to use tools like the Kaizen A3 – one page problem solving tool, agenda, alignment checking tools (fist of five, thermometer), dot voting, evaluation matrix, failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA), five whys, more of/less of, nominal group technique, tool advertisement and two by two matrix.

On the corresponding website  you can find some information about the author’s Lean and Agile Software trilogy. People over Process is the third book. The two other books are: A Tale of Two Systems: Lean and Agile Software Development for Business Leaders and A Tale of Two Transformations: Bringing Lean and Agile Software Development to Life.

 Conclusion. A pragmatic, down to earth book when using agile ways of working and the case makes clear that scrum is not the magic bean or silver bullet for all projects. The book offers the facilitative leadership model for agility based on rigor, alignment and efficiency around major meetings or events like architecture simulation, project planning and team configuration to support you in having more successful projects.

 In my opinion the author mixed up the concept of minimum viable product (MVP) and minimum marketable product (MMP). See my blog for a short explanation on MVP and MMP. And, if I am correct there is not such a thing as a Scrum release planning. Also, Scrum doesn’t talk about User Stories but backlog items and that will solve some issues in the book too. But these are minor things. I would say this book is definitely worth reading!

To order: People over Process

To order: A Tale of Two Systems

To order: A Tale of Two Transformations

Review True lean

9789082365245-480x600With the book True lean – Your guide to the fundamentals connecting purpose, process and people written by Rudy Gort you get a concise but complete and clear overview of and insight into lean. What is it, what can you do with it and how did it come about?

The book is divided into three parts. The first part examines the origin of lean in order to understand the philosophy behind lean. We get a brief overview of a number of approaches (including agile, BPR, co-creation, kaizen, supply chain cooperation, operational excellence, Scrum, Six Sigma, TQM) and how these approaches relate to the lean philosophy. In the second part, the main elements of lean are explained using the house-of-lean and larded with many practical examples and literature references. The last part elaborates on the power of lean.

Much of lean originates in Japan and more specifically at the factories of the Toyoda family. In chronological order:

  • Yōzan (harunori) Uesugi (1751-1822) used the philosophy of tell them, show them, let them do it, and praise them
  • Sakichi Toyoda (1867-1930) puts jidoka in the front. Quality must be an integral part of the process, the process must automatically stop in case of errors (andon), and the system must be mistake proof (poka-yoke). In addition, Sakichi Toyoda believed that his company should contribute to society (purpose).
  • Kiichiro Toyoda (1894-1952): was of the opinion that one should think beyond personal interests and should think in the organization’s long-term interests and take personal responsibility for problems.
  • Eiji Toyoda (1913-2013): build the new car factory based on just-in-time concept (JIT) and a kanban system.
  • Taiichi Ohno (1912-1990): was the man behind the Toyota Production System (TPS); one-piece flow and pull, management by sight, and 100% operable rate.
  • Ass sources of inspiration they used Henri Ford’s flow principle and operational excellence and Edwards Deming’s improvement cycle PDCA, extended by Toyota with “Go and See” resulting in an incremental continuous improvement process (kaizen).
  • Fujio Cho, a student of Taiichi Ohno, develops the house metaphor.
  • John Krafcik (1988) introduces the word ‘lean’.

Lean is the label that researchers have put on the way of thinking and acting that Toyota encountered. The underlying culture is called the Toyota Way and is based on continuous improvement (challenge, kaizen, Genchi Gembutsu) and respect for people (respect, teamwork), the heart and soul of the lean management system.

To position the principles or main elements of lean, the house of lean is used as a metaphor, in which the firm base to build on stands for purpose, the roof stands for value, the foundation for stability, the two pillars for built-in quality and timeliness and the residents of the house for behavior (see also the quick reference card QRC Lean). QRC (True Lean, 200717) v1.0To downloaden: QRC (True Lean, 200717) v1.0

Purpose (firm base) or long-term mission gives people a sense of importance, direction, opportunity and performance and creates solidarity within the organization and, therefore, has a strong, binding function.

The goal is to create value for the customer, or in a broader sense, the general satisfaction of all stakeholders. To achieve this, an organization must have an inspiring vision of the future. It is the customers who determine how well the organization is doing. They determine the organization’s viability.

Stability (foundations) stands for predictability and reliability and stable and standardized processes. By means of visual management by using scoreboards and feedback mechanisms to stay on course and to make deviations visible, helps to create an evened-out workload. Through the five steps of workplace organization with 5S: sort (seiri), set in order (seiton), shine (seiso), standardize (seiketsu) and sustain (sitsuke) the workplace can be organized logically and create ownership of it. In addition, uniformity can be created by leveling out the volume and the product mix (heijunka). Mura stands for unevenness, fluctuation, variability, muri for overload or overburden and muda for overcapacity or waste.

Built-in quality and timeliness (the pilars) represent jidoka and just-in-time. Jidoka or built-in quality ensures that problems are not passed on further in the process, is much more effective and less expensive than inspections and repairing quality problems at the end of the line (zone control). It is not a technique but a principle. Prevention is better (poka-yoke). Just-in-time (JIT) means that every process only produces what is needed by the next process and does so in a continuous flow. JIT includes three elements: takt time (the rhythm at which a consumer consumes something), continuous flow (making and moving one item at a time to match the takt time) and a pull system (to guide an uninterrupted flow and avoid overproduction). Frequent use is made of techniques such as the spaghetti diagram, Value Stream Mapping (VSM), kanban, status board, and obeya.

Behavior (the residents of the house) can be characterized by five aspects. Everyone must set ambitious goals (improvement kata, coaching kata). Kaizen, to improve business operations continuously, and always driving for innovation and evolution. “What I do today, I can do better tomorrow”. Genchi genbutsu: going back to the source to find the facts to make correct decisions, build consensus and achieve goals at our best speed. (facts over data, analysis, 5x why). Respect by learning to understand each other and finally self-organization needs to be stimulated (teamwork).

The last part describes the power of lean. How it can be done faster, better and cheaper without a trade-off between quality and productivity and with unsurpassed flexibility. By reducing lead time and focusing on flexible production lines, quality, customer relationships, productivity and resource and space utilization are all improved. Only the employees themselves can continuously improve their work through commitment and remain motivated as a result. In addition, lean increases the innovation ability of the organization through effective, organization-transcending way of sharing knowledge with the various suppliers and partners and by creating designs and processes that support both high quality and easy production (design for assembly). Finally, the true power of competitiveness and lean is a learning organization. Lean is based on emergent learning in the most efficient way possible. A learning organization does not only learn. Above all, it learns how to learn using short-cyclic learning, knowledge management (explicit, tangible or written knowledge, but more about implicit knowledge gained through experience) and mentor-apprentice relationships.

The book concludes with a quote from the author himself “Lean is not a destination, but a way of traveling.”

Conclusion. A very readable and freshly designed book with many references to articles, videos (using QR codes) and other, sometimes groundbreaking books about lean or lean concepts. To get a concise but complete picture about lean – what is it, what can you do with it and how did it come about? – this is a great starting point and I highly recommend it.

Youtube: How Toyota changed the way we make things

To order ( True lean – Your guide to the fundamentals connecting purpose, process and people

To order ( True lean – Your guide to the fundamentals connecting purpose, process and people