Tag Archives: agility

Review: Manage your project portfolio

9781680501759-480x600Johanna Rothman wrote the book Manage your portfolio Second edition – Increase your capacity – Finish more projects. A book for the more professional portfolio manager or as mentioned on the back of the book: Expert skill level.

If you are facing too many projects, if firefighting and multitasking are keeping you from finishing any of them, this book will help you to manage your portfolio. It makes use of agile and lean ways of working and brings the biggest benefits when you are running your projects in an agile way too. Projects become to be delivered features and evaluation means prioritizing feature sets. In the quick reference card, I highlighted the way the author promotes the usage of Kanban boards to manage your portfolio and it visualizes some of the decisions to be taken.

Manage your portfolio (QRC, 171017) v1.0

To download: Manage your portfolio (QRC, 171017) v1.0

The author divided the book in fourteen chapters and these chapters gives you a step by step approach to build your portfolio. All chapters end with several situations and possible responses to try.

  1. Meet your project portfolio: It’s not your customer who cares about your portfolio. If you are facing issues to finish projects, if you want to deliver faster, more often and qualitative good products to your customer, you need a portfolio
  2. See your future: by managing your portfolio you make the organization’s choices transparent. It becomes clear what to work on first, second, third. It will help to avoid multitasking. What does it mean if you apply lean approaches to your project portfolio? You must think in terms of value, let teams work in small chunks that they can handle and complete
  3. Create the first draft of your portfolio: start collecting all the work before you attempt to evaluate and determine whether you need to do it now. When needed organize sets of projects into programs. Divide your projects in feature sets or Minimum Marketable Features. Not all feature sets are equally important.
  4. Evaluate your projects: the very first decision is about whether you want to commit to this project, kill the project, or transform the project in some way before continuing. If you don’t want to commit but you can’t kill it either put the project on a project parking lot (name, data, value discussion and notes) so you don’t lose track of it.
  5. Rank the portfolio: You can use many methods to rank. The author discusses the rank with Cost of Delay, business value points (divide a total number of points across your projects), by risk, organization’s context, by tour product’s position in the marketplace or by using pairwise comparison, single or double elimination.
  6. Collaborate on the portfolio: Making portfolio decisions is never a single person’s decision. Facilitate portfolio evaluation meetings.
  7. Iterate on the portfolio: Set an iteration length for your review cycles. This cycle length is affected by your project life cycle (agile delivery gives you the opportunity to have shorter review cycles), your product roadmap, and budgeting cycle.
  8. Make portfolio decisions: Conduct portfolio evaluation meetings at least quarterly to start with, decide how often to review the project parking lot. How are you going to cope with advanced R&D projects? Build a project portfolio Kanban (create backlog, evaluate, project work, assess/validate and maintain) to manage your portfolio.
  9. Visualize your project portfolio: Create a calendar view of your projects with predicted dates. Show not only your staffed projects but your unstaffed work too.
  10. Scaling portfolio management to an enterprise: What are the consequences of resource efficiency thinking (100% resource utilization is 0% flow)? How can you scale by starting bottom up or top down? You need both but scale with care. Do you know your enterprise’s mission or strategy otherwise it will be very difficult, if not impossible to make large decisions? Set up a corporate project portfolio meeting to answer the questions which projects help to implement our strategy and which project distract us from our strategy.
  11. Evolve your portfolio: Using lean can help you to evolve your portfolio approach. What does it mean if you stabilize the time-box or the number of work items in progress (see Naked planning video too).
  12. Measure the essentials: for a lean or agile approach consider the following measures: team’s velocity (current and historical), amount of work in progress (cycle and lead time, cumulative flow), obstacles preventing the team to move faster (how long in progress), product backlog burn-up chart, run rate. Never measure individual productivity.
  13. Define your mission: Brainstorm the essentials of a mission, refine the mission (specify strong verbs, eliminate adverbs, avoid jargon), iterate until you feel comfortable, test your mission, make the mission real for everyone.
  14. Start somewhere…but start!

Conclusion. Johanna Rothman wrote a must read for portfolio managers who are struggling with their role when their organization is moving towards more business agility, with more and more permanent agile teams in place but also for the traditional portfolio manager, facing too many projects and almost no delivery to get hands-on practical advice to start organizing their portfolios.

To order: Manage your portfolio Second edition – Increase your capacity – Finish more projects.

Naked Planning Overview by Arlo Belshee

Arlo was one of the first to lay-out the inspiration for Kanban systems for software development.
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Recensie: Agile HR – De (on)misbare rol van HR in wendbare organisaties

9789492790026-480x600Willemijn Boskma, Minke Buizer, Nienke van der Hoef, Gidion Peters en Willy Zelen hebben het boek Agile HR – De (on)misbare rol van HR in wendbare organisaties Geschreven.

Een vlot geschreven boek, gelardeerd met vele voorbeelden, dat je makkelijk in een keer uitleest. Het boek bestaat uit vier delen waarbij twee invalshoeken zijn gekozen. Enerzijds krijg je voorgeschoteld welke rol HR kan spelen in organisaties die een agile transitie door (willen gaan) maken zoals HR als aanjager van de verandering en HR in een organisatie met wendbare teams. Anderzijds wordt beschreven wat het betekent als je HR-afdeling zelf meer wendbaar wilt zijn. Dit deel is ook prima te gebruiken als je behoort tot een andere afdeling zoals bijvoorbeeld Juridische zaken of inkoop et cetera en je wilt de slag naar meer agile zijn, maken. Verder vind je een deel over de toolkit (o.a. apps) voor Agile HR. De delen sluiten af met een opsomming van experimenten die je kunt starten.

In het eerste deel staat het perspectief van de organisatie centraal. Welke nieuwe rol en plek van de HR-competentie en HR-professionals kan/moet ingenomen worden als de organisatie meer wendbaar gaat werken? De volgende rollen worden besproken:

  • Employee experience (EX) ontwerper
  • Purpose-ontwikkelaar
  • Werkgeluk-ontwikkelaar
  • Agile coach
  • Trendvertaler

Het tweede deel zet de HR afdeling zelf centraal. Wat betekent het als de HR afdeling zelf meer agile en flexibel gaat werken? Welke stappen kan je zetten naar meer wendbaar werken? Hoe kan je je dagelijkse werk organiseren onder gebruikmaking van Scrum of Kanban? Wanneer gebruik je Scrum, wanneer Kanban? Hoe kan je overzicht en sturing creëren over alle lopende projecten voor niet-IT-teams onder gebruikmaking van agile portfolio management (AgileTPM)? Wat betekent het als je met duidelijke rollen en verantwoordelijkheden in lijn met Holacracy, gaat werken? En tenslotte krijg je uitgelegd hoe je meer wendbaar kunt vergaderen (doelgericht, wendbaar en flexibel, gezamenlijke verantwoordelijkheid en transparant).

Deel drie beschouwt de impact op HR als er in de organisatie gewerkt wordt in agile teams. Zelf organiserende teams die steeds autonomer worden en daardoor ook verschillende HR-competenties zelf gaan invullen. Welke taken en verantwoordelijkheden blijven centraal belegd, welke kunnen de teams zelf op zich nemen? Wat is eigenlijk een zelf-organiserend team, welke vormen van zelf-organisatie zijn er? Wat zijn de mogelijkheden van zelfbeloning? Hoe promoot en faciliteer je agile leiderschap (coachen vanuit vertrouwen, voorbeeldgedrag en transparantie, heldere kaders en opdrachten, stimuleren van experimenten en beschermen van teams en medewerkers). Alle onderwerpen worden voorzien van vele tips.

Het laatste deel biedt inzicht in trends en ontwikkelingen gezien vanuit een agile HR. Je krijgt een scala van tools die de HR-professional ter beschikking staan (inclusief verwijzingen naar websites waar meer informatie over specifieke tools is te vinden). De toolkit is onderverdeeld in tools en tips (mee starten, loslaten of stoppen) verdeeld over de aandachtsgebieden recruitment, leren en ontwikkelen, functioneren en beoordelen en HR-analitics.

In het boek vindt je verder verwijzingen naar een tweetal tests: Agile HR volwassenheidtest en de team scan (zie www.agilehrtest.nl)

Over de team scan is geen gedetailleerde informatie te vinden op de site. De volwassenheid test biedt je inzicht in vijf dimensies: bewustzijn van klant en leverancier, ontwikkeling van zelf-organiserende teams, ontwikkeling van HR instrumenten, HR als groep en de rol in agile transities.

Conclusie: Een aan te bevelen boek als je aan de vooravond of middenin een agile transitie zit. Door vanuit de HR bril naar de transitie te kijken krijg je inzicht wat er allemaal nog meer komt kijken naast het kiezen van een agile framework en het benoemen van een aantal agile teams. Ik ben ervan overtuigd dat deze nieuwe inzichten de kans op een succesvolle agile transformatie vergroten.

Bestellen: Agile HR – De (on)misbare rol van HR in wendbare organisaties

Organisation mindset

Many organizations are struggling with the transition to become more agile. I see organizations starting with a number of permanent agile teams and asking themselves after a while why the expected benefits are not there? Did they choose the wrong scaling agile framework? Maybe, maybe not, it probably has to do with the fact that the mindset of the organization is still the mindset of an organization in the traditional world.

I came across a website focussing on this mindset.

Alex Yakyma, founder of ORG mindset, created a model to help you with your transition towards more business agility (implementing Lean and Agile at scale) by focussing on the needed mindshift in your organisation. Without this mindshift, more business agility will be very difficult to achieve, adding more agile practices will not help.

ORG mindshift with their corresponding model will help you with tools and addoption paterns that address the mentality first and allow to build a successful Lean-Agile enterprise. Nowadays you need a mindset that embraces complexity (Lean-Agile mentality)  in stead of a mindset to cope with sequencial industrial systems. In the old world we see anti-patterns such as Outputs over Outcomes, obsession with predictability and metrics et cetera (Reductionist mentality).

Schermafdruk 2017-06-24 10.43.25If you go to the website (orgmindset.com) you get the model with icons (and hyperlinks to the details behind the icons).

Exploit variability  explore economic opportunities: Variability entails high-payoff opportunities.

Minimize Constraints to collaboration: Change is inevitable, and the more flexible the structures that foster collaboration the easier the task. Avoid management’s compartmentalized thinking.

Build sustainable practices: Don’t over-emphasize early wins but focus on benefit-constraint, feedback loops, practice maps, embedded menthal models and shared cognition.

Align Mental Models: we never directly operate with a phenomenon, but through mental models.  As a change agent you have to identify problems with mental models in their organization and fix them (accuracy, different people, different models, blind spots).

Besides this model the website offers research, presentations and course information to become an Org Mindset Enterprise Coach (OMEC).

Conclusion: When you are starting or in the middle of a transition to become more agile this site is definitely worthwhile to visit and gives you some food for thought.

Book review: The Agility Shift

9781629560700-480x600Pamela Meyer is the author of the book ‘The Agility Shift. Create Agile and Effective Leaders, Teams, and Organizations’. Not a book about an agile framework but a guide to help organisations and their leaders and employees to make a shift to the right in terms of Bob Marshall’s right shifting model to become more effective, to become more agile!

The book is divided in three parts. Part one covers the understanding and dynamics of the agility shift by explaining what and why, by weaving the relation web for agility and discovering the five dynamics of the agility shift. Part two explains what it means to make the agility shift at all levels of the system. Talking about the agile leader, the agile team and the agile organisation. Part three focusses on putting agility into work. How can you shift to agile learning and development and recruiting, reinforcing, recognizing and retaining your agile talent?

Agility shift can be summarized by the three C’s: Agility Competence, Agility Capacity and Agility Confidence and is first and foremost a shift in mind-set. A shift from the false comfort of “a plan” to achieving a state of readiness to find the opportunity in the unexpected. To build this readiness you can make use of your own Relational Web.

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To download the QRC The Relational Web: The agility shift web

Becoming an agile leader asks for a leadership mind-set for agility, whole-person agility and learning agility. To build a team make use of lessons from improvement, high-stake and development teams: work with the same understanding of the givens, agree to the givens, practice gift giving, practice finding the game, provide opportunities for interaction, make communication and coordination expectations explicit, expect role elasticity and learning agility, develop resource awareness, practice rapid prototyping: fail faster, learn quicker, work at a sustainable pace and capacity, create an agile manifesto for your team.

When agile leadership and the first teams are in place you can start co-creating the agile organisation by weaving the organisational relational web (create groups that foster employee camaraderie, maximize your relational web potential, and improve the proximity between members of your relational web), Structuring for the agility shift (create opportunities to identify the bare spots, get input on barriers and enablers, and resist the urge to formalize) and las but not least expand engagement to build capacity for decision making (empowerment) and converge planning and action to maximize your organizational agility.

The last part explains what the shift means for agile learning and development and recruiting, reinforcing, recognizing, and retaining your agile talent. You get an overview of competencies, skills and practices and performance indicators as well as a helping aid for recruiting for agility with sample conversation topics/scenarios and questions and tips to listen and look for specific performance indicators.

Conclusion: No matter what agile framework you are using, this book will bring you above the level of framework techniques and gives you helpful insights to become more agile. A must read for agile leads!

To buy: The Agility Shift

Book review: That’s Not How We Do It Here!

9780399563942-200x300John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber have once again managed to make the complicated matter of dual systems in organizations (see Kotter’s book ‘XLR8 – Accelerate‘) accessible in a parable for a wide audience. In this book, ‘That’s Not How We Do It Here! A Story About How Organizations Rise and Fall – and Can Rise Again’ we follow a colony of 150 meerkats in the Kalahari, a hot, dry region of southern Africa.

Initially we follow the tightly run, highly hierarchical meerkats colony where everything takes place in accordance with prescribed procedures. If there are no threats, things run smoothly in the colony but when the colony is plagued by drought, resources run out and when they are attacked by hostile predators, the colony is powerless. Ideas or experiments are not appreciated, in fact directly crushed by saying ” That’s not how we do it here”.

Two young, smart adventurous meerkats, Nadia and Ayo decide to look outside for a solution to save the colony. Initially they found some liberated or dislocated colonies that faces problems even bigger and they are not welcome. Looks like that having rules and procedures has positive aspects too.

Eventually, they end up at a small innovative colony led by an inspirational leader. In this colony, there is room for new ideas and experiments. Initiatives are worked out by Spontaneously formed new temporary teams, and as a result the colony is flourishing. In this self-organising colony, they can live without standard procedures. This success has not gone unnoticed. An increasing number of meerkats align themselves with this colony, and this does not remain without consequences. Where issues in a small team were spontaneously picked up and solved, in a large colony this asks for rules and procedures.

This brings Nadia to the clever idea to connect both organizational structures together (The dual system in the book ‘XLR8 – Accelerate’). The hierarchical organization for all standard matters that should be settled in a colony and an organizational structure with temporary teams to experiment and find solutions to problems. Nadia returns to its former colony and brings it into practice there.

On the site www.kotterinternational.com you can download material (manual, PowerPoint) to start a discussion within your own company.

To order: That’s Not How We Do It Here!

boekrecensie: Zo doen we dat hier niet!

9789047009603-480x600John Kotter en Holger Rathgeber zijn er wederom in geslaagd om ingewikkelde materie, in dit geval over duale systemen in organisaties (zie Kotter’s boek ‘Versnellen’) in een parabel voor een breed publiek toegankelijk te maken. In dit boek ‘Zo doen we dat hier niet! Succesvol zijn en blijven in tijden van verandering volgen we een kolonie van 150 stokstaartjes in Kalahari, een warm en droog gebied in het zuiden van Afrika.

In eerste instantie zien we een strak geleide, sterk hiërarchische stokstaartjes kolonie waarbinnen alles volgens voorgeschreven richtlijnen en procedures plaatsvindt. Zolang er geen bedreigingen zijn verloopt het in de kolonie naar wens maar op het moment dat de kolonie geteisterd wordt door droogte, voorraden opraken en ze aangevallen worden door vijandige roofdieren staat de kolonie machteloos. Ideeën of experimenten worden niet gewaardeerd, sterker nog worden direct de kop ingedrukt met de opmerking “zo doen we dat hier niet “.

Twee jonge, slimme avontuurlijke stokstaartjes, Nadia en Ayo besluiten op zoek te gaan naar een oplossing om de kolonie te redden. In eerste instantie komen ze bij een andere meer vrijgevochten of ontwrichte kolonies waar de problemen nog groter zijn en zij zelf niet welkom zijn. Het hebben van regels en procedures heeft dus ook positieve kanten.

Uiteindelijk belanden ze bij een kleine innovatieve kolonie die geleid wordt door een inspirerend leider. In deze kolonie is ruimte voor nieuwe ideeën en experimenten. Worden spontaan nieuwe tijdelijke teams gevormd als een initiatief uitgewerkt en handen en voeten gegeven moet worden zodat de kolonie floreert. Standaard procedures zijn niet nodig. De kolonie is zelf organiserend. Dit succes blijft niet onopgemerkt. Steeds meer stokstaartjes sluiten zich bij deze kolonie aan en dat blijft niet zonder gevolgen. Waar in een klein team problemen spontaan konden worden opgepakt en opgelost vraagt zo’n grote kolonie toch regels en procedures.

Dit brengt Nadia tot het slimme idee om beide organisatie structuren met elkaar te verbinden (Duaal systeem in het boek ‘Versneller’). De hiërarchische organisatie voor alle standaard zaken die in een kolonie geregeld moeten worden en organisatievorm met tijdelijke teams om te experimenteren en oplossingen vinden voor problemen. Met dit beeld keert Nadia terug naar haar oude kolonie en brengt het daar in de praktijk.

Op de site www.kotterinternational.com is verder materiaal (handleiding, PowerPoint) te downloaden om de discussie binnen je eigen bedrijf aan te gaan.

Bestellen:

Book review: The Product Samurai

9789462287860-480x600-product-samuraiChris Lukassen wrote the book The Product Samurai. A Product Manager’s guide to continuous innovation.

An easy to read book to get a good idea of the Product Manager’s role within an agile environment, with lots of examples, techniques to be used, figures, and tables and on many places analogies with martial art experiences and great black and white martial art pictures of the author himself with quotes. Every chapters end with a kata, an individual training exercise. After reading you want, if you aren’t, to be a product manager.

To explain the title, the author made the comparison with the seven principles a Samurai warrior used. In product management the same apply and by following these you can become a Product Samurai. The seven principles are: Integrity, Respect, Courage, Honor, Empathy, Sincerity, and loyalty.dia1

The book is divided in three parts following the three key aspects of product management: vision, winning and crafting.

Vision (Discovering, Defining): The discovery process and ways to identify and develop innovation potential. You get many examples and techniques that will help you to discover a product vision. To mention a few techniques:

  • The innovation granularity pyramid with four levels (feature, product, portfolio/segment, industry) of innovation and provides a framework for defining a product in relationship to the overall business strategy.
  • The Flux Capacitor technique. A brainstorming based approach that involves concept diagram mapping combined with traveling to and from the future.
  • The 3 x 3 framework (status quo, observations, story, insight, opportunity, analogy, solution, advantages, ethos): To pitch your product and it will help to define your product vision.
  • The value model canvas: compare the business model canvas and the lean canvas. Here we focus on customer needs (wants / rational, fears / hidden, needs / emotional) and product benefits (benefits /why?, experience / what?, features / how?)
  • Rolling wave planning and product roadmaps to create transparency. To rank the goals, the following formula is explained: (Market Evidence x Problem Impact x (Usability + Vision + Buying + Competitive Advantage)) / Estimated effort.
  • The customer journey map to frame your opportunity and translate this into a business case.
  • Last but not least: genshi genbutsu: to truly understand, you must go to the real place. Vision comes from the real world out there, through real people with real needs.

Winning (Growth, Steer, Observe): The tools (growth models and tools that create feedback loops) that help create winning products once the vision is in place.

Here you get many product strategy techniques:

  • The product adoption cycle: innovators, early adopters, early majority and the late majority/laggards
  • The AARRR (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, Referral) framework. This framework provides you a series of metrics you can use to measure performance and determine improvements.
  • Eric Ries’ three engines of growth: paid engine of growth, viral engine of growth, sticky engine of growth.
  • Cohort analysis. To expose groups of users to alternative versions of the product to figure out which performs best (e.g. A/B testing).
  • Pruning the product tree. A tree analogy to achieve the shape you envision by plotting (post-its) existing products, latest product’s feature additions and optimizations, etc.
  • Gap, SWOT and the Ishikawa diagrams
  • A persona is a narrative, or story description about the user that resonates with the team and the stakeholders on an emotional level.
  • Customer experience testing. It starts by testing two things: usability (can they use the product) and discovery (context of the product: who, why, when, where, what, what for and how)
  • Alternate realities: or product variants to test with real customers (multi-variant testing)
  • Blue oceans and red oceans. It is easier to capture market value when you create a new market (blue ocean) than to fight the competition in a saturated market (red ocean)
  • ERRC quadrant: how does your solution enable your growth (Eliminate, Raise, Reduce, Create)
  • The expanded buyer utility map: it shows the six utility levers (productivity, simplicity, convenience, risk, brand image, environmental friendliness), combined with the ten stages of the buyer experience cycle (awareness, evaluation, selection, purchase, delivery, use, supplement, maintain, discard and recommend).

Crafting (Practical, Meta): The art of product creation. Here we closely follow the path of the product manager.

To gain knowledge you have to go through three phases: Shu (just copy what you see), Ha (understand why you are doing it), Ri (learn from your own practice). In this part we got an explanation of Eric Ries’ Lean Start-up and especially the usage of a Minimum Variable Product (MVP). Also here several techniques are explained:

  • Design thinking: using a five-day challenge to go through the six stages of design thinking: understand, define, diverge, decide, prototype and validate.
  • Judo Solution: follow the central guiding principle of judo: “maximum efficiency with minimum effort”. Compare with the MVP.
  • Double loop learning: replace “knowing” (your product features and value) with “assuming” (unvalidated insights about user’s requirements). So as a Product Manager you plan, do check and adjust, think again and make new assumptions. Here we get a new user story format: As a <persona> I have a <problem> which causes me <impact> as can be seen with <metrics>.
  • Three horizons of growth: now, next and beyond.

To become a great Product Manager, a Product Samurai you have to comply with the seven principles. To succeed you must show passion, empathy and compassion, focus and tenacity and decisiveness. You have to practice and train to develop the following skills: observation, questioning, association, networking, experimenting, planning, analysing, detail orientation and self-discipline.

Conclusion

A great book to read if you are a Product Owner or Product Manager and want to achieve continuous innovation. It will help you to understand the role you were asked to start playing or you are already playing and what you can do, what techniques you can use to become a great Product Manager.

To buy: The Product Samurai