Tag Archives: English Post

Review: Leading Teams – Setting the stage for great performances

leadingIf I see how agile teams perform you can ask yourself why is this the case, what is needed that these teams become much more effective? J. Richard Hackman wrote in 2002 the book Leading Teams – Setting the stage for great performances and this book still gives a lot of answers and directions how to look at those less effective agile teams.

The book is divided in three parts. In part I we get two examples of how senior leaders at two different airlines structured and supported teams of flight attendants. One airline achieved a great deal of control over flight attendant behavior, but at a considerable cost in motivation and creativity. The other airline achieved nearly the opposite outcomes. Throughout the book we will get a lot of references to these two teams and other examples too.

Part II is the core of the book and focusses on the conditions that foster team effectiveness reflected in products, services or decisions that are acceptable to the clients. That the team becomes more capable as a performing unit over time and that the individual members learn. The following five conditions must be put in place and stay there:

  • Having a real team
  • A compelling direction
  • An enabling team structure
  • A supportive organizational context
  • Expert team coaching

Part III Opportunities, discusses imperatives for leaders (and their execution skills) and how to think differently about teams within an operating environment (who decides? authority structure, who is responsible? work structure, who gains? reward structure, who learns? opportunity structure).

QRC (Leading teams, 180611) v1.0To download: QRC (Leading teams, 180611) v1.0

The five conditions:

A real team is the prerequisite for the other conditions. The task actually is appropriate for teamwork and it requires members to work together independently. It means establishing clear but moderately permeable membership boundaries. It means providing the team with substantial but clearly delimited authority for managing its work. And finally it means ensuring that the team will be reasonably stable over time as members carry out that work.

Providing a compelling direction that energizes, orients and engages teams is an important ingredient in setting the stage for great performances.

An enabling team structure is based on the design of the work that the team performs, the core norms of conduct that guide and constrain team behavior, and the composition of the team. Autonomy gives teams room to excel … but autonomous teams gone bad and can do real damage. Also virtual teams become more popular but it is much harder to create the previously mentioned conditions in virtual teams.

An unsupportive organizational context limit the performance of even a well-designed work team. The following three systems have particularly high leverage in supporting teamwork: the reward system (to provide recognition and reinforcement contingent on excellent team performance), the information system (to provide teams, at their own initiative whenever possible, the data and projections that members need to competently plan and execute their work) and the educational system (to make training and technical assistance available to work teams for any aspects of the work in which members are not already sufficiently knowledgeable or skilled).

The last condition, expert coaching, can significantly enhance team performance processes as managing member effort, selecting and implementing its task performance strategies and in utilizing members’ talents. What can coaches do and when can they do it to help a work team manage the three key performance processes efficiently and well.

Conclusion: A must read for (tribe) leaders, sponsors, (project and programme) managers and agile coaches. To be honest it’s not an easy read. There is a lot of text in the chapters and you get sometimes lost (maybe some white between paragraphs and the use of numbered sections would have helped).

To order: Leading Teams – Setting the stage for great performances

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Review: The Agile Enterprise

9781484223901-480x600Mario E. Moreira wrote the book The Agile Enterprise – Building and Running Agile Organizations. A book that can help you to understand what is needed to achieve the full benefits of mature agile. Individuals at all levels in the organization must be committed to the agile mindset and focusing on delivering value to the customer. On top of this all employees must be empowered to take ownership.

The author uses a metaphor of the Agile galaxy: a landscape for your agile culture to view where agile is being applied in your organization and a customer value driven engine.

The book contains 22 chapters, where the first four chapters (I would say the first five) explains the conceptual groundwork for an effective customer-value-driven enterprise and all other chapters provides in-depth knowledge of concepts, mindsets, practices, and techniques to build this customer-value-driven enterprise.

Several chapters ends with references with more material and on many places you get an ‘Agile Pit Stop’ to illuminate ideas or highlight important points.

The landscape of the agile galaxy has three axes. The horizontal view, the delivery axis, following the recording of an idea towards the release of that idea. A vertical view, the hierarchical axis, from top (exec level) to bottom (team level). And the third dimension is the culture: from a negative agile, or more traditional hierarchical and command and control, culture towards a positive agile culture, aligned with engaging customers and employees and aligned with agile values and principles.

Dia1To download: The Agile Enterprise (Agile Galaxy QRC, 180507) v1.0

To highlight the different chapters I will follow the author’s clustering of several themes and summarize some key points.

Agile as it relates to the customer:

The key is narrowing the gap between employees and customers (two-degrees-of separation rule). Customer input and feedback are the two primary guides towards customer value. And understand that often customers don’t know what they want until they see it. To understand customer ideas the author describes how you can record them by using a lean or customer-value canvas and customer personas.

Agile as it relates to the employee:

If you believe employees matter, you must embrace the COMETS values (Collaboration, Ownership, Motivation, Empowerment, Enthusiasm, Trust and Safety). If your organization is following the agile transformation journey and your role has not adapted you may not be part of the transformation. Topics like bounded authority and holocracy are discussed and what is needed to build a learning enterprise. Focus early on the readying the mind for agile with agile mindset education and not with education on an agile process or agile role (the mechanics). A culture with a discovery mindset, infused with incremental thinking, experimental thinking, divergent and convergent thinking, feedback thinking and design thinking is key. HR can play an important role to promote education and agile and hiring agile-minded employees.

Agile culture and mindset:

In the previous clusters already several topics were highlighted, e.g. embracing customers and employees, building a learning enterprise, applying a discovery mindset as well as the role of HR. To understand your own culture an Agile cultural assessment survey based on desired agile behaviors is included in the book.

Running an agile enterprise:

The delivery axis in the agile galaxy can be seen as the enterprise idea pipeline or portfolio backlog or enterprise Kanban board. The 5R model is explained as a path to deliver customer value (Record, Reveal, Refine, Realize and Release and the 6R model added the Reflect step at the end) and how this pipeline can be connected to the backlogs. Prioritization techniques like the Cost of Delay (CoD or CoD3) are explained and what it means if you move away from traditional budgeting towards agile budgeting and make use of lightning-bolt-shaped teams (with primary and at least two additional skills to be able to handle a broader range of work). Agile success measures are discussed and it ends with an explanation of an incremental approach toward an agile adoption (learn, grow, accelerate, transform and sustain).

Establishing your requirements relationships and decomposing requirements from idea to task:

To show the relative hierarchy among various requirements the author uses the requirements tree (corporate strategy, division strategy, ideas, idea increment, epic, user story, and task) and story mapping points you at options that help validate customer value including collaboration on user stories.

Conclusion. A good book when you are at the beginning or in the middle of an agile transformation. I like the idea of the agile galaxy with the three axes. The author gives a lot of in-depth information, mindsets, principles, tools and practices to increase the chance of success of your journey. To read the book from front to back is not easy. I miss a sort of red thread throughout the book, I sometimes had the idea that some chapters could be combined, e.g. 16 and 18 or could be moved to the first part of the book.

To order: The Agile Enterprise

Review Half double – Projects in half the time with double the impact

IMG_2994A few weeks ago I visited Copenhagen to give a guest lecture at the Technical University of Denmark. Afterwards I was interviewed by by Michael Fleron (DTU) and John Ryding Olsson for a new book on strategy and leadership. John gave me one of the first just printed copies of the book Half double – Projects in half the time with double the impact he wrote together with Michael Ehlers, Karoline Thorp Adland and Niels Ahrengot. In the book, John wrote “I hope the book will give you some inspiration” and it definitely did!

The book was co-created through a series of events, attended by more than 2000 participants, in close collaboration with project practitioners. As soon as a chapter was written, it became available for feedback.

There are eight chapters in the book. In the introduction chapter the authors look back and explain why the old way of working will not work in the more and more uncertain and rapidly changing future. In the five following chapters we get an overview of the new methodology, its philosophy and principles, and in-depth chapters about the four building blocks (core element) of the methodology to achieve double the impact in half the time: impact, flow, leadership and local translation. Every building block is explained, including three execution methods and corresponding tools, templates and processes as well as detailed case studies. The last chapter is dedicated to portfolio management taking the same building blocks into account.

Impact: It’s all about stakeholder satisfaction. This is the ultimate success criterion. The following three methods and tools to create impact are explained:

  • Build the impact case to drive behavioral change and business impact by using the impact case tool (case GN Audio)
  • Design your project to deliver impact as soon as possible by using the impact solution design tool (case GN Audio)
  • Be in touch with the pulse of your key stakeholders by using the pulse check tool (case: Velux).

Flow: High intensity and frequent interaction in project work, learning and impact. The following three methods and tools are explained to create flow:

  • Allocate core team members for minimum of 50% of their time and ensure co-location by using the co-location tool (case: Siemens Wind Power)
  • Increase insight and commitment using visual tools and plans by using the rhythm in key events tool (case: GN Audio)
  • Set a fixed project heartbeat to progress the project in sprints by using the visual planning tool (case: Danfoss).

Leadership: As a leader you must embrace uncertainty and make the project happen. The following three methods and nine behaviors to create leadership in your project are explained:

  • Be an active, committed and engaged project owner by using active ownership behaviors: own the impact (pave the way for impact and remove unnecessary bureaucracy), ensure resource commitment including 50% allocation of high caliber people and show up (engage with the project, at least two hours a week) (case: Novozymes)
  • Be a collaborative leader with a people first attitude by using collaborative leadership behaviors: lead the impact (being hard on the impact and flexible on the deliverables), facilitate and energize interactions and put people first by creating purpose, autonomy and mastery (case: Velux)
  • Apply a reflective and adaptive mindset by using a reflective and adaptive mindset: listen intensely, frame the issue and help to move the team forward (case: Lantmännen).

Local translation: Successful translation of the half double methodology requires commitment to three methods and tools:

  • Build a half double mindset to initiate the half double approach using the half double mindset tool (case: SAS Scandinavian Airlines)
  • Customize governance to ensure flow by using the governance customization tool (case: GN Audio)
  • Anchor the half double practice to pave the way for new results by using the reflective map tool (case: Velux).

The last chapter focusses on half double portfolio leadership using again three methods:

  • Make strategy and portfolio fit to create strategic impact
  • Short and fat portfolio with frequent strategic adjustment (this is key. Courageous prioritization is the means!)
  • Portfolio leadership team and ownership.

Conclusion. An easy to read, great colorful layout, energizing and inspirational book. The theory and hand-on principles and tools are explained and the real life examples make this book a must read for those who are directing or running projects in this more and more rapidly changing world and for those who would like to move away from some outdated ways of thinking and running projects.

IMG_3006

More information can be found on:www.projecthalfdouble.dk

Review: The age of agile

9780814439098-200x300Stephen Denning wrote a very interesting and inspiring book The age of agile – How smart companies are transforming the way work gets Done. Not about agile frameworks but what it really means to reach more agility.

The book is divided in two parts. The first part focusses on agile management, laws, a case study to implement agile at scale (Microsoft), and moving towards strategic agility and changing the organizational culture. The second part puts several management traps in the spotlights. E.g. shareholder value, share buybacks, cost-oriented economics and backward-looking strategy.

Organizations that have embraced agile have three core characteristics:

  • The law of the small team. “It’s presumption that in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world, big and difficult problems should – to the extent possible – be disaggregated into small batches and performed by small cross-functional autonomous teams working iteratively in short cycles in a state of flow, with fast feedback from customers and end-users.
  • The law of the customer. “Requires that the firm’s culture and internal systems, processes, and values themselves be continuously subordinated to, and driven by, delivering value to the customer: if there is a conflict, it is the customer’s needs that need to be given priority.
  • The law of the network. “An organizational network is a set of teams that interact with and collaborate with other teams with the same connectivity, interaction, and passion as they do within their own small team. Each team needs to look beyond its own goals and concerns and see its work as part of the larger mission of the collectivity.

Dia1Common practices of agile small teams:

  • Work in small batches
  • Small cross-functional teams
  • Limited work in process
  • Autonomous teams
  • Getting to “done”
  • Work without interruption
  • Daily stand-ups
  • Radical transparency
  • Customer feedback each cycle
  • Retrospective reviews

Dia2Practices of the law of the customer:

  • Target
  • Constantly experiment
  • Partner with start-ups
  • Increase product malleability (turn a physical product into a digital product)
  • Focus
  • Innovate in short stages
  • Evaluate
  • Be willing to disappoint
  • Deliver value faster
  • Customize

Dia3Some hypotheses as to what it takes to make networks work:

  • The network has a compelling goal
  • The network comprises small groups
  • The groups have an action orientation
  • The network is the sum of the small groups
  • The network’s legal framework stays in the background

The Microsoft case study implementing agile at scale gives helpful keys that are needed to make agile at scale:

  • Get the right balance of alignment and autonomy (too much control, nothing gets done – too little control, it’s chaos)
  • Master the role of the agile manager
  • Handle dependencies at the team level
  • Ensure continuous integration
  • Keep on top of technical debt
  • Embrace Devops and continuous Delivery
  • Continuously monitor progress
  • Listen to the customer wants, but meet their needs
  • Deal with directions from above
  • Use self-forming teams to encourage team ownership
  • Recognize the team is the product
  • Build quality from the beginning
  • Use coaching carefully
  • Ensure top-level support.

The last two chapters of the first part explores what it means to move from operational to strategic agility. Generating innovations that create entirely new markets by turning non-customers into customers. Strategic agility is the next frontier of agile management. Start with market-creating value propositions based on four fundamental components: Need, Approach, Benefits per costs, and Competition (NABC).

In the second part we are looking at organizations who are mainly focussed on defending the status quo and protecting their existing business. The are not moving towards operational and strategic agility. They are blocked by traps of short-term shareholder value, share buybacks, cost-oriented economics and backward-looking strategies.

  • The trap of shareholder value. Maximizing shareholder value means top-down command-and-control management and as a result dispirited employees, less engagement, less innovation, …
  • The trap of share buybacks. Making profits (“corporate cocaine”) even as it systematically destroys its own earning capacity by handing over resources to shareholders and as a result there are insufficient resources to support investment and innovation
  • The cost-oriented economics trap. Cutting costs could lead to a permanent loss of expertise. Adding customer value at lower cost is much more important
  • The trap of backward-looking strategy. These strategies are 100 percent accurate in hindsight, but in foresight, they miss the unexpected and the unforeseen.

The book ends with the epilogue where nuclear winters and golden ages starting in 1790 with the canals and ending in the era of computers and communications are discussed. We get an overview of different roles (from CEO’s to thought leaders and the media and many more) and what they need to do to run organizations in a better way.

Conclusion: Great case studies to understand why we need the three laws of the customer, the small team and the network. A must read for those who want to make a shift to business agility.

In line with the agile manifesto and summarizing the second part of the book I would say:

  • Customer value over shareholder value
  • Customer value over organization’s efficiency
  • Value driven perspective over cost orientation

To order: The age of agile

SAFe recommended reading

The Scaled Agile website gives a list of recommended reading. If you are interested in SAFe or if you are a SAFe trainer I think many of these books are must reads. To get a jump start you can find reviews regarding several of these recommended reading and for several books there is a quick reference card, a one-pager, too. To complement the list I added some more reviews focusing on specific topics used, or can be used, in SAFe.SAFe (recommended reading - one pagers, 180321) v1.1

The following books are discussed on this blog:

To complement this reading list, I recommend the following books too:

Handout containing all one-pagers: SAFe (recommended reading – one pagers, 180321) v1.1

Review: Switch – How to change things when change is hard

41SMyZ0ovzL._AC_US436_QL65_In the book Switch – How to change things when change is hard the authors describe a fundamental three-part framework that can guide you in any situation where you need to change behaviour: direct the rider (provide chrystal-clear direction by addressing the rational side), motivate the elephant (engage people’s emotional side), and shape the path (make change more likely).
The book is divided in three parts. In the first part – Direct the rider, the authors describe that you should look for bright spots. Do not obsess about the failures but investigate and clone the successes. Then give the rider a starting point and a destination and give him a destination postcard so that the rider knows where you are going and it gives the elephant an insight why the journey is interesting. And finally you have to script the critical moves to be taken.
In the second part – Motivate the elephant we get many examples of how you can make the elephant believe that he is capable of conquering the change. It’s emotion that motivates the elephant. And emotion comes from feeling. En motivatie komt voort uit gevoel. On the one hand you can shrink the change and on the other you can grow your people grow (or, preferably, both).
In the last part – Shape the path we get to see what it means that, when you tweak the environment the behavior will change too. Simple adjustments can lead to dramatic changes. Look for ways to build habits and finally rally the herd. Behavior is contagious, help it spread.
Switch (rider, elephant, path, 180321) v1.0
Conclusion: A must read for the change agent, you get an in depth explanation of the three-part switch framework, and many, many examples. On top of this you get workshops with food for thought on the basis of a situation how the three switch parts should be handled (direct the rider, motivate the elephant and shape the path).

Review Tribal Unity

51UbcHSbHHLEm Campbell-Pretty is the author of Tribal Unity – Getting from Teams to Tribes by Creating a One Team Culture.

Birds flock, fish swim, people ‘tribe’” – David Logan

A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea” – Seth Godin. Em’s first tribe is her EDW Agile Release Train, a team of teams in line with SAFe.

The book is broken into six sections.

In the first section we explore how to build great teams in order to create a solid foundation for a great tribe. Topics like team size, self-selection, delegation poker, using retrospective on cadence, visualization, daily communication, having a social contract and where possible be co-located are explained.

In the second section we get a lot of techniques for connecting teams and creating tribes to build a one team Culture. What’s the value of a shared identity? Strengthen the connection between and aligning the teams in the tribe by organizing unity hour and a daily cocktail hour. Visualizing the tribes work and maintaining the connection between team members by using chapters and guilds. Celebrate successes and share failures with the whole tribe and implement tribal kaizen rituals.

Section 3 puts the leader in the spotlight and explains ways to connect the leader with the tribe. A successful tribe leader needs to participate in the change they are leading. The leader needs to facilitate training, coaching, time and space to innovate, create connections by spending time at the Gemba and create a safe environment and build a strong team of lieutenants. They cultivate Love, generate Energy, inspire Audacity and provide Proof (LEAP).

In section 4 we get techniques to connect the tribe with an idea. The idea must generate the energy, provides alignment and helps the tribe pull together in times of crises. As a tribe leader you have to believe in, commit to and share your idea and communicate, and communicate and communicate. Book clubs, unity hours and cocktails hours can be leveraged to help to increase awareness of your vision.

Section 5 explores ways for sustaining tribal unity by monitoring the tribe’s health by using an employee Net Promotor Score (eNPS), use storytelling to remind your tribe of where it came from and reinforce your tribe’s values, be disciplined about your tribe’s rituals and values. And finally develop a team of potential successors.

The last section gives food for thought to engage management in tribal unity.

In the appendix we get The tribal unity checklist to give you a jump start when building your own tribe.

Conclusion: A must read when building up team of teams (a tribe, an Agile Release Train, …). The book is practical, inspiring and energizing. You get a lot techniques, real life examples and references to helpful books, articles on the web, videos and many, many quotes. I add one: “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion” – African proverb

To order: Tribe unity