Tag Archives: English Post

Review Blue Striped Frog – The agile community – Magazine (2nd edition)

I just had a sneak preview of the second edition of the Blue Striped Frog magazine. Several articles clustered around the themes: the age of agility, best practices, organizational agility and articles.

My compliments to the editor team. They can be proud of the result. This second magazine offers interesting stories, new insights and real life cases at UWV, NN, Praktijkschool Oost ter Hout, BAM, New10 and ABN Amro and last but not least a new agile framework.

The article – Leaders Beware: Four Megatrends Shaping the Age of Agility – by Ron Meyer and Ronald Meijers, provides elaborations on the following four megatrends: the pressure towards more organizational agility, organizational diversity, the rise of employee empowerment and career diversity. To cope with these trends you require flexible, adaptive and responsive leaders. In line with the article you get and interview with Ron Meyer, one of the authors, talking about the VUCA world and the comparison between an intersection with traffic lights and a roundabout without traffic lights.

The interview with Fred Hoekstra, director of the department Social Medical Affairs at UWV gives some insights in the agile journey of UWV. They established four important pillars “happy employee”, “satisfied execution”, “cooperation” and “hygiene in place”. For them, agile working is a daily quest for how they learn and develop without having major incidents causing a social disturbance. The interview ends with some critical success factors.

The Organizational Agility Heartbeat (TOAH) by Vincent Snijder, Henk Venema and Arthur Waterham describes a lightweight framework for organizational agility. The main characteristic of this framework is the quarterly rhythm in which organizations update their strategy, adjust their course based on this, and translate it into predictable execution. Within The TOAH the rhythmic interaction of three parallel tracks creates organizational agility: strategic planning, prepare for execution and execution. I will add The Organizational Agility Heartbeat (TOAH) framework to my Bird’s eye view on the agile forest as number 92! (https://toahframework.com).

In Organizational Agility at New10 and ABN Amro, Joost Brouwer is interviewed about the agile journey within the New10 startup and what ABN Amro can learn from the New10 lessons and vice versa.

In – Use discomfort to learn forward in a continuous dialogue – Jindra Kessener shares her experiences how we manage to handle the discomfort that is necessary to challenge our results, ideas and premises, without our defense mechanism taking over our capacity to think and observe clearly. She gives some insights on how knowledge about our autonomous nervous system could be used in Agile practice.

Culture makes or breaks your agile transition is an article of myself. In this article I explain what I mean with culture, I make some references to books and articles explaining culture and I make a link to my Bird’s eye view on the agile forest and elaborate on the, what I call, culture-targeted frameworks or ways of working.

Purpose driven people is the title of the last article and the title of the book Alize Hofmeester wrote. In this article she elaborates why the journey to agility is about people and purpose and why she wrote a book to make that clear. 

To emphasize that the Blue Striped Frog is not only a magazine but also a community we get an impression of the first four Blue Striped Frog Tastings: Leading with Obeya by Tim Wiegel (soon I publish a review of the book Leading with Obeya on this blog), Programs in an agile organization, curse or blessing by Henk Venema, Culture makes or breaks your agile transition (from myself) and Purpose Driven People – Creating business agility and sustainable growth by Alize Hofmeester. To become part of the Blue Striped Frog community you can join the community on LinkedIn to be inspired, to learn and to share: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8762445/

A top 10 with agile related songs and a few agile myths and tips finalizes the magazine.

Conclusion: A must read. And, if you haven’t subscribed yet be fast and you will receive this one and all the upcoming issues of the Blue Striped Frog Magazine for free (physical and/or digital edition). You can subscribe at https://www.bluestripedfrog.com

The FLEKS model

FLEKS is a Hybrid Project Management Model, which aims at providing a way to manage projects, develop products and deliver the highest possible value within the context of a project and its stakeholders.

Businesses and projects are embedded in a complex and ever-changing environment. Organizations need to adapt constantly and quickly in order to survive and succeed. In a variety of contexts this environment can be summarized by the acronym BRIGHT (blur, risky, interconnected, global, hi-tech, timely). FLEKS is built around four pillars flexibility, integration, communication and people. 

The FLEKS model comprises six elements: mindset, principles, layers, events, value flow and roles. FLEKS advocates five different attitudes to facilitate the development of the desired mindset: focus, tailoring, teamwork, learning and adaptation. FLEKS has some principles considered sine qua non to help the management process in the challenge to lead people, create value and conduct projects to its goals: value management, progressive management, integration and balance, situational leadership, continuous improvement, plans and exceptions, roles and responsibilities, and open communication. FLEKS defines three management layers (Business, project and product) to draw a distinction between roles and responsibilities which are collaborative and interdependent. The layers also allow a better understanding of what are the main elements responsible for creating value. 

FLEKS is an iterative, incremental and recursive value creation process. Throughout the management layers and the value flow, several events are prescribed and must take place to ensure the process starts and finishes properly. The events can be divided into three main groups:

  • Business: those carried out on the Business Management Layer: need analysis, solution ideation, value design, business case and project startup
  • Project: those carried out on the Project Management Layer: project planning, update meeting, release review and closure meeting
  • Product: those carried out on the Product Management Layer: release planning, iteration planning, iteration meeting, iteration review and iteration retrospective.

On their website (https://fleksmodel.com/fleks-model/) you can download the FLEKS Model Guide and the FLEKS Canvas.

The FLEKS model can be positioned in the one-time projects/programs block in my Bird’s eye view on the agile forest. For the latest updated version of my Bird’s eye view on the agile forest article see: https://hennyportman.wordpress.com/2020/10/11/new-birds-eye-view-on-the-agile-forest/

Change Dynamics, a new Podcast channel on success and failure in process and organizational change

Delighted to see the interview of Jeroen Gietema and Dion Kotteman and myself on various media. They are running Change Dynamics, a Podcast channel on success and failure in process and organizational change.

I had the honor to be interviewed for their first episode: The responsiveness of organizations towards Change Dynamics (“Keep it simple … Do it fast”)

The Continuous Innovation Framework (COIN)

I just came across a new framework that could be positioned on the portfolio level of my Bird’s eye view on the agile forest.

The Continuous Innovation Framework (COIN) is designed to help large organizations to successfully and continuously develop, scale, and embed innovations and thus create a continuous Return on Innovation. COIN is a model designed to help individual stakeholders in an organization to better work together to facilitate a continuous process of innovation. The framework consists of roles, rituals, and artifacts that together generate a continuous flow of innovation through an organization.

COIN represents an organization-wide, lightweight, and transparent process to: ​

  • Capture innovative ideas from internal and external sources​
  • Assess feasibility and value for the organization in the shortest possible lead time​
  • Align business operations to scale innovations effectively​
  • Manage the portfolio of innovations for value​
  • Align innovation with business strategy.

Weighted Fastest Innovation First, or WFIF, is a method to facilitate objective decision-making during the prioritization of innovations in a portfolio. WFIF helps Portfolio Management to prioritize the work which delivers the highest value in the shortest amount of time.

The Six Week Innovation Challenge (SWICH) is a six-week period of experimentation which is based on Lean Startup principles and tools of Alexander Osterwalder. At the core of the approach is a small, multidisciplinary Innovation Team which includes the Innovator. The objective of the experiment is to obtain real market feedback to validate either a value hypothesis, a feasibility hypothesis or both.

More information can be found at https://continuousinnovation.net

A brief explanation of the COIN Framework and its benefits for businesses that want to innovate faster, more focused, and with higher employee engagement.

For the latest updated version of my Bird’s eye view on the agile forest article see: https://hennyportman.wordpress.com/2020/10/11/new-birds-eye-view-on-the-agile-forest/

Review Standish Group – CHAOS 2020: Beyond Infinity

A few weeks ago, I received the latest report from the Standish Group – CHAOS 2020: Beyond Infinity – written by Jim Johnson. Every two years the Standish Group publish a new CHAOS Report.

These reports include classic CHAOS data in different forms with many charts. Most of the charts come from the CHAOS database of over 50,000 in-depth project profiles of the previous 5 years. You have probably seen some of those yellow-red-green charts showing e.g., challenged, failed and successful project percentages. 

The book contains ten sections and an epilogue:

  • Section I: Factors of Success describes the three factors (good sponsor, good team and good place) the Standish Group has determined most seriously affect the outcome of a software project. Specific attention has been given how poor decision latency and emotional maturity level affect outcomes and the success ladder benchmark.
  • Section II: Classic CHAOS provides the familiar charts and information generally found in CHAOS reports. E.g., resolution by traditional measurement, modern measurements, pure measurements and “Bull’s Eye” measurements.
  • Section III: Type and styles of projects breaks down project resolution by measurement types and styles of delivery method.

In the next three sections we get an overview of the principles for the good sponsor, the good team and the good place. Each principle is explained in detail, including the required skills to improve the principle and a related chart showing the resolution of all software projects due to poorly skilled, moderately skilled, skilled and very skilled.

  • Section IV: The Good Sponsor discusses the skills needed to be a good sponsor. The good sponsor is the soul of the project. The sponsor breathes life into a project, and without the sponsor there is no project. Improving the skills of the project sponsor is the number-one factor of success – and also the easiest to improve upon, since each project has only one. Principles for a good sponsor are: 
    • The Decision Latency principle
    • The Vision Principle
    • The Work Smart Principle
    • The Daydream Principle
    • The Influence Principle 
    • The Passionate Principle
    • The People Principle
    • The Tension Principle 
    • The Torque Principle
    • The Progress Principle.
  • Section V: The Good Team discusses the skills involved in being a good team. The good team is the project’s workhorse. They do the heavy lifting. The sponsor breathes life into the project, but the team takes that breath and uses it to create a viable product that the organization can use and from which it derives value. Since we recommend small teams, this is the second easiest area to improve. Principles for a good team are: 
    • The Influential Principle
    • The Mindfulness Principle
    • The Five Deadly Sins Principle
    • The Problem-Solver Principle
    • The Communication Principle
    • The Acceptance Principle
    • The Respectfulness Principle
    • The Confrontationist Principle
    • The Civility Principle
    • The Driven Principle.
  • Section VI: The Good Place covers what’s needed to provide a good place for projects to thrive. The good place is where the sponsor and team work to create the product. It’s made up of the people who support both sponsor and team. These people can be helpful or destructive. It’s imperative that the organization work to improve their skills if a project is to succeed. This area is the hardest to mitigate, since each project is touched by so many people. Principles for a good place are: 
    • The Decision Latency Principle
    • The Emotional Maturity Principle
    • The Communication Principle
    • The User Involvement Principle
    • The Five Deadly Sins Principle
    • The Negotiation Principle
    • The Competency Principle
    • The Optimization Principle
    • The Rapid Execution Principle
    • The Enterprise Architecture Principle.
  • Section VII: Overview of the CHAOS Database explains the process of creating project cases and adjudicating them for inclusion in the CHAOS database.
  • Section VIII: New Resolution Benchmark offers an overview of this new benchmark, which will replace the original in the CHAOS database. The Project Resolution Benchmark is a self-service instrument that uses a three-step method to help benchmark your organization against similar organizations on the basis of size, industry, project mix, types, and capability.
  • Section IX: The Dutch Connection describes and celebrates the contributions made by our colleagues in the Netherlands and Belgium and their effect on our research.
  • Section X: Myths and Illusions debunks some typical beliefs about “project improvement.” By using the data points from the database. The busted myths are:
    • Successful projects have a highly skilled project manager
    • Project management tools help project success
    • All projects must have clear business objectives
    • Incomplete requirements cause challenged and failed projects.
  • The Epilogue takes a look at 60 years of software development. Thew Standish Group has come up with four distinct evolutionary periods of developing software. The first period, which ran roughly from 1960 to 1980, is called “the Wild West”. The Waterfall Period ran from 1980 to about 2000. The Agile Period started around the year 2000 – and their prediction is that it will end shortly. They are now seeing the beginning of what they call the Infinite Flow Period, and they imagine that the Flow Period will last at least 20 years. In the Flow Period, there will be no project budgets, project plans, project managers, or Scrum masters. There will be a budget for the pipeline, which is a pure direct cost of the output. There will also be a cost to manage the pipeline, which will reduce the current project overhead cost by as much as 90%. This will be accomplished by reducing and eliminating most of the current project management activities. Functional description of work will come into the pipeline and out of the pipeline fully usable. Change will happen continuously, but in small increments that will keep everything current, useful, and more acceptable to users, rather than startling them with a “big bang boom” result (in a next blog I will dive into some details of the Flow method).

Conclusion: CHAOS stands for the Comprehensive Human Appraisal for Originating Software. It’s all about the human factor. If you are looking for areas of improvement of your organizational project management skills (good sponsor, good team and good place), this guide gives a great overview where you could get the highest benefits from your investments. It gives excellent insights in root causes for project failure or success.

A pity this is the last CHAOS report (there will be an updated version in 2021, but that will not be a completely new CHAOS report). Given that The Standish Group are recommending you move to Flow, they state that there is no need for them to continue to research software projects. I would say not all projects are software projects, why not collect datapoints from non-software projects and start building a database and analyze the impact of the good sponsor, the good team and the good place for these projects too.

To order CHAOS 2020: Beyond Infinity

Overview of my year 2020 book reviews

2020 was again an extremely fruitful book review year. I wrote around 50 book reviews including 16 corresponding quick reference cards and several personal insights, and views on specific topics in the field of project, program and portfolio management.

My own books, whitepapers and articles

Agile related books

Project/programme management

Management

Magazines

Quick Reference Cards in 2020

As a result of my book reviews in 2020, I created several Quick Reference Cards to summarize what I have read.

Review Intention

Two weeks ago, I received a blurb request. “I saw on your blog that you reviewed Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, and I’d like to ask whether you’d be willing to consider giving a blurb to a similar book”.

The book ‘Intention: Building Capabilities To Transform Your Story’ is written by Dr. Ian D. Brooks. This book provides direction for leveraging our greatest ability to realize change by expanding our personal awareness and taking specific action. This is a book outside my comfort zone but a training class was rescheduled due to Covid-19 regulations, so I started reading.

Business agility is key, and many organizations started some years ago with the implementation of Scrum. Soon it became clear that when working with more teams you need some form of coordination and these organizations started to implement a scaled agile framework to manage e.g. the team dependencies. But the results were for many organizations still disappointing. Study after study showed that for those organizations, among other factors, their organizational culture was at odds with agile values. New frameworks popped up to use together with the scaled agile frameworks to work on this agile culture. In my ‘bird’s eye view on the agile forest’, I already covered more than 80 agile ways of working including those culture targeted frameworks. But it looks like we still haven’t found the silver bullet, agile transitions fail in many cases. I see for example management teams struggling with the product owner role. And then a senior manager said to his colleagues … ”Yeah sure PO, you have a mandate” and they started laughing. They don’t trust the teams, they don’t empower the teams, they aren’t willing to decentralize decision-making, and facilitating leadership doesn’t belong to their vocabulare. And that brings me back to this book. Will this be the missing piece to help senior managers to transform themselves towards a manager that supports an organization on its agile journey? It could be the case, but only when these managers pick up the gauntlet to work on themselves.

In this book, the author helps you to make your own personal transformation. This can be work-related as mentioned earlier when you are part of your journey to more business agility but could also be a much more personal non-business-related goal, e.g., losing weight.

The author defines intention as a state of mind with which an act is done. It’s having the mindset, attention, or personal will to concentrate on something or some end or purpose. Intention provides a priority of wants and needs that offers us direction, but it is flexible enough to meet changes in your environment, circumstances, or life.

Changes are important individual actions, but also lead to bigger behavioral outcomes and results. Changes tend to be event-driven. Transformations are the collection of changes that lead to a broader outcome. Thus, the actions become a newly adopted lifestyle, a new way of life.

He uses a framework to help you to make the necessary steps to transform yourself in the direction you set for yourself based on five capabilities to use iteratively:

  1. Discovery: The intention is to expand your awareness beyond the challenges presented, exploring deeper into what you wish to solve.
  2. Principle of You: What we identify as targets of change usually overlook acknowledgment of who we are inherently and the symbols we associate with our pasts.
  3. Direction: Here, you will intentionally plan a transformation specific to you and practice forethought toward developing behaviors and routines that will move you forward.
  4. Experience: This capability is usually where changes first become noticeable. It focuses on acting in the now and regulating emotions that may arise at the moment.
  5. Attunement: This allows you to reflect on progress and learn from adjustments for building consistency in new behaviors. 

It is important to realize, however, that the building and refinement of your capabilities will occur over time, not in a singular moment. To build capabilities over time, transformation requires management of your P.A.C.E. (patience, accountability, commitment, emotions).

There will be times when the emotion from what you discover is daunting and you will rush to quick conclusions. To address these thoughts and manage your P.A.C.E. You need to operate with intention: pause your time, process, and reflect for self-awareness.

Conclusion. If you want to transform your behavior, e.g., move away from a command-and-control management style to a more facilitating leadership style or non-business/private personal behavior, this book offers you a framework, steps to take, points of attention, advice, and many real-life examples to support you in your journey. For sure you will have thoughts and actions you want to change but always postpone and then this book could be the trigger to make your next move.

To order: Will be available in March 2021

Review Engaging stakeholders on projects

The book Engaging stakeholders on projects – How to harness people power, written by Elizabeth Harrin is the starting point if you want to get a better understanding of stakeholder engagement and it gives you a lot of practical advice, tips for improving practice key takeaways and action steps for successful stakeholder engagement.

The book starts with an introduction of the topic by explaining that you can’t manage your stakeholders, you can’t manage stakeholder’s behaviour and actions, but you can engage them. Stakeholder engagement is the systematic identification, analysis, planning and implementation of actions designed to influence stakeholders.

In the stakeholder life cycle you see the following four steps: identification, early engagement, mature engagement and dissolution. 

The first chapter focusses on stakeholder identification. You can use a workshop to create a stakeholder list or start with stakeholder segments and you can ask already known stakeholders who must be involved too. Not all stakeholders are equal. Who are your primary, secondary, interested and hidden stakeholders? Next you must get clarity on stakeholder involvement. You can talk to them directly or ask colleagues about other stakeholders. You can use a stakeholder saliency model to understand who your definitive, dangerous, dominant and dependent stakeholders are, based on legitimacy, power and urgency measures for each of your stakeholders. You can also build an influence/interest grid to understand who of your stakeholders must be fully engaged, keep informed about progress, asked for input and identify their concerns and last a group who must informed from time to time. Be aware that stakeholder influence, interest and power are transitory and only as relevant as the day it was produced and that you must keep your analysis confidential.

The following chapter brings your stakeholder analysis to the next level. It gives you the instruments to understand how the social system works in your organization. A social system is the network of relationships and how they interact and influence each other as a whole. To understand the social system for your project you can review the team structure (functional, weak matrix, matrix or strong matrix and the project structure), use your network, talk to stakeholders or think strategically. Next you have to model your stakeholder engagement by plotting your stakeholders’ current and desired engagement level (resistant, indifferent, supportive and proactive). Besides the stakeholders influencing your project, you have to understand the organizational influences (or constraints) like policies, processes, procedures, standards, et cetera.

Now you know your stakeholders and how they interact and influence each other it’s time to engage them. 

Engagement = understanding + action + influence

You have to understand the stakeholder’s perspectives. How do they feel about the project and the effect it will have on them (emotional appeal) and how confident they feel that the work being done is the right work (rational appeal)? Next you have to build credible, trusted relationships otherwise you can’t influence them. There are two things that you should be engaging your project stakeholders throughout the project life cycle in: the project deliverables (purpose, why) and the project management process (what, roles, responsibilities). Engagement can be formal or informal by using on or more engagement techniques, e.g., expectation mapping, concerns mapping, personal contacts notebook, using others, celebrating success, active project marketing and actively seek input and using informal opportunities. A large element of engagement is communicating with the right people at the right time, in the right level of detail and with a specific goal in mind to help them take action. Communication can be conversations, facilitation, training or presentations. Special attention has been given how to make the best of your relationship with your project sponsor, and engagement in a crisis.

The following chapter looks at techniques for running efficient meetings and facilitation. How can you work with groups in a collaborative way to create energy and make it easy for the group to solve problems? To get the best results from a meeting with full preparation beforehand, strong leadership during the meeting and a professional follow up.

Projects and programmes change things. And not everyone embraces change. How can you identify resistance to engagement and engage resisters? Don’t be difficult to work with, you have to be realistic with your expectations, acknowledge you’ve notice, listen, ask for their help and thank them. If needed go via a gatekeeper, don’t make things worse and persuade with data and stories. And sometimes escalate to your project sponsor or ignore them (but use with care). Disengaged stakeholders present project risk so you have to identify and act on resistance.

What causes conflict on projects, how can you spot it and how can you resolve them? Conflicts can be found during project kick off, project planning, project delivery and/or project closure. The Thomas-Kilmann conflict mode instrument is a common model for considering approaches to dealing with conflict (avoiding, accommodating, competing, collaboration and compromising). A basic process for addressing conflict breaks down in the following steps: pick the location and environment, gather the facts, research and recognize stakeholder power and personal views, meet and agree on the issue, reflect and discuss and, if necessary, escalate.

The last part of the book is a deeper dive into interpersonal and technical skills and behaviours that are beneficial to stakeholder engagement. Besides the already extensively discussed communication and conflict resolution we get insights and tips in the following areas: negotiation, influencing, listening, business acumen, resilience, credibility, assertiveness, contextual, cultural and ethical awareness.

Conclusion

The book is easy to read and it’s a valuable aid to get a good understanding of stakeholder engagement in line with the APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition. The book gives you a lot of practical advice, tools, tips for improving practice, key takeaways and action steps for successful stakeholder engagement. I would say a must read for project, programme and portfolio managers.

To order Engaging stakeholders on projects: Amazon.com

PRINCE2 and DevOps, a successful marriage or recipe for divorce?

Happy to see that my white paper PRINCE2 and DevOps, a successful marriage or recipe for divorce? is now live on the AXELOS content hub.

More and more organizations are incorporating DevOps into their working practices to get more done. Many organizations will also use PRINCE2 to deliver projects. But can an organization really use these two approaches together? This paper will show that an organization does not need to pick and choose which approach it will take; PRINCE2 and DevOps can be used together and even share some similarities.

This paper will examine DevOps and the PRINCE2 governance structure separately and will compare a temporary PRINCE delivery team with a permanent DevOps team. I describe how a PRINCE2 project manager can cope with DevOps teams and how DevOps teams can cope with the PRINCE2 governance. The paper will combine both approaches to explore how they can be successfully implemented together.

I hope this white paper will be useful and feel free to give me your comments.