Tag Archives: QRC

Recensie: De strategie van de kreeft

De Strategie van de kreeft – bouw aan echte vernieuwing is geschreven door Yousri Mandoer, Dorien van der Heijden en Sven Turnhout. Dit boek neemt je aan de hand om binnen bestaande organisaties te vernieuwen. Hierbij hebben de schrijvers zich laten inspireren door het groeiproces van de kreeft en deze kreeft als metafoor gebruikt om hun verhaal aan op te hangen.

De kreeft heeft een hard pantser dat niet meegroeit. Dat betekent dat de kreeft dit pantser van tijd tot tijd zal moeten afwerpen om te kunnen groeien. De metafoor van de transformatie van de kreeft kan je ook binnen organisaties gebruiken. Ook organisaties zullen van tijd tot tijd hun bestaande product-markt combinaties moeten afwerpen en nieuwe wegen bewandelen. De metafoor gaat echter verder. Vijf lichaamsdelen van de kreeft bieden vijf stappen die je als organisatie moet nemen om echte vernieuwing door te voeren. Hierbij staat het brein voor eigenaarschap, de romp voor het vernieuwingsfundament, de voelsprieten voor verkennen en begrijpen, de rechterschaar voor waarde ontwerpen en testen en de linkerschaar voor opschalen en waarde realiseren. 

Kijkend naar een kreeft zijn vier basisprincipes van een groeiende kreeft te destilleren waar je ook bij je organisatievernieuwing rekening mee kan houden: omarm het gevoel van ongemak, organiseer een apart proces voor transformatie, zie af van rendement tijdens de transformatie en durf te kannibaliseren.

(1) Eigenaarschap (brein)

  • Echte vernieuwing vraagt om leiderschap vanuit visie
  • Leiderschap is niet het exclusieve domein van de top, maar een verantwoordelijkheid van iedereen
  • Een visie is het kompas van een organisatie
  • Een visie is geen resultaat maar een begin
  • Op die momenten dat het er echt toe doet, moet je moedige besluiten nemen
  • Echte vernieuwing realiseer je niet van de ene op de andere dag, dit vraagt het aangaan van een avontuur waarvan je niet precies weet waar je uitkomt.

(2) Vernieuwingsfundament (romp)

  • Stel een explorerend team samen (met mandaat)
  • Maak afspraken over de werkwijze van het explorerend team
  • Pas de principes van de ambidextere organisatie toe en gebruik het polariteitenwiel (of-of, uitlaatklep, silo’s, situationeel, balans, combinatie en synthese)
  • Maak ruimte voor een vernieuwende cultuur
  • Werk samen en realiseer vitale coalities
  • Selecteer kansrijke en waardevolle ideeën/concepten
  • Laat explorerende teams rekenschap afleggen.

(3) Verkennen & begrijpen (voelsprieten)

  • Belast’ belangrijke personen met de taak ontdekken en begrijpen
  • Gebruik het Context Canvas en FutureFacts om cruciale verandersignalen te ontdekken
  • Bekwaam je in scenario-denken
  • Zoom in op onderliggende motivaties en drijfveren van (potentiele) klanten.

(4) Waarde ontwerpen & testen (rechterschaar)

  • Invulling geven aan echte vernieuwing door realisatie van nieuwe waarde proposities en business modellen die waardevol zijn voor de klanten van vandaag en morgen
  • Gebruik de ‘waardepiramide’ van Bain & Co
  • Een nieuwe oplossing of toepassing is een sluimerend, soms jaren durend proces
  • Ontwerp een nieuwe waarde propositie van buiten naar binnen (outside-in)
  • Begin met een simpel prototype om je eigen aannames te testen (je kan niet alles voorspellen)
  • Valideer je REDESIGN- of REINVENT-concept op wenselijkheid, haalbaarheid, levensvatbaarheid, contextualiteit en aanpasbaarheid
  • Omarm mislukkingen (leren en experimenteren).

(5) Opschalen & waarde realiseren (linkerschaar)

  • De afronding van de ontwikkelingsfase is niet het einde, maar het begin
  • REDESIGN-vernieuwingen strijden op 3 fronten: in de markt, bij partners en intern
  • Opschalen vraagt om commitment en eigenaarschap in de top
  • Solide fundament is onmisbaar en draagvlak cruciaal
  • Sturen op groei is uiteindelijk de kern.

Conclusie. Een vlot lezend boek dat gebouwd is rond de vijf lichaamsdelen van de kreeft. Door op deze manier stap voor stap door het benodigde vernieuwingsproces binnen een bestaande organisatie te gaan krijg je een helder beeld waar je tegenaan kan lopen. Het wordt onderbouwd met vele bekende en minder bekende modellen en ruim voorzien van praktijkvoorbeelden zodat het je zeker zal inspireren om te kijken wat het binnen je eigen organisatie wellicht zou moeten gebeuren.

De strategie van de kreeft is te bestellen op: managementboek.nl, bol.com

Mocht je meer willen weten over de kreeft zelf:

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

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

Review Agile transformation

In the book Agile transformation – Structures, processes and mindsets for the digital age, the author Neil Perkin shows how to transform an organization to a new type of business for a new age and to become fit for purpose for both the present and the future.

To create the right agile transformation, you have to make sure you have the right balance between vision and iteration, you remove barriers to organizational change, and you follow a parallel, and not a linear approach. You have to be fluid, not fixed, open, not closed and put experience, over efficiency and use more leadership, and less management.

Above all, modern transformation programs need to be adaptive, responsive and build from continuous learning. You have to think big, start small, and scale fast.

Think big by creating the right vision (inspirational, distinctive, simple, challenging, directional and tangible), to use bold, disruptive thinking and context mapping and use the foundation enablers technology, data, culture and people. Start smallmeans you have to focus, to set the teams up for success and encourage the right mindset. Scale fast by means of using the right scaling agile structures and building momentum for change through strategy and execution, leadership mindset and adaptive strategy.

The book is built around the organizing principle think big, start small, and scale fast. 

Conclusion. The book is not always easy to read but definitely a must read when you are at the start of your own transformation and to make sure you think big, start small and scale fast. It contains a lot of theory, insights, practical examples and case studies (Kodak, Fujifilm, DNVBs, music industry, ASOS, Amazon, Haier, Netflix, DBS, Lemonade Insurance, Stripe, Monzo, Vodafone, ING, ANZ) to give you a jump start in when transforming your own organization.

To order Agile transformationmanagementboek.nlbol.comAmazon

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 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.

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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  https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

Klaus Schwab, The fourth Industrial Revolution 

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

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

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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 www.TheTalesofAgility.com  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!

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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 (managementbook.nl): True lean – Your guide to the fundamentals connecting purpose, process and people

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