Mismanagement Styles in Agile Teams

Posted on August 12th, 2010 in Agile, Management by siddharta || 4 Comments

Ichak Adizes, in his 1976 paper on Mismanagement Styles, identified four roles that a manager needs to play.  A good manager is able to play all four roles (with some roles better than others). A mismanager is only able to play one of the four roles. Based on this, Adizes arrives at various styles of mismanagement. In this post, I’m going to take a look at these mismanagement styles in the context of managing an agile team.

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Compensation Systems For Agile Teams

Posted on December 4th, 2009 in Agile, Management by siddharta || 6 Comments

There is a discussion going on in one of the Scrum lists about compensation in a scrum team. How do we reward individual performers when Scrum plays down individual performance?

It’s a mistake to think that rewarding individual performers does not work in a Scrum team. Forget Scrum, it does not work anywhere in the organization!

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5 Articles on Agile Teamwork

Posted on November 18th, 2009 in Agile, Management by siddharta || 24 Comments

There is no way to succeed without good teamwork. Agile requires a collaborative environment in which a cross-functional team can work together. So here are five articles on teamwork from an agile perspective.

  • Agile, Multidisciplinary Teamwork: A good article on how to get a diverse cross-functional team to work well, keeping them energized and productive.
  • Seven Essential Teamwork Skills: Seven soft skills that every team member need – Active Listening, Questioning, Logical Argument, Respecting, Helping, Sharing, Participating.
  • The Seven Pillars of an Agile Team: What are the abilities that team members need to posses? Product Sense, Collaboration, Focus on Business Value, Supportive Culture, Confidence, Technical Excellence, Self Improvement.
  • How Not to do Resource Management: An excellent article on creating agile teams: Instead of assigning people to a project, keep the team constant and assign projects to the team.
  • Meeting Facilitation for Agile Teams: Facilitation skills for meetings, retrospectives, standups and planning workshops.

The law of unintended consequences

Posted on December 9th, 2008 in Management by siddharta || No Comment

I gave a talk on programmer spaces in the recently concluded Chennai BarCamp. During the presentation, the conversation moved to actions taken by managers that ended up having unintended consequences.

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Interviewing Candidates

Posted on July 24th, 2008 in Management by siddharta || No Comment

Pradeep has a really nice presentation on interviewing candidates. It focuses on interviewing testers, though many of the principles can extend beyond that.

One of the points that has always baffled me is how the candidate is never asked to actually do anything. Instead they are asked a whole bunch of meaningless questions. I’m constantly reminded of this quote from Peopleware:

Circus Manager: How long have you been juggling?
Candidate: Oh, about six years.

Manager: Can you handle three balls, four balls, and five balls?
Candidate: Yes, yes, and yes.

Manager: Do you work with flaming objects?
Candidate: Sure.

Manager: … knives, axes, open cigar boxes, floppy hats?
Candidate: I can juggle anything.

Manager: Do you have a line of funny patter that goes with your juggling?
Candidate: It’s hilarious.

Manager: Well, that sounds fine. I guess you’re hired.
Candidate: Umm … Don’t you want to see me juggle?

Manager: Gee, I never thought of that.

In my previous company we made candidates actually write some code. We would give them a simple program to write in half an hour and they could use a computer to code it. They had access to online help, so they could check up on syntax. And sitting in front of a computer allowed them to work in a natural environment. This process of selection worked out pretty well for us. I’ve always wondered why more companies didn’t do that. Any ideas?

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