What matters more, people or process?

Posted on April 20th, 2008 in Management, Methodology, organisation by siddharta || 1 Comment

One of the best posts I have seen in a while. Cory Fox on what matters more, people or process:

It’s a good question. I saw good code at places with crappy practices. And I saw crappy code at places with good practices.

But in almost all of the places, I saw code that was on par with the motivation of the teams in place. In other words, teams that were excited about what they were doing, and kept up with trends, etc, often had code they were proud of. Teams that liked their job, but basically were just there had code that worked and had issues, but they didn’t mind. And teams that were just in a crappy place had code that was crappy.

The worst business environment? Cubicles!

Posted on March 25th, 2008 in book, organisation by siddharta || No Comment

800-CEO-READ has an excerpt from the book Brain Rules by John Medina. What caught my eye was the last paragraph on the page:

What do these studies show, viewed as a whole? Mostly this:

If you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a classroom. If you wanted to create a business environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a cubicle. And if you wanted to change things, you might have to tear down both and start over.

The rest of the excerpt looks interesting too. The book has an associated website here.

Related: Design of Programmer Spaces

Meeting Facilitation for Agile Teams

Posted on August 28th, 2007 in Agile, Management, Meeting, organisation by siddharta || 7 Comments

One of the more important aspects of general management is facilitating meetings. It’s rather surprising how boring most meetings are. Given the frequency of occurrence you would have thought that people would have gotten pretty good at it. But no, most meetings are dull, boring and go on for far too long.

The ability to have good meetings becomes even more important when doing agile software development, because there is a lot more emphasis on social interaction when compared to traditional processes. Indeed, one of the core skills of being a good Scrum Master, Coach or Project Manager in an agile setting is to be a good facilitator. Almost all agile processes have a meeting to plan the iteration (eg. Sprint Planning meeting in Scrum), a daily standup meeting and a closing iteration retrospective or reflection meeting. Key to the success of agile is the ability to keep these meetings short, interesting and productive and thats where the facilitation skill of the Scrum Master or Project Manager comes into the picture.

As a result, I’m always on the lookout for good, interesting articles and books on meeting facilitation. Here are some ideas, click the link name to go to the original article.

Continue reading ‘Meeting Facilitation for Agile Teams’ »

Organisational Change – The Satir Change Model

Posted on August 19th, 2007 in organisation by siddharta || No Comment

One of the hardest parts of implementing Agile in an organisation is managing the change that is required for the transition to be successful. It is very easy to start out with Agile, then find some resistance to the change and finally everyone going back to old ways of doing things. Another pattern is when the agile process is adapted so much that it is virtually the same as the old way, only under a new name. For these reasons, organisational change management is an important component in adopting an agile process in a company.

Virginia Satir, a noted family therapist developed a model for how change occurs. Although developed in the context of family therapy, the model has been widely adopted to describe organisational change. One of the key components of the model is that things get worse before they get better. Organisations face a period of resistance, followed by chaos, before they start to improve. By understanding the model, organisations will be better prepared to understand that resistance and chaos are part of the change and will proceed with the change rather than reverting back to old ways of doing things.

For a more detailed discussion of the Satir change model, and what can be done at each stage of the change, check out this excellent article by Steven Smith.